Jules Hudson looks back at some of the best historic houses featured in past programmes. He also visits a blacksmith who recreates historical fixtures.
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Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio.
Great words from a Great British writer.
You've joined me on a special Escape to the Country,
as we explore some of the finest historical properties that we've had on this series.
And, of course,
I'll be revealing which Great British Bard boarded here.
In today's show, we'll be delving into the past and uncovering some
of our best historic properties from days of yore.
And there are all manner of reactions, as an ancient farmhouse has them speechless.
The age of the building has struck you dumb.
-I don't think we thought we'd see anything as old as this.
A Kentish barn gets a laugh.
-What d'you think?
-It's pretty good.
This is precisely what I had in mind.
-A manor house gets them screaming.
-I don't want you to look at that, I want you to look at that.
-You are joking, aren't you?
-I think she likes it.
I'll meet the Indiana Jones of listed properties.
I'll crawl through any hole, if it involves getting to see something 14th Century.
And I'll strike a blow in the name of historical preservation.
Today, we're delving into the rich architectural past of Britain.
We're talking houses with history, and where better to start than with this one?
I'm told it's the birthplace of William Shakespeare himself.
You're from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust,
tell us a bit more about the work that you do.
The Trust owns five houses, all connected with members of Shakespeare's family.
The birthplace here behind us is the first house they bought in 1847,
but they also own his mother's childhood home,
his wife's childhood home and the houses of his daughter and granddaughter
and visitors can come and hopefully see all five of them.
-It's a family affair.
Now, what d'you think it's worth?
Well, in 1847, when the Trust bought it, they paid £3,000.
But it's priceless, because of the connection with Shakespeare.
It has to be, doesn't it? £3,000, priceless today.
If all that has whetted your appetite for all things historical,
then stick with us for the best of the best.
For thousands of years, Britons have built upon this emerald isle,
either for protection from the elements, their enemies, or for worship.
From the pre-historic gathering of stones, Saxon wood and mud huts,
right through to Victorian brick houses,
we have shaped our environment and created homes for comfort.
Take a look and you'll find that the oldest buildings standing
are churches, castles and grand estate houses.
Buildings where time and money have guaranteed solid structures and solid foundations.
But every now and then, dotted between these grand buildings,
an ancient dwelling can still be discovered.
From medieval halls to Elizabethan and Tudor timber-framed houses.
And for those lucky enough to possess a piece of history,
there is often no comparison when living in a historic home,
compared to its more contemporary cousin.
Now, as a former archaeologist, it'll probably come as no surprise to you to learn that some of my
favourite properties are those with the richest architectural and historical past.
Picking my favourite has been a bit of a challenge,
but we'll kick off with a house in the Yorkshire Dales,
in the company of Alistair Appleton.
A wonderful 17th-century cottage, complete with its very own priest hole.
Our prospective buyers were Wendy and Loris, who, armed with
£435,000, were making their bid to escape from Cardiff.
They wanted a spacious home, but also something of a village atmosphere.
So Alistair took them to the hamlet of Kildwick Grange and showed them
a property that I really don't think they were expecting.
Set on the south-facing slope of the Aire Valley,
Kildwick Grange is a remote village with a handful of shops and a pub.
So the location hit the spot, but what would they make of the house?
We're just outside Kildwick, this is called the Grange,
it's a little kind of hamlet of old farm property.
This one's from about 1610. So we're talking serious, serious period.
You can see how old it is by the windows, can't you?
Beautiful mullion windows at the top, all the way through.
What do you think of the exterior?
-The windows are nice.
Are you worried about it being too old?
Well, it's been here that long, so I can't see it coming down.
It's not gonna fall down.
But whether there'll be a lot more work to do on it, I don't know.
But from the outside, it looks lovely.
Well, this is a listed building, so that's already...you've got to factor that in.
A Grade-2 listed building. Let's go in.
I can't wait.
This amazing property is a three-bedroomed cottage bursting with the history that they love.
There's a large living room, three bedrooms and extensive gardens at the front and back.
