Cotswolds Escape to the Country


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Cotswolds

In the Cotswolds, Nicki Chapman helps a couple with a million-pound budget decide between a Jacobean and Georgian manor house, or a quirky earth-sheltered eco-home.


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Today, I'm at a castle that's been home to 26 successive generations of the same family.

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Mind you, when you have a place like this, who can blame them?

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'In today's show, I'll be helping a couple run away to retire to the country

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'and we've got a big budget, big houses and big "wows".'

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A huge wow...! Oh, my goodness!

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I don't believe it!

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-'And our mystery house is a real revelation.'

-Oh, crikey!

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I'm in the Cotswolds and this is Berkeley Castle,

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home to the Berkeley family that have lived in this magnificent place for 900 years.

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Now, it may seem tranquil today, but if these ancient walls could speak,

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they would whisper tales of a brooding past at odds with the peaceful surrounding countryside.

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And it's truly magnificent.

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Covering 790 square miles and spanning six counties,

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the Cotswolds is the largest of the 40 Areas of Outstanding Beauty

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across England and Wales.

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Its historical towns such as Stow-on-the-Wold and Chipping Campden,

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made from the local honey-coloured limestone, read like a Where's Where of the UK's most desirable places.

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Jewel in the crown is Burford which, in 2009, a leading US magazine voted

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as one of the most idyllic places to live in Europe.

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And as one of the least populated areas of England, yet teeming with rich wildlife,

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it's no wonder that so many people dream of finding their own haven in this part of the country.

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There's no way round it. Property in the Cotswolds comes at a price.

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The average detached property here would set you back - hang on to those tweed trousers -

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a massive £181,000 above the national average.

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This is a stunning part of the country with properties to match.

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Just take a look at what's currently on the market.

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If budget is not an issue,

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how about this five-bedroomed, new-build Cotswolds house in Ascott

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on the market for £1.3 million?

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Besides a large family kitchen, there's plenty of space to relax

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in the two comfortable sitting rooms and conservatory,

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or even the summer house, a perfect spot to survey the three-quarters of an acre garden.

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Or there's this deceptively large, four-bedroomed, weatherboard home overlooking Howells Mere Lake.

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Soak up those waterside views from the huge, open-plan living area with its barn-style vaulted ceiling,

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yours for £730,000.

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And £380,000 will get you this three-bedroomed, Cotswolds stone barn conversion in Blockley.

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The exposed stone walls and beams really give off that warm, cottagey feel

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and you've got water on your doorstep with a stream running through the communal gardens.

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I love the timeless appeal and subtle sophistication of the Cotswolds.

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With a varied array of properties on offer,

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I'm delighted to be house-hunting in this area this week. So who's going to be joining me? Let's find out.

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Steve and Meera have been married for 12 years

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and both work for the publishing company Steve founded 20 years ago.

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With the four children they have between them now in their 20s and with retirement on the horizon,

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they are excited about starting out anew in the Cotswolds.

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I'm a bit of a romantic and I can remember being a young kid going on holidays into the country,

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down into Devon and different places,

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and I'm really looking forward to going places like that where you swing the doors open,

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go out into the fresh air, go for fantastic walks.

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I can't wait to get into that kind of environment. That's what I'm looking forward to.

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I can't wait. If I found the place, I'd go tomorrow.

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They're biding their time in their three-bedroomed flat

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and have spent two years scouring the countryside for their dream home, so what are they looking for?

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My dream property has to have lots of character.

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It has to hit you when you look at it and you just go, "Wow, this is something really special!"

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I want it to have a stream,

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I want it to have a pond, although I can build a pond, and beautiful views.

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Four bedrooms, two with en-suites and then a separate family bathroom,

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then it might be quite nice to have an extra little room, a study.

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Steve loves his music and he plays it extremely loudly, so a nice music room to shut him away would be good.

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And there are some rather large companions to squeeze in too.

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This is Denis. He's a beautiful piece of pottery.

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We've got all our stuff that we've collected on our travels in storage,

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so we are desperate to find a lovely new property to get them all out and enjoy them again.

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This is a communal garden. We're looking for a bigger garden, one to three acres,

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so we can have our pond, we can have some animals, chickens, ducks, lambs and maybe even ostriches.

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I have actually agreed to have a dog,

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but he is also talking about sheep and ostriches and pigs,

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so that's a little bit scary, really.

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We love cooking, we love entertaining, but this kitchen really isn't big enough.

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We're looking for a big, open-plan kitchen-breakfast room, comfy sofa,

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walk-in larder, French doors opening on to the garden, people can sit round, drink a glass of wine. Lovely.

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Meera is also keen to get involved in village life.

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I think it would be lovely to move into a village that's still got some of the local shops

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like a butcher, like a post office, like a nice pub.

