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The county I am in today has a reputation for being a rather quiet,
rural place, but back in the day it was a linchpin of English history.
The ramparts of this fantastic fortress have witnessed the feuding of Norman lords,
ruthless Tudor princesses and the impoverished Georgians.
But will today's Englishmen find a home to be their castle?
Find out in just a moment.
Today, we're helping a couple of air stewards take off for the country,
so fasten your seatbelts for some first-class properties.
-Wow! This is fabulous.
-I absolutely love it.
There could be some turbulence.
-We can't put the marquee in here, can we?
There was a very grand roll of the eyes!
And we take a flight of fantasy.
And the door over there, where does that lead to?
-That leads into the magic kingdom!
Today I'm in Suffolk, and this is Framlingham Castle, one of the earliest examples of a curtain-wall
castle - that is, with a big outside wall and no central keep.
One of its most famous residents was Mary Tudor,
who left here in 1553 to set off for London for her coronation.
But Framlingham isn't the only crowning glory of this county.
Making up the southern portion of East Anglia
and bordered by Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex,
the largely rural landscape of Suffolk was once an economic powerhouse,
built on the medieval wool trade.
Tell-tale signs of these rich bygone days lie in the majestic wool churches and perfectly preserved
medieval towns and villages found throughout the county.
The wool boom only lasted a couple of hundred years, but the sheep are still going strong, with 78% of
the county's land given over to agriculture, although these days the money tends to be in crops.
To the east, the 47-mile Heritage Coast attract holidaymakers and second-home buyers in equal hordes,
getting their fix of old-world charm in the genteel seaside resorts of Southwold and Aldeburgh.
Suffolk's relatively close to London but still managed to retain its rural atmosphere, and that's largely
because it doesn't have a very extensive road and rail network.
If you want to commute, you can just about do it if you live in the south, around Sudbury.
But it's more difficult if you're up towards Norfolk in the north.
And that's reflected in the prices.
In the south, property costs 36% more than it does in the north.
So it means that, if you don't have to commute,
there are some real bargains out there.
For just under £500,000, you could snap up this charming
Grade II listed thatch in Hartest Hill.
It's a bit of a TARDIS, with two reception rooms, a huge kitchen diner and four bedrooms.
And the views are definitely out of this world.
If you have bigger property ambitions, how does 4,000 square feet sound?
Cos that's what you'll get with this stunning barn conversion near Haverhill.
It comes with four bedrooms, a country kitchen
and a really impressive vaulted living room.
Set in an acre, it's on the market for £695,000.
Finally, if money is no object, dazzle
your friends with this five-bedroom Edwardian-style home in Woodbridge.
In exchange for a cool 1.25 million,
you'll get spacious, elegant living spaces with all the mod cons.
You can chill out in the conservatory or warm up in the heated pool.
Suffolk's finest, and pretty good-looking, don't you think?
But will they be good enough for our high-flying couple this week?
Let's meet them.
In-flight cabin crew Royce and his fiancee Lisa met mid-air seven years ago, flying out of Heathrow.
They've shared Lisa's three-bedroom, two-storey
maisonette in Forest Row, East Sussex ever since.
They also used to run a French antique furniture business downstairs.
But they've shut up shop to prepare a departure
for the country to buy their very first home together.
We did a tour of all the different counties within about two hours from
where we worked, and Suffolk had pretty much everything we liked in where we want to live.
It had beautiful countryside, the style of the houses was gorgeous. It was everything we wanted, really.
-Looks like we'll be landing in Suffolk, then.
But how rural are these two prepared to go?
Ideally, I'd like to be more in the countryside,
because we are right in the middle of a village at the moment.
And it's very noisy, so I'd like to be somewhere very rural.
I think I'd prefer to be on the peripherals of a village, really.
Just on the edge where we can actually walk to the local pub or the little village shop.
But not too close.
So, stumbling distance for a pint will be priority for Royce, but
public houses aside, what are they looking for in their dream house?
I love the Georgian-style properties with the high ceilings, the lovely cornice.
Something that's going to really complement our furniture, fairly big pieces.
Yeah, and I love country cottages, don't I?
Thatched roofs, inglenook fireplace.
Something nice and creaky.
They've spent time doing up Lisa's maisonette,
so I'm hoping they will at least agree on the particulars.
In this house, I love the kitchen.
It's huge. We spend a lot of time in there, don't we, of an evening?
-We eat in there lot. So I don't feel now that
-I could go back to a small kitchen.
-No, absolutely not.
-I love my kitchen.
It would be nice in the next house to actually have an extra bedroom.
We've got three at the moment, but when we have
a big family gathering, there's nowhere for everyone to sleep.
-So we'd like four bedrooms in the next house.
With plans to keep lots of chickens and grow their own veg, a big garden is going to be a must.
But there's an even bigger reason why they need the extra space.
I have got a dream about getting married in the garden.
So that would be lovely, to be able to have the space to have a marquee in the garden.
I think that would be a really romantic setting.
So that's the dream property, but what about the nightmare?
I'd never consider buying a new build.
I don't like new properties at all.
-I don't like bungalows. Do you?
Royce and Lisa have had
their property on the market for a few months, so they
already know exactly how much they'll have to spend on the big move.
Will it be a first-class or an economy budget, I wonder?
The budget for the new property is about £450,000.
But I think we'd be happy to look at properties up to about £500,000, wouldn't we?
-As long as that incorporated all the work that needed doing, really.
Royce and Lisa may work together at 35,000 feet, but when it comes to
buying property, they don't have their head in the clouds.
