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Today's county is home to the oldest surviving race track in Britain, nay, the world.
It was James I who first popularised racing here.
He loved it so much that Parliament had to petition him
to spend less time racing and more time ruling.
Find out where I am in just a moment.
On today's show, we're coming to the aid of a retired couple who want a change of scenery
after almost three decades in London,
and we've got some outstanding period properties to prise them from the city.
I love the idea, I must admit. A little piece of history, and we become part of it.
'But will we be ruled by our hearts...'
-I'm thinking about you, Marion.
-Yes, thank you.
'..or ruled by our heads?'
-What are your first thought when you see it?
Today, we're in Suffolk, the international headquarters for flat racing here at Newmarket.
Now, in 1665, Charles II decreed, by an Act of Parliament, no less,
that every year the Town Plate, the first horse race with written rules, would take place here in October.
And in 1671, the King rode his horse to victory.
You'd let the King win if you were racing him, wouldn't you?
Anyway, the race takes place here every year,
ever since, and is now the oldest surviving horse race in the world.
Situated in the east of England and bordered by three counties,
Suffolk also has 40 miles of glorious coastline.
As you might expect from the home of flat racing, much of the landscape
is flat too, and this fertile, level soil is perfect for a more commonplace industry, agriculture.
In the 17th and 18th century, the county became a kitchen garden
for the rapidly growing metropolis of London.
And today, this continues with some of the largest arable farms in the UK.
Centuries ago, blood from local livestock was mixed with plaster to colour wash homes.
And pretty pink Suffolk cottages are a common sight throughout the county.
In the last few years, Suffolk has done very well in those tables of rural counties we want to live in,
partly because it is very rural.
70% of the population still live in villages. It's also very sunny.
Two hours more sunshine a week than the national average.
On top of that, it's got a very low crime rate and house prices
are very reasonable, £18,000 less than neighbouring Cambridgeshire.
But you better get in quick because the population is growing.
Over the next 10 years, 13,000 people are set to move here.
So if you're house hunting with £650,000 in your pocket,
this magnificent Grade II listed property in Mendham
was the former home of Sir Alfred Munnings,
one of England's finest equestrian painters.
Sporting dramatic period features, it comes with six double bedrooms and four reception rooms.
Further west in the village of Beighton, £325,000 could seal the deal
on this three-bedroom Grade II listed thatched cottage.
Believed to date back to the 17th century, it's packed with character features,
including an enormous open fireplace.
And finally, this three-bedroom cottage
just outside Bury St Edmunds in Little Whelnetham
is on the market for just under £210,000.
It also boasts great period features throughout and comes with a secluded, sheltered garden.
As you can see, Suffolk has some prize-winning properties but
who is jockeying for position in this most thoroughbred of counties?
Let's find out.
Today's couple are retirees Bob and Marion
who, for the last 28 years, have lived in the same house in East London.
With their two grown-up children having flown the nest, they are now dreaming of an escape to Suffolk.
I was born in the country and lived in Devonshire
for some years when I was young. And I just feel the time is right now.
I've never lived in the country.
I'm a Londoner. And this will be a new experience for me.
But I'm looking forward to it, I think, a challenge.
We know East Anglia quite well.
Myself more than Marion because I've travelled in the area for many, many years.
We've enjoyed the city of Cambridge and now we're going to focus more
on the Suffolk area and south of Bury St Edmunds.
And what sort of property are they after?
Three to four bedrooms, a kitchen/diner, a dining room and lounge
and hopefully an attached garage, although it doesn't have to be.
And possibly a utility room.
We'd consider beams, but not too low.
I think we're looking for property that really is already modernised.
A house of character, certainly, but a house were we don't really need to do too much internally.
So, character with conditions attached.
And what about the outside space?
Well, we do love to sit out in the garden and I'm hoping that
where we'll be more moving to will be a little less noisy than here because we are very near the M11.
