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I'm following in the footsteps of Queen Elizabeth I and 2,000 of her courtiers
whose lavish stately visit to one of this county's finest Elizabethan homes
is said to have close to bankrupt its owner, so where am I?
Why don't you join me in a moment on Escape To The Country to find out?
In today's show, I'll be helping a couple head out of town and put down some roots in the country.
We'll be throwing some light on their house-hunt quandary.
-Very nice. I like that.
-It's very different.
And our mystery house is somewhere they would have never expected.
Today I'm in Suffolk and this is Melford Hall.
With its dramatic skyline of tall chimney stacks and octagonal turrets,
it's one of the finest and greatest examples of Elizabethan architecture in the east of England.
Now its original owner, Sir William Cordell,
was a new man of his age and he was one of the most hospitable country gentleman in the county.
Although he was a Catholic, he did manage to find grace and favour with Queen Elizabeth I
when he threw a lavish reception for her and 2,000 courtiers on her first visit to this delightful county.
And there's still plenty to entice new visitors to this county today.
Suffolk is one of six counties that make up East Anglia
and covers 1,500 square miles,
but with a sparse population of under 700,000.
The gloriously remote Suffolk coast and heaths
avoids the hordes of tourists, but as a protected site,
provides a rich wetland habitat for wildlife to thrive.
Farming continues to shape the Suffolk landscape
giving way to those vast expansive skies, which so inspired our great 18th and 19th century painters
Thomas Gainsborough and John Constable,
both of whom were born here.
Suffolk's unspoiled countryside is dotted with mediaeval market towns
which prospered from its wool trade and have given way to some enticing historic properties,
including the Suffolk pink houses, characteristic of the county.
With a truly timeless feel,
Suffolk is a perfect place in which to seek out a peaceful lifestyle.
Constable, Gainsborough, Bob Hoskins, Ralph Fiennes
and the Formula One magnate, Bernie Ecclestone
are just some of the famous names who've come from or lived in Suffolk over the years,
and more recently the Suffolk Tourist Board had a very nice surprise
when they learned that multimillionaire entrepreneur, Duncan Bannatyne,
who used to live near Ipswich, has decided to dedicate himself to boosting the local economy.
And with friends like that,
I'd say that Suffolk is on to a very good thing.
There's certainly plenty here to offer potential buyers,
even if you don't have a millionaire's spending power.
For £365,000 this three-bedroom cottage
near Boxford has been stylishly renovated
to offer a cool simple interior using natural slate throughout,
and the garden has uninterrupted views over the Box Valley.
£585,000 will get you this three-bedroom contemporary barn in Crowfield.
There's a touch of luxury in the large bespoke kitchen and living room,
and there's top class accommodation for the horses
with a stable block and three and a half acres of land.
But for top-dollar country splendour,
there's this five-bedroom former rectory
in Fornham St Martin at £795,000.
The reception rooms retain grand Georgian proportions
and a stylish kitchen/breakfast room leads out
through French doors to the mature three-quarters of an acre garden.
Well, let's hope today's buyers find the inspiration they need
to make their escape to the country. Let's meet them.
Robin, an insurance underwriter, and Frances have lived
in their three-bedroom detached family home in Southend, Essex, for 25 years.
But now their two grown-up children have left home, they're ready for a fresh start in rural Suffolk.
The sort of lifestyle that we're dreaming of is...
Is going back in time where, you know, your neighbours knew you
and you knew them and it's just that community spirit that I feel that we've lost.
So we're looking for a village location
that's quiet and neighbourly and...
A nice rural environment, really.
Having overcome a serious illness, Robin is embracing this chance of a lifestyle change.
In 1996, I was first diagnosed with leukaemia.
Following five years of intensive treatment and chemo
and then a transplant, I've now had eight years of being in remission.
I've re-evaluated our lives and the challenges it's brought us.
We now know the time's right to move on and to seek out now a better life with retirement looming.
And live life to the full.
Yeah. The one thing we've learned, you have to live every day.
What features do they need in their dream home?
Ideally the detached type properties, minimum three bed.
Something which is open, spacious, with daylight to it.
I would say one of the absolute must haves is a kitchen/diner because it's a room that we use all the time.
And ideally for you, south-west backing?
Definitely. That's important.
And a garden, because she loves her garden.
And a good-sized garden.
And there are some important extras on their wish list.