They want a four-bedroom, detached house out in the countryside with some land for their chickens.
And, depending on who you talk to, they want Georgian or medieval features.
But for half a million pounds, that's not unreasonable here
in Suffolk, so I've got my fingers crossed.
Lisa and Royce also want to be closer to Lisa's sister
in Royston on the Hertfordshire/Cambridgeshire border,
to spend more time with Lisa's nephew and niece.
So it makes sense to start the property search in West Suffolk, below Bury St Edmunds.
We've tracked down some choice character homes to view,
where, as always, I'll be asking them to guess the property prices.
Last but not least there's the mystery house.
But will it be a yay or a neigh?!
-Welcome to Suffolk.
The weather god's shining on us(!) And what about Heathrow?
I imagine it's important for your job to be close to the airport, isn't it?
It's about two hours from here, so it's perfect.
Yeah. We only do the journey twice a week, so it's not too bad.
-We don't do it daily.
-This is the first house you've bought together, isn't it?
Will there be fireworks while you decide which style you want?
Quite possibly, yes!
In terms of doing things up... I know you've both got, sort of, flair for that thing.
Yeah, no, we love that.
The more work, the better, really.
-Yeah, we're more than happy to do as much or as little work as possible, really.
-Structural stuff or just...?
You're gung ho, that's great!
So all I need to just double check is your budget, because obviously that's very important.
-You're still on for £500,000?
-Is that the pain barrier?
Yes, I think any work that needed to be done would have to be within that sort of budget.
Well, you've got to remember that it is a buyer's market at the moment,
so the asking price probably has a little bit of leeway.
But there's beautiful properties here.
It is a great county, so let's start looking.
So, for half a million on the nose, we are looking for
a spacious period home with four bedrooms, a big country kitchen diner,
a few reception rooms, and they'd like to have scope to flex their DIY muscles.
So far, so doable.
In fact, my only concern is finding that marquee-accommodating garden.
They haven't specified a size, so it will all depend on how big "big" is.
In terms of what happens if we find your dream house, how quickly can you sell your property?
Well, we do have some offers on the table. They're not
-exactly what we would like.
But I'm sure there's room for negotiation.
And if we find the right house at the right price,
there's no reason why we couldn't move quickly.
That's good, because that is the thing in the market at the moment.
If you can move swiftly, that really works in your favour.
Well, we'd better get started, then.
We're kicking off today's house search in Ovington
which, at just over one hour from Lisa's sister in Hertfordshire,
and a little over two hours from Heathrow,
should be spot-on, location-wise.
It's a very peaceful, rural hamlet, so should meet Lisa's needs to be out in the sticks,
but Royce needn't panic - just two miles away is the historic town of Clare.
Replete with period properties, the ruins of a Norman castle in Clare Country Park,
and most importantly, a pub or two.
So here we are. You've got a duck pond.
But this is the property I want to show you, not the duck pond.
-It used to be a pub.
Up to the '50s, it was a pub, but the bones go back to the 1800s.
-It would have been a farmworker's cottage.
-It's lovely. Very nice.
-It does have new windows.
-..which I don't like, but could be changed.
-Quite easily, yeah.
-The general look is really nice. I like it.
-Let's look around and you can tell me if it's exactly what you want.
I'm hoping this property will have the right mix of cottagey character features for Lisa
but be spacious enough for Royce. Let's see if we're in the right ballpark.
Come on in.
Beams, yes. But not beams that are going to brain you.
-And nice colour scheme, as well.
You've got a big hallway but I want to show you this room,
cos this is a better example of what's going on.
This is the...sitting room, I suppose. You've got three reception rooms. This is one.
-This feels quite contemporary inside.
It does. I don't know if that's because of the colour or...
Mind you, the furniture's probably got something to do with it. It's quite contemporary furniture.
-Is it old enough?
-Yeah, I think so.
-That was hesitant.
-I need to see more, I think.
Good. Let's take a look at the other reception room.
-This is the dining room.
-Oh, I like this.
-Bit more lower beams.
-I like the fireplace.
This would have been the actual main part of the pub.
It's a lovely room. I like this end of it, especially.
-I like that.
-The little windows are really cute. It's got a really nice feel, this room.
-You've got a great little snug. They use it as a toy room but it could be an office.
That'd be a good room for you to put all your boys' toys.
ROYCE LAUGHS Yes. Definitely.
-A bit more interest at this end of the house?
-Show me more!
'Your wish is my command, Lisa.'
-In we come. This is the kitchen. You'd never guess.
-Wow, this is lovely.
-Wow. Really nice.
-I love the beams.
-Yeah, I like those.
-"Wows" and "lovelys".
This was added in 20 years ago but I think, as always,
-these country kitchens, they're the heart of the home now.
-I like it.
It's a nice place and you've got a gigantic utility room
-and pantry here.
-Always wanted a pantry.
-So you can keep all your bits and bobs.
-You can go straight out into the garden.
That's a nice touch. Great room for cooking, socialising.
What's interesting about this property,
I think, because of its pub history, is there's something special up here.
-Cute little stairs.
-Into a cute little bedroom.
Wow! This is lovely!
-This is so cute.
-What a surprise!
-Isn't it great?
-Oh, my goodness. There's a bathroom there, as well!
-Very nice en suite.
-Perfect guest bedroom.
-It is, isn't it?
-It's a really nice quirk in the property.
-Yeah. It's great.
-I like it.
-I like all the uneven walls.
And the beam. Not so good when you're drunk.
I thought this was a lovely surprise.
