Property series. Denise Nurse joins a couple ready to leave their 1930s semi in Surrey and relocate to east Devon. They would like a secluded property with great views.
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Today, I'm in a part of the country
that's home to this magnificent beast.
He may look fearsome, but I reckon he's actually quite friendly.
These cattle have roamed this part of the world for thousands of years
and they're still prized by the farmers who work the land today.
But which part of the country are today's buyers moving to?
Find out as we Escape To The Country.
Today, we're helping a couple find a big country pile
with bags of potential.
Could you imagine creating that vision here?
They're self-confessed tough customers,
so we're pulling out all the stops.
That's just so amazing, that view. Oh, my word.
I feel like a Cheshire cat grinning.
But will it all end in hysteria?
-I can't stop laughing.
-Your laugh is brilliant.
Today, I'm in Devon and these are the ruby red Devon cattle
so called because of the deep, rich, red colour of their coats.
Although they were once popular
there are now only around 300 herds left in the country
because they've given way to quicker-to-rear breeds.
But the diet of Devon grass makes this some of the best beef you can buy.
If that's got you interested, let's see what else this county has two whet your appetite.
Making up the lion's share of the West Country
Devon is England's third largest county.
It's a big place with some big claims.
It's the only English county to boast two separate coastlines
and one of those, the South Coast, is a Natural World Heritage site
up there with Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
Wander away from the coast and the countryside is equally impressive
with five areas of outstanding national beauty and two national parks.
The stunning countryside and wild coastline makes it a honeypot for visitors.
The tourist industry is worth £1 billion a year to the local economy.
Farming is still a mainstay of life, particularly dairy farming.
The wealth of traditional and period housing stock has made Devon the cream of the crop with homebuyers,
from thatched cottages to Victorian farmhouses.
There's something to suit just about every taste.
The money of affluent re-locators into Devon
has pushed property prices right up.
Some areas of the county, especially north Devon,
are some of the least affordable rural parts of the UK
with property prices at nine times the average local salary.
But if you have the money, there are great properties on the market now.
If you have a princely £1.7 million to spend,
check out this six bedroom, Regency house near Exmoor.
A Grade II listed home of grand proportions
it has a huge kitchen and palatial dining room.
Off the first floor is a self-contained, two bedroomed annex.
You could recoup a few pennies with two self-contained holiday lets,
although with 22 acres you might want to hire a gardener.
For the rather more modest sum of £595,000,
how about this three-bedroom, stone barn conversion near Lapford?
The 36-foot living room and galleried snug are definite highlights.
Floor to ceiling windows maximise the views
out over six acres of land towards Dartmoor.
If cosy, country living is more your style, £375,000 will snap up
this three-bedroom, former coach house in pretty Tor Valley.
A compact farmhouse kitchen gives way to a 22-foot living room.
Outside there's plenty of space
with a pretty garden, stable blocks and three acres.
There are plenty of beautiful properties in Devon,
but will any of them capture today's buyers' hearts? Let's meet them.
Chris and Pat have been married for seven years.
Chris is a retired MD and Pat a freelance management consultant.
They live in this large, 1930s, five-bedroom house in East Horsley, Surrey,
Which Pat has owned for 23 years and Chris has shared for the last 11.
A complete change of scenery is now on the cards.
-We'd like to move to the country for a few reasons.
Particularly one of the things we really would like to have
is a situation where when you wake up in the morning
and open the curtains, there's a nice view.
So it's a room or two with a view they're looking for
and East Devon is where they want to be - time now to pinpoint an exact location.
We haven't got a fixed view.
In an ideal world it would be in a fairly secluded or quiet location,
relatively close to the sea.
Whether that would be possible is entirely another matter.
If it's further inland with some nice country views, yes,
quite a lot of flexibility there I think.
I've got more fixed views, but I'm prepared to be persuaded.
Having lived in this house for quite some time
Pat and Chris have clear ideas what works for them.
Is there anything that will help us?
What we'd actually like is not necessarily somewhere
that's smaller overall but probably with bigger rooms.
We'd like the downstairs to be more conducive to entertaining.
-We hardly ever use the lounge.
-Or the dining room.
We live in the kitchen, the study and our bedroom.
It would be nice to have a house with a larger downstairs for entertaining.
And three bedrooms maybe upstairs.
That's all quite practical, but what's the ultimate dream?
My ideal dream property in the country would be a Georgian rectory
and I don't mind if it needs lots of work doing on it.
I really would love a feature hallway
with a stone floor and a big staircase.
I don't think we will find the ideal property for us
without it being some form of a project.
Sounds like DIY will be taking up a certain amount of spare time,
but what other pursuits do they have in mind for their new, rural life?
For me, doing more cooking and gardening,
growing herbs, peppers and vegetables.
I'd love to be able to take up riding again.
I'd love to learn how to make cheese.
What will Chris be doing whilst Pat is whipping up some Cheddar?
One of the things I would like to do is to grow some vegetables.
This garden doesn't lend itself terribly well from that point of view.
Certainly in the new place
a dedicated vegetable garden would be something we'd be looking to do.
Being cash buyers is a strong position to be in.
Let's find out what the final budget is.
We're really looking to spend a maximum on the next property of £650,000.
