Shropshire Escape to the Country


Shropshire

Nicki Chapman is in Shropshire helping a couple find a property with only sheep for neighbours. They have a budget of 430,000 pounds.


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Transcript


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This distinctive landmark is the pride and glory of the county.

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Legend has it it was built by a giant, who set out to destroy the local town

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with a spadeful of soil, but en route was duped by a local and dumped the lot here,

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thus saving the town from destruction. So where is this mighty hill of heroic proportions?

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Well, stick around to find out.

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'In today's show, I'll be helping a couple who want to head to pastures new,

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'but there's no wriggling out of work to be done.'

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-You said you didn't mind doing a bathroom.

-You're ganging up on me!

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'But could the mystery house throw that out?' I like the new you.

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I'm in rural Shropshire and this is the legendary Wrekin,

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said to be the inspiration for Tolkien's Middle Earth.

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As a young local lad, he'd regularly hike the 407 metres to the summit.

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If you were to do it today, you'd be rewarded, not with wizards and hobbits,

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but with views of a staggering 17 counties in England and Wales.

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Lying on the English-Welsh border, Shropshire is our largest land-locked county and one of

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the most sparsely populated. With its breathtaking landscape,

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this county holds on to a rich architectural heritage from the Norman remains of Ludlow Castle

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to Ironbridge Gorge, given World Heritage status by UNESCO in 1986

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in recognition of Thomas Telford's 18th-century feat of engineering.

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At its heart is the county town of Shrewsbury, packed with medieval timber-framed buildings.

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The south is peppered with pretty villages and historic Ludlow,

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a real cultural hub and foodies' heaven.

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Now although Shropshire's house prices on average are almost 4% below the national level,

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that doesn't tell the full story.

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Those looking to buy in the picturesque south will pay 10-15% more

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than the commuter belt in the north

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where recent unemployment has kept prices down.

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But country-wise, there are some fabulous properties to be had.

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Let's look at what's on the market.

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For a sprawling country pile, look no further than this six-bedroom, Grade 2-listed vicarage

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in Coalbrookdale, priced at £850,000.

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The three opulent reception rooms are complemented by its elegant kitchen.

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Outside, 3/4 of an acre look out over the Dale Valley.

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£600,000 will get you a slice of traditional Shropshire

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in the form of this four-bedroom timber farmhouse in Sheriffhales.

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Grade 2-listed and lovingly maintained, it has stacks of original features

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and contemporary decor.

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Outside, 2 acres of garden and paddock look out over open fields.

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This three-bedroom listed cottage could be yours for £350,000.

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Its 16th-century beams give it that warm character feel

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and a pretty garden has outbuildings with great conversion potential.

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There's certainly a good range of properties on offer in Shropshire,

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but it's time now to find out what this week's buyers are after.

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Since marrying 11 years ago, Alan and Gillian have lived in their five-bedroom house

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in Cambridgeshire, but now that Alan is retired and Gillian is hoping to work part time,

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they're ready for a gear change.

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-We're looking for a relaxed, lazy lifestyle, to be honest.

-Slowing down, spending half days at home.

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-It's time for us to spend more time together now.

-He makes an excellent househusband,

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but I would like to come back and supervise!

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-Location is key to their quieter lifestyle.

-I think we're looking very much

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for a very rural setting, edge of village location, or maybe 2-3 miles outside.

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-Somewhere that's really peaceful.

-Sheep as neighbours.

-Definitely, please.

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But that's not the only reason they've settled on Shropshire.

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With family being in the northwest, we just want to be that Sunday lunch drive away from everybody

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or within that distance. We're looking for a property we'd like to set up together.

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I moved into this house and it would be nice to do a property of our own.

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And it seems they definitely want to upsize in every way.

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What we're looking for is a detached property, 4 to 5 bedrooms,

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very large garden. We're probably looking to maybe half an acre of garden.

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Large kitchen.

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Possibly separate dining room.

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Same number of reception rooms, that's three.

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Utility, en suite...

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The things we don't have currently. Secluded area.

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I've been playing the guitar now for... Since I was 9! Let's not give the age away.

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I have a classical and two acoustic guitars.

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The other thing which takes place in this room is that I'm keen on reading, so I have a mini library

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which would be nice to expand. Apart from having a bigger music room, maybe a library as well.

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This is our current garden - not a lot bigger than a postage stamp.

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One thing we'd really look forward to is a lot bigger garden

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where it takes me longer than 12 and a half minutes to mow it

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and we could put more plants in than we currently have. And possibly a vegetable plot.

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I'm not really looking for a project as such, but I am quite prepared to put in a new kitchen,

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put in maybe a new bathroom.

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But I really don't want to start doing structural work.

