Set in the English city of Winchester, upmarket St. Cross offers a modern urban lifestyle in an aspirational setting.
One of the priciest parts of the Hampshire cathedral city, St. Cross has pretty residential streets, period homes and plentiful green spaces. It backs onto the grassy grounds of Winchester College and the River Itchen’s scenic water meadows, with its gin-clear streams, while its northern edge abuts the city center.
St. Cross and the city of Winchester as a whole have benefitted from a general exodus from southwest London along the M4 and M3 motorway corridor, said Patrick Glynn-Jones, head of Strutt & Parker’s Winchester office. “Winchester has culture, great schools, historic buildings and is just under an hour from the capital by train, which makes it a compelling prospect for Londoners,” he said.
Winchester has traditionally pulled in Londoners, but the numbers have increased significantly. There are lots of ex-Londoners who’ve been renting here for the past six months while waiting to buy, but they haven’t been able to find a property due to very low stock levels, and many have employed buying agents, said Toby Gullick, head of city sales at Knight Frank in Winchester.
In 2021, Winchester prices increased by 20%, Mr. Glynn-Jones said, double the national average. And last year, Nationwide reported it was the least affordable city in the U.K. to buy a home.
St. Cross lies in southeast Winchester and has Canon Street and St. James’ Lane forming its northern edge and the south end of St. Cross Road at its most southern point. It has the grounds of Winchester College running along its eastern border and the railway line into the city along its west side.
In St. Cross, a small, three or four-bedroom house costs between £1 million (US$1.3 million) and £1.5 million, while large, four or five-bedroom houses can range from between £1.5 million and £2 million, Mr. Glynn-Jones said. Detached houses cost between £2 million and £3 million.
The best roads include Edgar Road, Christchurch Road, Chatsworth Road, Sleepers Hill and St. James Lane, which has Regency-style townhouses. The latter is home to Pagoda House, a 5,000-square-foot Grade II-listed 1840s house with East Asian influences including a trelliswork balcony, which was up for sale for £2.95 million, or £590 per square foot, via Savills last year.
St. Cross has semi-detached or detached houses, set along residential-only streets with on-street parking. Most of them date from the Georgian, Victorian and Edwardian eras, and many retain their period features.
St. Cross houses tend to be a little larger compared with other areas, and the majority of homes have 50-foot- to 60-foot-long rear gardens, which provide ample space for a kitchen extension, said George Burnand of JM Chase, a property search and advisory service.
What Makes It Unique
One of the oldest parts of the city, St. Cross is named after a surviving Grade I-listed medieval almshouse founded by Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester, who was the grandson of William the Conqueror.
It has easy access to open green spaces and is located about a mile from the city’s High Street and mainline railway station. It lies beside the aforementioned water meadows, which inspired John Keats to write “To Autumn” and is brimming with wildlife and interesting flora.
History-steeped Winchester is a Roman city, the first and former capital of England, and a university town. It has an Anglo-Saxon (10th-century) street pattern, the River Itchen running through it, and it boasts the world’s longest medieval cathedral and many other historic structures.
The city is the historic jewel of Hampshire, with good connectivity and an impressive range of select schools, said Ben Horne, head of country at the Middleton Advisors buying agency. It’s still quite traditional (it doesn’t attract cool creative types, Hollywood stars or the flashier set as do spots in Oxfordshire and Somerset), though it has a café culture, a buzzing student life, and smart bars, shops and restaurants, Mr. Horne added.
Winchester has always been known for its architecture and culture, but it’s become more buzzing, cosmopolitan and international thanks to its schools. People who are attracted to top-rated schools are drawn to the city, Mr. Burnand said.
St. Cross is a mostly residential area, but it has the St. Cross Symondians Cricket club, which attracts ex-cricket professionals, and the characterful Wykeham Arms gastropub and four-star hotel. It is also near to the Catherine’s Hill nature reserve and the members-only Hockley Golf Club, which has a James Braid course.
Winchester itself has an Ivy Café brasserie, which offers all-day dining, and the historic Chesil Rectory restaurant (housed in a 600-year-old Grade II-listed medieval building with a dark beamed interior) offering a modern British menu.
The Michelin-recommended Kyoto Kitchen is “a sweet little restaurant … a hit with the locals,” and has authentic Japanese dishes to try.
There’s also Tanoshii Fusion, a successful, compact eatery with a Pan-Asian menu, and Anita’s Fusion Kitchen, which has fresh sushi, Vietnamese banh mi, and dumplings.
Winchester’s schools are a huge draw. Winchester College is a “world-famous” independent boys boarding school for pupils aged 13 to 18. There are many well regarded prep schools, including Twyford School, a co-ed independent prep boarding and day schools in Twyford (three miles away); The Pilgrims School, a boys prep school and cathedral school in Winchester, Prince’s Mead School, a co-ed independent prep school for students aged 3 to 11, Farleigh School, a co-ed Catholic prep school for students aged 3 to 13. Pupils then typically go onto boarding schools.
Who Lives There
As Winchester’s popularity has grown, St. Cross has seen a demographic shift in its population. For many years, it was mainly retired people who lived in St. Cross, now there are more families with young, school-aged children, Mr. Gullick said.
Agents noted that there is a growing number of overseas second-home buyers in St. Cross and Winchester. They typically have children attending Winchester College and want a home in the city so they have somewhere to stay when they come to visit during the holidays, Mr. Glynn-Jones said.
Winchester residents include the British hotelier Sir Robin Hutson, who runs the Hotel du Vin boutique chain (there’s one in Winchester), the five-star New Forest hotel Lime Wood and the Pig hotels; the infamous Princess Diana interviewer and British journalist Martin Bashir; and the Formula One managing director Ross Braun, according to agents.
Mr. Glynn-Jones said that the clear picture of the Winchester market is a “shocking” lack of supply and that there are a lot of buyers around due to pent-up demand because of Brexit and the pandemic. “Homes that don’t sell within a month are likely to be overpriced and there is typically more than one buyer per property,” he added.
The next few months could see some improvement to supply, Mr. Gullick said. “Hopefully now spring is coming, things might get better.”
Article Source: Mansion Global