Fancy a life a little more quaint in London, but still want to be well connected? Lucky for you, the London village of Barnes is right on our doorstep
Barnes has a village feel to it that a lot of people living here buy into,’ says Tim Stranks, of Savills on Barnes High Street. ‘Village’ is one of those words estate agents love to bandy around to help push up prices, but it seems that recently if anywhere in London is worthy of the ‘little village’ tag, surely Stranks is right about Barnes in SW13? Apparently, everyone who is anyone is flocking there and all because of a so-called small town vibe.
‘People just want more space around them and in Barnes you’ve got plenty of that and so much greenery,’ Stranks says. ‘And on top of that, you’re still only 23 minutes from Waterloo.’ Houses in Barnes certainly don’t come cheap, however, with the average sale price currently at £1.4m. Savills has properties on its books ranging from a one-bed flat in Oriel Drive priced at £680,000, to a huge, six-bed pad in up-market Castelnau, on the market for £4,350,000.
Stranks explains that for people with the requisite funds who are looking to get away from the craziness of central London, but can’t face moving all the way out to the countryside, Barnes offers value for money. ‘Compared to central there’s definitely more value,’ he says. ‘You get more for your money in Putney and East Sheen, but you don’t quite get that village feel you get in Barnes, and that is why people are happy to pay a premium to live here.’
Barnes’s excellent schools too, including St Paul’s and the Swedish School, are undoubtedly another big draw and Stranks adds that the type of people Barnes attracts, including a few big name celebs, also helps foster a nice, welcoming atmosphere. ‘There aren’t lots of finance people here,’ he says. ‘There are creatives and TV people. Quite a few celebs have come here and bought big houses, too. There’s Gary Lineker, Ronan Keating and Holly Willoughby, plus a few authors, which adds to its appeal as well.’
So what exactly does Barnes offer its residents apart from celebrity spotting, village vibes and a particularly beautiful property portfolio? Its list of attractions, amenities and all round wonderful stuff is certainly a long one. The greenery that Stranks describes includes Barnes Green with its duck pond, the towpath by the Thames, Barnes Common and the magnificent Wetlands Centre.
One of the most exciting additions to life in Barnes has been the Olympic Cinema, which opened its doors in 2013. The cinema, which is surely one of the best in London, is housed in the old Olympic Studios, the legendary music studio where rock ‘n’ roll greats such as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and the Beatles recorded.
Less flash than the Olympic, but certainly no less important, is the Old Sorting Office community arts centre – which pulls the community together to give it that village tone – next to Barnes Pond, and the Bull’s Head pub, with its famous jazz venue, by the river. As far as pubs and restaurants are concerned, Barnes has plenty to offer. Restaurant-wise, old stalwart The Depot is well worth a visit, as is Sonny’s Kitchen in Church Road and the trendy Gail’s Bakery. On the pub front, the White Hart on the river is perfect for a sunny day and the Brown Dog, hidden away near the railway line, does fantastic food and great beer.
Shops such as Two Peas in a Pod for fruit and veg, the Ginger Pig butchers and The Fish Shop are all extremely popular with locals, and a place like Barnes wouldn’t be complete without a weekly farmers’ market; luckily there’s a superb one in Essex House, Station Road, every Saturday.
With all of these treats and many more on offer, there’s plenty of that ‘village’ good life to go around, whether you’re just visiting for the day or are lucky enough to be able to call Barnes home.