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She had sense and sensibility, pride but little prejudice, and she never set foot in Mansfield Park.
In fact, she lived in this house.
But one thing's for sure, this county inspired
one of Britain's most popular novelists in her life's work.
Where am I? I'm sure you won't need much persuasion
to join me in a moment to find out.
In today's show, we'll be helping a retired couple find their dream home in the country.
Sometimes they'll be of the same opinion...
-I agree with my wife.
-Are you the planner in all of this?
..sometimes they'll be at odds.
-I do like to be able to close doors on clutter and things like that, and sometimes...
And sometimes, they'll be love struck.
Bowled over by this. It is beautiful.
Today I'm in Hampshire at Jane Austen's house.
It's here that she spent her final years
and penned Mansfield Park, Emma, and her last complete novel, Persuasion.
But it was this county that really inspired her work.
Not only the stately homes where she attended dances with the landed gentry,
but the rolling hills of Hampshire where she walked with her suitors.
Bordered by the Home Counties to the east and the north
and to the west by Wiltshire and Dorset,
Hampshire is a perfect springboard to either the bright lights
of London or the laid-back delights of the West Country.
There is something about this county that seems to attract
some of our greatest writers. From Austen to Keats,
Trollope to Conan Doyle, they were all inspired by its mix of charming countryside,
chalk streams and New Forest ponies running through its royal forest.
Hampshire is also home to historic Winchester,
England's ancient capital, famed for its beautiful cathedral.
And when it comes to property, thatched cottages constructed from cob, flint and thatch
can be found in all corners of the county.
With excellent commuter links to London, it goes without saying
that property prices in Hampshire are high.
In fact, the average detached house here comes in at a whopping 33% higher than the national average.
Not only do you have the New Forest on your doorstep,
the big news is that the South Downs has just been granted National Park status
and that means about 28% of this county is a protected area.
National Park status is great news for the local economy.
It brings in tourism, but it also means that planning controls are subject to the highest levels
and that keeps the countryside idyllic,
the housing stock quite limited and the property prices high.
So, safe in the knowledge that this countryside will remain idyllic,
let's take a look at the properties on the market right now.
Old MacDonald had one and so could you.
This stunning four bed, grade II listed
former farmhouse is now on the market for £1.75 million.
It includes an atmospheric dining room, a drawing room,
and a kitchen breakfast room.
For the more modest sum of £625,000,
how about this four-bed country house that comes with its own stream.
There's a kitchen breakfast room and three spacious receptions.
Less money but equally attractive is this three-bed converted chapel.
Looks can be deceptive as inside it is incredibly spacious
and it's hitting the market with a price tag of £360,000.
So we know Hampshire has some beautiful properties but will any of them suit today's buyers?
Let's meet them and find out.
Today's buyers are retired Chris and Jill,
who after almost three decades of dreaming are finally in a position
to find the slice of rural Hampshire they've always craved.
For 28 years, we lived in our family home in Wokingham and we had many, many happy times there.
But we knew it wasn't the place we were going to end up in.
We hankered after living in a country environment.
We sold the house and we moved into rented accommodation
because that gives us the freedom to move when we see the house that we want and to buy something quickly.
With their kids having flown the nest,
this move represents a complete lifestyle change for them.
It's the first opportunity in our lives, really,
having brought up the children, where we consider ourselves only.
We actually have an embarrassment of freedom at the moment.
We've never been in a position where we didn't have to consider
-somebody else, like our children, or parents, or whatever.
Actually, we can choose to please ourselves for the very first time
which is a fantastic and very exciting opportunity.
So we know a wonderful new beginning is in store but what exactly are they looking for?
A bit of character and individuality.
I mean we're not fussy livers in the sense that you've got to have
an en suite shower or bathroom in the bedroom.
I couldn't care less whether there's a bathroom attached to the bedroom
as long as there's a decent bathroom somewhere in the house.
Come on, you two, there's more to it than that.
I've been collecting car books and other stuff to do with cars
since I was about 12 years old and I've got about 2,000.
What I'd really love in the new house is to have a snug or a library
where I can just tuck myself away for an hour
and just read and look at things and dream.
I don't think we could conceivably have a house
that didn't have an outside area which was adequate for Jill to have, to replace her allotment.
Jill's a bit of an earth mother, if she hasn't got her hands in the soil she's not having a proper day.
I really love growing my own fruit and vegetables on the allotment
and actually, one of the things I've discovered being in this house
is that I can bring things in from outside
and I've got a sink in the utility room which is great,
because I can get my things cleaned up in here
so I've got a dirty sink in here and a clean sink in the kitchen.
This is a Jaguar C-type.
It's actually a replica, not the real thing.
What I'd really like is a dry, safe, secure garage
so that this dear old car can be kept in the way she should be.
I love arts and crafts, I love being busy, having a project to do.
We were thinking that we might look for some slightly older furniture
and it would be really lovely to be able to upholster it myself and learn some new skills.
This is all sounding rather reasonable so far
but I wonder if they'll see eye to eye on the properties we find them.
