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This magnificent structure behind me
is known as the last castle to be built in England.
Created to evoke a real sense of medieval pedigree,
it took 20 years of agony and effort to realise.
It was the culmination of one man's dream,
to create a beautiful home in a beautiful location.
Something, of course, we know all about on Escape To The Country.
On today's show, I'll be helping a couple downsize with a move to the country.
However, they love the fact that it gives them more than they bargained for.
Wow! Wow! Cor blimey!
But can they cope with the challenge of our mystery house?
Is it pick-axe work, or...? It needs a lot of... You never use a pick-axe in the house, dear!
Today I'm in Devon and this is Castle Drogo,
the vision of early-20th-century entrepreneur Julius Drewe.
The building was designed by Lutyens
but is thought to be the last private residence in the UK to be built entirely of granite.
A spectacular structure in a spectacular setting
here on Dartmoor overlooking the Teign Valley.
It's also a lasting testament to Drewe's ambitions to create a real family home full of pedigree.
It's been a very welcome addition to the landscape ever since.
Situated in the south-west of England,
Devon is home to both magnificent countryside and coast,
attracting over five million visitors a year.
It's the only county in England with two distinctly separate coastlines
totalling over 250 miles of stunning cliffs and beaches
which grace the English Riviera resorts of Torquay and Paignton.
Inland, Devon is renowned for its gentle pastures
and two national parks, which include the wild landscape of Dartmoor
and sweeping vistas of Exmoor.
Regularly voted as one of the most tranquil places to live in the UK,
it's no surprise that a survey singled out Devon as the county of choice to retire to.
No surprise that Devon remains as popular as ever.
Which is exactly why today's buyers want to move here.
Alan, a retired IT analyst, and Pat, a counsellor,
have lived in their four-bed house in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire,
for eight years. But now Pat is winding down her work,
they've decided to move to the countryside.
We'd like to move somewhere quieter,
somewhere to get more involved in the community.
We've always liked to be somewhere nearer the sea.
I'd like to be able to go out walking.
Alan and I have nothing else to do except enjoy the countryside
and so I'm hoping to retire and just take it easy.
But they want the location to give them the best of both worlds.
We'd quite like to be somewhere near a large village,
to pick up the shopping and go out for a meal, et cetera.
Yes, and doing some nice nature walks as well.
We'd like three bedrooms. We'd prefer a detached,
but we'd be happy to look at a semidetached if it was full of character. And a decent size.
My ideal house, I think, would be in a nice setting
so that it looks pretty, looks nice, when you drive up to it.
A nice garden at the back with an area where I could do my vegetables.
Walk into a beautiful kitchen with clean lines, nice tiles on the floor,
a big area so that there's room to dine. A good-sized lounge,
with maybe a lovely marble fireplace.
There are beautiful marble fireplaces, and a woodburning stove.
Even though Pat's planning to retire, she wants to do some occasional counselling work.
So she'll want an extra reception room, but is happy to share it
when Alan wants to strum a few chords.
On top of that, they'd be delighted if their new property gave them the scope to earn an income.
We're quite interested in maybe a place with an annexe
that we could rent out in summer.
And maybe have the family over the other times.
With that in mind, what budget do they have for the move?
With an annexe it would be ?450,000.
Without an annexe it would be ?350,000.
In some ways, we've got two house searches going on this week.
If we blow all the budget of ?450,000, we need a house and an annexe with income potential.
Or if we spend less, we just need a pretty house. So in some ways, the choices are endless.
Alan and Pat want to base themselves in the south-east of Devon within reach of the coast,
so we'll concentrate the search round Exeter.
I'll show them three "creme de la creme" Devon properties
but as ever I won't reveal the price tag straightaway.
Lastly, our mystery house, which gives generously on the one hand
but could take a lot of their time up on the other.
Hi, Pat. Hi, Alan. How are you? Good, thank you. Good, thanks.
Welcome to Devon. We're looking forward to it.
In terms of what you're after, talk me through your requirements.
If it's old, that would be super because it's full of character.
