King Charles III, Charles Darwin and Professor Stephen Hawking, three of the most famous British names in the world, spent part of their lives as residents of Cambridge, England.
The city 50 miles north of London, with a modest population of 150,000, is in the county of cambridgeshire in East Anglia. It is 50 miles north of London (about an hour by train or car) and east of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. There is more to Cambridge than its famous university in terms of history, culture and lifestyle, enough to catch the eye of a discerning home buyer.
Much of Cambridge is built on the east bank of the River Cam, once a key route for water transport but now used exclusively for boating, boating and canoeing.
Sitting to the west is Newnham, often cited as the city’s most prosperous and desirable suburb, so much so that the area was once named “best place to live in britain”, from The Times of London.
Having started as a riverside village, Newnham has retained the charm of an old English town, yet is just a short walk from the center of Cambridge and five minutes from the M11 motorway.
So, to the jewel in the crown, where King Carlos III studied in the early 1970s. Cambridge University is over 800 years old and the city in which it is located was once described as “perhaps the only true university town in England”. Today, it is classified as the fifth best in the world.
“Cambridge is an incredibly unique place to live with stunning architecture, excellent schools and a world-class university,” said Ed Meyer, director of residential sales for Savills.
“As an internationally recognized institution, the University of Cambridge attracts buyers not only from a local audience, but also nationally and internationally.”
It’s no wonder, then, that Cambridge is one of the UK’s most sought-after cities, with the modest but affluent district of Newnham its most attractive option for the high-end buyer.
The suburb of Newnham is in the south-west of Cambridge. It is 48 miles from London, the UK capital, and less than 150 miles from other key cities such as Birmingham (in the Midlands) and Manchester (in the north).
The median price of a Victorian terraced house in Newnham is around £1.25 million (US$1.38 million), while larger single-family properties typically sell for between £3.5 million and £4 million .
Cambridge is home to some of the UK’s finest period properties, and Newnham in particular is famous for its late Victorian houses in the Queen Anne style.
What local architects As I’ve noted, these properties typically have Dutch and Flemish gables, hipped roofs with prominent chimneys, white painted millwork, and casement or sash windows. Each of these properties is rich in its sense of history and character.
“Most of the housing in Newnham is smart terraced houses; they are deceptively spacious and make fantastic homes,” said Lawrence Brown, principal at Strutt & Parker Cambridge. “Victorian terraced houses with around three bedrooms it can fetch upwards of £1 million.
“Larger detached houses, with around five bedrooms, can fetch prices of £2 million or more, depending on the period, style and quality of the house.”
There are also tracts of Edwardian houses, each tall, deep and with pebble-strewn walls, overhanging red tiles and Art Nouveau stained glass front doors.
what makes it unique
Legend has it that Newnham is home to more Nobel Prize winners than anywhere else in the UK, a distinction that is difficult to prove but nonetheless speaks volumes about the area’s educational heritage.
Newnham College is the women’s college of the University of Cambridge, founded in 1871. Other colleges in the area include King’s, Trinity and Wolfson.
The quality of education in Newnham and across Cambridge has trickled down to the primary schools, which feature regularly in The Sunday Times School Guide.
The city of Cambridge could best be described as ‘quirky’. The Queens’ College Bridge (known as the Mathematical Bridge) over the River Cam is an extraordinary wooden structure that looks like an arch but is, in fact, made up entirely of straight pieces of wood.
“These attractions are part of what makes Newnham the most exclusive area of Cambridge,” said Andrew Tucker, joint director of residential sales for Bidwells. “The area feels like a town, and yet it’s teeming with academic and employment opportunities, and there’s no sign that’s changing.”
History is everywhere. The Eagle is a Grade II listed public house, the second oldest pub in Cambridge and the famous building where Francis Crick announced that he and James Watson had “discovered the secret of life” after making their proposal for the structure of DNA .
In terms of employment, the Cambridge Biomedical Campus is the largest health sciences and medical research center in Europe, and the city is home to some of the UK’s largest technology companies.
While working from home is now more common, a trip to London is still on the minds of those moving here, so proximity to the capital remains a key consideration.
Cambridge has for 30 years been the home of Giulio, the iconic fashion store on King Street, in the heart of the city and nestled between the university buildings. Showcasing the latest in men’s and women’s fashion, the store is in keeping with the rest of the city: desirable, understated, relaxed and stylish.
Meanwhile, Bowns, on the site of a medieval brothel on Magdalene Street, is a charming fashion and lifestyle boutique stocking designer names like Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.
There are also a host of five-star luxury hotels, each with charming and evocative names, including The Gonville Hotel, Graduate Cambridge, Duke House and Tamburlaine.
Cambridge Country Club is a popular destination offering spa, pool and golf facilities.
Who lives there
With bioscience, university and technology companies popular employers in Cambridge, a large proportion of buyers work in the sciences, as well as being academics or entrepreneurs.
“Cambridge is popular with growing families as well as young professionals,” said Mr. Brown. “Many of those who studied at the university will return, familiar with the city where they spent much of their youth, and attracted by the technological sector that has developed in the city.
King Charles III, the newly crowned monarch, attended Trinity College, Cambridge, graduating in 1970, the first heir to do so. His name is of course the most famous, along with famous Cambridge residents Hawking, Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir David Attenborough.
Hawking, the world-renowned theoretical physicist, started out as a graduate of Cambridge University in the 1960s and founded the Center for Theoretical Cosmology.
Darwin, the famous biologist, lived in Newnham. Alan Turing, the mathematician and computer scientist, studied there from 1931.
For Cambridge house prices, the only way seems to be up. Unsurprisingly, there is significant demand for property in Newnham, driven by a number of elements including low interest rates and changes in people’s work patterns.
Early 2022 the experts were divided about the extent to which that trend will continue, but most continue to rely on great competition for properties.
“I think in Cambridge the market remains stable due to lack of stock and the city is always desirable,” said Mr. Meyer. “But getting property prices right will continue to be key for sellers.”
Mr Brown added: “Cambridge’s popularity is nothing new: alumni often stay in the city, young professionals move here to lay down roots and families from London come in search of a slightly different lifestyle. Calmer.
“The city is considering the introduction of congestion charging zones that will reduce car use and pollution downtown, an attractive proposition for many buyers. All this makes the city a fantastic place to live and guarantees that the demand for housing will remain high”.