KEMBLE is a very pretty Cotswold village, often commended in best-kept village competitions in Gloucestershire. Planning controls are tight, so that even the council houses are built in local stone. The village has a school and a general store-cum-post office, though most people do their major shopping in Cirencester. The abiding local interest is reflected in the biannual flower and vegetable shows. Three-bedroom former estate-workers’ cottages sell for around £250,000, Victorian railway cottages for more. At King’s Orchard, a 10-minute walk from the station, a new, four-bedroom semi costs from £275,000, or from £340,000 for a detached. Larger farmhouses can cost £600,000, to £1.35m for a five-bedroom coach house. ‘Location and rarity is everything,’ says one local agent.
To the east is a belt of desirable villages, all close to Cirencester and two good comprehensive schools. Poole Keynes, was little more than a farming hamlet with a medieval priory until the Sixties imposed modern housing. Somerford Keynes also has a lot of modern development, but is socially very active. It has a pub, the Bakers Arms, and local clubs include bridge and mothers and toddlers. Prices of luxurious new eco-houses on the lakeside Lower Mill Estate vary from £350,000 to £1m. Ashton Keynes has a primary school, garage, two shops and some lovely period houses close to the river. As you approach from South Cerney you will see some beautiful 17th-century cottages on the other side of the bridge. A large farmhouse in the countryside nearby would cost up to £975,000, while smaller houses are on a par with the rest of the area. South Cerney is close to the Cotswold Water Park – a collection of flooded gravel pits offering water-skiing, sailing and fishing. A converted barn with four bedrooms in this area would cost around £700,000. The village is marred slightly by the large quarry with its constant lorry traffic. About six miles from Kemble, but well worth the journey, is Down Ampney, the most charming of the Ampneys (the others being Ampney St Peter, Ampney Crucis and Ampney St Mary), famous as the birthplace of Ralph Vaughan Williams and much admired for its beautiful, gabled manor house, Down Ampney Hall. A tiny two-bedroom semi will cost £250,000; a modern stone family house £345,000. The larger country houses sell for £2m upwards.