So the history of this place is that this used to be one big farmhouse, Grange House.
So this front part of the house
was originally the main hall, two rooms of the whole house.
You can see that this beam here was where the separating wall was
and this may have been a through hall.
So all of this panelling is protected.
-That's interesting. Grade II listed, is that?
You wouldn't get rid of that, it's the character of the place.
-It adds to the character.
-There's a secret door there.
Indeed, the secret door leads to what used to be the old kitchen,
which has the old range in place, but is now used as a playroom.
Continuing through the Victorian extension is the dining room.
So, it gets a bit labyrinth down here.
-This is part of the Victorian extension still,
you can see the original walls of the back hallway there.
It's almost like a pub, an old pub.
-It's got that feel, with the flagstones.
-The age of the building has struck you dumb.
-I don't think we thought we'd see anything as old as this.
I think it's a shock, but it's a nice shock because it's quaint and I like it.
The front of the building's
the oldest bit and then you've got this Victorian extension.
But then it goes on...
and this 20th-century extension gives you a much lighter kitchen.
This is different, isn't it?
An unusual kitchen design, because what you've got
is a long galley with all your workspace facing the wall.
And then all your white goods and the storage is down there
in that sort of room at the end of the kitchen.
The kitchen has proved a bit of a damp squib, but upstairs has some real stunners.
So this is being used as the master bedroom.
-This is amazing!
-Look at it, that's amazing. Look at that.
Look up there.
-That was the priest hole.
-Oh, the priest hole.
-They hid the Catholic priests in there.
That's amazing, isn't it?
Look, you've got a proper old window seat, there.
-With the big Victorian sash.
-Can you imagine waking up here?
Very good. Well, there's lots more to see.
As you can see, you've got a choice of doors.
Let's turn to the one on the right.
All right. OK.
Despite being an old house, there's a large modern bathroom,
with separate shower and bath.
Over the landing is a double bedroom with wood-panelled walls and more original features.
But I've saved the best till last.
So, this is the little third bedroom.
God, look at the ceiling in here!
-I'm teasing, of course, this is the entire reason why I brought you to this property.
That's fabulous, isn't it?
This is an absolute gem.
When I saw this room, my heart pounded a little faster.
And the fireplace is fantastic.
Look at this barrel vaulting plasterwork, it's extraordinary.
-I haven't seen anything like this.
-It's like going back in time.
And the back, look at the frieze on there, that's beautiful.
I would make this the master bedroom, because this is by far the grandest room.
-But I'd also like to show you the outside space.
Mind the step.
So it's got quite a rake on it because we're in the Dales.
But you have the most space of all the houses in this little complex of buildings.
It's the biggest garden here.
They've terraced it off for the children,
but you could easily put your vegetables here.
You've also got a very nice summerhouse at the back there,
with electricity, so you can turn that into a workshop.
-So what do you think?
-I think it's a gem.
I think it's really nice.
-Did you think you'd get a garden and a 400-year-old property?
-No, definitely not.
-No, certainly not.
-Do you think you can afford it?
-I think probably just about.
-Just about, yeah.
-What do you think it's on at?
I was gonna say 440.
Well, this property is on the market for a very pleasing 415.
-Obviously, it's Grade II listed,
so that puts some people off and it's still attached.
I'll send you back to the house and have you look around.
-I'll meet you out the front.
-Brilliant, thank you.
-What do you think of the room?
-I love it.
I can see of furniture in here.
It's a bit daunting because we've never lived in a period property as old as this before.
I think when I first saw the house I was just blown away
cos I didn't expect to see anything this age.
The rooms were fantastic.
The only downside is the kitchen area.
I might want to change the layout there, slightly.
The best part was when we came out in the back garden. It was exactly what we want.
This has to be the most unusual house I've ever been in.
It's just gob-smacking.
To own a property like this would be almost a privilege.
I'm just dumbstruck.
Loris and Wendy were wowed by that one and who can blame them?
That fantastic vaulted ceiling and those gorgeous windows.