So Pat dreams of living in an old rectory with a huge staircase and an impressive hallway.
She'd like a large kitchen, space downstairs to entertain
and a garden big enough for Chris to tinker about in.
I'm impressed with the fact they want to spend serious time creating their ideal home.
Visualising something like that takes some doing.
I'm intrigued to see what they're thinking.
More importantly, I'm definitely up for the challenge of trying to fulfil Pat's dreams.
All of that for £650,000 - I can't wait.
Pat and Chris wants to focus the search in rural East Devon,
so we've cast the net from the Dorset and Somerset border in the east
to Exeter in the west.
We've lined up a real array of period homes to view
and I'll be keeping tight-lipped on the asking prices until the end of the tours.
Finally, we'll reveal the mystery house but will it make the grade?
I think we've picked a decent day to come to Devon house-hunting. Why Devon?
I think it's a gorgeous county, but what's the appeal to the two of you?
We used to come on holiday here quite a lot when my children were younger and I have family down in the area
and now that we've both cut back on working we want to move down to the country.
Somewhere more rural, which we don't have immediately where we are at the moment.
Is it possible for us to find you your dream home,
or are you going to walk into any house and want to make complete changes?
It would be wonderful if you could find us our ideal house, but I would be amazed if you could.
I doubt very much we'll walk into a house and say, "Everything is perfect."
Budget-wise I understand we have 650 or maybe a bit more?
An absolute maximum of 700,000.
But that would be to include any renovation, any rebuilding,
any work that needed to be done.
That gives us lots of scope and we have three fantastic houses
and then a mystery which is even better.
Let's get going and get house-hunting.
Armed with a budget of up to £700,000
Chris and Pat want a large, period property to transform into their perfect home.
Rural, secluded and good views are all requirements.
It must have a large kitchen-diner and enough space to entertain.
Three bedrooms with one en suite are a must when their grown-up children visit.
An ample garden would be just great.
The fact is that large period homes in rural settings come with
equally large price tags in East Devon.
I'm concerned that no property will ever live up to Pat's long-held dream.
Pat, I understand your ideal home is an old, Georgian rectory. Tell me about that dream.
Oh, I've had this sort of fantasy for a long time,
walking through the front door with a stone hallway.
Um, a fairly large staircase,
cornices and architraving and original doors.
That's the sort of place I really wouldn't mind renovating.
-You'd still need to do some work on a place like that.
I can't imagine finding my ideal kitchen already done for me.
No worries there, then, as Pat will have plenty to sink her teeth into with our first property.
It's situated in prime Devon countryside
four miles from Broadclyst a typically pretty Devonshire village.
Even the bus stop is thatched.
Colourful houses sit in sleepy, country lanes and the local's needs are catered for
with one pub, a tea shop, village stores and a 15th century church.
But we're heading out into the countryside around the village for our first viewing.
First, we've brought you to this amazing rural location
-look at these views.
-These are absolutely fantastic.
And this way is the house.
Ah, it's different.
We went from "wonderful views" to "Oh, yes."
I thought you might say that.
This property is really to test how far you want to go
in terms of rebuilding and creating your dream.
Location-wise you'd be hard pushed to ask for much better.
-The property is 1930s build.
The current owners have been here about four years.
They came with the intention of doing some work.
They have planning permission to add an extra third to what's already here.
Circumstances mean they're moving on.
I know it can all be changed but I just wonder
if we're going to rebuild and extend this house, we're just going to
end up with a newer house than a 1930s and that's not really what I wanted.
But, I'm prepared to be persuaded.
It doesn't immediately hit me as wow in that sense,
but let's see what possibilities there are.
The current owners did think about knocking it down and starting again.
That might be an option.
Or just extending, and they've got planning permission for both options.
Bear that in mind and let's take our imaginations inside
-and see what we come up with.
I think that when it comes to potential this house has it and then some.
But will Pat and Chris buy into the plans?
So we're starting in the kitchen and...
I want Pat...
The current owners were thinking of extending that way,
adding an extra third onto the property.
Their idea was to create a huge kitchen-diner looking out onto the views.
-That would be great.
-Could you imagine creating that vision here?
-I had a feeling you were going to say that and I'm a bit disappointed.
Only initially looking here, but the ceiling is quite low.
It feels a little bit closed in to be honest.
That was a definitive answer. Pat clearly isn't afraid to tell me exactly what she thinks,
however this house has real scope so I hope she sticks with it.
Next door is a dining room currently used as a study.
I'm hoping the living room will prove more inspirational.
They've managed to fit a big dining-room table in here
as well as a living room.
-This is actually a nice room.
-It's a good-sized room.
I don't think we'd have it as a combined lounge-dining room,
but the room is quite a good size, I like the effect of the bay window
and that's capturing the views which are magnificent.
This room could be really very special.
It's very nice now, but you can see how you could make it even nicer.
Could they slowly be warming up to the possibilities this house offers?
There's a lot they could do with it, so it's onwards and upwards.
I need you to keep your imagination going up here.
There are four bedrooms, three of them are on the smaller side.
Let's have a look at one so you can get an idea.
Remember the idea with this house was to extend and create more.
-Right, OK. Is this the smallest room?
It's not the biggest day either. It's not the master.
-That's what you were thinking. Is this my bedroom?