To be honest, we're not very good at knowing exactly what we want in advance.
We've sort of got to walk into the car crash to find it, if you see what I mean.
I knew there'd be a catch.
But assuming they can actually agree on a home,
what's their budget for this move?
Our budget is around £500,000.
So Chris and Jill are after a character property near a village location with a few bedrooms,
a decent garden and a library for petrolhead Chris's motor memorabilia.
However, property prices in rural Hampshire are high
and their £500,000 budget may not be as healthy as it seems at first.
They have been revving up for this move though for nearly 30 years
so let's hope that we can get them off the starting grid.
We'll be driving around the north-west of Hampshire, close to the town of Andover.
I'll be showing them some gorgeous houses that should meet their requirements
and, as always, I won't reveal their prices until after they've looked around.
And there's the mystery house, which might make them see things in a new light.
Now Jill and Chris, usually I would say, welcome to Hampshire,
but I think it should be the other way round.
It is. So, welcome to Hampshire.
Being in rented accommodation, you're cash buyers?
We are indeed. Yes, ideally we'd like to spend £500,000.
We can stretch that a bit if we find the house that's really perfect for us.
But, we're in Hampshire which is commuterville,
and that does mean the property market is a tough one.
So compromises may have to be made.
We're ready to compromise. Every house purchase is a compromise.
It's time for us to be a bit more selfish and do what we want to do.
-We've got great houses to show you.
-And the mystery property.
So Chris and Jill have a flexible budget starting at £500,000 in cash.
They're not too worried about the number of bedrooms, but they are after plenty of character,
a garage for Chris' car, and a library for his books.
Jill is after a decent sized garden in which to grow her vegetables.
You've been renting for a year, why haven't you found a property yet?
We retired four months after we sold the house.
We wanted to enjoy ourselves and settle into that change in life.
To be frank, we hadn't started looking at houses until very recently.
Now we're, as they say, hot to trot.
Perfect! Just as we like you!
The first house we're off to is in Egbury,
five miles from the town of Andover in the north of the county.
Just down the road from Egbury is the village of St Mary Bourne.
Set in a rural area of downland, a seasonal stream trickles through it.
Charming thatched cottages are dotted throughout,
while a gorgeous 12th-century church overlooks it all. We're taking them
to see a Grade II listed thatched cottage dating back to 1760.
Something with character for the first property. A thatched cottage.
-That's wonderful. It's so pretty.
-Very pretty. Lovely.
Does it fit your picture of what you're looking for?
It is quintessentially country, isn't it?
It fits one picture of it. I notice it's got a double garage
and that's very important for me.
-The thatch has probably got about 12 years before it needs updating.
I've always been a little bit concerned about thatch -
I've heard there aren't that many people around who do it.
Having said that, I think we're open to everything at the moment.
-Well, let's go and have a look.
It's really great that they are so open minded
and I think this lovely cottage is a good choice to start with.
But will it have the feel they're looking for?
Now, cottages often mean small
and I think this is a prime example of a small-ish kitchen.
It's full of character, isn't it?
It is, and I'm not that tall, so I'm OK.
-It's a proper cottage kitchen. Charming.
-Which means it must have a larder?
No. You'd like it to!
It does have a bit of space tucked behind here, a recess there.
Would this amount of space work for you?
It is a room we use a lot, so it's important.
-Is it a room that you share?
-It's the hub of the house.
-She cooks and I eat.
-"She cooks, I eat"!
-So you do share it!
-I'm glad you like this room.
As you say, it's charming. There's a lot more to this house.
Next to the kitchen - a separate dining space.
Well, that's lovely.
A wood-burning stove. Very keen on open fires or wood burners.
Well, that isn't a real wood burner. It's fired by gas.
But there is an open flue there so you could put one in if you wanted.
I love the beam. That's a very special beam.
-It's got bundles of character.
We're still in the old part of the property
but there have been some additions. Let's have a look.
-From small rooms to this.
-It's a lot larger, isn't it?
It's got a lot of light, windows all the way round.
In the second section,
they've got a vaulted ceiling, so it goes all the way up.
-Even more ceiling height in there.
-A very interesting room. Charming.
-It's bringing a big smile out in you.
-What are you thinking?
I know feelings in properties are very important to you.
This house has got a very good feeling.
-It seems to me to be a happy house.
-Yeah, I'd agree with that.
It has warmth.
Just off the living room is a lovely surprise add-on.
-Another addition to this property.
Oh, how lovely! It's like...a snug.
You can shut the door and read some books.
Yeah, I can see myself in this part,
whiling away a few hours with a gin and tonic and a book.
Well, we've found a home for you already! Let's head upstairs.
'We're doing really well so far.
'The house has the right feel and Chris has already spotted a place he can unwind with his books.
'Upstairs are two double bedrooms.
'But the allure of this house is how its traditional layout
'has been adapted for modern-day living. But will it suit?'
This charming period property does come with a few quirks
and this is one of them. Sort of open plan master bedroom
which opens up into the family bathroom.
