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This spot, and this charming thatched cottage, or at least an earlier version of it,
were once the home of the oldest Englishman that ever lived.
He was born in 1483
and reached the ripe old age of 152, as the story goes,
but the waters of which county were the secret elixir of his life?
Find out in just a minute.
In today's show, we'll be helping a couple
make their momentous move to the country.
And it looks like it's going to be quite a challenge.
No fireplace. I like fireplaces in a bedroom.
-Fussy. Is she always this fussy?
But then we seem to hit the mark.
My spirits were sinking,
only, as we came in the front door, for them to rise again completely.
I'm in Shropshire, and this was the home of Thomas Parr,or 'Old Tom' as he was unsurprisingly known.
And he had an eventful life -
getting married for the very first time, aged 80,
and outliving ten British monarchs.
In fact, it was a trip down to London to visit Charles I
that finished Old Tom off.
He succumbed to the filthy air of the capital,
and lies there still buried in Westminster Abbey.
But before he died, the king did get to ask him what the secret of his longevity was.
And he said, "Moral temperance and diet, Your Majesty."
Though I do think the sweet air of Shropshire had something to do with it too.
Spanning over 1,300 square miles and flanking the Welsh border,
Shropshire is the largest of Britain's landlocked counties.
Its breathtaking scenery includes high points such as the Wrekin,from which Tolkien drew inspirationfor his vision of Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings books.
Shropshire's agricultural heritage defines the landscape,
including the Shropshire hills -
an area of outstanding natural beauty.
In fact, four-fifths of the county is given over to farmland,
which supplies the markets of local towns, such as Ludlow.
While Georgian townhouses and Elizabethan timber-frame buildings
are a running theme throughout its towns,
the more rural areas serve up former farm properties and barn conversions,
so househunters are really spoilt for choice.
You eager property hounds out there will know or remember
that the north of Shropshire is better value than the south,
and that's partly because the south is more rural and more beautiful
and there aren't so many properties to go around.
However, across the country as a whole in the UK,
Shropshire is still a good deal -
a detached house here costs £9,000 less than the national average,
which means if you're coming from an expensive county
like Dorset or Hampshire,then you can get a lot for your money,
even in the south where prices are high.
So let's take a look at what you can buy.
Priced at £1.25 million
and set in the midst of the glorious south Shropshire countryside
is this seven-bedroom house in Caynham.Along with a raft of light, airy reception rooms,
its kitchen still radiates that hearth of the home feel,
with the spoils of 1.5 acres outside.
This sprawling six-bedroom farmhouse in Undertoncould be yours for £750,000.
Ditching rustic style in favour
of sleek modern living spaces and a contemporary kitchen.
And the outbuilding provides a perfect retreat
from which to enjoy one acre of garden.
On the market for £395,000,
this two-bedroom 19th-century cottage in Bucknelloffers up character charm
with a modern twist in the sitting room and kitchen.
And it's generously set in over three-quarters of an acre of garden.
You see, there's enough beautiful property in Shropshire to float anybody's boat,
which is appropriate for this week's couple.
Bob and Jo have been soaking up a boating lifestyle
in their two-bedroom marina development home in Portsmouth.But now they want to cast off from the shores of the Solentand head northwards, back towards Jo's roots.
They want this change of tact to transform their lifestyle.
One of the reasons we want to move to the country
is really to get back to - when I say 'back to basics' -
things like, you know,
as a lot of people do who want to move to the country,
raise some chickens,
Bob's very interested in saving the planet by looking after bees.
However, having said all that,
it's really to get the peace and quiet and the community
that we don't really have here.
We have a great community for having fun
and barbecues and boating,
but we don't actually have the community of village life, if you like.
And I'm keen, as well as trying to get into beekeeping,to grow some vegetables and some fruit.
And I'm not particularly focused on being self-sufficient,
but just doing the things that country people do.
They're looking to put down roots some 10 to 15 miles from Ludlow,which could be a challenge, given Bob's desire for land.
Ideally for me, we'd have two or three acres.
And what about the property?
We're looking for a four-bedroom house, ideally,
in a...edge of village or in-sight-of-village location,
with three reception rooms.
