Mystery Escape to the Country


Mystery

Jules Hudson takes a look back at the best mystery house properties featured in past series. Included are a castle and a round house with royal connections.


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Transcript


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Some say it's the cat among the pigeons, the needle in the haystack, the spanner in the works

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or occasionally a double-edged sword.

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It does elicit tears of joy, screams of excitement and sometimes downright disappointment.

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But it remains my favourite part of the show.

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Join me on a very special Escape To The Country

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as we go through the archive and reveal all that's best about the mystery house.

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'In today's show, we look back at some of our favourite mystery properties

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'where we make royalty of our house-hunters...'

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-Extraordinary.

-It's a slice of Camelot for you.

-It is.

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-'Create a marital divide.'

-It's got to be absolutely right.

-Hmm.

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And we're not having that argument on camera any more.

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-'And finish up with the best mystery house around.'

-Leave us here and we'll see you some time!

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-Is that it?

-We don't need to see the rest.

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'Plus I'm going to tackle a mystery of my own.'

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That is arguably the most complicated piece of rope work I've ever done.

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Coming up with a short list as to which are my favourite mystery houses has been a joy and a struggle

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with so many beautiful homes to choose from,

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but we're going to kick off with a story set in Gloucestershire.

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Mark and Nicola had a whopping £850,000 to spend

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to find them and their kids their ideal country home.

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With a budget like that, we had already seen some fantastic properties,

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but when we got to the mystery house and a converted folly, they really did have something to think about.

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'The mystery house sat on the former Bishopswood Estate on the edge of the Forest of Dean.

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'The property was one of just six private houses sitting in the 1,000-acre former estate.

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'It was very different from anything else they had seen, so we were keen to find out what they thought.'

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Yes, the mystery house is a castle.

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-Lord and Lady something-or-other, yes!

-What about it?

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-Extraordinary.

-It's a slice of Camelot for you.

-It is.

-And it's coming out of the forest as well.

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-Into this massive open space.

-Look at that.

-It's incredible.

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-What a setting!

-It's lovely.

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This is the old folly to the estate built in about 1822,

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but offering the most amazing views of this part of England really.

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-I mean, it's fantastic.

-Incredible.

-Incredible.

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LAUGHTER Shocked and stunned.

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We're all a bit crazy here cos it's a crazy house. It's brilliant.

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Let's go inside and see how the madness continues.

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'I don't suppose they bargained for this.

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'It's a unique property in spectacular grounds, but I wonder what they'll make of it?'

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-Nice floor.

-Yeah?

-Look at that stonework as well.

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-That's the base of the tower.

-Really?

-You get a real sense of castle here. Look at that doorway.

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But come on through here. This is the main hallway of this building.

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Everything runs off of there.

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-And this is...

-Wow, look at that!

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-A reception room.

-Yeah.

-A reception room. It's really quirky, isn't it?

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-It gives you a sense of the shape of this building.

-This is great.

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But it also, I think, is quite a good mixture of something that is quirky,

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but it also has a very practical management to it. It does all work.

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Whether it works for you with your two bouncy children, we'll see, but come with me through here.

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'Back off the hall are steps to a basement room, probably big enough for the children,

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'but possibly not for Mark.

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'Also off the hall is the kitchen.'

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-Now, Nicola...

-This is lovely.

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When I first came round this house, this is when it started to make sense to me as a family house

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-cos it's the first sort of normal sized, shaped room you get to.

-Yeah.

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-This is lovely.

-Yeah?

-This is real country kitchen, isn't it? No, I like this.

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'The kitchen has a utility room-cum-larder, but now it's time to climb the tower.'

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-Whoa, look at this!

-A real tower staircase, this.

-Mind your head.

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Come on in here. Now, this is...

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Well, the guest room really.

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-Guest room, yeah.

-It's quite small, isn't it?

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But it's all right for a guest room.

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For guests, this might be OK. Mark, just lead through there. Let's look at the bathroom.

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-Very nice bathroom.

-Oh, yeah, this is nice, isn't it?

-Probably a bit of a surprise really.

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When you think how much is in it and how much space there is.

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-And yeah...