-What do you think?
-I love the bedroom. The bedroom is fantastic.
I have to confess I'm a bit of a beam freak.
I do actually like beams and looking up at them - quite soporific, helps you to go sleep.
Not sure about the family bathroom being off this room,
but maybe there are other aspects of the house
-that might compensate.
-That is the bathroom.
The idea is, you could put a stud wall right the way along here.
A door around here? This would be the bedroom then
and you'd have a corridor into the family bathroom.
Could you live with it or would you need to make changes?
I might have to think about that.
-We'd have to think about it.
-Don't rule anything out at this stage.
Well, it's certainly not a no-no. Alterations like this
are the price you pay for these wonderful old properties.
Across the landing is the second bedroom
which is marginally smaller, but more than adequate for guests.
And if they are thinking it's a bit of a squeeze, they needn't worry -
there is another bedroom in an outbuilding.
-So here is the third bedroom.
We're next door to the garage and it was added on by the current owners.
It could be a snug perhaps, a den?
It does feel more of a snug than a bedroom to me.
It does have an ensuite though.
It's kitted out, ready for someone to stay.
-But it's not a bedroom you'd use all the time.
-No, an occasional bedroom.
OK, you have seen everything this property has to offer accommodation wise.
-Time to look at the garden, which is particularly important to you.
The garden wraps around the cottage
and, although it is sizeable as gardens go,
it doesn't leave a huge amount of room for Jill's vegetable patch.
I would have liked to have had a little bit more.
Um, but put it in the mixing pot and see where we go.
We haven't looked into it, but there's a lot of land around here -
there's always the possibility of buying some more.
But that all depends on how much it costs
to buy the property in the first place!
-I'd have to say about £430,000.
-Probably about 470.
-This property is actually on the market at £525,000.
I think it's priced because of its beauty, isn't it?
Still plenty to consider there. Why don't you have a ramble around
-and I will see you in a little while.
There you go, reality check time. Hampshire is expensive.
You may not get as much for your money as you might think.
Chris and Jill both underestimated the £525,000 price tag,
but that may be a reflection of the fact
that it's the first house they've viewed in Hampshire.
It's packed to the rafters with period charm.
It is over budget, but they did say they could stretch to more
for something special and I think this property is just that.
I thought the house was stunningly beautiful.
It really is a chocolate-box, beautiful cottage, isn't it?
-This is such an attractive room, Chris, isn't it?
-I think it's lovely.
I do like the high ceiling.
It contrasts beautifully with the very low ceiling.
-And it's nice being able to see all three...
For me, the character in the property is very nice. I like it.
I have a question mark over thatched roofs. I'm a bit nervous of them.
All in all, I'm delighted.
-Hello, you two. Seen enough now?
-I think we have.
-Well, there's lots more to do, so let's keep moving.
Chris and Jill have been living in Hampshire for a year,
but have not had time to uncover the history of their new county.
And if one place can claim to be the beating heart of English history, it's Winchester -
Hampshire's beautiful cathedral city.
Well, here we are in the heart of Winchester
and we're standing on the oldest high street
-of any northern European city.
-Long before the Romans came.
In 871AD, King Alfred the Great made Winchester England's capital city
and its first Royal residence.
Back then, the high street was a massive 75ft wide.
Today, it's much narrower
because buildings have moved into the street, stealing some space.
To see that, we need to look at this group of buildings
and bring in another king - William the Conqueror.
The Royal palace over there was too small for him, so he extended it,
knocking down some 12 high street properties,
leaving a blank wall on the high street.
There's one thing about merchants and blank walls.
If you give a merchant a blank wall,
the first thing he'll do is set up a table and try to sell you something.
So the whole history of these buildings are market stalls
growing and growing and taking more and more of the high street.
Winchester's major landmark is, undoubtedly,
its awe-inspiring cathedral, dating back to 1079.
Just down the road is the 13th-century great hall,
a fine example of ancient architecture.
It's home to one of the most famous symbols of medieval mythology -
King Arthur's round table.
It was painted during the reign of Henry VIII.
He was entertaining Charles V of Spain, perhaps the most powerful man on the planet.
We have rumours that Charles V was being treated with great dignity -
he sat to Henry's right.
But if you looked at the name on the table,
he's sitting in Mordred's seat.
Now, Mordred, is the bad character of the Arthurian legends.
He's the one who causes all the trouble.
So he's being complimented with one hand and insulted by the other.
High politics is being played.
-Politicians are always the same.
Well, I'm voting with my feet and taking Chris and Jill with me.
We're heading to our next house in Highclere,
a popular village 11 miles north of Andover.
Surrounded by attractive countryside, Highclere is home to Highclere Castle.
Built in 1842, it's the largest country house in Hampshire.
In 1996, the Highclere Society was formed by the local community
in order to protect and enhance the village and its environment.
I'm taking them to a detached cottage that has retained much of its original charm and character.
Well, here we are.
This is the property that we want to show you.