All the rooms to be of a reasonable size.
But also because we would like a hobby room.
Either one each or between us.
It would be ideal to find somewhere that did need a little bit of work,
because then you're not inheriting everybody else's taste and style,
we're able to put our own mark on it, if you like.
And there are other factors to consider.
Well, we hope, in our new home, to have a large kitchen,
because I've really recently got into Thai cookery,
following a series of evening classes.
If the house we find doesn't have the right kitchen for me,
then I'm quite happy to put a new kitchen in, rather like I did on this one.
One of the favourite rooms in our present property is the lounge.
Here I often read and I'm writing my memoirs at the moment for my children.
And in our new property,
it will be lovely to have a large lounge with an open fire
and perhaps some nice views
to help with some inspiration and to just help me to relax.
In an ideal world, we'd prefer a character property.
If we saw a brand-new house
that had all the requirements as the number of rooms and all the rest of it,
in the right location,
we'd compromise and say, "We'll accept new."
Bearing in mind their home is already on the market for £400,000,
how much do they have to spend on their country property?
Our budget for this new house will be £600,000.
Full steam ahead for Bob and Jo as they come from the south coast
to the pastoral perfection that is Shropshire.
And I'm not at all worried about the four-bedroom character property,
because I know Shropshire and I know the lovely housing stock here.
But what slightly makes me anxious
is Bob's insistence on two to three acres just outside Ludlow,
which could put some pressure on their £600,000 budget.
But I live in property hope.
Bob and Jo are keen to settle in the Ludlow area
so we're basing our house search
between there and Church Stretton just to the north.I'll be showing them three fantastic properties
which will hopefully hit the mark,
but I won't be revealing the price of each until they've had a guess first.
And our mystery house will force them to go beyond their limit.
-Welcome to Ludlow - market day.
-Thank you very much.
-This is where you want to live, and I can understand why.
-We do indeed.
How's the whole process going? Cos your house is on the market.
We have just sold, subject to contract.
-So we're very excited.
And in terms of your budget up here, that hasn't changed?
-No, we're still up to £600,000. Yes.
You know, it's a good, healthy budget for Shropshire. It's a lot of money.
But obviously you're squeezing it a little bit
by wanting to be close to Ludlow, as opposed to other parts.
-And also because you want land.
-We do. Yeah.
It's a lovely day, it's a lovely county,
there's lovely properties out there.
-Shall we go and see some?
-Wonderful. Thank you.
Armed with a £600,000 budget,
Bob and Jo are looking for a detached character property,
which ideally would give them three reception rooms,
a kitchen/diner, four bedrooms,
at least a couple of acres
for Bob to get stuck into growing his own produce,
and located close to a village community
within easy reach of their beloved Ludlow.
Time to get to grips with the kind of land Bob's after.
Very often, people come into the country demanding two acres,
and then when they see two acres, they're like, "I'll never be able to look after that."
We hope most of the land that goes with the property
will be perhaps paddock land or pasture land or even woodland.
Well, let's see if we can square that with the location they want.
We're kicking off our property search
in the village of Ashford Carbinel,with the spoils of Ludlow just four miles away.
Lining its country lanes are those characteristic black-and-white timbered buildings,
including the village hall.
And there's a community bowling green.
Among the eye-catching properties is this one on the edge of the village.
This is our first property.
-This looks nice. Very nice.
Looks to have some history to it, I think.
It's a barn conversion. Who knows how old the original barn was.
But it was actually converted in the 1970s.
And that's this part here. These were stable blocks.
-But they converted it.
-They converted it.
Those more recently, actually, in the sort of 2006, 2007.
Oh, right. OK.
-So it's quite up to scratch.
-Looks great now.
-Well, first impressions are very positive.
And they'll find plenty of that character when they see inside.
-In you come.
This would've been where the tractors came through. Now it is the entrance hall.
-This is nice.
-This is very nice, very welcoming.
And I like the way that the staircase goes up and round both sides. That's very attractive.
-It's a very oldy worldy kind of feel.
-Character property it may be,
but the rooms measure up to modern living.
Oh, this is nice. This is a beautiful country kitchen.
-And the range.