-Great view.

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-A bathroom and a view.

-Phenomenal.

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I mean, it is the principal bathroom here.

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It does mean that you don't have an en suite.

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-But your room is next door.

-OK.

-So it probably doesn't matter.

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Would this do, do you think?

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-This is better. This is big.

-Lovely.

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-I didn't expect this at all.

-Good.

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-Go and have a little look out there.

-Have a look out here...

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Ah, the turrets! This is beautiful, isn't it? Look at this.

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There's a touch of the Harry Potters about this place.

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-The kids will probably think you're buying Hogwarts! Look at that view up there. It's lovely.

-Oh, yes.

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This is amazing.

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This isn't the best bit. No, no, no. Come with me.

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'Higher up the tower are two identical-sized rooms which would suit both of the children,

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'but I've saved the very best until last.'

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-Finally...

-Finally...

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This is the top.

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Oh, my goodness, look at this!

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-Wow, look at that view! That is phenomenal.

-Check it out.

-Yeah.

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'It certainly is breathtaking landscape and you get a clear view

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'of the one-and-a-half acre garden which surrounds this tower property.'

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Is it a listed building?

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You would have thought so, but the good thing is it's not, which is a real bonus.

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You'll see why when I take you down to the garden.

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'If Mark and Nicola want extra space, they could apply for planning permission

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'to build a further reception room where the old conservatory stands.

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'In the garden, an outbuilding could be made into an office for Mark

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'and there is plenty of space in the garden for the children to play.'

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So that's it, your own castle in Gloucestershire.

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-It's amazing, isn't it?

-Very different to everything I've shown you before.

-Very different.

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But worth showing it to you.

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-I suspect if your children were here, they would be insisting that you...

-Buy this one.

-No question.

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Regardless of how much it's worth. But that is the question - how much is it worth? Mark?

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I'm a bit perplexed by this one.

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I don't know. I'd probably put it at 750 or something like that?

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-As usual, feeling his way in the dark.

-Absolutely.

-Nicola?

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I reckon less than that, actually. I reckon about 700.

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Do you? Interesting.

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-Are you ready?

-It's probably gonna be massively out. Go on, yeah.

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This is on the market for £850,000.

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-I can kind of see that because it's just unique, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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I think that's what it is. It's not because of its space, clearly.

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It's because of what it is, its age.

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And it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to buy something like that

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-if it's for you.

-Yeah.

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Go and have a look around and I'll catch up with you a bit later on. Go and be kings of the castle.

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It was quite surprising when we came round the corner and saw the castle standing there.

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It looks very romantic and the whole idea of a castle was very appealing to start with.

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It's much lighter than I thought it would be because it's just out of the forest.

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I think someone's gonna fall in love with this property, but I don't really think it's for me.

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I think the practicalities of living in something that's as different as this

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might prove a bit difficult further on down the line.

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Mystery houses can often provoke some fairly extreme reactions

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and none more so than when Pete and Melissa from Balham in South London

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were shown around a rather extraordinary bungalow conversion.

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They had £700,000 to spend which is all well and good,

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but heavily pregnant Melissa was just six weeks away from giving birth

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and having sold their current property, they had to move out in just ten weeks.

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So, as far as Alistair was concerned, no pressure then(!)

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This mystery house was in Chilmark, a quiet village in the Nadder Valley in Wiltshire.

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The village has a church, pub and a very good primary school.

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The nearest shops are two miles away in Tisbury.

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We were taking a risk as this was a new build, not something our buyers were keen on,

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but it offered much of what they were looking for.

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This is an extraordinary, unusual and wonderful property.

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I'm very excited to show it to you.

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-What do you think of the property from the outside?

-Speechless.

-It's unusual. It's very, um...

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It's not the usual shape of house you would expect.

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It's a treasure trove of surprises. Let's have a look inside.

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'This house has been converted to the highest of standards and would offer a fantastic kitchen,

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'lots of living space and three big bedrooms,

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'but I know Melissa likes character properties, so how will she feel about it?'

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Thank you... Great hallway.

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-Oh, fantastic.

-Wow!

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Wow!

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-Goodness me!