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So many of the villages we've looked at don't have those amenities any more.

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-I think a village loses some of its...

-Identity.

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Identity. So for us, we would love to live close to a village environment,

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so that we can get involved and become part of that community.

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Steve and Meera are cash buyers,

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but bearing in mind the land for ostriches and a perfect village location, how much can they spend?

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We're fortunate. Our budget for the next move is up to a million pounds.

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Steve and Meera are really fired up for this move and it's great to hear

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they're serious about getting involved with the local community they will one day call home.

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But when it comes to the house, I do have some concerns.

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They both want a home with real character and a warm family heart,

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but whether it's out in the sticks or near a village is still up for discussion.

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Will they be able to agree? Let's find out.

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Our buyers may differ on the exact location of their dream property,

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but hopefully, we can offer up something to appeal to them both,

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so we're focusing our search between Chipping Campden in the north

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down to Cirencester in the south.

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We've got three fantastic houses to show them, but before I reveal the price of each,

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I'll ask them to have a guess first.

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Finally, there's our mystery house which is guaranteed to be a real curve ball.

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-Well, Steve and Meera, welcome to the Cotswolds.

-Thank you.

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-I'm really looking forward to the next few days. I hope you are too.

-Absolutely.

-We're very excited.

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And we've got a very healthy budget, a million pounds to spend.

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-Yes, aren't we lucky?

-And cash buyers?

-We are.

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-Which does make it a lot easier, we hope.

-Yeah.

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But we are in the Cotswolds, the beautiful Cotswolds, which is expensive,

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so on paper, a million pounds should be able to buy us a castle,

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-but here, you get rather less for your money. Are you aware of that?

-I think we realise that.

-Yeah.

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You've been looking around. How far have you cast this net?

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We're pretty flexible because obviously work isn't an issue now, children aren't an issue now,

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-so we can go more or less where we want to.

-That's made it a lot harder because we could go anywhere.

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But I really don't want to move too far from where we are now which is Amersham,

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mainly because we've got a lot of good friends there.

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-And Steve, how far and remote do you want to go?

-I'd go really quite rural.

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I would go... No, I would. I'd go kind of three miles from your nearest neighbour - great.

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There's a bit of a difference here, isn't there? There is a bit of a difference.

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-I wonder who's going to make the ultimate decision?

-I think we probably both will.

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But possibly...

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Yeah, we'll see. It'll be a compromise at the end of the day.

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We've got some amazing properties for you to see and the mystery property.

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-Are you ready to get started?

-Absolutely.

-Come on.

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'So Steve and Meera have a very healthy budget of one million pounds.

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'Steve wants a beautiful plot for his ostriches to roam in

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'and with Meera asking for a village location not too far away from Buckinghamshire,

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'fingers crossed, we can find something to keep them both happy.

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'Our house search takes us to a very rural spot near King's Stanley,

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'17 miles from Cirencester and a two-hour drive

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'from Meera's loved ones back in Buckinghamshire.

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'Nailsworth would be their nearest market town five miles away.

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'It has independent shops and plush eateries. Many of its properties are built into the lush hillside,

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'as we find with our next property in the open countryside. I think Steve will love this location.'

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Here is your property, made of Cotswold stone.

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-It was finished in 2007, so it's still very, very new.

-Right.

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-You've got a slate roof and the most amazing views.

-Yes.

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-All the way around.

-Absolutely...

-Absolutely stunning.

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It's actually five acres in total.

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-Steve, you said you wanted a bit of a project.

-Yeah.

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-You wanted to keep some animals.

-There's enough space for ostriches and llamas in there.

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You could have a whole zoo with all that land! Let's see if the house...

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-Over my dead body!

-..is up to your taste.

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'Although Meera seems a bit scared by Steve's plans for his Noah's Ark,

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'I think the interior of this property will really make an impact on her.'

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-Come on in.

-Oh, my goodness!

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Big wow!

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Huge wow!

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This is just incredible.

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You don't see living space like this very often, do you?

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Now, you two wanted flexibility, you wanted lots of options.

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-I think I'm going to cry.

-Aw!

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-You said you didn't mind contemporary.

-I know and I don't. Oh, I've gone all googly!

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Blimey!

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It's ticking lots of boxes at this stage.

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I don't want to get too excited. Let's walk through and you can really see the views.

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Now, you've probably guessed this is a topsy-turvy, upside-down house.

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-Yeah.

-Mm-hm.

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But it works so well and it's been designed like that, so you get the most out of that view.

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-You can see right across the valley.

-Fantastic.

-Yeah, it's exceptional.

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Even washing up would be a joy!

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A nice, big kitchen, you know, granite worktops.

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Obviously, entertaining is so important

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and somebody wanted a sofa,

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so the sofa is in close proximity to the kitchen, so I believe that's going to get a big tick.

