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In the 1970s,
this hill was probably one of the most instantly recognisable views in England.
And just like the rest of today's county,
it oozes with old-world charm.
So, does it look familiar?
I'm sure if you use your LOAF, you'll figure out where you've seen this beautiful vista before.
On today's show, we meet a Canadian with her heart set on a home in the English countryside.
It's beautiful. The landscape just rolls forever, doesn't it?
And although she seems taken with our offerings,
her English husband isn't so sure.
John, give me something back. I reserve judgment.
But will our mystery house unite her yin with his yang?
Wow. Nice. Yeah.
Today I'm in Dorset, and this is Gold Hill in Shaftesbury.
In 1973, it became the backdrop for a well-known bread advert
directed by the now world-famous film maker Ridley Scott.
At the time, many of us believed this scene was set hundreds of miles away in Yorkshire.
But with its thatched cottages, medieval walls and cobbled stone,
it really couldn't be anywhere else
than the unspoilt countryside of Dorset.
Bordered by four other counties in the south of England,
Dorset is largely rural,
dotted with farms, peaceful villages
and thriving market towns.
Covering an area of 1,024 square miles,
Dorset is a winning combination of stunning coastline and classic countryside,
boasting the highest proportion of conservation areas for its size in England.
Over 40% of the county is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
with 139 Sites of Special Scientific Interest
and a World Heritage Site in the form of the Jurassic Coast.
Frequented by King George III,
the county has been a popular tourist destination since the 1800s,
which has helped create a prosperity evident in the region's housing stock,
from the grand country homes made of local limestone
to the picturesque thatched cottages.
But is today's house hunters' dream home out there too?
Let's meet them.
Let me introduce you to John,
a self-employed management consultant
and his Canadian partner Christina.
After meeting via the Internet three years ago,
John travelled to Canada to meet Christina in person and the rest is history.
Now sharing John's one-bedroom flat in central London,
with their dog Willow and Jack the cat,
they're hoping to ditch the Big Smoke for country air.
We'd like to move to the country for space,
to be able to be outdoors more, with trees surrounding me.
I'm either in a city or I'm in the country.
I'm not in a halfway. I don't want to live in the suburbs.
They're both drawn to the rural beauty of Dorset.
So let's find out what they want from their dream property.
One, possibly two big reception rooms,
big bathroom, a nice big kitchen
and minimum three bedrooms, I think.
We want nice, large open-plan spaces,
whether it's the kitchen or the main living area.
We want a nice big garden.
That's the bigger picture covered. But what about the details?
Wood-burning stoves. Love that smell.
John's just accepted an offer on his flat for nearly ?900,000.
So how much will they have for their home in the country?
Our budget for the property is around ?750,000.
We may go to ?800,000 for something absolutely exceptional.
After 25 years of city living, John can't wait to make a break for the country.
And Christina, used to the wide-open landscapes of Canada,
obviously can't wait to embrace country living too.
Now they've got a rather hefty budget of up to ?800,000,
so finding them space to manoeuvre both inside and out
shouldn't be too much of a problem.
The big question is, can we find them a property
with as much character and quirkiness as they have?
John and Christina are flexible
when it comes to a specific location within Dorset,
so we'll be scouring the entire county,
keeping in mind they want something rural.
We'll be showing our house hunters three Dorset delights,
but I'll be keeping schtum about the price tags until the end of the tour.
Lastly there's our mystery house,
which will challenge their idea of country living.
John and Christina, hello and welcome to Dorset.
Thank you. Are you looking forward to the next few days? We are.
We've driven around a lot in Dorset, the gorgeous villages, the Jurassic Coast,
from one end to another, but we've not seen anything yet.
So what about work? John, will you need to commute? I'll work wherever I need to.
If I need to work away from home, that's fine.
And time is of the essence
because you're about to complete on your property. Yes.
We sold it within three weeks of putting it on the market, with two competing bidders.
They want to complete within six weeks.
So we really have to find you your dream house. Yes. And budget-wise?
Still looking around ?750,000? 750, could go to 800 if we see the exceptional one.
Right, so that's our top limit. Yeah. Yes.
Well, we have got some fantastic properties lined up.
Shall we get started? Let's go. Come on, then.
For a top budget of ?800,000,
John and Christina are after a spacious country home,
consisting of a minimum of...
