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OXTED is everything that most people would want a small town to be. It is safe for children and pleasant to live in, but not so pretty that it suffers invasion by tourists. It has a population of around 14,000, and all its vital organs are centralised within walking distance of each another, including the station, cinema, Barn Theatre, shops and Tandridge Leisure Pool (which has a gym). The cinema has a wine bar and gets all the new releases, yet the atmosphere is cosy enough for parents to allow their children to go unaccompanied. The town is also reasonably safe to walk around after dark.

There are two main shopping streets: Station Road West, which is lined with mock-Tudor shops, and Station Road East. Supermarkets include Morrisons and Sainsbury’s. Old Oxted is the prettiest part of the town, where the 14th- to 16th-century cottages have pleasantly weathered pantiled roofs. Much of the rest is classic Thirties’ development.

A huge number of people commute to London or Croydon; otherwise people work in local shops or in the factories at Hurst Green. The wealthier residents live in the private wooded roads of Rockfield Road, Icehouse Wood and Bluehouse Lane, where large detached houses cost from £650,000 to £875,000. Nearly all the gardens in the town are large by London standards, most extending to half an acre or more. Even the few modest two-bedroom Victorian terraces, selling at £300,000 to £350,000, have 100ft gardens.

Teenagers looking for a good night out head for East Grinstead or Croydon, where there are nightclubs. Older funsters go into London for theatres, or to country restaurants. There are golf courses nearby at Tandridge and Limpsfield.

Limpsfield and Limpsfield Chart are five minutes away by road. Both villages are occupied almost exclusively by newcomers, and both are split by the A25. A car is essential for living here. Limpsfield is olde worlde and expensive, its main street eyecatchingly lined with old stone cottages. There are a few shops, a pub, a very good bookshop and a highly-rated restaurant called The Old Lodge. Limpsfield Chart is also attractively set in National Trust landscape. The Chart is a stretch of common land that tumbles over the edge of the Weald, offering superb views as you head south, and containing remnants of an old Roman road. In spring the woods are carpeted with bluebells. A Grade Two listed two-bedroom cottage costs from £325,000.

The village of Tandridge is less expensive, with Sixties’ and modern housing added to the mix. Three-bedroom Victorian houses and artisans’ cottages cost over £300,000. Tandridge has a pub and a primary school, and has the feel of a proper village even though it is only two miles from the M25. The north is the nicest part, with a lovely church and steeple standing on a little hill. A former vicarage with five bedrooms and 1.5 acres could cost £750,000.

Good for: M25, M23, Gatwick Airport.
Local knowledge: the country estate of Mohammed Al Fayed is at Oxted and in the grounds is the tomb of his son Dodi.

other stations nearby...

DormansEdenbridgeGodstoneHurst Green
London terminal: Victoria
Journey time: 39 mins
Season ticket: £1740
Peak trains: 2 per hour plus 4 changing at East Croydon
Off-peak trains: 2 per hour plus 1 changing at East Croydon

London terminal: London Bridge
Journey time: 31 mins
Season ticket: £1740
Peak trains: 4 per hour
Off-peak trains: 1 per hour plus 1 changing at East Croydon