-Yeah, this is a kitchen!

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-That's really special.

-I told you it was special.

-I'm very excited now.

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-Can I just point out two things?

-Yeah.

-The range.

-I had noticed that.

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-In blue.

-And an island.

-An island!

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You're really going for gold stars!

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There's so much to point out, I can't go through it all, but this is such a great space

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-because while it is a separate dining room, it's also part of the kitchen.

-This is lovely.

-Very nice.

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I like the long windows. That's a really clever touch.

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And finished to an incredibly high spec.

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-And another wonderful thing - the whole house, throughout, under-floor heating.

-Oh, wow!

-Is it?

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Let's have a look in the garden.

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-Wow!

-Nice patio.

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-Lovely.

-It's not a vast garden.

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It's not acres and acres. The whole property is surrounded by it.

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-But it's a beautiful garden.

-Yeah, it's lovely.

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-It's so well stocked.

-Yeah.

-It's got just about everything, as well as a greenhouse. Very nice indeed.

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'At the side of the house, there's a large double garage with a loft above it

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'which could be Peter's office.

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'Let's continue with the rest of the house tour in the living room.'

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It has quite an Australian feel because the lady is Australian - big panes of glass and long windows.

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It's very tastefully done.

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They've got a great eye on the proportion of the building as well

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-and the layout of the room is very homely. It feels very homely and cosy.

-Shall we move on through?

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Ah!

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Bedroom on ground floor.

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Bedroom on ground floor. This is one of the quirks of the property.

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-Yeah.

-Much of it is single storey.

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So you've got two bedrooms down on the ground floor.

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I don't have a problem with that because the whole feel and quality of the house is quite something.

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I think when it feels right, it doesn't matter if the bedroom is in the basement or in the attic.

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-It works here certainly. It's a lovely room, a great size.

-I know.

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-But I have this weird thing about having bedrooms on ground floors.

-You're not the only woman who has.

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-I don't know why.

-It's strange.

-There's an easy answer to that.

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-Guests. And we don't live on the ground floor.

-I know.

-Problem solved really.

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-But I know it's there on the floor.

-There is a compromise involved with everything.

-I know there is.

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This house does have it over and above everything we've seen in the last seven months.

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'Pete is working hard on Melissa to like this house.

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'Next to the bedroom is the family bathroom and another bedroom,

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'but now I want to show them the master suite which even has its own staircase.'

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It's lovely. Oh, wow!

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That's really clever.

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-What a huge room!

-Wow!

-It's an extraordinary piece of architecture.

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Again it's inspired by a room in... a gallery in Australia.

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-Central pinioned...vaulted roof.

-That is so unusual.

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It's a very unusual bedroom in the sense that you've got sort of 360, almost, views.

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-Yeah.

-Quadruple aspect.

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But this very unusual en suite.

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-Very different.

-I really like that bathroom.

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I've never seen anything like that.

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Wow, a proper bath! Great. I really like this.

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I really like this. I don't have a problem with the fact that there's the bed.

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You're not enclosed in a room with a door that shuts. That doesn't bother me. Does it you?

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Hmm. Maybe.

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-Might take some...

-Yeah.

-Might take some getting used to, but I don't, you know... It's only me.

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-It's not as if there's anyone else.

-I know, I know.

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

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It's lovely the way it's done.

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There's more to come. Once you've had your morning cup of coffee prepared for you by your husband,

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come out in your bath robe...

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-..and you step out on your own private...

-Lovely.

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-You can't complain about this.

-No, that's lovely.

-You can't complain at all.

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What a very clever use of the space!

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-Isn't it great?

-You've always wanted decking. Now you've got it.

-That's lovely.

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-Any thoughts about whether you can afford it?

-It's a difficult call.

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But because of the quality of the finish of the property, I'm coming in at 695.

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-Melissa?

-I'm very unsure, but it's only got three bedrooms,

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so I'm gonna go a bit lower at 650.

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So this is on the market, just between the two of you,

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-it's on at 685.

-OK.

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Very reasonable, considering the quality and the standard of the whole build

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and the uniqueness of it.

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It really appeals to me, just knowing that no-one else owns something like this.