Our first property is just outside the village of Cranborne,
on the Dorset-Hampshire border.
Used as a setting for Thomas Hardy's Tess Of The d'Urbervilles
under the pseudonym Chaseborough,
this 800-strong village boasts an imposing 15th-century church tower,
a pub, convenience store and plenty of appealing period buildings.
Here is house number one. What d'you think?
The size overwhelms me. I'm used to compact,
but the house looks really nice from the outside.
Now, we are on a road. Yes.
It's a B-road connecting the two villages,
as we're right on the edge of a village. John?
I like the look of the house, nice shape.
OK. It is a bit nippy, shall we start the tour? Please. Come on.
Come on through. Got the late-Victorian tiles here.
It opens up straightaway into the first reception room. It does.
Smaller than I expected, this room.
Did you expect huge, high ceilings? Yes.
What do you think of the entrance? I love it. I love the tiles.
It just makes such a big statement.
Let me take you across to the other room, then you'll see there's a bit more space.
So here's your second reception room.
It's actually been divided up.
You've got this space and a bit more, big enough for a baby-grand piano.
You can see where it opens up a bit more
on this side of the house.
It's got more character as well. Definitely.
Let's look at the kitchen next. Great.
Generous room dimensions are key to their move,
so we head to the rear of the property
where the space really starts to open up.
And here you have a very handsome country kitchen.
Love the beams.
It's deceiving, isn't it? It is. It's almost like a different house.
I like the light.
You get so much natural light from each area of the house.
So quite a lot of space downstairs, lots of reception rooms.
But I haven't shown you everything.
Next door to the kitchen is a utility room and a cloakroom,
and across the other side of the house is yet another living space,
a perfect spot to relax on a sunny summer's afternoon.
So this home also has a conservatory.
What a nice surprise. I didn't expect this.
Yeah. Not at all.
Bit of an added bonus? Yeah. Yeah, added bonus.
Not necessarily something we'd need, but it's nice.
Could be something we want.
I'm getting a different warmth here.
OK, well, John's not so sure, but you and I are excited
about a conservatory. We'll head upstairs.
And here's your master bedroom.
Smaller than what we're used to.
Is this smaller than you have at home at the moment?
Yes. Yeah, it is, definitely.
The one thing you're both used to is having one bedroom.
Mm. You've got four.
So if you wanted a dressing room, you've got plenty of space.
The other three bedrooms include one dual-aspect double,
next to which is a similar-sized room that shares a common wall.
Knocking through to create a larger master bedroom is an option.
There's also a single bedroom and a large family bathroom,
so there are plenty of options upstairs.
Now let's see what they make of the garden.
So here's your garden.
Quite a mature garden.
The total acreage including the footprint of the house is about half an acre.
You've got the garage there, a little greenhouse,
a sunken garden
and plenty of lawn to mow, because you like mowing your lawn, don't you? I do.
Well, it is price time. Let's see if that puts you in a better mood.
Who wants to go first?
Go ahead. Apparently me.
I think it's around 650,000. OK.
I was going to go lower, about 570.
Interesting from both of you.
Current asking price - ?675,000.
So ?125,000 under your top budget,
so lots of flexibility there, but a lot of house for that price.
Because Dorset, Hampshire, all these counties are expensive.
A rather muted response, considering there's so much house for the price.
All right, let's keep going, more to show you.
It's hard to believe that thousands of years ago, Dorset was almost entirely forest,
when today less than 10% of the county is woodland.
One local resident, who has a vested interest in the regeneration
and preservation of the county's woodland
is eminent British furniture designer John Makepeace.
John, great to meet you. Hello, Nicki.
As a furniture designer, your passion is wood, isn't it?
It is. I can't really explain it.
It's just a material with which I have an empathy.
it's something which I can work without very expensive equipment,
I can produce individual things in it.
It's a material right for furniture.
Considered the father of modern British furniture,
John favours indigenous and sustainable wood in his designs.
John doesn't make the furniture himself,
but employs local craftsmen to translate his drawings into physical forms.
Organic shapes and curves are a signature of his designs,
and inside his 16th-century house, the wood that is so carefully seasoned and crafted
sits in pride of place with a natural elegance.
And is this your dining table? It is.
And do you use this as a family? Surely, surely, yes.
What it is, is one tree of ash. Yes.