But I don't want to have to re-roof it or be worried that the pipes will fail.
So maintenance free. Something that's old and maybe been renovated.
That would be fantastic. So you don't want a major project, but what about a new kitchen or bathroom?
No problem. Absolutely no problem. But we're not big DIY-ers.
Poor old Alan! He's thinking, "I don't want a lot of work, Jules!"
We've got some great properties for you to look at. I'm looking forward to it. Yeah.
Let's get started.
For a maximum budget of ?450,000, Pat and Alan would like...
They want to be within easy reach of village amenities
and a community.
We're starting our search close to the village of Kingskerswell,
on the outskirts of the Dartmoor National Park,
four miles from the south coast.
The village serves up all the amenities they could ask for
and has a parish church whose tower dates back to the 14th century.
Among the grand Victorian properties occupying a prime spot
on the outlying edges is our first property
which comes with fabulous views.
Right, in you come.
What do you think of this, then? Wow! Wow!
Cor blimey! Blimey, that's exciting!
It's amazing! I'm impressed. At the moment, it looks stunning.
I'm knocked out. You get the idea.
It's a big, substantial family home. It looks fantastic. Brilliant.
Let's see if you think it's brilliant inside.
It's terrific. The staircase is original.
You have some lovely features. Yes.
They get better as we go through. Can't wait. Follow me. Look at this.
Wow! Yeah? Look at the view!
You wanted light. Yeah, this is lovely. Can't get much more light.
It's sweet, isn't it? This is a lovely room.
Fireplace is original. Yeah. It's unusual because you've got the window above the fireplace. Unusual.
Absolutely. It's beautiful. Beautiful.
We've only just scratched the surface as next door there's a generous study
which one of them could claim as theirs.
Let's see the splendour in the dining room.
There we are. A bit of opulence for you. They've set the table. Yes.
That's lovely. Another nice fireplace.
A big room. The nice thing about these houses
is that they were designed with dining and entertainment in mind.
That was the Victorian thing. See the little door in the corner?
There used to be a dumb waiter that would operate downstairs.
Wow. It's not there any more, but that's the old vestige of it.
Very nice, yes.
Is this a surprise, Alan? A big surprise, actually.
After the grandeur we've seen so far, the more functional areas include a handy utility room
and a downstairs shower room.
But they may find that the kitchen brings them back down to earth.
Now, for such a big house... A small kitchen.
It is quite a small kitchen. The reason being,
that most of the cooking would have happened underneath us.
So in more recent years, it's been brought up
in the way that we would all have now, without servants.
But in terms of kitchen, would this work? Yeah,
but it's not really the kitchen/dining room I was hoping for. That's the compromise.
It is a bit of a compromise.
Hopefully, it'll be a compromise that Pat's happy to consider
after she's seen what's on offer upstairs.
Along with a lavish family bathroom are four bedrooms including a bright, spacious double
and another double with a feature fireplace.
The third has light streaming in but let's see if the main bedroom makes a grand impression.
Mmm! Nice! Wow! Nice. It's a nice room, isn't it?
Good size. What we haven't got is an en-suite.
I know it's something you'd like. It would be nice.
But I guess most of the time it's just you two. Yeah.
It would be nice, but it's not a deal-breaker.
As a room, I think it's lovely. It's a lovely big room.
It's an amazing home, it just feels very large to me, compared to what we've been living in.
We're trying to downsize a bit, and it's huge!
But it certainly is a lovely house.
Come and take a look. It's huge. Come and check this out.
We're testing the water with this house,
but if they want an annexe, there will always need to be a bit of give and take.
Served by its own entrance, the annexe is on the lower level and built into the hillside,
benefiting from a fine bay window which makes the most of that view.
Leading off the hallway is a lovely large sitting room
with a working fireplace.
Along with a guest bedroom, there's a dressing room and serviceable bathroom.
So now we've got to grips with the property,
let's explore outside.
You get quite an imposing view of the house.
This is the annexe floor. Good grief. Huge, isn't it? Yes.
It is huge. Then the whole thing wiggles through this terraced pathway.
