Many people who live in London talk about leaving it to live in the countryside, but in reality it’s not that easy, especially if you work in the capital. But there are suburban towns near London that can offer the best of both worlds.
One such location is Leatherhead in Surrey, just 17 miles south of central London. It’s just on the outer edge of the M25 near the A24 ring road. It is also easily accessible by public transport, with Southern Railways trains leaving from Victoria station directly to Leatherhead every few minutes.
Leatherhead, which shows signs of human settlement since the Iron Age (long before the creation of London), has been named one of the best cities for people who regularly commute to and from the capital.
The city is believed to have been formally founded on the east side of the River Mole in the second half of the 6th century by Anglo-Saxon settlers, and was first mentioned in Alfred the Great’s will in 880 , who bequeathed it to his son. , Edward the Elder.
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Leatherhead was an agricultural settlement in the early part of its history, and in the middle of the Elizabethan era it began to develop its reputation as a market town. The introduction of rail services in the late 1800s really put it on the map, doing wonders for the local economy.
After World War I, Leatherhead became a manufacturing hub, housing factories for companies like Ronson and Goblin Vacuum Cleaners. Today, the city is home to major corporations, including Esso and Unilever, which have set up offices in its many business parks.
The area is particularly known for its stunning scenery, natural beauty and nature which has inspired many British literary geniuses who have lived in or visited Leatherhead.
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Edward Lear, author of the poem The Owl and the Pussycat, is one such author who owed much of his success to Leatherhead. His name is eternalized on the walls of the Edmund Tylney pub in the high street, along with others.
Even Jane Austen is believed to have founded Hatfield Manor in her classic novel Emma on Thorncroft Manor, which was designed and built in Leatherhead in the late 18th century. The mansion is one of more than 80 heritage-listed historic buildings in the city.
Other buildings include the parish church of St Mary and St Nicholas, parts of which date back to the 11th century, the Leatherhead Theater and Hampton Cottage.
The city is also known for producing some of the best pioneers in the country in recent times. A former resident is Donald Campbell, who broke the world land speed record in his boat, the Bluebird, in 1964.
It is also the home of legendary actor Sir Michael Caine, who lives there in a house that has his own cinema which cost him £100,000 to build. The town was also once home to Harry Potter actor Tom Felton, who as a child attended Howard of Effingham School in Leatherhead.
Leatherhead, a town of just under 12,000, really loves the arts and hosts its own theater festival every May. The festival is often championed by Sir Michael Caine, and some of the festival money is invested in local theatre.
However, Leatherhead isn’t the cheapest option for anyone planning to upgrade to the suburban belt. Being a neighbor of Sir Michael has a price. Average house prices in Leatherhead are more or less on par with prices in London.
But for the same price as an average property in London, you could get a lot more in Leatherhead. For around £650,000 one could buy a 3 bedroom detached house with a large garden, driveway and garage.
Although townhouses and apartments are a bit cheaper, they still match prices in London. But for a better balance between town and country, it might be worth considering Leatherhead for your next move.
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