I'd love to move to the countryside so that I could paint
and I'd love to have a room of my own, a studio
would be brilliant, but I don't know that we could afford that, but that's one of my loves.
One of our favourite rooms has always been the conservatory
with the added daylight it brings into the house,
it's something we would like - if possible - on moving.
They look forward to walks in Constable country and plan to get a dog,
but they still need links into London.
I currently work in the insurance market in London,
so I commute pretty much every day for the best part of an hour each way,
so I'd like to obviously be within reasonable distance of London for the point of view of commuting
and both our children are now in London, so likewise.
And two years of house searching has brought them no closer to finding their perfect home.
We haven't found our dream house yet because we...
Probably our expectations are quite high
and we want it to be for our retirement and somewhere very special.
I think that's pretty much it, really.
In terms of retirement, for me it's pretty much our last hopeful move, so it's about getting it right.
They need to know how much they can spend on their move,
so we've asked a local estate agent to value their home.
This is a beautifully presented three-bedroom detached house in a much sought after location,
and based on local market comparable evidence,
I would suggest an initial marketing price of £330,000.
I think we're both of the opinion that it seemed a sensible price.
The budget for the property we're looking for,
assuming it ticks all the boxes, is up to £450,000.
After two and a half decades living in the same place,
Frances and Robin are ready for a real lifestyle change
and they want this to be their last move so we have to get it right.
Now, key to their requirements is a light and airy house, it's got to have a minimum of three bedrooms,
a good-sized kitchen and lounge and a south-west-facing garden,
and they want all of that for £450,000.
Now, I think that is doable, but we'd better get going.
Our house search will be based around
Suffolk's county town of Ipswich,
which gives Robin an hour and a quarter's train commute to London.
In today's show, we'll be romping around three fabulous rural retreats here in Suffolk,
but before revealing the price of each, they'll be having a guess.
The last of the three is our mystery house, which pops up in a very surprising location.
-Hi, Robin. Hi, Frances.
-Nice to meet you.
Well, thank you for bringing me to a very windy and blustery Suffolk.
Not the best day, but it's not raining and, look,
we're looking for properties and it's a big move for you.
25 years in the same house!
It takes some thinking about. We've outgrown the house, haven't we?
-Much as we've loved it, you get to that point.
-You are ready for a big lifestyle change.
What is it about your current accommodation and area
that you want to get away from? What are you escaping from?
The rat race that's developed into the area we're in. It's just overgrown, really.
It's too busy, really, and we want a little more quietness and peace and tranquillity.
-You feel as if you're living in a town at the moment.
-That's what you want to escape.
You've been looking for a while, haven't you?
-Too long, really.
-Probably 12 to 18 months now.
Not always in the one area, we've been looking around generally at various parts of the country,
South, South East and the South East Anglia coast.
But, yes, it's something we haven't actually come to a conclusion where best to settle, really.
Suffolk's a great county and there's a lot here
and your budget - how much have we got to play with?
-That was the figure.
-A bit of room for manoeuvre?
-A bit of room.
-For a dream house, we can compromise.
-We'll just work longer!
-Work longer to enjoy the dream property.
A fair deal! We have fantastic houses to show you
and the mystery house, so I think we should get a move on.
-Let's get going.
-Let's do that.
So, for £450,000 they want their dream home in Suffolk to include...
We'd better take to the road.
-Overall, how are you feeling about this journey? It's a big move.
-Are you excited? Are you daunted?
-We are excited.
-Very much so.
-A little bit daunted by it, but we're excited and...
-And your expectations?
Expectations? Maybe a bit high, I don't know, but we're trying to moderate them.
You've got to be realistic, though.
-I like to have a healthy dose of realism, but...
-..we also want to find a dream home, so let's see what we can do.
Our first property takes us to the village of Battisford
just over 11 miles from Ipswich,
so still within commuting distance to London for Robin,
but with the peace he's looking for
as the village is surrounded by farmland.
For amenities, Needham Market, four miles away, is a lovely town
with a range of shops and a nature reserve for those walks they're after.
I think they'll feel at home with the style of our first house.
It's a new build.
Strangely enough, we do like new builds.
-We keep thinking different, but we do like it.
It's quite substantial, but it's in a lovely location.
It's surrounded by properties, so you can get to know your neighbours.
-That's something you wanted.
-It gives you immediate community, doesn't it?
