Why should you retire to Berkshire?

Berkshire is a great place to live – perfect for anyone who is retiring and will have time to enjoy everything the county has to offer from country walks and the great outdoors to exploring heritage sites – and, of course, dining out.

Written by

Sheila Frampton

The benefits of retiring in Berkshire 

1. A wealth of culture on the doorstep

2. History and heritage just waiting to be explored

3. Beautiful countryside – for walking and cycling

4. Superb sporting facilities – whether you’re a participant or a spectator 

5. Some of the best places for retail therapy

6. Some of the country’s most renowned restaurants

7. Great transport links to London and beyond 

A photo of the river in Windsor
A photo of a long road with grass and people enjoying a picnic.

1. A wealth of culture on the doorstep

Whether you enjoy art galleries, theatre, stately homes or music, Berkshire has it all. With Windsor, Reading, Newbury and Ascot on your doorstep, you’ll never be short of culture.

Our favourite galleries and museums in Berkshire

  • Reading Museum has a range of galleries displaying amazing collections with almost half a million objects crossing archaeology, art, natural history, social history and world cultures.
  • Stanley Spencer Art Gallery in Cookham, 4 miles from Maidenhead and 19 miles from Reading. The gallery is dedicated to one of Britain’s most talented artists and is run by a community of volunteers who are passionate about Spencer’s art.
  • The Museum of Eton Life one of two museums within Eton College, this museum provides a glimpse into the world of the Eton School, established in 1440. You can explore the chapel, the cloisters and the college’s oldest classroom. Combine a visit with a trip to Eton Natural History Museum.
  • Castle Fine Art is one of Reading’s finest art galleries showcasing original artworks, sculptures and limited-edition prints.
A photo of the Eton Walkway sign on the floor in Eton, Windsor.

A selection of theatres & performance centres

The Theatre Royal, Windsor
  • Norden Farm Centre for the Arts in Maidenhead has a 225-seat theatre and 100-seat studio space which opened in 2000 and has built an outstanding reputation offering theatre, spoken word, cabaret, comedy, jazz, classical music and literature.
  • Theatre Royal, Windsor is a beautiful, historic theatre which sits beside the castle in the heart of Windsor.
  • The Mill at Sonning is set on the banks of the River Thames, The Mill at Sonning is celebrating more than 30 years of entertainment – and is the only dinner theatre in the UK. All productions are ‘created’ on the premises and sets are built in the theatre’s workshop. The theatre seats 215 people in the semi-round and the restaurant, separate from the theatre, has views over the Thames.
  • Hexagon Theatre, Reading, located on Queen’s Walk, is a multi-purpose arts venue with a theatre seating 1200.
  • Corn Exchange, Newburyset in the Corn Exchange completed in 1861, the Corn Exchange is a 400-seat arts centre with a full programme of live performances including dance, film, music, drama and comedy – and is home to a 40-seat independent cinema.

2. History & heritage

The long path up to Windsor Castle, Berkshire

  • Windsor Castle: Berkshire is brimming with historic towns, monuments and churches and Windsor Castle is one of the best attractions in the county. If you’re visiting you’ll need to book tickets in advance.  Visiting here, you’ll discover unique artefacts and classic antiques in a castle that has housed the royal family for over a thousand years.  Highlights include Queen Mary’s Dolls’ House and The State Apartments.
  • Cliveden House was built by the Duke of Buckingham in 1666 and was rebuilt in 1824 and then following a second fire, was rebuilt again in 1851. Cliveden is a luxury hotel and the park and gardens are run by the National Trust.  The house runs pre-booked tours and features fascinating art collections but the vast parkland is worth a visit.
  • Shaw House, near Newbury is an Elizabethan mansion built by a wealthy cloth merchant and completed in 1581. Today it is managed by West Berkshire Council.

