Top marks for town by buyers down the ages

Its superb location, historic character and a high school with top marks keep buyers coming to Knaresborough. Sharon Dale reports

Thatched Manor Cottage, Knaresborough
Thatched Manor Cottage, Knaresborough

Medieval soothsayer Mother Shipton may not have had a des. res but she knew a thing or two about location.

Her home, a cave, was in a town that remains as perfectly placed and well-served now as it was 500 years ago when she made her predictions.

Knaresborough’s location and surroundings attract a steady stream of house hunters, according to estate agent Nick Alcock, of Dacre, Son and Hartley.

“The market for homes up to £300,000 has been quite buoyant and we are now starting to see more activity at the top end of the market in the £300,000 to £500,000 price range,” says Nick, who reveals that buyers include a mix of locals and people from nearby Harrogate, who move to get more for their money.

Migrants from further afield also make a beeline for the town.

“We’ve had quite a lot of people relocating from the South and we’ve recently had interest from buyers in Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and London. They tend to like the Knaresborough villages like Arkendale and Hopperton.

“People moving here from Harrogate is quite common because you can sell a three-bedroom semi there and get a four-bedroom detached here for the same money and we also get people from York for the same reason,” says Nick.

Transport links are a big draw. Knaresborough is close to the A1 and the A59 and has a railway station on the Harrogate line to Leeds and York.

Another magnet is the state high school, King James, which achieved a 64 per cent pass rate of five or more GCSEs including English and maths last year.

“The school is a big pull for families not least because if you live in Knaresborough you’re in the catchment area. In Harrogate, the catchment areas for the high schools are more narrow,” says Nick.

Character is also part of the appeal. The town centre is attractive with number of independent shops and restaurants and there are pleasant walks along the River Nidd and the Nidd gorge.

Properties are diverse and range from historic cottages, Tudor- houses and Georgian terraces to quirky abodes like The House in the Rock. There are also several newer estates, including the popular Appleby that features Bryant and David Wilson homes.

Piers Young bought his grade two listed, detached cottage four years ago. A thatcher by trade, he was able to renovate its thatched roof. He also modernised the property’s interior.

“The house really caught my eye and I’ve loved living in Knaresborough. The people here are really friendly and there’s a very active community with lots going on from the annual Bed Race to the FEVA arts festival. There’s a lot of pride in the town.

“My work is very transient so the easy access to the A1 and the train station really helps and I love the fact that I can go for eight different walks from my doorstep,” says Piers, who is selling to renovate another thatched property elsewhere in the county.

“I’m selling with a sad heart because I will miss the town when I go,” he says.

Manor Cottage, which has three bedrooms and three bathrooms, costs £550,000 and, thanks to its thatch, it is very energy efficient.

It sits towards the top end of the market, though the pinnacle at the moment is a house for £1.1m on Lands Lane.

Family sized semis start from £220,000 or, if they’re in need of updating, from £180,000

Starter homes are hard to come by and begin at £100,000 for a one-bedroom flat and £130,000 for a two-bed terraced house.

“When people settle here they often stay. It is a really friendly town and very unlike Harrogate, which can feel a little aloof,” says Nick Alcock.

“We’ve also seen more independent pubs and restaurants open up here recently, which is a good sign that the economy is improving.”

Knaresborough facts:
Population: 15,000; Average house price £277,635.