-And then this very nice kind of boot room, utility room outside
with a freezer and lots more storage.
The thing I was thinking is that it's actually all finished, though.
-You were kind of wanting a project...
Yes. I mean, I do get easily bored.
So having a project is fairly important.
But there's always something.
Quite right, Jo. And I've got an idea for keeping Bob busy later on.
Down a few steps here to this sunken floor.
-This is nice.
-This is the sitting room.
The only danger is it might be dark because of the small windows.
-And also only windows on one side because it's a stable conversion.That may change as the sun shines
-or the direction of the sun.
But I like the room. I do.
I think, as Jo says, it's dark, but I like it.
I guess, this is, if you like, the oldest part of the barn complex.
What we've got next is a suite of rooms that form the stables.
-Ah. OK. After you.
The owners may have spared the horses,
but not the quality of the finish in here.
-Right. So two lounges in the house.
-This is a nice room too. Good size.And again, it looks like
-the original beams in here,
which is nice.
-Lots of character. I like it, yeah.
-Again, a little bit dark, I think.
'Well, maybe Jo will see the light she's looking for in the next room.' This was a great addition to the property.
They converted it from the stables only about three or four years ago.
-And you can tell it's much lighter, much brighter.
-Yes, it is.
I'm not sure what you'd use this bit for,
but I'm sure we'd find something.
This would be a good hobbies room.
Yes, it would, because of the light. That's true.
Next door would make a great reading room for Jo,
where she can curl up in front of the wood burner.
Guests could be happily tucked away at the end of the stable wing in this double room,
one of six in total, and served by its own self-contained shower room.
The downstairs of our barn conversion certainly gives the character feel they're after
and an array of adaptable living spaces.
Going up, one side of the staircase leads to a cute double
with exposed beams.
But next door is where Bob could put his project hat on.This is the master.
-Gosh, this is big, isn't it?
-Oh, wow. Yes.
Just the perfect size for a bedroom.
No fireplace. I like fireplaces in a bedroom.
-Fussy! Is she always this fussy?
-SHE CHUCKLES But it really is nice.
-It's a barn!
What would a fireplace in the top a barn do?
-Catch it on fire.
-This is very nice. Plenty of space.
-Yes, it is.
The only thing that was I thinking,
because there's a little box room and then the shower room here,
there might be a way...I mean, I would probably think of turning that box room into an ensuite.
-That would be good.
-Cos actually the bathtub is at the other end of the house.
-There's only a shower here.
-So you could break through here and go in.
-Possibly. It's on the other side.
-Yes. Yeah, you could.
-That's your project.
-There you go. You see?
The other staircase leads up to two very generous doubles,
again, with those exposed beams and the family bathroom.
There's no doubt that inside, this property delivers on space,
with lots of scope for them to make their own mark.
But I guess the real test lies on the amount of land outside for Bob.
Got a wonderful walnut tree here. Little mini orchard, four apple trees and a plum tree.
And some raised beds there as a sort of fenced-off little vegetable...
They used to keep chickens here, but they cleared them out for the sale. That's the end of your property.
OK. So that belongs to the farmer.
-That belongs to the farmer, and he's not interested in selling at the moment.
-It is smaller than we were hoping for, isn't it?
We'd rather have probably less bedrooms and bigger outdoor area,
to be honest.
-But it ticks lots of boxes.
-Ticks lots of boxes.
-So what do you think it's worth?
I would like to be a little more optimistic,
and I'm going to suggest 550.
-Right. If you split the difference, it's on at 585, so you're much closer.
-So that's something to consider as you walk around.
Think about the money, the land, the rooms
and, you know, what can give.
-OK. Thank you.
Under budget at £585,000,
our character barn conversion gives them spacious reception rooms,
a lovely large kitchen/diner, six potential bedrooms
and nearly half an acre of garden
with established fruit trees and vegetable beds.
Granted it may not have the couple of acres they were looking for,
but it's in their perfect location -
on the edge of a village,
-just four miles from Ludlow.
-I like the location of the house very much.
The house is very attractive.
Lots of character. And there's a lot to like about this house.
-Well, this is a nice room.
-It's just to die for, this kitchen.