I mean, it's...
It's difficult to imagine what you would do with this room, to be honest.
-I think, the thing is...
-It doesn't work for me, at all, the room.
For somebody else, maybe.
'I'm surprised, I thought Pat and Chris would see this as a totally blank canvas
'and with the extended floor plan, they could create an amazing space up here.
'I think Pat needs more help visualising the end result.
'Perhaps looking at the rest of this floor will help.
'There's a stylish family bathroom and a single bedroom.'
Imagine waking up and looking out at that every morning.
That is just so amazing, that view.
That is exactly one of the things we said, the view that each morning you wouldn't get tired of.
Just behind there they do have a small shower room. It is en suite.
Behind this room, they've got the fourth bedroom, which is a single room at the moment.
I think it would probably be better to extend
-and create a bigger en suite, something more comfortable.
-A possibility, yes.
-There's options again. I think, as a base, looking out on that, you can't go far wrong.
-Pretty good dimensions.
This is actually quite a nice room, I would say, yes.
'Well, the interior of this property might not be for them
'but I think the garden will get top billing.'
This house sits in a plot of around about two acres.
It's surrounded by National Trust property from the Killerton estate.
That means unspoiled views, no chance of any developments going up.
'It is hard to put a price on views like that
'but I'm going to ask Pat and Chris to have a go anyway.'
I need a figure, I'm going to start with you, Chris.
Right, my view would be this perhaps would be on the market
for somewhere between 500 and 550,000.
There's a lot of renovation or, in fact, redevelopment.
I wouldn't go any higher than 500.
This house, are you ready, has been on the market for two months
and the asking price is £625,000.
I can understand it's got lots of land but, at the end of the day,
if you can't create the house you really want to live in, you know. Fair enough.
I'd like you to go back in there and have a final look around and decide what you'd do.
-Off you go. I'll see you later on.
'With a price tag of £625,000,
'this 1930s property is 75,000 under their top budget
'so that's enough spare change to tackle the renovation work.
'The approved plans for the house include a two-storey extension,
'increasing the floor print by about a third.
'As it stands, it has a country style kitchen, a dining room,
'a large living room and four bedrooms.
'All set in two acres of land.
'A house can always be changed, but you can't add a view.
'As far as views go, those are pretty spectacular.'
It clearly in a fantastic location and the views are just amazing.
Then we turned the corner and, to be honest, my heart sank because it's a pebble-dashed 1930s house,
which isn't what I'm looking for.
The style of the building here, I think,
is such that even by extending it, we're not really going to finish up
with a whole house that is really of the design that we would want.
Hi, there. I think you're so disappointed you've relegated me to the doghouse.
I'm hoping I can be unleashed
because we've got more houses to see.
-Shall we go?
'East Devon's attractions don't stop at stunning countryside.
'One of the county's biggest draws is its dramatic coastline,
'which along with the cliffs and beaches of West Dorset,
'make up the UK's first World Heritage site.
'It's the 95-mile Jurassic Coast which charts 185 million years of the Earth's history.
'Eager to taking both the sea air and scenery,
'Pat and Chris have headed for the south-west coastal path to meet up with local expert, John Scott.'
This part of the coastal path is formed by the customs men patrolling on the lookout for the smugglers
who brought goods ashore here back in 18th century and onwards.
They've really left us a heritage that we can see today.
Obviously, this was a perfect vantage point for them
to look out to sea and watch for the smugglers.
'One of the most infamous smugglers hangouts was the village of Beer,
'one of the few remaining fishing villages on the Jurassic Coast.
'Its name has nothing to do with a frothy pint
'but instead is derived from an Anglo-Saxon word, meaning "woodland",
'which hundreds of years ago surrounded the cove.
'A long maritime history meant it was easy for Beer men
'to use their sea skills for smuggling
'and they had a natural hiding place for their ill-gotten gains at nearby Beer Caves.'
One of the strangest things we found was an old oilskin bundle that had lain there 200 years
and when it was unwrapped, after all that time, inside beautiful pieces of silk had survived.
-Anyway, John, it's been really interesting.
-Thanks very much indeed.
'From coast, back to the countryside, it's rural seclusion Pat and Chris have asked for
'and that's what we aim to deliver.
'We are heading to the outskirts of the tiny hamlet of Westwood.
'There's little here bar hedgerow lanes and a smattering of houses.
'For a pint and a paper, they can nip to the nearby village of Silverton,
'or for more serious retail needs, Exeter is just six miles away.'
This is what we want to show you this time. This wonderful house dates from about the 18th century.
-What are you thinking?
-I think it looks very pretty.
it looks a little cottagey.
Again, maybe, it'll be interesting to see how bright light, roomy it is inside.
It's a bit deceptive. It's sunken down there. There's more property than you think.
Actually, we're standing at the back of the house.
We're going to walk to the front, go in the front door
-and then you can make your mind up.
'Pat and Chris certainly aren't giving much away.
'Let's see if this Victorian farmhouse will garner some bigger reactions inside.
'I'm hoping it'll deliver the right combination of room size and character features,
'while still providing Pat with enough of a project.'
In we come to the hallway.
You get a glimpse there of what's to come through in the kitchen
but first of all, I want to bring you into here.
-Tell me what you think of this?