It's your own woodland walk!
The terraced garden comes in at around quarter of an acre.
The pathway snakes down the hillside and is flanked on either side
by a variety of mature trees and shrubs.
But what's the price to be paid for all of this?
OK. Here we are at the bottom of your winding terraced garden.
It's quite a journey, once you get here. Yes. Very extensive. Yeah.
There we are. Property number one. Let's put you out of your misery and talk about what it's worth.
Boy, that is a difficult one. Hmm.
I reckon this must be 460. I'll be optimistic and say 450.
450. As well you should be. Cos it's ?450,000.
Well done. Yeah.
It was on the market for more than that. Brilliant value.
It's been reduced so you're getting a lot for your money.
Bang on budget at ?450,000, this fabulous Victorian villa
certainly gives them enough space and a wealth of period features.
A charming terraced garden with views
and country walks on the doorstep.
All within easy reach of a popular village.
It's getting quite exciting, isn't it? Yes.
Wonder what else we can find you.
Castle Drogo's magnificent standing
makes it the only Grade I listed 20th-century building in Devon.
Its founder, Julius Drewe, wanted to display not only his wealth,
but his aristocratic aspirations for the family name.
The result was a 20th-century palace that combines the grandeur of a medieval castle
with designs for the modern era, pioneered by the great British architect, Edwin Lutyens.
I'm meeting Bryon Mason who, as house and collections manager,
knows all about Drewe's vision.
Tell me a bit more about Julius Drewe. He sounds fascinating.
Yes, a really interesting man. He started out working as a tea buyer in China.
But in 1878, he and his business partner set up what became known as the Home and Colonial Stores.
and he sold the shares for ?1 million
and decided to retire at the grand old age of 33!
The 100 rooms inside continue Lutyens' modern take on the medieval theme
but he did have fun with his architectural styles,
employing them to great effect in the library.
The intention was to make it feel like the Norman keep of this castle.
So there's a huge fireplace. The bookcases are intentionally made
to look like they've been inserted into this arch at a later date.
Lutyens' trick of suggesting that different parts of the castle were built at different periods
led him to create a drawing room in the Georgian style.
Looking after this must be quite extraordinary. Is it in good shape?
In some ways. It's a very robust building, built of granite.
However, it is a building that comes with its own particular set of problems.
Julius Drewe insisted that because he was having a real castle,
it had to have a flat roof which basically doesn't work.
Technology has finally caught up with the great Lutyens
and an ?11 million restoration project is due to start in 2012,
which will hopefully preserve this unique building
so it may age gracefully for generations to come.
Our house search continues half an hour's drive inland
close to the village of Sampford Courtenay.
With a population of 500, this idyllic village is teeming with thatched buildings
including the local pub, and a variety of other period properties.
Just outside the village is our second offering.
Crunch, crunch, crunch!
What do you think? This looks lovely. Lovely.
Doesn't it? That looks really nice. Very different to our first property. Yes.
Victorian grandeur, if you like. This is classic Devon cottage,
albeit in a barn conversion. It looks really nice, much more me.
Really? How about Alan? Much more me, as well.
Let's go in! Let's have a look.
There's no doubt the style of this barn conversion really appeals to them.
I have high hopes that our first room will set Pat's hopes soaring.
Come on in, Pat.
Lovely! Wow! Oh, fabulous. How fantastic!
This is lovely. Really is lovely.
Just what you always wanted. Super, isn't it? Yeah, really nice.
It's taken your breath away a bit. Yeah, you've done well here, Jules.
This is lovely.
You know, it is gorgeous. But what do you particularly love?
It's just a really nice feel to it.
A really good feel to it.
And it's big and spacious. It just feels really nice.
It's a brilliant kitchen/diner.
It's a great space. Lovely space.
The good news is there is a bit more to it. Have a look at this through here.
Next door has a similarly light, airy feel, but with the warm touch they're after.
Oh, yes. Very nice. We could spend a few cosy evenings here!
And that will belt out the heat. Oh, yeah. I'd imagine so.
