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Celebrating the best of Oxfordshire: What makes Wallingford so special?

Local independent traders tell Deana Everingham of Berkeley Homes what makes the picturesque South Oxfordshire market town of Wallingford so special.

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Local independent traders tell Deana Everingham of Berkeley Homes what makes the picturesque South Oxfordshire market town of Wallingford so special.
Local independent traders tell Deana Everingham of Berkeley Homes what makes the picturesque South Oxfordshire market town of Wallingford so special.

Nestled in the picturesque South Oxfordshire countryside, Wallingford boasts a rich history dating back to the Anglo-Saxon era. Its ancient walls, once part of a flourishing medieval market, still stand proudly today, providing a backdrop to the town’s unique character. 

While the historical charm undoubtedly adds to Wallingford’s allure, alongside an enviable selection of independent shops, boutiques and eateries, if you ask local residents what makes this quintessentially English market town so special, many will say it’s without a doubt, its remarkable community spirit.

I recently had the privilege of talking to some of the local independent traders who shared their thoughts on what they believe makes Wallingford special. Well-supported local initiatives, community groups, and volunteer efforts have contributed to creating a close-knit and supportive community, along with lovely, friendly people – making it a truly welcoming place to live.

Paul and his wife Julie own The Cookhouse Deli. Paul explains, “We’d dreamt about opening a delicatessen for many years – we just needed to find the right place. We were delighted when we discovered Wallingford, this beautiful market town, welcomed us into the community with open arms when we opened in March 2019.

Paul and his wife Julie own The Cookhouse Deli
Paul and his wife Julie own The Cookhouse Deli

“To us, Wallingford is a ‘proper’ town, and so has the infrastructure and ame that comes with that. However, it’s also small and community led, so there is a sense of togetherness and so many people seem to know each other. We pride ourselves on selling locally sourced, good quality produce, like cheese, honey and drinks.”

A recent addition to the Michelin Good Food Guide, the Five Little Pigs Restaurant has helped elevate Wallingford’s status on the fine dining scene. Owners Aimee, Rob and Sam set up a restaurant together, naming it after the Agatha Christie novel ‘Five Little Pigs’ – a nod to the town’s heritage. Following a hugely successful crowdfunding campaign, heavily supported by the residents of Wallingford, Five Little Pigs proudly opened its doors in May 2021.

Aimee of Five Little Pigs Restaurant - a recent addition to the Michelin Good Food Guide
Aimee of Five Little Pigs Restaurant – a recent addition to the Michelin Good Food Guide

Aimee explains: “We were overwhelmed by the local support we received, so many residents contributed to the crowdfund, enabling us to realise our dream. Our aim with the Five Little Pigs was to create a modern, youthful vibe with a menu based on seasonal produce.

“South Oxfordshire has an amazing collection of local suppliers providing delicious cheese, meats and vegetables, so we strive to source 70% of our menu ingredients from within 15 miles of the restaurant’s front door, including apples from Agatha Christies’ orchard.

The local florist, Branching Out, is run by Jacque and her daughter Bryony, which opened in 2001. Bryony explains: “Wallingford has such a lovely community vibe. It’s the kind of place where everyone knows and looks out for one another.

Branching Out, run by Jacque and her daughter Bryony
Branching Out, run by Jacque and her daughter Bryony


“If you walk down the high street you always see faces you recognise and everyone is always so friendly and welcoming. I also love the fact that it has so many locally run independent shops and cafes. It’s a beautiful historic town, which we are privileged to be a part of.”

Rides on Air in Wallingford is a specialist bike shop offering everything a cyclist might need. It’s a family-run business – originally set up by locals Jamie Lynn and his father Paul. In 2017, brother Dan took over from his father when he retired.

Rides on Air is a family-run business
Rides on Air is a family-run business

Dan explains, “It is the amazing community spirit that makes Wallingford so special. We have a couple of cycle shops in other Oxfordshire towns, but it is without a doubt the residents that make Wallingford truly stand out from the crowd.

“The community vibe is “make it the best it can be”. I think that is why Wallingford has so many thriving independents – we are so lucky to have the amazing loyalty and support of residents. The town frequently hosts community events which regularly draw people together, it is a truly unique and special place to live.”

Local residents Paul Hodder and Neil Warnham set up the Shellfish Cow Restaurant in 2018. Both are experienced restaurateurs with many years spent working in the hospitality industry – Neil ran several restaurants in Covent Garden, whilst Paul jointly owns a wedding venue close by.

Local residents Paul Hodder and Neil Warnham set up the Shellfish Cow Restaurant in 2018.
Local residents Paul Hodder and Neil Warnham set up the Shellfish Cow Restaurant in 2018.

Paul explains: “Wallingford has been my home for many years – we moved here when I was eleven. I love being part of such a marvellous community spirit. As a town, we are very proud of our heritage and truly honoured to have been home to the legendary Agatha Christie, aka Queen of Crime, in residence for over 40 years. 

“Growing up, I was very lucky to have Agatha Christie as my neighbour. My brother and I used to go fishing near her house and, on a couple of occasions, were privileged to be invited to join her for afternoon tea – something I will never forget.

“We feel very fortunate that The Shellfish Cow has truly been embraced by local residents, and is now an established part of the community, with so many of our clientele now friends too.”

As a developer, we recognise how a strong community spirit is crucial to establishing shared values and a collective identity amongst residents. This shared sense of purpose contributes to creating a positive and connected community where people feel a sense of belonging and pride. 

At Berkeley, we don’t just build new homes. Our developments are designed to foster social connections among residents, featuring landscaped communal areas to allow neighbours to socialise together. We also arrange seasonal events such as Easter Egg hunts, Summer BBQs and Christmas drinks – as we understand just how important it is to feel part of a friendly and supportive community. 

We are in the process of developing Winterbrook Meadows, a new collection of homes close to Wallingford town centre, and are excited to become part of the Wallingford community and spread the word about the fantastic lifestyle on offer.


Deana Everingham is the Marketing Director of Berkeley Homes (Oxford & Chilterns)


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