But they were put off by the size of the kitchen
and one other very important factor - it was a listed building.
But is listing something to fear, or favour?
It's an emotive subject for many house owners and many prospective buyers.
Some see it as something of a black art, trying to understand,
for example, the rule of LBW in cricket, or the offside rule in football.
But fear not, we're about to lift the lid on the whole business.
It's the Escape To The Country rough guide to listing.
Listed properties have been protected by law since 1948
and fall under the jurisdiction of local authorities.
There are over 370,000 listed buildings in England alone,
split into three main categories.
Grade II is the most common, they're properties built before the 1940s
and and 92 per cent of all listed buildings fall into this category.
If the property has any special historical interest
then it might just make the Grade II*,
which means it important, but not enough to make the top slot, Grade 1.
Grade 1 properties are seldom in private ownership.
It's a category limited to architecture of a huge national importance.
Whatever listing you have,
you always need to get permission to make any changes to the building.
So to find out a bit more, I met up with Nick Molyneux,
a listing officer whose job it is to keep an eye on them
and sometimes make some pretty tough decisions.
Nick, many people will think you, as a listings officer, are the bogey man. Are you?
I hope not. What we are about is protecting the heritage everybody values,
so it can be handed down to the next generation.
For many, a listed building is attractive as
it's historic and it's got character.
But they'll be thinking "It's listed, I can't breathe in it,
"I can't live in it, without permission."
You will need permission to do a lot of the things
you might want to do it inside the building as well as outside.
But we are in the business of managing change, not pickling things.
-So you're a good guy?
-On a good day, yes.
'Well, certainly today is a good day
'to look at old buildings and Nick has brought me to a typical
'Grade II house to see what it's about.'
This is absolutely charming, isn't it?
It's a wonderful cottage, the kind of building you'd immediately think
was going to be a listable house, but it's a stone house
which is built in the 17th century, pre-1700, substantially complete,
almost automatically becomes a Grade II listed building.
Lots of things end up as Grade II listed buildings.
Everything from bits of Anglo-Saxon church
right the way through to 1960s concrete.
It looks fantastic from the outside,
I can only imagine what's on the inside.
I haven't been inside, so we're going to find some exciting things.
Brilliant, let's have an explore.
This is quite nice, isn't it?
Yes, we are in the kitchen which says historic building to me.
Absolutely. Look at the floor.
-It is a great floor, classic for this part of the world.
If somebody says we like the stones, but we want underfloor heating.
If you take these up they're likely to break
so you have to be sure you know what you're doing to do that.
I would suggest finding somewhere else for the underfloor heating?
If somebody wanted to change the units for something more modern,
or whatever, would that be a problem?
They would be no concern at all.
A thing that might be more problematic is the range oven,
if you had to change the flue in any major way.
That's going into the fabric of the building.
But it probably wouldn't be an issue, just a question of how you do it.
As we pass from the kitchen to the sitting room,
we enter into one of the earliest parts of the building
and find a classic inglenook fireplace.
That is rather wonderful, isn't it?
This fireplace on its own would list the property.
It would. Look at the mantle beam.
It's got that fantastic moulding on it.
It's also got a 17th century mantle shelf nailed on to it.
That's certainly fired up our interest so we head up
into the rafters to get a good look at the bones of the building.
I hope this is going to be exciting as it looked.
From what we have seen already I was expecting something like this,
but not quite as good as this.
Tell us what we're looking at.
The centre of an open hall of medieval hall house.
It's typical of the 14th century.
So that would be a no-no, touching that in any way, shape or form.
As you can see, it's now used as a bedroom,
there's a bed underneath it, but the last thing I would say to anybody is
"You can cut a hole in that to make a nice new doorway."
But we've got something else here, too.
I'm looking at the window, a lovely stone window, could we double-glaze that?
Well, putting a double glazing in is a no-no.
But there are several answers.
The first thing I would recommend is secondary glazing on the inside.
Something on this side of the stonework?
Yes, it may have a slight visual impact, but it would keep the heat in.