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Yes, that's my space while Steve is preparing the dinner on a Saturday night. Perfect.

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'Brilliant. This superb contemporary interior has bowled them over.

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'Let's see if we can keep them smiling.'

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I think this house really benefits from having this little private room to the side.

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Yeah, absolutely. That is such a fabulous space out there.

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But I think if that was all you had, I would have been a bit worried, so I'm really pleased we're in here.

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This is lovely, really beautiful.

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'Just next door, there's a study which would make a great den for Steve to play his music.

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'They seemed utterly wowed by the views and flexible modern layout of this property.

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'Meera's sculptures would certainly look great in here.

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'Let's head downstairs and hope they'll be thrilled by the five bedrooms that lead off the hallway.

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'Two would fit a double bed in nicely, this one with doors leading out to the patio.

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'And the third double is a nice, generous size with a lovely, modern en-suite,

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'but we'll take in those views from this generous fourth bedroom.'

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-I'd be tempted to put my guests in here because look at that view!

-Stunning views, stunning views.

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I wish I had a pound for every time we said "amazing, stunning views", but you can't help but be impressed.

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It just hits you every time. Every time you come into another room and you see the view, it just hits you.

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'Across the hallway is a great wet room-style family bathroom with a corner bath.

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'Next door is an elegant master.'

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-So again, good size for you?

-Lovely. Lovely size.

-Lovely size.

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The utility room with the washing machine and all that gubbins is down here?

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It is. Very cleverly, it's out of eyeshot.

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Let's have a look at your wet room and I'll explain a little bit more.

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-So here's your wet room.

-Yeah.

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And the utility is just through that door.

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It's a Jack and Jill utility from the family bathroom and yours.

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Laundry can go straight in there and no-one sees it.

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That's perfect. Your clothes are in your bedroom. The bedrooms are all here.

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-All I do is open the door and throw them in.

-Yeah, and they come back clean by magic...

-Ironed.

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..into your underwear drawer. I don't iron his underwear!

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'There may not be much magic in the laundry room, but I'm sure outside will cast a spell on Steve.

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'The five acres of land fall within a conservation area,

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'so no chance of development getting between them and those views over the Malvern and Welsh Hills.'

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The current owners have horses. But these paddocks... Meera, you might not want me to say this.

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But they could be ideal for ostriches. No?

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They could be. They could be.

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You both seem so impressed with the property, but it's time to talk money.

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How much do you think it's on the market for? Who's going to go first? Meera?

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I'm going to say...

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999,000.

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OK. Steve?

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975.

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It's only just gone on the market. It's been about four weeks.

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-So very early days.

-Yes.

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The current asking price is...

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..£895,000.

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No! Crikey!

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-I'm staggered.

-I wish I DID bring my chequebook!

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So do I if it's that positive! I'm trying to hold back my enthusiasm.

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And with a house like this,

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I think your friends would be happy to make the two-hour journey here to see you,

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rather than you go back to Buckinghamshire.

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-Have another look around the house. I'll catch up with you in a while.

-Lovely.

-Enjoy!

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They certainly loved the price tag.

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Way under budget at £895,000,

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this exceptional, modern Cotswold property seems to have them reeling.

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And it's all framed by jaw-dropping views.

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I think the setting is exceptional.

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I can imagine us standing out here on a summer's evening watching the world go by.

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I could see myself living here. The views blew you away. It was exceptional.

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-Family and friends would love coming here.

-The sculptures would look fantastic here, paintings...

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Absolutely stunning. Took my breath away, really. Made me go all googly.

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And for us, a space like this is what we like to live in,

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so from that point of view, just couldn't be better.

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-Have you two seen enough?

-I think we have.

-Yes, I think so.

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-You've still got that grin on your face.

-I have indeed.

-I'm going to have to drag you away now.

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'With its idyllic countryside, honey-coloured stone and rich housing stock,

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'the Cotswolds is a place people want to move to and never leave.

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'Nowhere is there a more compelling example than Berkeley Castle, home to the Berkeley family since 1154.

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'Built under orders from Henry II, it has a unique claim to fame

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'as the oldest continuously occupied castle by the same family in Britain.

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'The castle has borne witness to some startling events over the past centuries

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'and I'm meeting Charles Berkeley to learn more about the place he calls home.'

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-Were you brought up here as a child?

-We were.

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My brother and I, only 11 months between us, we spent our winter months here at the castle.

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It was a magical place.

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We lived in the keep which was the oldest part.

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That was exciting - really old wooden floors and stone walls.

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It was a paradise to grow up in.

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There are so many stories of visitors seeing two boys up on the roof.

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We respected the castle, but it was our playground. We were extremely lucky.

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-I'm used to showing people houses, but I'd love you to give me a tour of your house.

-Let's go, yeah.

