Leaving London to work from home, but want to be in striking distance of the capital? Check out these gorgeous homes.

There’s nothing like a pandemic to shake up the way we live. When crises hit cities – and Covid-19 is, after all, primarily a crisis defined by city living – there typically follows a period in which people begin to consider other options. And, since the lockdown proved to many office workers (and, crucially, their bosses) that their jobs could be done from home with few adverse effects and a great deal of money saved on all sides, it stands to reason that more and more people are considering a London exodus.

Neither does this trend appear to be one that will dwindle as, one day, we emerge from the pandemic. Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health, has said that he will consider making it compulsory for employers to offer remote working as an option. Throw into the mix that for many, London prices are prohibitive – even for small properties – and the lure of moving out grows ever greater. For many, flexible arrangements will be the answer, with some face-to-face meetings balanced by the majority of the work being done at home. To that end, those areas that are within striking distance of the capital will always have appeal.

Here we round up some beautiful properties on the market to make the escape to the country – or indeed a smaller town – all the more tantalising.

Lewes, East Sussex

3 Bedrooms
Cubitt and West, £695,000

Lewes, just over an hour’s train ride from London Victoria and fifteen minutes from Brighton, is a place so pretty that the great William Morris once said of it, ‘You can see Lewes lying like a box of toys under a great amphitheatre of chalky hills.’ It is correspondingly expensive, however. And yet, whilst you may not bag a massive bargain, you can still lay hands on houses for the kind of money that will, these days, only buy small flats in much in of London. A town full of picturesque twittens (the Sussex term for alleyways), breathtaking views and spoiled for stylish independent shops, many of its proliferation of period homes are at the more cottagey end of the spectrum. We love this three-bed semi-detached Victorian house – which has a front patio – for its unusually high ceilings and generous proportions. Situated at the top of the high street, it has spectacular views across the South Downs, while being slap-bang in the centre of town, which has three supermarkets, a brand-new uber-stylish cinema, good transport links and is within easy access of both the seaside and the rural beauty of the region.

Faversham, Kent

4 Bedrooms
Foundation Property, £695,000

At a trifle over an hour from London St.Pancras, Faversham is another eminently eligible commuter market town with an exquisitely pretty old centre, choc-a-bloc as it is with pretty old-style greengrocers, independent shops and perfectly preserved medieval streets. It also just happens to be on the Swale, a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey in the Thames Estuary, whose quayside is dotted with a picturesque medley of boats, making it an ideal spot for anyone who yearns to wake up to the smell of salty sea air. We love this very grown-up four-bed townhouse. Prices may have steadily risen in the area over the past few years, but you do nonetheless get a great deal more for your money than in the capital, as evidenced in the lovely proportions, period features and grand staircases here. There is a decent sized garden at the back too, and a lovely kitchen – and everything has been done up tastefully in a medley of Farrow & Ball colours; it is also awash with reclaimed pine doors and floorboards, metro tiles and roll top baths. All you need do is move in.

Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire

4 Bedrooms
The Modern House, £1,325,000

The lure of Henley – a gorgeous town on the river, peppered with medieval streets – is strong and hard to resist. There exist few places more perfectly suited to days messing around in boats (yes, we know you’re supposed to be working from home, but think of the ways you could use all those hours saved on commuting). This spectacular house is pure charm. On Bell Street, one of the most beautiful in Henley, the perfection of its Georgian façade (in fact a later addition to the 16th-century Grade II-listed property) belies the recent contemporary refit that lies on the inside, featuring Crittall doors, exposed beams and a kitchen composed of reclaimed units with zinc tops and a cast-concrete butler sink. As the details say, ‘At first glance, the house is typically Georgian in style; it presents a double-fronted redbrick facade to street, complete with first-floor bay window, discrete brickwork ornamentation and a pan-tiled roof. The interiors reflect the aesthetic of a completely different time, one which has been married throughout with contemporary additions, to create a family home firmly of the twenty-first century.’ Absolute move-straight-in heaven.

Castle Hedingham, Halstead, Essex

5 Bedrooms
David Burr Estate Agents, £495,000

If, on your escape route from London, you’re aiming for the full period experience, this 16th-century, five-bed home is hard to beat. Featuring an inglenook fireplace and an embarrassment of riches when it comes to exposed beams, this is the stuff of character property dreams. All arranged around a central courtyard, there is great parking as well as lovely views. It’s just as well. For those intending to commute, doing so by car would be preferable here; the average road journey to London is 90-minutes, whereas the train takes somewhat longer. But for anyone not required in the office with any degree of regularity, this is a spectacular – and very well-priced – option.

Charlbury, Oxfordshire

3 Bedrooms
Chancellors, £550,000

Charlbury – which is less than fifteen minutes by train to Oxford and connected directly by rail to London Paddington – constitutes one of a gaggle of picture-perfect Cotswolds villages. Awash with Farrow & Ball hues, it is also home to one of the county’s best country pubs, The Bull Inn, run by Charlie and Willow Crossley. This beautiful stone cottage is both wonderfully pretty and in the perfect bucolic setting. Plus, for when you have guests, there’s even a garage that has been converted into an extra bedroom.


4 Bedrooms
The Modern House, £1,195,000

For the total antithesis to the quaint rural cottage, this four-bedroom timber frame house – built in the late 1970s by the celebrated architect and Cambridge professor Syd Furness for his own family – is spectacular. Just to the south-east of the beautiful city centre, buying this would be akin to moving into a slice of architectural history. As The Modern House explains, ‘As the acclaimed architectural historian Sir Nikolaus Pevsner pointed out when writing about the work of Furness, the architect was clearly informed by the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, as the construction also gracefully shows. Glass is used extensively throughout the house, within the roof structure and external walls. The result is an exceptionally bright interior that frames its verdant settings from within by offering a series of wonderful views to the mature private garden…. Its lightweight, articulated construction chimes with the work of leading architects of the time such as Norman Foster and Richard Rogers, yet Furness’ use of wood and simple refined layouts make for a more timeless design.’ By rail, commuters can reach London King’s Cross in a shade under an hour.

Dedham, Essex

7 Bedrooms
Exquisite Home, £1,500,00

Dedham Vale is, surely, one of the most spectacular spots in the country, ever immortalised in John Constables depictions of its – largely unchanged – bucolic life. It is also, thanks to the railway at Manningtree, easily accessible to London Liverpool Street. This seven-bedroom house is one for those aching to seriously spread out in their post city life. As the current owner explains, ‘The estate was purchased by my great great grandfather but the family didn't move here until after the war. At some point in the 16th-century we believed it was commissioned by the Calvary as the paddocks are full of musket balls.’ To reach it you drive through a spectacular tunnel of trees and meadowland, after which you arrive at the resplendent house in all its glorious seclusion.

By Nancy Alsop
September 2020


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Nancy Alsop


Nancy is a magpie for the best in design and culture.