And it's got this wonderful marking in here, the ripple,
which is a feature of trees that grow in wavy grain
and it produces this light and shade.
John's strong belief in the importance of native trees led him to purchase Hooke Forest,
a 350-acre of sustainable woodland,
now used for research and development,
ensuring the forests of Dorset remain useful
and stay intact for future generations.
But for now, it's back to the house hunt.
Set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
our second property lies in the outskirts
of the village of Thorncombe.
With an active community, an impressive 19th-century church
and an agricultural heritage, Thorncombe
offers a typical slice of Dorset rural living.
Property number two sits far enough outside the village
to deliver that rural setting for John.
Surrounded by a generous plot of land,
the house dates back to the 19th century,
and was originally thought to be a flax worker's cottage, typical of the area.
So we've travelled from east to west Dorset.
We're on the Somerset border now,
and here is your second property.
What do you think?
Impressed. Yes? It's like something out of a storybook.
It's very attractive, isn't it? Mm. John? Very solid, yeah.
Nice shape, interesting.
Shall we step inside? Perfect. Come on.
As usual, John's keeping his cards close to his chest.
So, step inside, up the stairs.
Because this part, this is the old worker's cottage.
Mm. The oldest part of the property.
Greeted by a huge inglenook.
Yes, I love that.
It's interesting, it's possibly smaller than the other place,
and yet it feels better.
You get that instant feeling as you come through the door? Yeah.
So this room flows into the study next door.
It's quite a large area and I know that's important for both of you for the business.
OK, let's keep going.
Well, John seems to be coming round.
Let's see what they think of the kitchen.
So, I know we're after a large kitchen.
Yes. How's this for size? This is spectacular.
We could cook in here and be in the same room, not yelling through a wall.
It's social, isn't it, the way it's set out?
So you wouldn't change a lot in this room?
No, maybe just the furniture. Yes, and how we use it. Yeah.
Put your own mark on it. Mm.
Like the first property, the kitchen has a utility room, adjacent to which is a cloakroom.
And upstairs there are three bedrooms to choose from.
I think this could make a fantastic master bedroom.
The exposed beams just add so much to the room.
Even the wall, it's not a straight wall.
The chimney's underneath us, the inglenook.
So you can see that's the flue going up.
What do you think, John? Nice shape. Window onto the road. Not sure about that.
The only good thing is, there's hardly any traffic. That's the good news.
This room may overlook the country lane, but it has a spacious en-suite,
and there's another option for a master bedroom.
Or you could use this bedroom as your master,
as it has a bathroom next door.
Wonderful. This is a really big room as well, and almost
Yes, well, it's triple aspect,
and you've got similar views.
Next door, the second bathroom also has generous proportions,
as does the third bedroom.
Outside, there's a garage with space for a workshop, which is important to John.
In the last property, Christina said she'd like lots of nooks and crannies to explore.
This property offers that and a whole lot more.
I wanted to bring you up here so that you could really appreciate the property.
It's beautiful. The landscape just rolls forever, doesn't it?
This is all yours.
There's a vegetable patch which comes with the property,
and you've got three outbuildings as well.
One's just been made into a stable block, you've got the barn,
and there's planning permission
to take that down and build, on the same footprint, another stable block, should you want to.
So, time to guess the price.
Oh, I'd say higher end of our budget.
Eight. OK, 800,000 for you.
815? So you're both quite close, really, aren't you?
?750,000. HE LAUGHS
50,000 under your budget, and
it only has just gone on the market. Right.
John, any feedback?
I reserve judgment. I reserve the right to not commit.
Lots to think about.
As the sun sets over the Dorset fields,
John and Christina have plenty to consider after their first day of house hunting.
Well, it's day two.
Yesterday didn't go quite as well as I hoped it would.
Now, I seem to have a supporter in Christina, but John wasn't bowled over at all.
So today we're going to show them our third property, the mystery house.
Like John, I'm not going to give too much away,
but I will say this -
character and quirkiness they've asked for,
and that's exactly what we're going to show them.
Our mystery property lies in the village of Axmouth,
over the border in east Devon.
Taking its name from its position at the mouth of the River Axe,
the 500 residents enjoy views stretching out over the estuary,
past an impressive 15th-century church tower.
The village is laden with charming thatched cottages,
but our very attached mystery property has a more regal air.
So, third and final property. It is our mystery house.
