If you’re looking for a home in a historic, well-heeled county, Oxfordshire could be the answer.
The county is known for its historic market towns with cobbled streets and villages of thatched stone cottages. At its centre is Oxford, the ‘City of Dreaming Spires’ and the home of the world-renowned University of Oxford.
Learn more about the architecture and attractions of Oxford by checking out our detailed guide.
Living in Oxfordshire: what to expect
Much of Oxfordshire’s appeal lies in its countryside. A generous portion of the county falls within the Cotswolds, Chiltern Hills and the North Wessex Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The county’s villages are known for their charm. Bampton was recently put on the map as the setting for Downton village in the popular TV series Downton Abbey.
But the heart of the county is Oxford city, which is packed with museums, galleries and theatres. Restaurants and bars pack the Castle Quarter.
Where to start your property search
Urban living: If you have the budget, take a look at the properties in Oxford. Jericho is an increasingly popular area that is conveniently close to the city centre. Grandpont and Iffley Road are also sought-after and have attractive late Victorian and Edwardian houses. For more modest terraced properties and apartments, check out the Cowley area.
To be close to the Cotswolds, take a look at Burford. The town has a medieval bridge, old stone houses and attractive Tudor and Georgian fronts. Search Sheep Street for stone townhouses with bay windows and Witney Street for listed cottages.
Witney is the largest town in the Oxfordshire part of the Cotswolds. Its wealth in the 17th century means that it is still filled with impressive period properties. It has an attractive high street and a twice-weekly market. Find listed stone houses on Corn Street and West End.
Henley-on-Thames in the south is overlooked by fields and wooded hills. If your budget is very flexible, snap up an imposing detached home with extensive landscaped gardens, or look along St Mark’s Road for a period semi with a gabled roof.
Move to Banbury and enjoy easy access to the M40. This town, famed for the Banbury cake (similar to the Eccles cake), has a good range of historic homes.
Chipping Norton is known for its celebrity residents, including Jeremy Clarkson, David Cameron, and Rebekah Brooks. Barn conversions are available on the outskirts and stone cottages can be found on Albion Street and Spring Street.
For new-builds, consider Thame in east Oxfordshire. The Thame Meadows development has three-, four- and five-bedroom homes, many of which are detached with accompanying garages and enclosed rear gardens.
Rural living: Look in Bampton village for 16th-century oak-beamed houses, double-fronted listed townhouses and cottages. Stately Edwardian homes are also on offer on roads such as Folly View.
For a home by the river, try Dorchester-on-Thames. This picturesque village has an abbey and ancient coaching inns. Find Victorian cottages on Martins Lane and 1950s semis on Wittenham Lane. For a river view, check out the cottages that overlook the bridge.
Sutton Coutenay has white-washed period detached homes on High Street, some of which have oak-beamed ceilings. And desirable cottages line The Green and back onto the River Thames on Church Street.
Getting around Oxfordshire
By rail: Great Western Railway and Chiltern Railways operate throughout the county.
There are services from Oxford station to London Paddington as well as Ealing Broadway, Newcastle (via Doncaster), Bournemouth, Worcester Shrub Hill, Manchester Piccadilly (via Coventry and Stoke-on-Trent), Southampton Central and Reading.
Oxford Parkway station offers an alternative route to London. Regular direct trains now reach London Marylebone in 70 minutes.
And the shopping district of Bicester Village has its own train station too.
By car: The M40 runs from London to Birmingham, via the east of Oxfordshire. Meanwhile, the M4 from London to Bristol traverses the North Wessex Downs in the south of the county.
By air: London Luton Airport is an hour’s drive away and has flights to 70 destinations across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. Airline operators include easyJet and Ryanair.
Things to do in Oxfordshire
History: Oxfordshire is littered with grand buildings, such as the Oxford colleges and Mapledurham House. Blenheim Palace is one of the most famous. The palace has more than 300 years of history and covers 2,000 acres of parkland. It was the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill and is now recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
The University of Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum displays art and archaeology, ranging from the world’s largest collection of drawings by Raphael to Egyptian mummies and Anglo-Saxon treasures.
For ancient history, travel to the Rollright Stones on the Oxfordshire/Warwickshire border. The 77 stones of the King’s Men Circle were erected in 2,500–2,000BC.
More ancient treasures can be discovered on White Horse Hill. See the Bronze Age chalk horse carved into the hilltop and admire views over six counties.
Cultural: The Grade I-listed Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford was designed by Sir Christopher Wren. Today it hosts orchestral concerts as well as talks by notable guests. Check out the events calendars of the New Theatre and Oxford Playhouse for more entertainment.
Community events include Henley Festival, which is held every summer. This boutique cultural event lasts for five days and involves international and UK music, art, food and comedy acts. It regularly attracts audiences of more than 300,000 people.
Outdoors: There’s plenty on offer if you’re the outdoorsy type. Look no further than the North Wessex Downs, Cotswolds and the Chiltern Hills. Enjoy panoramic views across Oxfordshire from the Chiltern Hills – and look out for red kites. There are more than 600 breeding pairs in the area.
One of the best known regattas in the world, Henley Royal Regatta, is held every year in Henley-on-Thames. The five-day rowing competition was first held in 1839 and every year locals and visitors don their best clothes to cheer on their favourites from the riverbank.
Explore the river and the colleges of the University of Oxford by hiring a boat to punt around the waterways of the city.
Shopping: In the city centre, typical high street stores line Cornmarket Street and Queen Street. Oxford’s range of shops will be bolstered in 2017, when the new Westgate Shopping Centre opens.
For independent shops, head to George Street, Broad Street and the historic Covered Market, which opened in 1774.
The designer shopping outlet, Bicester Village, at nearby Bicester is your best bet for big fashion and lifestyle brands.
There is also a variety of independent and specialist shops located in Burford, Chipping Norton and Woodstock.
Food and drink: Get an insight into the brewing process at Hook Norton Brewery. It is home to the original steam engine and shire horses that deliver beer to local pubs. A visit is rounded off with a guided beer tasting.
For fine dining, book a table at Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton. The restaurant is owned by chef Raymond Blanc and holds two Michelin Stars.
Alternatively, try modern British food with a Mediterranean twist at Wild Thyme in Chipping Norton. Dishes include potato, onion and cider soup and salt-cured local venison.
Visit Winterbrook House in Wallingford to see where crime writer Agatha Christie lived and worked. The Grade II-listed house is now marked with a blue plaque detailing her writing achievements.
5 reasons to live in Oxfordshire
Attractive period architecture
Historic towns and picturesque villages
Access to the Cotswolds, Chiltern Hills and North Wessex Downs – all Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
Good commuter connections
A wealth of museums, galleries, pubs and grand estates to discover
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Are there any other selling points of Oxfordshire that we should mention? Tell us in the comments below.