Property series. Jules Hudson goes house hunting in Herefordshire with a couple ready to leave London and create the good life in the country.
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Today I'm in a county famous for its apple cider and pear perry.
There are 3,000 apple and pear orchards here, covering 9,500 acres,
more than any other part of the United Kingdom.
Today the cider and perry that's produced here is protected under EU law.
It shares the same status as French champagne or, indeed, Italian Parma ham. Where am I?
Stick around as we head out for a very fruity Escape To The Country.
In today's show, I'll be helping two former police officers
escape their London beat for the tranquil surrounds of the countryside.
There will be crime.
I think you might get your arm twisted.
They will be made to pay.
I'm already worrying about how much it's going to cost.
And then they'll be set free.
Oh, wow. Look at that view!
Today I'm in Herefordshire, a county with a long and rich history of cider production.
These days the UK produces 130 million gallons of the stuff.
Half of it is made right here in the county.
Perhaps that's no great surprise,
because in the old days, many farmers would produce their own cider
and give it to their farm workers
as a way of supplementing the weekly wage.
The good old days.
Herefordshire is land locked
between three English counties to the east and Wales to the west.
With a population of just 200 people per square mile,
it's one of England's most sparsely populated counties and one of its most rural.
With over 5,000 farms, this is predominantly agricultural land.
It's celebrated for its Hereford cows and cider producing fruit.
Rising majestically over Herefordshire
are the Malvern Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty.
And flowing across it is the River Wye, England's fifth longest.
But it's not all green. The county town of Hereford is a cathedral city with a population of over 50,000.
And its many scenic villages are filled with 17th century timber-framed houses,
which you can admire on the popular 40-mile Black and White trail.
Amongst the many very good reasons as to why you might want to move here,
crime levels make for interesting reading.
They've been dropping steadily here over the last five years
and currently run at 32% below the national average -
great news if you want a quiet life in the country.
If you want to see what's on offer, take a look at some of these properties.
Let's tee off with this four-bed detached house
situated in glorious countryside.
Truly a golfer's heaven, it comes with its own nine hole golf course and clubhouse.
So get your caddy to grab your cheque book. It's on the market for £1.25 million.
On a par but for less wedge is this barn conversion
set within nearly two acres of landscaped gardens with a valley beyond.
It comes with five bedrooms, two en suite, and a country-style kitchen.
It's being sold for 595,000.
Or for even less cash is this modern take on the local black and white vernacular.
This pretty cottage comes with three spacious bedrooms.
The downstairs is split by some lovely beam work
and the garden's large patio area is ideal for entertaining.
It could be yours for £285,000.
So, as you can see, there are some fantastic properties on offer here in Herefordshire.
But what are today's buyers after? Well, let's meet them.
Today's line-up features two recently retired police officers, Richard and Anne,
who have 62 years of service between them.
-We met in City of London Police.
-32 years ago.
But it was 19 years before we actually went out with each other.
So, we knew each other and took a while to get the courage up to ask each other out.
They live in this three-bedroom house in the London borough of Croydon.
But after a long stretch living alongside this busy road,
they're desperate to escape and have asked us to investigate.
We've been looking to move for about 18 months to two years now,
but we haven't done anything serious about it until such time as the house went under offer.
Of course, we went under offer last week, so now we're ready to look, so we're in your hands.
But what is it about Herefordshire that's so arresting?
If you look from the Malvern Hills, if you look west, it reminds me of Middle Earth, hobbit country.
It's a pretty area and it appears to be a lot less crowded.
It looks so inviting and leafy and green, lots of valleys and shadows.
And what part of this magical kingdom are they looking to move to?
-Ideally, western side of the Malvern Hills.
-Away from main roads and motorways, in particular.
We've got a slow pace of life anyway, but we'd like our surroundings to be just as slow.
When it comes to their new home, what's on their wish list?
A reasonable size kitchen, ideally kitchen-breakfast room,
two bedrooms, and I'd like up to about three acres of garden.
-I don't know about you.
-I don't know about three acres...
-It's your chance to buy a ride-on mower!
All right. Yes, OK! Three acres!
It seems that Anne has all the good ideas, but who has the final say?
-I'd like to think it's me, but it's probably Richard.
-I like to think it's me, but it's probably her!
So, a lottery! 50-50.
Well, that clears it up then(!)
But one thing is for sure - Richard's need for a garage.
These are three of my four classic cars.
One of the reasons we're looking to move is I'd like extra garaging.
Either the garaging is already there or there is the potential for it.
Anne has a hobby that requires a fair bit of space too.
In the new property, I'd quite like to be able to have a dedicated room,
an outhouse, perhaps a summerhouse, or even a third bedroom,
that we could use for my silversmithing. It's a hobby that's important to me.
And there's one more thing that's quite important - this pair are looking for the good life.
-I think Richard would quite like to keep some chickens.
-A smallholding of some sort would be nice.
Chickens, ducks, maybe even sheep, depending on the amount of land.
But if we have sheep, the ride-on mower's out of the window.
You can mow the sheep(!)
So, how much have they got to spend on their dream home?
Our budget for the new house is £450,000...
up to £500,000.
