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Today, I'm treading the ancient cobbles of England's smallest city,
along a road which claims to be
one of the oldest complete residential streets in the world.
Why am I here? I'm on a mission to find the perfect Escape To The Country.
On today's show, I'll be helping a couple relocate their family
from urban sprawl to rural beauty.
Coffee and croissant out here, I see myself already. Yes.
My aspiring country-dwellers will be viewing a selection of fine country homes.
It's somewhere to be very proud of.
Yes, and I can see being very pleased.
And there's a mystery house. But will any of the properties match their expectations
of grand country living?
Today, I'm in Somerset and this is Vicar's Close
in the small but perfectly formed city of Wells.
Vicar's Close was finished back in 1363
and was made up of 42 small one-up, one-downs
to house the 42 members of the cathedral choir.
It was thought that by keeping all the young men close to the cathedral
they wouldn't be tempted by the sins of the outside world.
Today it's still home to the cathedral's choristers.
Not such a bad deal, is it?
But don't worry. If you're not a bassy baritone or dulcet tenor
Somerset could still provide a harmonious escape to the country.
Tucked away in the left-hand corner of Britain,
Somerset is bordered by Devon and Dorset in the south
and is the northern gateway to the West Country.
Tourism is an important £966 million industry,
with the spectacular land formation of Cheddar Gorge,
the largest gorge in Britain,
bringing in 500,000 people a year,
all helping to top up the tourist till.
Sheep and dairy farming, however, are still integral to the economy
in this mostly rural county which produces some fine and tasty cheeses.
Herds are spread across the diverse landscape
from the dramatic scenery of Exmoor National Park
to the Somerset Levels, featuring Glastonbury Tor.
And it's on these grazing pastures
that one entrepreneurial farmer gave birth to the Glastonbury music festival,
an annual pilgrimage for the 180,000 ticket holders.
Over the past year, property prices in Somerset
have fallen more steeply than in other counties
which are closer to London.
This, combined with the county's really good schools,
which include a number of cheaper fee-paying schools,
makes it an ideal location for families wanting to escape the urban sprawl.
So if your family is thinking of relocating to Somerset,
take a look at some of these properties which are on the market right now.
If you have £1.5 million to blow,
take a look at this six-bedroom family home in East Coker.
Built of local stone and boasting beautiful timber beams,
it's also a house that knows how to pamper,
with an impressive indoor pool and a striking sauna.
Alternatively, £550,000 would buy this three-bedroom modern house
in West Bagborough.
Despite the contemporary feel, it's peppered with period features
and has 3.5 acres of gardens.
If only period charm will do,
and you're looking to spend £385,000,
this three-bed home in Hurcot is up for grabs.
Forming the wing of an old farmhouse,
much of the character has been retained and there's one resident that finds it very cosy.
We've seen what Somerset has to offer.
But what will today's buyers bring to the table? Let's meet them.
Our buyers today are solicitor Richard and wife Helen.
They live in Watford with their three children,
William, Freddy and Araminta.
Their move to Somerset is driven by the new schools they've chosen
in a bid for a good standard of education.
All three of them are going to be changing schools.
We want to help improve their education.
The oldest one, William, is going into senior school
and we want to be on hand to take part,
to see everything that they get involved in.
Having sold their family home of 15 years in Spring 2008,
they're currently living in their own buy-to-let cottage
in the thick of it all.
We are a little apprehensive, going into the country.
But I do think that the loss of the noise, traffic and pollution
will be such a positive thing in our lives, it'll be well worth doing.
In a slow market, there aren't a huge number of properties available.
But after a two-year search and having viewed almost 40 properties,
what is it that's causing so much difficulty?
We're looking for five bedrooms, four to five bedrooms,
two or three reception rooms,
a nice big kitchen/breakfast room again.
To be able to sit down together,
to have the children doing things but not on top of each other.
One little extra I would like, on a domestic front,
would be a laundry room.
By that, I mean a room that's actually upstairs
so that you don't have to keep ferrying all the clothes from five of us
down the stairs, through the main house and out to a utility room.
On top of this, they're looking for an office for Richard as he works from home.
And as Helen's mum will be coming to stay for extended periods,
they require an annexe for her.
Finally, as a competitive cyclist,
there are six bikes of Richard's to take care of.
It's very cramped in here.
There's no space for servicing. It's open to the elements.
It's damp, it's not terribly secure.
So the new house that I'm looking for
will have secure storage for the bikes.
That is quite a list. On top of that, they're looking for a paddock
where the children can kick a ball
and they can keep a few chickens or even alpacas.
The house we're looking for, I'd very much like a period property.
I love the Georgian period with large sash windows,
things are symmetrical, high ceilings,
period features such as the cornicing and fireplaces.
That would be my ideal.
Having already sold up, they're in a strong buying position.
How much money is there to play with for their move?
If we found a house that ticked all our boxes,
yours as well as mine,
then the budget would be £750,000.
Helen and Richard have been searching for their perfect home for almost two years.
Now the pressure is really on.
The children are starting school in September and they need to relocate in a few months.
What do we have to find to make this dream come true?
