Many people seem to think that, between oligarchs buying up prime central London and renters occupying the trendy suburbs, the capital is becoming a place of transition. But there’s one place that’s defying that trend: Chiswick.
This ancient country retreat, which was once part of Middlesex, is every inch the traditional London village. With Chiswick High Road packed with boutiques, gastropubs and even a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hedone, it attracts young professionals and first-time buyers fleeing the increasingly extortionate prices of Notting Hill and Kensington.
Most find they like the strong sense of community and move through the price brackets in different sub-areas, perhaps starting off in Strand-on-the-Green, moving on to Turnham Green, then ending up in elegant Bedford Park. The excellent preparatory options for independent day schools such as The Latymer School and St Paul’s are also instrumental in keeping families in the area.
“We may not have a central London location here,” says Luke Walsby, lifelong resident and associate at the local branch of Hamptons International, “but we have a comfort of life location. We’ve got all the transport links we need and there’s plenty of room for growth.”
He estimates that house prices have increased by 30 per cent in the last two years, although they’ve dropped off by 10 per cent recently. However, the market in Chiswick has a remarkable ability to bounce back, as seen at the height of the financial crisis in 2008 when house prices fell by 25 per cent and rose by that amount in the space of 18 months.
“Although there was a severe shortage of stock previously,” says sales manager Paul Cooney at the Chiswick branch of Kinleigh, Folkard & Hayward, “we’re now seeing a healthy number of properties coming to market, offering a good selection to purchasers. Many of our buyers live in the area or surrounding neighbourhoods and love its village atmosphere, good schools and period homes, so staying within the area is very important.”
Outsiders may soon be coming in to break this bubble as the Chiswick Business Park, which was valued at £350m in 2010, was recently sold to China Investment Company for £780m, bringing new employees to the area. It’s also the biggest real estate purchase made by CIC’s investment arm in Europe.
Property developers have also started to take notice of Chiswick’s popularity, with several new build developments – such as St Peter’s Place, Chiswick Point, The Corner Haus and Ashlar Court – all completed or due to complete in the next few years. However, “opportunities for development here are few and far between,” says Cooney, “so when they do become available, they tend to sell quite quickly.”
6 THINGS YOU DIDN’T KNOW ABOUT ...CHISWICK
1 Chiswick is home to London’s oldest and largest brewery, Fuller’s, which was founded as an independent, family run business in 1845. It even makes a “flowery, fresh and historic” brew called Chiswick Bitter, dedicated to the town.
2 Historic figures who lived in Chiswick include the poet Alexander Pope, the Italian revolutionary Ugo Foscolo, the impressionist painter Camille Pissarro and the novelist EM Forster. The actor Hugh Grant also grew up in Chiswick on Sutton Lane.
3 The area is home to Hogarth’s House, the former residence of 18th century artist and editorial satirist William Hogarth, who is credited with having pioneered western sequential art. His work became so pervasive that political illustrations in his style are referred to as “Hogarthian” even now.
4 Chiswick House in Burlington Lane is considered the finest example of Neo-Palladian architecture in London, with one of the earliest English landscaped gardens. Visit the Blue Velvet Room to gaze at the extravagant ceiling depicting the goddess of architecture.
5 Chiswick has a number of sublocalities such as Bedford Park, Grove Park, the Glebe Estate, Strand-on-the-Green and those with named tube stations, such as Turnham Green, and Gunnersbury. Chiswick railway station is on the South-Western trainline.
6 The name "Chiswick" is of Old English origin meaning "Cheese Farm", and originates from the riverside meadows and farms that are thought to have supported an annual cheese fair on Dukes Meadows up until the 18th century.
Update: This article has been modified to clarify the second image shows the bridge at Chiswick House and Gardens, not Chiswick Bridge as previously stated.