After all of those years walking the beat in London,
it's clear our two coppers are looking for the simple life
and they want a fairly simple house in which to live in.
They say just the minimum of two bedrooms.
But they want a big living area and Anne is dying for a big kitchen.
Added to that, there is something of a twist. We need space for Richard's sports cars.
And all of this for the princely sum of £450,000 to £500,000.
Should be interesting.
To find their dream home, we'll be house hunting around the east of the county,
between Worcestershire and the city of Hereford.
We've got four fabulous houses lined up, but as ever,
I won't be revealing their price tags straightaway, and then, there's the mystery house,
a property with the potential to shake things up.
Hello, Anne. Very nice to see you. Hi, Richard. Nice to see you.
Welcome to Herefordshire. You know this area quite well.
Reasonably well. We've got family that live not very far from here.
My sister lives in Colwall, so we've fallen in love with the area
on our various visits and we thought we'd quite like to get out of London and move to this idyll.
What are you hoping for in this new country life?
We want to be a bit more self-sufficient than we are now.
Ideally, we'd like a bit of land so we can keep some chickens,
-ducks, what have you... Depends on the amount of land.
-Land is key, I think, for us.
-We want a bit of peace and quiet.
-Budget-wise, what are we looking at?
Between 450 and 500, top whack.
But ideally 450, as cheap as possible, I suppose.
Hopefully, you're going to pull something out of the bag for us
and perhaps, very shortly, we'll be living in my idyll of Middle Earth, with secret valleys
and little wooded hillsides.
We're not far from where Tolkien was inspired to write Lord of the Rings, over in Powys.
-We just need to find you some hobbits!
So, Anne and Richard have a budget of up to £500,000.
They're looking for a detached house with a minimum of two bedrooms.
Anne wants a big kitchen and space to carry out her silversmithing,
whilst one of Richard's must-haves
are some garages in which to keep his cars.
And last but not least
is a bit of land to rear some animals.
It is a gorgeous part of the world. It's quiet but accessible.
-Yes, it seems to be "undiscovered" to a certain extent.
We're on a bit of a mystery tour with you two. What will we discover?
It's so secret valley-ish. I love these little country lanes.
-Who knows what's going to be round the corner!
-Hopefully not a giant!
First up, we're heading east of Hereford to the village of Bosbury.
They might have to time their visits well, but these ex-police should feel right at home.
And what else do we have here? A pub, a barbers and a church.
The property I'm taking them to see is three miles outside the village in the farming area of Castle Frome.
It's one of three adjoining houses, converted from a range of farm buildings.
OK, for our first offering, let's start with this one.
-What do you think?
-It's very interesting.
It's a mid-19th century farm complex, but at the heart of it is that tower,
-which is an old oast house.
-A nice reminder of the agricultural heritage of this part of Herefordshire.
-You don't get all of it, unfortunately.
You do have a couple of neighbours.
One here, to our right, and one at the main barn building to the left,
but your bit is the central area, which is huge. It's very deceptive.
Finished to a really high spec.
The whole lot was converted two or three years ago, so the finishes are excellent.
-In terms of land, you get an acre.
-You also get a back garden. The acre is there, at the front of the property.
-"OK", you're saying. Erm...
-Other side of the road...
Yeah. But if you were going down the route of vegetables, animals, that sort of thing,
you know, maybe having them slightly separate.
The other thing we don't have is extensive garaging.
-That's something we'd have to add.
-Let's see what the property looks like. That's key, isn't it?
Right. Come on in.
-Now, what do you think, Richard?
-Yes, it's a nice size.
-It's made the best of this as a converted barn, I think. That's the nice thing.
-You get all this space. That beam over there is original.
-Look at the thickness of the walls.
-It's classic cottage, isn't it?
-That's the joy of stone built.
It has to be wide, due to the way it's made, which allows you window seats as well.
This is very nice. This is the sort of thing I had in my mind's eye.
-Like I said outside, it's quite deceptive and it does go on, so follow me.
Tucked away in the corner of the kitchen is a utility room, and just off the kitchen is the sitting room.
I think this is a real bonus because in a lot of conversions,
they would offer you just kitchen, diner and living attached, which is what we have next door,
but here, because it goes on, a nice separate living room too.
-Yes, and French doors to the outside.
-Yes, we'll get to the outside later.
I love this space. I think it works really well. And that open plan-y feel of the kitchen, it flows.
Living room through to dining room. A separate dining area too, which makes use of double doors out...
to the garden. In a conversion like this, I think any separate dining space is a bonus.
-It is. Yes, it is.
-Does it have a study area, this house?
-Not as such.
-This could be a study.
-A study, yes.
-Or even my silversmithing.
-We'll fight over it.
-After you, sir.
That's the first I've heard of Richard needing a study.
I think he plays his cards rather close to his chest,
but it's not a problem as there are lots of rooms upstairs.
When I first came up here, one thing that really struck me
-was the light.
-Yes, it's almost like a reception area for the upstairs,
-waiting to...suggest what's to come.
-Ah! Now, what IS to come?
We've got you four bedrooms up here. Let's have a look at the guest room first. Have a look in here.
So, big enough for a reasonable size double.
-A bit of storage over there.