Let's have a look inside and see what you get with this property.
The new-build proposition has piqued their interest,
so here's hoping the inside will hook them.
Step on in.
You can immediately come into this wonderful hallway
from which all doors lead.
-Nice and open, isn't it?
-And look up!
-Yes, I like that.
-It's got all the light you want, hasn't it?
It has, it has, yes. Very nice.
-We do have a little study through here.
We've also got a downstairs cloakroom, but I want to take you to the kitchen.
In you come.
-Take a look at this.
-Oh, dear, dear.
-Yes, that's nice. Nice and light.
Now that's what I call a nice spacious kitchen, with plenty of light, isn't it? Lovely views.
-Great views out into your garden.
-Yeah, I know.
Yes, I like that feature.
That's nice to look out on to.
And if you do get that doggie, he can come straight in and out there.
-A dog, yeah, true.
-No work for you here, Robin.
I'm sure I'll find him something!
That's why I always come back to the new - it does eliminate the need for DIY, doesn't it?
-It also gives you the opportunity to put your mark on the property.
It's fresh and new, which you'll see even more when we see the other rooms.
-Let's have a look.
And across the entrance hall there's a great option for family meals.
-So with this property you get a separate dining room.
-Not short on size, is it?
Again, it's spacious, isn't it?
-Something we haven't got at the moment.
-Not a separate.
-We've got a lounge/diner.
-But it's nice to have that type of detached, isn't it?
So again, a real big tick.
It's a big tick. Nothing for you to do here.
-Let's look at the living room while we're on a roll.
-And this is a very large living room, I think.
-It is, it's nice.
-Yes. Very pleasant.
-That is a working wood-burning stove.
-Yes, I like that.
-Nice and cosy.
I like the fact that it's at the back of the house.
-It's that bit warmer.
-You have your privacy.
-Total privacy and peace.
I like that idea, the garden behind.
Yes, it's nice.
-This could work for you?
-This could work, yes.
I like this. It's hard to fault.
-It's a hit downstairs.
-Right, let's head upstairs and have a look at the bedrooms.
The space and features of the downstairs of this new build seem to have won them over.
So now we can take a look at this galleried landing up here.
-You can really appreciate it.
-It's a lovely feature.
-Very nice, yes.
It's pretty much a mirror of what you've got downstairs
because all doors lead off the landing.
On this side are two of this property's four bedrooms, a nice bright single and a double room.
Between them is a modern family bathroom with bath and overhead shower
and the third bedroom has some great extras in store.
Through here, this is not the master bedroom, as you can see.
It belongs to a young lady at the moment.
But this space is full of surprises.
I can already see you tucking your head through there because it goes on.
-There's an en suite there.
-And a changing area.
-It's quite versatile.
-It could be where you did your art.
-That's what I was thinking.
-They've got a bathroom there, lots of space.
-It would be nice.
-Lots of opportunity.
It's not being used as the master bedroom,
just let me show you that.
So, over this way you have your master.
They've got built-in his and hers wardrobes,
space for a lovely big double bed and an en suite behind you.
Stand up shower, plenty of room in there.
-You can't fault it.
Very spacious again. Lovely perspective.
A nice lot of light. I could sit here and paint.
-You'll be painting in every room!
-Given the choice, yes.
-Talk about a blank canvas - this is literally what this will be for you.
-No, I like this, it's nice.
Well, I'm feeling very warm about your feelings towards this property.
I want to turn up the heat a bit more, let's get outside, see how you feel about the outside space
and then we've got to work out how much it will cost you to buy it.
This house certainly has oodles of space to satisfy our couple.
It's time to head back downstairs now and outside to the back of the house.
So back here we have the garden space
and as with the interior of the house, it's pretty much a blank canvas, isn't it?
-Very clean lines, just laid to lawn.
-You could do what you want with it.
It goes a long way across, doesn't it? It's wide.
-It wraps around the other side of the property, as well.
-I like that idea. That's nice.
-It's a good size.
-It is. It is a good size.
Just beyond the back fence is a quiet footpath,
which will be a great access point for walking the dog Frances hopes to gets.
This property seems to hit the mark on so many fronts, but at what cost?
A lot of property. How much would you pay for it?
I'm going to start with you, Robin.
Difficult. There's a lot of house there. I'd have said...
around the 450 mark.
