'I'd never felt at home until I moved here': Ashley James on living in Battersea

Ashley James finally feels at home in Battersea (Daniel Lynch)
Ashley James finally feels at home in Battersea (Daniel Lynch)

I’ve lived in Battersea twice before but now I’m back for good. I grew up in the north-east of England, but nowhere ever felt like home until I moved to south-west London.

We moved out to Essex in lockdown, but I missed my friends so we moved back when I had children. I was a bit worried as people tend to do the opposite, but it feels like everything is on your doorstep and there are activities for them in the day and night-time activities for us.

Battersea is described as “Nappy Valley” but there are two sides to it: there are the young families, but it also has a vibrant nightlife. When I lived here in my 20s, I’d go out to wine bars, but now I like it for different reasons; motherhood can be quite isolating and here there are so many playgrounds and a great sense of community so you’re always bumping into people you know. I have lots of friends within a 10-minute radius.

Ashley in Battersea Park (Ashley James - Battersea)
Ashley in Battersea Park (Ashley James - Battersea)

There are also amazing schools and nurseries, and a focus is on the big wide world; Alfie is learning about Africa at the moment, which I love.

Eating and drinking

The Farmer’s Mistress on Battersea Park Road is a great brunch spot and run by a lovely lady from the North East so we’ve bonded over that. I’m quite basic and just like smashed avo on toast and a poached egg.

The Farmer’s Mistress (Daniel Lynch)
The Farmer’s Mistress (Daniel Lynch)

The Café Fleur on St Ann’s Hill is another favourite — it does a great breakfast quesadilla. I’ve not been out for dinner much since we moved back but there are some nice restaurants on Northcote Road, including Osteria Antica Bologna. It’s a great authentic Italian restaurant and there’s nothing better than its spaghetti bolognese with loads of parmesan.

Osteria Antica Bologna restaurant, Northcote Road. (Daniel Lynch)
Osteria Antica Bologna restaurant, Northcote Road. (Daniel Lynch)

For drinks I go to The Bolingbroke pub on Northcote Road because you don’t have to dress up… it’s great if you want to quickly put the kids to bed and catch up with a friend.

The Bolingbroke Pub, Northcote Road (Daniel Lynch)
The Bolingbroke Pub, Northcote Road (Daniel Lynch)

Where I work out

I love running through the commons and, when we moved out of London, I missed running along the river. I also do a Kobox class in Chelsea — you can take it all out on the punchbag! It’s the first exercise I’ve ever really loved doing.

To commune with nature

In lockdown I used to walk every day in Battersea Park. It has lakes, the farm and loads of gardens, and it changes throughout the seasons so you get blossom in the spring and, in the autumn, the trees are magic and turn a gorgeous orange.

Ashley photographed within Battersea Park. (Daniel Lynch)
Ashley photographed within Battersea Park. (Daniel Lynch)

Grocery shopping

I’m a Sainsbury’s girl. I’d love to go to Bayley & Sage and Whole Foods, but they are all too expensive!

Culture fix

I’m going to see a comedian called Tom Houghton at the Clapham Grand very soon. I loved it there in my 20s for the Bingo Brunches. I also love the Clapham Picturehouse on Venn Street as it does showings where you can take your baby.

'Bingo Brunch' event at the Clapham Grand, Saint John's Hill. (Daniel Lynch)
'Bingo Brunch' event at the Clapham Grand, Saint John's Hill. (Daniel Lynch)

Battersea Park has so much to offer, too; in the summer there’s the Philharmonic Orchestra, the Affordable Art Fair, and Family Pride, which we’re going to, has LGBTQ+ performers, face painting and child-friendly drag artists.

Getting around

When I have the time, I walk everywhere, especially if I have Ada in the pram, but I take the bus, too, because it’s so convenient. If you get the Tube into London from Clapham, you can be central in 40 minutes. I’m so excited for when the kids get to the age that I can take them into town to the theatre and do the touristy stuff. Getting the Tube isn’t easy with children though — it’s a shame that in a great city like London, the Underground isn’t more accessible.

Dream street

I love where we are and don’t aspire to live in the most expensive street. We live on a lovely road with a WhatsApp group and there’s a nice sense of community.

Something you only see in Battersea

The river, park and “villagey feel within London” mentality.

Battersea has a ‘villagey’ feel (Daniel Lynch)
Battersea has a ‘villagey’ feel (Daniel Lynch)

What’s the catch?

It’s an expensive area and not as well connected as other parts. Clapham Junction can be very confusing inside the station as there aren’t that many signs.

In three words

Villagey. Family. Home.

Ashley James is a presenter and broadcaster; @ashleylouisejames


Chesterton Primary School is a nearby Ofsted outstanding school, while Falconbrook Primary School and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School are rated good. In terms of state secondary schools, Harris Academy is outstanding and Saint John Bosco is good.

This area boasts several independent schools nearby, including Thomas’s Battersea, Thames Christian School and L’Ecole de Battersea.

What it costs

Buying in Battersea

Average flat price: £691,850

Average house price: £1,401,450

Renting in Battersea

Average flat: £3,370 pcm

Average house: £4,510 pcm

Source: Hamptons & Land Registry