Posted on October 5, 2011

Devon Village Named Best Place to Raise a Family

Victoria Ward, Telegraph (London), September 26, 2011

And the residents of this idyllic Devonshire village were not remotely surprised yesterday to be told it had been named the best place in the UK to bring up children.

The picturesque enclave, nestled in the countryside between Exeter and Barnstaple, topped a list of 2,400 postcodes analysed by financial experts using more than 60 sets of data.

It’s combination of low crime rates, good schools, relatively affordable property and high earnings saw it crowned the most desirable place to raise a young family.

With a population hovering around the 1,800 mark, Winkleigh punches well above its weight.

Analysts cited its post office, butcher’s shop, fishmonger, general stores, vet and doctors’ surgery as factors which increased its desirability, not to mention two pubs and a sports centre.

The preschool was recently rated Outstanding by Ofsted and the adjoining primary achieves consistently good results.

Salaries are significantly higher than the national average (£24,170) at £37,566 while the value of a two-bedroom home is much lower than the average (£167,659) at £150,837.

Children can take advantage of an array of after-school activities including film club, street dance and creative arts.

And their parents are hardly ignored with activities from Morris Dancing and archaeology to yoga and darts.

There are the Winkleigh Bell Ringers, the Winkleigh Singers, the Winkleigh Young Farmers and so it goes on.

But those who live there insist that it is the people who propel Winkleigh to the top of the charts.

Anna Bridgman, former chair of the preschool committee, said: “It just has a really nice, supportive community feel.

“Most of the housing is family size, three-bed semis, and because we are right in the middle of Devon it is an easy commute to large towns like Exeter, Plymouth and even Bristol.

“Everyone knows their neighbours and if you have a problem you can just knock on someone’s door.”

Even the development of 250 new homes over the last few years has failed to dent the village atmosphere.

Local businesses trade in reclaimed timber and slate, pine furniture, agas and caravans. They even make their own cider.

Marjorie Bowers, chair of the Parish Council said: “It’s just a wonderful place. We call it Wonderful Winkleigh.

“The community just makes it. We have a Winkleigh directory and when new people move here we give them a copy, we also have a local magazine, Distinctly Winkleigh.

“A new £500,000 preschool has just opened which is absolutely beautiful and it’s also just very safe. If there is a crime, we usually know who did it.

“There is a lot of agriculture here but many commute to offices further afield. We are just a very eclectic mix.”

There are always some downsides and Winkleigh has apparently become something of a rat-run as commuters cut through the village rather than taking the bypass.

But residents are campaigning for chicanes and speed bumps to deter the perpetrators.

“We get together in emergencies, we really get our teeth in,” Mrs Bowers said.

Winkleigh, or EX19, was closely followed in the ratings by South Petherton in Somerset, and Galgate in Lancashire.

The research was compiled on behalf of children’s savings provider Family Investments using police figures, Land Registry information, Ofsted reports and ONS population data.

Kate Moore, head of savings and investments at Family Investments, said: “While we recognise that not everyone can lead a village life like the lucky residents of Winkleigh, our number one hot spot, we hope the factors we’ve identified will help families across the country when considering a new area to live.”