And...so I'm hoping for a medium to small sized garden
so that it won't be to much to keep up when we go away.
Although they're looking forward to typical country pursuits
like walking and fishing, there's another interest they'll be taking with them.
Wine is my passion.
And we're both sufficiently interested in wine to ensure that
when we get to the country, we'll join a wine club.
If we can't join a wine club, we'll maybe start our own up.
Bob and Marion's house is on the market for £460,000 and they've just accepted an offer.
They also want to free up some money so they can travel so
how much does that leave for their rural relocation?
The budget for the next move is £325,000.
So, it looks like Marion is trying to get back to her roots, but I wonder
how born-and-bred Londoner Bob is going to fit in in the countryside?
Still, their budget seems pretty spot-on for Suffolk.
They've got £325,000 to spend.
They want three to four bedrooms and the average price for a detached house here is £250,000.
Hopefully we're going to find them something although they do want
to live near Bury and Bury is 7% above the county average, so we're still going to have to search.
Bob and Marion want to be able to visit their children in North London
so we'll be concentrating our house search in the surrounding villages
to the west of the county around Bury St Edmunds.
Over the next few days, we will be taking a couple on a tour of some beautiful country homes.
But I'll be keeping the prices to myself until after the tours.
And, of course, we're saving the mystery house for last
where we'll see if they can be tempted by a slice of Suffolk's rich history.
-Welcome to Suffolk, guys.
Ickworth House, slightly out of your budget.
-What a shame!
-Grade II, how do you feel about that?
Grade II listed buildings, often creates too much upkeep and that's what worries us most of all.
The cost, perhaps, of altering, if possible, anything to do with it, and the maintenance.
I know this is an important move for you.
Obviously all moves are important, but particularly these ones at sort of crucial points in life.
This is a big change for you, isn't it?
Yes, it is. We've lived where we live for 28 years, the same house.
So it's a little bit of a wrench but on the other hand, we feel ready for it.
-We feel ready for a change and some peace in the country.
-And what is your budget?
Well, our limit is £325,000.
OK, so you're wanting to downsize, get some money in the bank?
Well, not particularly downsize.
Ah, that sort of downsizing!
OK, I know where you're going. Well, £325,000 in Suffolk goes a long way. Let's go and look at some property.
For a top budget of £325,000, Bob and Marion are looking for...
They would also like a garage
and the location needs to be on the edge of a village away
from busy roads, but within walking distance of local shops and a pub.
Are you going to miss London, Bob?
Yes, I'm sure I will in many ways.
I think probably what I'll miss most will be
the 24/7 nature of shops, restaurants,
quite different from being out in the country, as you know.
So, we're under starter's orders and it's time to head straight to our first property.
We're travelling to Bacton, 60 miles east of Bury St Edmunds.
With a 12th-century church, traditional houses and a selection of local shops,
Bacton is a lively village surrounded by farmland.
There are good road and rail links nearby
which could be useful when Bob and Marion want to visit their children.
And set back behind the village green and pond, is our first house,
a charming semi-detached period cottage.
Right, so this is the house I want to show you, on Cow Green. This is Cow Green.
-As you can see, it is attached.
How do you feel about that?
Yes, it looks fine as a cottage.
-As long as it is big enough, we don't mind.
-I see it's extended at the back.
I thought you were going to say, "I don't want it now."
How are you feeling about the location and exterior?
Well, love it. It is really pretty.
-Yes, I like it very much.
Let's have a look inside.
Built around 1770, these properties were originally Georgian farm cottages.
The one we are showing Bob and Marion was first extended in the 1950s
with a further extension built on the back of the property two years ago.
Come on in, this is the oldest part of the house.
This actually is Georgian, 1770s.
It's not too beamy.
No, it's not. It's pretty the way they've got it.
-It's nice and bright, isn't it?
Often a worry with these older properties is they are quite gloomy.
That's an important point. But these windows are new, double glazing here.
