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July 14, 2022 | 3 min read

What lies behind the enduring appeal of market towns?

England has a wealth of market towns, defined simply as towns where a regular market is held: nearly 600, to be precise. Find out what makes these towns idyllic to live in and what makes them unique.

Jacob Baxter, Acorn Property Invest
By Jacob Baxter
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England has a wealth of market towns, defined simply as towns where a regular market is held: nearly 600, to be precise. From a list dating back to 1722, such is their historic importance, virtually all are still functioning market towns, including 125 in the South West alone.

Given their rich history and economic significance dating back several centuries, it is easy to see why market towns have retained their appeal. Combining rural charm, period architecture and a sense of community with a wealth of urban amenities, they offer the perfect blend of character and convenience. For this reason, homes in market towns typically command a significant premium compared with neighbouring towns, and that differential is increasing.

Brewery stall at Frome Sunday Market on a sunny day in Frome, Somerset, Acorn Property Invest
Sunday Market in Frome, Somerset

How much extra will people pay to live in a market town?

House prices in market towns were, on average 11% higher than in surrounding areas according to findings by Lloyds Bank in 2015. By 2020 that premium had risen to 12% and a year later that figure had grown to 13%, according to findings by Halifax. And for the most desirable market towns the premium was significantly higher, for example Marlborough in Wiltshire, where prices were on average 67% higher than the average for the county.

How much extra will people pay to live in a market town?

  • A regular, functioning market that drives footfall to the town and serves as a focus for the community. Often these include craft or farmers’ markets featuring local produce. These markets often come into their own at Easter, Christmas and in the summer when they attract visitors to the town.
  • Market towns act as an economic focus for the surrounding area, featuring financial and professional services (banks, solicitors, accountants, medical centres) as well as retail and leisure facilities, pubs and restaurants.
  • Good transport links to other major towns and cities, including frequent and/or direct trains to London.
  • Close proximity to the countryside, often including Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty or coastline.
  • A river, which adds to the town’s aesthetic appeal.
  • Well-preserved historical buildings and homes featuring Georgian, Regency or Victorian architecture. Often this includes conservation areas which lend the town character and charm.
  • Due to their established position in the surrounding area, they often feature highly regarded schools.

We are always delighted when we find suitable development sites in market towns in the South West. We work carefully with the local community to ensure our projects respect and enhance their surroundings, preserving listed buildings, such as Oliver Buildings in Barnstaple wherever possible.

Farmers Market on a sunny day in Frome, Somerset, Acorn Property Invest
Farmers Market in Frome, Somerset

Our current and forthcoming projects in market towns include:

If you’d like to find out more about Acorn’s range of investment opportunities offering quarterly income or capital growth, please contact Investor Services on 0203 858 9881 or via email at

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Investment opportunities available via Acorn Property Invest are exclusively targeted at exempt investors who are experienced, knowledgeable and sophisticated enough to sufficiently understand the risks involved, and who are able to make their own decisions about suitability of those investment opportunities. All investors should seek an independent professional investment and tax advice before deciding to invest. Any historic performance of investment opportunities is NOT a guide or guarantee for future performance and any projections of future performance are not guaranteed. All investment opportunities available via Acorn Property Invest are NOT regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and you will NOT have access to Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) and may not have access to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).