Well, behind me there is Wells Cathedral.
A wonderful period property, just one of the long list of criteria we need to fulfil.
They also want four to five bedrooms,
about two acres of land for alpacas and chickens.
We need an office for Richard, an annexe for Granny, a laundry room upstairs
and all of that for £750,000.
Hmm. I'm starting to realise why they haven't found their dream home just yet!
Whilst William will be attending boarding school,
the younger children will be in a day school just outside Shepton Mallet.
Richard and Helen don't want to be more than a 20-minute drive away.
We're focusing our search just to the south of Shepton Mallet.
Over two days, I'll be taking them on a tour of grand country homes.
I'll be keeping quiet about the price tags until they've given the properties the once-over.
The journey will end with the mystery house,
which I can guarantee will give them plenty to think about.
Hello, Helen, Richard. Thank you for bringing me to wonderful Somerset.
A great choice of county. You're from Watford. Why have you chosen here?
We're bringing the children down, we've chosen schools, so we're following them down.
But you have been looking here for quite a while.
We have indeed. About 18 months, overall.
Not found it yet. That's why we're here.
We've got wonderful properties to show you.
You are quite specific on your criteria, though!
We've got a lot to cover, but a great budget as well.
-Are you ready?
-We'll go look at some houses
-and at the end there's the mystery house.
Richard and Helen's budget of £750,000
will have to stretch a long way to accommodate all their needs.
Ideally they're looking for a period property with four or five bedrooms,
an upstairs laundry room for Helen,
an office for Richard, an annexe for Helen's mum,
and a paddock for recreation and keeping chickens or llamas.
What would you say is the main obstacle why you haven't found somewhere already?
-I think because we're making this a move for life.
And so we are being quite particular and quite fussy
but it's because we don't want to make a mistake
and find that in five years' time,
actually we should have been six miles further north or west or whatever.
'So location is crucial, in which case we'd better get it right.
'Our first house is in North Wootton,
'three miles from Shepton Mallet
'and a 20-minute drive from the children's school.
'This place is every inch of an idyllic Somerset village.
'but it is no more than a collection of farms and desirable homes
'popular with Bristol and Bath commuters.
'The house we're viewing is an older style property
'that has been extended in recent years.'
-What do you think?
-Very, very pretty, actually.
Very sweet, nice garden.
It's got a lot of history to it.
Some of it dates back to 1600s, about 1603.
-Part of it used to be a cow shed.
-As long as the cows have moved out!
-They've moved out
and I think you'll be very impressed with the way it looks like now.
I think you will be pleasantly surprised. Let's take a look.
-Pretty good for a cottage, huh?
-It is very good, yes!
-I think you'll be even more surprised if you lead the way through there.
-This isn't cottagey at all!
-I thought you might say that.
-There's certainly quite a bit of room in here.
-Wow, very much.
-Very bright, isn't it?
-You wouldn't think this from the outside, that there would be this much space inside.
-They're something you're keen on, the Georgian feel?
-Yes, and the fact that you can see out.
You've got those views taken in very well.
Yeah, I'm quite impressed.
I think you'll be even more impressed as we walk through and round.
Oak floor. They've kept some lovely features, like the fireplace.
But it's not just here, turn around...
-That's very good.
-Oh, I like that.
It's beautiful - open-plan, but it's discreet.
Overall it's a little small from what we were after.
-We're looking for an office as well for me.
-If this is it, it's not enough.
I'll find you some more, then!
This could be like Alice in Wonderland. There's a little door over there.
Yet another surprise for you.
Oh, wow. Goodness!
-This is superb!
-It's fantastic, isn't it?
-Yes. Very unexpected.
I can see family living in the other side, and this being grown-ups.
This beautiful house is certainly spacious and we haven't forgotten the other rooms
on their wish list. Off the dining area is a study for Richard.
And off the entrance hall is a laundry room for Helen,
but sadly for her, it's on the ground floor.
With that all covered, it's time to head upstairs.
Up here I think you've got a bit more of that cottagey feel,
-you can feel the age of the building on this side.
-Yes, the ceilings are lower.
-The ceilings are low,
-it's a little bit wonky walls.
-You've got the beams.
That said, there are five bedrooms, four of which are doubles
-and this is example of the amount of space you get in them.
-It's a good size.
-It is. Very pretty.
Dual aspect - I like that.
-This could be one of the children's rooms or a guest room.
-Yes, I think so.
-Or our room.
-Well, I've got something slightly better in mind for you two.
-If you like this, you'll definitely be impressed with the room I have for you.
The other bedrooms next door aren't quite so generous
but they are beautifully decorated and all have a lovely cosy feel.
En route to the master are the bathing facilities.
-And take a look at your family bathroom.
-That's very sweet.
-Yeah, all in there.
-It is sweet.
That will do for the children but what we need is a bathroom just for you. Take a look in here.
That's more like it!
Yes, definitely more like it.
OK, very generous.
Got everything in.
I love this house, it answers every question. And the final question is about where you two will sleep.
Let's have a look.
-Through here is the bedroom which makes that really an en suite bathroom.
-That's very pretty, isn't it?
-Yes, double aspects.