And the other one we always say,
which sounds rather silly when you say it, is thick curtains.
It sounds ridiculous. but it is very good insulator.
There are a number of solutions available.
It is never black and white, "no".
There is always an alternative way to cut the problem.
So Nick can point out some good alternatives to altering the inside,
but what if you want to build outside?
I can see why this is listed,
but it is not just about the property itself, is it?
It's also about its context, its environs, if you like.
Curtilage - the setting of the listed building
and the things in that setting also encompass by the listing of the main building.
so things like the garage behind me are part of the listed structures.
They'd need permission to change them.
Seeing this place is packed with so many features,
any one of which would demand to be listed to Grade II level,
why it's not higher up the listing scale?
I'm slightly surprised it's not a II* listed building myself.
II* is an intermediate between Grade 1 and Grade II,
they're just not quite Grade 1, they're not big or important enough.
One place that's certainly has enough importance to merit its Grade I status is Charlecote Park.
The 16th century house was once visited by Queen Elizabeth
and it's also said a young William Shakespeare was caught poaching in the grounds.
So it's got form.
I can see why you chose this one, Nick.
It's not bad, is it? THEY CHUCKLE
Charlecote Park is owned by the National Trust
and is no longer lived in, only a handful of Grade 1 properties are.
I love the fact the house is closed,
technically put to bed, I think is the right term.
Yes, for the winter.
One of the things I love about my job, seeing houses when other people can't get in.
I can't imagine anyone wanting to plaster over
this ceiling, or install double-glazing.
So, what issues does a Grade I house like this have?
One of the first concerns is to make sure it doesn't burn down.
In a building like this,
putting, hiding the fire alarms
in appropriate places is quite easy in modern technology.
A building like this is historically dressed.
Do contents come under the guise of listing?
Not unless they are physically attached to the building.
Does it add value to a property?
I don't think I'm the right person to answer that.
I'm bound to say "yes", aren't I?
Particularly, the upper end of the scale.
You're just demonstrating how important the building is.
This estate certainly is important.
With the limitations of owning a listed property, are there any benefits?
I've got a listed property, can I get some money to help me look after it?
One of the sad realities is
we do have some grants from the English heritage, but it's not huge.
Other sources include the Heritage Lottery Fund,
but they aren't for private owners.
There isn't much money to spread around
all the historic buildings in the country.
-But listings shouldn't put people off, should it?
-No, it shouldn't.
People want to own old buildings and they will cost a bit more to maintain,
it would be false to pretend they wouldn't.
But they are great things to live in.
We have seen two great examples today.
It's been a fantastic insight. Thanks for your time.
Thanks, I've really enjoyed it as well.
Over the years, I've had the privilege
of showing some wonderful listed properties on this show,
not least this one coming up down in Lamberhurst in Kent.
We were with Roche and Nicola,
Roche was a man who loved all things contemporary,
but Nicola loved old and characterful buildings
so finding something that would fit them both
was always going to be a bit of a challenge.
They'd already sold their current house,
they had to move out within a month, so the pressure really was on.
For the mystery house, I took them to a 15th century barn conversion
with an added Georgian extension.
It was one of the most extraordinary properties we've ever had on the show,
and it blew their socks off.
The village of Lamberhurst is 15 minutes south of Tunbridge Wells.
Historically, the area was an important stopping place for those travelling from Hastings to London.
Today, there are several all important drinking holes,
a church, post office, school, and even a vineyard.
But on a busy road, what would Nicola and Roche think of the location?
Guys, this is it. It's mystery house time.
To be fair, it's an innocuous start looking round here,
a bit of a car park, busy A21, behind us.
But through this hedge really is another world.
-What do you reckon to this lot?
There's a lot of garden. We'll explore it in detail later.
What you can see here is this lovely formal garden
that really introduces the property which is over here.
Come and tell me what you think of this lot.
Look at that.
That is beautiful. Really lovely.
Wow. That's very nice.
-It's pretty unique. It is obviously listed.