National Trust Properties in Berkshire include the following:

  • Basildon Park, located 2 miles south of Goring-on-Thames and Streatley, is a Grade II listed building built in 1776. Set in wooded parkland, it houses antique furniture, a selection of Old Masters and more.
  • Ashdown in Lambourn is an extraordinary Dutch style ‘doll’s house’ type building nestling in the Berkshire Downs. Built for Queen Elizabeth of Bohemia by Earl William Craven in 1662, when open, access is limited to the hall and the roof.
  • Sandham Memorial Chapel is home to Stanley Spencer’s Art.
  • Maidenhead and Cookham Commons: here, 843 acres and a wide variety of landscapes on the banks of the River Thames are managed by the National Trust and the miles of walks include links to the Chiltern Loop and Thames Path.
Ashdown in Lambourn

3. Beautiful countryside and places to walk and cycle in Berkshire

The entrance to Savill Garden

  • Windsor Great Park: The award-winning Windsor Great Park is one of the most beautiful places to visit and, accessible from the town centre on foot via the "Long Walk" it’s a wonderful place to walk, cycle and picnic. There’s an abundance of wildlife, unique plants and historical monuments and you get a fabulous view of the castle. Savill Gardens, also part of Windsor Great Park, has been named as ‘England’s finest ornamental woodland’ – with a host of rare plants in a series of interconnected gardens.’
  • North Wessex Downs: much of Berkshire falls within the North Wessex Downs, a designated ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ in Berkshire which stretches to the outskirt of Reading in mid-Berkshire, taking in Newbury and the River Kennet. One of the highest points, providing superb views of the scenic countryside is Walbury Hill, southeast of Hungerford in West Berkshire. Miles of walking and cycling routes make this a wonderful area to spend time in the fresh air.
  • Swinley Forest, owned and managed by the Crown Estate, stretches over 2,600 acres from Bracknell to Crowthorne. With gently undulating hills, it forms part of the Thames Valley Special Protection Area.
  • The Kennet Valley, between Newbury and Reading offers some beautiful walks. From the River Kennet near Newbury, you can walk through Bowdon Woods. If you enjoy gentle canal towpaths and easy footpaths, there’s the Kennet and Avon Canal walking trail that stretches for 95 miles staying close to the River Avon and meandering through the North Wessex Downs from Reading to Bristol taking in some delightful villages on the way.
  • Basildon Park, which appeared in the TV series ‘Downton Abbey’ has 400 acres of grounds and a number of walks ranging from half-a-mile to three miles and Bisham Woods, near Bisham Abbey, are worth visiting – they were the inspiration for the classic book ‘Wind In The Willows.’

4. Superb sporting facilities 

The Queen and Prince Philip riding in a carriage at Ascot

  • Berkshire is a favourite county for thousands of golfers. In total there are 39 golf clubs in Berkshire and the Berkshire Golf Club is one of only three clubs that has two heathland courses in the Top 100 in Britain and Ireland.  Sunningdale Golf Club has a Berkshire address but is affiliated to the Surrey County Golf Union. Newbury & Crookham Golf Club is one of the oldest clubs in England.
  • If you love horse racing, Berkshire is the best location with Ascot Race CourseNewbury Racecourse and Royal Windsor Racecourse all located within the borough.
  • There are some inspirational places to cycle in Berkshire from easy, scenic, leisure cycling along rivers and canals to some wonderful villages and towns.
  • Polo is a fabulous spectator sport and The Royal County of Berkshire Polo Club, situated near Windsor, is one of the top places to enjoy the game.
  • Tennis – Caversham Lawn Tennis Club is regarded by many as one of the best tennis clubs in Berkshire with fantastic facilities including indoor tennis courts. There’s an excellent club in Windsor – Windsor Lawn Tennis Club with 700 members.  David Lloyd clubs offer good facilities and David Lloyd Berkshire has invested in its tennis with 12 indoor and 5 outdoor courts and 3 Playsight Smart courts to transform training.
  • And if you're into your football, Berkshire is home to Reading Football Club, who currently play in England's second division, The Championship. Why not take a trip to The Select Car Leasing Stadium (formerly the Madejski Stadium) to watch a match, and cheer on the Royals? It's only a 15-minute drive from our forthcoming development in Binfield, after all. 

