Two places in Bucks have been named among the best to live in south east England.

Amersham and Hambleden Valley have featured in The Sunday Times’s best places to live 2021 round-up for the south east.

The judges behind the prestigious guide assess a wide range of factors, from schools, air quality, transport and broadband speeds, to culture, green spaces and the health of the high street.

They look for improving towns, villages or city centres, for attractive, well designed homes and locations bursting with community spirit – which the pandemic has shown to be the most vital quality of all.

Judges said about Amersham: “Always a superior base for London commuters thanks to its combination of train, Tube and high-achieving schools, Amersham’s attractive Chilterns countryside and supportive community have come to the fore during the pandemic.”

They were particularly impressed by the kindness shown by locals who posted cheques through the door of a café forced to close during lockdown and the excellent results achieved by the two Dr Challoner’s Grammar Schools.

Bucks Free Press: Amersham Memorial Gardens. Picture by Mark Lewis (Bucks Free Press Camera Club)Amersham Memorial Gardens. Picture by Mark Lewis (Bucks Free Press Camera Club)

And they also noted the range of “high-class food and drink on offer”, from bottomless brunch at The Beech House to the Pan-Indian cuisine at the Crown.

Average house prices in the town came in at 585,000, while average rental costs were found to be £1,350 per month.

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Judges praised Hambleden Valley as “the ultimate example of affluent English village life”.

They said: “With its country pubs, rolling fields and rose-covered cottages, this corner of Buckinghamshire is the ultimate example of affluent English village life, all conveniently close to the capital.”

They said they “loved” the selection of old-fashioned country pubs: the Frog at Skirmett, the Yew Tree at Frieth and the Stag and Huntsman in Hambleden Village, where they also admired the selection of local produce on sale in the village shop.

Judges added: “Sir William Borlase’s in Marlow, the Royal Grammar and John Hampden Grammar in High Wycombe, and Wycombe High School are among the high-achieving state secondaries nearby, and London and Oxford are both under an hour’s drive away.”

Bucks Free Press: Hambleden Valley. Picture: David Reucassel (Bucks Free Press Camera Club)Hambleden Valley. Picture: David Reucassel (Bucks Free Press Camera Club)

Average house prices in the village came in at £1.2 million, while rental properties cost an average of £1,800 per month.

Helen Davies, The Times and Sunday Times property editor said: “This guide has never been so important.

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“The pandemic has taught us just how much we rely on our homes, our communities and our surroundings.

“With working from home now common, it’s no surprise that many of us are reassessing our priorities and thinking hard about where we really want to live.

“Our focus for this year has been community, countryside and convenience.

“It hasn’t been a year for big cities or small villages. Instead it is small towns that have shone: big enough to have everything you need within walking distance and small enough for everyone to feel connected.”