It was built originally roundabout 1400, to 1450,
as a big barn structure with four bays in it,
it's been occupied by people and animals once upon a time.
Over the years, it's become a fantastic family home.
-So, yeah, good impressions from the outside?
Inside, I think, it's gonna blow you away.
Come and have a look at this.
Come in here, through this huge original door.
-What do you reckon?
-That is just something else.
That is beautiful.
-What do you think, Roche?
-That's pretty good, yeah.
-THEY ALL LAUGH
-This is precisely what I had in mind.
If you buy a property like this,
as well as being its owner, you're also its sort of guardian, if you like,
because you're looking after something that's really unique.
-Would you want to take that on?
That's an easy sell!
Come and look at the kitchen.
-Step over the threshold.
That's good, that's really nice.
That has so much character, as well. That's great.
The attention to detail, no surprise that the guy that did this up is into antiques.
You get a sense, here's a man who knows his history,
and has made a fantastic contribution to this building.
-Want to see more?
Come with me.
Well, that's a really good start, but there's plenty more to see.
You tell me what you make of this.
That's the first, "wow". I'm delighted.
-It is an extraordinary thing.
-You don't get more character than that.
This is very much the medieval part of this property.
-But it has another part, too, which is a bit later.
It's a modern extension built during the earlier 18th century,
which makes it Georgian. So you can pick and choose.
If you get a bit bored of the 15th century,
jump forward 200 years through here.
'The house is very much a building of two eras
'and I think Nicola and Roche will love how it contrasts from room-to-room.'
Through here, a little downstairs loo.
And this is the Georgian bit, the Georgian front
of that 15th century property.
That's very nice, just a nice size living area.
-It's a good space.
Right, well, let's...
Let's see in here.
Come up here.
This is the master bedroom.
That's brilliant. Really light.
-A completely different feel.
-This is the Georgian front.
So this is above your living room.
-This issue of the road...
These windows are not double or secondary glazed, but even so, it doesn't offend me that much.
It doesn't seem that bad, actually.
I find it a bit annoying. If this is a main bedroom.
-Bags of space.
-Nice and light, as well.
And to top of the master bedroom there's an en suite.
There are two more bedrooms on this floor,
but on the second floor is the fourth bedroom which would make a great kids room.
But I'm taking them straight out to see the garden.
Set within three acres of land, outside the kitchen is a patio which leads to a pond.
Areas of mature country gardens, and ornamental walkways.
And the main body of the garden which has fantastic views of open farmland and woodland.
-Mature oak trees.
Lots of young sapling oak trees growing all over here.
All in all, you've got three acres.
So, is this doing it for you?
-Let's talk about how much it's going to cost you.
Possibly, something around 795.
795, yeah, I mean, that's... 795.
What's four grand between friends?!
All right, OK...
It's good news.
It's not 799, nor is it 795.
-It's on the market for £770,000.
-Which I think,
when you compare it to what we have seen on our journey, isn't bad.
-I'm very surprised at that.
-Three acres... For what you get.
It's probably that price because of the road.
But if you can overcome that in your own minds,
you do get a bit of a bargain.
So, go and have a good look around. Off you go.
Obviously, it's got that massive wow factor.
More than any other house around here is going to have, so I think
that's its unique selling point, if you like.
It's so memorable.
I don't think... You wouldn't
get bored of coming through here and looking at this,
I think it's something people would really remember when they walked in.
I always dreamt of a place like this,
with tons of character, real quirkiness to it,
and what more could you ask for?
It's got a multi-faceted personality,
I'm totally in love with it.
If history proves anything it is that sometimes buyers' reactions
are not always predictable.
Whilst showing Roche around I was concerned
that it was a step too far for a man who wanted everything contemporary and sleek.
But as it turned out, both he and Nicola absolutely loved it.
However, the road next door was a deal breaker,
despite the fact the house itself was absolutely fantastic.
I suppose that just goes to prove that location really is all-important.
Whether it's medieval mullions you're after, or Jacobean jewels, take a look at this selection
of properties currently on the market from all over the country
and for all kinds of budgets.
