Modbury is a pretty and historic market town in the South Hams. Near the sea in South Devon, this is one of the Westcountry’s most sought-after areas.
However, despite Modbury’s attractive architecture and friendly community, the town isn’t by any means the most expensive place to live in this often pricey neck of hte woods. Probably because the town is a few miles inland, houses here can be pleasingly affordable, with period townhouses costing around £275,000 for a terraced Georgian three-bedder and smart new-builds on sale for £350-£400,000.
So if you can put up with a three mile trip to the beach, you’ll find properties here that are much cheaper than nearby hot spot coastal addresses such as Salcombe, Noss Mayo and Bigbury-on-Sea.
Modbury has a population of around 1,500 and has been around for a long time – earliest records date back to the 8th century. Famous former inhabitants include Katherine ‘Kat’ Ashley, who was governess to Elizabeth I. John Batterson Stetson, founder of the Stetson cowboy hat company in the US, is descended from Modbury natives Robert Stetson and Honour Tucker who emigrated to Massachusetts in around 1634.
Today, the town has a vibrant centre with shops and cafes and beautiful Georgian architecture. It is surrounded by rolling hills, wooded glades and winding country lanes. People here head for Wonwell Beach, which is a hidden treasure and very much “locals only” in the summer. From Modbury it is also easy to enjoy the dramatic, more rugged, landscape of Dartmoor, five miles to the north.
The town is home to a hunt, The Modbury Harriers, and it has a good range of services including a health centre, blacksmith, dentist, vet, fire station and art gallery. Modbury became world famous in 2007 when it became the first town in the world to declare itself plastic bag free. To this day, there is a strong eco-conscience here, coupled with a close-knit sense of community.
Highlights of the Modbury year include Modbury Fair, pictured right, a whole week of jollity, parades and markets in May culminating in the crowning of the Modbury King and Queen. At Christmas, the Modbury lights go on to great jubilation, usually on the last Friday in November.
By South Devon standards, Modbury is relatively easy to access, as it is just south of the A38. Plymouth is within easy reach for work, shopping and secondary schools and Exeter too is less than an hour away. All in all, this town truly is a little gem.
Modbury: To buy or not to buy?
The case for: Modbury is friendly, pretty and has some superb properties, with a good sense of community.
The case against: Hard to fault but, being inland, it’s a short drive or longish walk to the coast.
Where to buy: If you are after the classic Modbury Georgian townhouses, then Brownstone Street is a good place to start. Three bed period terraced homes can cost less than £300,000. There are spacious family homes and bungalows in Long Park, which go for around £250-£300,000. Aylestone Park is a modern development of good-sized family homes, costing about £350-£400,000.
Who lives here? Families, country types and a fair percentage of eco-warriors.
Well-connected? Not bad, considering this is the South Hams, home of winding and narrow country lanes. The A38 at Ivybridge is a few miles north. Ivybridge also has a railway station, handy for Plymouth commuters. For mainline rail services, it’s often easier to head to Totnes for the London train.
Schools: Modbury has a primary school, unfortunately described as only “satisfactory” by Ofsted’s last inspection in April 2012. More positively, children go on to Ivybridge Community College, deemed “outstanding” by inspectors. Private schooling at Plymouth College is within reach, as are grammar schools in Plymouth.
Hang out at: The White Hart for excellent food and atmosphere. Meet local characters at quaint eaterie/bar The Bistro and check out the good cooking at The Exeter Inn.
Shop till you drop: Mackgills deli sells a superb range of fine food, while At The Top Of The Steps combines a café with top-notch nearly-new clothes bargains.