-It's a really nice surprise.
-This is the fourth bedroom - there's three more on the other side.
'Back across the hallway is the main staircase which leads up to the family bathroom
'and three double bedrooms.'
These bedrooms are all sort of the same size...
-..which means you need to make some decisions about how you're going to use them.
I'm even wondering whether it might be better to have these three as guest bedrooms on this side
-and you have...
-The one above the kitchen.
-That's exactly what I was thinking.
-The only thing is, there's not masses of storage there.
-Yeah, and our wardrobes wouldn't fit in.
We knew that maybe we wouldn't be able to fit all of our furniture in.
We could fit some in downstairs and we'd be really happy with that.
I think we'd get most pieces in.
-This here is very low.
-You need to see this move into the country as a chance to buy NEW things.
-Absolutely! Sounds good.
-Sell your big pieces and buy new things.
-Never a problem for Lisa.
Well, it's all food for thought and, talking of food, out in the garden
there's a little surprise for Lisa.
Now, you're going to like these!
-Brilliant! Do they come with the property?
-I'm not sure the chickens do, but the chicken village does.
I love it. This is definitely an idea of ours we wanted to do.
-It's brilliant, isn't it? A great area for it, as well.
So the chooks are catered for but at one third of an acre, will the garden measure up to size?
-Let's talk gardens because I know you wanted a big garden.
-How big is big?
-Ideally, we want one big enough to put a marquee in, to get married.
Obviously, we couldn't fit a marquee in this.
-It's a nice size, though.
-It's a nice size and the open fields gives the feeling that it's a lot bigger.
OK, let's talk about price. What do you think it's worth?
I would probably say...
I'd be nearer to sort of 485-490.
It's been on the market for six weeks, and it's on at 495.
Why don't you have a look around inside and weigh up the pros and cons
-and then I'll meet you at the front?
-Great, OK. Thanks.
That's not a bad start at all.
Just under budget at 495, this ex-pub has nearly everything they're asking for...
..and it even comes with a chicken coop.
Sadly, the third-of-an-acre garden doesn't seem to be big enough
to fulfil their marquee wedding day dreams.
Just as I thought, finding the right HOUSE for their budget
is not a problem. Finding a big garden attached could be tricky.
Loved the chickens, obviously,
and it was great that they've got their special area out there.
The inside of the house is great. They've really decorated it nicely
and made a great job of the place.
Kitchen size, fabulous. Love that. It's got a really nice, homely feel.
Really warm feel to it. The dining room and the rooms leading off it are great.
Really love those. Got loads of character.
I don't know if this WOULD work as a master, because you've got no height for wardrobes.
-It would mean having the wardrobes on the other side of the house...
-Dressing there and sleeping here.
It'll be a real pain.
-Yes, all done.
-Very good. Well, brollies up, I'm afraid.
-Let's push on.
Lisa and Royce are resolute fans of period buildings.
For Royce, that's big, old Georgian town houses.
For Lisa, it's a case of the older and creakier, the better.
Earlier in the week, they decided to jet off to Lavenham,
one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the UK.
Local expert Jane Gosling's on hand to fill them in on its historically rich back story.
-I hear you're into timber-frame buildings.
-Yes, we are.
-Well, you've come to timber-frame heaven here. We've got over 320 listed buildings in Lavenham...
-..which is an amazing feat. One of them does include the phone box, though.
You're standing in the marketplace - one of the most historic parts of the village.
Used to be a town. We call it a village now
because, in its heyday, it was earning huge amounts of money
from the production of wool and cloth and it was those rich clothiers
who built these wonderful buildings. We were the 14th richest town in England in 1524.
We paid more tax than York, Lincoln, Norwich, many of the big cities.
However, the boom days weren't to last long.
Heavy taxation, combined with stiff competition from Dutch cloth-makers -
who settled in neighbouring Essex and produced cheaper and more fashionable cloth -
brought an end to Levenham's wealth by the mid-16th century.
The rapid decline in fortune meant the merchants were unable to follow
the vagaries of architectural trends,
leaving behind this perfect snapshot or medieval home showmanship.
However, unarguable, the most impressive building of all
is the 15th-century church of St Peter and St Paul,
regarded by many to be the finest wool church in the UK.
It's one of the biggest churches in East Anglia.
The tower here is 141 feet high.
-It is enormous.
-Incredible, isn't it?
And some of the detail - it's all solid stone.
Many churches that you see are rubble faced with brick,
but here you've got solid stone. This was the best that money could buy.
For us, it's back to the business of seeing what half a million can buy.
So for our next property, we're hopping just over the border
into Essex to Pebmarsh, an hour and 20 minutes
from Lisa's sister, and just two hours from Heathrow.
The village itself is peaceful and quiet, with little bar
pretty period properties interrupting the sleepy lanes.
There's a pub, though it's closed for the time being.
But once it reopens, it's just stumbling distance
from our next house, which is definitely one for Lisa.
Ah, look at those eyes light up.
-Yeah, it's gorgeous. Beautiful.
-What's nice about this thatch is that it's two years old.
So it's got at least 30 years in it before you have to do anything with it.
-It's a listed building.
-Grade II listed.
But, as you'll see over here, there have been
quite a few modifications, so it's not impossible to change things.
-Your thoughts from the outside?
Beautiful. It definitely has the kerb appeal.
It's just a gorgeous building.
Very chocolate box.
I just hope the interior lives up to these high expectations.
At 400 years old, it's not lacking in Lisa's must-have character features.
And it certainly has the creaky crookedness she's after.
