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With a thriving economy, good transport links and top grammar schools, Warwickshire is fast becoming the Midlands' prime location
Warwickshire is a squiggle of a county.
The way it gives Coventry such a wide berth is almost rude, arching round the city to the south, east and north.
It wasn’t always the case.
Top spot: Historic Warwick is surrounded by lovely countryside
Until local authority changes in 1974, Coventry was part of Warwickshire rather than the West Midlands, and today it still shares a Chamber of Commerce with its neighbour, and the local radio station’s official name is BBC Coventry and Warwickshire.
The switch meant Nuneaton became Warwickshire’s largest town — and in 2018 property prices are lower there than almost anywhere else in the county, even though price rises have been recorded in the past 12 months.
‘We are seeing a lot of first-time buyers in Nuneaton, and at the moment, demand is greater than supply,’ says David Bruckert, of Hawkins Estate Agents.
‘The economy is fairly buoyant, with local businesses thriving — and you’re only 70 minutes from London by train.’
The average price of a property in Nuneaton is £188,000.
A two, or possibly three-bedroom, terrace house is £120,000, while £80,000 will get you a one-bedroom flat, albeit not in a new build.
There’s a clear north/south divide in Warwickshire, with Rugby serving as the border between the two.
Go south towards the affluent Cotswolds and prices get higher; head north closer to Leicester and they become lower.
Roughly in the middle are the historic towns of Kenilworth, Warwick (the county town), and Royal Leamington Spa.
Prime spot: In sought-after Lower Ladyes Hills, this three-bedroom terrace cottage has a walled garden and kitchen/diner with fireplace and log burner
The latter, with its Regency architecture and public gardens, conjures up a grand image, but Warwick has its own spectacular castle and is only a couple of miles from the M40.
Expect to pay about £310,000 for a three-bedroom semi in both towns.
Which, of course, is not the case in Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare does his bit to make sure prices remain above the average for Warwickshire.
An artisan terrace house in Stratford’s old town, with a courtyard garden, is highly sought after, particularly by downsizers keen to walk to shops and restaurants.
Current prices for a three-bedroom terrace in the old town are £400,000 to £500,000, but if you opt for the outskirts of town in a more modern house, you can get a substantial garden and garage for the same price.
Central location: Within walking distance of the town centre is this four-bedroom period townhouse, with three storeys, oak flooring and sash windows
Warwickshire also has plenty of its own attractive Cotswold-style villages.
A case in point is Claverdon, west of Warwick, to which Arthur Mee referred in his 1936 book, The King’s England.
He described Claverdon village as ‘enshrined in trees’ and ‘gently touched by the hand of time’. Knight Frank is selling Claverdon Hall, a half-timbered manor house, for £2.75million.
That’s a lot of money, but not nearly as much as something comparable in Gloucestershire or Oxfordshire.
The hall stands in 9.5 acres of land and has six bedrooms in addition to five reception rooms.
Over the years, it has been owned by the Dudleys and Earls of Warwick.
Family roost: This four-bedroom detached house in a cul-de-sac has great potential as a family home, with schools nearby
‘Another big draw for Stratford is its excellent grammar school,’ says James Way, a partner of Knight Frank’s Stratford-upon-Avon office.
That might explain why Rugby appears to be bucking the national trend, but it also might have something to do with the improved rail links between the town and London.
The non-stop service from Rugby to Euston station in London takes just under an hour.
‘Many people now commute to the capital from here,’ says a negotiator at Edward Knight estate agents in Rugby.
‘Young families in London can sell a flat there and buy a three-bedroom house here for about £250,000, with a garden.’
Warwickshire has long been geographically at the heart of the country — and increasingly it can claim to be a stalwart of Middle England, too.