I really like the aspect of that house. I think it looks fantastic.
I agree, I think it just...
It's so attractive. It's nicely proportioned.
I must point out one thing about this property.
The current owner had a business that he used to run from just behind it.
-Something to bear in mind.
-We have an open mind.
What a great start. This attractive cottage is scoring well already.
Let's hope it lives up to their expectations inside.
In this property, you come straight into a dining room at the moment.
-It's a great space.
-It's a great space.
I certainly don't have a problem with coming in from the outside into the dining room.
And as Chris has always said, what's a hall? It's a waste of space.
-So I think it's very nice.
-I can see this being a very homely place.
Another room tucked away here which could make a nice snug. Shall we keep exploring?
I think this kitchen is nice and bright.
It's lovely and bright, isn't it?
-Isn't it just?
-First impressions are very good.
It could be a little bit wider, it's a little bit long and thin.
I don't think that matters. We'll have to lose some weight!
Or you could knock that wall down instead and have one big space
-and then you can get as fat as you like.
-That's not a bad idea.
Knocking down the wall would open up the kitchen to the spacious living room next door.
-This is a nice room.
-It is a nice room.
It's in keeping with the original age of the property.
I think we would probably keep this as a sitting room.
And the kitchen...yes, maybe if we were to buy this property
and we could get permission, there's no reason why
perhaps we couldn't push out and do a small extension
and get a bigger kitchen that way.
-I agree with my wife.
-I was about to say, are you the planner...?
Chris just nods and says, "That sounds like a good idea."
Chris clearly knows his place in this relationship
but he looks a willing and happy participant.
At the back of the dining room there's access to a utility room -
ideal for Jill to wash her fruit and veg in.
This property has four bedrooms in total.
You've got one single over there.
Before we see the others,
I want to show you the family bathroom. Pop your heads in.
Well, it's a jolly good sized bathroom.
-It's bigger than the one we've got at the moment.
-It's probably bigger than any that we've ever owned!
That's true, but we only ever spend ten minutes a day in it.
Too much information. Come on, let's look at the bedrooms.
I said four bedrooms with this property and one was out there.
This space is a little bit deceptive because there's a bed in it.
But I wouldn't call this one of the bedrooms. We have one that way,
a good-sized double, you can fit a nice big king-sized bed in there.
You have two more that way. So actually this...
-Exactly what I was thinking!
Well, it's got a lot of books in it already and I'm sure it could be made into... It's a big space.
It would work. I think you're right.
I think this would be fantastic as a library.
Let's look at the other bedrooms.
Now back here, we're again in the extension, so it's a more modern feel.
We've got two bedrooms, almost identical. That one's slightly bigger.
I love this dual aspect. Even with the ceilings like this, there's plenty of room here.
Do you know, this opens up lots of opportunities.
Yes, I mean it's so flexible, isn't it, this space up here.
To have people to stay, heaps of opportunities. Very, very exciting.
This is looking good. There's bags of space for them
and their children when they visit
and Chris is well sorted for his library.
All we need now is for Jill to give us the thumbs up in the garden.
Now this is the amount of garden space that you get with this property.
It's not huge but it's adequate and it's got some nice features, just like the house.
You've got a little brook running behind here.
The big feature that we can't escape, and we mentioned it at the front, is the warehouse at the back.
Yes. It's already quite well greened up actually.
One can't pretend there isn't a great big shed behind,
but the garden itself is actually really quite nice.
In a way, it would be nice to have the front garden in the back
-and the back garden in the front, but you can't have everything.
There's certainly enough garden, I think.
We might have to rejig things and be a bit different
and have a kitchen garden in the front of the house,
but anything's possible.
So it does garden, it does library.
How much do you think you'd have to pay for this house?
I think you'd have to pay at least £500,000.
-I think that's spot on.
-You're absolutely right, spot on.
This is on the market at £500,000.
-I'd agree with that.
-It's definitely on the list.
-Something to consider. Why not give yourselves
a bit more time to consider it and look around some more of the rooms. See you later on.
There we have it, this property is bang on budget at £500,000.
It has four bedrooms, so plenty of room for family visits,
a large landing that Chris can use for his library,
there's a garage for his sports car, and the size of the garden
-meets Jill's approval for growing vegetables.
we take a quick look at the garage?
-Ah! It's full of boy's stuff!
That's what we need. One of those for the lawn.
-There's lots of space in here, Chris.
-Bags of space for the car.
I'm very excited about the potential library area.
It works well with the bedrooms that are up there.
There can't be anything more pleasant than walking past a library when you go to bed,
at least in my book.
It's got a lovely feel here
and I think it's a real possibility, this property.
Of course the warehouse is a compromise,
but I think if you're buying a house for anything under £10 million,
you have to expect to make a compromise.
Hello. Come on.
You can't move in just yet.
We've got a lot more to do. Let's keep moving.
Okey doke, let's go.
Travelling around the country as I do, it's fascinating to see how its landscape is constantly evolving.