It's probably the best room in the house. It's wonderful.
It's got everything you could ever want in a kitchen.
-You could live in here.
-You could. It's absolutely great.
-I don't think the garden's big enough for what we want.
I mean, they've got a nice little vegetable patch
and we know they used to keep chickens - there's room for that -
but there's limited opportunity that you can do with this land.
I'd rather have had less room inside and more room outside.
-You see, Bob, this is a project.
-JO AND BOB LAUGH
-Someone spent a really happy summer doing this.
-Yes, yes. It's lovely, I must admit.
-Well done, ah. OK. So hold your thoughts.
Cos the day continues, and we can kind of discuss everything at the end of the day.
-Let's move on.
Despite Thomas Telford's iron bridge being the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution,Shropshire remains one of the most rural counties in the UK,
with over 7,000 farms strewn through its countryside.
Historically, these rural communities
have been served by the commercial hubs of market towns, such as Ludlow and Much Wenlock.But a strong local identity
also exists in smaller, less well-known places,
such as Wem, hidden away in the north of the county,where earlier in the week,
Bob and Jo were taken on a tour by its mayor, Mandy Meakin.It may only have 5,000 residents, but civic pride is alive and well,
despite having gone up in flames over the centuries.
The Great Fire of Wem decimated the town in 1677when a local maid, named Jane Churm, just 14 years old,fell asleep, leaving her candle burning.
Then, in 1995, the Town Hall went up in smoke,leaving only its Victorian facade
and a haunting reminder of its distant past.
When the fire started on a Sunday afternoon, people of Wem came out to watch,
and a local photographer brought his camera along
and he took a photograph
of the whole of the front of the Town Hall burning.
And on the photograph,
you can plainly see a maid standing on the stairs,
looking through the flames.
And, of course, everybody said, "It's the ghost of Jane Churm."
The photo's authenticity has since sparked much debate,
but despite experiencing such devastation,
Wem has also sewn the seeds of creation.
The sweet pea, originally an Italian climber,was rarely seen in British gardens until the late Victorian era,
when Wem resident Henry Eckford developed and crossbred varietiesthat brought about a floral revolution.
Today, the town's annual sweet pea showattracts thousands of visitors keen to check out the 80 exhibitors and their blossoms,
including those of local resident Neil Cooper,who knows a thing or two about the town's sweet-pea-growing tradition.
These are the original varieties -
the old-fashioned, or floribunda, as they're called, as well.And they were the ones mainly developed by Henry Eckford
who came to live in Wem in 1888
and started up, first of all, as a seedmanand then started growing and developing the sweet peas.
He also sold not only the seeds, but also he made perfume and talc.
The new varieties are from the Spencers,which is the ones here, which are the much larger flowers
that came originally from the old-fashioned varieties.
It's heartening that seemingly humble market towns like Wem
still hold on to their unique history,
even in the face of their more famous and more glamorous neighbours.
Our second property takes us to the tiny village of Steventon,which has no amenities, but it's just a mile's walk from Ludlow,
with its high streets strewn with independent shops.
Ludlow Castle overlooks the River Teme,which actually meanders past the garden of our second property
which was built in the 1960s.
-Now, this is a completely different proposition.
-I can see.
You were talking about compromising house for land and views and space.
Now, what are your first thoughts?
From here, without seeing it any further,
it's looking a bit like a bungalow.
-'Tis a bungalow.
-Is it a bungalow?
Mmm. Often, for bungalows, I read "old people".
SHE CHUCKLES Maybe not. Maybe not.
But it'll be interesting. Don't judge a book by the cover.
Have no fear, Jo.
I think you'll light up
when you see what this generous bungalow has to offer inside.
-Come on in.
We'll go straight into the heart of the house,
which is this wonderful room.
-Oh, gosh. This is amazing.
-SHE GASPS It really is.
-It is completely not what I expected. I...
-No. Or me.
I just...can't believe it. It's so different.
What is it that jumps out at you?
Well, I mean, it's so light and bright and airy and... I don't know.
To be honest, the outside of the property is not that attractive,
and so, you know, my spirits were sinking,
only, as we came in the front door, for them to rise again completely.