-Look at those views.
-There is built-in storage along here.
-And it opens out onto something quite spectacular.
Let's have a look.
-a very unique and stunning addition to this property.
Isn't it just? Look at that view, Glastonbury tor, straight through!
In fact you can see that from so many of the rooms here.
Yes, coffee and croissant out here, I can see myself already, yes!
I think champagne breakfast!
While we're here, it's a chance for us to talk about
-the amount of land the comes with this house.
You both think it's a great and generous house,
but your land boundary, you can see clearly here, is this fence.
-It is the fence?
Yeah, very. I think very disappointing.
What are you looking for?
Um, well in this plot, I'd say we would want that paddock.
The local farmer owns this land here.
-The current owners have already bought a little bit extra land.
So there's always the option, over time, to re-negotiate. But land is expensive.
We haven't quite finished finding somewhere for your mother.
-See that there, that garage?
-A generous space yet again.
You can convert it.
The land might not be as much a they're looking for, but they could talk to the local farmer
about renting some. The double garage, with connecting storage area, is a fabulous space
that could be converted into either an annexe for Helen's mum,
or an office away from the family house, for Richard.
-It's a very beautiful and neat garden.
-It's about a quarter of an acre that you do get, and you can have a lovely vegetable patch.
Let's just have another look at the house.
It's a gorgeous property from the outside.
-But the big question is, how much is it worth?
-I would say 700.
I would say it's very, very attractive and we're being picky about what we're after
and so I think it's got a higher price tag.
It's on the market at 749,950.
I was more correct than you!
That's not a surprising price.
-It is an attractive property.
-Can it potentially be the one for you, though?
-There are compromises.
The land is there, and if that's to rent. Again, that's a suitable compromise.
You clearly have a lot to think about! A lot to discuss.
Go and have a wander around, see how you feel about it without me following you.
-I'll catch up with you later on.
At just under £750,000
this imposing family home is tucked just under their budget.
It has an open-plan living area,
a study for Richard, five bedrooms,
an option to rent more land
and a garage and storage area
that could be converted into an annexe for Helen's mum
or a study if Richard really did want to escape from the family home.
I thought this house was lovely.
It's very attractive, very pretty.
I love this family open room, this is exactly what we're looking for, for everybody to be included
and yet have space as well.
A very homely feeling inside the house.
It's a shame to move to such a rural location and to feel a little bit cramped.
There isn't really space for the children to kick a football in the garden.
-It's not 100%, but...
-It's nearly there.
-..it's got some very, very positive points.
-Yes, definitely. Beautiful.
-You found a place to put Granny yet?
Down the road!
-Well we've got more properties to look at so let's keep going.
Richard and Helen's move to Somerset will place them on the doorstep of historic Wells,
the smallest city in England.
They were keen to pay a visit, and their first stop off
is at one of the city's most prestigious addresses
where they are meeting up with local historian Bill Oak.
OK, well this is the bishop's palace.
-Why does it look like a castle than a palace?
-Well in the early 1300s
they had permission to build the wall to fortify it.
It's a gesture of symbolic power, rather than any problems.
The palace has been home to the bishops of Bath and Wells for 800 years.
Beyond the moat are 14 acres of gardens
and the pool which contains the underwater springs or wells, from which the city gets its name.
And in the far corner over there, St Andrew's well
in an area known as Scotland.
It's nothing to do with Scotland but you've heard the phrase "he got off Scot free"
well, there's a non-taxable area and this is it - Scot free.
It will be easy to spend a few hours here, but Richard and Helen are keen to explore the backdrop
and major focal point of this city - the cathedral.
Dating back to 1180, it's the oldest Gothic cathedral in England
-and Elsa is their guide.
-Hello, welcome to Wells Cathedral.
One of the best known architectural features are the scissor arches
which were constructed over 200 years after the cathedral was built
when evidence of subsidence appeared and it became clear the tower needed to be strengthened.
Everybody knows Wells by the scissor arches
and although there are other examples, these are the biggest.
Their beauty is awe-inspiring but Elsa is keen to show off
one of the best vantage points in the city - 250 steps high.
Go carefully through here.
-Here we are.
-Oh, my goodness!
Glastonbury tor, just in the distance there.
And that's always a good pinpoint - if you can see it, the weather's not too bad.
Thanks ever so much, Elsa, for showing us round your beautiful cathedral.
-It's a great pleasure.
'The next house is in Barton Saint David,
'five miles south of Glastonbury
'and a 25-minute drive from the children's school.
'The neighbouring village of Keinton Mandeville has a few shops
'and a pub, but above all it's a rural community
'offering peaceful village life.
'The house we're viewing is Grade II listed
'and it may just have the feel they're looking for.'
-Well, lovely village.
-Fantastic Georgian property, just for you!
Yes, it looks good.
It's certainly sizeable and there's a lot to this property.
This section we're looking at is the main house
and this is where I see you spending most of your time.
But there's more to this property.
-This section is actually the old mill.
The mill stream runs down there and the two were joined together at some point.
-So you've got extra living accommodation. Sound good?
-Sounds good so far!
