Jonnie Irwin is in Essex helping a young couple find an equestrian property in the Home Counties with a budget of £575,000. He also gets a master class in brick making.
Browse content similar to Essex. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
On first impressions, this building may appear fairly unassuming,
but it has grand claims.
It's the oldest wooden stave-built building in Europe
and the oldest wooden church in the entire world.
So ancient, in fact, that the oak trees used to build it
would have cast shade over the Romans.
So, which particular part of Britannica am I in today?
Join me and find out.
Today's couple are hoping to swap a small two-bedroom flat
for a spacious country home.
Every room in this house is bigger than the biggest
room in our house, so yes.
We're impressed. They have quite a list of must-haves.
Starting with land for their horses.
Horses are a huge part of your life,
and now they're a huge part of your life as well. Whether he likes it or not.
They'll be moving in with the in-laws,
but who will get the en suite?
I thought you wanted an en suite so you didn't have to share with your parents.
I don't want to share with him! Right, now we're getting to it.
Today I'm in Essex, and this is Greenstead Church,
hidden away here in the countryside since the 11th century,
when the trees used to build these walls were felled.
It may have changed over time, but at its heart is the timber nave.
Now blackened and weathered through age, it's still
as the original craftsman would have built it some 900 years ago.
Stood here, it's hard to believe we are just 30 miles from London,
but this part of Essex isn't the only part of the county
that remains unchanged through modern times.
Sandwiched between Greater London
and Suffolk in the south-east of England, Essex is a diverse county.
70% of its land is devoted to agricultural use,
and heading east, it has a coastline that stretches over 300 miles.
Essex turns into Constable country near the Suffolk border with gentle
rolling hills, winding country lanes and small market towns, peppered
with charming period buildings and the capital of Roman
Britain, Colchester, boasts the largest surviving Norman keep
in Europe and was the first royal castle to be built outside of London.
It may be on the doorstep of London,
but Essex has enough country properties to make the Big Smoke seem like a million miles way,
and that's just what today's buyers today are hoping for.
Let's meet them.
Today we are helping Simon, an IT analyst, and girlfriend Mandy,
a self-confessed workaholic, to swap their hectic north London life
for a fresh start in pastures new.
I've been here for about nine years now.
I've sort of outgrown the flat a bit. Mandy moved in.
Since we've got the dog, the place is not big enough.
So their dog Charlie needs more space,
but Mandy always wants her horses close by.
I haven't got a good work/life balance at the moment.
I think that if the horses were at home, I would be at home more,
I would get to see Simon more and have a nicer quality of life.
That's what I'm hoping for.
Mandy own three horses, is a riding instructor and works at a livery.
The question is, where does she want to be trotting off to?
We have decided to move to Essex, mainly because of its location.
It's not too far away, but it still offers a country feel.
We are still going to commute to work, so Essex was centrally
suited for my work in Enfield and Mandy's work in Leyton.
That makes sense, but equestrian properties in Essex don't come cheap,
so Mandy's parents will be making the move with them.
That means we will need to find more space inside.
What style of property are they after?
Me, personally, I would like the house that
when you drive up to it, it looks period-looking.
When you get inside it has a modern feel.
I'm really hoping for more space in the next place.
Because it's too small here. I don't enjoy cooking.
Simon doesn't get a proper meal often enough, and unfortunately,
microwave meals is often as good as it gets.
OK, so a character property with a modern interior and a large kitchen.
What else is on the menu? We really do need a detached house.
Four bedrooms? Yep. Outside we're looking for two to three acres.
Stables, and some kind of exercise arena,
menage, for the horses as well.
With Simon, Mandy and Mandy's parents putting their properties
on the market, what sort of budget are we looking at?
Our maximum budget for this move would be ?575,000.
According to the British Horse Society, the number of people
owning a horse has doubled since the turn of the century.
Now 2.8 million people own a horse. Little wonder then, that equestrian
properties so close to London now come in relative high demand.
So if we're going to find anything suitable for Mandy and Simon,
something has to give.
If it's not the budget, then maybe the compromise
has to be the location.
Simon and Mandy need to commute to north London for work.
So we are focusing our search around Colchester, as it has direct train
links to London.
