Top places to live in Oxfordshire Wallingford
A new restaurant, cocktail bar and wine merchants have recently joined the already lively high street of this buzzy market town in south Oxon. Part of our Top 200 Places to Live series.
Characterful riverside town with a burgeoning foodie scene, indie shopping and the market town essential… Waitrose.
The restaurant scene is buzzing in Wallingford with gastro options galore and not a table to be had on Friday or Saturday nights unless you book ahead. The curiously named Shellfish Cow serves, as you might guess, seafood and beef alongside cocktails, a great wine selection and beers. Next door Le Clos is a fabulously French wine bar where you can order cheese, charcuterie plates and French-style pizzas alongside the huge selection of wines. The Old Post Office is a good choice for brunch, lunch or dinner with it’s wood-fired pizzas, broad-appeal and reliably tasty dishes. New on the scene is Five Little Pigs, with a menu of fabulously inventive small plates, cocktails and a bottomless brunch on Thurs-Sun. Cafes are also not in short supply. Muddy Awards winner Santosha is a yoga studio and ‘nourish bar’ with smoothies, juices, bowls and soup, and there’s equally virtuous is Ribizli, a vegetarian cafe offering homemade soups and stews.
The shopping in Wallingford is quirky and independent-focused. Fab for gifts and a potter. The Wallingford Bookshop is always bustling and over the other side of the road, Wildwood offers vintage finds and gifts, as does Past & Presents, or if you’re really looking for a good forage, The Lamb Arcade.
On the foodie front, try Muddy’s favourite, The Keep, a bar and off-licence in one – genius! Or there’s the Cookhouse Deli and new Grape Minds wine merchants plus the re-fill shop, Bee Zero and the tiny and quirky, Wallingford Tea & Coffee. There are also four markets hosted in the main square at various times during the month.
The Wallingford Castle ruins and museum aren’t exactly going to fill a day but they’re well organised and great for a run around/rainy morning respectively. The Cholsey & Wallingford Railway is another great option for kids, but check the website for steam days. The Thames is where locals head on sunny days, with electric boat hire in Wallingford and canoes and paddleboards, canoes and more from Benson. For evening entertainment, aside from the food and drink there’s the Wallingford Corn Exchange which puts on theatre, film, comedy and live music.
AVERAGE HOUSE PRICE
Properties in Wallingford had an overall average price of £473,447 over the last year, so not bad for the area. Semis go for an average £409,836 while for detached it’s £684,805. The larger properties with gardens tend to be over the £1m mark and are in the Winterbrook area or in the villages around the outside like Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, Preston Crowmarsh and Benson.
The independent school selection is strong. Moulsford boys prep is highly regarded and in September 2022 will open a new pre-prep building for its reception-Year 2 classes. Nearby Cranford House is now co-ed right the way through to 18, as is The Oratory which also offers boarding. There are a clutch of state primary schools rated ‘Good’ in the Wallingford area – from larger primary schools with good facilities to tiny bucolic village schools. It just depends on your priorities. Wallingford School is 11-18 and is also rated Good. It is highly thought of for sports in particular.
BEST KEPT SECRET
Agatha Christie was once the president of the Sinodun Players, the Wallingford am-dram society, and lived on the outskirts of Wallingford for 40 years. Her former home, Winterbrook House is currently on the market for £2.75m.
Not bad. Cholsey Station is three miles away and the fastest route into London Paddington via Reading takes just under an hour. There’s also a coach from the M40 junction at Lewknor. The bus stop is 25 minutes drive away from Wallingford but the bus fare is a third of the price of the peak time train at £17 return compared to £53.
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