Ah, nice and dry and warm.
-This is a rather splendid kitchen extension.
The house is actually about 400 years old.
-But it was extended out into the back in the 1940s.
And then, in 1997, it was taken out to this beam here and then again to this beam.
-And then to this one a few years ago.
-So it's kind of been a work of progress in various steps.
This is the final product. What is great is that the present
owner works in demolition, so a lot of this is reclaimed stuff.
These pitch pines are from a church in Cambridgeshire,
-the floor stones come from a brewery.
-I like those.
Yeah, they're nice.
So there's lots of lovely, kind of, period features in it.
Yeah, I really like it. A really homely feeling, isn't it, about it?
-It works, doesn't it?
-Yeah, I love it. I do.
Do you want to see the rest of the house?
-Come with me.
'Keen as mustard, methinks, which bodes well.'
So we're coming into the old part of the cottage here, so mind your head.
-Wow! This is fabulous.
-Is this more what you were looking for?
-Well, this is beam-tastic!
-This is beam-tastic!
-You'd have to learn to stoop.
The floor's nice in here as well, isn't it?
So these are actually
poured-clay bricks and they've got these throughout the downstairs in this lovely herringbone pattern.
It's gorgeous. I love it.
What about you, Royce? You sounded less enthusiastic.
I love the room. You've got that lovely great big TV in there, and
we want to open the fireplace up, I think, and use that for what it was originally intended for.
-Never mind. Come with me.
So here we go into another...
..low-ceilinged room. Checking my head height there.
-Here's your fireplace.
That is fantastic.
-Yeah, I love that.
-It's got a nice feel, this room.
-Very low again, though.
-It is low.
'Well, there's the rub.
'And for Royce, it really is a case of rubbing his head on the ceiling.
'But 400-year-old thatches aren't generally known for their lofty dimensions.
'At least there's plenty of floor space down here, including a study-cum-dining room.
'However, that's it for the ground floor.
'Let's see what they make of upstairs.
'There's a family bathroom and two adjoining double guest rooms, one with its own staircase access.'
This is a nice little treat.
This would be your master bedroom.
This is lovely, isn't it?
-Nice bedroom. Nice size.
Little windows looking over the garden.
They're gorgeous, aren't they?
A lot of light.
But the thing that I really like about this is that.
-Oh, my God.
-What is that?
-That is amazing.
-I just wasn't expecting that at all.
It's very unexpected, isn't it?
Yeah, I thought it was a wardrobe.
So this is over the new extension of the kitchen.
Obviously, you wouldn't get this in a period cottage, but it's charming.
So far, I've only counted three bedrooms.
-She's sharp, isn't she?
So I'm a little bit concerned.
Don't you panic. Follow me.
'Yes, everybody can stay calm, because, out in the garden, I have quite a surprise.'
So you wanted some more space.
This was put on the back of the double garage a year ago, so it's a sort of studio space.
-Water and electricity here, obviously.
Space downstairs, but also two bedrooms upstairs. Oh yes, two.
So you've got one room with a very sharp pitched roof.
And a little guest bathroom.
I mean, they're not huge, but you could certainly get a nice bed in for a guest.
Yeah, you'd get a double bed in here.
-This is perfect for guests. Two bedrooms as well.
-I wasn't expecting that.
-Yeah, it's brilliant.
-We aim to please.
You do, you do a good job!
-So, effectively, you've got five bedrooms...
..and three, four bathrooms.
-I'm spoiling you!
-You certainly are.
I'm not sure you deserve all that!
Well, we're exceeding expectations so far, but the garden could be make or break.
The whole plot comes in at around a quarter of an acre.
So, if Lisa wants a very small wedding, we might be OK.
But I get the feeling Lisa's big day is going to be just that - big.
Well, the garden's not huge, I have to admit.
It's a wraparound garden that goes all the way around the property.
Most of it's been eaten up by the extensions.
-But, I think, in a good cause.
-You've got space at the front and you've got space at the back with the lovely courtyard.
-We can't get the marquee in here, can we?
That was a very grand roll of the eyes!
Not quite big enough, Alistair, if I'm going to be honest.
But it is pretty, and I love the way it goes right the way around the house. I really like that.
-It would be nice if it was a bit bigger, but there's always a compromise.
How much do you think it costs?
-Right at the top?
I don't think we'd get much change from half a million.
I think maybe about £5.
You are on the money. It's exactly that.
-You'd get £5 from £500,000.
-And it's only been on the market a week.
-So it might not be on the market for very long.
-No, I don't think so.
It is a wonderful house.
Yeah, it's stunning. Stunning house.
We're already starting to look at how we could adapt it to our way of living.
I've noticed. Very good.
Why don't you wander round and do a bit more of that?
-And I'll see you at the front.
OK. See you later.
'At a fraction under half a million, it's a lot of cottage for the money.
'It has three reception rooms, a big country kitchen diner, three bedrooms, and the icing
'on the cake, a self-contained annexe with a further two bedrooms.
'It sits in about a quarter-of-an-acre plot,
'which sadly means no room for a marquee in the garden.
'But will Lisa be able to compromise on the dream wedding
'for the dream house?'
Obviously, I love it because of all the beams.
But I'm really concerned for you, for the height, because it really is low, isn't it?
Yes. Some of them are really low.
Look at that, you can't walk clear of that, can you?
No, but I think it's something you get used to. I could live with this.
I have no problem with it.
My first impressions - it was absolutely stunning.
It was like a real chocolate-box cottage. I loved the thatched roof.
I think the garden is perfect.