We'll be viewing three properties without telling them the price
until the end of the tour, the last of which is the mystery house,
chosen to challenge our house hunters by encouraging them
Good to be in the countryside? BOTH: Very nice, yes.
So, horses are a huge, huge part of your life
and now a huge part of your life, aren't they?
Whether he likes it or not!
So, how much land are you looking for for your horses?
Realistically for my own three, around three acres, four acres, if possible.
In future we would like to possibly run a business as
a livery yard, so, then if that came into play, we would want more land.
Right, so budget-wise, how much are we talking about today?
Anything up to ?575,000 we're looking for,
but, obviously if you can get cheaper, even better.
OK. That's a fair budget, but we are looking for quite a lot.
How far our are you prepared to go from your search area?
We understand that we might have to go further out.
OK. The rain is starting to come down.
The first house is lined up. Let's get there and see what you think.
With a budget of ?575,000, Simon and Mandy are after a detached
property with four bedrooms and a large kitchen.
Key to the search is finding acreage for the horses,
and ideally they would like outbuildings to develop into stables.
Our first property is 11 miles from Colchester,
near the village of Weeley.
The impressive Grade II listed red brick church
dates back to the 16th century and the local pub is said to have
been a haunt of highwayman Dick Turpin.
On the outskirts of the village, there are plenty of lanes
and farmland to explore on horseback
So the location should suit our enthusiastic equestrian.
Situated off an A road, the first offering is conveniently
positioned for commuting but also benefits from a rural setting.
I'm excited to see what you think.
We decided to go big and hopefully beautiful. What do you guys think?
I quite like the modern look, actually.
I like the red brick and the dark slate. It's a relatively new house.
Just over ten years old. Let's see what you think of the inside. Excellent.
Because this search needs to accommodate Simon, Mandy
and her parents, space is key.
This property has plenty.
In here, I think you start to
appreciate the sheer scale of this house.
Hmm. It's quite big, isn't it? Blimey. It's a good size.
You have your wood burner there as well. Yeah, really nice.
So, The lounge is sizeable, and to the rear,
the kitchen can certainly handle catering for four hungry adults.
Very nice. I'd actually WANT to cook in here.
You even have an oil-fired range.
Yeah, I noticed that. There's something I'll show you next.
I'm interested to see what you think of it, what you might do with it.
Now, obviously there is a bit of an anteroom here, office area.
Obviously this is the dining room, isn't it?
Yes. At the moment, there is an unused annexe upstairs,
a bit like a first-floor flat.
You could incorporate this room and the room next door,
with the upstairs of the annexe and almost have a semidetached house.
Good. You do have builders on board, don't you? Yep, both dads.
Perfect, it keeps the cost down. Definitely.
So let's have a look at the bedrooms as they are at the moment. Lead the way, Simon.
The space keeps coming on this level with a boot room,
a utility room and a downstairs shower room.
This room is your master bedroom. We like or don't like? We like.
Not sure about the wallpaper, but that can change.
Strange shape. Quite a nice en suite? That is quite nice.
Every room in this house is bigger than the biggest room in our house.
So, we're impressed. Well, it's a big house, there's lots to see.
Let's keep moving on. OK.
The other two bedrooms are large doubles,
and there's a single bedroom on this floor.
Outside, the property's surrounded by mature trees
and a well-maintained garden.
This move is all about the land for the horses.
Now I know we're stood in the middle of some land, but at the moment
this land isn't included with the sale of the house. But from what you
have seen, how much do you think it is on the market for at the moment?
I would have said the top of our budget. 575. OK. Simon?
I'll go a bit more. I reckon 580. Both good guesses.
You're on the money.
It started off life a year ago at 595. It's now been reduced to 575.
The reason we're here is because I have had a conversation with
the owner, who is prepared to negotiate and talk about including some of this land.
The owner of the house owns around 14 acres here,
which includes those stable block. Right. Wow. OK.
Plus, you've also got other land there which might be getting
sold off by a separate owner.
OK. More than enough land for a livery business. Definitely.
What's your thoughts?
At the top of their budget, this house offers four to five
bedrooms, depending on the configuration.
There's a sizeable living room, a large farmhouse kitchen
and a decent-sized garden.
By separate negotiation, the land and the stables could be
available for Mandy's horses, so I think we're off to a solid start.
