Cambridge’s Newnham is a coveted enclave full of period homes and a surplus of Nobel laureates

King Charles III, Charles Darwin and Professor Stephen Hawking, three of the most famous British names in the world, all spent part of their lives as residents of Cambridge, England.

The town 50 miles north of London, with its modest population of 150,000, is in the county of Cambridgeshire in East Anglia. It is 80km north of London, about an hour by train or car, and east of Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool. There’s more to Cambridge than its famous university in terms of history, culture and lifestyle, enough to grab the attention of a discerning shopper.

Much of Cambridge is built on the east bank of the River Cam, once a key route for water transport but now used exclusively for boating, punting and canoeing.

To the west is Newnham, often cited as the city’s wealthiest and most desirable suburb, so much so that the area was named ‘Best Place to Live in Britain’ by The Times of London.

Starting out as a riverside hamlet, Newnham has retained the charm of an old English village whilst being a short walk from the center of Cambridge and five minutes from the M11 motorway.

Victorian terraced houses in Cambridge, UK

Education Images/Getty Images

After: Old San Juan offers centuries-old Spanish colonial townhouses just minutes from modern town

So to the crown jewel, where King Charles III studied in the early 1970s. Cambridge University is over 800 years old and the town it stands in was once described as “perhaps the only real town University of England”. Today, he is ranked fifth best in the world.

“Cambridge is an incredibly unique place to live with stunning architecture, great schools and a world-class university,” said Ed Meyer, residential sales manager for Savills.

“As an internationally recognized institution, the University of Cambridge attracts buyers not only from a local audience, but also nationally and internationally.”

It’s no wonder, then, that Cambridge is one of the UK’s most desirable cities, with the modest but affluent area of ​​Newnham being the most appealing choice for the upmarket shopper.

After: Rugged revivalist architecture and a sense of community abound in Austin’s Pemberton Heights


The suburb of Newnham is to the south-west of Cambridge. It is 48 miles from London, the capital of the United Kingdom, and less than 150 miles from other key cities such as Birmingham (in the Midlands) and Manchester (in the north).

Price scale

The average price of a Victorian terraced house in Newnham is around £1.25m (US$1.38m), while larger detached properties typically sell for between £3.5m and £4m. pound sterling.

Housing stock

Cambridge is home to some of the finest period properties in the UK, and Newnham in particular is renowned for its Queen Anne style late Victorian houses.

As noted by local architects, these properties typically feature Dutch and Flemish gables, hipped roofs with prominent chimneys, white-painted woodwork, and casement or sash windows. Each of these properties has a rich history and character.

“The majority of Newnham’s housing stock is made up of smart terraced houses; they are deceptively spacious and make fantastic homes,” said Lawrence Brown, director of Strutt & Parker Cambridge. “Victorian terraced houses with around three bedrooms can fetch upwards of a million pounds.

“Larger, detached family homes, with around five bedrooms, can fetch prices of £2m or more, depending on period, style and quality of home.”

There are also pockets of Edwardian houses, each tall, deep and featuring cobble-dotted walls, hanging red tiles and front doors with Art Nouveau stained glass.

What makes it unique

Legend has it that Newnham is home to more Nobel laureates than anywhere else in the UK – a distinction that is difficult to prove but nevertheless speaks volumes about the area’s educational heritage.

Newnham College is the women’s college of the University of Cambridge, founded in 1871. Other colleges in the area include King’s, Trinity and Wolfson.

The quality of education in Newnham and across Cambridge has filtered down to primary schools, which are regularly featured in The Sunday Times Schools Guide.

The city of Cambridge could be described as ‘eccentric’. The Queens’ College Bridge (known as the Mathematical Bridge) over the River Cam is an extraordinary wooden structure – resembling an arch but, in fact, made entirely of straight pieces of timber.

After: Lakeside Seefeld offers shopping, dining and swimming a few minutes from the center of Zürich

“These attractions are part of what makes Newnham Cambridge’s most unique neighborhood,” said Andrew Tucker, co-head of residential sales at Bidwells. “The area looks like a village and yet it’s teeming with academic and employment opportunities – and there’s no sign of that changing.”

History is everywhere. The Eagle is a Grade II listed public house, the second oldest pub in Cambridge and the famous building where Francis Crick announced that he and James Watson had ‘discovered the secret of life’ after making their proposal for the structure of DNA.

Exterior view of the Eagle pub in Cambridge, UK

Chris Radburn – PA Images/Getty Images

In terms of employment, Cambridge’s biomedical campus is the largest center for medical research and health sciences in Europe, and the city is home to some of the UK’s biggest tech companies.

Although working from home is now more common, a commute to London is always on the minds of those moving here, so proximity to the capital remains a key consideration.

After: Brook Green: West London’s New Golden Postcode

Luxury amenities

Cambridge has been home to Giulio for 30 years, the iconic King Street fashion store in the heart of the city and set amongst the university buildings. Presenting the latest trends in men’s and women’s fashion, the store is in tune with the rest of the city: desirable, understated, relaxed and elegant.

Bowns, meanwhile, on the site of a medieval brothel on Magdalene Street, is a charming fashion and lifestyle boutique stocking designer names such as Vivienne Westwood and Paul Smith.

There are also a number of five-star luxury hotels, each with charming and evocative names, including The Gonville Hotel, Graduate Cambridge, Duke House and Tamburlaine.

Cambridge Country Club is a popular destination offering a spa, swimming pool and golf facilities.

After: Polanco: Mexico City’s high-end housing center

Who lives here

With biosciences, universities and technology companies so popular in Cambridge, a large proportion of buyers work in the sciences, in addition to being academics or business people.

“Cambridge is popular with growing families as well as young professionals,” Brown said. “Many of those who have studied at university will return, familiar with the city in which they spent much of their youth and attracted by the technology sector that has developed in the city.

Notable residents

King Charles III, the newly crowned monarch, attended Trinity College, Cambridge and graduated in 1970, the first heir to do so. His name is, of course, the most famous, joined by famous former Cambridge residents Hawking, Darwin, Sir Isaac Newton and Sir David Attenborough.

Hawking, the world renowned theoretical physicist, started as a graduate at Cambridge University in the 1960s and founded the Center for Theoretical Cosmology.

Darwin, the famous biologist, lived in Newnham. Alan Turing, mathematician and computer scientist, studied there from 1931.

After: Tokyo’s Minato district pioneers ultra-luxury living


For property prices in Cambridge, the only way seems to be up. As you would expect, there is significant demand for property in Newnham, driven by a number of factors including low interest rates and changes in people’s working habits.

At the start of 2022, experts were divided on the extent to which this trend will continue, but most remain convinced of huge competition for properties.

“I believe in Cambridge the market remains stable due to a lack of inventory and the city still being desirable,” Mr Meyer said. “But properly pricing real estate will continue to be essential for sellers.”

Mr Brown added: “Cambridge’s popularity is nothing new: graduates often stay in the city, young professionals move here to put down roots and London families come for a slightly more calm.

“The city plans to introduce congestion charge zones which will reduce car use and pollution in the center, an attractive proposition for many buyers. All of this makes the city a fantastic place to live and ensures that housing demand will remain high.

Click for more profiles of upscale neighborhoods around the world

Comments are closed.