London Film Festival showcases unsung British towns & villages

8 Oct

This year’s London Film Festival, which opens today – October 8 – does not only highlight the work of some of the world’s greatest actors and actresses. It’s programme of UK premieres also shines a spotlight on some-often unsung British cities, towns and villages.

07.10.14 Film 6

Because, from Yorkshire to Cornwall and from Buckingham to Milton Keynes, directors have made use of the UK’s coastline, countryside, and architecture to tremendous effect.

The veteran director Mike Leigh’s latest Film, Mr Turner was part filmed in the low key yet lovely village of Kingsand, Cornwall, which stood in for Margate – the seaside town where the painter J M W Turner, played by Timothy Spall (who won the best actor award for the role at this year’s Cannes Film Festival) visited his mistress.

It is easy to see why this conservation area fishing village with its beautiful cottages and sandy beaches (not to mention plenty of restaurants and pubs) appealed to Mr Leigh a little more than modern day Margate.

“I really think that Kingsand is one of the most special parts of Cornwall,” said Sandy Lush, franchise owner of Marchand Petit estate agents. “Everyone knows everyone and everyone takes a real pride in their cottages. It is a sleepy forgotten corner of Cornwall and that is what people really like about it.”

Kingsand may be sleepy but it has a good collection of local pubs, galleries, and a general store as well as a primary school (Fourlanesend Community Primary School) which is rated “good” by Ofsted. It is on the beautiful Rame Peninsula with easy access to the Rame Head Heritage Coast, and yet a journey, via ferry, to Plymouth takes around half an hour.

Average property prices in Kingsand stand at £343,623, up 3.75 per cent in the last year.

Ms Lush estimates that a two bedroom cottage, which date from the sixteenth century, would cost between £250,000 and £300,000, while a three bedroom property would cost from £300,000 to £425,000.

Another film festival hot ticket is The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Keira Knightley. The film follows the life of World War Two code-breaker Alan Turing, who worked at Bletchley Park, a stately home on the outskirts of the village of Bletchley, Milton Keynes.

Bletchley is not the most stunning of villages – much of its property was built as council housing in the 1950s. It is, however, excellent value.

Average prices in Bletchley stand at £200,586, up 8.46 per cent in the last year.

Richard Michalski, valuations manager at Michael Graham estate agents, estimates that a budget of £170,000 would buy a three bedroom ex council terraced house, while for £200,000 to £250,000 you could pick up a four bedroom detached executive home. There are also some historic homes on the outskirts – expect to pay around £500,000 for a farmhouse or three bedroom cottage.

Bletchley has a reasonable high street, although competition from Milton Keynes town centre, four miles away, means it is not fantastic. It also has a station, with journeys to London in around 50 minutes (alternatively drive to Milton Keynes station to pick up a service to the capital in around 35 minutes).

Local schools are a mixed bag, but Sir Thomas Aquinas Catholic Primary School is rated “outstanding” by Ofsted, while for seniors Lord Grey School is given a “good” report by the Government’s schools’ watchdog.

The makers of Testament of Youth (yet another British biopic, this time a dramatization of Vera Brittain’s World War One memoir starring Swedish actress Alicia Vikander) headed north to the centre of Sheffield for key scenes in the film for which its magnificent Victorian municipal and industrial architecture made a perfect backdrop.

Sarah Powell, director of Belvoir Sheffield, said that despite Sheffield’s size its city centre has a villagey feel, with plenty of students to give the area a buzz, good shopping, and stacks of cafes and restaurants. Yet the beauties of the Peak District are only a 15 minute drive away.

Although the recession was not kind to the city there are now some strong signs of recovery. The average property price stands at £128,404, up just over six per cent in the last 12 months.

Buyers should expect to pay around £150,000 for a two bedroom flat, either modern or in one of the city’s converted industrial buildings.

For sale:

1. It’s streets of pretty terraced houses made Kingsand, Cornwall, an ideal spot for a biopic about the later life of the painter Turner. This prime example is on the market at £399,995.

07.10.14 Film 1

2. Or you could opt for this evocative three bedroom cottage in Torpoint, on the market for £425,000.

07.10.14 Film 2

3. Bletchley in Buckinghamshire has a great range of property, which includes this modern four bedroom house, on the market at £327,500.

07.10.14 Film 3

4. For a home with a truly grand façade a triplex apartment in a converted Victorian swimming baths in Sheffield could be ideal. The four bedroom flat is on the market for £420,000.

07.10.14 Film 4

5. Sheffield is not all about flats, however. This four bedroom Georgian townhouse is on the market at £250,000.

07.10.14 Film 5

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