Frances, how much do you think it's worth?
I think probably.... The first figure that came to mind was 465,
-This property has just come on the market two weeks ago at £440,000.
-Now that is....an attractive price.
"That's pleasing." You're so reserved!
-Are you jumping for joy inside?
-Ah, she is.
-I'm surprised, surprised as well.
-It's a good price.
-For that size of property.
Go and have a ramble around and I will catch up with you later.
Well, that's a good result, isn't it?
That house gives them all the room that they could want and more and it comes in under budget.
And as a blank canvas, well, it's everything that Frances needs to put her mark on it.
At £440,000 this extensive new build offers them...
..and garden space for a dog and to keep Frances' green fingers busy.
What do you think of this area?
-What would you do with that?
This house, I like very much.
It's modern, it's clean, it's spacious and it's most...
Nearly all the requirements we wanted.
This property definitely suits me, yes. I love this area. Look at it!
It just is so interesting. It's a...
-A room within itself.
-You could do a lot with this.
This type of house lends itself really to what we're looking for.
If anything, it's got even more size and space than probably I would have been asking for.
I don't think we're ever going to get them out - they really liked it!
-Can we help you?
-You'd like me to come in, but no, I am dragging out because we are not finished yet.
-Right, let's get a move on.
As I'm showing our couple some prime Suffolk properties,
it's also a great chance for me to get under the skin of one of the county's great historic homes.
From the outside, Melford Hall
is a stately Tudor mansion, yet its interior tells
the full tale of this property through the ages.
To hear more about its story, I'm meeting one of the guides, Luke Potter.
Tell me the story of where we are now.
We're in the Great Hall, which actually would have always been the centre of the property
right back to the days when the abbots from Bury St Edmunds lived here,
but it has changed hugely over the years.
The panelling here is actually put in... It was put in in the 1850s
and it was an attempt to make it feel more Elizabethan because elsewhere in the house
lots of changes have taken place.
A lot of work was done in the early 19th century.
The wing behind me was burned down in the Second World War
and so was completely rebuilt in the late 1940s to 1950s with a very bright white feel
which gives it a distinctive charm, I think, here at Melford, because it's always been this family home
and had the input of all the people who have lived here.
Well, home now and a big party place back in its day.
I mean, I understand Sir William Cordell was almost bankrupt by Queen Elizabeth I's visit.
-What was that like?
-Yes, he would have had to spend a lot of money.
Elizabeth came here in 1578 and she was met on the county border by about 2,000 people
who escorted her here, but even then she wasn't impressed and had to send one of her courtiers back down to
London to get some more gold and silver to try and impress the French ambassador who was coming over.
I understand we've got a little bit of a memento from when
Queen Elizabeth I was here that's been erected upstairs?
If you'd like to head up the stairs, we'll take a look at it.
Since the late 18th century, this has been the home of the Hyde Parker family,
whose commemoration to their famous royal visitor is in keeping with the family's own history.
A-ha, so this is it.
This is the stained glass window of Queen Elizabeth and it probably only dates
to about 1800 and would have been put in by the Hyde Parker family shortly after they came here.
And they had lots of naval connections and so it's interesting that the image used is of the dress
worn when she celebrated the defeat of the Armada back in 1588, so it's tying into that naval heritage.
It's certainly very flattering and it shows off her jewels very well!
Yes, her courtiers wouldn't have to run to London!
More recently, Beatrix Potter made frequent family visits here, being
the cousin to the grandmother of Sir Richard, the present 12th baronet.
Her paintings give a personal glimpse into life here, but she didn't come alone.
The interesting thing about this room is the little turret
because she always travelled with a little menagerie of animals and so there'd be cages with
perhaps a porcupine or a rabbit and she used to sketch them, so when she stayed, that was their bedroom.
The story is that it was just amazement.
You imagine as a youngster with this woman coming to stay with cages of animals.
I mean, they just waited to see what would come next.
And not many people would have known her connections to Suffolk.
You always think of her in the Lake District.
Well, that's where she lived and she was very much involved with the conservation of the Lake District
as a place of natural beauty, but the family connection here is a bit of an unknown story.
And a wonderful story, too.
Well, this is a real architectural gem of a building, woven into Suffolk's own history.
As the sun sets over the Suffolk countryside, day one of our property search comes to an end.
Robin and Frances want to leave Southend in Essex, where they've lived for 25 years,
and settle down to a quiet life in Suffolk.