-And shower room en suite through there.
-They've done something clever - they've pushed up into the roof space.
-You've got the sloping roof.
Also off the landing, there's a family bathroom and two further doubles,
one of which has a skylight, making it ideal for Anne's silversmithing.
But I want to show them the master.
So, this is what we've got in mind for you.
Oh, lovely size room!
-Yes, it is.
-How does this compare to home at the moment?
-It IS bigger, yes.
-It's lovely. Very nice.
-Making use of that, which is...
-That's very clever.
-The glazed old barn door there.
-It's really nice.
-And in here, your en suite.
-No bath, but that's next door, in the family bathroom.
-It's lovely. Nice tiles.
-You've got a shower each.
-Baggsy this one!
That's pretty much it for inside.
We've already had a glimpse at the acre at the front of the property, but there is a back garden,
Lots of positive noises coming from this pair
and I don't think their mood will dampen when we spill out into the landscaped garden.
Now, as water features go...
-this one is, erm...quite special, really.
It was recently put in, the whole grassy bank here,
was landscaped to incorporate this lot, a mixture of sleepers,
this kind of waterfall running through it.
Very, very, very low maintenance.
-That's partly why it's been done, I suspect.
There's something relaxing about the sound of flowing water. It's super.
-Let's have a look at the top.
A curved pathway made from original railway sleepers leads up to a lawned area
with wonderful views over the Herefordshire countryside.
-There you are.
-The patchwork of Herefordshire.
-That's very nice.
It's an odd mixture. You've got this rough paddock at the front
-and a kind of super designer rear garden...
We've had a chat with the planners. The suggestion is that if you went for something in keeping
-with the local architecture, they'd probably look favourably on that.
-Well, that sounds promising.
So, how much do you think little oast house is worth?
-I'll agree with that figure.
425. Well, now then...
It was on the market...
-They've just knocked 50,000 off it, so it could be yours for 475.
-Doesn't bode well for the rest of the search!
It's not over yet. This is part one of several we'll show you,
so...have another look around and see what you get for that sort of money. I'll catch up with you later.
-See if you can find a hobbit in the garden!
At £475,000, this former oast house is close to their maximum budget.
There is a one-acre paddock offering plenty of scope to build a bespoke garage.
Although the land is separated from the house by a small road,
this could be a good thing when it comes to keeping animals.
There's also the large kitchen and breakfast room,
four bedrooms and a landscaped garden,
with lovely views over the surrounding countryside.
The positives for this house are the overall layout, the finish.
It's beautifully presented, lovely size rooms.
The waterfall, I love the sound of running water.
I've got issues with the fact that it's cheek by jowl to its neighbours. There's no privacy.
The negatives - the land being the other side of the lane and that it's terraced.
I've just been looking at this paddock. You could make an interesting garage arrangement.
-Lots to think about, though, and more to see.
Although Richard and Anne know Herefordshire well,
they've never been to the city of Hereford itself,
so local historian Penny Platts has come to show them around.
-Hello, Penny. I'm Anne.
-Pleased to meet you.
Set on the River Wye, Hereford was a former garrison town,
protecting the Saxons from marauding Welsh tribes just over the border.
Today, a peaceful air hangs over the town,
as does its cathedral, looming large since the 8th century.
-What a lovely building.
-Yes, it is.
Inside, tourists come to see the world-famous Mappa Mundi,
a priceless medieval map of the world dating back to the 13th century.
Painted onto a calf skin less than 1mm thick, it reveals how
ancient scholars interpreted the world in geographical and religious terms.
Asia sits at the top of the map and Africa and Europe at the bottom,
with the British Isles lying on its side.
The cathedral is also home to the Shrine of St Thomas,
the 13th century Bishop of Hereford.
He had a violent argument with the Archbishop of Canterbury, who excommunicated him,
so he went on a long journey to Italy to see the Pope
and sadly, while he was there, he died of a fever, but he wanted to be buried in his beloved cathedral.
Soon after his death, in 1282, miracles of healing were reported at the tomb
and for the following two centuries, pilgrims would flock here to be cured of their ills.
It's said that King Edward I even sent his falcons to the shrine to be healed.
People still come, to this day, to light candles and pray at the shrine.
-It's a difficult habit to break, to come to a shrine.
Standing just outside the cathedral is a monument to another of Hereford's famous sons,
Elgar moved to the city on July 1st 1904 and was knighted two days later.
He lived in Hereford for about ten years,
and of course, while he was here, he wrote many of his most famous works.
The one most people have heard of is Land Of Hope And Glory.
We love him. It's nice to have his statue so close to the cathedral.
And let's hope we can find our house hunters a glorious home of their own.
The requirement for a solitary detached property is often quite a high one on Escape To The Country,
-but they're actually quite hard to find.
-I don't think we're looking for isolated.
-We just want privacy.
Don't mind the odd tractor full of turnips coming past!
-It's potatoes and apples here, isn't it?
-It is. Apples and pears, it's famous for that.
-And hobbits, of course.
-Have you got big, hairy feet, Richard?
-Erm...I may have!
I'll show you later!
We're heading to the outskirts of the rural village of Stoke Lacy in the north-east of the county.