-Let's go in and have a look. There's a lot to take in. It'll take us a while.
Come on through.
-As you'd expect, a big generous hallway.
But come straight into this room.
-Helen, is this what you've been dreaming of?
-Yes. Very big.
-What is it about this style of property,
this room, that's got such a big smile on your face?
It's what I've always hankered after
-and this has got incredible style.
Incredible features, too. We've got the sash windows. Kept all that.
-The shutters are working.
-Working shutters, yes.
A working fireplace as well.
It's got that Georgian feel, the high ceilings, big windows,
-the symmetry of it all, the squareness.
All things to make you nod and smile!
It gives you a lift, doesn't it, when you walk in.
You feel like you're walking taller.
It's somewhere, obviously, to be very proud of.
Yes, I can see being very pleased.
I can see where you two are going!
-It feels like a grand home.
-It is a grand house.
Fitting for your family.
What we wanted was presence.
That's one of the things we've said.
This has obviously got presence by the bucket-load.
By the bucket-load, indeed.
Let's look at the other side. Being Georgian, it's equally big on the other side.
Just across here. They've got lovely parquet floors, although underneath, it could be flagstone.
That could be an adventure for you to discover.
-As I promised, an equal size room the other side.
-I love it.
So we just have to make sure Richard's happy!
-We can make it work, can't we?
-What's this? Is this original?
-No, they put this in, the bookshelf. It's a lovely touch as well.
Or a potential alcove through to a room behind.
The lady's thinking along my lines!
Let's check out the room behind!
Ooh, she's fast!
-So behind that bookcase, you have your kitchen.
-Terrific, that's good. Positive.
-It is very good.
If we could knock through, make that the dining room,
that'll make very nice living accommodation.
There are lovely features. The range cooker is built into what was an inglenook.
Nice place to cook whilst still part of the family. You're not cut off here.
Not to disappoint Helen, the kitchen leads onto a handy utility room.
But if she's insistent on an upstairs option,
I do have a trick up my sleeve.
Lovely, light, airy and spacious up here.
But this room I have to show you
because it's one of the biggest bathrooms I've ever shown someone around!
-Look at the size of that!
-You could get a shower in here easily, couldn't you?
-You could. Or...
-A double shower or whatever.
-Or it could be your laundry room.
-Upstairs laundry room.
-Is this enough space?
-What you asked for.
-Certainly enough space.
It is. Yes, there's flexibility here.
-Flexibility and convenience
because it connects through to a lovely bedroom.
-It's a Jack and Jill bathroom. Entrance from two ways.
-Lovely. Very sizeable.
-Lovely view out of the window.
Bright. It's a lovely big tick!
You're just uber-happy about everything.
-This is what I was hoping for.
Let's keep looking.
'The main part of the house has four double bedrooms.
'Next door is the smallest, but has a large window.
'Next to that is a larger double with en-suite.
'The final bedroom
'is no disappointment. Light floods in and it has a surprise, too.'
This is a lovely example of another of the bedrooms.
Three of the rooms come with their own bathrooms, one of which is down here.
When I say they come with their own bathrooms,
they don't skimp on the space!
A huge bathroom!
Yes. Yes. I can see Minty, longer term,
not at the moment at seven, but it won't be long
before she'll want her own bathroom.
She'd be spoilt for choice, wouldn't she?
You've almost forgotten all your other requirements!
"Yeah, we're really happy."
What about grandmother?
Well, we know, you said already there's part two.
We should investigate.
I think you should be the one to do it. Open that door there.
Ooh, close by.
Bit of a surprise, hey?
This annexe housed in the old mill
could work brilliantly for when Helen's mum comes to stay.
She won't be cramped, either. There's a good-sized lounge,
a modern fitted kitchen,
a clean and tidy bathroom
and the bonus of two bedrooms.
And that's just the upstairs.
Heading downstairs is what I think could be Richard's domain.
There's a small room that's used as an office
and next door is a room which might suit Richard even better.
Much more your emporium!
Yes, definitely the kind of size I had in mind, yes.
In fact, you could take that wall down cos it's again plasterboard.
-And open up this whole section.
-Really have your kingdom!
-Yes! Very much so.
Next door is another large room which connects with the utility room and kitchen in the family house.
I reckon it would make a good play area for the children.
And I haven't forgotten Richard's other need.
Ah, somewhere for my bikes!
Absolutely. We're now into your back yard. Somewhere for your bikes,
-double garage over there.
-And two potting sheds here.
So you've got choices.
The possibilities with this house are endless.
There's the opportunity to reinstate a mill-wheel to generate power to sell to the National Grid.
Now, it's all been so positive, hasn't it?
But there's always a drawback. And this is your garden.
-It's about half an acre.
-Right. Which is fine for us
but I'm thinking about the children and football and it's not a garden that suits that activity.
-Talking about this manor, let's have another look at it.
Just remind ourselves what's at stake here.
-The land, but the house.
You're inside for an awful lot of time, aren't you?
So how much would you pay for it?
It's extremely attractive.
So I'm going to plump for quite over budget - 800.
800? I think 775.
It could help, though, if I tell you
it's on the market at £750,000.