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'Although noblemen walked through these hallways en route to sign the Magna Carta,

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'Elizabeth I slept in its chambers

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'and Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream was first performed here,

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'it is a surprisingly homely place, although Berkeley does lay claim to one particularly dark tale.'

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Charles, tell me a bit more about this story, the legend of the King.

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Well, Nicki, Edward II was King of England in the 14th century.

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And he was brought here as a prisoner in 1326.

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On the orders of his wife, he was kept here for six months

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and imprisoned in this cell here and they murdered him.

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-This is where he was murdered?

-This is the site where he was... Yeah.

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'After murder and mystery, a trip on to the roof is a breath of fresh air

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'and a chance to take in the wonderful panoramic views,

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'but with a £5.5 million appeal for repairs, including the roof,

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'maintaining Berkeley involves considerable upkeep, so does Charles feel at home in these castle walls?'

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It is very much a castle with its turrets and its towers

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and its imposing look,

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but it is still a wonderful family home and long may that continue.

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'Exploring Berkeley has given me a fascinating insight into 900 years of British history

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'and it's extraordinary how this home is still an ongoing concern

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'for the same family some 25 generations on.

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'As the day draws to a close over the Cotswolds,

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'it marks the end of the first day of our property search.

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'Meera and Steve are desperate to find their dream country home to retire to in the Cotswolds.

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'With their big £1 million budget, Steve wants land for ostriches.

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'They've seen one property, but coming up, it looks like Meera is wearing the trousers.'

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-Steve cooking, me sitting, glass of wine.

-Yeah.

-Works well.

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In my handbag is the chequebook.

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'But can our mystery house bring them back down to Earth?'

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Yesterday went rather well.

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With stunning scenery and rural seclusion, the ball was firmly in Steve's court.

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But of course, this move is about Meera too, so today, we're going to address the balance.

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We're heading for the village of Pebworth just six miles from Chipping Campden

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and an hour and three-quarters away for visitors to drive from Buckinghamshire.

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I think they'll make the trip because although Pebworth lies just outside the Cotswolds border,

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it still benefits from that beautiful scenery.

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I think Meera will love this quiet village which has a number of period properties dotted about.

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-'But could she live here?'

-Oh, my goodness!

-Wow.

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-That whole thing?

-That whole thing.

-I've gone all goosepimply!

-Have you?

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-What do you think, Steve?

-It's very big, that's for sure.

0:21:520:21:57

Absolutely huge.

0:21:570:22:00

The house is made up of three parts.

0:22:000:22:02

-The original house is Jacobean.

-Really?

-At the back of the property.

0:22:020:22:06

Wow.

0:22:060:22:08

-This side of the house is Georgian.

-Yeah.

-And just because they decided it needed to be a little bigger,

0:22:080:22:15

-that's the Victorian extension.

-Wow.

-Amazing.

0:22:150:22:19

-I think it's time to go in.

-Let's go.

0:22:190:22:22

'This huge country house in the middle of the village certainly seems to have blown Meera away,

0:22:220:22:29

'as it did Sir Ben Kingsley who restored it from flats.

0:22:290:22:33

'Leading off the entrance hall is the first of two sitting rooms.'

0:22:330:22:37

This is absolutely stunning. And I've gone goosepimply again!

0:22:380:22:43

-This is the Victorian side.

-Yes.

-This house is Grade 2 listed.

0:22:440:22:49

You have to bear that in mind for anything you want to do to it.

0:22:490:22:54

The current owners decided they wanted to knock through to the kitchen.

0:22:540:22:59

I think it works really well.

0:22:590:23:02

-Gorgeous!

-Does that make you happy?

-A gorgeous range. Steve cooking, me sitting, glass of wine.

0:23:060:23:12

-Yeah.

-Works well.

0:23:120:23:14

-There's no sofa in here. You do have a good-sized table.

-You've got to have somewhere to sit.

0:23:140:23:21

-It has a good vibe about it.

-Thumbs up?

-Definitely.

0:23:210:23:25

-I'd like to see more.

-There is so much more to show you. Follow me.

0:23:250:23:30

'The different architectural styles seamlessly flow into one another.

0:23:300:23:35

'And our next room is certainly fit for a Jacobean banquet.' If one was going to have a dinner party,

0:23:350:23:41

-how would this work as a dining room?

-I'm almost...lost for words, which doesn't often happen.

0:23:410:23:48

-The size of that fireplace!

-Yeah.

-I mean, it's just incredible.

0:23:480:23:54

You've got original leaded windows. The surrounds have been repaired.

0:23:540:23:59

Absolutely beautiful.

0:23:590:24:02

-Can you feel the history?

-It just oozes with it.

0:24:020:24:06

It comes out of every bit of it.

0:24:060:24:09

-This is just...

-You're very animated!

-I know!