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-Have a look around. There's lots of design details to explore. I'll meet you out the front.

-Thank you.

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I was really pleased, really surprised to see this property. It's so unique.

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I love the kitchen, dining room area.

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That's absolutely spectacular, just what I was wanting.

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-This is beautiful.

-This is a beautiful room.

-And a beautiful kitchen.

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-I just sense that your enthusiasm has dropped a bit.

-Yeah.

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It has a bit.

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And also us being over there with a newborn baby in a completely separate part of the house.

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-It isn't entirely practical.

-With the baby being down here, you mean, and us...

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It's only gonna be a newborn baby for how long? Not for 18 years.

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I wouldn't let that affect your judgment on the house.

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My slight reservation is having a couple of bedrooms on the ground floor.

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Pete's very into it and I'm going to be... I'm gonna have to be persuaded a little bit, I think.

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-There's always something that's not quite right.

-But I don't want to talk myself into buying something.

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-Hmm.

-It's got to be absolutely right.

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And we're not having that argument on camera any more.

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For all of us who work on Escape To The Country, picking the mystery house is always great fun.

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We are always looking for something unusual.

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Over the years, we've had all sorts of shapes and sizes, styles and ages,

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but we've never quite had anything like this.

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In the immortal words of Monty Python, now for something completely different.

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When it comes to unusual dwellings, you can't beat a traditional Mongolian yurt.

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These sturdy nomadic structures date back to the time of Genghis Khan in the 12th century.

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Since then, they've protected people from the Arctic winds of Siberia to the burning heat of the Gobi Desert.

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People are even living in yurts in the UK and if you're interested in trying before you buy,

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why not come down to Monmouthshire where Amanda and Peter run a campsite with a twist?

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-Well, hello, hello.

-Hello.

-Hello!

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-Hey, Peter, nice to see you.

-Hi, Jules.

-Hello, Amanda.

-Hi, Jules.

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I'm interrupting some very industrious work in progress.

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Well, we're just getting the next yurt up ready for guests to come and stay in.

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Just tell me about your setup here because it's very unusual.

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Where did you get the idea to bring in Mongolian yurts into Britain?

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Well, it all started a few years ago.

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We had this farm. We had spare land which wasn't being used.

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It wasn't suitable for farming use and we were looking for something to do with it.

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It was a remark by somebody at a party who said, "On our smallholding we have a yurt campsite."

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-This was towards the end of the party?

-It was after a glass or two!

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-Like all the best ideas.

-Absolutely.

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On my way up, I noticed the finished article down there which looks a bit warmer...

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-Yes.

-..than what we've got here. This will be lovely when the curtains are up, I'm sure,

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-but give me a little house tour of that yurt.

-That one is a lot warmer inside.

-Come on then.

-OK.

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Look at this!

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It just looks so...at home, bizarrely.

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-I suppose it does, really.

-Even though we're in Wales.

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It is a Mongolian home. This is how they live full-time in Mongolia.

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I love it. Let's go inside and have a look.

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It really is fantastic, isn't it?

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-Yeah, it's beautiful.

-Come on, let's sit down, let's enjoy...

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-Enjoy the ambience.

-Yeah, go for the whole experience. Have yourself a foot rest.

-Look at that. I love it.

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-You've seen these things kind of in the wild, as it were, in Mongolia.

-Yeah.

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-A whole family in here?

-A whole family would be in here.

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When the children grow up and go off and get married,

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they are given by their parents, traditionally, a slightly smaller version to go and...

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-Start their family.

-..start their family. Then they gradually...

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I assume there's an element of inheritance of the next size up.

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'But you don't get a cosy yurt by sitting on your backside, so it's time to get back to work.

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'I've been assured that these structures can be put together in around three and a half hours,

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'so let's put it to the test.'

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-That's it.

-Ah!

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-No, no.

-Oh. Ah!

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-Yeah, OK.

-No.

-No.

-This one here.

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-Is it working?

-It's perfect. Look at it.

0:20:440:20:48

Lovely pattern runs all the way down.

0:20:480:20:51

'You don't need to have a campsite to own one of these.