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With their current property on the market for £300,000, how much do they have to spend?

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Our budget for the new property is £430,000.

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Alan and Gillian have a very reasonable budget for Shropshire, which is just as well

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because they're definitely thinking big. They want a super-size kitchen, large receptions,

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4-5 bedrooms, lashing of outside space and the only neighbours they're after will be four-legged.

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As they want splendid isolation, our house search will focus on rural pockets

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between Shrewsbury and Ludlow.

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I'll show them some of the best properties in the area,

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but I won't be revealing the price until they've had a guess first.

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Lastly, there's our mystery house which is in a place they'd never think of looking.

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-Alan and Gillian, welcome to Shropshire.

-Thank you.

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-Looking forward to the search?

-We are.

-Very much so.

-How well do you both know Shropshire?

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Em, only a little. We've driven through it once or twice, but that's all so far.

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-We hope to see a lot more today.

-A blank canvas!

-Very much so.

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-It's going to be a big move, but also a lifestyle change.

-Yes.

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I'm hoping to, after the move, go part-time. I'm full-time now.

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-It would be nice to catch up with Alan's retirement.

-There's no point if Gilly's still working.

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-What a lovely thing to say.

-I know. He's lovely!

-You've been together a long time,

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-but it's the first property you'll buy together.

-It is.

-How exciting!

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-I'll put my mark on it!

-Are you keen?

-Yes!

-We'll know if we see something we both love.

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-We will know.

-Yes.

-Fingers crossed Shropshire will provide it.

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-The budget - £430,000?

-£430,000.

-Right.

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-Are you both ready?

-Absolutely.

-Come on, then.

-Great.

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For their £430,000 budget, Alan and Gillian want the first home they buy together

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to give them three reception rooms, including a separate dining room,

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a large kitchen and utility room,

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somewhere for Gillian to play her guitars, at least 4 bedrooms with the master en suite,

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with a half-acre garden set in a quiet rural location.

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We kick off our property search in the village of Church Preen.

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It's a quiet little place just a six-mile drive from beautiful Much Wenlock,

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with its array of independent shops and dramatic remains of its 12th-century priory.

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Back in Church Preen, they would have four-legged neighbours and the local primary school next door

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if they go for this Grade 2-listed former schoolhouse.

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It was built in 1872 by the great British architect of the time Richard Norman Shaw.

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So here is our very first property.

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-It's certainly got features to it and character.

-It's got character,

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-it looks lovely.

-You've got the timber-framed gable at the front.

-Yes.

-Very attractive, local stone.

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-And the chimney. Can you imagine how far that must have been seen?

-Yes.

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-It must have been the tallest in the area.

-Looks like it.

-Looks wonderful.

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-It has lots of features.

-I look forward to that. Can't wait to see inside.

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'Judging from their reaction to the exterior, we've made a strong start.

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'So let's hope the period features inside work their charm.'

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Guys, come on in. Through the hallway to the first reception room.

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I know you wanted a music room cum library. Is this big enough to be a library as well?

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-Certainly is. There's space for the bookcases we have, either side of the fireplace.

-It's ideal.

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-My room.

-Your room - tick!

-Yes, I've lost it.

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-This could also be the fourth bedroom for this property.

-OK.

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It currently has three, but you could have a sofa bed here.

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There is a cloakroom just across the hallway.

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-For extra guests, should you want to do that.

-OK.

-Right.

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-I'd keep it as it is. I think it works perfectly.

-It will stay as a music room.

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-You've won the first round!

-Round one - ding!

-Let's keep going.

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So...

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-..the all-important kitchen.

-With a range.

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-A range!

-An electric range.

-And a sitting area, which is great.

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-I like that.

-You wanted a good dining area, didn't you?

-Yes.

-Yes.

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This is good.

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-Big enough?

-Yes, it suits my requirements.

-I think it could have been a bit bigger!

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-I'll take your answer on that one! Utility rooms...

-Mm?

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-They're high up on the list.

-Yes.

-Through that door you have a huge utility room.

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So you've got your separate sink,

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you've then got another bedroom. That was extended in the early '70s.

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-So a guest bedroom with its own en suite.

-I like the sound of that.

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-So this is all working?

-So far.

-Good. Let's keep going.

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So that part of the house was where the master lived and this part was where children had their lessons.

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-I'm sneaking a peak.

-You're already looking.

-That looks nice there.

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The current owners call this the snug. It works really well,

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but they did at one point have a dining table. You were emphatic about a good dining area.

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-We want a nice dining space.

-Dining space, large kitchen,

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-and plenty of reception rooms.

-Yes.

-Yes.

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You can't wait! You're already moving next door!

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-We're already in the next room!

-Let's put you out of your misery.