It's very much a farming community, within which stands an independent brewery.
This is where people come to seek a pint.
And then seek forgiveness.
What have we got for you here?
-Just you wait and see.
-It looks promising.
We'll start with the land, I think.
I know that's a really key part of what you're after.
-There is a house to show you, don't worry.
-Let's deal with the land first.
-Oh, wow, look at that view.
-Lovely, isn't it?
-This is gorgeous, really great.
-What we've got for you is something of a menagerie as can you see.
-Lots of chickens.
-Pigs, yeah, look at them.
Now then land wise we've got you about three-and-a-half acres.
-Come on down, you'll get to see a bit more of it.
Excellent, what a good start.
It all goes up there, up to that big tree.
Oh, lovely, brilliant.
-It's quite a nice size of land then.
-And, of course...all of that.
I know, that view is lovely, isn't it?
The swimming pool, is that for the ducks or for people?
-I think they probably share it on occasion, I would imagine.
As you can see, there is a house tucking its head round the corner of that hedge.
Yes, which looks to be in fairly good condition from the outside.
-Let's go and have a look, follow me.
There it is.
-And it does look promising as well.
-It's quite interesting, it's sort of in two halves really.
That bit to our right, nearest the lane, about 1740.
Not that you'd know now to look at it, to be honest with you.
Then this area here -
very, very recent extension which does make it work.
-It would have been too small to show you without the extension.
Of course the extension has been designed to make use of the views.
You'll see when we get inside.
-We like the land.
-We do like the land.
It's all going to hang on the house.
It is, yeah. It is.
Let's start in the extension.
This is the new bit, the addition to this property.
Yeah, nice sized room. I love the floor tiles, that view.
Double doors out there to a little patio area,
-which is what you'd want to make the best of that.
-I like it.
-Room for the table.
-Yes. I mean, very much open plan.
-You can make this your own in an aesthetic way very simply.
What do you think of all this, it's a bit Middle Earth, isn't it?
It is, actually, yes, you're right.
Quite whether I'd want to go that hobbity I don't know.
On the face of it, thumbs up.
-Let's continue then through here.
This is the utility.
The nice thing about this, is whatever you decide to do with the kitchen area,
it's not going to be encumbered ever with the kind of stuff we have
in here, washing machines, extra freezers and all that kind of stuff.
It's got a washroom through there which is great. Guests coming in out of the garden, that kind of stuff.
The whole lot kind of flows on.
We've crossed from the more recent extension into the 1740 bit,
-and the really old characterful part is right through here.
We skip back a few hundred years
into the original part of this building.
As you can see, great big fireplace there, wood burner, tucked away.
It's got quite a cosy feel.
-Yes, it has.
-What do you think, Richard?
Yes, I like the overall layout of the house.
This room may be a little bit dark.
-That's my only concern.
It's quite a contrast from when you come to the modern,
light and airy kitchen into this the old bit.
It would never have been traditionally a very light room
in some respects, but perhaps a different lighting arrangement would lift it.
And dressing the curtain at the windows.
You could get more light through there definitely.
Good. Right. That's downstairs.
-Let's look upstairs.
In the old part of the upstairs
are three well proportioned bedrooms all with exposed beams.
Any one of them would make a great space for Ann's silversmithing
or a study for Richard.
The family bathroom is also on this side of the house.
We're heading up the other set of stairs
to the new part and bedroom number four.
Right, so this is master bedroom.
-Again over the extension, so over the kitchen.
-Hence you have the head height and so forth and, of course, the views.
Which because the windows are low
you can actually see from in bed, which is great.
-Yeah, waking up to that.
It doesn't have an en-suite as such at the moment.
-You could quite easily put one in here.
-That would work, yeah.
-Come with me.
As usual, Richard is a bit poker-faced on this one.
Now they've seen the house inside and out,
perhaps he'll give something away as it's time to guess the price.
there are things there that you will want to adjust and to make your own.
-Of course, that is going to have some effect on how much you're prepared to pay for it.
-Let's have a think about it.
-I'd say about 465.
-That's a pretty fair offer actually, yeah.
Ever the optimist.
Well, as well you might be. You've sort of straddled it between you.
-It's on the market for 455.
So I think you had the measure of this place actually.
-Yeah, it's food for thought.
-Yeah, it's got possibilities.
Go and explore the rest of those acres, see what other animals you can find, you never know.
-Something supernatural, if you play your cards right.
At £455,000 this house falls well within budget.
It offers four bedrooms, a large kitchen/breakfast room, ideal for Ann, that garage for Richard
and plenty of room to build more on the three-and-a-half acres of land.
The amount of land is great.
-Yeah, and that view is to die for. It is lovely.
-Lots of possibilities.
-Look at those little pigs, aren't they sweet?
-Great, aren't they?
What I like about this house is the amount of land which is available.
It offers quite a lot of potential for what we'd like to do.
It's got everything we need, even space for the garaging.
The kitchen was lovely.
The one thing I don't like about the house is the sitting room.
I think it's too small and too dark.
It's a possibility.
We'd have to think further about it.
-Right, out you come. Have you seen enough, the pair of you?
-I think so.
-Yeah, I think so.