Armed with a £450,000 budget, they'd like a three-bedroom home with a large kitchen/diner,
a study and painting studio all within commuting distance to London.
So far they've seen one property, but coming up - it's out with the new and in with the old.
This is completely different and it's something I think I need in my life now.
And there's our mystery house, but can they see the wood for the trees?
The sun's come out today and I'm certainly hoping for brighter prospects with our property search.
Over the years, Robin and Frances have tended to go for more modern properties because
they liked that sense of space, but now they're making a radical move
in their lifestyle and they are moving to the countryside after all,
so what I want to show them today is a more traditional property and let's see if that takes their fancy.
We're heading to Capel St Mary next,
only eight miles from Ipswich
for Robin's hour-and-a-quarter train commute to London.
As well as plenty of Suffolk pink properties, the village gives our couple
a handful of local shops on their doorstep.
Our next house would also set them at the heart of village life and comes with its own splash of pink.
This is the property, a bit more of a traditional English country cottage.
-I like it.
-It's a Suffolk pink.
-Unusual, isn't it?
First impressions, very nice.
The property itself used to be one cottage and that's the original part, the Suffolk pink,
and it's been extended over the years so you've got more space than you would have had.
-It's definitely got character.
-Sounds like it.
-And it's in a great village.
-Sounds like it.
-Let's have a look inside.
-Yeah, looking forward to it.
Well, they seem revved up to see the inside of this property, so let's dive in and take a look.
Right, in we come through the timber-framed door.
You've got a small hallway, but here you really start to see
the character of the property, that exposed brickwork here, lovely archway door.
-Very nice. I like that.
-Very different to what I expected.
Something completely different.
Let me give you the lay of the land.
Just to your left there you've got a small downstairs cloakroom.
This way in the old part of the cottage you've got the kitchen,
which we'll come back to, but we're going to start through the archway.
-OK, after me.
-We'll follow you.
Now through here, again, although this is the extension, I mean you've still got
exposed timbers, exposed brickwork, a lovely dining area, doors leading to the outside, but come up here.
And from back here you can see the lovely quirks of this property.
You've got the great brickwork fireplace there.
Double French doors leading out into the garden
and then you've got this L-shaped turning into the dining area.
-I like the L shape, yes.
-Do you like that?
-I do, definitely.
-We've always liked the L shape.
They are used to new builds, but they seem quite taken with the idea of a character property.
Let's hope the kitchen fires up Frances.
And so, more features in the kitchen.
-You've got this lovely brickwork here.
You've got the exposed beams and we are in the original cottage.
-So some more of those features.
-The current owner has added in the extra worktops and created the space.
It's a nice kitchen, but personally I'd like something bigger.
Well, it does go down this way.
-As I see.
-So there's room for a sofa.
-That's lovely area.
-A dining table.
-Yeah. I didn't look right!
-Back there there's the little office.
-A nice idea actually, the two features.
-Yes, I... Yes.
-The kitchen with that.
-It just takes a little bit of time to adapt. It's nice, isn't it?
Well, I'm glad you're liking it and I think you're going to like what's through here even more.
Come this way.
So, it actually is a very big space.
-It's spacious. Very spacious.
-I like this room particularly, yes.
-Yes, that's one of my favourite rooms.
I've got a lot of bougainvilleas and I need somewhere to put them.
-Shall we have a look at the conservatory? Come on.
So, have a look at what could be your space, just for you.
-I was thinking this would be wonderful for your artwork.
-Lots of light.
Features for you to paint.
Yes, yes. Or even outside, it's a lovely little area there, too.
It all lends itself, doesn't it?
So we've found a place for you to settle and I can see you're having a good look
at the garden, but first, of all I want to show you upstairs.
Ordinarily I think you lose space when you go upstairs in a cottage,
-but here you do get four bedrooms and a family bathroom.
-You've done it again!
This is a spacious character cottage and Frances seems seduced by its charm.
Fingers crossed that the four bedrooms upstairs
could also work their magic, starting with their room.
So this is the master bedroom.
-Ah! I like the window, yes.
-I think it's got a holy feel.
-Especially with the light streaming through there.
-You've got that theme throughout, haven't you?
-You have. That chapel feeling.
-Yes, that's what I like.
There's some built-in storage. His and hers.
-Although hers and hers!
