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A novel approach: top 10 writers’ retreats

It’s 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, an anniversary marked by special events around the country. If you are a compulsive writer, you need first to consider whether you are inspired by crowds or seclusion. Here we find 10 properties that have “writer’s retreat” written all over them.

It's 400 years since Shakespeare’s death, an anniversary marked by special events around the country. If you are a compulsive writer, you need first to consider whether you are inspired by crowds or seclusion. Here we find 10 properties that have “writer’s retreat” written all over them.

Camden Crescent, Bath £595,000

Jane Austen loved Bath and made the city her home between 1801 and 1806. The city and its elegant Regency architecture provides the backdrop for two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion. If you hanker after sitting at a stately desk, pen in hand, gazing out of a Georgian window across beautiful Bath, this is the flat for you. It has one bedroom and glorious period detailing.

Call Winkworth’s Bath office on 01225 829000

High Street, Marlborough £565,000

William Golding, who wrote Lord of the Flies, grew up in Marlborough, where his father was the science master at the grammar school. This three-bedroom coach house was converted from the rectory’s stable block. It is right at the heart of the community, yet separate from it, behind its high flint wall.

Call Winkworth’s Marlborough office on 01672 552777

Byfield, Northamptonshire £649,950

Thomas Randolph, a contemporary of Shakespeare, was born in Newnham, near Daventry. He was one of the most popular playwrights. This pretty cottage dates back to the 17th century and is a couple of miles from Newnham. It has four bedrooms and olde worlde beams that would make Shakespeare feel at home.

Call Winkworth’s Northampton office 01604 824854

Chesterfield Walk, Greenwich SE10 £1.495m

Chaucer is said to have lived in Greenwich in later life, where allegedly he wrote some of The Canterbury Tales. This two-bedroom apartment in a gorgeous, Grade II-listed house, overlooks the park and the property’s own extensive grounds.

Call Winkworth’s Greenwich office on 020 3053 3033

Sloane Avenue, London SW3 £730,000

Shakespeare paved the way for many others to make their fortune and Laurence Olivier certainly had reason to thank the bard. He impressed Ellen Terry with his performance of Brutus when he was 10 years old in a school production of Julius Caesar. Olivier and Vivien Leigh bought Durham Cottage in Chelsea in 1937. Not that far away is this one-bedroom apartment in a purpose-built art deco block.

Call Winkworth’s Knightsbridge office on 020 7589 6616

Upper High Street, Thame, Oxfordshire £1.3m

John Fothergill wrote the bestselling Innkeeper’s Diary in 1934 while at the Spread Eagle in Thame. Just along the High Street, this five-bedroom Georgian house faces into the town, yet sits in its own secluded gardens bounded by a high brick wall.

Call Winkworth’s Oxford office 01865 511333

Guildford, Surrey £260,000

Lewis Carroll spent a lot of time in Guildford, where he bought a house for his sister. This modern one-bedroom flat might provide the perfect location to pen your magnum opus. It is a central pied-a-terre with inspirational views over the river.

Call Winkworth’s Guildford office on 01483 339977

Trafalgar Avenue, London SE15 £1.375m

Watling Street has always been the main road from London to Canterbury. Chaucer’s pilgrims take the route in his 14th century Canterbury Tales. Present day walkers still pass the Thomas a Becket pub, which he mentions was a watering hole for the pilgrims. A few hundred yards beyond Burgess Park, if you drive off what is now the A2, you will find yourself in the tranquillity of tree-lined Trafalgar Avenue. This four-bedroom period house has been refurbished to a high standard, with striking interiors and a pretty garden. It would make the perfect family home. 

Call Winkworth’s New Cross office on 020 7277 7298

Blackfriars Road, Southwark £1.15m

We know that Shakespeare was living in Southwark in 1596. The Globe Theatre was built in 1599 and the bard was by that time living in a house on the site. Barely a stage-whisper away, this studio is available off-plan. This phase of the development is due for completion at the end of next year. Could it be a writer’s block?

Call Winkworth’s Kennington office on 020 7587 0600


Rogate, Petersfield, Hampshire £1.25m

HG Wells grew up at Uppark, now a National Trust property, where his mother was housekeeper. He went to school in Midhurst and had a short career as a chemist there. Later he lived in London but set the opening scenes in The Invisible Man in Iping, near Rogate. Tucked away off a bridleway, this new-build is almost an invisible house. It has five bedrooms and a sleek, high-tech finish.

Call Winkworth’s Petersfield office on 01730 267274

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