-It's a very nice room.
-Nice window, bay window. Great floorboards.
-Wooden flooring, yes.
And, presumably, a working fireplace?
It's a gas fireplace, this one.
-So a great room.
-It's a very nice room.
In actual fact, the ceiling is not as low as one might have imagined from outside.
What would you use this room for?
-Probably as it's being used now, as a snug-come-study.
A place to hide away which begs the question,
where would your living room be? Let's find out.
This is where you could be relaxing in the evening and entertaining.
-This is very nice.
-This is quite a spectacular room, actually.
There's not a great deal more we can say about this. It's nice.
I wouldn't change anything in here.
You wouldn't change anything?
No. Certainly, everything we've got at the moment
would look really good in here. It's a super room.
"Super"! On that note, let's keep going. There's more.
Just through the door is a separate dining room
which flows neatly into the kitchen.
We are at the back of the house.
Obviously, this whole length is taken up
by dining, kitchen and utility space.
That's a pretty thick wall,
but, on that side, you could open it up and create a bigger space.
You could have dining and kitchen area all in one.
Those are my initial thoughts. What are yours?
Initially, it's a very light room.
It's lovely and cleanly decorated.
For me, obviously, it's not large enough.
But, as you say, if you could knock through,
that creates a possibility to create a whole new kitchen.
So plenty of options here for Pat to put her own stamp on the place.
Let's see what we find upstairs.
Four bedrooms. They extend this way or that way.
We're going to start over here.
And I think this room is very typical of the size of the rooms.
It gives you a good picture. They're not that small.
-It's pretty good.
-It's not a bad size.
There's quite a lot of furniture in here
which probably makes it look a lot smaller than it actually is. But not a bad size.
And it's light. Very light.
To the left is a further double and a family bathroom.
Along the corridor to the right is double bedroom number three
and family bathroom number two.
-This is the master suite and it's huge.
-It's really very nice.
-A fabulous size, isn't it?
-Yes, nice big room.
There's so much room here already,
but I have a cunning plan to provide you with even more.
You've got a bathroom out there, another bedroom,
but have a listen to this.
Just a stud wall. Which separates you from so much more space.
If you took this away and put a door at the other end,
you could have an ensuite and your very own, heavenly dressing room
-that you could fill with clothes and shoes.
-That sounds great.
Well, that's inside done and dusted.
Time to turn our attention to the all-important outside space.
This property isn't lacking in that department.
There are two acres of paddocks
and stable blocks that have planning permission to be converted into a two-bedroom self-contained annexe
which Pat and Chris could tackle in the future or not bother and just rent them out as a livery.
I think that, for me, probably the concern I have about this is maybe that it's actually too much.
The house is around the sort of size that we are looking for.
Oh, dear. It looks like we have over-egged the property pudding.
The garden should be more manageable with two acres of lawn at the back and front,
but the big question is, how much is it all worth?
-I'm going to start with you, Pat.
The house isn't absolutely huge, very nicely presented,
so I'm going to guess at around 650.
OK, Chris. What do you think?
There are a lot of buildings, a lot of land, so I would see it much more towards the top end of our ceiling.
I would say 675,000.
You win this one. You're closer.
This house is on the market for £695,000.
So it really is sitting right there at the top of your budget.
I think that premium is because you've got the outbuildings.
There is a lot of land, a lot of outbuildings, a lot for you to see,
so have a look around on your own and I will find you later on.
With an asking price of £695,000,
this Victorian farmhouse is £5,000 under their top budget.
The snug and living room are right on the money.
If they wanted to, there's potential to extend the kitchen.
And the four bedrooms and two bathrooms could also be re-jigged.
It is a traditional farmhouse,
so it does come with stables which are ripe for rental or conversion.
And it has around 4.5 acres in all.
But it is a project and that means it needs serious consideration.
We could create, potentially, the kitchen we want.
It's probably the size of project that you'd feel comfortable with.
-And I would feel much happier creating my own kitchen.
As far as the upstairs goes,
yes, it is doable, but to be perfectly honest,
the whole of the upstairs was really rather dark and was my least favourite part of the house.
The drawbacks of the house for me
are really the amount of land in 4.5 acres.
I'm not sure whether we really want that amount to have to try and look after.
There you are. I've been sitting out here, basking in the sunshine.
I guess it's time to get back to work.
Now, together with thatch,
the vernacular architecture of Devon is characterised by the use of cob,
an Old-English word meaning "mud wall".
From the 13th century right up until the early 19th century,
it was the building method of choice until industrialisation
and the arrival of brick reshaped Devon's architectural landscape
and the technique all but died out.
However, at the forefront of a 21st-century cob comeback is builder and teacher Kevin McCabe
who, in 1994, built the first cob house in the UK for 70 years,
so I've come to meet him
to find out more about this back-to-basics building technique.
So, what have we got here? What are we going to be doing?
Basically, the pitchfork is to move it up on to the wall, and these thumpers, these sort of mallets,
are useful for sort of shaping it.
-They look like fun to use.
-Yeah. And then the other tools,
the sort of adze and mattock and spade are all for paring it down,
which is usually done a day or so later when it's just stiffened up a little bit, to hold its shape.
Looking at this mixture it looks quite wet, and then we've got this structure here which is quite dry.