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-'I can see why they're so distracted by next door.'

-Oh, wow.

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-This is wonderful.

-I love the light.

-This is really nice.

-Especially from the window.

-It's a gorgeous room.

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-You've still got all those original features, the windows...

-Yes.

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-There's even a wood burner.

-Oh, great.

-That was one of the other things we said we'd like.

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-On the list.

-On the list.

-And you love big reception rooms.

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-Yes.

-You want plenty of space.

-We do like lots of space in the house that we can walk around

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-and enjoy.

-And if you both turn round and look up there...

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-Can you see?

-I'm small.

-On tippy toes.

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-The mezzanine floor. That could be your library.

-Another one? I get two?

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-I think you should keep the music room and make that your library.

-Yeah.

-Right.

-A computer room.

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'The downstairs of this old schoolhouse has been thoughtfully converted into a home

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'with every inch put to good use and enhancing its historic features.

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'Let's explore what's upstairs.'

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You've got two bedrooms from the landing. There's a large double behind us with loads of storage.

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-A generous family bathroom.

-I like that.

-Very well decorated.

-Lovely. They've done that well.

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-And this is your bedroom.

-Bigger than we've got now.

-Good.

-So that's nice.

-Nice and airy.

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-And there's nice views as well.

-It's not an en suite, but you don't have far to go.

-No.

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-An en suite was one thing we did ask for, but as you say...

-Compromise?

-It's not far to go.

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-So this works for you?

-So far.

-Yes, I think so far.

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-It's a house you want to keep going round to look at bits. Yes, I think we like it.

-I think we do.

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'I think this beautiful property is persuading Gillian and Alan to compromise

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'on that en suite and extra bedroom. Outside, despite first impressions, it delivers what they asked for.'

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You asked for half an acre. The total plot for this property is half an acre.

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It's in three different parts - the raised vegetable plot,

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-a shed, have you seen the greenhouse?

-I spotted that!

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-A greenhouse, which we did ask for.

-At the side, hugging the property, you've got a formal garden.

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There's seating all around this garden. And then the majority of it is at the front.

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-Although it's looking onto the road, it's quite secluded. There's no traffic.

-It's quite a sun trap.

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-So enough of a plot for you?

-I think it is, yes.

-So wrapping it all up, the house, the garden,

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-how much is the house worth?

-I'll guess...

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415? 420?

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-OK. Which one do you want to go for?

-415.

-415.

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I'm going to go slightly lower...

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..at 395.

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-Are you competitive, you two?

-BOTH: Yes!

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-That told me!

-Very!

-Alan, you're the closest. The current asking price - £400,000.

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-400.

-So 30,000 under budget.

-Under budget.

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-That gives us some money to play with.

-Have another walk round and I'll catch you later.

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-We'll do that.

-Thanks.

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Priced at £400,000, this former schoolhouse is impeccably presented

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and £30,000 under budget, leaving them a sizable sum for the retirement pot.

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Ready to move into, it gives them two adaptable reception areas with Gillian's wood burner,

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her music room and space for a library, a large kitchen/diner with that range and utility room

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and a half-acre garden in a rural setting with countryside all around.

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Has this unique conversion won their hearts?

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I like the house. It's got an element of quirkiness,

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lots of character.

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-And that chimney is to die for.

-Loved the kitchen. Did like that.

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This is a good utility.

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My one concern is the school. It's not something I was banking on when I wanted remote.

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It's such a fabulous location and we have the perfect day to view this house.

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-Have you both seen enough?

-Yes, thank you.

-I think we have.

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Close that door and let's hit the road.

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Shropshire's peaceful countryside belies its turbulent past

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with the Normans strongly fortifying the county along its Welsh border.

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Over time, a number of castles were refashioned into homes to show off their owners' wealth and position.

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A fine example is Shrewsbury Castle, redesigned in the 1780s for local MP Lord Pulteney.

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Earlier in the week, Gillian and Alan met town crier Martin Wood

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to find out more about its historic renovation.

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The castle that we've got now was built by Thomas Telford on the orders of the local MP,

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Sir William Pulteney. He wanted a des res, I suppose,

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so Telford built this for him.

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This was actually his townhouse, but Pulteney had a daughter, Laura,

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and she was fairly religious and needed somewhere to read her Bible

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so Sir William actually got Telford to build her her own summer house and this is what he built.

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-This is still known as Laura's Tower today. It's built on top of the old original Norman castle.

-OK.

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So where we're standing now is where the Norman castle was.

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Shrewsbury's historic streets are home to some 660 listed buildings

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with street names that give clues to the activities that went on there, including a street of ill-repute.

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But the focal point of trade was the market hall, built in the late-16th century

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by wealthy draper merchants.

