THREE West Sussex villages are among the top ten most expensive to buy property in England. We took a closer look.

“There are houses here you could never dream of owning.”

Tim Sturton-Davies is taking his dog for a walk along the waterfront in West Itchenor. He can see boats bobbing in the harbour, waves rolling towards the shore, and some mind-blowingly expensive properties.

The average price of a house in this West Sussex village is more than a million pounds... £1,336,763.

It’s the sixth most expensive village to buy property in England. Two others in the county rank among the top ten. House-buyers would also be forking out more than a million pounds on average to live in Elsted, the fifth most-expensive village, or Lurgashall, the ninth.

The Argus:

Tim runs The Quarterdeck Cafe in Itchenor Shipyard. He works here, but lives in a nearby village where the property prices are less prohibitive.

“People are prepared to spend millions to live in Itchenor,” he said. “There are plenty of big detached houses with well-kept gardens.

“I just love working so close to the water. I think that’s what draws people here.”

Many of the houses in the village are second homes owned by Londoners, who commute down by train – and bring big bucks with them.

James Machell is an estate agent. He runs Savills’ residential sales team in Petworth, and knows the property market in these three Sussex villages inside out.

He said: “All three have always been very popular. Lurgashall is your stereotypical Sussex village. There’s a cricket ground, a pub, and the surroundings are beautiful. It’s a very charming spot.

“Elsted isn’t dissimilar. There are more stunning Sussex views – both villages are situated in the South Downs National Park.

“Then there’s Itchenor. It’s a lovely coastal and boating area, and it’s home to a very well thought of sailing club.

“It’s also a a haven for Londoners looking to buy a second home – and they bring London money with them.”

The Argus:

House prices are through the roof round here. The properties themselves are mindboggling. In Lurgashall, you can get your hands on a five-bedroom Queen Anne style family home with landscaped gardens, chandeliers, woodland views, a garage, a workshop and a studio – yours for £2,350,000.

All this money sloshing about comes at a price.

Speaking to the people who work in these villages, a common problem seems to be that they can’t actually afford to live in them.

There’s a touch of resentment about lavish second homes laying empty, and the seasonal comings and goings of wealthy multiple homeowners.

Still, it seems to be accepted as a fact of life here. Most of those working in the three expensive villages and living in satellite settlements seem more or less content.

One woman who works in Lurgashall said she is living in the cheaper and, as she put it, ever-so-slightly less picturesque village of Fernhurst.

But for her, simply spending time in Lurgashall is a pleasure.

“It’s a quintessential little English village,” she said. “We’ve got a cricket green, a lovely pub, beautiful old buildings and period cottages.

“There are just three roads into the village – it feels very remote, but there are great connections to London. You can get the train from Haslemere.

“There are lot of interesting writers and film producers living here, and celebrities often visit. Rugby player Tim Rodber lives nearby, Chris Evans will sometimes pop into the pub, and Vinnie Jones has been seen once or twice in the village shop.”

One of the biggest draws is the serenity. Sticking her head out of the door and reporting back down the phone, there wasn’t too much in the way of news. She said: “The birds are singing in the oak trees, and there’s a clear blue sky. It’s just lovely.”

Here is Savills’ list of the most expensive villages in England, followed by their five-year average property price:

1. Turville, Buckinghamshire: £2,298,021

2. Theydon Garnon, Essex: £2,150,000

3. Rotherfield Greys, Oxfordshire: £1,682,321

4. Peper Harow, Surrey: £1,473,500

5. Elsted and Treyford, West Sussex: £1,4452,500

6. West Itchenor, West Sussex: £1,336,763

7. Candovers, Hampshire: £1,247,450

8. Little Gaddesden, Hertfordshire: £1,212,327

9. Lurgashall, West Sussex: £1,192,697

10. Beaulieu, Hampshire: £1,179,408