This Grade II listed thatched lodge
is priced just under half-a-million pounds.
Situated in the village of Ouston in Suffolk,
this mid-19th century brick and flint house
retains much of its period charm,
including open fireplaces and stone mullioned casement windows.
The house has three bedrooms and four reception rooms.
Or for £1,225,000, this former medieval
hunting lodge with mature gardens and three ponds
is in Norton Little Green in Suffolk.
Not surprisingly it's Grade II* listed
and dates from the 16th century.
It has six bedrooms and three reception rooms.
But if you want a property with over 700-years of history
take a look at this.
At £2 million this Grade II listed manor house
is outside the village of Capel in Surrey.
With records dating back to 1282
this magnificent property has extensive formal gardens.
Inside there is a wealth of original features
including oak doors and floorboards.
Well, it is a sad fact of life that things get lost,
and, of course, they get damaged.
But what do you do if it's a 14th century it doorknob,
or an 18th century window stay?
Well, I'm here at Calke Abbey to meet a man who's made a business
out of replacing the irreplaceable.
I'm meeting David Benford from Blackstage,
a company that specialises in repairing and replacing antique ironmongery.
-What a wonderful location.
Our blacksmiths are busy here at the moment.
I'd like to show you round.
Please do, what a great location.
'David's company recently replaced the locks and latches in the hut
'used by a Shackleton in his attempt to reach the South Pole.
'Today, however, we're in a warmer and slightly grander location.
'In a state of decline and disrepair,
'Calke Abbey was donated to the National Trust in 1985
'and a major maintenance project has been carried out.
'No less important - outbuildings.
'So, David is taking me to the stable block at the back of the house.'
Tell me more about the work that you do.
This house was constructed in the mid-18th century
-and, over that of time, everything's had a lot of wear and tear.
-I can imagine.
There are some window fittings that are broken and missing
and we aim to replace them using traditional sensitive methods
to the architecture of the building.
-Easier said than done.
-It certainly is.
-There's a lot of work involved.
-Let's have a look around.
-So this is what you're up to.
-This window is broken.
That iron stay has broken off and we can't refit it,
so what we are going to do is hand forge a new one
and fix it to the window so the window can operate effectively.
There are an awful lot of windows here.
-There are a lot.
-You've got a lot to make.
I'm doing them one at a time and each piece is made individually for each window.
Every one handmade.
The hands with such a mammoth responsibility belong to Greg and his apprentice,
who have a forge a couple of miles away.
-That sounds industrious.
Here's the forge.
Please come in. Let me introduce you to the blacksmiths.
What a scene. Nice to see you.
-This is David and this is Greg.
-Nice to see you.
This is a fantastic looking forge.
This is what I imagine a blacksmith's forge
to look like in the traditional sense. How old is it?
This is the original forge.
-This has been a forge for hundreds of years?
I love that you're keeping these old traditions alive.
Clearly, you're the new apprentice.
When do you become a fully qualified blacksmith?
I'm getting there now, but you never stop learning.
-When Greg says so, you're qualified.
How's he doing?
When I have to start making the tea is when he's qualified.
How do we begin?
There's our old one and that'll be the new one.
The extra length to allow for the folding and forming of the eye
and the rolling up of that.
'Without any ceremony, the wrought iron goes straight into the forge.
'The forge makes quick work of melting the metal
'so on with the safety goggles.
'Originally, it was made from wrought iron, which is no longer produced on an industrial scale,
'so Greg has to source his from scrap dealers and foreign stocks.'
How do you know when it's hot enough?
It needs to reach fire welding temperature,
-which, with iron, is a white heat.
Look at that.
'The first stage is to make an eye at the end of the stay,
'so Greg makes quick work of flattening the metal.
'Speed is of the essence as, the cooler the iron gets,
'the less malleable it becomes.
'A quench in the water and it's cool enough to handle.'
So, there's our eye.
Now, I'll pass that to David
to do the second part of forming the eye
by cutting the notches out either side.