-Good. Let's see what else we can find you.
Now think of Herefordshire and you may think of apple cider,
but pear cider or perry,
once known as the farmer's secret, is on the rise.
Two years ago, Britain spent around £3.5 million on this effervescent
alcoholic drink which fizzed up to a massive £46 million last year.
I've come to meet Martin Harris,
an award-winning local producer, to find out more.
Why do you think it is on the up?
I think it's greater awareness,
provenance and they want this audit trail of where everything came from.
I think that's brought perry more into people's focus.
What distinguishes a perry pear from any other kind of fruit pear?
Perry pear will have tannin in, similar to cider apples and grapes.
It's that tannin which gives the drink its particular complexity and flavour.
How do we get from gorgeous perry pear to even more delicious perry cider?
We picked some pears yesterday and they are in our perry making barn and we'll go over and make some.
-And perhaps taste a few?
I'm beginning to feel like a proper cider maker.
If I may say so you are starting to look like one.
There's something quite medieval about it. I like this a lot.
-OK. Shall we get wet then?
30 kilos in each bag approximately.
-So it's just a rinse, really?
The pears are drained then emptied into a mill where they're crushed into a sweet-smelling pulp.
This is some that we milled yesterday.
We like to leave it for 24 hours to soften up the tannins.
If you leave it too long, does it go off?
Yes, it will turn to vinegar.
These are called hairs.
'The pulp is then scooped onto a nylon cloth
'known as a hair that sits within a wooden frame on top of the press.'
Four shovels should be enough.
-It's got a wonderful smell, hasn't it?
'The cloth is then folded up and the process repeated
'until there's a stack of pulp filled hairs known as a cheese.'
How many have we done?
We've done 11. This is number 12.
This is the kind of normal level that you do?
Yes, I would be wary about going higher, because it would probably fall to pieces.
-This is the moment of truth, isn't it?
Will it fall apart? Look at that.
'Lengths of timber are then put on top of the cheese
'and the pressing can begin.'
Do you want to press the button?
-It's very technical. There we go.
-A few squeaks, I'm afraid.
How long is it going to take before that becomes perry?
Usually about six or seven months.
Right. I haven't got six or seven months.
Have you got some that you made earlier?
For those who appreciate it, we will always find some perry.
The pear juice is decanted into large drums
and six months later it's ripe for the tasting.
-Oh, that's absolutely delicious, isn't it?
It looks similar to champagne. There's a few bubbles in there.
I'm not a fan of champagne but I love this.
-It's a bit sweeter.
-It's really nice, isn't it?
-Not dry at all.
-No. A gentle taste.
There's absolutely nothing added to that.
No, this is only perry pear juice, nothing has been done to it at all.
I'm not surprised it's on the up. I hope it's a trend that continues.
-Thanks for showing me around.
-Thank you for helping.
So, at the end of our first day's house-hunting,
it's time for our ex-police officers to consider the properties they've viewed so far.
So how do you think today went, Richard?
-Yep. Had a nice kitchen, didn't it?
In fact, the whole house was nice, really. The interior.
Whilst I quite like the property, generally, I didn't like the lack of privacy.
And the fact it was terraced, essentially.
And the land, although there was an acre...
-It was the other side of the road.
-And no privacy in the garden.
-What did you think about the yellow cottage?
-I liked the amount of land
-which came with it.
-That was very good.
-And the view, that view was lovely.
-Kitchen was nice, I thought.
The extension was nice. But what let it down was the sitting room.
-Too small and too dark.
The experience so far's really given us food for thought.
Oh, yes. It shows what's out there and the possibilities.
-I'm actually quite excited,
I'm looking forward to the next round of properties.
Having recently retired from the police force, Ann and Richard are
fleeing the capital city and have asked us to find them the perfect Herefordshire getaway.
With a budget of up to half a million pounds,
so far they've staked out two properties.
Coming up, Ann uses her powers of deduction...
Which is what you'd expect!
-Yes, I suppose... Yes.
And is the mystery house in the frame?
This has definitely got promise.
What a glorious way to start our final day's house hunting here in Herefordshire.
Just one day left to try and find Ann and Richard their dream home in the country.
When it comes to starting any day's house search, I have to confess, it doesn't get much better than this.
Our next house lies around the quite green spaces of Dinedor Hill,
with wonderful views over the city of Hereford,
four miles away.
There's more going on just down the road in the village of Hoarwithy.
Set on the River Wye, it has a rather unusual claim to fame
as this incongruously placed Italian Renaissance-style church
is featured in Michael Winner's horror film, The Sentinel.
Now, that is something to write home about.
Well, the beginning of another day. Our final day.
-We have it all to play for, really.
What have we got for you here?
Well, house, tucked away there.
A big paddock there.
All in all about 1.8 acres.
-Obviously, with that fantastic view overlooking Hereford.
-It is good.
-You can see the cathedral down there behind us.
A whole range of little gardens and pockets and so forth and some great outbuildings.
-Which I think could be quite interesting for you.
Yes, reasonably favourable. Yes.
Let's see if you like what's up here, have a look at this.
I'm very interested to see what you think of this, Richard,
how it would work in terms of the cars and so forth.