It doesn't have the space we wanted to have the sort of dream wedding, the marquee.
I can live with that. I think we can always do that somewhere else.
-Are you ready?
-We are going to venture into the Suffolk rain again.
As we've already seen, Suffolk isn't short of period homes.
But one of the most fascinating has to be 12th-century Framlingham Castle.
This is no crumbling relic of a forgotten age, though.
It's actually lived in by custodian Diana Howard,
who has kindly offered to fill me in on life amidst the ramparts.
Diana, this is quite a pad you have here.
-Aren't I lucky!
-Yeah, you are. How long have you lived here?
I've lived here for 24 years.
Who were your illustrious predecessors?
It was basically the Bigods through to the Mowbrays, through to the Howards.
And, obviously, Mary Tudor.
And she raised her standard here and left to be Queen of England.
That's a good bit of history, in your back garden.
-If a child or maybe even if I were to draw a castle, this is kind of how I would draw it.
Did it actually do battle?
Was it besieged? Did it actually serve its purpose?
Well, I'm ashamed to say it had a three-day siege here in 1215.
And after three days, they surrendered.
-Three days and they gave up?
-Three days and then he gave up, yes.
It is rubbish, but then it would have been a shame to spoil it, wouldn't it?
'Essentially built as an ostentatious show of wealth,
'over the centuries Framlingham has had many guises.
'During Elizabeth I's reign, it was turned into a prison to detain Catholic priests.
'Later still, a poorhouse was built on the grounds, which was in use right up until 1839.
'Today, it's both Diana's home and open to the public.'
It's strange, because it feels like there's these amazing walls, then you come in and
it's just a big space with a few relatively little houses in it.
Yeah, you could be shot for that!
Basically, we never had a keep, and if you see the towers,
every tower had a purpose.
So tower six was the chapel, and over in the far corner to the left was the first Norman hall.
I notice you've got a chimney up here.
They don't belong to the original building?
No, they're much later. They're Tudor chimneys. Most of them are dummies.
Bricks were very new, very expensive.
The chimneys were put up to show how wealthy we are.
They're a wonderful achievement. You'll see them when you get closer.
'It seems our obsession with home improvement is nothing new.
'And you can really appreciate how impressive the architecture is up on the walls.
'Standing 44 feet high and between eight and ten feet across, it's a feat of medieval construction.'
-How long did it take to build? Because it's a phenomenally big structure.
The books vary, but generally it's between 10 and 12 years.
It's amazing, back then in the 1200s, because it was all done by hand.
There were no modern methods. It was all hands-on.
You've lived here 25 years.
Do you get a bit blase about living in a castle?
Everybody says to me, "You're so lucky to live there."
I think, "Oh!" But in actual fact, I really probably will only appreciate it when I move out.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the moat!
-Thank you very much for sharing it with us.
Well, that's it for our first day of property hunting in Suffolk.
Has it lived up to Royce and Lisa's expectations?
-What do you think of the old pub?
-I like that house.
-I really liked it from the outside.
-You didn't really like the windows.
-No. I liked it better inside.
-Love the kitchen, size of the kitchen.
-And the little room above that was nice.
-But that was the biggest bedroom, wasn't it?
-That's the downside to the whole house - the size of the bedrooms.
-So, the thatched house?
-Oh, yeah. You like that one.
Yeah, I was like, "Wow! This is it. This is it. This is the one"
-It's really chocolate box.
-Real chocolate box. Stunning.
-How would you feel about the garden?
-It wasn't as big as you'd like.
-It's not, but there's always a compromise.
At the end of the day, you don't live in the garden.
-So it's maybe something I will have to end up compromising on.
So that's fine. You looking forward to tomorrow?
-Yeah, I think it's good. I've really enjoyed today. It's great fun.
Flight attendants Lisa and Royce want to pack their bags for Suffolk.
So far, our properties have passed muster, but will our next house pass with flying colours?
It's exactly what we pictured.
-And the mystery house makes quite an impression.
But is Royce just horsing around?
The sun is shining, that's good for our property search today.
But I've also been racking my brains about why Lisa and Royce
didn't absolutely love the properties I showed them yesterday.
I think it's because they were a little TOO perfect.
In a way, there wasn't space for them to put their own mark on it. I'm bearing that in mind.
Also I'm thinking about Royce's head.
Any more low beams and that man's going to concuss himself.
We're sticking with Suffolk today, and heading first to Gislingham.
It's an hour and a half from Lisa's sister, but almost a three-hour drive to Heathrow.
However, the further north we go, the more we should get for our money.
Settled by the Vikings in the 10th century, Gislingham has been a thriving village for 1,000 years.
The medieval church plays a leading role in village life.
There's a pub for Royce and a plethora of traditional Suffolk pink cottages.
Our first house of the day is situated
on the edge of this village, surrounded by open farmland, so it should suit both of them.
-This is the property I want to show you.
I can see neighbours very close by.
-It's a quiet little village, but you do have these new builds at the back.
-It's something we have to bear in mind.
I guess once we're inside, you'll see where...
Is there just the one building next door?
We'll talk about that when we get there.
'I must admit I have very high hopes for this Grade II-listed 17th-century farmhouse.'
Packed with character and creakiness, but this one has a little more headroom for Royce.
Come straight in here. This is the...
Call it what you like, really.
It's the old part of the house.
-Love the fireplace.
-Great height on the ceilings.
-Really nice. It's exactly what we'd pictured, wasn't it?
-Yeah, very nice.
This is one of the smaller rooms.
This, I think, is the jewel of this house.