You've got this nice vaulting which continues from the kitchen. Lovely.
So far, so good on the second property. Come on, follow me.
The manageable size and clean lines of this barn conversion
have won them over so far.
At the other end of the property is a downstairs bathroom and two of the four bedrooms,
one of which could serve as Pat's counselling room,
another could be Alan's music room.
But we'll head upstairs and see what they make of the master.
Yeah. Now we're talking!
En-suite. En-suite as well. Very nice.
What about the shape? Very strange. It's lovely!
Very nice. Absolutely lovely.
That is really, really nice. Yeah?
Yeah, very quirky. Just right.
At the other end of the landing, the fourth bedroom would make a good guest room.
Looks like our barn conversion has served up the perfect mix of character and space,
providing a great low-maintenance option.
Outside is a useful double garage, next to which is a large lawned area
which gives Pat ample scope to create her vegetable patch.
Just a few steps along the country lane, this cottage garden complete with summer house
is a real oasis of calm and runs down to the River Tor.
But before we get carried away, it's time for some straight talking.
Beautiful, isn't it? Beautiful. So.
Very nice. How much do you want it?
Yes, you know what's coming next. How much is it worth?
This is a seriously interesting property. I think it's up for 375.
I'm going to be dead cheeky and say about 340.
Bit of a difference, there. Yes.
There is a difference. Yeah.
375 would be fair enough. It's your lucky day, madam.
This is ?340,000. No! You're joking. You've done it again! Done it again.
That's amazing. That's good. Have you been looking at my notes? No, I haven't!
Good. It's a nice one, isn't it? It's lovely. Lovely. Lovely.
Good way to end the day. Yeah. Yes.
On a high. Yes. Certainly.
On the market at ?340,000, our barn conversion is so generously under budget
they could forget the holiday annexe as a source of extra income.
So as the sun sets over the Devon countryside,
it marks the end of our first day's property search.
Well, as you can probably tell, it's a very misty and chilly start
to our final day's house-hunting here in Devon.
Our first property yesterday may have been too big
and our second one may have been too rural for Alan.
So for our mystery house, our final property, we need to strike a happy balance between the two.
I think it does.
For our mystery house, we're staying in Sampford Courtenay
but we're going right to the heart of the village.
It's all beautifully preserved with a strong sense of community
which our mystery property is at the heart of.
This cottage gives them a great option to downsize
but there's definitely work to be done.
However, it does give generously in other ways
which can be best appreciated from round the back.
and survey the scene.
I thought we'd start up here on this one.
We usually start at the front of our properties, but the key to this one
is what it's got.
I think it's important we set that out to start with.
What you get is that building down there. Yeah.
It's semi-detached, so your bit is effectively the rendered area to the left
and what's above it, and the garage, the yard,
and that annexe there. Oh, that comes with it?
That comes with it. It looks lovely.
Yeah. It looks lovely. Very exciting.
Now, in fairness, whilst the annexe is all done, the house does need... Some work. ..some work. OK.
All right? Is it pick-axe work? It needs... You never use a pick-axe in the house, dear.
It needs a lot of updating.
You may have to bend your minds to more of a project than we'd considered. OK.
We'll explore the project that comes with the house later. First, I'll whet their appetite with the annexe.
Let's start in here.
This is the living/dining area of your annexe.
Nice. Yeah? Very nice.
Oak floors. Doors out to what could be a nice patio.
I can imagine with a bit of dressing you could put your mark on this
and make it a very warm place for clients to come to.
It's lovely. I'd be thrilled if I came here as a holiday let. I'd be really pleased.
Down the hallway is a well furnished shower room and double guest bedroom.
So now we'll cross the yard and get to grips with the project the mystery house has in store.
Grab the door, Alan. Sure.
Follow me across here.
It's very cosy, isn't it? Very cosy, isn't it?
It's not the huge kitchen/diner that you wanted.
Certainly it's functional enough that you could basically move in
and then start thinking about how to go about it.
There's this area through here. The dining bit of what's on offer.
With that range in the fireplace.
A nice little bread oven tucked away in the corner. Oh, wow.