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Around the square, there's plenty of proof of the town's stature in Tudor times.

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One of the lovely buildings we've got used to be the Plough Inn.

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It's fantastic. It was a pub for about 600 years. The timbers themselves denote wealth.

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The first floor has clover leaf patterns, barley cane twists.

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-That's all a signature of wealth.

-A lovely building.

-Superb.

-We've got so many of these in town.

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-This is by far one of the best.

-Shrewsbury is packed to the rafters with historic gems,

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reflecting its important historic and geographical position. And location is top priority for us.

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Our second property is in the quiet village of Church Moor,

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set in an area of outstanding beauty which I'm sure will rate highly.

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Less than a 10-minute drive down the road, Little Stretton has its own local pub and church

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with distinctive timber frame.

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Will they think this Victorian farmhouse makes a statement?

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-First impressions?

-Em...

-Looks very picture postcard. Looks lovely.

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-Not quite what I expected.

-What were you expecting?

-I don't know, but it's not hitting me

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and saying, "Buy me!", to be honest. I'm reserving judgment at the moment. I'm not sure.

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-If I said it had five bedrooms...

-I might change my mind. I'd step through the door.

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'The formal symmetry of this period farmhouse is clearly not quite doing it for Gillian,

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'but hopefully she'll be convinced by the space it offers.'

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A small hallway with two reception rooms either side.

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I like the high ceiling. I like the height of the room.

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-It's a nice square room.

-Nice feature fireplace.

-Good start.

-Yes.

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-Yes.

-Well, let's take you next door. There's another reception room I'd like you to see.

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This one is quite a bit bigger. Again, you've got high ceilings.

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-Yes, it is bigger.

-A nice, big room.

-I like the fireplace.

-That's outstanding.

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-Obviously working.

-A working fireplace. A fantastic feature.

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-Imagine on a winter's evening?

-I can feel the warmth already.

-Like toast!

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If you want to lead the way through to the kitchen, that might answer your dining issues.

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There are very few kitchens can command a dining table of that size.

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-That's some table.

-This is a good, good size kitchen.

-It is.

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I could certainly imagine a new kitchen in here

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-and making it a superb kitchen area.

-Probably put the dining table...

-The table would have to go

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-somewhere else.

-Well, that's his first job, right?

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-I can do that.

-There's plenty of room and just over my shoulder is a beautiful utility room.

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-It's the smartest one I've ever seen.

-That is very impressive.

-Same size, practically, as this kitchen.

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-It's got a downstairs cloakroom and entrance to the cellar.

-Oh, right. Cellar.

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-So lots of space downstairs. Let's head upstairs and see the bedrooms.

-OK.

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'And I haven't forgotten about Gillian's music room. That's a surprise for later.

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'First, I'll show them upstairs, which has a traditional layout

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'and square, clean lines in all five bedrooms.

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'There are two single rooms, a light, spacious double,

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'a room being used as a study and, finally, a room for them.' So here's the master bedroom.

0:22:540:23:00

-That's a nice size, isn't it?

-Yeah, this is a good size.

0:23:000:23:04

-Again, super views.

-That's why you want to move to the country.

-It is.

-There's nice views from here.

0:23:040:23:10

-And it's bigger than at home.

-It is.

0:23:100:23:13

Very generous space here. It doesn't have the en suite.

0:23:130:23:17

However, there's a single bedroom next door. Quite easy to knock through and make that your en suite.

0:23:170:23:23

-That could work.

-That's another project.

-Project number two.

-Yeah.

0:23:230:23:28

-You said you didn't mind doing a bathroom. Or a kitchen.

-Girls ganging up on me now!

0:23:280:23:34

Let me show you the family bathroom.

0:23:340:23:37

It will give you an idea of what you could achieve. Do you want to follow me?

0:23:370:23:43

'I'm sure their ideas for the en suite will be fired up by this.'

0:23:430:23:47

-Now this is nice.

-Wow.

-Love the way they've done this.

0:23:470:23:52

It's bright, it's airy, love the bathroom.

0:23:520:23:55

'Well, they seem positive about the house now they've seen the space

0:23:550:24:00

'and there's more in store outside with projects galore for Alan.'

0:24:000:24:05

-You have some additional buildings. The garage behind you.

-Good.

-Good.

0:24:050:24:10

-You've got a barn. It has a covenant on it so it can't be turned into a dwelling.

-OK.

0:24:100:24:16

If that's not enough, you have a massive workshop.

0:24:160:24:19

-Oh, lovely.

-I might say workshop/music room.

-I could see that coming!

-Could be.

0:24:190:24:26

-It sounds like a jolly good idea.

-There's certainly a lot of scope.

