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Top places to live in Buckinghamshire Haddenham

With its pretty duck pond, church and annual scarecrow competition, Haddenham offers textbook village life, whilst benefiting from an easy-peasy commute to London. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.

WHY?

If your idea of a perfect village includes chocolate box thatched cottages, a duck pond, idyllic 12th century church, respected schools and excellent commuter links, it’s time to start feeling the love for Haddenham. A large village with around 5000 residents, there’s a great community vibe here as well as a strong family feel. There are good facilities too, including three children’s parks, a cricket/football ground (a dedicated cricket ground with pavilion is planned with a new development currently being built), and a small but active tennis club, along with village dentist, doctor’s surgery and small supermarket.

EAT

Sitting plum in the centre of the village, chic, buzzy Scandi café NORSK (a previous Muddy Award winner) is your go-to for excellent coffee and food – think open-faced sandwiches and to-die-for pastries – in its stylish Nordic-inspired interior and sun-trap courtyard. The best drinking pub in the village is The Rising Sun (it serves a good selection of craft beers and 19 gins including Bucks-based Foxdenton), but if you’re after proper gastro fare you’ll want to head ten minutes down the road to to Ashendon for the excellent Bib Gourmand The Hundred (head chef/owner Matt Gill previousy worked at St John in London), or to Thame for dinner at The Thatch. For comfort pub food it’s five minutes’ drive to The Crown at Cuddington. However, local rumours abound that the site that was once the Egg House Charcuterie artisan deli and butchers in Haddenham is turning into a bijou restaurant – watch this space.

SHOP

Alongside your flat white at NORSK browse a beautiful range of Scandi homewares and gifts, as well as stylish Meraki beauty products. There’s an excellent gift and interiors shop White Hart Studio – the jewellery and home furnishings are particularly strong. On the outskirts of the village there’s independent, family-run Haddenham Garden Centre which sells everything from flowers and trees to house plants. The centre also includes (deep breath)… a farm shop stocked with local produce, local butchers, deli (try the handmade scotch eggs!), heritage clothing stores and a newly extended restaurant.

Nearby Bradmoor Farm Shop is known for its eggs (its clients include local Michelin star restaurants) but has a good selection of local goodies, as does drinks store BeerGinVino which stocks an endless list of tipples, including Muddy Award-winning Rockfall Rum. The store also runs tastings and events, as well as boasting a seven-metre wine wall which should keep you busy for a few weeks. There’s a local Morrison’s and biggish Co-op if you’re caught short for basics as well as the longstanding and popular local fruit and veg shop Blooming Fruity.

NEARBY ATTRACTIONS

In Haddenham you’ll find Grade II listed Turn End, a collection of three stunning Sixties houses with gorgeous grounds (dogs are allowed in on leads) designed by multi-award winning architect Peter Aldington who still lives in the village, and holds the accolade of having more houses Grade II listed than any other living architect. Turn End is open by appointment or keep your eyes peeled for special open days throughout the year.

The village has its own very cool gym FitLife – more funky lighting, clever branding and tip-top PTs than a provincial gym should have by rights! Hugely popular (there’s another one planned for next year in Gerrards Cross) it offers pay as you go, teenage memberships, and huge array of group classes.

15 minutes in the car takes you to stunning Rothschild estate Waddesdon Manor which hosts several events throughout the year (headliners include the Christmas Market and child-friendly Colourscape exhibition), as well as Grade II listed Brill Windmill with its stunning views and walking routes. In July 2022, Haddenham village will also play host to the inaugural Carwithen Music Festival – six classical music concerts, two cinema screenings and exhibitions – to celebrate the centenary of the world’s first female composer, Doreen Carwithen. The stylish Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, built in 2010, is 7 miles away (15-20 mins in the car).

AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE

£528,488. The majority of sales are detached properties, going for an average of £642,762, whilst semi-detached go for an average of £440,940 and terraced fetching £384,979.

HOT PROPERTY

On with Strutt & Parker for £1.5m, Tythrop Barn has been newly converted with 3 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms and spacious, double height reception room.

SCHOOLS

The state primary schools are a big draw for the village. Haddenham St Mary’s C of E Primary School and Haddenham Community Infant School (both taking kids 4-7 years) have long been rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted – they feed Haddenham Junior School, rated ‘Good’ with its fair share of 11+ successes and boasting large outdoor spaces and a strong sports ethos.

Secondary school Lord Williams in Thame is rated Outstanding but be warned – it’s not a given your child will get a place here (though it often happens) as it’s just over the border in Oxfordshire! Haddenham is superbly placed for strong grammar schools. All boys Aylesbury Grammar School, all girls Aylesbury High School and the co-ed, arty Sir Henry Floyd Grammar School are your nearby choices. Independent schools in the surrounding area include much admired all-rounder co-ed prep school Ashfold (idyllic surroundings – formerly a Jacobean Manor), Stowe-associated prep school Swanbourne House and smart day/ boarding prep for girls in High Wycombe, Godstowe.

BEST KEPT SECRET

JMW Turner’s ‘housekeeper’ once lived in the village. Sophia Booth was the wife of a bargeman who died soon after she met Turner. Sophia was ten years younger than Turner and they lived together as man and wife (Mr and Mrs Booth) until Turner’s death in London. When the lease on the Chelsea flat expired in 1867, Sophia came to live at Haddenham Hall, a stunning late Georgian villa a few minutes walk from the 12th century church, until her death in 1878. Watch Mike Leigh’s film Mr Turner starring Timothy Spall – it’s all about their clandestine relationship.

COMMUTE

Haddenham is a commuter’s dream with direct bus and train links into London and across to Oxford. It’s just 37 minutes on the fastest train to London Marylebone from Haddenham & Thame Parkway on the deliciously efficient Chiltern Line. There are also direct trains to Oxford (30 mins), Bicester (15 mins) and Birmingham (1 hour 30). Buses take you to Oxford, Bicester, Thame, Aylesbury and surrounding villages (useful for teenagers and great for not having to ferry them everywhere).

If you prefer to drive, it’s a 35 minute drive into central Oxford depending on your timings – if you’re going to shop and parking at the Westgate, take the ring road or park and ride or you’ll be snail-pacing it into the city for an hour. Driving into London will take you just under 1 hour 30 minutes.

View the full Top 200 Best Places to Live

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