-Yes, it's big enough to take three cars, I'd say.
Does that tractor come with it?
A little ride-on for the lawn. Yeah, well, it's all negotiable, Ann.
Yes, it's rather pretty, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
-I think it's very pretty, actually.
-Yes, it's very cottagey.
Very cottagey, very Escape To The Country.
Yes, it is. I like the terrace.
The big addition is that sun room, really, which does add quite a big
-area to the footprint of the ground floor.
-I love the door, actually.
-Yes, that is rather pretty.
-It's almost like a lych gate, in a church.
-Yeah, it's very sweet.
-Let's go and check it out.
It's warm enough outside but it's boiling in here.
-Yes, it is, isn't it?
-Isn't it just.
I think, you know, come those cold, crisp late autumn/winter days,
this sort of thing really does come into its own.
It will. I see there are electric windows in the roof and there is a door over there.
Actually, I should imagine you'd get a fair old movement of air anyway.
Easy to keep it cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter.
Come and have a look through here. Come in, Ann.
-This is really nice.
-It's a surprise.
-Why a surprise?
-I don't know.
-It's bigger than we thought it may be.
I also thought it might be a bit gloomy.
From the outside the cottage looked slightly Bohemian, but although this
is still very country, it's smarter than I thought it would be.
I think it's lovely actually. It's got a very eclectic kind of mix.
I mean, lots of hand-made doors and units as you can see.
The floor, I think, is great.
Yeah. With the different width of planks, yeah.
Through there we've got you a little utility room and so forth
-which you can explore later on.
Yes, it's interesting.
Right! Let's continue through here.
This is quite interesting.
Interesting, I thought it was a pretty good size, actually.
Yes, for a cottage I suppose it is.
-We wouldn't get our furniture in here, I think.
-It's very cottagey...
-Which is what you would expect!
-Yes, I suppose...
-Right, well, it's got to be right for you.
Well, yes. It's very pretty.
The cottagey feeling continues just off the lounge in the snug
which could double up as a study for Richard, but we're heading upstairs.
It's very cottagey up here, guys.
-I hope it's going to go down well, who knows.
Look, laths without the plaster.
-There you are, a little historic note, to leave them open.
Give you a sort of... You get a sense of the age of it in here.
I'm guessing, could be as early as 18th century. Have a look in here.
-It's a nice size room, isn't it?
-Guest room, really.
Effectively... I love the texture of the walls
and some of the exposed beams and that sort of thing.
This works, yes. It's nice.
-That's a wardrobe, I take it?
-Exactly. You could release a bit of space there if you wanted.
-Yes, it works.
-A reasonable height.
Along the corridor it's effectively got two and a half bedrooms.
-That's the half. A little box room in there.
Maybe you'll have some ideas about that later on.
-Shower and bath in there.
Then this really would be the master,
I would suggest to you. Come on in, Richard.
Yeah, it's not a bad size, is it?
-It's very light.
-There's a nice view through the window.
Yes, the nice thing is you've got windows on both sides spanning the whole width of the property.
That's why you get the best of the light, pretty much at every stage of the day, I would think.
This would work. You could actually move this door right the way back down the corridor.
-Suddenly you've got an en-suite.
-And the room would open up a lot.
Shall we go and finish off outside?
-After you, Richard.
Downstairs, and back through the kitchen at the rear of the house
is a decked area with views over Hereford itself,
and a secluded lawn with a herbaceous border.
But, we're returning to the front of house
where I have a real treat for Ann.
Here we are, back where we started.
I want to show you what's up here.
Another little pocket, here, for you.
-With fruit trees.
-With fruit trees.
This, which is quite interesting, after you, Ann.
Go and have a look because I think this is really about you.
-It's nice and light.
You can make as much noise as you like up here.
-Hammering away at your silversmithing.
-Yes. It's a good size.
The workshop itself, you know, may need a bit of TLC.
You could line it, make it a bit cosier and so on.
The view from it is fantastic.
-There's inspiration there, isn't there?
Garage, land, workshop, house...
You're going to ask us how much is it worth?
Absolutely, I am, yes. Go on, Ann, you take the first guess.
-425, I thought you'd say that.
That's exactly what I would have said.
-I thought you would say that. I really did.
425. Well, the good news is it starts with a three.
-But in terms of giving you the components you were looking for, it is all here.
-Yes, you're right.
-Can we have another look?
-Take it away.
At £379,000 this cottage
is over £100,000 under their top budget.
It comes with three bedrooms, a snug, which could be turned
into a study for Richard, and he's got garaging for his cars.
There's a ready-made workshop for Ann's silversmithing
and it all stands within nearly two acres of land.
But, will this be the property that wins them over?
This house has got everything we asked for.
It's got the land, it's got the garaging, two plus bedrooms.
The kitchen is not quite what I was hoping for
but given the actual asking price,
that does leave us quite a bit of a cushion to do some building work.
-I quite like this room.
The overall size of the house, I think, is too small.
-It would need to be extended.
I like its location. I like the amount of land.
The negative side of the house is that it's not actually big enough.
However, it could be adapted. It is certainly one to consider.
-There you are. Finished exploring?
-Good. I think this was definitely well worth you seeing.