So it's wonderful. And...like, the whole of Shropshire out of the window.
-Wonderful. Absolutely wonderful.
-Let's actually step out onto this rather fabulous balcony.
Take in this amazing view.
That is a fantastic view.
-This is the River Teme.
-You own to the mid-stream.
-It really is beautiful.
-No sound as the sound of a river.
Yes, that is the only sound, isn't it? The water.
-And the kerchink... of a bottle of wine opening.
-JO AND BOB LAUGH
-I like it. I like it.
-A gin and tonic.
-So shall we look around more of the house?
-Mmm, please. Thank you.
'We've taken their breath away with the awesome location and views,
'so hopefully the kitchen will measure up.'
-Here we are in the kitchen.
-Oh, a good size.
-Good size, yes.
-And a dining kitchen as well.
-And nicely fitted.
-Yes, this is lovely.
-This is an incredible kitchen, with the views. They're amazing.
Washing the dishes and looking out at that.
-I love this, cos this is west-facing so you get the sun going down. Watch the sunset.
Of course, in a bungalow -
or, as we like to call it these days, 'monoplanal living' -there is all the bedrooms on one level.
Are you cool with that?
Yeah. I'm not that concerned about having to go upstairs to bed.
It's very modern. All the young kids are doing it.
-It's not an "old person" thing at all. Really.
-THEY ALL LAUGH
But, let's go and see your bedroom cos it's pretty spectacular.
'They seem pretty smitten so far, so let's see if they agree with me.'
This is...well, this is the master.
-This is nice. Again, a good size.
-Good size room.
-I like the cupboards too.
-Very nicely done.
This has been done up by the previous...the owners of the moment,
and they have spent quite a bit of money.
They also did this for you...
..which I think you'll agree...
-Oh, this is nice.
-..quite an asset.
HE GASPS Excellent bathroom, yes, for an ensuite. That's superb.
-Look at that shower.
-A big walk-in shower.
-It's a full bathroom, isn't it?
Oh, yes. You can't fault it. It's lovely.
'Light and space is a running theme in the second double room,
'with its own modern ensuite.
'And further down the hallway, a third huge double room currently serving as a second sitting room,
'but also benefiting from a tasteful ensuite.
'The TARDIS-like qualities of this bungalow'continue on the lower ground floor,
'with an enormous utility room and a conservatory used as a study.
'This property gives Bob plenty of scope to dabble in a bit of DIY,'but will the land outside sell it to him?'
Let's come down onto the bottom lawn.
Get a better idea of what you're possibly buying into.
-It's set in two acres of land.
It may not be the land you were envisaging,
but it is two acres of land.
Runs along the Teme, as I mentioned.
You've got land rights until the middle of the river.
-But sadly, no fishing rights.
And then a great swathe of the woodland -
right, pretty much, back up to the road - is yours.
-So a lot of it's quite steep.
In terms of price, what do you think it's on the market for?
Again, cos I always like to think that I might be lucky,
I'm going to say 530.
I would say 550.
-It's on at 575.
So why don't you have a wander around?
-Particularly around the woodland.
-We'll talk further when you've done that.
Under budget at £575,000,
this deceptively large bungalow with cracking views
answers so many of the demands on their wish list
including an enormous lounge flowing through to the large kitchen/diner,
three double bedrooms, all with ensuites,
and two acres of land,
all wrapped up in a fabulous location
-just a mile's riverside stroll from Ludlow.
-I was absolutely amazed.
It really was very special, and almost took my breath away.
Absolutely fabulous. It really was.
When we came into the house -
in the huge open spaces, beautiful kitchen, big bedrooms -
it grew on me more and more, especially when the sun shines.
And then you look out of the lounge window and the kitchen window
and the views are to die for.
It is fantastically quiet here.
-It's a very quiet spot.
-BOTH: Very quiet.
Just the sound of the rippling water.
-I'm gonna take you away to discuss everything.
As the sun sets over the Shropshire countryside,
it marks the end of the first day of our property search.
With their £600,000 budget,
Bob and Jo are poised to swap marina living on the Solentfor the rural delights of Shropshire.