0:24:260:24:30

'Along with the potential for these outbuildings,

0:24:300:24:34

'the house comes with more land than they asked for, as well as their idea of perfect neighbours.'

0:24:340:24:40

Obviously, this is the mature garden which has been beautifully done,

0:24:400:24:44

but beyond the trees there is that additional nearly an acre.

0:24:440:24:48

-The current owners' friends bring their sheep there to graze.

-We would have sheep as neighbours!

0:24:480:24:54

-Yes.

-Do you fancy purchasing some sheep?

-We have talked about it!

0:24:540:24:58

-Have you?

-It would be a possibility. Saves me mowing the lawn.

0:24:580:25:03

That's true. I know you wanted a rural setting. You can't get much more rural than this.

0:25:030:25:09

-This is rural.

-It is.

-Panoramic views, trees, birds.

-Everything.

0:25:090:25:14

So, all that in mind, you've got to decide what this house is currently on the market for.

0:25:140:25:20

-It's that time again.

-It is.

-It's a difficult one,

0:25:200:25:24

-but I'm going to go for... £410,000.

-OK. Gillian?

0:25:240:25:29

I'll go slightly higher.

0:25:310:25:33

About 420,000?

0:25:330:25:36

-I know you're both quite competitive. Alan is closest.

-Again.

0:25:360:25:41

-The asking price is £400,000.

-Two-nil.

0:25:410:25:45

-But your top budget was £430,000.

-So it does give us £30,000 to play with

0:25:460:25:53

-and possibly do something with the barn.

-Possibly, but there's things inside to do first.

0:25:530:25:59

I'd make an en suite as well.

0:25:590:26:01

So, on that note, why don't you have another look with that £30,000 in your back pocket

0:26:010:26:07

to see if this could be your dream home?

0:26:070:26:11

-Go and have a wander.

-We'll have a look. OK, thanks.

0:26:110:26:15

Under budget at £400,000,

0:26:160:26:19

this farmhouse has all the space and potential with £30,000 left over.

0:26:190:26:24

And it delivers everything they asked for.

0:26:240:26:28

Two reception rooms with open fireplaces, a large kitchen/diner and enormous utility room,

0:26:280:26:34

five bedrooms, useful outbuildings to house Gillian's music room

0:26:340:26:38

and nearly an acre of grounds which sheep could graze on,

0:26:380:26:43

all wrapped up in a stunning location.

0:26:430:26:46

My first impressions weren't terribly good to start with,

0:26:460:26:51

but it seemed to improve when I realised how much land it sat in. I was very impressed with that.

0:26:510:26:58

-You can see sheep there, can't you?

-Yes.

-Put an orchard in.

0:26:580:27:02

-There's so many options with this area, in particular.

-You'd need a sit-on mower.

0:27:020:27:08

I'd have to get a sit-on mower.

0:27:080:27:10

-This is where the dining room should be.

-I agree.

-Dining room table, big open fire in front of you,

0:27:100:27:18

-kitchen to the left.

-Then you've just got the one front room, though.

0:27:180:27:22

The utility room is to die for.

0:27:220:27:25

We've never seen a utility room that big. That gives you plenty of space for Gillian to do all the laundry!

0:27:250:27:32

So the tour didn't start off that well, but I think we ended on a high.

0:27:320:27:38

But has it been enough? We'll just have to wait and see.

0:27:380:27:42

As the sun sets over the Shropshire hills, it marks the end of the first day of our property search.

0:27:560:28:03

Armed with a £430,000 budget, Alan and Gillian are adamant that they only want four-legged neighbours

0:28:080:28:15

when they move to Shropshire. We've tried to serve that up with two properties so far.

0:28:150:28:21

We would have sheep as neighbours!

0:28:210:28:23

But will they run a mile from our mystery house?

0:28:230:28:27

-Wait until you step inside the door.

-We can't! Let's go.

-Let's go.

0:28:270:28:32

Is there anything in particular you'd like me to be taking you to see or anything you don't want?

0:28:390:28:46

I'm still looking for my sheep as neighbours. And I'm still looking for something that's secluded.

0:28:460:28:53

I certainly would prefer not to have any major projects.

0:28:530:28:57

Our mystery property takes us to a location they specifically didn't ask for,

0:29:000:29:05

right into the heart of a village.

0:29:050:29:08

But Clunbury is one of the prettiest villages in the area with a Norman church

0:29:080:29:13

and the ruins of its medieval castle. I wonder what they'll make of our mystery house

0:29:130:29:19

which is overlooked with no garden.

0:29:190:29:21

-This is your mystery house.

-Fantastic!

-You wanted character.

-We've got that!

0:29:210:29:27

-You wanted features.

-Got those.