But our search isn't over yet.
-OK, yes. Lead on.
At long last it's mystery house time.
So what better for two pretty challenging buyers
than something of a challenge?
Now then, it's mystery house time.
Our final property for you.
Any ideas as to what we might have in store?
-I think, perhaps, you might be taking us to a new build.
Which, I'm not sure about because they tend to have smaller gardens.
-I think it'll be something which requires work.
To what extent is yet to be revealed. THEY LAUGH
You're good at keeping secrets, obviously.
Well, don't want to give it all away!
The mystery property we're taking them to see is in
the rural area of Stanford Bishop
on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire border.
Stanford Bishop is set in unrivalled countryside of pasture and woodland.
The town of Bromyard, just three miles away has all the usual amenities.
Dating back to Norman times, the High Street has an array of
half-timbered buildings and many unique shops.
Our mystery house is a detached period property
set at the end of its own private driveway with impressive grounds.
What will our buyers make of it?
Well, now then, the mystery house...
Is this what you expected, I wonder?
Actually, it looks lovely, doesn't it?
Yes, it certainly looks interesting.
As you can see, red brick.
You can probably tell from the pattern of the bricks,
the area to my right with that external chimney breast on it that's the older part of the property.
-At its core, the whole thing's about 200 years old.
We think it got something of a makeover about 1986.
On my left here, an extension which was put on about 40-odd years ago.
-As you can see you've got your own private track, right off of the road.
The setting here is everything.
I'm already worrying about how much it's going to cost.
Don't worry, Ann!
Right, come on.
The mystery of this house isn't immediately obvious,
but all will be revealed later.
-Right, if you grab the door there, Richard.
As you can see, hallway.
Right ahead of us, little study area,
with a WC tucked off to the left.
I suppose it depends how hard you are going to be working, really.
But let's start in here.
-Now, this is the main living room.
Now, I know that the size of these things is of some concern to you.
-Is this one big enough?
Yeah, I think it probably could be.
-I like the bays.
They obviously make it look bigger.
-Well, actually, they're a recent addition.
Historically, not that many years ago, they were put on to do just that, to draw more light into it.
I think they obviously do the job.
-The fire surround is unusual.
-Yeah, it looks like a hobbit door.
Yeah, you could put a nice oak door in it.
Who knows who could be lurking in there?
But this is the older bit. As I say, we're thinking about 200 years.
You can see that beam there, sort of gives it away.
Although what date the fireplace is, I wouldn't like to say.
Is there any timescale in Middle Earth? I am not sure.
Come on through. Kitchen!
As you can see, it does need a bit of updating.
-It's a nice size room.
-It's a great size.
It's a perfect size. It's square, it's sort of classically farmhouse in many respects.
-This has definitely got promise.
We got there with the mystery house. Excellent.
Off the kitchen is a utility room that leads to a small garage that
might be better suited as a study or a workshop for silversmithing.
But it's time to head upstairs to look at the bedrooms.
Now, the staircase is obviously partly occupied by this stair lift.
-I'm hoping you won't need one of those...
-..in the near future!
It's quite a generous size landing.
-Not bad, is it?
The oriel window that was at the edge of the old part of the house.
-Good, the geography is coming.
This is the older bit, as you have figured out, to my left.
All in, with the new extension, we have got
-I say half, one is a box room, that is behind me.
Two very nice sized doubles which, again,
you can have a look at a little bit later on.
But I think importantly, a really good-sized family bathroom.
We also have a lovely master bedroom for you.
Bags of room. Right through that door. After you.
Ooh, this is a nice size.
-It is, and bright.
-Yeah. See what I mean? Ample, isn't it?
This is lovely, yeah.
And again, this is part of the extension 40-odd years ago, so we are pretty much above the kitchen.
-Hence you have got the same sort of size.
-In terms of wardrobes, that's a whopper.
-If that can go
in here, I'm pretty sure you could put yours in here.
-Exactly, yes. Yes, this is lovely.
-It's got potential.
-Double aspect windows as well.
-I think you're liking this one.
I am, yeah, this has got a lot of potential without too much work, actually.
I can see it's got potential.
It depends on the price.
-He's worrying about the price!
-Let's go and see what's outside.
Come on, then.
I think Richard his finally starting to show his hand, and, if
I have read the situation correctly, I reckon he's ready to take a punt.
And he hasn't even seen what is on offer outside yet.
There's an awful lot to explore out here,
but we will start with this more formal garden, which I think
-gives a really interesting aspect to what would have been the 1906 sort of frontage.
You can see the two relatively new, I say historically new, bay windows.
-Attractive front, isn't it?
-Sweet, isn't it?
So much to show you. Come through here.
It really is in its own setting.
It is, isn't it?
This is almost a secret garden here.
At the back of the house are a series of outbuildings, including open barns and stables,
offering Richard the kind of space he needs to fit in all four of his classic cars.
And if that's not enough, there is also the land beyond.
-How about that lot?
Quite an interesting little patch, this,
-bordered by that field over there, which you don't get.
So all in all, about five acres.
This house seems to fit them like a glove, but where's the mystery in the mystery house, I hear you ask.
It lies in a challenge of buying it.