-The central space.
-This is stunning.
-It's really nice.
-The whole house feels really warm, really cosy.
It's got a lovely feel to it.
That's what I like to hear.
I think the combination of character with extra space is doing the trick.
Another very big room.
-Yeah. Beautiful room. It's beautiful.
-Really big room, isn't it?
-This was the dairy, so originally the floor
sloped across an angle and the milk used to run down into the...
-Another great beam.
Again, not too low.
So there's another very lovely, sunny room in there.
That's a sort of sitting room with doors out to the garden.
-That's nice, isn't it?
-Nice library or something.
You can explore at your own pace.
But I think there's space here for you to put your mark on it.
-Yeah, there is.
-It's not all finished.
So there's space for you to do something. For example, the kitchen.
This is a good-sized kitchen, but it needs your loving care and attention, I think.
Yeah, absolutely. We could put our own stamp on this, couldn't we?
-It's probably something we would do regardless.
-And it's a really good size.
Is it as big as our one at home?
It's not dissimilar in size. Is there a utility room?
-Yes, as you can see through here, you've got a whole utility area here, washing machine.
We could definitely make this work.
-We could fit an island in here, couldn't we?
And a little table if we wanted to.
Not that you'd need a table in here, because you've got the dining room right next door.
-It's got a good feel.
-It has. Really nice feel.
'So I think I can safely say the ground floor was a success.
'Time to check out upstairs.'
This is a great room. Simply to illustrate...
-Look at the floor!
-Incredible, isn't it?
-I like that.
It's wonderful. You'd have to think very carefully about the furniture you have.
-It's got four bedrooms, two bathrooms upstairs, so we can take a little tour.
It goes in a sort of dog leg.
Coming through here.
You said you wanted squeaky floorboards.
Yeah, these are really creaky, aren't they?
Proper floorboards under there.
-Be nice to expose them, though.
Off the landing is a good-sized family bathroom,
plus a guest bathroom, a double bedroom and a sink.
I'll show you this room. They're not using this
as the master bedroom, but it could easily be the master bedroom.
-I think this would make a lovely master bedroom.
And the door over there, where does that lead to?
Ah. That leads into the magic kingdom!
-This I love.
Oh, my goodness.
This is absolutely incredible.
-What a surprise!
-You want potential, this has ultimate potential.
-Oh, my God.
-It goes on.
-This is incredible.
All boarded, windows, light, electricity, and it actually goes
all the way back that way along the house, too.
-That's not boarded at the moment, but could be.
It's an amazing space, and it hasn't been utilised at all.
-Fantastic. I love it.
-I absolutely love it.
-A window at either end so you've got plenty of light coming in.
-It's really nice.
The excitement levels have risen!
-I'm very excited.
-Really love the house.
It's a definite thumbs-up inside, but will the garden be the sticking point?
Sadly, the grounds aren't palatial, but Lisa says she's coming round
to the idea of compromising on outside space.
Let's see how far she's willing to go.
-The garden used to be much, much bigger.
The present owners sold it off for building.
It is a shame, but frankly we couldn't have shown it to you
if it did have the garden, because it would have been way out of your price range.
-So let's think positive.
Actually, they've managed to make the garden, despite the proximity of these other houses, quite discreet.
You're not actually overlooked anywhere, so it's quite a private little garden.
A great kitchen garden over here.
And a fabulous outside workshop.
The house itself is amazing. It has everything we really want.
Yeah, it's stunning, the house.
There's just so much scope for improvement, which we like.
I feel really disappointed now that I've come out here,
but I guess this is going to have to be the compromise, isn't it?
-Life's full of disappointments.
So I was wondering what you thought the price was,
because obviously there are factors involved, doing renovation.
I'm going to go for 450.
I still think it's at the top end of our budget, really.
About 490, I suppose.
I'd love to say that it was 450, but it is actually more like yours.
It's a little bit higher. You'd get £50 out of half a million.
I think that's 3-0 now.
-This has been on the market for more than a year.
-It's dropped its price considerably in that time, but there's still room for negotiation.
-Why don't you have a wander around, see what you think, and I'll see you out the front.
At £50 shy of 500,000, this farmhouse is right at the top of the budget.
However, it's been on the market for 15 months,
so there should be room for manoeuvre, freeing up cash for home improvements.
Both obviously like the fact that they can
renovate the kitchen and attic, but the job could be tackled over time.
It's a deceptively large character property, with four reception rooms and four bedrooms.
The garden is under a quarter of an acre,
but it does include a veggie patch, a double garage and a workshop.
So there's plenty of space for chickens,
but sadly no room for wedding guests.
Is it really a compromise Lisa can make?
When we came inside, I absolutely couldn't believe it.
The hallway bit was full of character, there were beams everywhere,
and the height was brilliant for Royce, so I thought we'd got a winner here, brilliant.
-You could use this as a reading room or a little library.
-That'd be nice, wouldn't it?
That's fantastic. It looks over the garden, too.
The garden has the kitchen garden, which is already brilliantly stocked, and it looks great.
When we went into the garden, I felt really gutted. I thought, "Oh, no!"
I think Royce could live with it. I definitely think he could.
Me, I don't know.
I'm really going to have to have a serious think about it.
I wonder if they've managed to process their disappointment.
Hi there. Big smiles.
Let's press on.
Enthusiasm for keeping chickens has risen dramatically over the last couple of years,
thanks to greater awareness of poultry welfare and ambitions for the back-to-basics good life.
Having lived with a small courtyard for the last seven years,
Lisa and Royce can't wait to find a home where they can house plenty of chooks.