That makes all the difference in the world.
I'm sure the original windows would not have let so much light in but that makes a great difference.
-It's not listed here so you can do what you like in that sense.
-And then the fireplace.
-You can have a fire?
-Yes, that is working.
You two are unusual in the sense you use your dining room a lot.
-We've had lots of wine tastings at our place in London and we will do the same here, really.
-Get the fire going.
-With the fire, it would be perfect.
First impressions are positive and beyond the dining room, the character features of this house
continue in the downstairs bathroom which was built onto the back wall of the original part of the cottage.
Across the hallway is a bright sitting room.
It's lovely, lovely size.
Good size, isn't it? This is the 50s extension so this is a much bigger, more practical space in a way.
-And where most of your living and relaxation would go on, I guess.
A very good size room. Lovely floor. Like the floor.
-There is oak floor throughout actually. That's all been put it recently.
Yeah, it's great, love it, really do.
Positive. It flows on through these double doors into the kitchen.
-This is lovely.
-This is a modern extension.
-This was 2008.
-This is a good size.
-A lovely size.
-I expected it to be smaller, to be honest.
-It's in that country style.
-Yes, country style but fitted well.
Not too fussy. Not too high end.
-Yes, it's good.
-Let's take a look upstairs.
So far, so good.
I wonder how the first floor will fare.
You've got a lovely, big landing which I think is really beautiful and unusual.
Yes, it is, isn't it?
-They use it as their office. It is like an extra room.
Next to this office area there is a pretty single room, perfect as a guest bedroom
and across the hallway there is a good-sized double.
On the other side of the landing is a shower room,
and two further bedrooms, including a large single and the main bedroom where Bob and Marion could sleep.
This is the master.
-Oh, it's lovely, isn't it?
-Here in the modern part,
they put in skylights which is an ingenious idea
-because it has brought so much light into the property.
-Very much needed.
Four bedrooms, all good size and, it's a bit TARDIS-like, they are all sort of packed into the upstairs
and yet you've got space for a big landing, enough for an office space.
Yes, it is great. Really nice.
Let's look outside because that is also important.
This is a great house with plenty of space and it doesn't need any work,
so Bob and Marion could move straight in.
But will the garden meet with approval?
This is the patio here,
through the rose arch.
Into your garden. It is not a massive garden but you didn't want a huge garden.
-No, this is...
-This is perfect.
-Just the right size.
Pretty at the same time with flowerbeds.
-Very quiet, peaceful.
This comes up to your standards?
-Oh, it does.
-Very much so.
-I like this very much.
OK, so the property is done, we've seen this one.
All we need to know now is the price.
So this is the first one you've seen.
It might be difficult to guess.
How much do think this is on the market for?
Well, maybe it's near the top of our budget, 319.
-OK. What do you think?
Must be in the region of 340 or whatever.
340? OK, so this property is on the market for £290,000.
-I am surprised.
A shade under. And it's very well placed for you guys,
in the sense that it is close to Stowmarket, you get into London in less than two hours.
You've got a market town, it gives you four bedrooms and it's a nice little location.
Definitely one to consider here.
290 is a surprise. I would have thought it would be more.
Now you know the price, have a wander around and I will meet out the front.
340, that's very pleasing when you tell someone
that a property is actually £50,000 less than they thought and they like it.
But, yeah, it will be interesting to see what they think about the inside
because I'm not convinced Marion really loves it.
Well under budget at £290,000,
this period cottage is full of character features.
It has four bedrooms, and although there's no en suite, it does have a bathroom and shower room.
There is also a well-fitted kitchen/breakfast room
and two reception rooms including a lounge and separate dining room.
And outside, there is a garage and a low-maintenance garden.
They've got it just right in here, I think.
I think we could enjoy this room.
Overall, I'm very impressed.
So far, so good. I am quite keen.
I suppose it is growing on me, in a way.