'Traditionally, the notches would have been chiselled away, the modern convenience
'of a hacksaw makes a more accurate and speedier cut.
'And the elbow work falls to the apprentice.'
Look at that, there it is.
'It's amazing to see the speed at which Greg and David operate.
'Teamwork is essential.'
To watch it happen is just terrific, really.
They're the best.
It's beginning to take shape
and David is kind enough to offer me a chance of helping out.
You can have a go at doing it with a hot set.
What, heating it up?
Yeah, I've never had an apprentice before so you can be my first one.
I'm holding this, you're going to whack it?
-Are you ready?
-There's your set and your mark's there.
Hold it firmly.
'It is nerve-racking and although
'I'm just holding the set in place,
'I'm keen not to move an inch or it could be a disaster.'
-There we go, right, so, one there,
'But they're impressed enough to let me loose with the hammer
'and the key here is to hit the hammer as flat as possible
'otherwise I'll end up denting the metal instead of flattening it.
'With a weary arm, I hand back to the professional.
'He does make it look easy.
'The workmanship here is inspiring
'and, seeing how precisely Greg controls the hammer,
'it's no surprise that blacksmiths
'were once called upon to perform dentistry.'
Look at that. That is absolutely glowing, isn't it?
'With a few finishing details, a piece of history is remade.'
Where's the old one?
Let's just have a look at that.
That's it, that way round.
You did make it look very simple, but I can see it's very complicated.
David, thank you very much for getting us down here.
-I look forward to seeing that back in the abbey. Brilliant.
Come on. Who wouldn't want to live in a wonderful old property like that?
shortly, we'll be exploring my final offering in this,
our tour of some of the best historic properties that we've had on the show.
Before we get to it, we've been through the archive,
we've dusted off the tapes and have this wonderful selection
of some of the other properties we've had on the show.
In Somerset, I took a break and let Martin and Gail choose their own property.
They're all quite pretty. Which one do you fancy?
-That one over their looks the best.
-Yeah, that looks good over there.
They had an eye for historic properties,
choosing a 19th century schoolhouse.
I was just worried Gail wouldn't make it around
to see all of the period features.
-That is really nice. My heart's going.
Yeah, my heart's pounding.
Don't die on me, girl.
But the gallery kitchen soon had her fighting fit.
-You're a bit lost for words.
I am, actually, cos I am now thinking
there is more to this house.
There's an awful lot more. Open that door.
I don't believe this.
That is just amazing. It's breathtaking.
Over in Suffolk, Tim Vincent showed history buffs
Carol and Bill another lovely schoolhouse.
It's lovely, absolutely lovely.
Love these converted old buildings.
Carol's enthusiasm soon rubbed off on Bill.
-This is lovely.
-Isn't that fantastic?
This is just the sort of room I'd like.
The modern kitchen had them arguing about the chores.
Do you see yourself washing up here with Bill sunbathing outside?
-No, me washing up.
-Other way around.
Up in Northumberland, Chris and Sally were bowled over by a battle house.
The fortified kitchen secured their interests.
-Look at the thickness of the walls.
-Where do you start?
That is pretty much a metre thick.
Outside, they didn't know what to look at next.
I want it!
-You want it?
Trawling through the archive, finding the best of the best for this show,
has been great fun, not least this -
my final offering for today's programme.
It takes me back to one of the very first house tours
I ever conducted on Escape To The Country.
We were in Dorset in the company of Emma and Malachi.
They had £450,000 to spend to find their dream home
and, for that money, Emma wanted a kitchen she could roller-skate around.
The property you're about to see wasn't the oldest we've ever had on the programme,
but it wasn't bad, it was Georgian.
It was packed full of character and grandeur.
As for Emma and Malachi, it blew them away.
Two Miles east of Dorchester,
the pretty village of Stinsford has strong literary traditions.
Thomas Hardy lived here and the village features as Mellstock
in his book Under The Greenwood Tree.
In fact, he was so attached to the place,
his heart was buried in its 13th century church.
