Let's move to... Clifton. Bristol's most prestigious and desirable suburb
PUBLISHED: 12:56 04 February 2010 | UPDATED: 16:40 20 February 2013
Diane Scully uncovers the multicoloured delights of Clifton, Bristol's most prestigious and desirable suburb. Photos by Neville Stanikk
Lets move to... Clifton
Diane Scully uncovers the multicoloured delights of Clifton, Bristols most prestigious and desirable suburb. Photos by Neville Stanikk
Clifton is Bristols most exclusive suburb and where Bristol city started! At the time of the Domesday Book there was a small settlement of farmers here, but no mention of the city. But it wasnt long before its prime position became appealing to the wealthy and aristocratic, who built fabulous homes, setting the scene for what it is today. Clifton is blessed with the beautiful Downs, the awesome Avon Gorge straddled by the world-famous Clifton Suspension Bridge, and fabulous Georgian and Victorian architecture. The elegant Royal York Crescent is reputedly Europes longest terrace. Not only is Clifton beautiful to look at, its also a great place for shopping and eating and it draws those of an artistic and cultural bent, making it a lively, buzzing place. But anyone will tell you that the best thing about living here is its community spirit.
Clifton is well positioned for schools. State-run schools in the vicinity are listed on Bristol City Councils website (www.bristol.gov) on the Schools Finder page. For example, right in the heart of Clifton is Christchurch Primary School, which OFSTED judged as outstanding. Clifton also has well-regarded independent schools to choose from, such as Clifton High School, which takes pupils aged four to eighteen. It is in the process of becoming fully co-educational. Or theres Clifton College, a co-educational, independent boarding and day school, where pupils can join the nursery aged three and continue through prep and upper school.
Clifton is great for walking, but if you need to go further afield all modes of transport are available. Clifton Down Railway Station on Whiteladies Road is handy for short trips to Avonmouth or Temple Meads, which is the main station for fast services to Paddington. As you would expect, there are good bus routes around the area and beyond. The M32 gives good access to the motorway network, and Bristol Airport is a mere ten miles away. You can also be environmentally friendly by accessing a map from Bristol City Councils website that shows cycling routes in and around Clifton.
Around and about
One of the joys of living here is its proximity to the Somerset countryside in one direction and in the other theres all a modern city can offer. Ashton Court Estate, just over Clifton Suspension Bridge, comprises 850 acres of ancient woodland and meadows abundant with wildlife. There are deer parks, walks and cycle tracks, and seasonal events include the annual balloon fiesta. At the suspension bridge you can take a guided tour and then climb up Clifton Observatory and Camera Obscura to enjoy panoramic views. Alternatively, a boat trip along the River Avon offers a different perspective of the gorge. The Downs is a much-loved open space, where locals go to enjoy kite-flying, picnics and walks. The famous Bristol Zoo and Gardens are also in this part of town and remain a favourite attraction. There are events throughout the year, held both in the zoo and gardens, such as summer music and dance for all the family. Westbury Park, close to the zoo, is another local favourite. Back in Clifton, the Lido originates from Victorian times and has recently been refurbished and expanded. It now has a heated outdoor pool, an excellent restaurant and a spa. The Royal West of England Academy of Arts is based in a grand Victorian building in Queens Road and has a permanent fine art collection, sculptures and photographs. It has two open exhibitions a year, with much of the work for sale.
You cant go far in Clifton without being tempted into one of the dozens of bars, cafs or restaurants. Theyre everywhere! In Clifton Village you can rest weary feet for coffee and snacks in the welcoming No9 on Boyces Avenue, or at the Arcade end of the Avenue is the ever-popular Primrose Caf and Bistro, which transforms itself at night into a snug bistro. The Rockfish Grill and Seafood Market on Whiteladies Road is considered one of Bristols best fish restaurants, or for a special location you cant beat lunch or dinner at the Avon Gorge Hotel, where youll find fantastic views of the bridge and gorge.
With its Georgian streets lined with upmarket independent shops and boutiques, Clifton is the most beautiful shopping area in Bristol. Amongst the exclusive boutiques you will find the local butcher, bakers and greengrocers, which means everything is available locally. In the heart of the village is The Clifton Arcade a beautiful Victorian shopping arcade with antiques, furniture, music and designer clothes all vying for your attention. Harking back to a different age, The Clifton Club has been in existence since 1818 and although it has been updated, welcoming men and women and offering a good range of sport and leisure, it retains traditional values. A few miles from Clifton is the David Lloyd Fitness Centre, which offers tennis, gym, a spa, swimming and more. Another option is Clifton College Sports Centre, with its multi-gym, cardio and weight training equipment. Golfers will be satisfied with three lovely courses to choose from The Bristol and Clifton Golf Club, the Woodspring Golf and Country Club and Long Ashton Golf Club. Thrill-seekers who like being on the water may enjoy racing with Baltic Wharf Sailing Club who race dinghies in a small area of Bristols Floating Harbour, while the Bristol Sailing School offers taster courses and tuition for all levels. For would-be climbers there are several companies willing to introduce you to the excitement of abseiling or climbing in the gorge. Additionally, there are all the usual clubs and societies in the area offering something to appeal to all ages and interests.
Could you live here?
Clifton offers you the opportunity to live on the longest terrace in Europe! But its not just its length which is impressive the sweeping terrace is an elegant piece of architecture, with its ironwork railings and identical first-floor balconies. No 7a Royal York Crescent is a three-bedroom apartment on the lower ground floor, whilst no 7 is spread over three floors and has a wealth of period features. Built circa 1796, it boasts huge sash windows, cornicing, coving, ceiling roses, marble fireplaces and a magnificent glass dome at the top that floods light down through the house. And the pice de rsistance the magnificent views across Harbourside and Ashton Court. Both 7 and 7a Royal York Crescent are available for a total price of 2,250,000 through Knight Frank (0117 317 1999).