-It certainly puts it on serious consideration.
You had such positive feelings about the interior and there's so much to consider.
Off you go. Wander round at leisure and I'll catch up with you later.
At £750,000, this handsome property is on the money.
It has the Georgian-style architecture that appeals to them,
four double bedrooms, an annexe for Helen's mother,
and the all-important study for Richard.
But will it be their "forever" home?
It has everything that we want.
It's got a separate flat for Helen's mother,
the office would be ideal for me.
Snug area for the children, outbuildings for the bikes.
No, I think it's not beyond the realms of possibilities.
I love the house. The house, the number of rooms, sizes of the rooms
and the grandeur of them were superb.
It was very impressive
Hi! Coming in for coffee?
You've moved in already? No, no. Coming out?
I know you've got a lot to think about after that house
-but we're not done yet.
-There's more to see.
'It's in everyone's interest to preserve and look after our countryside.
'When it comes to the environment, Somerset has an impeccable record.
'This is the county that recycles the most in Britain. Not only that,
'it's also found a way of turning a landfill site
'into an environmental haven for wildlife,
'as we're about to discover.'
-Hello, Frances. This is Helen and Richard.
She's the chief executive of the Carymoor Environmental Trust.
-So all of this is your domain?
-We're on the edge of an active landfill site here.
But we manage the site over there where they've capped off the landfill.
We've got 100 acres of landfill over there, where we've created a nature reserve.
'This 13-year-old project is unique,
'and was borne out of an idea by a group of environmentalists
'who were keen to put the land to a secondary use.
'The site has been divided up into different zones
'to create experiments to attract wildlife.'
-What would you attract here?
-You're on the edge of a butterfly site.
We've brought in lots of chalk to create these banks
to attract the wild flowers that attract different butterflies.
We've actually recorded 28 of the 57 species of butterfly
that are found in Britain.
'The site also has another purpose.'
We are an educational centre.
With the children visiting, we show them how people in other parts of the world live.
This is a replica of part of a shanty town in Cruz Bay, Sierra Leone.
It was built on site using materials that had come in to be land-filled.
It allows us to show to children that what we throw away
would be a resource for somebody somewhere else in the world.
The full size shanty town
would have about 6,000 people living in it.
They would have two toilets between them.
It's a real eye-opener for the children, to come and see this.
Hopefully, with centres like this and everyone doing their bit,
we can start to use our resources much more wisely.
It's a very important message.
'It's been a thought-provoking trip for us all.
'I'm sure Richard and Helen will bring back their children
'to appreciate the need to care for our environment.'
As the last of the sun melts into the sky,
Richard and Helen get the chance to assess the house search so far.
The thing I loved the most about the farmhouse cottage were the views.
-The surrounding hillside, the view up to Glastonbury Tor off the balcony...
-that was just fantastic.
-And from most of the rooms as well -
it wasn't as though it was just one area that had a view.
There was just so much space at the Georgian house -
-we're not going to be tripping over each other, are we?
-There's going to be space for everybody.
Undoubtedly. A lot of accommodation. I think it ticked an awful lot of boxes,
and they've both got the same problem -
-which is that the plot is not big enough. I'm hoping great things for tomorrow.
Richard and Helen from Watford are looking to relocate to Somerset
where they've chosen new schools for their children.
They have a budget of £750,000
but have an exhaustive list of requirements,
not least an annexe for Helen's mum.
So far, they've viewed two houses, and coming up, the mystery house
has a door with double benefits.
It's an original prison door.
-For keeping us in rather than out!
It might keep out mother-in-law, actually! She'll never get through there!
It's the start of another day's property hunting with Richard and Helen.
With their long list of criteria,
it was always going to be tricky finding the right property for their budget.
But after yesterday, it's clear that even with the right house,
land is still at the forefront of their minds.
So today, I think we need to tackle that head on.
'We're heading a little further east this morning,
'to the village of North Cheriton, 15 miles south of Shepton Mallet.
'At 45 minutes, it's the longest commute to the children's school
'but the property has the potential to be worth the compromise.
'Nearby Wincanton sits close to the Dorset border
'and is considered the gateway to Somerset.
'Back in North Cheriton, we've answered their calls for more land.
'So it makes sense that this is where we start.'
Now, after yesterday,
it's very clear that although the house is important, the land is too.
-Take a look around.
How does that suit?
-Space to kick a ball.
Space to ride bikes. Just what we want, really.
-The plot's much better.
-The plot is good.
We can fulfil your wishes there. Let's take a look at the house.
-There is a lot of it...
We'll go and explore.
-It also comes with that annexe there!
I think we've got a lot that will fulfil your criteria.
It hasn't got the grandeur. But it's all about compromise.
And you've picked up on the plot and the land!
That's the spirit, Helen!
It's all about compromise!
-But for now, let's get inside.
'So the land scores highly, but will they really be prepared to compromise?'
This is the official entrance to the house.
The owners come in another door, more like a boot room.
You have a downstairs cloakroom.
-And it does lead straight in to a lovely little snug.
It hasn't quite got that high ceilings feel to it,
but yeah, it's attractive.
