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Sands Home Search are independent buying consultants specialising in finding and acquiring prime country houses & estates, farm & equestrian property and waterside homes for retained private & corporate clients.

For further information about our service use the menu at the top of this page.

About the County of Wiltshire

(For a list of all the prime country estate properties sold in Wiltshire recently, scroll down to the bottom of this page)

Devizes, Seend, Melksham, Swindon, Salisbury, Warminster, Salisbury Plain, Burbage, Pewsey, Marlborough, Wroughton, Highworth, Chippenham, Lacock, Urchfont, Bradford on Avon, Shrewton, Wilton and the Tisbury area of Wiltshire.

The large county of Wiltshire divides into two distinct areas – north and south – with the vast military training area of Salisbury Plain in the centre.

North Wiltshire is dominated by downland from the M4 to Salisbury Plain. This area is very rural with villages situated in the valleys and Marlborough as an attractive market town. The Vale of Pewsey is particularly popular with buyers due to its beauty and good train links.

There are mainline stations into London Paddington at Pewsey (approximately 60 minutes), Swindon (approximately 60 minutes), Bath (approximately 90 minutes) and Chippenham (approximately 75 minutes). The M4 motorway runs through north Wiltshire and offers accessibility to London in less than 2 hours.

South Wiltshire is a small but very popular area which is bordered to the north by the Plain, to the east by Salisbury itself and running southwestwards towards Shaftesbury, Blandford Forum and the Dorset border.

The landscape changes dramatically to the south of the Plain with pretty wooded chalk stream valleys and stone villages. The main valleys running through south Wiltshire are the Woodford Valley to the north of Salisbury, the Wylye Valley running to the north-west, the Nadder Valley running due west and the Chalke Valley which provides dramatic scenery as it runs south-westwards into Cranborne Chase.

South Wiltshire is a great draw for second homeowners, being just on the fringe of reasonable commuting distance from London. It is also popular with those who are able to work from home for part of the week, and the good schools in Salisbury and around Shaftesbury have led to an influx of those moving full time to the area.

There are mainline stations into London Waterloo at Salisbury (approximately 90 minutes) and Tisbury (approximately 110 minutes). The majority of the A303, which joins the M3 west of Basingstoke, is dual carriageway and it is possible to reach central London from south Wiltshire by car in under 2 hours.

Despite its great landed estates, which include Wilton and Longleat, Wiltshire still has a proliferation of good family houses, although demand sometimes exceeds supply. Many of the county's manor houses, farmhouses and rectories are pre-Victorian.

It is only this century that Wiltshire's popularity has surged. This is largely thanks to good communications to London, although the county's appealing landscapes have played a part. Wiltshire remains predominantly rural, and Swindon is its only major town. Agriculture is still important, but new, high-tech industries are now springing up along the M4 corridor.

The county's wide, open spaces, such as Salisbury Plain - the largest expanse of chalk grassland in England - contrast with secluded river valleys; to the north-west of the county are hills overlaid with clay.

Wiltshire also is rich in prehistoric sites, from Avebury and Silbury Hill in the north to Stonehenge in the south.

Ease of access to London means that house prices are buoyant. The most popular areas are those where road and rail links to the capital are good, such as close to the M4 in the north and A303 in the south.

Wiltshire's villages and isolated houses tend to be prettier than its towns, where prices are lower.

Major towns

Swindon, Salisbury, Calne, Chippenham, Devizes, Trowbridge, Malmesbury, Marlborough, Warminster and Westbury.

Transport links

Train: Paddington to Swindon 55min; Paddington to Chippenham, 1hr 10min; Waterloo to Salisbury 1hr 20min.

Car: Swindon is 76 miles from central London and Chippenham 93 miles, via the M4. Salisbury is 85 miles, via the M3 and A30.

Public schools

St Mary's School, Calne (01249 815899). Girls only, age range 11-18. Day and boarding. www.stmaryscalne.wilts.sch.uk/

Dauntsey's School, West Lavington (01380 812446). Co-educational, age range 11-18. Day and boarding. www.dauntseys.wilts.sch.uk/

Marlborough College (01672 892200). Co-educational, age range 11-18. Boarding. www.marlboroughcollege.org/

The Godolphin School, Salisbury (01722 333059). Girls only, age range 7-18. Day and boarding. www.godolphin.org/

Salisbury Cathedral School (01722 322652). Co-educational, age range 3-13. Day and boarding. www.salisburycathedralschool.com/

Stonar School, Melksham (01225 702309). Girls only, age range 4-18. Day and boarding. www.stonar.wilts.sch.uk/

Warminster School (01985 213038). Co-educational, age range 4-18. Day and boarding. www.warminsterschool.org.uk/

Leisure

Golfcourses: Marlborough (01672 512147); North Wiltshire, Bishops' Cannings (01380 860257); Salisbury and South Wiltshire, Netherhampton (01722 742645).

Hunts: the Wilton, the South and West Wiltshire, the Avon Vale and the Tedworth.

Fishing: rivers Kennet, Avon, Wylye and Nadder.

THE BEST WILTSHIRE COUNTRY HOUSES FOR SALE IN 2004
(A breakdown of what was for sale & purchase prices)

Pythouse, Tisbury (Grade II* house, 95 acres): £7m

Eastcourt Estate, Malmesbury (Grade II* Cotswold House, 172 acres): £4.75m

South Wraxall Manor, Bradford-on-Avon (historic manor, 252 acres): £4.075m

Cowick Farm, Calne (6 bed period house, 483 acres): £3.25m

Corton Manor, Hilmarton (Grade II Manor, 397 acres): £2.7m

Manr House, Kington Langley ('perfect village house', 4.95 acres): £2.75m

Country Life - June 2005


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