Over 2,500 acres of English countryside are now devoted
to an area you might be surprised to know is wine farming.
That's an increase of nearly 50% in just four years.
416 vineyards are now spread throughout our landscape
and it's expected that within eight years, we'll be producing around five million bottles of wine a year.
One of the producers leading the charge is Hampshire's Wickham Vineyard.
I'm here to meet wine maker William Biddulph.
-So, Denise, here we are.
-What grapes are being grown here?
We've ten varieties.
We have six white and four red.
Pinot Noir, that a lot of people will recognise.
We have Dornfelder, Reichensteiner, Schoenenberger...
-Some very German sounding wines.
-They're German sounding because
we are very northerly as a vegecultural region
and we need to plant varieties that can cope with less heat.
These varieties can cope with that
but we still need as much sun as we possibly can and not too much rain
cos of course vines do suffer from various diseases, various moulds,
which we do have to control.
It's a delicate balancing act, but nature has been kind this year.
This is before flowering. You see there are no little stamens there.
Then after flowering, you get what looks like a bunch of grapes.
I've heard there's a process called bud rubbing.
Bud rubbing is an ongoing job we do through the growing season
-which I hear you want to take part in.
-I'd love to.
Bud rubbing is the process of removing the shoots from the bottom of the vine.
This is done to encourage and concentrate growth from a single stem.
If you have a look down here and we have these shoots
which are not meant to be there.
We have to just rub around the trunk like this and all the knobbly bits
and then you're flicking off something large like that.
Flick that off, it won't hurt.
Get rid of all of it.
With the job done, it's time to test the fruits of our labour.
Here we have a little bit in the glass.
Never fill the glass too full so we can swirl it in the glass.
Here we are.
Swirl the wine.
You're right, I feel the anticipation.
What an amazing aroma.
Light and crisp.
The smell of the wine should lift you. Your shoulders should be lifted.
You should think to yourself "Yum, this is nice."
I don't think I'll have a problem with that.
Shall I have a taste, ready for my yum?
Yeah, I didn't do any of that but it's yum. I agree!
Given that Hampshire is so ideal for grape growing,
our house hunter Jill could soon be planting some vines of her own.
As the day draws to an end in the Hampshire countryside,
Chris and Jill mull over the properties we've shown them so far.
What did you think of the thatched cottage?
It was really chocolate box, stunningly beautiful.
I think downstairs was really good. The upstairs area was disappointing.
The whole fandango of going through to the bathroom was a bit weird.
It was beautifully pretty but perhaps we would compromise the beauty
if we were able to find something with more space?
I agree with that.
And there'd need to be a compromise on the price as well.
What about the ivy-clad cottage?
My first impressions, walking up to it, were really very positive.
I loved the balance of the house, the look of the house.
The big question is,
what do you think of the big, green box at the back of the garden?
I can think of a lot worse things to have at the back of a property.
-I'm quite warmly disposed towards that property.
I'm very warmly disposed towards it.
We'll see what the next ones bring, but that's a good 8 out of 10.
Retired couple Chris and Jill have been too busy settling into their Hampshire lifestyle
to look for their dream property
but now they're ready to take the plunge and have enlisted our help.
Coming up, Jill is taken aback...
It is beautiful.
How's that? And there's more.
This is a real big kitchen. A grown-up kitchen.
It's the start of another day's property searching with Jill and Chris
and we always knew that their £500,000 budget was going to be under pressure in Hampshire.
I have to say, I'm impressed by how willing they are to compromise so far.
Today, we want to go that extra mile to give them everything they want.
For our first property of the day,
we're off to Finkley a small hamlet just two miles from Andover.
Finkley is a small rural community surrounded by acres and acres of pretty farmland,
much of which Chris and Jill will be able to walk through.
In the nearby former Saxon village of Smannell there is a little church and pub boasting good food.
The property I'm showing them is an extended Victorian lodge.
It's clear that the two of you like properties with character
so, today, instead of the chocolate box, we've gone for something a little bit different.
-A very substantial Victorian property.
-It looks very interesting.
There's a lot more to it. It's been extended about 20 years ago
so it reaches quite far back.
At the end of the house when we get to the garden...
Look at that, she's excited already.
Lots of flexibility in here so let's go have a look.
Right, straight into a reception room.
This should give you an idea of the substance of this property.
It's beautiful, I love this fireplace. Isn't that fantastic?
It's really lovely. Yeah, it's a good size room.
It's lovely actually, very, very nice.
It's also a room that has lots of possibilities.
Many doors leading off this one central hub of the house.
So much choice, I'm going to leave it up to you.
-Where would you like to go first?
-How's about that one?
-Good choice, I couldn't have chosen better myself.
It's the kitchen behind this door.
-That's why it's such a good choice.
I think this is a great shape for a kitchen but what do you think?
I agree, it's square so it enables you...
That's a nice table size area.
Lovely bench under the window here, looking out into the garden.
You can have a sneaky peek at what's to come when we get out there but you're impressed already.
Business side of the kitchen. It's got lots of cupboards.
