Thatched cottages, vikings and sand dunes: Is this Britain's most valuable village?

·3-min read

Watch: Dramatic scenes at Hemsby in Norfolk as high tides crash into coast

It's well known that post-pandemic, thousands are stampeding from overcrowded, traffic-choked cities to the fresh air and larger houses of the coast and countryside.

Top spots for re-locators are Cornwall, Cumbria and the South Coast, with weary Londoners decamping to Hove and St Leonards for a permanent holiday. 

Now working from home is as easy as logging on for many of us, plenty of families are making the move to the wide open spaces - or at least, swapping grimy city streets for chocolate-box villages.

But as with all things, rising demand for property is pushing prices up, and those desirable bolt holes are less of a bargain.

The fastest-rising prices are not in St Ives, or even Brighton, however. Hemsby, in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, has seen the biggest price growth this summer, according to property site Rightmove, with the average asking price now up 22% on the same time last year.

Read more: The 8 hotspots where UK house prices have shot up

Hemsby, UK - April 19, 2019: Panoramic view from the hill over Hemsby beach on a sunny spring day, two people walking in the distance. Hemsby beach is a famous beach on the East Norfolk coast, UK.
A view of the long golden sands of Hemsby beach from the dunes. (Getty Images)

The Norfolk village leads the way, with average asking prices increasing from £221,533 in June 2020, to £270,144 in June 2021.

The village's houses are an eclectic mix of thatched cottages - one 3 bed is currently priced at £395 000 - modern bungalows, pretty, painted houses and larger family homes. 

One major draw is the sandy beach, with dunes protecting the homes from the sea and wilder weather - there's also a Second World War concrete bunker, regular funfairs, children's rides and crazy golf.

Traditional thatched cottages in Ludham, Norfolk.
The thatched cottages of Norfolk - file under 'most wanted'. (Getty Images)

There's also a nature reserve close by, seals bobbing in the bay and it's just seven miles from Great Yarmouth, and the village makes much of its long-ago invasion by Vikings. There's even a herring festival every August. 

Don't, however, buy on the cliffs - erosion is a big problem, as in the last few years, the rate of collapse has dramatically increased, putting some homes and amenities, including the lifeboat station, under threat. 

And be warned - the beach and surrounds are hugely popular for holidays, so you won't have it to yourself in summer. 

North sea coast in Caister-on-Sea, Norfolk, England, UK -  with an old bunker on the beach
A World War Two bunker at Caister-on-Sea. (Getty Images)

Norfolk is also home to three of the top five 'valuable villages' - Heacham and Caister-on-Sea also make the list, with respective price increases of 20% and 12%, while six of the top ten were also coastal villages.

Rightmove’s director of property data Tim Bannister said: "With the summer weather finally here, we’re seeing an added drive from buyers looking for that perfect village location by the sea, which is supporting price growth in these areas.”

Freckleton Village and clock in Lancashire, with flower display and public house
Pretty Freckleton is on the up. (Getty Images)

Read more: Here are the UK's new housing hotspots, where property is prized

The remaining list of villages with the greatest price rises is:

Rainworth, Mansfield (19%), Spencers Wood, Reading, Berkshire (13%) Hamble, Hampshire, (10%), Cottenham, Cambridgeshire (10%), Milford on Sea, Hampshire (10%), Freckleton, Lancashire (10%) and Three Mile Cross, Berkshire (9%).

So if you do like to be beside the seaside… better get an offer in fast.

Watch: House prices rise at biggest monthly rate since 2004

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