0:20:510:20:54

'They've become popular as yoga huts, unique classrooms and they crop up at festivals,

0:20:540:21:00

'so if you fancy an alternative lifestyle, why not pick up a family-sized yurt for under £5,000?

0:21:000:21:06

'You know, I don't think that's a bad effort. All that's left is for the canvas to go on.'

0:21:090:21:13

We've done the hard bit. Thank you very much for showing us around

0:21:130:21:18

and for giving us a real taste of Mongolian life in South Wales.

0:21:180:21:22

-Thanks ever so much.

-OK.

-Thank you.

0:21:220:21:24

For my final and favourite mystery house, we are taking a trip down to Dorset

0:21:250:21:31

in the company of a lovely couple, John and Jill.

0:21:310:21:35

They had £600,000 to spend to find their ideal retirement home,

0:21:350:21:39

but also a house that would allow keen trombonist John to make as much noise as he wanted.

0:21:390:21:45

All in all, it was the perfect mystery house, a fantastic location and a very unique property.

0:21:450:21:51

Our final mystery house was set in the village of Poundbury

0:21:510:21:55

on the western outskirts of Dorchester.

0:21:550:21:59

Poundbury is the brainchild of Prince Charles. It's an experimental village created 15 years ago

0:21:590:22:05

and located in the Duchy of Cornwall that's owned by the Prince of Wales.

0:22:050:22:10

As a strong believer in ecological planning, designing and building,

0:22:100:22:14

Prince Charles commissioned architect Leon Krier to design his ideal village

0:22:140:22:19

that mixes traditional architecture with modern town planning and thus Poundbury was born.

0:22:190:22:24

So here we are. This is what all the fuss is about. That building there.

0:22:260:22:31

I think it's absolutely fascinating.

0:22:310:22:34

I love it. I love the look of the house from the outside. I like it very much.

0:22:340:22:38

Would it make it more unusual

0:22:380:22:40

if I told you that Prince Charles took special interest in the design of this particular building?

0:22:400:22:46

-How about that? By royal approval.

-By royal approval!

0:22:460:22:50

-Where's the crest?

-Let's go inside and see if we can find one.

0:22:500:22:54

'The outside has certainly piqued their interest.

0:22:540:22:57

'The front door leads into an entrance hall that takes you through to the dining room.'

0:22:570:23:03

-This is what your guests will see when they walk in first of all.

-I like it very much.

0:23:030:23:08

There is the faintest chance I could be speechless here.

0:23:080:23:13

You can't be speechless. I want to hear your thoughts. Come in here to the kitchen.

0:23:130:23:18

-The original round kitchen!

-Come in.

0:23:220:23:24

-What do you think?

-You couldn't have done better than this. This is so unusual, really mind-blowing.

0:23:240:23:31

Well, let's go and see some more because if you think this is crazy, wait till we go upstairs.

0:23:310:23:38

'Also on the ground floor is one of three bedrooms, a study and a downstairs shower.'

0:23:380:23:45

Now, of course, in a round house, no surprise, you're going to get a spiral staircase.

0:23:450:23:51

This one is made of oak and it leads us very nicely into that.

0:23:510:23:56

-Oh!

-In you go.

-Oh, oh, oh!

0:23:560:23:59

-Would this work for you? Round rooms aren't for everybody.

-Certainly for me.

0:23:590:24:05

If you want to be different, let's be different and this is different.

0:24:050:24:09

Leave us here and we'll see you some time.

0:24:090:24:12

-Is that it? Is the deal done?

-Yes. We don't need to see the rest.

0:24:120:24:16

I can't wait to show you the rest!

0:24:160:24:18

Your master bedroom, you like somewhere big, I get the feeling?

0:24:180:24:22

-Yeah?

-Yes.

0:24:220:24:24

-Ah, here!

-Oh.

0:24:240:24:27

Well, I have to say, you wouldn't have expected anything less, would you now?

0:24:290:24:35

-The whole thing is just...

-John?

-Yeah.

-..amazing.

-Gasp.

0:24:350:24:39

-Yeah.

-Gasp in admiration.

-Very nice.

0:24:390:24:41

As a master bedroom, it's fabulous.