-In a village!

0:24:090:24:14

I'm trying to kick myself, hold myself back.

0:24:140:24:18

-Where's the driveway?

-Where will the ostriches go?

-Exactly.

0:24:180:24:23

'Right, on we go. As we step out of the 1600s and move through to the Georgian part,

0:24:230:24:29

'we pass a wine cellar, a must for those dinner parties. And what better room to retire to than here?'

0:24:290:24:36

-A beautiful Georgian room, presumably.

-It is.

-Lovely.

-You've got sash windows, shutters.

0:24:360:24:44

And a great view of the church.

0:24:440:24:47

A working fire as well. Wonderful.

0:24:470:24:49

-And dual aspect. You can go through the patio doors.

-They're open?

-Yep.

0:24:490:24:54

Plenty of light.

0:24:540:24:57

'And there's light streaming in to the study off the sitting room.

0:24:570:25:01

'Also tucked away on this floor is a cloakroom, WC and utility room.

0:25:010:25:05

'Meera has fallen in love with what she's seen so far

0:25:050:25:09

'and Steve has been lapping up the historic wow factor.

0:25:090:25:14

'I don't think upstairs will disappoint.'

0:25:140:25:18

So this house has five bedrooms and this is the master.

0:25:180:25:22

-This is lovely.

-That is gorgeous!

-It's so bright as well.

0:25:220:25:26

-Look at the view, Steve!

-Everything in this house is pretty large.

0:25:260:25:31

-And I know...

-Oh, my goodness!

-..you wanted an ensuite,

0:25:310:25:35

-so... Just go and have a little look.

-OK.

0:25:350:25:40

Is it going to be mega?

0:25:400:25:42

-Oh, my goodness!

-Wow!

0:25:430:25:46

This is just about big enough(!)

0:25:460:25:49

-It is enormous.

-Beautiful.

-Absolutely enormous.

0:25:490:25:52

'All the rooms lead off this sprawling landing. At the end of the hallway is the family bathroom.

0:25:520:25:59

'You've guessed it - huge! With a luxurious roll-top bath.

0:25:590:26:03

'The second bedroom is currently used as a dressing room

0:26:030:26:07

'and is certainly big enough for Meera's sofa.

0:26:070:26:10

'Opposite are two bedrooms. Perfect for guests. Back down the hall is another potential bedroom,

0:26:100:26:16

'which could make a great den for Steve's loud music.

0:26:160:26:20

'Upstairs again is a real treat for their overnighting guests.

0:26:200:26:24

'It's a self-contained flat complete with sitting room and architectural history on show.'

0:26:240:26:32

-Gosh. Look at this.

-Incredible.

-The original wattle and daub.

0:26:320:26:36

All the walls were done like them. When they restored the house,

0:26:360:26:40

about 25 years ago, it looked so amazing they made it a feature.

0:26:400:26:46

'There's also a kitchenette and their guests won't believe their luck

0:26:460:26:51

'in the minimal splendour of this bathroom. The space just keeps on going outside.

0:26:510:26:58

'Across the driveway is a double garage with two stables.

0:26:580:27:02

'Behind that is a small pond for Steve and a superb annexe,

0:27:020:27:06

'currently fitted out with a large gym and games room. A fantastic space to have fun in.

0:27:060:27:14

'So there's acres of house and the landscape garden is a surprisingly quiet retreat,

0:27:140:27:20

'given it's right in the middle of the village. But the ostriches might have to be chickens.

0:27:200:27:26

'Is it a compromise worth making for such a sumptuous property?

0:27:260:27:31

'Time to catch our breath and consider the price.'

0:27:310:27:35

So I think I've shown you everything. How much do you think the current asking price is?

0:27:350:27:41

I've got to say... over our budget,

0:27:420:27:46

but I'd go for 1.1.

0:27:460:27:48

-And Meera?

-I'm going to go slightly under Steve and say

0:27:480:27:53

£50,000 under what Steve said.

0:27:530:27:56

-So just over a million?

-Just over a million.

0:27:560:28:00

This house is currently on the market...

0:28:010:28:05

Aaaargh!

0:28:060:28:07

-..for £875,000.

-No!

0:28:080:28:11

Holy...sugar!

0:28:130:28:15

In my handbag is the chequebook.

0:28:180:28:21

-That is amazing.

-That is amazing!

0:28:220:28:26

-Now if this house was probably three or four miles in that direction...

-Yes.

0:28:260:28:33

..you would be looking at substantially more

0:28:330:28:37

and we're not talking £50,000 or £100,000 more.

0:28:370:28:41

But we are just outside the boundaries of the Cotswolds, but it is all around you.

0:28:410:28:47

You can see the Cotswolds from your bedroom window.

0:28:470:28:51

-Go and enjoy, take your time.

-Thank you.