How long does it take to dry out?
Basically, we'll go up about two feet in one day.
That'll need about a week of good weather before we can go up again.
It won't be completely dry, but it'll seem dry on the outside.
Tally in the shrinkage time needed to allow the construction to settle before adding windows and doors,
and the general build time for a cob cottage or house is around 15 months,
but cobs come with plenty of benefits to make the wait worthwhile.
How environmentally friendly is this type of building?
It's as environmentally friendly as you can get.
I mean, the thing is it is of the local environment.
It performs very well in terms of its thermal insulation
and, you know, general comfort to live in.
'In fact, cob houses tend to lose 20% less heat than a brick or wood-built house.
'And in terms of sustainability,
'the fact that there are around 20,000 cobs still standing in Devon,
'with some dating back 700 years, should say it all.
'However, if a whole house seems like a challenge too far,
'why not start with something simple like an outdoor cob oven?
'It takes around a month to build and dry out,
'and the pizza it produces would make any Italian proud.'
As the sun begins to set over Devon,
Pat and Chris have a chance to mull over today's property.
What did you think about the house with the fantastic views?
You summed it up there.
The view was absolutely fantastic in every direction.
The house itself, as it stood,
really wasn't what I think we would want
and I'm not sure, even with trying to extend it or change it around,
we could still finish up with what we wanted.
What did you think about the farmhouse?
The inside was more spacious than I thought. Certainly the downstairs.
The upstairs, I... Despite the fact that we could potentially create
a suite in the master bedroom,
I really thought that it was too dark.
It had loads of land which we didn't want
and it had all those outbuildings which...what would we do with?
Yes, but nevertheless, I thought it was a very interesting day.
-Looking forward to seeing tomorrow's properties.
Pat and Chris want to swap suburban Surrey for really rural East Devon.
For 700,000 all in, they're after a period property
they can seriously put their own stamp on.
Our first viewings missed the mark, so coming up,
we're on a mission to find the dream house.
This is so lovely. I'm so excited!
Or will today's mystery house have them completely rethinking their wish list?
I'm just amazed, given that this was everything I was never going to have!
Pat and Chris have put me into a bit of a dilemma.
On the one hand, they say they want a property that they can redevelop and really put their mark on,
but what I think they really want, after yesterday,
is the ideal home that they can just tinker with,
and for Pat that's a very specific dream - an old converted rectory.
And, guess what? Today, I think we've found it!
But will Pat like it? I do hope so.
We'll find out soon enough, I guess,
as it won't take us long to reach the village of Dunkeswell.
Cob thatches on country lanes,
a Victorian church and a pond are all part of the village make-up.
Our next house is situated off one of the roads going out of the village.
It's not totally isolated, but rectories rarely are.
And I've brought you to the village of Dunkeswell
-to show you your very own converted rectory.
-Oh, well done!
It dates from about the mid-19th century so it is just Victorian,
but it's got a very Georgian style.
I'd call it a Georgian-style rectory, so we got fairly close.
It was converted about 1991. That's when the church could no longer afford to keep it.
-So it's been in private ownership since then.
'Fabulous? Good? Excellent? That's what you call a positive start!
'Fingers crossed inside won't disappoint.'
Come on through. Tell me what you think of the hallway.
Which I know is big on your list of requirements.
Absolutely, can't complain about the ceiling height.
-I don't think you could quite reach there, could you?
-No. All positive.
-Really good, well done.
-Great start Let's keep going. Through here.
-We'll start with the dining room.
-Goodness, this is really nice.
Nice room, yes. It's very spacious in here and I think always with
the high ceiling it creates this extra feeling of space.
Yes, it's lovely actually.
Lovely, great, well done! I'm so happy.
The only thing I would say is that it's a pity there isn't
a proper fireplace there, but that's no big deal.
You can get one from a reclamation yard or whatever.
-It gives you something to do, you did want some DIY.
You did want to put your mark on the property.
I don't think there'll be much to do in this one,
but little areas like that.
-And look at these.
'By my count that's my third "well done" in as many minutes.
'I think we could be on the right track here
'and if it's a fireplace Pat's after,
'just next door the morning room has a lovely example,
'as does the living room.'
-The house that keeps on giving.
-Oh, my goodness.
This is a fantastic room.
This is so lovely, I'm so excited.
Pat's excited, I'm excited, how are you feeling?
Look, sash windows, original locks on the windows.
-These rooms are really nice.
-Stunning, absolutely stunning. Ooh!
It's really, really lovely.
Did you expect this from the outside?
-No, I didn't.
-I did not expect it to be so beautiful.
-I feel like a Cheshire cat.
-Grin, grin, grin. I'm so happy.
'So far so good,
'but we still need to check out the all-important kitchen.
'It's 25-feet long,
'but that's no guarantee it will live up to Pat's big expectations.'
Voila. The kitchen.
What do you think, Pat?
I think it's a nice kitchen.
For me, I would do it differently, but the space is definitely here
and that's no big issue for me at all.
In fact, I'd rather do my own kitchen, so...
Nice walls, nice skirting, great door, lots of light,
great place for the range.
-It provides the space, doesn't it?
-Yes, it does.
Back that way you have a huge utility room and a walk-in pantry.
