Midland Shires

The heart of England beats to a different pulse. It often gets a bad press — when it gets any press at all. You won’t see much of the grand old shire counties of the West Midlands in the style pages or gossip mags, but the canny buyer would do well to take a closer look at the ring of counties that surround Birmingham.

This unfairly overlooked stretch of country — much loved by residents — could hardly be more varied, from the cider orchards of rural Herefordshire to the old industrial heartland north of Birmingham. It’s dotted with castles, cathedrals and canals, reminding us just how much of our history has been forged here.

This patchwork cluster of counties is hardly away from it all. Sitting across the geographical centre of England and Wales, they offer easy access to London, Manchester and the holiday hotspots of Wales and the West Country. There are plenty of high-achieving schools, including some of the most famous independents in the country, and you do get an awful lot of house for your money.

We’ve lived in London, Sussex and the North West but we love it in Warwickshire. One of the main draws is that there’s no pretence. In the northwest for example, there’s massive pretension, in the footballer belt and the stockbroker belt, where it’s all about who’s got the biggest white car. There is wealth around here, but people don’t push it and it’s more about family and friendships.

There’s plenty going on to indicate the area will soon be occupying a more prominent position within the national landscape. The growing popularity of central Birmingham as a financial centre — and increasingly cool place to live — is rippling out into the shires, while the arrival of HS2 will make it handy for anyone who wants even speedier access to London and Manchester. Sprinkle in some smaller investment and regeneration schemes in places such as Worcester and Hereford and you have the makings of a region on the up.

The other great thing about round here is that we have lots of houses for you to look at.

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