So, lots of options to consider. Yeah.
Now, to confuse you even more, time for the second property.
One of the reasons buildings like Colchester Castle and the 12th-century Coggeshall Abbey
were built using reclaimed Roman bricks
was because Essex has very little naturally occurring stone.
Sitting on an area known as the London bed, Essex may not have stone under its rolling hills,
but it does have clay - the most important ingredient needed to make the humble, yet all-important brick,
and the region is considered to be the country's historical centre for brick-making.
Bulmer Brickworks claims to be the oldest of its kind in England
and for over eight decades, Peter Minter's family have been hand-making bricks that have
helped restore buildings such as Hampton Court and Windsor Castle.
So, right at the face of it here, now. Right at the face, yes.
So what makes this clay so special?
The minerals in there are helpful because they give us a range of
colour, quite naturally.
And where does this cut-away clay then go to?
It's taken up to where we're going to be making, behind the mill,
where we're preparing the clay for the makers.
OK. And it's stored over winter. It's allowed to weather, which helps to break the clay down -
part of the traditional process - and then it's used the following year.
Can we get closer to where it's happening? Of course. Lovely.
The clay that we've seen dug is soaked with water, put in the
back of this machine, which mixes it up into what we refer to as a pug.
A pug? '300,000 bricks are made just like this every year.
'A tough job.'
What's going on here?
They're drying. They have to be almost perfectly dry
before they go in the kiln, and you can't dry them too quickly.
The whole nature of the process is that they want to be dried steadily.
The firing of the brick must be perfect, otherwise all the previous processes have been a waste of time.
Peter, this has been absolutely fascinating. Thank you so much.
Shall we let them get on and fill this kiln up?
I think it'd be a good idea.
Our second property is in Little Clacton.
Two miles from a direct train to London,
the village is well placed for our commuting couple.
Apart from the stunning 12th-century Norman church,
the village also has a selection of character properties.
There are plenty of bridleways and open tracks for Mandy and her horses
to explore as well as a village shop for life's little conveniences.
So, all in all, an attractive village, and an ideal
location for our next house, a timber-framed character property.
Now, for both of you,
a very different proposition to what you asked for.
Now, start looking at the house here. Wow!
First impressions of the house as you see it? Very nice. Yeah. Different.
Much different from the last one. Totally.
This has hundreds of years on property number one.
The original parts of the house are 16th century.
It's got a Victorian extension to the back, much later addition
being that conservatory, so it is a mishmash of styles.
Who'd like to live in a period property, or would you both like to?
My mum and dad! Would they? Definitely.
Is this what they'd be imagining?
Yeah. Yeah. This is it. Good. Let's take a look inside.
This house may be more appealing to Mandy's parents,
but unlike the first property, it does come with land for the horses.
OK. So, very different proportions to the first house we saw this morning.
Yes. Very different style. You've got all this timber everywhere,
a nice big open fireplace with the wood burner.
That's a nice feature, actually. As a size for a living room,
it's not bad, is it? No, it's not bad.
It's not that much. Actually, it's quite a bit smaller than my parents'. Yeah.
It may not be the size they were expecting,
but there is another reception room on the other
side of the fireplace and also a small study and third reception room.
Adding further to the living space downstairs is the conservatory.
Clearly, a very recent addition to the house, but a welcome addition nonetheless.
A bright room, yeah.
I like this. It's nice. It is nice.
Big, isn't it? It is big but it's nice and light, isn't it?
And it's in keeping with the rest of the house, which is really nice.
Now, there is work to be done in the kitchen. Follow me. Right. OK.
'I think Simon and Mandy are starting to see the potential now, but they're not giving much away.'
As it stands, you've got the dining room and a small kitchen there.
Yeah. It's quite small, isn't it?
Yeah, you could have a couple of stools there and have a kitchen sort of diner.
Like a bar type. Yeah, bar type, yeah. Yeah.
OK. You've got a door spilling straight out into the back garden.
We won't go out there yet. OK. Right. Upstairs to the bedrooms. OK.
'In all, there are a total of five bedrooms for Simon, Mandy and her parents to choose from.'
Now, this is the biggest of the bedrooms. OK.
This isn't as small as I thought it was going to be, actually, for this sort of house. No.
