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The local area guide to living in Bishop's Waltham

Bishop's Waltham is a small country town which can be located in South East England, in the county of Hampshire. Located in the Meon Valley area at the head of the River Hamble, it is conveniently nestled amidst some spectacular countryside views and woodland walks. Thorugh this, it acts as a perfect sort of 'rural retreat', all whilst being close enough to a bustling medieval-style high street chok-a-blok with a ripe blend of independent stores and boutiques, as well as well-established older buildings which were established as far back as 1617, and have been wonderfully preserved to this day.

Interestingly, Bishop's Waltham is famous not only for its history, but for its potential aid to future research. It is home to the Moors; an area of wetland which has been listed as a Site of Specific Scientific Interest (SSSI) as it provides an excellent habitat to a large, diverse selection of rare species.

Bishop's Waltham is situated between the city of Winchester to the north, and Portsmouth to the south. It also acts as a gateway to South Down's National Park, which borders the north of the town. It has a large historical presence, and evidence of its past can be found in the listed buildings and monuments dotted all around the town.

Information about the local residents

At the time the Domesday Book was completed in 1086, Bishop's Waltham had a population of just 450. Nowadays, it has thrived and the 2011 census showed the population to have increased to 6,723 people. The average age of those living in the village is 43, and 66% of this population identified as being Christian.

The town has a lower-than-average unemployment rate, suggesting that job satisfaction and salary is high enough to retain employees in the area. Saying this, over 50% of those who answered the survey reported as having to commute to neighbouring towns and cities for work. Despite this, the commute is somewhat beautiful and the nearby towns are less than an hour away, which takes the edge of the commute somewhat.

Nearby Schools

Bishop's Waltham Montessori provides a learning environment for young children aged 2 years and 6 months up until they start infant school. It received an 'Outstanding' report for the various services provided.

Bishop's Waltham Infant and Junior schools cater to students aged between 5 - 11 years old. Whilst the two schools are separate, they are located in the same area. The former received an 'Outstanding' in its most recent Ofsted report, whilst the latter's most recent Ofsted report listed them as requiring improvement since their previous 2010 Outstanding report.

The junior school, however, comes with some fantastic facilities for its students, including its own 20m swimming pool and an outdoor ampitheatre large enough to seat the entire student body.

The nearest secondary school is in Swanley, and contains 1200 students on roll. It received a 'Good' in its most recent Ofsted inspection, and the school prides itself on the students exceeding national the average in GCSE results.

Getting around

Whilst Bishop's Waltham does have a railway station, it was disused in and has not been used since - though the crossings are preserved. The nearest active train station is Botley, which is served by two train lines travelling between London and Portsmouth.

There are regular buses which provide links to neighbouring towns Fareham and Eastleigh, as well as farther out to Winchester. A few school services offered by different companies operate on weekdays to transport children to and from school in the mornings and evenings.

Local shops

Having declared the 4th of July as their own Independence Day, Bishop's Waltham use this day to celebrate and promote local business and fooderies, encouraging people to support these very same businesses. This gives a brief glimpse into the sort of companionship and friendly demeanour that makes up the town's community spirit, and indeed makes it no wonder that the small village was a runner up for the title of 'High Street of the Year 2014'.

The shops available include a handful of independent cafes, bakeries and pubs, as well as chain stores such as Costa Coffee and a few supermarkets. There is a Country Market most Fridays which provides locally grown and sourced produce, and on many Sundays throughout the year, the high street is closed to traffic in order to make way for an extensive Sunday Market, offering everything from food to arts and craft.

The town throws various celebrations throughout the year, from more traditional holidays such as Christmas Fayre festivities and Halloween celebrations - to the unique and highly exciting annual Bishop's Waltham Carnival. For these events, the locals pull together and really exaggerate the sense of community which makes the town just so spectacular.


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