Oh! Pat's pantry for all those products.
All your products. For jam-making and anything else you want to do.
Now, we have to check that the upstairs delivers in the same way.
I'm confident it will. Let's see if we can keep you happy.
'This is going very well.
'I think our Victorian rectory could be turning
'a property dream into a reality.
'Let's just hope upstairs won't hold anything in the way of nightmares.
'There are six bedrooms in all, so over and above their requirements.
'But first, the family bathroom.'
What a great amount of space for your bathroom.
-It's a lovely size, isn't it?
-Really nice size.
They've put in this roll-top bath
and you could sit in there
with some bubbles going, looking out, surveying your land.
Ah, but you forgot the champagne.
Well, I mentioned bubbles, both varieties!
'Pat's mind is on the champers already.
'Could that mean we're definitely onto a winner?
'They haven't even seen the seemingly endless amount of bedrooms,
'which I think have lots of scope.
'There are two doubles, a single, currently being used as a study,
'and another double masquerading as a sitting room.
'The room next to the master
'has been transformed into a dressing room.'
So this at the moment is the master,
but I think it's fair to say with this property there's not one room
out of all the bedrooms that really feels like the master bedroom.
But you've got the opportunity. The room behind here is fairly small,
these walls can be taken down. You could put an en suite in there,
-because you've only got the one family bathroom.
-You'll tend to find that with a property like this.
-Of course, yes.
Certainly it seems to me that there's the opportunity
to finish up with maybe four bedrooms, but bigger rooms.
And en suites added into at least one of them.
'It's obvious the house is an unqualified success.
'And I think the garden will be a big hit too.
'At just over an acre, there's room enough for veggie plots,
'but it's not unmanageable.
'And there's a very countrified added extra.'
-Here you've got your very own duck pond.
-Isn't that amazing?
-I bet you didn't expect to see that.
What do you think of it as a garden and a space for you?
I like it because it's not organised, it's not manicured,
it's a bit wild, and yet it has lots of lovely features.
And to have a pond like that is fabulous.
There's a massive boundary at the back with those huge trees.
Have we got it within the budget? How much do you think
it will cost you to get your hands on this beautiful house?
I would put it, yeah, probably around 670,000.
I'll go for 685.
This property is on the market at £650,000.
-Well, that makes it even more attractive!
-I got a smile out of you.
Yeah, that's quite attractive.
-But, as you can imagine, it's just come on the market and it's quite popular.
It's a great property in a lovely area. How much did you like it?
Liked it very much, very much.
Then have a wander round and start considering whether it's for you.
-I'll see you later on.
What a result! And at £650,000,
this Victorian rectory comes in 50,000 under the top budget.
It has three reception rooms, a 25-foot country kitchen,
six bedrooms which could be knocked through to create three,
and it's all set in 1.3 acres.
For most people, it wouldn't even need a lick of paint,
yet it gives Pat the opportunity to put her own stamp on it.
Being a rectory, it is on the edge of the village, though, so how do they feel about that I wonder?
I'm glad that it's not really done to perfection.
If it had custom-built units and things
and I wasn't that keen on them,
-I'd feel dreadful for ripping them out, yeah.
Overall, I'm dead impressed with what they've found.
Obviously, in an ideal world we were looking for
something that was fairly secluded out in the countryside.
Having said that, there's only a couple of houses nearby.
The house itself is lovely.
The location is... is actually not too bad.
Gosh, I never believed they would find me this,
so I was incredibly chuffed to find they had.
Hey, there. Now, I've got some ideas. I was thinking rip this down,
a couple of windows there, a bit of wisteria, Bob's your uncle!
What do you reckon?
I'm sure you've got your own list of changes,
-but the journey's not over yet. Come on.
It looks like they could have made a property dream come true.
Now let's see if we can sort out one of Pat's hobbies.
She wants to learn to make cheese.
We sent her along to meet award-winning, traditional cheesemaker Mary Quickes.
Mary has been making cheese for 20 years.
What started as a hobby has become big business
and she now makes over 250 tonnes a year.
She has a 500-strong dairy herd but you don't need to be a dairy farmer
as supermarket milk will do just fine
and we can all knock up a block of cheese in the kitchen.
10 litres of milk will make one kilo of cheese and the process
starts by heating the milk to 36 degrees and adding some starter.
The starter is lactic acid bacteria, so basically like yoghurt.
It will turn the milk sugars,
the lactose in the milk, into lactic acid.
Cheese is pickled milk with the water taken out.
Starter can be bought from organic stores and health shops.
Rennet goes in next and this is a natural complex of enzymes
that comes from a calf's stomach.
It can be sourced from a traditional butcher.
It needs to be stirred for a couple of minutes until it begins to turn solid.
You can see that it has suddenly started setting.
After about 50 minutes, it will have formed a junket and needs to be cut.
There are plenty of websites supplying equipment for home cheese-making needs.
First of all, cut one way and then cut the other way.
You're looking to make it into the size of the moon on your thumbnail.
There we are.
The curds and whey then need to be cooked slowly at a temperature of 40 degrees
and stirred for a few hours.
Cheese making is not for the impatient.
Once firm and rubbery, the curds and whey are separated
and left yet again to acidify and lose some heat.