-We could get used to this low ceiling.
Well, I think this property is extremely unusual, very quirky.
There may be one or two features too many for me.
It must be harvest time, there are quite a few agricultural things on this road.
Otherwise, it is very quiet.
-Hello. All done?
-Yes, all done.
Good, if you pull the door to, we will explore more of Suffolk.
The countryside here is prime grain-growing territory,
making Suffolk one of the biggest real ale producing counties.
The historic market town of Bury St Edmunds is home to one of
the largest British-owned breweries in the country
and the town's association with ale dates back nearly 1,000 years.
And it was the Benedictine monks who first started brewing here
in the 11th century abbey, which once housed one of the most powerful monasteries in medieval Europe.
Earlier in the week, Bob and Marion went to meet local guide Geoffrey Pickness to learn more.
The Benedictine monks, they worked to a very strict rules,
particularly in so far as things like eating and drinking were concerned,
but I suppose you could say that the abbot bent the rules
to suit his convenience and the monks' convenience.
They used to brew ale in the abbey.
The ale would have been a rather sweet drink.
-Very nutritious, and the monks would have drunk something like six pints a day.
You can imagine that they were...
It wasn't strong ale but it explains why the monks were always rosy faced and had a smile on their face.
That's right, yes.
As wine lovers, Bob and Marion will also be interested to learn
the monks made their own wine too, and to find out whether the grape fares as well as the grain
in this county, they are returning to magnificent Ickworth House
although it's not the residents we are interested in today, but rather the gardens.
Installed there in 1703, the estate's five-acre kitchen garden
is now home to some award-winning vines.
Planted in 1995, it's the only vineyard on National Trust property
and it's managed by Charles Macready.
How many varieties to grow here?
We grow four varieties.
This one here is a variety called Rondo
and the other varieties we have on the wall over there.
There is pinot noir.
We also have a variety called auxerrois -
I cannot pronounce the R of that properly, the French way -
which is very like chardonnay. We use that in our sparkling.
Then we have a white variety called Bacchus, which tends to win gold medals.
Does the English climate present too many problems?
Suffolk actually is the driest part of the UK.
That's good because vines do not like wet feet.
The vines are happy to grow here.
They need to be persuaded to grow fruit because naturally they just
grow and grow and grow and don't produce a lot of fruit.
We have plenty of sunshine.
-I think we have...
-We certainly have today.
-We certainly have today.
We have more sunlight hours in East Anglia than the rest of the UK.
It's not the warmest part but there are more sunlight hours than anyone else.
Gosh, that's excellent news.
So, the future looks bright for viticulture in the county
but what about the prospects for our house hunt?
It's time to head to our second destination.
Our next stop takes us nine miles east of Bury St Edmunds to the village of Elmswell.
With a church that dominates the skyline, the name of this village
comes from the old English, Elmsweller, meaning spring or stream where the elm trees grow.
Elmswell was recently crowned Suffolk village of the year and its excellent road and rail links
have seen it grow to become one of the largest in the county.
On the outskirts is a second property, an Edwardian detached house.
-So this is the property. What do you think of the house from the outside?
-I like it, it is nice.
-It's period but not too period.
-That's right, yes, definitely.
It was built in 1910 and at the time, it was
the poshest house in the village because it for the first one with an inside toilet. Very elevated.
-It is on the road.
-It is on the main road.
That is what worries me slightly.
It's a fairly busy road.
It's the main road into the village.
look forward to seeing what's inside.
Let's have a look. I'm not sure Marion was completely sold on some of the period features
of our first house, so let's move forward 140 years to see how this later build compares.
We'll go in this room first, actually.
This is the sitting room.
-Oh, very nice.
-Wood-burning stove instead of...
-A lot smaller than the last house.
Yeah. But it has been finished... It was pretty much a ruin
-when they moved in nine years ago. They've done everything, replastered it...
-It looks newish.
