We’ve always known that Market Harborough was a lovely place to live.
But all the same, it’s nice when complete strangers get suddenly excited about our corner of south Leicestershire.
Market Harborough has been picked as one of the best places to live in Britain, in a survey in national newspaper The Sunday Times.
It’s one of the top 50 towns, villages or suburbs to be precise.
And even for a national newspaper where being within an hour of London is really, really important, it’s a compliment we’re happy to accept.
The Sunday Times’ supplement combined data and statistics such as good schools, low crime rates and house prices, as well as trickier-to-classify factors like attractive environs.
Ian Joule, president of the Harborough Chamber of Trade, said: “People from London are amazed to find they can sell a house in London, buy one here for less than half the price, and still get into the city more quickly than if they lived in Basildon.”
And Phil King, Harborough District Council’s portfolio holder for planning, finance and development, said: “We’ve got a strategic location, a compact town centre with a good range of shops and we’re surrounded by attractive countryside.”
Two years ago, the same newspaper chose the town as one of the best places to live in the Midlands.
Then it was described as, “an undiscovered gem with low house prices to boot”.
Two years on, we’re still “relatively undiscovered” – these London-types really should get out more – and “within the magic hour by fast train from St Pancras”.
Market Harborough is praised for its “charismatic mix of period architecture in the centre...topped by the newly-renovated Old Grammar School”.
The newspaper singles out Joules Yard for Sunday brunch and the Grand Union Canal basin for “boating cycling or a weekend stroll”.
With an average Market Harborough house price of £274,320 – compared to £820,337 in the newspaper’s London suburb choice of Richmond – it’s no wonder they call us “low-cost Leicestershire”.
And under the heading “Why We Love It”, the newspaper sums up that Market Harborough has “bustle without the hustle”.
Mr Joule added: “When I was looking for a place to live many years ago, I looked all over the Midlands before choosing Market Harborough.
“I don’t think anything has really changed my mind since then.”
Cllr King added: “One of the reasons why Market Harborough works so well is it’s strategic location.
“It’s got the rail link to London and of course the north, and it’s got road links to the A14, the A6 and not too far from the M1.”
Penny Barnwell-Thornton, sales manager at Andrew Granger estate agents in harborough, said: “The town has been recognised as a gateway to London for a long time.
“Added to that, it’s a really nice market town with a great selection of villages around it.
“I remember many years ago the first time I came in to Market Harborough and parked on the High Street and thought ‘wow – what a fabulous place to work’.”