-Attractive is good. Let's keep exploring.
Through here, a lovely little but cosy sunroom -
again giving you views of the garden.
-And the land beyond.
-I find this house continues to open up.
-Yes. That's much more the idea. Kitchen...
Decent eating area,
but more casual. You can see the children there having high tea.
Just through that door is the utility space.
You could have a downstairs laundry.
-See what other opportunities there are. So all you need now is somewhere to relax.
-You've got the snug, or you can come this way.
So through here you've got plenty more living space.
-I love these French doors.
They go straight out onto your little patioed area and your garden.
-Through here is enough space for a big dining table.
-That is large, isn't it? It doesn't have the space, does it?
It doesn't have the...elbow room.
I think it's just the three of us here and we're looking round,
and yet we're still all... not quite on top of each other
but just taking care of where we're going.
-But - we're at that issue of compromise, aren't we?
Let's have a look, and reserve judgement.
Open-minded. Right, we're heading this way.
'I don't think this house is grabbing their attention
'but it has lots to offer. There are five bedrooms over the next two floors.
'First stop is the family bathroom on the first floor.'
-Here we have a very generous family bathroom.
-Yes, much more generous.
-It's very practical.
And roomy enough, I was thinking, to be used as a laundry room.
-Because behind you here is all this cupboard space.
If it's really important to you to have an upstairs laundry.
I think it's a lovely bathroom as it stands, to be frank.
-I don't think I would interfere.
-Good! Compromise. Do the laundry downstairs!
Let's have a look at the master.
And the master bedroom.
Bright, roomy, built-in cupboards all the way round. Would this do for you?
-Yeah, I think so.
-I think you're right - it will do...
-It's not really blowing us away.
-Not grand enough?
It does come with an en-suite, if that helps. I don't know.
Let's have a look.
-This is nice.
-The en-suite is nice.
They're not skimping on the en-suite.
Cast-iron bath, separate shower.
That's more fitting.
There's elbow room.
Space, elbow room, land, space for Mum, office...
I can see why it's taken so long!
But I'm determined to get you to focus and work out where the compromise is
by the end of this journey.
'Next to the master bedroom are two further double bedrooms,
'and on the next floor, two more bedrooms that are connected.
'One is used as a study, but I have a better idea for Richard's needs outside.
'The fabulous cottage we caught a glimpse of earlier would be ideal for Helen's mum.
'There's a lounge, kitchen, cloakroom and two upstairs bedrooms.
'Next door is a garage, which I'm thinking Richard could convert into an office.
'The bikes haven't been forgotten, either.
'There's another outhouse ready to go.'
All in all, this property sits on about an acre of land.
You've got the half-acre paddock,
this lovely sloped garden here,
and this...could be yours.
-So, the land, the house, space for the in-laws...
-Potential for an office.
What's the price?
..I would say 675.
Um, I would say...
not a lot more. 685.
685. So a lot lower.
Actually, it's on the market at 749,950.
-So right at the top end of your budget.
-And you've obviously guessed a lot lower, so what do you feel?
Maybe we haven't given due credence to the paddock actually thrown in.
-As such. But...
-It's a central village location...
Have another wander round the house and see. Would you make that compromise on the house
and the land, to be in a great village -
-or does it need to be the other way round?
-Off you go.
Now they're thinking, yes, the land is important,
but it comes at a price, particularly in such a popular county as Somerset.
The £749,950 price tag came as a bit of a shock for Richard and Helen.
But it's a fantastic family home that caters to their needs.
A large family-style kitchen,
four double bedrooms with master en-suite,
a two-bedroom cottage for Helen's mum,
a garage that could be converted into an office for Richard,
and it sits on a one-acre plot
including a paddock providing plenty of space for all they have in mind.
I do like this open-plan bit. It's like the...
farmhouse cottage, isn't it - that open area we've talked about,
-being visible to each other and yet having space.
-I can see that working.
-What about the land? Do we need it?
Well, we're starting to think, aren't we? Um...
I don't know.
It's starting to put a big question mark over it.
It's a lovely house, but Helen did feel the ceilings were a bit low,
that some of the rooms were a bit dark,
with the cottagey-type windows.
It has raised a very big question mark
over how important the land element is for us.
And I have to say that at the moment I think we're both veering towards
losing the land actually within the plot
and concentrating more on the house.
-It's a lovely garden. Absolutely gorgeous.
I know you've enjoyed looking around this home, but it's not over yet.
-One more property to see.
-Ah, the mystery house.
The small town of Cheddar is proudly the birthplace
of what's turned out to be Britain's most popular cheese,
accounting for 51% of the UK cheese market.
There's only one Cheddar cheese dairy remaining in town,
so Richard and Helen are paying a visit
to learn more about cheddaring -
the traditional and unique process that sets this cheese apart from all others.
Well now, these are the pieces of Cheddar on the cooling table...
and Andy our cheesemaker has already started the cheddaring.
And by cheddaring,
what we mean is picking them up, turning them over,
and then piling them on top of each other.
The main reason that you're cheddaring and piling
is to squeeze more and more whey out of the cheese.
-OK. And other cheeses, you don't do this for?