0:24:410:24:44

'There's a third bedroom on this floor which has an en-suite bathroom and would be ideal for guests.'

0:24:440:24:51

-You'd have guests who'd never want to go home.

-There you go.

0:24:510:24:55

-Would you have them here for that long?

-Yeah. We could charge them.

0:24:550:25:00

Quite a lot, I suspect. You may have to charge them even more if you want to buy it!

0:25:000:25:05

-That's pretty much it.

-Is that it?

0:25:050:25:08

No, it's not it!

0:25:080:25:10

'Of course, I've left the best till last and it's up one more flight of stairs.'

0:25:100:25:15

I knew there had to be something up here.

0:25:150:25:18

Now, this is mine! LAUGHTER

0:25:190:25:23

Before we have any discussion!

0:25:230:25:26

What would you use this space for, do you think?

0:25:260:25:29

-This, to my mind, is a sort of day room where all the daytime activities take place.

-Yeah.

0:25:290:25:35

So we can eat lunch up here if we want to, we can certainly do our hobbies.

0:25:350:25:40

We might even play the trombone up here sometimes.

0:25:400:25:43

-The famous trombone made an appearance at long last!

-It had to.

0:25:430:25:47

'I just knew they'd fall for this amazing space,

0:25:470:25:50

'so will the garden seal the deal?'

0:25:500:25:53

-It is very secluded and very nice, yeah.

-This is just right for us.

0:25:530:25:58

-This is just the right size for us. This aspect lives up to the rest of the house.

-Yes, it does.

0:25:580:26:04

-It's just very, very nice.

-I suppose we ought to talk about the difficult bit.

-Yeah.

0:26:040:26:11

-How much is it gonna cost you? It is an extraordinary place.

-It is an extraordinary place.

-Go on then.

0:26:110:26:17

I volunteered to go first. I think this is gonna be over our budget.

0:26:170:26:21

I'm gonna go for something like...645.

0:26:210:26:25

My feeling for this type of house, I would even go higher.

0:26:250:26:29

You might have taken us a lot over our budget and I would say 675.

0:26:290:26:34

-675?

-Yeah.

-Well, I'm afraid it's good news and bad news.

0:26:340:26:38

-The bad news is it is over your budget.

-Yeah.

-The good news is it's not 675.

-Right.

0:26:380:26:44

It's currently on the market for £650,000.

0:26:440:26:48

I'm not surprised at that. It's a fabulous house.

0:26:480:26:52

There's a lot of house for that money. I could see myself very happily living here.

0:26:520:26:58

-In poverty, of course!

-LAUGHTER

0:26:580:27:02

I get the feeling that to really know if this is gonna work for you, you need to get your trombone out.

0:27:020:27:08

-Do the trombone test.

-OK.

0:27:080:27:11

OK, Jill, it's time for the trombone test.

0:27:140:27:17

That's fine. I'm just gonna go and have a look around downstairs.

0:27:170:27:21

When you come into The Round House, you're immediately excited because it is a unique house.

0:27:210:27:27

That room at the top is absolutely unique, beautiful views,

0:27:270:27:31

but also a very nice room to share, do your daytime hobbies and enjoy.

0:27:310:27:36

Underneath all this excitement is a house that would work very well for both of us.

0:27:360:27:41

PLAYS LOUD, DEEP NOTES

0:27:410:27:44

When houses produce reactions like that, my day is complete.

0:27:580:28:02

Houses, if they're right, do speak to you and that one had an awful lot to say to Jill and to John.

0:28:020:28:08

But sadly, their tale brings us to the end of this very special edition of Escape To The Country.

0:28:080:28:14

As I said at the outset, picking the best of the best was always going to be a bit of a challenge,

0:28:140:28:21

but when it comes to property and, in particular, mystery houses,

0:28:210:28:25

approach them with the eyes wide open because you never know what you're gonna get. See you next time.

0:28:250:28:30

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd 2009

0:28:470:28:50

Series in which prospective buyers are helped to find their dream home in the country.

Jules Hudson takes a look back at the best mystery house properties featured in past series. Included are a castle and a round house with royal connections.


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