So far it's been difficult to find property
with the right kind of land close to Ludlow.
But coming up, the mystery house lures them further afield...
-Ha-ha. My gosh!
..and Shropshire's dizzying heights send me into a spin.
Oh, Mr Roger, I'm going to faint. Where are my salts?I was thinking this morning on our second day of househunting
how strange it is that Bob and Jo are so fixated on Ludlow.
I mean, it's not strange cos obviously Ludlow is a beautiful place,
but there are lots of other beautiful spots in this area.
And if they want that land, and it seems that they really do,
then they'd get a lot more from their money
if they crossed the border into Wales.
So I'm taking you to the mystery house.
What do you think we've got in store for you?
Well, I'm hoping that, um...
..you haven't picked up too much on my likeness for a project
and that the property will actually have a roof on it.
You think I'm gonna take you to a pile of bricks and say, "Build it!"
I'm slightly concerned about that.
We wouldn't do that, Bob.
But for our mystery house,
we are taking them out of their comfort zoneand over the Powys border,
where your average detached property
is around £50,000 less than in Shropshire.
The hamlet of Old Church Stoke is a 35-minute drive from Ludlow,and Montgomery is just 15 minutes away,with handsome Georgian buildings surrounding its town square.
Perched on high are the remains of its Norman castle -
a perfect vantage point for taking in the panoramic views towards Offa's Dyke.Set in glorious open countryside,
our mystery property started life as a 19th-century farmer's cottage,
much extended and modernised within the last 20 years.
So let's see if the Powys air agrees with them.
Gosh. What a fabulous setting.
-Absolutely glorious. Glorious.
So can you see why we might have brought you here?
Yes. Oh, yes. Definitely.
In terms of what you were lacking in the last two properties.
-What were you lacking in the last two properties?
Land. And this property, handsome as it is, has land.
-How much land do you think it has?
-A couple of acres, maybe?
A couple of acres? It has a couple of acres.
The house is sitting on two acres of land...
..and that field too.
-Those five acres are also yours.
-Right up to the hedge at the back.
-It's about 6.5 acres in total.
-The first impressions outside are good. Very good.
-Before we go inside, I just wanted to show you one more thing.
This was the thing that really sold this property to me.
-Oh, my gosh.
-That's not yours, by the way, but...
-What a fabulous view!
-That's well hidden over there.
This is called Todleth Hill. It's quite a famous hill around here.There's these very beautiful, quite steep hills.
So you're really nestled in this valley,
and I think that's what makes it quite magical.
And the spoils outside don't end there.
You know what, in for a penny, in for a pound,
I might as well show you everything outside because we're here.
This is your back garden.
Ash forest - goes down to a little brook right at the bottom here.
Enough distraction. Let's actually look at the house. In this way.
Here's the kitchen.
-That's a big kitchen.
-Never seen a kitchen as big.
-It's a biggie, isn't it?
This is a brand-new extension
that they put on the side of quite an old cottage.
So I want you to put your 'project' hat on...
..when you look at the other cottage.
The cottage is great, but the proportions are different.
There is no other room as big as this.
-This is enormous.
-There are smaller rooms and a few smaller rooms still.
Next to the kitchen is a handy utility room,
but we'll start exploring the other living areas.
-Yep. This is the lounge/sitting room.
-Sitting room. Yeah.
-Oh, and an open fire.
-Lovely open fire.
This was actually the mid-extension,
so this was done sort of about 10 years ago.
-And it was...
This was the outside wall of the original cottage.
-Needs some, um...
-Little bit of TLC.
Yeah. So this is what I mean about your project hat.
This is where you need to put on your hard hat and think about what could be changed...
But the basics are there, and there's good... It's bright.
Yeah, there's a lot of natural light coming in.
-And that's a good thing.
-I like this room.
This is where you really have to put your project hat on,
cos this used to be the kitchen of the two-up, two-down.
Here's the hallway, and that was the front room.
-So it was tiny.
-Tiny, tiny cottage.
And dark too.
Well, you've got the little front porch there,
and the tiny little office - you think that's tiny -
a tiny little office there.
This is where you really have to scratch your head and think.
-Of what you could do.
