Berkshire area guide
Area size: 1,262 km2
Average house price (based on 3-bed semi): £326,642 (Source: Zoopla)
Key towns: Reading, Newbury, Slough, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Wokingham, Windsor, Sandhurst, Hungerford, Wantage, Crowthorne
The Royal County of Berkshire, as it’s been known since the 19th Century, is located in south east England within easy commute of London. The picturesque county offers the best of country life as well as access to vibrant towns and cities, making it a desirable base for families, professionals and businesses. Major airports such as Heathrow and Gatwick are close by and Berkshire offers good motorway access to the rest of the UK. The county is known for its excellent schools, market towns and villages, entertainment and leisure facilities, and desirable properties.
Berkshire’s top five
- Transport links: Wherever you live in Berkshire, you’re within easy commute of London and Reading by train. You’re also close to major motorways including the M25, M4, M3, M40 and M27. There are excellent shuttle bus services to business hubs and some of the region’s key businesses. Heading out of the UK? Heathrow and Gatwick are on your doorstep too
- Architecture: Berkshire’s rich history is reflected in its mix of stunning architecture – from manor houses and farms, to detached family homes, executive accommodation and quaint cottages, there’s something for everyone.
- Time out: With attractions such as Legoland, Windsor Castle, Go Ape and Ascot Racecourse within its borders, Berkshire is ideal for family days out.
- Parks and spaces: Berkshire’s word-renowned Windsor Great Park and Basildon Park offer beautiful cultivated landscapes and are complimented by the large amount of green space in the county’s countryside.
- Education opportunities: Berkshire boasts many good and outstanding state primary and secondary schools, as well as independent schools such as Eton College, Reading Boys’ School, Cheam and Elstree. The University of Reading, Imperial College and the University of West London offer excellent opportunities in higher education.
Berkshire is a well-connected county. There are convenient rail links from Reading to Gatwick, Newcastle, South Wales, the West Country, Manchester, Oxford, the Cotswolds and the nearby South Coast. You can enjoy an easy commute to London Paddington from Reading (the fast service takes just 30 minutes), Maidenhead, Hungerford, Kintbury and Newbury. The Great Western Railway line still passes through Maidenhead railway station to link to London, Reading and Oxford.
On the roads, the M4 passes east to west through Berkshire, offering a link to Bristol, South Wales or London in the opposite direction. You will also be within easy reach of the M5 and M25, M3, M40 and M27. The A34 runs from north to south through Berkshire.
Berkshire offers convenient opportunities for international travel and business, as Gatwick and Heathrow airports, as well as Stansted, Bristol and Southampton, are all close by.
There are comprehensive bus services in the region, including Thames Valley services, which serve some of the major employers in the area, including the shuttle bus that runs from Reading Central Station to the Thames Valley Business Park.
Points of interest
Berkshire has been known as ‘the Royal County of Berkshire’ since at least the 19th century because of the presence of Windsor Castle. It was also recognised by the Queen as such in 1957 and the village of Bucklebury is where Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, grew up.
Other famous people associated with the county include the author, Jane Austen; the poet Alexander Pope; the artist Stanley Spencer; author of The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame; actor and director, Kenneth Branagh; comedians, Jimmy Carr and Ricky Gervais; Prime Minister, David Cameron; musician, Elton John; entrepreneur, Peter Jones; Oscar Wilde; actress, Kate Winslet; footballer, Theo Walcott, and many more.
The village of Thatcham is believed to be the oldest continuously inhabited place in Britain, contributing to Berkshire’s reputation at ‘the oldest county’.
Maidenhead is another Berkshire town that has a rich and interesting history. Built as early as Saxon Times, medieval Maidenhead began to grow and flourish around the bridge built in 1280 to replace the ferry service across the Thames. It wasn’t until the Great Western Railway came to the town in the 1830s that Maidenhead really came into its own.
Berkshire is packed full of things to do and see. Places of interest include Basildon Park, the Berkshire Downs, the ruins of Donnington Castle near Newbury, Frogmore House, Greenham Common, Legoland Windsor, the Museum of English Rural Life, Reading Abbey, the Watermill Theatre, Windsor Castle and Windsor Great Park.
Living in Berkshire
According to the Family Friendly Hotspots report by Family Investments, Wokingham in Berkshire is the safest place to live in the UK when considering crime results, childcare provision, exam results and the quality of local amenities. Woodley in Berkshire ranks in second in the same report. Since 2007, Wokingham has also consistently appeared in the Halifax’s Quality of Life annual report as one of the top ten places to live in the UK.
Country Life says that Bucklebury in Berkshire is one of the best places to live for commuters, while it’s safe to say that Berkshire as a whole offers the benefits of country life with easy access to London, Swindon, Reading and Oxford when you want the convenience of a major town or city.