We've sent them along to meet Nick Wills, one of Suffolk's biggest wild-fowl breeders.
-I hear you're interested in keeping a few chickens.
-Yeah, we'd love to.
-Are rare breeds more difficult to look after?
-No, they're easy to look after.
Rare breeds are much hardier than cross-bred chickens, much more winter-hardy.
They lay in the winter, as well, and they're very easy to keep.
-Come and have a look. See which one takes your fancy.
A rare-breed chicken will set you back around £35,
which isn't a bad investment, considering their lifespan is around nine to ten years -
much longer than a cross-breed or battery hen.
Here we are. These are good examples of rare-breed chickens.
Wow. What chickens have we got here, then?
We have various colours in Couchins. Blacks, buffs, blues.
They're the ones with the furry feet.
The feathers on their feet will stop them scratching your garden up, if you let them out free-ranging.
They're bred for their colour and their look, rather than their egg-laying capacity.
-They DO lay eggs - about 50-80 a year.
And they lay a peachy-coloured egg. Similar to the ones in the shop. But taste better!
Also in here, we have the Welsummer.
They're the brown ones there.
Welsummers lay a very dark egg.
These are cream-crested Legbars. They're bred for their egg colour.
-They lay a blue egg.
-Much like a duck egg.
-That's my favourite so far.
-150 eggs a year. Maybe a few more if you look after them well.
To keep chickens in top condition, Nick suggests giving them a constant supply of poultry pellets
via a feed bucket, rather than hand-feeding once a day, when they tend to overeat.
Do you have to have a cockerel in there with them?
Yes, a cockerel is an advantage. He'll keep the hens in order.
They're probably happier with a cock - it's a more natural way of keeping chickens.
If they're happy, they will keep laying.
Well, there'll be no ruling of roosts if we don't find Lisa and Royce that dream garden.
Maybe the mystery house will come up smelling of roses.
The mystery house is meant to shake people up, and I'm not sure that Royce, and certainly not Lisa,
want to be shaken up, because they're quite clear what they want.
But I quite like a challenge, and a couple of things have been playing on my mind.
One is that they're quite a long way from London if they're thinking of commuting there every week,
so that's one issue, and the other thing is land.
They want to have their wedding in their garden.
So this mystery house, it's going to shake them up.
Mystery house time. What do you think I'm going to show you?
It'll be something completely different, probably.
So it would be maybe a new build.
Hopefully something that'll actually be thought-provoking.
So what about garden? Has that become something you could compromise on?
What are your thoughts?
I think you could probably compromise more than me on the garden, couldn't you?
I think for me I just want the feeling of having some space, an acre would be fantastic.
-An acre's a lot of land.
-People say, "I want an acre,"
-but actually an acre's a lot to look after.
-A lot of work as well, yeah.
Finding that acre garden with the big character home
on a budget of half a million has so far proved rather tricky.
So we're changing tack with the mystery house,
which is situated in Shelland, with good road links into London.
It's a beautiful Suffolk village with handsome period properties and an enormous village green.
So far, we've compromised on land, but they mystery house is really going to deliver on that front.
However, there's a very big pay-off.
It's a nearly-new build, having been completed in 2002.
Here we are. This is the mystery house.
It's the mystery house, it's meant to be different.
-It's certainly different.
-This is an interesting property.
Not quite chocolate box, though, is it?
-It's not chocolate box yet.
-Give it a bit of weathering.
-But you have a beautiful green.
-It is nice, the green's lovely.
It's all common land, as far as the eye can see.
There'll never be any building here.
-You've got open fields behind you.
-Loads of woodland.
-Yet you're well placed to get into London.
-So even if you were just thinking about that, location, I think it's a good idea to bring you here.
-You don't like it, do you?
I knew this was going to be a challenge,
but if Lisa wants her acre plus, then she'll have to compromise elsewhere.
But although modern, this still has a character feel.
Straight into the biggest room.
-Nice room, actually.
-It's a great size.
In one way, it has everything you've asked. It's got very high ceilings,
it's got beams, it's got a big open fireplace.
The fireplace is actually really nice.
It does have potential, and there are things you could change.
We could render the front to make it look a little bit older.
But that might be a bit extreme!
I know what it's like - you have this image
of the dream house, "Everything's got to be like this,"
-and it's excruciating when it doesn't really fit the bill.
Sometimes it's quite good to just step right outside of that,
and I know this is not ideal for you, but to just think,
"Well, that is a plus," or, "That is a good thing."
-So I'll keep an open mind, then.
That's what I like to hear, although I have a sneaking suspicion Lisa may be humouring me.
This is the kitchen.
-It's a good size.
-It's nice, actually. Yeah.
Yeah, it's a good-sized kitchen.
So it's got lots of mod cons, as you'd expect in such a modern house.
You've got a big boot room there, because they've got horses, and then along here,
-That's brilliant, isn't it?
-Yeah, like that.
So because they could design it from scratch, they got everything they want.
They got a big double range, a big Belfast sink.
I do like the sink. The sink is very nice.
'Could Lisa be warming up to this house?
'I think she might be, although I say that very tentatively.'
The space down here is certainly versatile, with two double bedrooms,
one of which is currently used as a study.
Upstairs is another very bright bedroom and the family bathroom.
-So this is the master suite.
-OK, it's a nice size.
Very bright and airy, isn't it?
So you have a little en suite.
-And again, light coming in.
I don't think it's the sort of house that we would choose for ourselves.
Indeed, the interior is not really ticking the boxes. I can feel that.