It's quite nice. This is a unique shape, isn't it?
You have a family bathroom on this floor and then a separate loo on this floor, OK? Right.
My thoughts are, you might be able to make one of the other rooms into an en suite.
Oh, OK. That's an idea, isn't it? Yeah. OK? Let's keep going on.
'The other four double bedrooms are all a good size, so Mandy's parents will be well catered for.
'And outside, there's a triple garage and a two-acre garden.
'But it's the land for Mandy's horses that's driving the move,
'so we're going to explore what's on offer.'
This part of the land measures apparently four acres.
OK. More than you asked for, yeah?
More than I asked for, that's good.
How much do you think this one's on the market for?
I would say around about 550.
I'm going to go more. I'm going to go 560.
Well, this house is on the market for offers around ?575,000. Oh, OK. OK.
this property comes with five bedrooms and four reception rooms.
Including the garden, there's a total of six acres,
but will it be enough
for Mandy's plans to create a livery in the future?
So, hopefully today has given you plenty to think about. It has, yes. Yes.
Let's find you somewhere to get your heads together and mull things over, shall we? OK.
As day turns to night, Mandy and Simon will be considering
all that they've seen on their first day of house-hunting in Essex.
At the top of this search, we were told it was all about the land,
which made yesterday's house tours all the more puzzling, really.
The first house I got great reactions from,
but it only had the potential for a couple of acres of land.
And the second property sat in two acres with an additional
four acres of land and, at best, the reactions were lukewarm.
So for today and for the mystery property, we'll focus on
the house itself, which is a bit of a gamble.
Our mystery house lies just outside the village of Gestingthorpe,
the home of Captain Laurence Oates,
one of the ill-fated companions on Scot's Antarctic expedition.
In terms of architecture, the village has a prime example
of a red brick church dating to Norman times,
as well as a collection of typical country cottages.
The local pub has a good reputation and our mystery house
is just moments away.
So, the mystery property.
Here she is. Very nice.
Yep. It is nice, isn't it? Yeah, gorgeous.
Built around 1988, at least most of it was.
OK. So you like what you see? Yes, I do. Very much so, yeah.
This property is the mystery house for good reason.
It's the only house that gives you a genuine annexe. OK!
A fully self-contained, straightaway you can move into it, or your parents could.
The other reason why it's the mystery property is there is a compromise with the land.
OK. All right?
Let's have a look inside first, and we'll deal with the land after.
It may lack acreage, but Mandy has said she prefers open-plan living,
so the interior should be a pleasant surprise.
Right, then. What do we think of this?
Nice, I like it. Open plan.
It's very open plan, isn't it? Yeah.
It's nice. I like that.
Cosy, but spacious at the same time.
What it gives you is still defined living areas, haven't you?
You've got this wonderful sitting room there with that wood burner. Nice. Very nice.
And then you've got a big sweeping flow right through to the utility.
Really nice. A nice set-up, isn't it?
Let's go over here, have a look at this kitchen.
It's oak. The kitchen spreads out behind you. You can see where the range is.
Oh, wow! Wow!
I mean, this is genuine open-plan living.
So, is that good, is that bad?
Yeah, it's nice cos obviously, if we're in together,
I'm in the living room, she's cooking, we're still sort of close to each other.
Yeah, in our current property, we're often at opposite ends of the house almost, aren't we? Yeah.
Brilliant, OK. Let's take a look next door. That's a really nice feature as well.
'In the last property, the conservatory impressed, so the next room should be well received.'
It's a great size.
Yep. You could eat out here as well, dining table...
There's loads of room, isn't there?
OK, good. Good reaction so far, hey?
Yeah, I like it. Good. OK.
Let's take a look upstairs at the bedrooms, shall we? OK.
'As predicted, the open-plan layout has gone down well.
'Whilst upstairs, the floor plan is much more traditional.'
This is the master bedroom.
It's one of four on this level. OK.
Very nice. It's all right, isn't it?
It's master because you've got an en suite bathroom...
Nice. Plus, the other side of this wall, there's a family shower room.
OK. So, that's mine and that's yours.
Yep. So now... Look how you're dividing it up! I thought you wanted
an en suite so you didn't have to share with your parents?
I don't want to share with him. Right, now we get to it.