0:28:510:28:54

Again under budget at £875,000,

0:28:540:28:58

this property has clearly worked its magic on Meera.

0:28:580:29:02

Although Steve will have to have a serious rethink on the land,

0:29:020:29:06

they've been seduced by its three reception rooms and their character,

0:29:060:29:10

its historical features spanning some 500 years and the five bedrooms with that enormous ensuite.

0:29:100:29:17

The village location should please Meera and it's still an easy drive back to Buckinghamshire.

0:29:170:29:24

I knew as soon as I looked at the outside that I could live here.

0:29:240:29:27

I fell in love with it on the spot.

0:29:270:29:30

When I came inside, it was breathtaking.

0:29:300:29:34

The thing about it is it's got such a...warm, homely feel to it.

0:29:340:29:41

I think what happens coming into a house like this, you start off at zero degrees

0:29:420:29:49

and in the hall you're at 15 degrees, by the kitchen it's 50.

0:29:490:29:53

By the time I got to the dining room I was boiling. It's very special.

0:29:530:29:57

There cannot be many like this.

0:29:570:30:00

Are you both ready?

0:30:000:30:02

I'm as excited as you both are! Come on, we've got to press on.

0:30:040:30:09

Meera and Steve are certainly not the only ones to have succumbed to the idyllic charm of the Cotswolds.

0:30:140:30:20

Around 280,000 visitors a year flock to its beautiful honey-coloured villages,

0:30:200:30:26

including Long Compton with its rich history.

0:30:260:30:29

We arranged for them to meet local historian Jan Treadaway

0:30:290:30:34

to find out more about the village's mysterious tales from the past. First stop, the lych gate.

0:30:340:30:40

-What exactly is a lych gate?

-Lych is an Old English word. It means body or corpse.

-Oh, right.

0:30:400:30:47

And in the Middle Ages, the wool merchants were very powerful around here.

0:30:470:30:53

There was a law passed that stated that every corpse had to be buried in a woollen shroud,

0:30:530:30:59

-which was quite expensive.

-Nice extra income!

-Absolutely.

0:30:590:31:04

And they had the right to stop a coffin at the church gate

0:31:040:31:08

-and open it and inspect to see if the body was dressed...

-Really?

-..in a woollen shroud.

0:31:080:31:14

The church that stands here today is late Norman, but there was one as far back as the 5th century.

0:31:140:31:20

It's said that when St Augustine, the first Archbishop of Canterbury, was sent here in the 6th century,

0:31:200:31:26

while preaching in the church yard he raised a man from the dead.

0:31:260:31:31

There are also numerous burial grounds and ancient sites steeped in legend around here,

0:31:310:31:38

including the rollright stones, thought to be older than Stonehenge and linked to witchcraft.

0:31:380:31:45

The story goes that an invading king was tricked by a witch who told him, "If Long Compton you shall see,

0:31:450:31:51

"King of England you shall be."

0:31:510:31:53

When his view was obscured by a hill, she turned him to stone.

0:31:530:31:58

These are supposed to be the king's men. Over there is the king's stone, which was the king turned to stone.

0:31:580:32:04

Well, these pretty villages shouldn't be taken at face value.

0:32:040:32:09

Their rich folklore is a defining feature of the ancient Cotswold landscape.

0:32:090:32:14

Every now and then we find a property that just screams out to be the mystery house.

0:32:170:32:24

And this is one of those.

0:32:240:32:26

Steve and Meera have been wonderfully open-minded

0:32:260:32:31

but this house is going to certainly test them.

0:32:310:32:34

All will be revealed soon enough.

0:32:340:32:37

We're heading to the village of Fulbrook, half an hour's drive from Chipping Campden

0:32:370:32:43

and just an hour and a quarter from Buckinghamshire.

0:32:430:32:47

The nearest amenities are in the pretty town of Barford, a mile away.

0:32:470:32:52

Its lively streets are lined with magnificent stone frontages

0:32:520:32:56

and there's a raft of pubs and local shops to pick from,

0:32:560:33:01

but I think our mystery house will require me to do some hand-holding.

0:33:010:33:06

I'm bringing you to the mystery house. I don't think you'll be too disappointed with the surprise.

0:33:060:33:13

On three. One, two, three.

0:33:130:33:17

Oh, crikey!

0:33:190:33:22

-It's built into the hillside.

-It's an earth-sheltered home.

0:33:220:33:26

-Were you expecting this, you two?

-Not in a million years!

-No.

0:33:260:33:32

I know you both love your first impressions.

0:33:320:33:36

-How does this rate?

-Funky, awesome,

0:33:360:33:41

amazing. Indescribable, really?

0:33:410:33:43

-It is. It's just completely different.

-A proper earth-sheltered home, made of Cotswold stone.