0:29:270:29:30

This has it. It's Grade 2-listed.

0:29:300:29:33

It was a blacksmith's with a barn and two small cottages, which have all been incorporated together.

0:29:330:29:39

Built in 1650. But wait until you step inside the door.

0:29:390:29:43

-We can't! Let's go.

-Let's go.

0:29:430:29:46

'My goodness! What a first reaction! They didn't look back. Let's hope they like what they see inside.'

0:29:460:29:53

Come on through.

0:29:530:29:55

Wow.

0:29:580:29:59

-Stunning.

-This is lovely.

0:30:010:30:04

-You like large reception rooms.

-We've got it!

-This is it.

0:30:040:30:08

-It's stunning. It's so well done.

-It is.

0:30:080:30:12

It is beautifully done with the gabled end. You get all that light.

0:30:120:30:17

And this actually is an extension.

0:30:170:30:20

-You can tell we're sort of lost for words!

-You are! I quite like the silence. It's positive.

0:30:200:30:26

I'm very rarely short of a few words, but it's lovely. Absolutely lovely.

0:30:260:30:32

-Can we see some more, please?

-You can. You lead the way, Alan. Down the hallway and turn right.

0:30:320:30:38

A very good start.

0:30:380:30:41

So here is your second reception room. Completely different from the first one.

0:30:440:30:50

And just as lovely. This has got the charm and the character that we're looking for.

0:30:500:30:56

-You can guess we're in the original part of the building.

-Yes.

0:30:560:31:00

-You do feel you're in 1650.

-You do, yeah.

-Back in time, yes.

0:31:000:31:05

You can sense what may have happened here in the dim and distant past.

0:31:050:31:10

Is that a gravestone? We haven't got bodies, have we?

0:31:100:31:14

Flagstones here. And that is a gravestone. When they renovated,

0:31:140:31:19

they found quite a few gravestones. It's where they practised. They were scattered and left.

0:31:190:31:25

But the owner liked it so much he used it as a feature.

0:31:250:31:30

Moving from the old into the new, the kitchen is very important.

0:31:300:31:35

Let me know what you think about this room, then.

0:31:350:31:39

-is this the type of kitchen that you had in mind?

-It's got oodles of character.

0:31:400:31:45

-It's certainly got the space I'm looking for.

-Alan, do you cook?

0:31:450:31:50

-No. Next question.

-Do you do lots of eating?

-I do lots of eating.

0:31:500:31:55

There's a perfect place for you there, while Gillian's hard at work.

0:31:550:32:00

And when you want your big dinner party, you're going to lead them through this way...

0:32:000:32:07

..into here.

0:32:070:32:09

-Oh, I like this. Yes.

-This'll work!

0:32:100:32:15

-Love the feature.

-A separate dining area was so important for you.

-Yes.

0:32:150:32:19

-Its close proximity to the kitchen must be nearly perfect.

-It's ideal.

-This is working very, very well.

0:32:190:32:26

-I think we're loving it.

-We are.

0:32:260:32:29

'Looks like we have top marks so far with the space, layout and character of our mystery house.

0:32:290:32:36

'And it's got the all-important four bedrooms upstairs. At the rear is a double guest room

0:32:360:32:42

'with vaulted beam ceilings and a high spec bathroom

0:32:420:32:47

'and another double with en suite.

0:32:470:32:50

'The third double is flooded with light thanks to skylights

0:32:500:32:53

'and has access to the downstairs family bathroom. But now we'll head up to where they would sleep.'

0:32:530:33:00

Try that for an old staircase!

0:33:010:33:04

The original stairs.

0:33:040:33:06

Terrific.

0:33:060:33:08

-Oh, that's terrific.

-And this would be your master.

0:33:080:33:13

-This is some room.

-Now this bedroom has the wonderful views.

-It does, doesn't it?

0:33:130:33:19

-It doesn't have the en suite.

-Right.

-Can you live without an en suite?

0:33:190:33:24

-Yes?

-Oh, yes.

-There you are.

-If there's only two of us, yes.

0:33:240:33:29

'Wow. They seem smitten by our mystery house

0:33:290:33:32

'and are showing very positive signs they would compromise.

0:33:320:33:37

'We're really pushing our luck outside.'

0:33:370:33:41

So I know you've both been impressed with the house,

0:33:410:33:44

but you've probably gathered by now that it doesn't have a garden.

0:33:440:33:49

It does have this wonderfully secluded courtyard.

0:33:490:33:53

-This is where the compromises come in.

-It is.

0:33:530:33:57

-I can see us possibly deciding to make that compromise.

-I think so.

0:33:570:34:02

-But it comes to the crunch now, doesn't it?

-It does.