I want you to look through your parents' eyes next, because we'll go into the annexe.
'There are two more spacious double bedrooms and a large single in this part of the house.
'The annexe has a separate entrance, but is also joined to the main house via the kitchen.'
So, welcome to your parents' living quarters, if you like.
It's ready to go, isn't it? It's split up at the moment into two flats.
There's a bedsit below us and this forms a one-bedroom flat. Oh, OK.
A nice little two-bedroom annexe.
Yeah. So, quite excited? Yeah. Good, OK.
This house comes with planning permission to extend the annexe and that's reflected in the price.
Outside, the gardens are laid out over half an acre,
and although there's no land for the horses, there are options available.
There's no additional land at the moment. OK.
Now, there's a land owner that'd be prepared to lease you some land.
OK. Seven acres in total, within a mile, but -
there is a bonus there - you can get to the land. There's a bridleway.
The back of these houses goes straight to the field, really.
OK. OK? So, how much do you think this house is on the market for?
You can go first!
Um... I'm going to say, based on the fact it's planning permission as well, already, 570?
I'm going to go 580.
Split the camp - it's on the market for 575.
Loads, also, to think about, then, not just for you guys but for your parents. Yes.
Once again, we've found them a property on-budget at ?575,000.
In the main house, there's an open-plan ground floor and four good-sized bedrooms.
There's also an annexe and an option of land for the horses -
a different proposition from our first two properties.
We've shown Mandy and Simon three properties now, each giving them
different options as regards to land and living accommodation.
Let's find out what they think.
Let's go through the properties one by one. The first house.
You seemed to fall in love with it outside the front door, almost, didn't you?
Yeah. Definitely had that wow factor.
You looked at it and thought, "I can see myself living there."
From the outside, inside, it was just big, it was spacious, it was light. It had everything to offer.
It had the land across the road which was slightly detached but that worked for us, I think.
The land was the variable, wasn't it?
Yes. The potential for land with some shrewd negotiating.
Yes. So, that afternoon we went to the second property,
a period house.
Yep. Not everybody's cup of tea and it looked like you had mixed emotions in there. What went on?
It was a beautiful house, wasn't it? And it was set in a really pretty location, but...
And even though it had five bedrooms, it just didn't feel big, did it?
No, it didn't have the wow factor as the first one did.
It had a nice conservatory. And with the land, because it was four acres,
but also it was in natural land, with the trees and everything.
It would have been quite a big job, I think, to uproot some of what needed to be done.
So, you had a chance to sleep on things, and then it was the mystery house.
Always a little bit out there.
What do you think about that now?
That was a beautiful house as well, wasn't it?
Yes. The fact that it's got an annexe, all ready to move in.
Two-bedroom, and it had got planning permission to extend...
Yes, and in a nice village, nice setting.
Lots to like.
Obviously, the compromise with the house was the land. Yeah.
But there's options there, isn't there?
There's options, and I think we'd just have to do a bit of research ourselves, maybe,
and see what land was available, and see what we could do with that, because we did like the area.
So, you've two properties in the running, the first house and the mystery property?
Yep. Well, look. What's next? Mum and Dad going to come up for a second viewing, are they?
Yep, I think we'll come up together, arrange another viewing for both properties,
and get an idea of what they think.
Well, I wish you the very best of luck.
Please let us know how you get on with it. We will.
We will do. Thank you very much. Thank you.
I knew it wasn't going to be easy
finding Mandy and Simon a property with all of their requirements, especially when you bear in mind
their fairly limited budget in an expensive part of the world, but, as the sun goes down, I'm feeling
pretty chuffed, because in making compromises, they found not one but two potential properties.
So, fingers crossed Mandy's parents like at least one of them and they can settle on a clear winner.
See you next time.
If you'd like to escape to the country
in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland
or England or even to the Continent, and need our help,
please apply online at:
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
This is Malcolm, who owns Iceland. He's the one
that's going to present us with the ten grand. When we win it.
You've just got to make it as bearable
Jonnie Irwin is in Essex helping a young couple find an equestrian property with a budget of £575,000. But as the Home Counties are notoriously pricey, they may have to do some lateral thinking to get the house and acreage they are after.
Jonnie also gets a master class in making bricks from the oldest brickworks of its kind in the country.