It fulfils everything we need.
Jill will be delighted to know that next to the kitchen, there's a utility room
which I'm sure she could make much use of.
Also off the reception room is a study and a dining room with large patio doors out to the garden.
I'm keen to show off the fabulous room in the newer part of the house.
We're in the extension to the property. A family bathroom here,
stairs, which we will come back to.
First of all, yet another door which leads to yet another reception room.
-It's a lovely room.
-It's a good size, isn't it?
-That's a good size.
With again beautiful views of the garden.
You have French doors on to the garden.
Spoilt for choice, I think.
It really does use the garden views well.
I think it's so flexible this room,
it works well as this living room or drawing room
-Could even be a library.
-Exactly. You've got a wonderful place to sit.
-Lots of light coming in.
-I like this room.
I like the fact it's actually away from the kitchen
so if you wanted quiet space, this would be the room to come to.
This new extension has provided fabulous extra space
but it does mean there are now two staircases and the first one leads up to just one bedroom.
The current owners tuck themselves away at this end of the house,
in the extension, and use this as their master suite.
-Good, it's very light.
-It's a lovely size room, isn't it?
-Very light with all of these windows.
Although you don't want one, there's an en suite.
-It's just over there, go and have a look.
-What do you think?
-It's a good size.
A very good size bathroom. Nice roll-top bath.
Everything you could possibly want really.
It's great that they are being really positive
but Chris and Jill are so polite that I'm not sure I can gauge their true feelings about this house.
The second staircase is off the sitting room
and leads up to a single room and a double room with an en suite shower,
which will be good for when their children visit.
The crowning glory with this property has to be the garden.
I can't wait to see Jill's face.
Finally we get you out into this delightful garden.
It's absolutely beautiful out here, isn't it?
It is stunning. Isn't it?
This is someone who loves gardens who's put this together. It just...
-Bowled over by this.
-It complements the house beautifully.
-Jill's bowled over.
Somebody's put a lot of thought and effort into the planting here.
We've even got a ready made vegetable patch.
-All in all, there's half an acre here.
It's a wonderful size.
It's just about ideal.
The garden. Is it enough to swing the house as well?
-I'm not sure but let's investigate the vegetable patch first.
Isn't this wonderful, Jill?
This is amazing. To have a ready made vegetable garden is just...
I didn't expect to find anything like this at all.
It's so beautifully done. It feels just right for you.
It's ideal. Absolutely ideal.
You're not forgotten either, Chris, you've got the double garage there.
Power, water in there. You can spend many an hour toiling away looking at classic cars.
Perfect and from down here,
that's the nicest view of the house we've seen. It's really beautiful.
-So, the garden's bowled you over.
The biggest question of all is how much you'd have to pay to make this yours.
It's guess the price time.
Guess the price time.
This is a lot of house.
It's in a beautiful area with this fantastic garden.
I'd imagine it has to be something in the order of £570,000.
I think it's definitely at the naughty end of the budget.
I'd go a little bit less, I'd say £550,000.
550. At that level, you could still afford it
-but it may be pushing the boat a little bit.
How would you feel about it then to find out
that it's actually on the market for £525,000?
-Well, that's beat our expectation.
-That seems on first appearance to be a very good price.
It does, that seems to be very good value I think.
I think so too. I think that might make you feel about it differently.
I think it might!
Come on, off you go and start thinking,
plotting what you're going to grow in this garden.
What a great surprise.
At £525,000, it's substantially cheaper than they expected
and Chris and Jill did say they can go beyond their £500,000 budget.
There's a study that would make an ideal library,
three bedrooms that include two en suites,
a staggeringly beautiful garden with a ready made vegetable patch
and a double garage for Chris's sports car.
-So this is the study?
-Yes. I think this would probably be
-the ideal place to put the library.
-This would make an ideal library.
The property is a little bit of an enigma for me.
It's very impressive. It looks very nice when you enter it.
The whole of the downstairs works very well.
I got a little bit lost with the upstairs, having two staircases.
I think this garden is ideal. It's just superlatively planted.
It's got so many wonderful things about it.
The fact that we have a little kitchen garden as well is just the icing on the cake.
Let's see if we can get Jill out of the enchanted garden.
I was worried that you'd be there forever - it is beautiful.
-It certainly is.
-We haven't finished yet.
-There's more to do and there's the mystery house.
I know Jill is particularly keen on arts and crafts,
so we're taking her to a unique Hampshire treasure that she should love.
Whitchurch Mill around 12 miles north of Winchester, is Britain's
oldest silk mill still weaving within its original building.
Stephen Brier has come to show them around.
Built on the River Test in 1800,
Whitchurch Mill is now a working museum.
It produces high quality silks for historic houses, interior designers
and costumes for the film industry, including outfits worn by
Kate Winslet, Nicole Kidman and Judi Dench.
The silk industry moved from London to Hampshire in the 17th century
because of cheaper labour in the countryside and it being perfectly
placed on the main trading route between London and Southampton.