-He can have some area.
-I think you've got it right already.
-There's some cupboards over there.
-Oh, right. That's Robin's!
-And the recesses there.
-Lots of daylight.
-And an en suite.
-Which again you wouldn't see, would you, when you walked in?
I'm just amazed, really.
-Taking it all in.
-Yes, it takes time, actually, to take it all in.
-It's so different.
The other bedrooms include a lovely light double and a single,
so ample room for when their children stay over.
There's also an L-shaped family bathroom with bath and shower.
At the end of the landing is the fourth bedroom, which we'll take a peek at.
-This is another example of a good-sized double bedroom.
Oh, yeah. Again, spacious, isn't it?
-It is, I mean, you've got built-in wardrobes in here.
-Which are quite deep, and lots of light.
-Lots of light.
-Actually, looking at the skylight and looking at the sky today,
I was thinking it might be another place you can sit and paint.
Yes, it's certainly light enough.
-There's enough options. I like it.
-Good. Let's go out to the garden, have a look and then you can tell me what you think.
And Frances should be pleased with the garden, which is south-westerly facing and amounts to
one-fifth of an acre, with space for evening drinks on the patio.
Now with all that to consider, let's see if our couple are on the money.
Right, from back here...
you can get a good look at the house,
your garden and the question of course is how much do you think
you'd have to pay for a wonderful cottage like this in Suffolk?
I'm going to start with you, Frances.
I think it probably is around the 445 area.
I still feel there's quite a bit of work to be done.
I don't know that we could afford that with the work that we would like to do to it.
I would have thought it was worth probably more.
I would have personally said around 465.
Well, how about this? This property came on the market four weeks ago at £410,000.
-That's good. That's very good, isn't it?
Now, that is a big surprise, big surprise, looking at all it's giving as a property.
And leaving you money left over.
Definitely. No, that's...
-You're reeling from that, aren't you? I can see. So...
-It seems more appealing.
Head back in, you start measuring up for the changes you want to make,
you get your calculator out and I will see you a little bit later on.
Fantastic! This is the thing I love about this show. That's a house they would never have looked at,
but it comes in under budget and it gives them everything they look for.
Traditional, yes, but something I think that could be for them.
Under budget at £410,000, this charming property leaves a £40, 000 pot to make it perfect for them,
-You'd be able to sit here all afternoon, wouldn't you?
And of course, the great feature of the house is you're not overlooked.
-Privacy. And I like the front.
I suppose the actual ultimate question is do you see yourself living here or not?
I think for all the change, which would be for me quite considerable,
I think personally I could.
I thought this house was so intriguing and I really like it,
but I mean I've always been used to modern properties, but this is
something completely different and it's something that I think I need in my life now.
Robin, Frances? Are you still in there?
-I thought you were settling in.
-Well, don't just yet because the journey isn't over.
We've got a little bit more to do.
Robin and Frances haven't moved for 25 years and although they say they want something completely different,
I'm not convinced they're ready for such a radical move.
So, for the mystery house we're going for big, modern and central.
Our mystery house takes us intriguingly
to the outskirts of Ipswich,
whose street architecture is a real journey through time
with beautifully preserved mediaeval streets, ornate Victorian civic buildings
dominating its market square, and the newly developed waterfront sitting by the River Orwell.
We're heading just south of the town through private gates
to where our mystery house, set in woodland, awaits.
So, this could be your countryside palace in the middle of the town.
It's the mystery property and we know you said you wanted to get away from it all
and find a quiet place to settle down, something very different,
-but you've also always lived in modern buildings.
-And you have a fairly long commute to do.
-That is true.
You want security and to be in the heart of a community.
Ta da! Ipswich!
-The train station is over there, within walking distance.
This is a gated community, only five other properties, very close knit,
and the building is fairly new, but with some character.
-It's quite a size, too.
-It's countryside in Ipswich.
That is different.
It's completely different to what I was looking for, but
-give it a whirl!
-Give it a whirl.
Open minded. That's what a mystery house is all about.
-You're not sure what's coming.
It's completely different to what you were looking for, but who knows once we get inside?
Let's go and have a look.
Robin has definitely grasped what the mystery house is all about
and actually the woodland with the train station nearby
could give them the best of both worlds.
Here we go.
So, come on in.
It is a modern house with a nice hallway, lots of doors leading off.