My heightened sensitivity about property feels that.
-But one of the reasons I've brought you to this property is because it offers a lot of outside space.
-This is something I know you wanted, and it's a good thing to talk about.
-OK. Let's have a look.
-Let's get out in the sunshine.
So it's back downstairs to see if the garden will come up trumps
as there's not one, not two, but three acres.
Room for a marquee and then some.
-Do you like horses?
-I love horses.
It's amazing, isn't it?
-All of this is what comes with that property.
-Three acres of land.
That's a bit more like it, isn't it?
-It's enough space for a marquee.
-Definitely enough space for a marquee.
It's lovely. Absolutely gorgeous.
Imagine having your own horses.
It's a bonus, but can you imagine using this much land?
I think I could.
-Yeah, like you said, you can have horses.
We talked about having pigs before.
So you've got more options, haven't you?
It wouldn't go to waste, but I don't know what we'd use it for immediately.
But eventually I think we'd find some use for it.
When we retire.
The reason why I wanted to test your commitment to land was because obviously the properties
we've been showing you haven't had huge plots of land and they've been at the top of your budget.
I was just wondering if it's a price you want to pay, or is it just a bit of a luxury?
How much you think this property costs?
I'd say, because of the size of the land, maybe 475.
With the house and the garden, I would have said 420, but with the land, 485, 490.
It's on the market for 495.
-It is wow, because I know that the house is not pushing all your buttons,
but it perhaps makes you think a bit about how much you really want the land.
Yeah, maybe we didn't consider that.
It does give us a better idea.
Why don't you have a wander round the grounds and then we can push on
-for the last moments of the show.
-OK, thank you.
Very interesting, because I know the house is not what they're looking for,
but I really do think showing them land and showing them how much land costs
was a good tactic, because it's going to make them think. It's got to make them think.
Under budget again at 495, this modern equestrian home
is very spacious with a huge living room and a big kitchen/diner.
It has three to four bedrooms, depending on how you use the study,
but most importantly comes with a whopping three acres.
So Lisa needn't stop at one marquee,
she could have a whole Bedouin village if she wanted.
What's more they could even make some money renting out the stables,
but can they give up on a creaky character home
for a slice of country life?
-OK, so it seems either we can have the land or the house.
You don't seem to be able to have both.
No, but that's OK. We know that now.
I really wanted both.
I know you did, but I think the house is more important.
I think you're right. So what do you think, Mister?
The house. All right.
I think coming to this house has helped,
because it is on a fabulous plot with great views which the other houses have not necessarily had.
But now I think I realise that what's really important is the inside of the house,
because at the end of the day, you don't live in the garden.
It does actually tick some of the boxes, because you asked for beams
and Alistair's given you beams, a big fireplace.
Not enough character, is it?
It doesn't feel like it's had any history, because it hasn't, because it's so new.
Okey dokey, let's get a drink and talk about things.
Well, that's it for our property tour of Suffolk.
I hope we've helped Lisa and Royce work out their priorities.
Now they just have to work out which of the houses suits them best.
Well, Royce and Lisa certainly have clear opinions about what they want, but will they have clear opinions
about which house they've decided on? Let's find out.
Are you all Suffolked out?
-No, no, no. Not yet.
-Yeah, love it.
Let's look back at some of the houses. The first one I showed you was the old pub.
-What do you think of that now?
-I think there was a lack of feeling there.
When you're buying a house, you get that right feeling when you walk into a house.
-We didn't really get that.
-No, and the upstairs was just too small.
And the thatched cottage. What did you think of that?
You seemed to really like it when we first arrived.
That was really pretty, I was really excited when I saw that.
It really looked great, but the impracticality of those ceilings,
I'd be hitting my head all the time. I'm quite clumsy at the best of times.
With those low beams, I'd have plasters on my head for the entire time.
And the farmhouse dairy, you seemed to love that.
That was a real surprise for me.
When we turned up outside I thought it looked quite small.
-But we came in and there were beams everywhere.
Great head height, really nice rooms, it had everything we would want from a house.
And more inside.
Because we asked for three reception rooms, and there was four.
And then the mystery house, which had loads of land.
I mean, the land at the mystery house was amazing
and the fact that you have room for horses, chickens, pigs.
But the house just wasn't to our taste, was it?
It was a new build which we are really not keen on.
And it's fine for somebody, but not for us with our taste.
It just didn't work for us.
If you look at all those houses, I'm assuming not the mystery house,
is there one that jumps out, that you would proceed on?
I think for me, definitely the farmhouse.
I absolutely loved the inside.
It's just whether we can get it for the right price.
So are you going to go and revisit it?
-I'd love to.
-Yeah, I think so.
I think we need to get a firm offer on ours, but I would definitely like to go back and have a look around.
Maybe draw up some plans and get some ideas on costings - of what it would cost.
When I think about those properties, clearly the mystery house proved that land alone is not enough.
The house is all-important.
And it's interesting that you've plucked that one out of the hat,
because the compromise was on the land and the surroundings, and yet you loved the house.
-Perfect house for us.
So maybe the house outweighs the land.
I think it does. Most definitely.
You were right all along.
I hope that your house sale goes through lickety-split,
because it would be great for you to move here as soon as possible.
Suffolk needs you, and it's been a great pleasure.
-Thank you very much.
What a great couple, and not an altogether unexpected choice.
And I just hope that they manage to sell their property and make this Suffolk dream of theirs become true.
And if you've come over all dreamy about rural retreats,
make sure you join us next time for more Escape To The Country.
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