0:34:020:34:06

It's only just gone on the market. How much is it worth?

0:34:060:34:10

It's going to be slightly over budget at £435,000.

0:34:100:34:16

I'll go £440,000.

0:34:160:34:18

-Three out of three, Alan, but...

-This is a resounding victory!

-..this is the important bit.

0:34:180:34:24

The current asking price...

0:34:240:34:27

...is £50 shy of £400,000.

0:34:280:34:32

-£399,950.

-Really? No way!

0:34:320:34:36

-We can compromise!

-Lots of compromises there!

0:34:380:34:43

-There's £30,000 left in your budget. ..You're quiet!

-I know!

0:34:430:34:47

-I'm sorry.

-I quite like you silent. I like the new you.

0:34:470:34:52

-The mystery property has done it.

-For both of us.

-This move is about both of you.

0:34:520:34:57

Now why don't you go back inside, all round that wonderful house.

0:34:570:35:02

Investigate those nooks and crannies. We know there's loads.

0:35:020:35:06

-I'll be waiting out here in the sunshine, so take as long as you like.

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:35:060:35:12

'That's amazing. Our stunning mystery smithy conversion seems to have swept them off their feet.

0:35:130:35:19

'It didn't have everything they wanted on paper,

0:35:190:35:23

'but with a dash of compromise, can I smell an offer in the air?

0:35:230:35:28

'Well under budget at just shy of £400,000, it offers them three reception areas

0:35:280:35:33

'all with a distinctive character feel, a large kitchen with that separate dining room,

0:35:330:35:39

'four bedrooms with two en suite.

0:35:390:35:42

'Granted, it's only got a courtyard garden and is in the village, but they love it!'

0:35:420:35:48

The mystery property has just got that wow factor. It stunned me.

0:35:480:35:53

I just love it. The whole thing.

0:35:530:35:55

The mystery property has absolutely blown us away.

0:35:550:35:59

It's got almost everything that we wanted. The things it hasn't got we aren't worried about now.

0:35:590:36:07

-I can see you in this kitchen. I can see US in this kitchen.

-I see us in this house.

-So can I.

0:36:070:36:14

This property has the character that we're truly looking for

0:36:140:36:19

in a truly lovely location. We probably couldn't ask for any more in that respect.

0:36:190:36:25

I can feel myself getting emotional about the property.

0:36:250:36:29

Look at those beaming faces!

0:36:310:36:34

You guys have got some serious thinking to do, so let's get going.

0:36:340:36:38

OK.

0:36:380:36:39

Among Shropshire's towns, Ludlow has played a leading role in the performing arts

0:36:480:36:54

since John Milton's play Comus was first staged at Ludlow Castle back in the 16th century.

0:36:540:37:00

The tradition is still going strong today in the form of the Ludlow Festival,

0:37:000:37:06

with theatre, comedy and music events for two weeks every summer.

0:37:060:37:10

Unusually, it's run by a team of over 200 volunteers.

0:37:100:37:15

On the eve of their 51st season, I met up with Festival Chairman Jenny Vaughan to find out more

0:37:150:37:21

about the work behind the scenes.

0:37:210:37:24

-How are last-minute preparations going?

-They're going fine. We're preparing for our dress rehearsal,

0:37:240:37:30

which is going to be performed to an invited audience.

0:37:300:37:35

Most of them are volunteers who offer something to the festival and are not able to go to it

0:37:350:37:42

-because they are on duty.

-That's a nice start. A little thank you.

0:37:420:37:47

And what do you get out of it, apart from a lot of stress?

0:37:470:37:51

You certainly get the stress and the tiredness,

0:37:510:37:55

but very rewarding. Very nice to bring the arts to this region,

0:37:550:38:00

to have it in a market town such as Ludlow, where it brings in trade for all the shops, the restaurants,

0:38:000:38:07

and the hotels.

0:38:070:38:10

There must be some last-minute preparations still going on, but can I have a sneak preview of the set?

0:38:100:38:16

-Yes, you can. Follow me.

-Thank you.

0:38:160:38:19

'Ludlow's rugged castle ruins date back to Norman times and provide a dramatic backdrop

0:38:200:38:26

'for their Shakespeare production.

0:38:260:38:28

'Although volunteers organise the events, they bring in the professionals to stage them.

0:38:280:38:34

'I'm meeting the set designer for Othello, Philip Whitcombe.'

0:38:340:38:38

-How long does it actually take to design this?

-From start to finish, it's three or four months.

0:38:380:38:44

We come here mid-winter and try to picture what the world is that we will create.

0:38:440:38:50

-Can you give us your idea behind the designs for it?

-It's set in the Crimean War.

0:38:500:38:56

What about that impressive frame?

