Sussex market town which has ‘everything needed for modern life in miniature’ is named best place to live in the UK – does where YOU live make the list?
- Wadhurst in East Sussex beats 71 locations to be named UK’s best place to live
- Praised for its good schools, convenient transport links and variety of shops
A market town in East Sussex has beaten 71 other locations to be named the UK’s best place to live.
Judges for the Sunday Times said Wadhurst offers ‘pretty much everything needed for modern life in miniature’.
It was praised for its good schools, convenient transport links, variety of high street shops and being surrounded by ‘stunning scenery’.
The Wadhurst Warriors, a group of fathers who began fundraising for the town’s primary school in 2004 and now raise money for the whole area, were hailed as the ‘stars of the show’.
Judges also praised the town of fewer than 5,000 people – the smallest winner of the award in its 11-year history – for the many activities available for children, the farmers’ market, clubs, classes and the community cinema.
Wadhurst in East Sussex has been named as the overall best place to live in the UK
The town, winner of the Sunday Times Best Places to Live guide, houses Wadhurst Castle
Judges said Wadhurst offers ‘pretty much everything needed for modern life in miniature’
Wadhurst is town of fewer than 5,000 people – the award’s smallest ever winner
Wadhurst Warriors chairman Chris Poulton said the group organises events such as fetes, fireworks nights and putting up Christmas decorations – and the money raised is used to help those who need it, such as the Girl Guides and local school.
Regional winners of the best place to live 2023
While Wadhurst was crowned the UK’s best place to live 2023 by The Sunday Times, a winner was also selected for each English region as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. These winners were:
Scotland – Dunkeld, Perthshire
The small town was praised by judges for combining ‘stunning’ Highland scenery with ‘Scandi sophistication’.
Wales – Ruthin, Denbighshire
Judges said it offered the ‘very best of small town living’ with food and craft markets, pop-up restaurants, cafes and independent shops.
Northern Ireland – Donaghadee, Co Down
The town, which is where BBC daytime TV drama Hope Street is filmed, was praised for its clean seas, beautiful views and ‘lively community.’
East of England – Saffron Walden, Essex
Judges said ‘youthful vigour’ was being injected into the market town as young families move in and new bars, shops and restaurants open.
London- Crouch End, Haringey
The area’s grand Victorian houses are home to celebrities and the ‘lively North London suburb’ has a market town feel, judges said.
Midlands – Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
The tech hub has well-tended parks, good schools, excellent transport links and will get even more of a revamp when a Creative Quarter is launched.
North and North East England – Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
The town was said to be ‘catching up fast’ with its affluent neighbour Tynemouth after ‘years in the doldrums’ – with cheaper houses and connections to Newcastle which are just as good.
North West England – Liverpool
Judges said there are ‘lots of reasons to be optimistic’ about the city from Eurovision to its reputation for science and technology and grand projects such as the new Everton stadium and film studios. Waterloo was singled out for seaside while Toxteth was praised for its ‘cultural and community vibe.’
South East England – Chichester, West Sussex
While Wadhurst was crowned best place to live in the UK, Chichester – which has more Ukrainian refugees per head than any other UK city – was praised for its good schools and transport links and was still deemed worthy of inclusion separately.
South West England – Cirencester, Gloucestershire
The heated outdoor swimming pool was marked out as a particular highlight of the capital of the Cotswolds.
He said: ‘We do believe Wadhurst is the best place to live and that is down to us all working together to make it a place where everyone can be supported.
‘We don’t do it for ourselves, we do it for the community.
‘Being recognised is great but the more we can give back to the community the better.
‘Recognition can just be someone coming up to us and saying thank you.’
A parish council spokesman said: ‘This is really exciting news. Wadhurst is a lovely, lovely place to live with a great community feel.
‘What makes it really special is the community, We have lots of different village clubs and a really active community.
‘We are all helping each other out and during Covid that really came to the forefront, with lots of groups helping to get food and medicine to people.
‘I would say to someone thinking of moving here that it’s a great place to live, you have the best of both worlds.
‘You have easy access to towns and cities but if you want a rural lifestyle it is perfect.’
Paula Lee, 58, who owns the @ONE homeware shop on the high street, said: ‘I would agree completely – it is a lovely place to live and it has got a good sense of community.
‘I am not surprised. I think you would be hard-pushed, certainly in the South East, to find somewhere better.
‘There are some really lovely shops, it is a well-rounded high street – there is a nice independent butcher, grocers and a nice community spirit.