Extremely different from the others that we've shown you.
What do you think? Beautiful, classic.
Surprised? Yeah, very surprised, yeah.
Built in 1878, it was one family's home, can you believe?
Later on it became a school,
and then it's been renovated into five amazing homes.
Wow. Nice. Yeah.
Fantastic. Well, let's start the tour,
because this is a house like I've never seen before. Come on.
Architecturally, the property is fascinating.
The exterior is a mishmash of architectural styles,
from Tudor to Jacobean.
Once inside, the living areas can be found on the first floor.
And here is your kitchen.
Magnificent. It is.
The windows, the big working area.
Originally, it was the butler's bedroom.
Wow. Big bedroom. So it didn't look like this.
It's the first one that's made me think I could move in.
Oh, yeah. Good, well, let's continue.
John's positivity is a refreshing surprise, and I'm sure the next room won't disappoint.
And this is your drawing room.
Gosh. Oh! Oh!
A little bit of a gem, isn't it? It is, isn't it? The size of it.
So the panelling around, that is the original Victorian panelling.
The most amazing fireplace is actually Georgian.
It's Italian marble, so it's a lot older than this property.
Oh, it's just spectacular.
I know I keep using that word, but...
And you know what? There's even more to discover with this home. Let's proceed.
I think the level of finish and the room dimensions are really hitting the mark so far.
Laid out over the second and third floors,
the four bedrooms don't disappoint either.
And here you have a rather palatial master bedroom.
Oh, look at the ceiling and the windows!
It's pretty ornate, isn't it? Oh!
It continues the theme, doesn't it? It does. The level of decor and the quality.
And the doors are all original, the panelling.
This is how it would have looked. Downstairs it's been painted on.
And the windows, it's fantastic, isn't it?
That leaded glass is just beautiful.
The other bedroom is equally regal and comes with an en-suite.
There's also a large family bathroom on this floor.
On the top floor, there's still more to come,
with yet another bathroom, bedroom number three
and the final room, which could be the perfect work hideaway.
This is the fourth bedroom. I think it makes a fantastic study/office.
It's beautiful. Look at the view.
And I can see two desks, plenty of space.
You could work side by side.
Or I could just go to the beach while he's working. Yeah.
Why don't we head back downstairs and you can look at the outside again? Perfect.
And think how much it's all worth. Mm.
John, do you want to lead the way?
Outside, the communal grounds are made up of woodland and pasture,
so the only thing left to discuss is the price.
So, that's the grand tour over, So, guess the price.
I think it's around ?850,000.
I'm close to that. I'd say 875.
You're ?100,000 over.
The asking price is ?775,000,
and that includes all the furniture and fittings, should you want them.
That makes quite a difference, doesn't it? Yeah.
Well, it looks like the mystery house has done it again.
And for the first time on this tour I really think we've shown John
something he would consider buying.
I think you need to discuss and collect your thoughts. Come on.
Our house hunters have seen everything we had to show them in this beautiful part of Britain.
But were any of the properties right for them? Let's find out.
Well, Christina and John, from the bustle of London to the tranquillity of Dorset,
we've certainly seen this county. Have you enjoyed it?
Now the first property we saw, we went to the Hampshire border
and that four-bedroom house, very attractive from the outside.
It just didn't have that warm feel, like it could be home
We moved on to the second property in the west of Dorset,
just on the Somerset border this time. Beautiful.
First impressions for both of you I thought were quite good.
John, you're quite difficult to read, but I think you warmed up as we went round.
It just seemed to flow better.
So it gave me a better impression of the house, even though it was narrow and thin.
I think we did better with our mystery house.
It was absolutely perfect.
There isn't anything that I could fault.
The inside of the property, it was just spectacular.
I could picture both of us there.
It was literally like picking up our existing place
and moving it to the sea.
I think we need more space, away from people.
You want that isolation. I think we do.
So what is the next step for you both?
Is Dorset the county?
We like Dorset and we haven't really explored this area a lot.
Well, hopefully we've helped you narrow the search to Dorset
and showed you some houses you might not have considered. You definitely did.
We wish you all the best and I hope you make the move soon.
Thanks very much.
It seems John and Christina really crave the rural lifestyle without any close neighbours.
Now although we didn't manage to find them their perfect property,
I hope we've helped on their journey
to find their dream home.
Join us again next time. Bye-bye.
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