Well, this is our winding frame.
We use this for winding silk on to bobbins
which is the first part of the process of producing fabric.
We'll need many hundreds of these to produce the warp which is the length of the fabric.
And how much silk can you get on each bobbin?
-Would you believe it's eight miles.
The next step in this process involves putting the bobbins on to a wooden frame called a creel.
The thread is then passed through a reed,
wound around a drum and moved to the loom to weave it into fabric.
In the mill's heyday, about 18 people would have worked here,
and the techniques used today are much the same as those used then.
The process involves moving the shuttle across the loom,
weaving the fill yarn through the width of the silk thread,
and beating it tight to create the finished material.
Silk is a natural protein fibre, made by unravelling
the cocoon of the silkworm before the adult moth emerges.
And how long would somebody spend on a loom like this each day?
Probably eight or 12 hours a day,
and they'd only weave about two metres a day, if that.
That's incredible. Because it's all so fine?
Absolutely, that's the very reason, yes.
And very often they were paid on a piece-rate basis,
and fined for any wastage.
So, to prevent wastage, they would employ their children
-to pick up waste yarn and eat it, so they weren't fined.
Yes, eat it. All good protein.
The final property we're taking them to is the mystery house.
Chris and Jill have asked for a place with character,
so how will they deal with contemporary?
Shipton Bellinger is a quaint village with a mixture of brick, stone and thatch houses.
It's surrounded by farmland,
which should inspire Jill to carry on growing her own fruit and vegetables,
and the local pub opposite the property is known for its warm welcome.
I'm taking them to this Grade II listed former school
with a period exterior, but you shouldn't judge a book by its cover.
It's mystery house time, and this one will have a real impact on you.
-Here it is. It's an old, schoolhouse, a Victorian schoolhouse.
-It's very attractive.
-Now, how do you feel about living
in a converted Victorian schoolhouse?
I don't think that would worry me two hoots.
It's a long time since I've been in a school.
This has great character and it's an historic piece of the community.
But for all its character and history, you'll be surprised
-by the interior. Let's have a look.
-In you come.
-Goodness, this is huge!
-It is modern.
Modern, yes, throughout this property.
It's a bit bare in here at the moment.
We're not anti-modern, not anti-modern at all.
We're actually...we have an idea of what we might like,
-but we are, genuinely open minded.
Well, this is something that I think will really
test how open-minded you are. Come this way.
Welcome to the living room.
-Now this, presumably, had been the old school room.
It's great, I love that door.
Aren't they just fantastic?
That door was the old entrance into the school.
Let's go into the room, so you can see it better.
There's a very large wall.
-You spotted that already! I thought you might...
Yes! That's what we were thinking.
It's very different to the cottages and separated rooms.
-I think we'd probably change it quite quickly!
Well, I don't mean a change it, but we'd get some old furniture in here.
And I mean we've got a wood-burning stove, so get everything in round here nice and cosy.
But, open-plan, I actually like open-plan.
I think Jill is less sure about it.
I do like to be able to close doors on clutter and things like that and...
Just another area that you can go to if you wish to be on your own.
There's definitely options with this property
and there is one extra special thing about this room - look up there.
-What... what is it?
-Well, exactly. It can be opened up.
You'll see when we go upstairs,
but I think it could be opened up and turned into a galleried area.
-Ah, like a minstrel's gallery?
-Ah, that's interesting.
All right, let's keep going.
This property has the most contemporary interior of all of our houses,
and it continues in the dining room, which leads on to a really impressive kitchen.
Come in. Is this kitchen big enough for you?
-Come on in and have a good look, Chris.
It is, it really is huge.
-I mean, this is stunning.
This is a real big kitchen, a grown-up kitchen.
More ovens than you can shake a stick at.
I'm completely shell-shocked by just how much kitchen there is.
-Too much for you, perhaps?
-Oh, I don't think so.
-No, you can never have too much kitchen.
I think, from what we saw of the outside, I'm really quite
surprised, shocked, but pleasantly surprised and shocked,
by the Tardis that it appears to be becoming.
-Let's see if this house can deliver, shall we?
The show-stopping kitchen seems to have hit the mark
but I can't judge if they're falling in love with this house or not.
Now, up here there are four bedrooms with this property.
One is just behind me, and the family bathroom.
But, we're going to start with this one through here.
-Clearly, it's a child or teenager's bedroom at the moment.
But, do you remember downstairs, in the huge living room?
-With the galleried area.
So this is where we are now, and, if you could give up one
of the bedrooms or were minded to, then this is the space I think you could open up.
Ah, I see. Absolutely.
Right, let's find some of the other bedrooms.
Moving down the landing, there's the third bedroom,
which has the beauty of an en suite bathroom
and that leaves just one more room.
-The final bedroom, the master.
-It's a huge room.
-It has a nice, clean feel to it.
-It really is, and we use this phrase sometimes,
but it's pretty much a blank canvas. You can come in and you can easily imagine it
without the current owner's furniture, so you can start to think how yours would fit in.