So, first of all, let's establish its price.
So, who's going to go first on this one?
I will go first. I would estimate in view of the acreage about 475.
Half-a-million pounds, Ann.
Supposing it was 475, would that be a real deal breaker?
It would be a borderline deal breaker.
I think you might get your arm twisted by Ann, actually, to be honest!
OK, well, the good news is you do not need to do any arm-twisting
at all, because the price does that for you.
This begins with a three. 395, for sale by auction,
so that's what the auctioneer will probably start at. 395.
-OK. Shall we go and explore further?
-Let's have a look at the stream.
-OK. Thank you.
-I will catch you later.
Brilliant. It's not every day we have houses for auction on Escape To The Country.
They are a great way of buying and selling,
because it is immediate, and there's no doubt about it,
if these two want this place and it is really of interest,
they are going to have to get on with it immediately.
As it's being sold at auction, the house's £395,000 guide price
is only an estimate as to what it might fetch.
But, with a budget of up to half-a-million pounds, there could be room for manoeuvre.
It's being sold freehold, and comes with four bedrooms,
a dual aspect kitchen for Ann,
garaging potential for Richard,
and five acres of land, enough for all the animals they could wish for.
I'm so excited.
This property is just great.
I like its location, the amount of land it has to offer and the potential for the garaging.
It's got a decent sized kitchen, it's just... I just can't express it. It's perfect.
Yes, the house does need a little bit of updating, but subject
to what it goes for at auction, it would be of interest to us.
There's a lot of gossiping and muttering going on.
Am I interrupting a planning meeting?
-You are, yes!
-And what about this lot? I am not sure
-if they come with it, but you never know.
-It's great, isn't it?
It's an interesting one. I'm really glad you like it.
I'm really glad you have had a chance to see it.
But now I'm going to whisk you away
and get you thinking about all that we have shown you.
-Fancy a drink?
I can see you as farmers.
Ann and Richard's tour of Herefordshire is coming to a close, and they have plenty to think about.
Well, the day is very nearly at an end. The light is beginning
to go, and we have very nearly finished the show,
but of course, there is one final part.
Have we managed to persuade Ann and Richard to part with any of their hard-earned cash?
Well, one way to find out, and that is to ask them.
Well, Richard, Ann, when we started our search through Herefordshire,
you rather hoped this county would be slightly magical
and full of fantasy. Has it lived up to your expectation?
-Yes, lots of secret valleys and green wooded hillsides. Yeah, it has.
It all started with the old barn conversion,
which has a oast house kiln attached to it. Richard, what did you think?
I liked the property,
but the problem was the acre opposite
as it was the other side of the road. The actual house inside
was very well finished.
And we liked the rear garden as well. The only other problem I had with it
-was that it was overlooked.
-And no garage either.
Let's have a think about the yellow house, with the 3.5 acres,
and the geese and the pigs and the ducks and the chickens.
-It was a picture of The Good Life.
-Yes, that land was lovely.
Really everything we had asked for, to be perfectly honest.
-Nice property altogether, actually.
But, the sitting room wasn't large enough for us. And too dark.
That was the end of one day. We then woke you up and took you out for our
final day's house hunting, and we started in the hills above Hereford. What did you think of that one?
When we arrived, I thought, yes, this looks quite good.
And then we went inside, and it was just all a little bit too cottagey.
The house needed doubling in size!
That's pretty unequivocal. OK!
Our final offering was of course the mystery house.
It was sort of all or bust at that point, I think, but
I did get the feeling it met with a pretty favourable response.
I thought that was lovely, I really did like that. I got very excited.
Good. Well, you were right to. It was a very interesting proposition.
Well, we certainly liked its location
at the end of a long drive. That was very nice.
-Yeah, that was pretty good.
-That was a surprise.
-And good acres, too.
I think at the end of the day, if we should get it, then we could have
a very nice property there, once we had finished working on it.
Well, you say if you should get it, this draws me to my final question,
which is going to come as no surprise to anybody watching this - what happens next?
Which one do you go for?
Well, I think of all the properties,
it would be the mystery house that we would explore further.
I'm quite keen on looking at that further.
Little bit excited, even, yeah.
And just hope that on the auction day, luck favours us.
-Fingers crossed. Good look at the auction.
-Let us know how you get on.
When we started this house search, Ann in particular was very keen on trying to find
a home in a fantasy land, a land full of hobbits and fairies,
inspired by the work of Tolkien. But have we managed to turn that fantasy into a reality?
I must confess, it was a bit of a challenge.
I didn't think we would really get there.
But I'm glad to say, the mystery house has actually delivered.
All they've got to do is go to an auction and try and buy it.
I'd love to be a fly on the wall for that one.
Richard and Ann put in an offer of £500,000 on the mystery house,
but unfortunately the bid was rejected
and they didn't feel comfortable pursuing it further.
But they've since had an offer accepted on a nearby property
and hope to be moving in soon. Case closed!
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Jules Hudson goes house hunting in Herefordshire with a couple ready to leave London and create the good life in the country. With a maximum budget of 500,000 pounds, they are looking for a detached house with a minimum of two bedrooms. A big kitchen is important as is garaging for their classic cars.