Berkhamsted is a historic and charming market town nestled in the rolling hills of Hertfordshire between Tring and Hemel Hempstead. Berkhamsted offers a tremendous standard of living and is widely considered to be one of the most desirable areas to live in South East England.
This upmarket commuter town sits in the Chiltern Hills surrounded by marvellous countryside, much of which is classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The picturesque Grand Union Canal runs through the town, offering a glimpse into Berkhamsted’s past as an important port.
Berkhamsted is a suitable area for families, retirees and young professionals alike, with a healthy mix of family houses and town centre flats available for renting and buying. The town also offers great schools and excellent transport links into the Capital.
It is a particularly attractive area for Londoners who are looking to relocate for a more peaceful life, as well as for London commuters. A direct train to London Euston takes just over 30 minutes and a drive to central London should take you no longer than an hour.
History of Berkhamsted
It might come as a surprise to some that the quaint town of Berkhamsted has quite a history. Most notably, Berkhamsted was the scene for one of the key events at the end of 1066 after the Battle of Hastings, where Edgar the Aetheling, King Harold’s heir, surrendered to the advancing forces of William the Conqueror.
William’s half brother, Robert, rebuilt the castle as a show of his authority. Berkhamsted castle became a high-status residence and an administrative centre for large estates. During the proceeding centuries, the castle was occupied by various members of royalty. It was extensively used by Henry II and both King Richard I and King John gave the castle to their queens. Geoffrey Chaucer, author of The Canterbury Tales, also took residence there. Nowadays, only the ruins remain which, to this day, are one of the major local landmarks.
Berkhamsted also played a significant role in the history of Britain’s canals. The town was an important port for many years, where coal, building materials and grain traversed the waters.
Transport Links in Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted is a town with excellent transport links. You can reach central London in about an hour by car and there is also easy access to the M1 and M25. The historic town of Oxford is just over an hour away from Berkhamsted by car too.
For international travelling, Heathrow is just 45 minutes away and London Gatwick is around an hour and 15 minutes away.
There are regular, speedy train services taking passengers from Berkhamsted to London Euston in little more than 30 minutes, making Berkhamsted a highly desirable area for London commuters. There are also good connections to the likes of Northampton, Milton Keynes, Tring and Clapham Junction.
Arriva runs the 500 service through Aylesbury, Hemel Hampstead and Watford, and Hertfordshire buses are run by Intalink.
Cyclists are also well served in Berkhamsted with plenty of cycle paths in and around the town.
What is it Like to Live in Berkhamsted?
Berkhamsted, or Berko’ as the locals call it, is an excellent area for those who are searching for a country way of life, but still within easy reach of the capital. The area is home to a number of magnificent period properties stretching back to medieval times, to Georgian, Victorian and later. Londoners can get an awful lot more for their money than they could in the Capital, and the wonderful surrounding countryside only adds to the appeal.
Berkhamsted was named as the best place to live in the South East of England by the Sunday Times in 2018, which gives you a sense of the appeal of this affluent town. It is known for its village feel and picturesque cottages and much of the town centre and the adjoining streets are Conservation Areas.
The historic and popular High Street is lined with impressive Grade II listed buildings. High Street has a great mix of chain stores and independents, including antique shops and a number of eateries and cafes which have contributed to a burgeoning café culture.
Berkhamsted offers appeal to environmentally friendly folk too. The town’s residents take sustainability into great consideration and the town shares an underlying eco-friendly ethos.
Berkhamsted High Street and Restaurants
High Street is where you will find the main concentration of shops and eateries. Home & Colonial Antiques is a fabulous collective of over 35 specialists, offering unique and inspirational pieces. Established in 1997, Home & Colonial is regarded as one of the most innovative antique and interiors shops in the UK.
The Gatsby, also on High Street, offers a fine dining experience with Modern European cuisine and piano accompaniment.
The Old Mill, on London Road, is a popular pub serving a good selection of ales. The Alford Arms is just outside Berkhamsted where country dining at its best is on offer. The charming terrace area is the perfect spot to enjoy a summer’s day. The Alford Arms is also conveniently located for a woodland walk at Ashridge Estate, famous for its springtime bluebells.
The Boat is a charming, traditional pub in an idyllic spot on the Grand Union Canal. It is the perfect place to enjoy a cool beverage in a relaxing atmosphere with friends and family.
Attractions and Festivals
Berkhamsted Farmer’s Market is held on the cobbled 13th-century market square in the centre of the town on the third Sunday of every month. Fresh, local and delicious produce is on offer, and the abundance of hot snacks make it a great spot for some tasty grub too.