The curds are then turned five or six times to create a cheese block.
It's at this stage that other ingredients can be added,
including the all-important preservative - salt.
-Here's the curd straight out of the press.
-Is this cheese, ready to eat?
Not yet. You have to wait for cheese, it's a labour of love.
You dress it and then mature it on for three months,
up to three years is our oldest cheese.
It's been really interesting, thank you so much.
-I can't wait to try it myself.
-You are so welcome!
Well, Pat's got the recipe,
let's see if our mystery house has the kitchen with all the right ingredients.
For most people, the idea of a Grade II listed cottage
in the middle of a gorgeous village would be their idea of heaven,
but for Pat and Chris, I think the concept of something they can't tinker that much with
will be quite hard to grasp, but I'm hoping the charms of this house will win them over.
What do you think we could show you to entice you away from your dream of a converted Georgian rectory?
How about a huge chateau!
-I can see where you're coming from. A castle, perhaps?
We can work miracles on this show,
but I'm not sure we can go that far, but you never know. Here's hoping.
All will be revealed soon, but first we're escaping the county
as we're hopping over the border into Somerset
to the wonderfully named Haselbury Plucknett.
It's a typically lovely Somerset village with a population of around 700.
There's one pub, one church and one shop catering to the community,
and there's no shortage of period properties,
including the mystery house -
a 16th-century traditional hall house which isn't in a secluded rural setting,
it's slap bang in the heart of the village!
So let's see how that goes down.
So this is our mystery house. Come on!
Now, I'm betting that this is a property you would prob...
You wouldn't have looked at without us.
No, I wouldn't.
I wouldn't. I wouldn't have considered it, but, you know what?
-It's actually really...
-Lovely. It's a lovely-looking house.
-Initial impressions is it's a very nice-looking house.
-Isn't it gorgeous?
It's been renovated by the current owners.
-I can't stop laughing!
-You're laughing, this is brilliant!
Is it a good laugh?
I just had a... I thought you might go for something like this and I...
We talked about it being small, pokey, duh duh duh duh duh...
And it's actually it's not small, pokey.
-It doesn't look small or pokey, does it?
-Not at all.
It's a Grade II listed house.
Right. Well, you'll have to talk us through what we can and can't do in that case.
OK, be prepared for this - not a lot, Pat.
There aren't that many changes you can make.
-But the current owners have done a lot of work.
A lot of renovation, and they've worked really hard to do it
-sympathetically and to go back to local craftsmen.
I can't wait to see what you think of what they've done! Come on.
Well, tickled pink wasn't a reaction I was expecting, but I like it and I'm going with it.
Come on through.
-Oh, my word!
-Oh, your word, indeed.
-Oh, my word!
-What do you think?
Well, all the...
All the period features are fabulous.
It's a bit dark, that's the only thing that worries me.
I thought you might say that. It's a little dark, but warm still.
-I mean, look at these windows here. The...
I mean, look, the original features. Oh, gosh!
-They're screaming at you, aren't they?
-Your own bit of history.
-Exactly. That's an amazing room to start off with.
-But let's keep going because there's more.
Come through to the living room.
Oh, isn't this a lovely room?
Take it in.
Again, not what we would have gone for, but...
You just seem so surprised, Pat. You're looking...
-You can't believe that a property like this could have this feeling, can you?
-I'm surprised at the ceiling height.
-I'm surprised I like it.
It really does feel cosy.
No, it feels lovely.
'This is a turn up for the books - a definitive thumbs-up from Pat!
'Let's see what she'll make of the kitchen, just next door.
'If she wants to change this one, I give up.'
Now, look at this and tell me what you think of what they've done.
Gosh! These are all bespoke units.
They're lovely. Look at those hammered pewter handles.
Eye for detail. I know. These units were hand-made up in Yorkshire
and then brought down here and...
-It's beautiful wood, isn't it?
-Commissioned by the current owners.
Over there, the structural work they did was take down a wall
-and open that up so you've got a breakfast room that looks out onto the garden.
-Isn't that lovely?
-And hasn't it been done in keeping?
-They've created a beautiful space.
'And the space goes on.
'The garage has been converted to create a study and a sunroom.
'Pat and Chris have clearly been charmed by the downstairs.
'Let's see if the magic continues upstairs.'
Step into the room that's currently being used as the master.
What a nice room. How tall!
-What do you think, Chris?
-I think it's a nice room.
I suppose possibly just the first slight negative is I guess...
There's no en suite.
..unless you're going to surprise us, there's no en suite attached.
'Well, I do have a surprise up my sleeve.
'The solution is at the opposite end of the hallway
'past a single bedroom, a cosy double and the family bathroom.'
Through here is another bathroom.
-Oh, this is very nice.
-It's absolutely lovely, yes.
-You do surprise me.
This is the mystery house - it's supposed to be something you wouldn't like and you love it.
-And as an added bonus, this isn't just a standalone bathroom.
Oh, no, it connects through to what I think should be the master.
In we come. Now, don't you think this should be the master bedroom?
-Yes. I mean, it's plenty big enough, yes.
Gosh, there's even room for a sofa in here, look.
It's a bit novel, coming through the bathroom.
-It's slightly unusual.
-Would you be able to live with it that way?
-I mean, it's quirky, isn't it? It's just different.