You've got lovely symmetry and some quite big rooms and high ceilings.
-A hallway is always a nice thing to come into like this.
OK, well, let's start with this room over here and see what we think.
Nice big lounge.
Yes. I like the bay particularly.
-Yeah, bay windows.
-And the windows. And size is...
Yes, it's more than adequate.
More than reasonable. I like the modern look about it, again.
-It does, yes.
-That I do like.
Good. Right, so things are picking up.
Let's have a look over the other side and look at the other rooms.
At the front of the house on the other side is a large study
with a lovely feature bay window which will be ideal for Robin.
Next door there's a handy cloakroom, but I'm hoping Frances will be hooked by what's coming next.
Come through to the kitchen.
Yes. Very nice, actually.
-It's quite nice looking out on to the garden.
-It's a good size.
-It's too dark for me.
-I had a feeling you were going to say that.
-Not a lot of daylight.
-Not enough light.
-Nowhere near enough.
-Taking away the issue of light, what do you think about the space?
-Yeah, it's a nice size.
They've got a little table, you could put something bigger, or a round table.
Or you could come this way.
-And do this.
Oh, that's better. Much better.
Yes, I prefer that.
It opens it up, doesn't it?
-It does. It lets in more light.
The only thing is it doesn't feel to me like a kitchen, you know?
-That's a dining area, isn't it?
-I know, but it doesn't feel like the same room for me.
You could move things around and try and make it your own
because you've got the capability here to do that.
-Oh, it's certainly vast enough.
I'm not sure where I'd start, that's the problem!
It's the challenge! While you think about that, let's head upstairs.
'Robin's going with the flow with our mystery house,
'but Frances seems uneasy at being taken out of her comfort zone.
'We'll head upstairs and see if she warms to it.'
With this house you get four bedrooms, all a good size, and a good sized family bathroom.
So, we've got one fairly big double here,
another one there, and this is the bathroom,
but I thought we could start over here.
-I know what you're going to say, it's pink!
-It's pink, yes.
It is clearly a little girl's room.
-But, that aside, I mean, what do you think of it as a room?
It feels like you're in a turret, with the shape.
It's having the bay windows again, isn't it? Which is a nice finish.
It actually is a space with blank walls, you get quite a bit of light, you're elevated.
That's what I like. As you say, as a fourth bedroom it's spacious.
-It doesn't have to be a bedroom.
-I think it could be a lovely workspace.
It's a flexible room, you can do as you wish, including taking away the pink.
-Although I think you secretly like it.
Let's have a look at the master. Come on.
How about this for a master suite?
-As actual rooms go, main bedrooms, this is huge.
I agree, it's huge. Got a big bed here, lots of storage either side,
plenty of wardrobe space, maybe even a little bit for you!
-Yeah, I might find some.
-You might find some space for your shirts.
In a room like this there's a fighting chance!
-And the wonderful bay windows.
-The bay is lovely.
-Yeah, that opens up all the rooms.
-And over here we've got a very impressive en suite.
-So, you get a big en suite with this bedroom, as well.
-And the bath and a stand up shower!
Jeez, a bath as well? Yes. It's even bigger, isn't it, en suite.
You wouldn't normally expect a bath and a shower.
And all this extra space, lovely window looking out on to the garden.
-And that is where I think we should head now because there is a bit of a surprise with this house.
'Our mystery house has a fabulously spacious interior
'which Frances and Robin could adapt very easily,
'but I don't think Frances can quite visualise it.
'Perhaps she'll get excited when she sees the garden.'
Now, back here is the garden space
and one of the things you have definitely asked for is land.
This garden doesn't just extend to this area, it goes way back there
-and you get just under an acre of land.
-Good grief, really?
'This mystery house really gives a feeling of being in the country,
'especially with that tiered wooded garden, yet all the attractions
'of Ipswich are just a walk away, but can they guess the price?'
-We'll start with you, Robin.
-Start with me.
I think I'd put it top side of the budget. For me, 470.
It's a nice property.
I would say 469,95.
That's very precise.
I don't know why, but that's the figure I think.
You are absolutely right. This is on at £470,000. You were £5 out.
That's pretty good going.
-All of £5! Not bad, was it?
-Almost spot on.
It's over budget, but it brings you very close,
a hop and a skip away from the train station, so it cuts your commute,
you're close to the shops, yet you get all of this land.