0:33:430:33:49

So it's in keeping. A double garage there.

0:33:490:33:53

You've got a cedar lip there. It's like an umbrella above the property,

0:33:530:33:59

like a huge, huge umbrella to insulate it and keep out water.

0:33:590:34:03

-So first time for any of us in an earth-sheltered home. Ready for the grand tour?

-Definitely.

0:34:030:34:09

I think we'll enjoy it.

0:34:090:34:11

'Our mystery earth shelter may be an unexpected Cotswolds find,

0:34:110:34:15

'but they've been around for thousands of years. It's a fantastic way to combine great architecture

0:34:150:34:22

'with making homes more energy efficient. So let's explore.'

0:34:220:34:27

It's very deceiving from outside.

0:34:270:34:30

-It really is.

-Yeah.

-How clever, the way they've got all these different levels in.

0:34:300:34:36

-I can't believe the space is so... light.

-Being south-facing, you get the warmth and the light.

0:34:360:34:42

Covered in soil, it's insulated. The windows and doors are air-locked to keep that heat in.

0:34:420:34:48

'In the spacious utility room is some interesting eco-kit.

0:34:480:34:52

'This ground source heat pump absorbs heat from deep underground and warms the house throughout.

0:34:520:34:59

'The open-plan area is cleverly split into different zones, like the large sitting room.

0:34:590:35:05

'We'll explore the central hub.'

0:35:050:35:08

This house does benefit from being open-plan. Here's your dining area.

0:35:080:35:12

-And that leads beautifully on to the kitchen. It's really well-fitted.

-Yeah.

-Got everything.

0:35:120:35:20

You mentioned this property being on different levels.

0:35:200:35:24

Before I take you upstairs, I'll show you what's down here.

0:35:240:35:28

So here's the second reception room. There is potential to convert this to another bedroom

0:35:310:35:37

if you wanted a four-bedroom house and not a three.

0:35:370:35:42

-Across the hallway, you've got a bathroom and a bedroom.

-It is completely different.

0:35:420:35:47

For a surprise house, it couldn't be any more of a surprise.

0:35:470:35:52

'I'm not sure they're completely falling in love with this property, but they're impressed by the design,

0:35:520:35:59

'flexible layout and great energy-saving features.

0:35:590:36:04

'Upstairs includes the third of four potential bedrooms, opposite which is a family bathroom

0:36:040:36:10

'with a shower cubicle. Time now to check out the main bedroom.'

0:36:100:36:14

-This is the master.

-Good natural light.

0:36:140:36:18

-And a good-sized room.

-Yes. It is surprising, given where we are in the house,

0:36:180:36:25

how much light comes through. It is surprising.

0:36:250:36:29

-It benefits from an ensuite, a large, generous ensuite.

-Right.

0:36:290:36:33

-Which was on the hit list.

-Yes, definitely.

0:36:330:36:36

This house does have its benefits. It's low maintenance, low heating bills.

0:36:360:36:42

-And there are just the two of you.

-Mm.

0:36:420:36:44

'Mm, indeed. Well, there's one big surprise to come that might make them consider taking the plunge.'

0:36:440:36:52

Now...

0:36:520:36:54

-..take a look at this.

-I don't believe it!

0:36:540:36:59

-Crikey! That would keep us fit.

-It would do that.

0:36:590:37:03

That was designed for the owner, so they could keep fit.

0:37:030:37:07

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

-It's what you'd call a bath!

0:37:070:37:11

I wouldn't want to clean it! It's got a contra flow system like a water treadmill.

0:37:110:37:17

When you turn it on, you literally swim against the current.

0:37:170:37:20

'With the house covered, and armed with those brollies, we're going back above ground

0:37:200:37:26

'to stand on the roof and admire the surprisingly large garden.'

0:37:260:37:30

-It's impressive, isn't it?

-It is. It's very different.

0:37:300:37:35

-Without wanting to keep you out here any longer...

-This is difficult!

-It is, but it's the bit I like.

0:37:350:37:42

-It's the bit I dread!

-How much do you think it's on the market for?

0:37:420:37:47

I'm going to say...

0:37:470:37:50

£980,000.

0:37:500:37:52

I'll go... slightly less than that.

0:37:520:37:56

I'll go...935.

0:37:560:37:58

The current asking price - £850,000.

0:37:580:38:03

-850?

-Yeah.

0:38:030:38:05

You're not going to get a house like this in a location like this. It's a one-off.

0:38:050:38:11

For the right couple or the right person, it's a tremendous buy.

0:38:110:38:15

The big question is... is that you two?

0:38:150:38:19

-You're not going to let me know, are you?!

-No, we're not.

0:38:190:38:23

Your lips are sealed. Why don't you go back inside where it's toasty,

0:38:230:38:28

have another look around, have a think about it? I'll see you later.

