The quiet and quaint area of Barnes is rarely one of the first districts of London people think of when considering moving to London. Situated in the North-East corner of Richmond Upon Thames, Barnes has had its fair share of famous residents through the years including Freddie Mercury, Rik Mayall, Gary Lineker, Gyles Brandreth, Michael Ball and many others.
In this article we look at the appeal of this leafy gem and find out what it is like to be part of the Barnes community.
Despite being within easy reach of Hammersmith and Chiswick, as well as being less than half an hour away from Waterloo and Clapham Junction by train, Barnes has a genuine village community feel to it that is warm and welcoming. The properties in the area are typically 4 or 5 bedroom Victorian houses. From time to time riverside Georgian mansions come on to the market but these are in high demand as they are amongst the oldest riverside properties in the city.
One of the advantages of living outside of London’s inner circle, in an area such as Barnes, is that house prices fall quickly the further out you go. In SW13 a well presented 3 bedroom house can be bought for under £1m and could be rented from around £3,500 a month.
The surrounding area is very family friendly with plenty of green, open spaces as well as schools and sport centres. Rocks Lane Sports Centre has 6 multi-use floodlit courts for tennis, 5-a-side football, netball and hockey that are available for private hire all year round. They also offer classes, social groups and children’s parties.
For those looking for a more specialised tennis club Thameside Tennis can be found at St Paul’s School on the Northern tip of Barnes. The club, which has a 94 year history, has recently moved to their new setting at the school where players can take advantage of the six all-weather carpet courts. The club also offers free coaching in small groups on a Sunday for those looking to brush up on their skills.
Other than sports, Barnes has plenty to offer local residents who love being outdoors. Known as London Wetland Centre, the old disused Victorian reservoirs were reopened around 20 years ago as a wildlife reserve where visitors can spot 150 species of birds and more than 300 species of butterflies. Despite being just a few miles from the city centre the 145 acre wildlife reserve can be described as a dream come true for nature lovers. London Wetlands Centre has many vantage points for spotting birds, mammals, reptiles and more as well as running professionally organised photography classes.
To further add to the aforementioned village community feel, each year the local community association organises the Barnes Fair - a traditional village fete in July that attracts a reported 15,000 visitors as well as an annual food fair, held every September. These events are held on Barnes Green, which is truly a focal point for the area providing a large green space that is ideal for family walks, jogging and wildlife spotting.
One of the advantages of moving to London is that you are never far away from a well established and big name restaurant. Barnes is no different. Rick Stein’s first London restaurant is suitably located on the banks of the Thames, with superb river views. Cornwall-caught seafood takes pride of place on the menu alongside classic dishes such as Padstow lobster thermidor, Dover sole and Indonesian seafood curry.
If you are looking for somewhere a little more casual for a light lunch try booking a table at the Olympic Studios cafe. Once a recording studio, used by the likes of Queen, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, Olympic Studios is now a cafe and cinema. The latter of which has two screens and boasts the comfiest seats in the world and a sound system worthy of the Olympic Studios name and heritage. The cafe menu offers a wide selection of food from light bites such as a charcuterie board to more substantial main courses like burgers, steaks and a highly-regarded John Dory en Papillote.
Barnes is known for its small, independent cafes and shops. A perfect example of this is The Real Cheese Shop on Barnes High Street. This small but well-stocked shop sells every type of cheese you can possibly imagine from all over the world. Because the owners of the shop understand and appreciate the village community they are often willing to let visitors try before they buy. The inclusion of Scandinavian cheeses in this delightful shop is very much welcomed by the local Swedish community that has blossomed since the moving of the Swedish School from Harcourt Street to Lonsdale Road, Barnes in 1976.
Also on the high street, amongst the other speciality food shops and boutiques you will find the Barnes Fish Shop. Much like the previously mentioned Rick Stein restaurant, the Barnes Fish Shop takes daily deliveries from the Cornish coast to ensure that the seafood on sale is as fresh as it can possibly be. As you would expect from any decent fishmonger, the owner, Michael, will happily undertake any preparation work you need (such as gutting, filleting and scaling) while you wait. If they do not have stock of what you are looking for, just ask and they will often be able to get it in for you.
Barnes has all the makings of a community that, despite its proximity to central London, delivers on its promise of having a relaxed atmosphere that is thriving on a collective way of life that is sincere and human. The green spaces are often filled with family-based social gatherings and community events, making it feel more like a village in Surrey than an area close to central London. This genteel tone is not for everyone, but if it has tempted you to move to Barnes, click here to get in touch with our specialist London removals team who can help with every aspect of your move.