With so much history in the village,
I thought I'd start my tour with a little surprise.
I want you to look at that.
THEY ALL LAUGH
You are joking.
I think she likes it.
This is very different from everything we've seen before,
but it's very grand. It's a slice of manor house
here in the middle of Dorset built around 1750
by a lord for his naughty daughter
who ran off with somebody who wasn't of the right social class.
So he built this for her and tucked her away out of sight down here.
Is it of interest?
I'd like to be tucked away in there, too.
Come on, then.
Before they get carried away,
I should point out that they don't get the whole building.
It's been divided into nine separate residences,
but they are all still pretty grand in their own right.
They retain original Georgian features,
huge fireplaces, converted servants' quarters and fantastic proportions.
This is your hallway.
-I'm blown away.
I'm kind of surprised because you loved the cottage look but...
This feels like our own manor.
We could be lord and lady.
There's a closet aristo in you two, actually.
And the nine-foot tall fireplace
would look right at home in the grandest of baronial halls.
Wow! HE LAUGHS
Look at that. Look at that.
They aren't many places with a fireplace like that, I can tell you.
I have got to say, no. That's unbelievable.
-That is truly unbelievable.
-It's a fireplace your mates will remember.
I've got to say, it's very tasteful.
It's beautiful. I'd move in tomorrow.
So, they both really seem to have fallen in love with this property.
Lovely, great big high ceilings.
These I love, look at these.
'This part of the house has always been grand, but the tasteful conversion
'means that the former scullery in the basement
'is no longer off-limits for the lord and lady of the manor.'
What do you think of this?
-What could we do with this?
-This is amazing.
-You did say you liked the idea of a basement.
-This is perfect.
This is like a dining area.
This is fantastic dining area.
This could be a wine cellar, a music studio, a games room,
What would this have been used for?
This would have been storage, kitchen, servants' quarters.
When Emma said that she'd love to be able to roller-skate around her kitchen,
I'm not sure she really thought that I'd come up trumps.
But it's always good to fulfil someone's fantasy.
I love this kitchen. Malachi, get me those roller skates now.
-This is very good.
-What do you think?
Handmade oak kitchen.
-Is this a place you think you could roller-skate round?
-I think it's a potential.
There you go. Get your skates on, love.
'And there's plenty more to see.
'Upstairs, first stop is the master bedroom.'
Grand enough for a lord, my lord.
My Lord, I think it's a yes.
-If I come and see you here, I'll have to call you sir, aren't I?
The other bedrooms and family bathroom aren't as grand as the ground floor rooms
but I think they do the job.
The huge garden is shared with the other nine residences.
This really is communal living on a grand scale.
This building may have an aristocratic heritage,
but they wouldn't have to be members of the landed gentry to afford it.
How much change do you think you'd have from your budget of 450,000?
-There would be change?
-This house is on the market for £440,000.
So we'd have £10,000 spare?
You could buy it and go on holiday to celebrate.
Why would I go on holiday when I've just moved into this place?
I can see this has moved you in a way which,
to be honest, I didn't expect it to.
Go back inside, have a good look.
It's a lot of money.
Tell me what you think afterwards.
Wow! This one has definitely blown my mind away.
Coming into the first main room, mind-blowing.
Huge, beautiful expanse.
I love the fireplace. Stunning.
-Did you ever think we could afford this?
-Something as grand?
-No, not really.
A dream come true. Final.
Well, what a house and what a couple.
If only every house tour went that well.
But there's no denying they fell in love with a classic Georgian gem.
That was one of the very first house tours
I ever conducted on Escape To The Country.
Some would think it's rather a fitting end to this,
our romp through some of the best of the best
when it comes to the historic properties from this series.
I've enjoyed looking back at them. I hope you have to.
I'll see you next time.
If you feel like escaping to the country
and would like our help then why not apply online?
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Jules Hudson looks back through the archives at some of the best historic houses featured in past programmes. He examines what it means to be a Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed building and visits a blacksmith who specialises in recreating historical fixtures.