-I don't see that as a big issue.
-No, not at all.
-In fact, I think it's quite novel.
Is there anything that could make this property any better?
-Well, we haven't seen the garden yet.
-That's true, we haven't seen the garden, but I'm just amazed,
-given that this was everything I was never going to have.
-You said it!
-But it's everything you could want.
-Well, it's feeling that way.
'It just goes to show when it comes to househunting,
'keeping your options open can sometimes deliver the dream.'
Now, this garden just keeps on going. It's like a house in itself in terms of different rooms,
the way it's been laid out by the current owner, so you've got a pond area over there,
behind is a children's play area, a vegetable garden, sheds, pathways, secret garden walls.
-I don't know what else you'd need.
-How much do you think you'd have to pay?
-Golly, this is difficult.
I think it's right at the top end of our budget.
-Give me a number.
-All right, 695.
-I would go just a fraction under that and say 690.
It's on the market at £695,000.
-Oh, my goodness, I got it right!
-You were spot on.
-We've given you so much to think about.
-Why don't you have a wander and explore this amazing garden and I'll see you later on?
That is why I love the mystery house!
We've shown them something that was completely not on their list
and so often they fall in love with it.
It just goes to show you don't know everything, even Pat.
This is at the top of their budget at £695,000, but what a property!
This beautifully restored 15th-century hall house is crammed with character.
On paper it shouldn't work for them, but it so obviously does.
I'm not sure that this is a property we would have looked at.
I guess, well, you can maybe not take too many judgements without actually inspecting things.
This is a listed house
and it's not really going to offer any big projects,
which is one of the things that you were perhaps looking for.
I was thinking that when I was walking round the garden,
but, you know, this feels such a welcoming home.
I... I'm just going to have to think very hard on that.
It just feels... It just feels right.
The dilemma is that I do want a project,
and I'm saying do because I really do.
I don't know how we're going to arrive at a decision on this because
the head says, "Get on and do your project," and the heart's telling me, "This house is just so you."
I've got to drag you away, but I've had a thought - we rename it Pat's Palace!
That's, of course, if it's the one for you and right now you've got a lot of thinking to do.
Well, that mystery house certainly brought out a different side of Pat.
She got really emotional and stopped thinking with her head for a change, but now it's decision time.
Which way will they go? Is it the head or the heart?
-We've reached the end of our journey, haven't we?
Well, we started with the 1930s house.
-What did you think?
-When we first arrived,
we couldn't see the house at all and there was a long drive,
but I got a feel for the views and we walked round the corner and my heart sank.
The views were everything we were looking for, but for the reasons of the house,
we would have to say that that one wouldn't be for us.
Now, we took you to a farmhouse with 4.5 acres of land, lots of outbuildings,
and it was a very characterful cottage. What did you think of that?
Very well presented. Lovely lounge/drawing room.
But, for me, I felt the upstairs rather let it down.
The bit that really would be the problem for us on that one
was the 4.5 acres of ground
and all those stable outbuildings which, really, we've got no use for.
Now, very specifically, you wanted to live in an old Georgian rectory.
We searched high and low and I can't believe we pulled it off.
We brought you to a Victorian Georgian-style rectory.
Well, you certainly made me eat my words because I said I didn't think you'd find one and you did,
and it's a lovely house.
When we went inside, we went from one room to the next room
to the next room and it sort of almost got better and better.
Better and better.
Well, having shown you a property that pretty much fulfilled every wish on that list,
including giving you scope to put your mark on it,
we took you to the mystery house which was everything you didn't want and yet what a reaction!
And I have to eat my words again.
I know, it... I can't describe it.
It blew me away, actually.
There's cottages and cottages and the way that it had been restored
-and renovated had been done both...
-With so much love and care.
Extremely well and sympathetically and to a high standard, as well.
Given how sure and certain you were about what you were looking for,
-showing you something that was so opposite...
..I didn't have high hopes, I've got to be honest.
Well, if it was a shock to you, it was an even greater shock to me.
So, what's going to happen next?
Are you going to go for any of the properties we've shown you?
I don't think we'll be immediately putting in an offer, but I think what we want to do
is there's two houses there that interest us enough
that we would want to go back and have a second look.
And the two properties are, just to be clear, the old rectory and the mystery house.
The old house. Yes.
Yes, so we'd be going back to see them a second time,
very much with a view that one or other of these could be something that we might want to purchase.
Well, any house that could bring out Pat's smile like that, I think has got to be a winner!
Fingers crossed it's not too long before you're moving in to at least one of our houses.
-Thanks a lot.
-Best of luck, take care.
I remember at the start of this journey,
Pat told us she didn't think we could find her ideal home,
but oh, how she was wrong!
We found her two and, most surprisingly,
the one that she's fallen in love with and opened her heart to
is something she would never have looked at.
And I think Chris likes it, too.
Hopefully it won't be too long before they're moving in
and I will see you next time on Escape To The Country.
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Denise Nurse joins a couple ready to leave their 1930s semi in Surrey and relocate to east Devon.
With a budget of £700,000, they are dreaming of a large rural retreat. The period property they are after should be secluded with great views. A large kitchen diner and an ample garden are on their list too. They also need three bedrooms for when their grown-up children come and visit.