Our mystery house is over budget at £470,000, but it's huge,
there's no work to do and it has some great selling points.
With three versatile reception rooms, a spacious dining kitchen,
four double bedrooms with a large master en suite,
nearly an acre of land and it's just a walk
to the train station for Robin's commute to London.
I must confess, I didn't expect to find this up here.
-Just not at all.
-Not quite the land I expected.
The house itself is very spacious, it's very well decorated.
It's very nice, and probably 20 or 25 years ago
it would have suited us down to the ground, but not now.
Look, there's the train! You can even see it from here.
-And this is your front... Ideal? Not for me, it's not.
-I'd be down there on the train in five minutes.
-You'd still miss it!
Having seen this property within the type of environment it's in
close to a town, I suppose it just crystallises what we
really are looking for, and that's pretty much more the rural...
country type of environment for us, really.
I wonder if it's grown on them any?
Hello? Are you still here?
-Come on, you've seen all of the houses that we have to show you now.
-It's been a journey, but I'll find you somewhere to sit down and mull it all over.
We've shown Robin and Frances a real assortment of Suffolk properties,
so now they need to think through their options.
Well, Frances and Robin certainly had a very strong reaction to our modern urban village mystery house,
but has it pushed them closer to a more traditional house or are they still in love with the new build?
Let's find out.
25 years in the same house, children have all grown up,
and now it's time to really concentrate on your own lives.
Both the homes that you've lived in over the years have been new builds,
so we took you to a new build. What did you think of that?
I fell in love with it from walking through the door.
-You just got that feeling?
-It was spacious, light, which is what you wanted.
-It had all the light in the world.
-And a nice sized plot that went right round the house.
-Yeah, all the way round.
-Even room for chickens.
And then we saw something very traditional, the Suffolk pink.
This was very different to anything you've lived in before.
-How did you feel about it?
-First impressions I wasn't sure at all,
and as we walked into the property I was just intrigued all the time.
You wanted to keep walking into different rooms because
it was so different and so promising, and I really, really liked it.
-Immense amount of character.
The nooks and crannies. It had that type of vestry look about it when you walked in.
Finally, we took you to our mystery house, as ever designed
to throw a curve ball into the situation, shake you up a bit.
-It did that.
-I think it did that.
It did. It certainly did that. The property was lovely,
but it was really for somebody...
A family, a young family and it wasn't for us.
-Just for us it's probably the wrong stage in our life.
Had we been 20 years back.
Because the extra land that you had was fantastic for children, but not for us, really.
Well, I've got to ask, of all the range of properties that we showed you
with those great prices, is there anything that's close to the mark?
-Two of them definitely.
-In this case, two.
-That's a result!
-The dilemma is I think we've got one of each!
Well, put us out of our misery.
I think we know, but tell me which two.
In my case it's probably the new build without question,
and Frances' case the Suffolk pink cottage.
So we've got a slight dilemma there.
We've both got a preference, but we both like each property.
-We're pretty much in accord, aren't we, with our views?
-I think so.
And it's just a question of going back tomorrow
-and having a good look at both and reassessing everything.
-I think so.
Well, all things being equal,
if you find out the journey from the new build's not too bad
and there's not too much work to do at the Suffolk pink,
which one would you go for?
We liked the village, didn't we, particularly?
-Particularly the village.
-Capel St Mary.
Therefore the pink cottage.
-That would be a radical change for the two of you.
-It would be such a change.
Is that what you've been looking for on this journey?
You don't actually realise just how much of a change you need until you see the...
-You set yourself off on that journey, as you put it.
-Let us know how you get on.
-Yes, thank you.
I hope it's not long before you escape to the country!
-I hope so, too.
-Thanks ever so much. Much appreciated.
It's been a fabulous experience.
-Yeah. Very much enjoyed it.
-We've enjoyed it very much.
Frances and Robin have reached that moment in life where they really want to shake things up,
but that does mean that they need to get out of the comfort zone
and I think Robin is still very tied to a new build,
but Frances is ready to take the leap and move to a more traditional home.
Who's going to win? Well, my money is on Frances.
I'll see you next time on Escape To The Country.
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Denise Nurse helps a couple, keen on long walks in Constable county, find their ideal home in Suffolk. With a budget of 450,000 pounds, they are looking for a large kitchen diner, a studio, a study and a south west facing garden.