5. Berkshire's retail therapy

Berkshire is full of great shopping areas but we’ve picked a couple of our favourites.

  • Windsor Royal Station is one of the more elite shopping centres in Berkshire. With a wealth of boutiques, it has a unique feel.  Located in the Grade II listed Victorian railway station opposite Windsor Castle are a mixture of stores and eateries, including a number of independent retail outlets.  Many of the original features of the Victorian station remain, including cobbles and the Jubilee Arch and the Grade II listed building that houses All Bar One was built for the exclusive use of the Royal family.  Today, there’s around 40 shops, a range of continental-style café-bars and restaurants and an arts and crafts market open seven days a week.  Right next door to Windsor Royal Station is Windsor Yards with more mainstream fashion chains – and a good range of stores.
  • The Oracle, Reading, set on the banks of the River Kennet - is a great place for a day’s retail therapy. With over 80 different stores, you’ll find everything you need under one roof and spend the whole day shopping. There are plenty of places to take a break from cafes and bars to restaurants.  There’s a Vue cinema if you want to make an evening of it.

6. Berkshire's Michelin starred restaurants

Berkshire has a host of Michelin star restaurants and Bray has more than its share with Heston Blumenthal’s ‘The Fat Duck,’ ‘The Hind’s Head’ and ‘Waterside Inn.’  In Newbury, there’s The Vineyard, Henry & Joe’s and The Woodspeen. Pot Kiln is located in Frilsham and, in Yattendon, there’s the Royal Oak.


We recently wrote a blog in the 'Best restaurants in Windsor' featuring a range of cuisines, you'll find the perfect place to eat, from burger bars to brasseries. 

Discover the best restaurants in Windsor
The Hind's Head pub sign

7. Berkshire offers good transport links

Berkshire offers easy access to London with trains from the county travelling into Paddington and Waterloo and intercity services travelling to Bristol, Cardiff, Swansea, Birmingham and the North of England.  There are also express links to Heathrow by coach as the M4 passes through Berkshire. The M3 and A404(M) are also easily accessible. For keen cyclists, there are bicycle sharing schemes available in Reading, with 1,000 bikes available at 150 docking areas.

8. The perfect retirement locations in Berkshire

Beechcroft only selects the best locations for its retirement communities – which is why there are three current and forthcoming retirement developments in Berkshire:

Pinewood Place, Windsor

Elegant new homes are currently on sale at this exclusive, gated retirement development set within beautifully landscaped gardens, just off Hatch Lane, within easy reach of Windsor’s town centre. With 29 luxurious new homes, there’s plenty of choice for prospective homeowners over the age of 55 and each provides a terrace, balcony, private garden or a combination of these along with allocated parking.

View the development
The courtyard at Cotswold Gate, Burford
Castle Gardens, Watlington

Binfield House, Binfield

Designed exclusively for the over 55s, this collection of 18 elegant one and two-bedroom apartments and three-bedroom houses. Nine of the apartments are the result of Beechcroft’s careful conversion of a Grade II listed manor house and 9 are newly-built houses, complementing the period property. The houses and most apartments have private terraces, gardens or balconies as well as access to the mature, beautifully landscaped setting which extends to almost three acres. Located on Terrace Road North in the Wicks Green Conservation Area, this retirement community is less than ½ mile from Binfield village centre.

View the development

Forthcoming: Ascot 

Due to be launched in early 2023, this retirement development comprises 20 elegant two and three-bedroom apartments resulting from Beechcroft’s careful conversion of a Grade II listed manor house along with a further 14 newly-built two and three-bedroom houses. The new homes feature private terraces and balconies – and the fully-maintained, landscaped setting is superb. One of the mature trees, an ancient Sweet Chestnut, is believed to be the oldest and the largest in the country.

View the development

Pinewood Place

Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 3RW

5 homes currently available from £565,000

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