-This snug is actually quite light and bright, but it's just small.
-Yeah. This is very small, isn't it?
-This was the original sitting room.
You couldn't have this as your main lounge. It's too small.
-Broke through into here.
It's a question of whether you can open it up.
-You definitely could.
Keeping those project cogs whirring,
we'll head upstairs to check out the four bedrooms.
The bedrooms upstairs are actually quite big
after the small rooms downstairs.
-This is an OK room.
The other bedrooms include two potential doubles,
so plenty of space to accommodate visitors,
and there's a bright family bathroom.
But the next bedroom really shows off the potential of this property.
-Ah. Like the kitchen - master.
-Nice big bedroom.
Gosh. What a difference!
-It's a house of contrasts, isn't it?
The beauty of it is with them doing a new kitchen
and part of the other house not being touched and being old,
you can see what you can do with it.
I think that's the important thing with this house.
This is a great room... and quite light.
You've got a nice dressing room there and a great ensuite.
Have a little look. Nicely done.
Oh, yeah. This is nice. Good size for an ensuite.
The bath is separate. Very nice.
-A real contrast to the rest of the house.
-Well, half of it.
-Let's not be too harsh.
It is a balancing act, you know. That's the project.
-You wanted a project.
-I did. I did.
With half of the house already remodelled to an excellent standard,
it gives Bob and Jo a taste of what our mystery property could deliver
if they picked up the project baton.
But, of course, that depends on the price.
So let's take a stroll through the five-acre field
and survey all that could be theirs.
-What fantastic views all around.
You see also the wonderful hill behind you,
so you're really hugged by the landscape.
Let's talk about how much you think.
I'm optimistically going to say £500,000.
And I would say £525,000.
Well, in this instance, you're right.
It's just a shade under £500,000.
You know, you might be able to put an offer in as well.
-It gives you £100,000 to play with.
Considering how much more you're getting...
Yes, and you would have a house you wanted
rather than a house that somebody had done and you had to like.
I'm going to send you down this big hill
and get you to have a good look around this one...
..and then I'll meet you at one of the many gates.
-You can roll down if you like.
There you go. Mystery house does it again.
Turns everything up on its head because this is nowhere near where they wanted to be
but you get a lot more land... and a beautiful house.
Sneaking in at just shy of £500,000 -
just under the cut-off for the 3% stamp duty -
our mystery property delivers a fabulous kitchen/diner,
a raft of reception areas with potential for projects aplenty,
four bedrooms with a master ensuite
and some 6.5 acres of land.
Seeing the location and the land that the other two houses didn't give us.
And, I think, probably most of all, the word I would say about this
In the work that's already been done,
you can see the potential.
All right, and quite a bit of money has gotta be spent,
but you could make this, not only quite a big house,
but still quite an attractive house.
We can do everything we want to do here.
We can keep the chickens and the bees,
we could convert the stables to a studio
and buildings for Bob to keep tools and what have you.
And the nice thing for me
was the contrast between what's been done already
and what needs to be done.
And I'm quite excited about that
because I feel that it's something we can put our stamp on.
You look like you're walking down YOUR drive.
Not that I'm putting any ideas in your head.
Let's get away from here so we can regroup
and then you can discuss which house you like the best.
From medieval castles to festivals and farmers' markets,
Shropshire has no shortage of visitor attractions.
It's also home to the UK's very first theme park,
The fantasy land that is Hawkstone Parkwas opened to the public in 1783 by Sir Richard Hill,whose family had owned the estate for generations.
Inspired by the fashionable romantic garden movement,
he designed leisure walks
through the woodland and towering sandstone crags,
with a surprise lurking around every corner.
Today it's a Grade 1 listed siteand Roger Whitehouse, the park manager,has offered to take me on a tour of this magical world.
I love all these little paths that come off the paths.
That's part of the enchantment of the park.
There's always somewhere else you can find to go and have a walk.
And at the end of it, you never quite know what's there.
By the early 1800s,
the park was pulling in 5,000 visitors a year
who came to experience the drama that Hill created
in this awe-inspiring landscape,
-including a precarious crossing at the Swiss Bridge.