And, it does come with en suite.
I don't think you have to compromise that much inside the house.
-But, I may as well prepare you, you will have to compromise a little outside.
-So, let's see what you could do with it.
This is the bit I'm dreading, because I know Jill really wants
a large garden in which to grow fruit and veg.
So, I did prepare you, the garden is relatively small, but it's well-formed.
-It's what you could do with it, I think.
-It's a delightful garden, it's lovely.
You'd need to keep this as a flower garden, I think.
It would be quite difficult to try and doing any significant vegetable gardening here.
But this is the garden that comes with this property,
and it has to all be taken into consideration.
It makes a statement? Beautiful? But is it the property for you?
It may be dependent on the price.
I suspect it's on... the top side of our budget.
-I would plump for 540,000.
I think it's probably worth even more than that, so I would say 550?
This property is on at 570,000.
Right, I can't say I'm surprised,
because I think it has been done so beautifully.
It's a stunning property.
It's making you think. You should go and immerse yourself in that dream property
-a little bit longer before we hurry off to make some decisions.
-I'll see you later on.
BOTH: Thank you.
At £570,000, the mystery house is the most expensive property
we've shown them, but they have said their budget can be stretched.
For top money, they would get a massive lounge,
a superb kitchen which blew them away,
and four bedrooms, one of which could be opened up to provide a mezzanine level over the lounge.
My favourite part of the house has to be the old school room.
I'd never have imagined, looking at the outside of this place
that an old, quaint village school, with all of that stone
on the outside, could look anything like this inside.
I think it shows tremendous vision.
It's just such a beautiful space.
You call it a mystery house, and, boy, you really delivered. It's...
I mean, from the outside to the inside, is such a contrast.
I feel like the naughty girl sitting outside the headmistress's office.
But, no, it's just Chris and Jill I'm waiting for.
Right, that's it, we've seen all of the houses now.
Time for you to sit down and have some time to mull it over.
A lot to mull.
Chris and Jill's journey is coming to an end.
They've now seen all four properties and there's plenty to think about.
Chris and Jill have been very expressive in their reactions to the properties
we've shown them, but I feel they haven't given everything away.
There was a lot going on in their minds they didn't share.
But now, it's decision time,
time to find out what they were really thinking.
-Here you are. You've found somewhere nice and quiet, haven't you?
To sit down, think it all over, we've seen a lot of properties,
and this journey for the two of you has been almost 30 years and two days in the making, hasn't it?
Now, we started with the thatched cottage,
And that had a lot of charm, didn't it?
It was stunningly beautiful. That lovely sun room and the new kitchen.
It had been done really sensitively.
There was the odd downside, and that's when we went upstairs - only one bathroom
and our guests would have to walk past the bedroom.
-The ivy-clad cottage. That was very different.
-From the minute I saw it,
I thought, "That's great."
Somehow, the entrance just drew you towards the cottage.
It was like a little journey, inviting you to go and see it.
The thing that, for me, did it was that the downstairs was good
but the upstairs was equally as good
-and we had an opportunity for...
which was actually a really nice space.
We then went to the Victorian lodge.
For me, although it had the space, I wanted to love it, but I didn't fall in love with it.
The upstairs, it didn't grab me.
-The garden was absolutely perfect, it was beautiful.
But, you buy a house to live in a house, not to live in a garden.
Well, finally, we brought you to the mystery house.
I think it was certainly impressive from the outside, wasn't it?
Yes, but that didn't prepare me in any way, shape or form, for that beautiful hall.
-It is a stunning room.
-What about the kitchen, that was really impressive, wasn't it?
It was so impressive. It was so spacious.
Beautifully kitted out with everything you could possibly need.
I mean, it was just wonderful.
As we wandered round the properties,
at times it was quite difficult to gauge your true reaction.
You were very expressive, but I think you were taking time to consider.
But, having had this conversation, I now have a pretty good idea of which one was your favourite.
But, please, confirm it for me.
I think, for us, it was the ivy-clad cottage. It just felt right for us.
What it did was...tugged at the heartstrings.
-And I think we both felt the same thing.
-Will you put an offer in?
-I think we very well could.
-I think we probably could.
I mean, we're ready to do it.
If we think it's the one that really does ring the bell,
there's no reason to waste any further time.
-You've taken us perhaps a little bit further along the journey.
-So, if it's the one for you, then very soon you could be moving in to the ivy-clad cottage.
I'm so pleased to have been on this journey with you.
It's been great fun spending time with the two of you
and I really do hope it's not too much longer before
-you're moving to the country.
-Thank you very much.
Chris and Jill have been yearning to escape to the country for such a long time.
The children have left home, they've retired from their jobs,
now they're ready to start living life just for themselves.
We started this property search with a long list of criteria,
but essentially it's all about the feeling.
It looks like we've found them a place that feels like home.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
Chris and Jill returned to the Ivy Cottage with a view to putting in an offer,
but it proved too difficult to extend the kitchen.
So, their search continues for their dream property.
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