0:38:280:38:33

'Our cutting-edge Cotswolds stone earth shelter is under budget at £850,000

0:38:330:38:40

'and it's a real one-off, featuring large flexible living areas,

0:38:400:38:45

'an impressive insulating roof which doubles up as the garden,

0:38:450:38:49

'four potential bedrooms with an impressive master ensuite

0:38:490:38:53

'and, critically for Meera, it's just an hour to Buckinghamshire,

0:38:530:38:57

'so catching up with family and friends couldn't be easier.'

0:38:570:39:01

The big open-plan area down there would be fantastic for a party.

0:39:010:39:05

And you wouldn't even know you're almost underground.

0:39:050:39:09

When Nicki brought us round that corner and we opened our eyes,

0:39:090:39:13

I would never have imagined that this was what I'd see. Phenomenal.

0:39:130:39:18

Obviously it's low maintenance, the heating bill is very low.

0:39:180:39:22

It's very secure. As you get older, you could see yourself moving here.

0:39:220:39:28

But it's a bit too early for us. At the moment, I want big grounds.

0:39:280:39:33

Sorry to bring you back out!

0:39:330:39:36

-That house certainly makes a statement.

-It certainly does.

0:39:360:39:40

-So unique, but you guys have got some thinking to do.

-We certainly have!

0:39:400:39:47

'Steve and Meera have approached this house search with gusto, but now it's time for a quiet think.'

0:39:540:40:01

It's decision time for Steve and Meera.

0:40:010:40:05

At the beginning of the week, this couple couldn't decide where they both wanted to live.

0:40:050:40:11

Let's hope they've found common ground.

0:40:110:40:15

-Well, you've had some thinking to do, haven't you?

-Just a little.

-Certainly have.

0:40:170:40:22

-Shall we start with the first property?

-The vista was superb.

0:40:220:40:27

And it really reminded you of how wonderful the English countryside is.

0:40:270:40:33

As we approached the house, it was new, then when you opened the door and saw the internal layout,

0:40:330:40:39

it had to be one of the big wow factors of the week.

0:40:390:40:43

It was phenomenal. It took my breath away really,

0:40:430:40:48

but the longer I spent there, I wasn't sure that we could live within that space,

0:40:480:40:54

even with the additional rooms on that upper level.

0:40:540:40:59

The main bulk of the house was that one open-plan area.

0:40:590:41:03

I just felt we needed a little bit more space or additional rooms.

0:41:030:41:08

Both of you want to immerse yourself in country life. Meera, it's important you're near a village.

0:41:080:41:14

So we found a property right in the middle of a village.

0:41:140:41:19

As soon as I looked at the outside, I loved it.

0:41:190:41:23

And then when we opened the door, it just blew me away. The more we walked round, I could see us there.

0:41:230:41:30

The grounds were lovely, the annexe is another dimension.

0:41:300:41:34

And there was a further piece of land that I'd love to turn into a natural part of the garden

0:41:340:41:41

and have a small pond there et cetera. It had a lot going for it.

0:41:410:41:46

Our mystery house, is always different. The earth shelter. I haven't seen anything like it.

0:41:460:41:54

-I don't think you two had either.

-No.

-And at no point inside

0:41:540:41:58

did you ever feel you were underground. So much natural light.

0:41:580:42:03

All those different levels. I thought it was fabulous.

0:42:030:42:08

It was great to go and see. We'd seen others like that, but never been inside one.

0:42:080:42:14

-Nice to see.

-Wonderful to see. I'm really pleased you showed it.

-Great.

0:42:140:42:19

Well, you've seen these properties.

0:42:190:42:21

Where do we go from here? I'm so eager to find out!

0:42:210:42:25

Well, I think tomorrow we are going to go back to Pebworth,

0:42:250:42:31

-have a good look round the village and who knows?

-See where we go.

0:42:310:42:36

Well, that is great news. It's been a wonderful few days.

0:42:360:42:40

-All the best. And if you do have any good news, let us know.

-We certainly will.

0:42:400:42:46

I've really enjoyed this week.

0:42:490:42:52

It was always going to be a challenge finding the right property and location for Steve and Meera,

0:42:520:42:59

but they remained open-minded and saw the merits in each of the properties we showed them.

0:42:590:43:05

I so hope they're a step closer to making this all-important move

0:43:050:43:10

and immersing themselves in country life.

0:43:100:43:14

If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England

0:43:140:43:20

and need our help, please apply online:

0:43:200:43:25

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2010

0:43:350:43:39

Email subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:43:420:43:44

Nicki Chapman is in the costly Cotswolds helping a couple search for a fabulous character country house with an equally fabulous budget of one million pounds. The house buyers are spoilt for choice, as they decide between a Jacobean and Georgian manor house, or a quirky earth-sheltered eco-home.