‘The countryside in this area is just outstanding. There are lots of walking and lots of sporting activities in an area of outstanding natural beauty.’
Sam, 50, who runs Wadhurst Flowers, said: ‘It is a lovely place to live. It still maintains a village feel, even though we are only five miles from Tunbridge Wells.
‘The residents use their high street, which is fantastic.
‘It is a beautiful area of outstanding natural beauty and there are trains into London and to the coast. We are very lucky.’
Ruthin in Denbighshire was identified as the best place to live in Wales, Dunkeld in Perthshire was named as the best place to live in Scotland, and Donaghadee in Co Down was placed top in Northern Ireland.
A winner was also selected for each region in England.
The Sunday Times Best Places To Live guide was released today and an edited version will be available in the paper on Sunday.
This year’s list includes more new entries than ever before.
They include Poundbury, a village on the edge of Dorchester in Dorset which was planned by King Charles and celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
At the time critics branded it a ‘toy town’ but judges said its affordable homes, renewable energy and emphasis on walkability suggest it was ahead of its time.
Manchester, Liverpool, Newcastle and Sheffield have all made a return – suggesting people may no longer be dashing to the country as cities return to life following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
A cafe in the High Street of Wadhurst, which has been named as the overall best place to live
Judges praised Wadhusrt for the many activities available for children and the farmers’ market
Clubs, classes and the community cinema were also praised by judges
Wadhurst was championed for good schools, convenient transport links and variety of shops
Expert judges visited all the locations and assessed factors ranging from the quality of schools and transport links to broadband speeds, culture, access to green spaces and the health of the high street.
Helen Davies, editor of Best Places To Live 2023, said: ‘When times are tough, where we live matters more than ever.
‘Attractive surroundings, good neighbours and a comfortable home are the best defences when the stresses of modern life seem overwhelming.
‘This guide is a celebration of towns, cities and villages that are each a fantastic place to live in 2023 from Orkney to Felixstowe, the Chew Valley to Manchester city centre.
‘Whether you’re downsizing, trading up or getting on to the property ladder, there will be somewhere to suit you.’
Full list of the 72 best places to live
Here is the full list of the 72 best places to live according to the Sunday Times:
EAST OF ENGLAND
- Winner: Saffron Walden, Essex
- Aylsham, Norfolk
- Bourn, Cambridgeshire
- Buckhurst Hill, Essex
- Dedham Vale, Suffolk
- Felixstowe, Suffolk
- Winner: Crouch End
- Hackney borders N1 and E8
- King’s Cross
- Notting Hill
- Winner: Leamington Spa, Warwickshire
- Digbeth, Stirchley, Birmingham
- Bishop’s Castle, Shropshire
- Great Malvern, Worcestershire
- Market Harborough, Leicestershire
- Melbourne, Derbyshire
NORTH AND NORTH EAST ENGLAND
- Winner: Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear
- Holmfirth, West Yorkshire
- Ilkley, West Yorkshire
- Ouseburn, Newcastle
- Thirsk, North Yorkshire
- Wooler, Northumberland
- Winner: Liverpool
- Penrith, Cumbria
- Rawtenstall, Lancashire
- Sale, Greater Manchester
- Stockport, Greater Manchester
- Tarporley, Cheshire
- Winner: Dunkeld, Perthshire
- East Linton, East Lothian
- Portobello, Edinburgh
- Shawlands, Glasgow
- Newport-on-Tay, Fife
- Tighnabruaich, Argyll and Bute
SOUTH EAST ENGLAND
- Winner: Chichester, West Sussex
- Alresford, Hampshire
- Brighton and Hove, Seven Dials
- Folkestone, Kent
- Guildford, Surrey
- Lindfield, West Sussex
- (East) Oxford
- Reading, Berkshire
- Reigate, Surrey
- Wheathampstead, Hertfordshire
SOUTH WEST ENGLAND
- Winner: Cirencester, Gloucestershire
- Bishopsteignton, Devon
- Broad Chalke, Wiltshire
- The Chew Valley, Somerset
- Marlborough, Wiltshire
- Penzance, Cornwall
- Poundbury, Dorset
- Winner: Donaghadee, Co Down
- Ormeau, Belfast
- Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh
- Winner: Ruthin, Denbighshire
- Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
- Barmouth, Gwynedd
- Pontcanna, Cardiff
- Gower Peninsula, Swansea
- Narberth, Pembrokeshire
- Solva, Pembrokeshire
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