No - this is unique to Cheddar.
So if you'd like to have a go...
-Do I get a job(?)
Good for an apprenticeship, maybe not a full job yet.
And finally, after it's all chopped up again and put into moulds,
the 25kg cheeses are laid to mature for 11 months
in a very special location just a five-minute walk away.
-So this is the "something special" I promised you.
It's the only Cheddar cheese that's matured in the Cheddar caves.
-Why here - why in the caves?
-Well, there are two main reasons -
one is that the temperature in caves is constant,
-so it was the earliest form of refrigeration...
..but also you have a very high humidity, which is great
when you're maturing a traditional Cheddar.
-And that really affects the taste?
-It really does.
-So, would you like to try some?
-I'd love to.
This cheese has been imitated the world over -
but to be an authentic Cheddar it needs to be made by hand,
with unpasteurized milk from the local area,
and matured in a traditional cheesecloth.
Some cheese to try. So if you'd like to break a little bit off with your finger...
-It's delicious, isn't it?
-Good. Well, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
We shall come back to your shop and buy some to take home! Share it with the children.
Sometimes on this show
you get the opportunity to walk around some truly exceptional properties.
The mystery house today is fun, quirky, unusual,
and it's certainly no exception.
I can reveal that the mystery house is in Bowlish,
a hamlet just outside Shepton Mallet
and only a ten-minute drive to the children's school.
The small market town made its money during the Middle Ages, when it had a significant woollen industry.
In the 19th century brewing became important,
with this old brewery being the first in England to brew lager.
Having the amenities of a town on their doorstep
would surely be a bonus for Richard, Helen and family.
Back in Bowlish, our mystery house is a fine Grade II listed home.
But will it have that all-important feeling they're so desperate for?
Now, this is all about your dream.
-A long-held dream!
How your family are going to live and how you want to move to the country.
For the mystery house, I wanted to show you a property where another family in your position came
-a long, long time ago, and set up their very own dream.
-And this is where they did it.
-Certainly very impressive.
-Isn't it just?
-Has it got the presence you're looking for?
-Yes, it's got presence.
This area, Bowlish, was where the Huguenots settled,
the silk artisans, the French artisans. You can see the French influence.
-You can, yes.
-In this property.
-We have a house to look at. Let's go inside.
-Come on in. It's very warm and rustic.
-Lovely, isn't it?
-Is it fitting in with your dream?
-Yes, I think so.
-So far. There's a bit more for you to show us.
-Yes, there's so much more.
Let's explore further. There's a lot to see.
One of the great things is the wonderful period features here.
-Into this room. Look at the Georgian windows, working shutters.
-Lots of character.
I love the big furniture they can fit in here. The room can take it.
-Very sturdy furniture.
-What about the layout, how it flows from the kitchen
but it is a separate space?
-Yeah, the flow is good...
-You've still got a table in there.
Yes, which is fine for suppers and breakfasts if there's only a few of you around.
So although it's not open plan,
you've got eating in both sides.
It's a working family home, isn't it?
You can feel the family living here.
The children are about the same age as yours. They've grown up here.
Come down a bit further, because I want to show you another impressive feature.
The back of that door that we could see from the outside. Look at that!
-Wow, that's huge!
Funny you should say that,
-because that is an original prison door.
-For keeping us in rather than out!
It might keep out mother-in-law, actually! She'll never get through there!
Richard, I feel you're going to be in so much trouble at some point!
But you're right, it'll keep a lot out!
It keeps the warmth in as well. Come on through.
And through here, more living space.
I know this was one of the things you wanted. Flowing through,
-space for the family to spread out yet be connected...
-What about this?
-This is working. Working very well.
You've got space, without being on top of each other, for everybody to do their own thing.
Yes. It's very, very nice.
'This house certainly has the grandeur they're seeking.
'And it has five bedrooms over the next two floors.
'The first floor has a family bathroom, which isn't massive -
'but the double bedroom next door has its own en-suite,
'which I'm sure Araminta would love.'
And here's the master.
-Is this more befitting of the lady of the manor?
-Huge, isn't it?
-I think so, yes. I could live in this.
-Although there isn't an en-suite, you're next door to the family bathroom.
'Upstairs again is a whole floor that could be dedicated to the children.
'They have the luxury of their own shower room,
'then there are three good-sized rooms they can fight over.
'But panic not, I haven't forgotten Richard's study or Helen's mum's requirements,
'which is next on our tour.'
Of course, there had to be more to this property.
Through here's the kitchen, but I want you to head that way.
So, discovery... Whoa!
-This is fantastic!
-Grandma's potting shed!
-Grandma's emporium, I think!
-Emporium is a better description!
She has her own bathroom out there, all this accommodation, kitchen,
-living room and a sunroom.
-And a patio.
-There's a garden out there.
'This is a real palace for Grandma.
'Upstairs is a beautiful bedroom for her too.
'But I think the other two bedrooms up here could be set aside for Richard's needs.'
-It's certainly plenty big enough.
Very light, spacious...
Have a knock at that wall. I think that could be taken down fairly easily,
opening up this space - providing you get the consent, it is Grade II listed...