Shopping in Berkshire
With over 80 stylish stores, numerous restaurants and a cinema, the Oracle Shopping Centre in Reading is a popular destination for shoppers in Berkshire. Let’s not forget too that the vibrant, eclectic mix of high street and niche shops in London are within easily travelling distance. As well as mainstream shops in Berkshire’s thriving towns, there are also plenty of opportunities to visit farm shops, delicatessens, retail parks and much more. The top ten rated shops in Berkshire on TripAdvisor include Willow Court Farm Shop, The Grumpy Goat speciality cheese and beer shop in Reading, Eton Fudge Shop, Hogan Music and the Hands-On Art Studio.
Working in Berkshire
Berkshire is part of the Thames Valley area, sometimes known as the ‘Computer Valley’. Reading is home to many big players in the information technology industry, including Microsoft, Regus, Oracle, Bang & Olufsen, Nvidia, and Xerox. The Thames Valley Business Park is one of the key industrial hubs of the region and is served by a dedicated shuttle bus service from Reading Central Station.
Slough is home to Europe’s largest trading estate, as well as the UK’s biggest business park. Many industry giants have their UK or European offices here, including Blackberry, O2, Nintendo, Black and Decker, Honda, HTC and Amazon.co.uk.
Bracknell attracts key names in high tech industries, including Panasonic, Fujitsu, Dell, Hewlett Packard, and Cable and Wireless. You’ll also find the UK headquarters of the BMW Group here.
Berkshire has a strong agricultural history and is still known for its dairy farming and cheese production.
Education in Berkshire
Local Education Authorities in Berkshire boast some of the best schools and GCSE results in the country. Outstanding state primary schools in the region include Hampsted Norreys, Compton, Welford and Wickham, Yattendon and Polehampton. There are also plenty of state secondary schools or academies rated outstanding, including The Westgate School, Herschel Grammar School, The Down School, Windsor Girls’ School and Edgbarrow School.
Berkshire is home to many famous independent, boarding and prep schools, including the world-renowned Eton College, Cheam, Pangbourne College and The Oratory School among others. The Good Schools Guide and Ofsted reports provide excellent starting points for more information.
Higher education also has a high profile in Berkshire with students coming from around the world to study at the University of Reading, Imperial College (Silwood Park campus) and the University of West London.
Sports and leisure in Berkshire
There is so much to see and do in Berkshire. For sports lovers, there is the 24,200 capacity Madejski Stadium, which is home to Reading Football Club and the rugby union London Irish team. The county boasts more than 40 golf courses, as well as world-famous racecourses at Ascot, Windsor and Newbury. Berkshire is also proud of its premier league ice hockey and hockey teams.
For people who want to enjoy the great outdoors, the Berkshire countryside is ideal for walking, cycling and horse riding. The county’s rivers and canals provide plenty of opportunities to get involved with water sports, such as sailing, rowing and canoeing (the Maidenhead Regatta is often seen as a testing ground for Olympic rowing athletes).
Places to visit
Berkshire offers a wealth of places to visit. If you have a family, then Legoland and Go Ape in Bracknell are right on your doorstep. The Look Out Discovery Centre in Bracknell is also ranked in the top ten things to do in Berkshire on TripAdvisor, while Thorpe Park and Chessington World of Adventures are close by.
If historic buildings are more your style, then you can’t get buildings much more steeped in than Windsor Castle or St. George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Berkshire is the perfect place to live or work if you want a taste of country life. There are a variety of stunning green spaces, many of which have a rich history. Check out Windsor Great Park, Caversham Court Gardens, Black Park Country Park, Basildon Park, Savill Garden, and Dinton Pastures Country Park to name but a few.
Berkshire offers a good mix of property types. Newbury exemplifies the architecture in the region, which offers Victorian semi-detached homes, tree-lined avenues of inter-war housing, 1970s housing estates, contemporary townhouses, executive detached homes and flats.
The region is also known for its stunning manor houses, farms, quaint period cottages and detached family homes.
The average price for a three-bed semi-detached property is currently £326,642, a value that has risen by £29,040 over the past 12 months. The average monthly rent for a similar size property is currently £1409 pcm (Source: Zoopla).
Again, according to Zoopla, the highest value towns in Berkshire for property are Crowthorne, Wokingham, Reading, Sandhurst and Bracknell.
About Kempton Carr Croft
Kempton Carr Croft is a multi-disciplined firm of Chartered Surveyors offering independent, professional advice and services for residential and commercial property and land.
With local offices in Gerrards Cross, Mayfair – London, Staines, Windsor, Reading, Basingstoke and Farnham supporting our head office in Maidenhead, we are well positioned to provide property solutions to clients throughout London, the Thames Valley and the South. View our full range of services to see how we can assist you.