-So just mind those steps as you come down onto the Swiss Bridge itself.
Wow, this is great!
Could be your original white-knuckle ride, this.
Yes, it is. I suppose this was like the 18th-century equivalent of a roller-coaster.
Yeah, you sort of stood up here and you thought,
"Will I? Won't I? Should I?"
It's nice cos it's scary, but it's not SO scary.
Well, Richard matched the ladies that wanted that little bit...
You can imagine the older ladies coming with their big crinolines going, "Oh, oh.
"Mr Roger, I'm going to faint. Where are my salts?"
"On the other side of the bridge, my dear."
There were numerous delights awaiting the visitor,
including an array of fantastical follies,
which, in landscape terms,
were the ultimate fashion statement of the day.
This magical 100-acre site had suffered decades of neglect,
but was reopened in 1993 after a £4 million restoration.
So visitors can once again enjoy its underground and overground pleasures.
So this whole thing is built on a network of caves.
Are they original or are they built...
Originally, they were 5th-century copper mines, Romanic-Saxon copper mines.
And they came in as a bottle mine through the top and then spread out.
And in the 1700s
they created it into the grotto
and then into part of the leisure walk
where they could meet people inside the caves.
There is something very impressive.
And do you get lots of people? Is it popular?
Yes, I mean, we get over 50,000 visitors a year
that come just to get that experience of walking
as we've done today.
-I had no idea this was here.
-No, nobody does.
-We do now!
-Best-kept secret in Shropshire, this.
Jo and Bob's househunt has been more of a journey than they bargained for,what with a hop across the Welsh border,
and it leaves them with plenty to think about.
I knew it, I knew that fixation on Ludlow wouldn't last
if I showed them some of the beautiful property
they could get elsewhere.
But was it beautiful enough? Let's find out.
Oh, you poured me tea. Very nice.
So you've been exploring Shropshire cos you were quite fixated on Ludlow.
So we have seen other areas.
Let's go through the houses one by one - we can talk about the pluses and minuses.
Cast your mind back to the first property.
The barn was very nice. A lot of rooms.
I remember, distinctly, the kitchen was very special.
The garden was the problem.
There was just not enough land for what we planned to do.
And were you surprised at the price?
I thought it was, maybe, expensive because the lack of land.
But you did get a lot of house for your money.
And I think the price reflected
that it was in one of Shropshire's best villages.
-Yeah. Most definitely.
And also cos it was quite close to Ludlow.
Though not as close as the second house,
which was a completely different kettle of fish.
The house itself inside was, uh...
..an eye-opener, really, which is not - looking from the outside -
we didn't expect what we would find inside.
And the view from the house across the river
with Ludlow in the distance
was really very, very special.
Although it had two acres of land,
because it was really...the house was built on almost a precipice,
the land was really of no use for us at all.
No, because we wanted land
that we could do things with, ideally, or keep animals.
We couldn't see anywhere where you could really keep chickens there
or do anything with it.
In the last property, we gave you lots of land, but in a different location.
It really was quite an exceptional location.
And the price as well, because you're saving £100,000.
Yes. Mmm. We'd need that, though.
I think the price was right
because it reflected the amount of work that needed to be done.
In terms of things that you really loved,
are any of these properties that you would act on, that you would pursue?
We came away from the mystery house feeling very positive about it.
And I think the next stage for us now
is to pursue that a little bit further.
So what we'd like to do is to go back and look at the house again,
get some idea of the cost of doing some work
that we think would improve the house.
Well, you've got that money from your sale burning a hole in your pocket,
so hope to see you here very soon.
I'm excited that you're gonna come up and buy something. I wish you all the best.
-Another program - to come and see it finished.
-Ah, that would be very nice.
-And I welcome you to becoming true Salopians.
-Thank you very much.
I think somewhere in today's show
there's a lesson about not being too narrow
in your geographical search when you are househunting.
I think Bob and Jo learnt thatand opened themselves to the totality
that is Shropshire and the Shropshire borders.
And I hope likewise that you too
can enjoy everything that's beautiful about rural Britain
on the next edition of Escape to the Country.
And if you'd like to escape to the country
in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England and need our help,
please apply online at:
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