You could open up this space. What a place to work!
It would be terrific. Very inspirational.
'Fantastic. That's Grandma and Richard well sorted.
'All that remains now is the outdoor space.'
Round here, just for you, Helen...
..a chicken coop already!
-It isn't bad!
-It's a nice sizeable garden
considering we are on the edge of a town.
With all that in mind, it's time to have another look at our property.
It's very grand, isn't it?
-It's quite large.
-It's large, it's grand, it's got presence!
Can you afford it, that's the question. How much do you think it's worth?
I think it's going to be rather pricey.
I would go for 775.
I think it's more than that.
I think it's going to be 799,950.
Da-da-da! She is spot on! A prize to the lady!
-I'm not joking!
-I don't believe that!
-You get a lot of house for your money.
-Two houses for your money.
-Delivers everything you're looking for.
It has been on the market for a while, and the price has dropped from 850.
-So it's dropped a little.
Right. Maybe a little bit more...
-You're a hard person!
-I am. I drive a hard bargain.
You do, but it's making you think that's the way to go.
Which is great. Go and have a wander around.
See how you'd fit your furniture in there if this was yours.
Work out how you'd find the extra money!
-I'll see you later.
Result! They love the mystery house. It's a fantastic house.
The point is, it's a family home, created from a dream,
and this could fit their very own dream.
There's no doubt this mystery house, just shy of £800,000,
has all the presence and grandeur they hanker for.
There's a family-style kitchen/diner,
five bedrooms, and an annexe for Helen's mum
which includes a large study area for Richard.
I can see this room being used a lot more than just the dining room.
You've got the kitchen at one end
and the sitting room at the other end with the snug.
You'll have people passing through all the time.
I can see using the laptop, reading the newspaper,
at the dining room table which we couldn't do before.
It's got everything that we asked for, except for the land.
Um, it's grand, it's got the high ceilings,
but there isn't the land.
I think maybe that we'd stressed the land as an aspiration.
I think you were testing us to see how key a requirement that was.
It's different. It has got an awful lot of character.
It is making us think very, very hard.
Definitely major food for thought.
DOOR CREAKS AND GROANS
-That's a solid door, isn't it!
So homely-looking from out here.
We've seen all the properties now.
The weather's cleared up. I hope your minds have cleared up!
-Time to make some decisions.
We've managed to fulfil the vast majority of Richard and Helen's requirements for their budget.
But will their search for perfection exist for £750,000?
Making their escape to the country has been a long journey for Helen and Richard.
It's time to see if they've made a decision.
Helen and Richard, it's been a two-year search for your dream home,
and over the last couple of days we've seen quite a lot of property.
-We started with the farmhouse cottage.
That was a little bit cottagey for you, but what did YOU think?
We went in... That open-plan area -
the sitting room, the dining room and then into the wonderful kitchen -
was just exactly what we were after.
The views were spectacular all around, with the Mendips
-and then up to Glastonbury...
It was a beautiful house in many ways, but unfortunately we felt
that it was sitting a little bit too tightly within its own plot.
-Well, what did you think of the Georgian house?
I'm sitting tall, I was happy.
I was very much at home in that house. I loved it.
It was a large, very imposing building. It had presence.
It was a house you could be justifiably proud of.
How did you feel about the outside space with that property?
Well, the outside, unfortunately, was where it did fall apart for us.
Again, it didn't really have open lawns
or open paddocks that the children could go out and play, and cycle...
By the end of the first day, it became very apparent
-that the outside space and land was more of an issue for you.
So, what did you think about the house with the land?
The house itself was a little disappointing.
We felt a bit claustrophobic.
It's probably a bit mean to say, but we're spending a lot of money.
To make that what we're looking for, we'd have to do a lot to it.
Well, there are a lot of... elements to your requirements,
and finding a property that could give you all that was always going to be difficult.
But - let's talk about the mystery house.
It was a good surprise, definitely.
Because I think what's started to happen
is that the land has become...
..something that we can think about over time.
It's become apparent to me, I think,
that the accommodation, where we're going to be - as a family with extended family - is important.
-And that's what we want to continue, this happy home.
Grandma would be very well accommodated!
-We'd never get rid of her!
Well, lots of opportunities, lots of properties.
Lots of options, which is what you want. But have you made any decisions?
The favourite house out of the properties you showed us was the mystery house.
So the decision is that we're going to go and have a look at that again.
Good. I'm glad we helped you along the journey a little.
That's what we love to do.
We're pleased we've helped you along your way.
It's been two years in the making!
Time is of the essence. With any luck, it won't be long before you make the move to Somerset.
-Thank you so much for everything that everyone has done.
It's been brilliant. It's helped us to focus, at a time when we need to.
-We really appreciate it. Thank you.
-Pleasure. Thank you.
Somerset is a wonderful county
of mystery, myths and legends.
Hopefully we've helped Helen and Richard to find their happy ending.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
The latest from Richard and Helen is that they did return to the mystery house,
but they've had an offer accepted on a Victorian property
on the outskirts of the small town of Frome.
If you would like to escape to the country
and need our help, please contact us through our website:
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