Gloriously nestled in the South East of England, Berkshire, often referred to as the "Royal County of Berkshire" owing to the presence of the royal residence, Windsor Castle, presents an attractive proposition for a comfortable abode. In this area guide, we delve into the wonders of Berkshire, its historic towns, and modern urban centres such as Reading and Maidenhead, and provide key information for prospective residents, such as insight into local schools, transport links, and property options. Whether you are seeking a quiet country living or being part of vibrant, thriving towns, Berkshire has something to offer everyone.

History of Berkshire

Berkshire, dating back thousands of years, boasts a rich history. It was originally a county of forests and farms, with remains dating back to the Iron Age. The county gained its ‘Royal’ status thanks to the presence of Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest inhabited castle in the world, built by William the Conqueror in the 11th Century. Over the centuries, Berkshire has flourished and evolved, with the advent of the Great Western Railway in the 19th Century, leading to considerable industrial growth. Today, it beautifully blends historical charm with the conveniences of modern life, making it a desirable place to live.


Berkshire is home to several historic landmarks. Windsor Castle, the residence of the Queen, is a marvel of architecture and history and a symbol of British heritage. The Ascot Racecourse, synonymous with prestige and elegance, hosts the world-renowned Royal Ascot. Reading Abbey, though now in ruins, showcases the rich history and Norman influence in the area.

Landmarks we love

  • Cliveden: Located in Taplow, Cliveden House is a stunning Italianate mansion set upon beautiful gardens with panoramic views over the Berkshire countryside. It played a key role in Britain’s political and royal history.
  • The Abbey Ruins: Residing in Reading, The Abbey Ruins are the remains of a large medieval monastery. It's a significant historical site, though in ruins, it whispers tales of the past.
  • Shaw House: Situated in Newbury, Shaw House is a Grade I listed Elizabethan building, now functioning as a conference centre and wedding venue, it’s beauty resonates historical elegance.
  • Newbury Racecourse: Found in Newbury, this racecourse is one of the most famous in the UK. Housing not just races, but events, concerts, exhibitions, and more, it's an iconic Berkshire establishment.
  • Dinton Pastures Country Park: Located in Hurst, it provides a beautiful, natural escape for families and nature-lovers. This country park features several lakes, a nature reserve, and ample recreational opportunities.

Top 10 things to do in Berkshire

  • Visit Windsor Castle: A tour around the Queen’s residence, viewing the State Apartments and St George’s Chapel is a must-do when in Berkshire.
  • Reading Festival: Held in August, Reading Festival is one of the UK's biggest music festivals, attracting global acts and thousands of festival-goers.
  • Bucklebury Farm Park: Perfect for children, this farm offers petting zoos, tractor rides and playgrounds.
  • Walk along The Thames Path: Serene walks along this picturesque river, with charming villages and historic pubs en route.
  • Boating in Henley: Enjoy quintessential English charm by boating on the River Thames in Henley-on-Thames.
  • Visit 'The Oracle’ shopping centre: Located in Reading, it hosts a mix of brands for a delightful shopping spree.
  • Dine at L'ortolan: Michelin-starred restaurant in Reading offering exquisite French cuisine.
  • A Day at Ascot Races: A day of thrilling horse racing coupled with elegance and style at the prestigious Ascot Racecourse.
  • Explore Savill Garden: Recognised as Britain's finest ornamental garden, these beautiful sculptured gardens are a delight to explore.
  • Adventure at Go Ape Bracknell: Ideal for thrill-seekers with its high-rope courses, segways, and zip-lines amidst lush forest.

Our recommended areas to live in Berkshire

  • Reading: Offering a thriving economic scene with employment opportunities and excellent transport links, Reading also boasts great nightlife, shopping, and attractions like the Oracle shopping centre and Reading Festival. It perfectly combines urban living with a touch of tranquillity from the nearby River Thames and local countryside.
  • Windsor: Famous for Windsor Castle and its picturesque setting along the River Thames, Windsor offers a high standard of living with reputable schools, lively markets, great dining and shopping options. Its charm and proximity to London make it an attractive place for families and professionals alike.
  • Ascot: Known worldwide for its Racecourse, Ascot is much more than just horse-racing. With fantastic schools, pleasant green spaces, and a close-knit community, it's perfect for families seeking a quieter pace of life while being well-connected to London.
  • Bracknell: Following its recent regeneration, Bracknell offers modern amenities, shopping at The Lexicon, and attractions like Go Ape. Ideal for young professionals and families with its affordability and proximity to good schools.
  • Newbury: Framed by the scenic Berkshire Downs, Newbury hosts attractions like the famous Newbury Racecourse, the Kennet and Avon Canal, and Highclere Castle. Regarded for its quality of life and quaint market town appeal, it's great for those desiring a peaceful, rural setting with excellent amenities.

Best schools in Berkshire

Berkshire is acclaimed for its educational offerings, with dozens of outstanding-rated schools according to Ofsted. Among the best-ranked schools are Kendrick School and Reading School, both in Reading, offering top-tier grammar education. Independent schools flourish in Berkshire too, with Eton College, known for educating numerous prime ministers and royalty, and St George’s School at Windsor Castle being top picks. For primary education, Cold Ash St Mark’s and Whiteknights Primary School are highly rated. Higher education isn't far off either with the well-respected University of Reading and other colleges providing a strong basis for tertiary education.

Transport links in Berkshire

Berkshire is praised for its exceptional connectivity. Central London is just under an hour away via direct trains from Reading, Newbury and Slough. The M4 corridor, covering much of Berkshire, offers easy access to London, Bristol, and South Wales by road, as well as connecting with the M25 for further nationwide links. For international travel, Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, is conveniently located on Berkshire’s eastern border. Local commuting is made simpler with an extensive bus service and excellent cycling routes.

Beautiful Berkshire offers a blend of rustic charm and modern conveniences. Its rich history, iconic landmarks, and extensive opportunities for recreation weave an attractive tapestry that appeals to a variety of lifestyles. Excellent schools, great connectivity, and diverse living options further enhance its appeal, making it a top choice for those seeking a balanced lifestyle near the capital. Though Berkshire is widely known for its royal connections, it’s the county’s undeniable charm and quality of life that truly make it fit for a king or queen.

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