The Berkhamsted Theatre Company is one of the premier amateur dramatic theatre companies in the whole of the South East, which has been in operation for nearly 100 years.
The art deco Rex cinema is a Grade II listed building which originates from 1936. This beautiful cinema shows both vintage classics as well as the modern-day blockbusters.
Berkofest is a very popular, family-friendly music festival with local and big-name bands making appearances. The festival also hosts comedy and readings from acclaimed authors, as well as children’s workshops and a rich variety of food and drink.
The Graham Green International Festival is an annual festival held over four days where lectures, discussions, films and social events are held. The events are all based on the novelist Graham Green, who once called Berkhamsted his home.
Other features of the town include the Grand Junction Canal which runs parallel to the High Street; the parish church of St Peter’s; and the British Film Institute’s National Archive at King’s Hill, one of the largest film and television archives in the world.
Outdoor Opportunities in and Around Berkhamsted
The Ashridge Estate offers terrific walking opportunities with acres of woodland and meadows to explore. You might see deer, munjtacs and foxes enjoying the area too.
Canal Fields is the main park in Berkhamsted with a playground, picnic area and skate park. It is also home to Berkhamsted Bowls Club. The park provides an attractive green space, which benefits from the presence of the River Bulbourne and the Grand Union Canal. The Millennium Garden was developed by Berkhamsted Town Council to mark the new millennium. The garden is designed with the purpose of promoting biodiversity and sustainability. A range of bees and butterflies can be seen frequenting the garden throughout the flowering season.
The Grand Union Canal Circular Walk is a 5.3km loop trail which is popular among locals. The trail is primarily used for cycling, walking, hiking and nature trips.
As a Berkhamsted resident, you are right on the doorstep of The Chilterns, which is just 16 miles away. The marvellous countryside of The Chilterns with its rolling green hills is a sight to behold, particularly in the spring and summer time.
Also, The Ridgeway National Trail passes through the area around Berkhamsted.
For sporting enthusiasts, there is the Berkhamsted Golf Club on The Common and there is a swimming pool available for members of the Knox-Johnson Sports Centre. There is also the Berkhamsted Bowls Club and the popular Berkhamsted Lawn Tennis and Squash Rackets Club.
The Berkhamsted Leisure Centre has a 75-station gym, a swimming pool and a variety of fitness classes. There is also an outdoor artificial pitch for a game of football.
Schools in Berkhamsted
Berkhamsted is home to a number of excellent schools, which makes it a fantastic town for families to settle in.
The following primary schools have all recently received an “outstanding” rating from Ofsted:
- Victoria Church of England Infant and Nursery School (ages 3-7)
- Westfield Primary School and Nursery (ages 3-11)
- St Thomas More Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided Primary School (ages 3-11)
Secondary schools rated as “good” include Ashlyns School and John F Kennedy Catholic School. Chesham Grammar School, located just outside of Berkhamsted has a reputation for extremely high academic standards too.
We would be amiss if we didn’t mention Berkhamsted School. Founded in 1541, Berkhamsted School is an independent “diamond school” in which pupils are taught coeducationally from the age of five months in the day nursery right through to sixth form.
Egerton-Rothesay School is a private school (ages 3-19) which specialises in children with special educational needs.
What are the Property Prices in Berkhamsted?
Berkhamsted is known for its mix of charming period properties, ranging from medieval to post-Victorian era. There is also quite a selection of more modern housing and flats available.
As you would expect given Berkhamsted’s appeal, property prices don’t come cheap here. The overall average price is currently £699,740 according to Rightmove. Detached properties sell for an average price of £1,055,935, semi-detached properties sell for an average of £630,429 and the average terraced property price is £569,581.
Generally, you should be able to find a reasonably sized 3-bedroom house for around £450,000, certainly not cheap but very affordable in comparison to the London property market.
Chancellors Estate Agents Operate in Berkhamsted
Here at Chancellors, we have a number of wonderful properties in Berkhamsted and the surrounding areas. We would be delighted to offer you viewings on our Berkhamsted properties, giving you a flavour of life in this delightful Hertfordshire town.
We will take the time to understand your bespoke requirements and will draw up a list of suitable properties for your consideration. Our estate agents have been operating in and around the Berkhamsted area for over 100 years. It’s safe to say that we know a thing or two about the housing market here. Our experience and expertise could be just what you need to make your dream move to Berkhamsted.
Get in contact with our Chesham branch today for more information and any questions you might have.