Together with Little Shelford (just over the river), it is a consistently popular spot for house-hunters looking to be near the city yet part of a village community. Made up largely of pretty cottages and older properties, with a population of around 4,000, it’s just four miles from the city centre – a definite draw, says Stuart Harris of Carter Jonas.
“It gives good access to Cambridge – you can even do it on a bike. It’s also on the side of the city that’s preferred by a lot of people for many reasons,” says Stuart, citing the close proximity of some of the city’s top schools (St Faith’s, The Perse, The Leys and St Mary’s) and Addenbrooke’s hospital amongst those reasons.
Great Shelford railway station, which offers regular services to Cambridge and London Liverpool Street, is another attractive prospect for many. “For anyone with any degree of London bias in their lives, they’ll find it quite easy with the train station here, and being on the southern side of Cambridge.
“But it’s still a village, with a village community, so you get the best of both worlds. There are lots of shops, pubs, doctors’ surgeries and that kind of thing. Everything really that a small town would have.”
The Shelfords are also a popular foodie destination, with the Shelford Deli in particular offering a wide selection of wonderful produce. It was listed as one of The Independent’s 50 Best Delicatessens in Britain, and you’ll find its café and garden regularly filled from brunch to afternoon tea time. Meanwhile the Barker Bros Butchers, a family-run establishment which has been trading since way back in 1843, supplies the village with its own hams, bacon and award-winning sausages.
Great Shelford has two traditional pubs: The Plough, serving real ales, fine wines and home-cooked food; and the Square and Compasses, with its cosy low ceilings and down-to-earth vibe.
Zara, set within a characterful old railway building, serves top notch Indian cuisine – see this month’s restaurant review. Over in Little Shelford, The Navigator is an attractive, authentic Thai restaurant (its sister restaurant, The Three Horseshoes, is just up the road in Harston).
And, to get your body and soul back in harmony, there’s always Camyoga, which has studios in Mill Court. Residents also have the benefit of the village’s weekly country market and monthly farmers’ market, meanwhile local fare is celebrated each year at The Shelford Feast, held in July.
Taking all this into account, Shelford has established a genteel reputation as one of Cambridge’s more a uent addresses. Residents of note, past and present, have included children’s novelist Philippa Pearce (her delightful story, Tom’s Midnight Garden, was inspired by the Mill House, where she grew up), Tom Sharpe and Sir Peter Hall.
However its popularity means prices are kept relatively high, and house-hunters need to be quick o the mark if they spot a place they like, with some properties with the right credentials going for over and above the guide price.
“We find that a lot of people identify the Shelfords as a place they’d like to be. But there’s not always a direct relation between the types of properties you tend to find, and what people might be looking for. That is a particular problem for Cambridge universally,” says Stuart. “Some addresses in Shelford are very sought-after, like Woodlands Road, where the prices are not far short of Cambridge prices. But really the whole village isn’t very far behind Cambridge in terms of prices.”