0:38:560:38:59

The central frame is about framing Othello, really,

0:38:590:39:04

in the different stages of his mental deterioration.

0:39:040:39:08

Philip's also in charge of costume design and has given me backstage permission to meet Judy McFarlane,

0:39:080:39:15

who manages the wardrobe.

0:39:150:39:18

So I can see Jane modelling a very tight corset, I'm sure!

0:39:180:39:22

-Boned as well. Is this a final fitting?

-Yes, we're just checking this will fit around her waist.

0:39:220:39:30

I'm sure it will.

0:39:300:39:32

Are you constantly making adjustments behind the scenes?

0:39:320:39:37

We often have actors popping in at the last minute just before going onstage.

0:39:370:39:42

"I've got a hole in my trousers!" I'll ask how long have they got and they'll say 2 or 3 minutes.

0:39:420:39:48

Ladies, I should let you crack on. You've got a big dress rehearsal. Best of luck with the festival.

0:39:480:39:55

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:39:550:39:57

It's inspiring to see how the passion of so many volunteers pays off year on year

0:39:570:40:03

and enables the festival to be a recurring highlight in Shropshire's cultural calendar.

0:40:030:40:10

Alan and Gillian's property search has given them lots of different options to consider,

0:40:120:40:18

but I've a feeling they've got a firm favourite. Let's see.

0:40:180:40:23

-Guys...what a super few days we've had.

-It's been superb. The scenery has been stunning.

0:40:250:40:32

-The first house was an old schoolhouse.

-The first impression was, "Wow! This has got character."

0:40:320:40:38

The inside was very nice. The main lounge area with the gallery was something to behold.

0:40:380:40:45

That was a lovely lounge area.

0:40:450:40:47

-It was very light and airy.

-But you did have a few concerns.

0:40:470:40:51

My main concern was the school next door.

0:40:510:40:54

It's possibly the noise from children, the comings and goings.

0:40:540:40:59

Or if the school ever disappeared, what would be there?

0:40:590:41:03

The second property we saw was, I thought, a very attractive farmhouse.

0:41:030:41:09

However, I was quite surprised when you both thought differently.

0:41:090:41:13

The first impression looking at it, yes, my face dropped a little bit,

0:41:130:41:18

but having walked through it, you could see a lot of projects

0:41:180:41:22

to go ahead and make it ours.

0:41:220:41:24

There was a lot of potential. Not sure what we'd do with the barn.

0:41:240:41:29

-You could have just left it!

-We probably would!

0:41:290:41:32

It is a nice property, but we could not see ourselves calling it home at all.

0:41:320:41:38

Which brings us on to the mystery property.

0:41:380:41:42

-When we drove into the village, I was pleasantly surprised.

-Not as much as we were!

0:41:420:41:49

-I think we had the biggest surprise!

-We did.

0:41:490:41:52

-The mystery house is wonderful.

-The first room, that vast lounge, was fantastic.

0:41:520:41:58

I loved the openness and from there the way the property moved

0:41:580:42:03

from new to old to new, I loved the way that flowed. I was very impressed with that.

0:42:030:42:09

It flowed and it blended in beautifully.

0:42:090:42:12

There were some compromises to be made there, but sacrifices have to be made.

0:42:120:42:18

-I think we were prepared to do that.

-We're prepared to make sacrifices.

0:42:180:42:23

Losing the garden, for example. The hills are there.

0:42:230:42:27

Having seen the three properties, what is the next step?

0:42:270:42:31

I think our next move is to seriously discuss putting an offer in

0:42:310:42:36

-on property number...three.

-Fantastic!

-The mystery house.

0:42:360:42:41

-So the mystery house did its job.

-Certainly did. It's been an emotional rollercoaster.

0:42:410:42:47

-It has weaved its magic.

-I'm delighted. Absolutely delighted.

0:42:470:42:51

Well, what a surprise.

0:42:550:42:58

When we started this search with Alan and Gillian,

0:42:580:43:02

they had a pretty clear idea of what they were after,

0:43:020:43:05

but since viewing the mystery house, they've fallen in love with the property and a village location

0:43:050:43:11

they wouldn't have chosen. Let's hope that offer gets accepted.

0:43:110:43:16

Join us again next time.

0:43:160:43:19

If you'd like to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England

0:43:190:43:25

and need our help, please apply online:

0:43:250:43:31

Subtitles by Subtext for Red Bee Media Ltd - 2011

0:43:400:43:43

Email [email protected]

0:43:440:43:47

Nicki Chapman is in Shropshire, helping a couple find a property with only sheep for neighbours. With a budget of 430,000 pounds, they are bowled over by an impressive 17th century former blacksmith's, which really has the wow factor.


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