Some nice features in there. Absolutely.
The living room is less of a challenge. Have a look.
An office arrangement there, another door out. That's nice. Handy.
This is the bit that really works for me,
down here. Nice big room. Good size. Nice and square.
It has a potential, without a doubt. It's just seeing that potential at the moment.
Yeah. Ideal location. Yeah. Lovely annexe. Yeah.
It's what it's about. It's this section we have to think about.
I imagine they would also want to put their decorative mark on the three bedrooms upstairs.
One a cosy double, along with a good-sized single
with storage cupboards, and the third just big enough for a bed.
Although turning this house into something that will suit them may seem a daunting task,
the outside space is impressively large
with an array of lawned areas and a substantial vegetable plot for Pat to cultivate.
At the top of the hill, the land flattens out to give them a huge two-acre field.
Our mystery house throws a host of unexpected elements into the mix.
But at what price?
Question is, how much do you want it?
Yes, how much. Or how much would it have to be to persuade you to buy it?
That's the other way of putting it.
I think I would say it may be on the market for...
It's exactly what I was going to say. But I can't say the same,
so I'll go lower than you and say 365.
You have done it again! She hasn't! I've not!
This is embarrassing. It's on the market for ?375,000.
I've watched too many of your programmes! We've never had anybody get it right three times in a row!
Amazing. Yes, ?375,000. Yes. That does leave a lot in the budget. Doesn't it?
Priced at ?375,000, our mystery cottage not only offers them an option to downsize,
but leaves plenty in the pot for the project.
There are also the appealing pluses:
All wrapped up in a very desirable village location.
Let's get you somewhere where you can mull it all over.
We'll have a chat. Come on. Lovely.
Well, there's no doubt we've given Pat and Alan a fantastic range of options
to meet their property requirements.
But have we got them any closer to finding their dream home in the country?
Let's go and ask them.
The question is, have we managed to find you your new dream house?
We started with that lovely Victorian villa set high on the hill
with its holiday annexe set underneath it.
That was fantastic, wasn't it?
It was beautiful. It was really elegant. The rooms were tall with high ceilings.
But I also felt that we'd be rattling around in it. Too large for us.
OK. Then we took you from Victorian grandeur
to cosy barn conversion.
You said, if I remember rightly, "This is more me." Yes.
Absolutely. It was much more me.
You felt that, too. It was more me, as well. Yeah.
That was really nice. It was lovely and light.
The property was fine.
But the location we thought was just a bit too rural for us.
That led us nicely on to our final day and to our mystery house
which certainly had lots of neighbours on offer. Absolutely.
A beautiful village. Now, then.
We started with the holiday annexe that came with it,
which you seemed to like. It was very well done.
I thought it was very lettable.
But I did warn you that the house did need a bit of imagination.
Yes. You weren't exaggerating there!
I wasn't exaggerating in some respects.
Now, when I revealed the price to you, 375,
you certainly did have the money to do it.
So would you do it?
I'm doubtful. I don't know.
I don't think we want to compromise the house for the sake of an annexe.
So we're going to stay with the 350 and start really looking for the right property for us.
I think we have shown you the range of options. Yes.
It's redefined your focus. I'm delighted that's the case.
I'm very glad we've seen those properties. Yes.
They were all very interesting. It was good to see the ones with the annexe
and for us to understand that actually the property is a priority.
Maybe we're clouding the issue by looking at both.
Guys, very best of luck with your house search.
Enjoy your retirement. Thank you.
And let us know how you get on. Thank you so much. Thank you. It was brilliant.
Trying to find a house with an annexe in the right location
for their maximum budget of ?450,000 has proved to be something of a tall order.
So their house search goes on.
But it'll be much simpler. They'll be looking for a home first and a business second.
See you next time!
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Planet Earth - it's unique. It has life.
To understand why, we're going to build a planet...up there.
These were the objects that were making the Earth.
Jules Hudson is in Devon, helping a couple with a budget of £450,000 find a home with bags of West Country character. We step back in time as Jules is given a private tour of Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England.