They used to have 1950s aluminium windows
-so they put in these very expensive double-glazed sash windows.
What do you think?
Yes, it's just the size.
It is perfectly large enough but...
when you look back at the other one...
You are starting to see it through rose-tinted glasses.
-What about the style though?
This is much less fussy.
It is cleaner lines, yes. As you say, less fussy.
Across the hallway is the dining room.
Again, smaller than in the last property which won't be lost on Marion,
but still with room for a good-sized table.
I really like this room.
-It's got a...
-It is lovely.
-It has a lovely open feel to it.
-Yes, I like this kitchen.
-Good. Nice lighting.
Lots of modern down lighting.
You have a snug area here which you could convert to an office.
-A breakfast room or something.
What do you think?
This is the heart of the home for many people.
Yes, it's really nice, I like it.
I think this would really work.
-Is it big enough?
-Yes, it's big enough definitely.
This is a lovely house and is ready to move into but I don't think it is a contender just yet.
Maybe the upstairs will persuade them.
On the first floor, there is a family bathroom and four bedrooms.
A good-sized double which would be perfect for visitors and two single rooms.
Upstairs is also a very simple layout. This is the master.
-It's very nice.
-And an en-suite shower room.
-It's quite small.
-It is slightly smaller than I expected.
There is no doubt about it. The footprint of the house is smaller,
more compact. It's about whether you can have something you can lock up and leave,
low-maintenance, or if you want somewhere you have to dust.
I'm thinking about you, Marion!
Thank you, I appreciate it.
Also the land at the back is very nice. Let's have a look at the garden.
At the back, there is a gravelled, patio area and the old timber garage is now being used as a workshop.
There is also a greenhouse and even enough space to keep a few ducks.
On paper, this property meets most of
our couple's property requirements but how will it fare budget wise?
What do you think it is on the market for?
You go first this time.
I made such a fist of it last time.
It has got to be around our budget.
It cannot be less, I would have thought.
I would say 325.
Well, going on the last one,
I know this is still a four-bedroom, two-bathroom house, although it is detached, it is smaller.
So maybe I will go...290.
290? Swapsies. Swapping around.
This time unfortunately, you're being a bit optimistic, because
it's actually on the market at your price, it's on the market at 325.
-Even though it is a smaller property, the location and the garden,
it's separate, all these things tot up in value.
Yes. I just think maybe it's because we have lived at our present house for so long, 28 years...
-It's hard to think of somewhere else.
-It is hard, yes.
Hold your thoughts. Have a wander round.
Try to see if it could be the house for you.
-I will see you out the front.
With a price tag that matches our buyers' budget of £325,000, this detached, Edwardian property,
offers four bedrooms with an en-suite shower room to the master.
As well as a kitchen/breakfast room with an adjoining snug,
it has a separate dining room, a dual-aspect lounge
and outside there is a delightful south-facing garden.
A good-size but still relatively small.
-Yes but it's got these wardrobes here.
-Plenty of storage.
-It is a double after all.
-It is a double, exactly.
I'm undecided, to be frank.
My first thought was that being on the main road it would be too noisy,
and it is something that we are trying to get away from.
Traffic is a curse.
I think this property is ideal in a lot of ways.
It's got a lovely garden
and the required four bedrooms, the en-suite bathroom.
I like the clean lines, the kitchen.
It is quite a busy road here but I suppose you would not be standing
-outside the front of your house too often. Hello. All done?
Right, so pull the door behind you and we are going to go and regroup.
Leaving Bob and Marion to mull over the properties we've
shown them so far, the first day of our house hunt comes to an end.
With a budget of £325,000, London-based Bob and Marion have decided to quit the City
to find some peace in the Suffolk countryside.
So far we've shown them two super properties, but coming up,
will be historic charm of our mystery house be a contender?
I think it's got character, without any shadow of a doubt.
And we find out whether we've backed a winner.
Day Two of our property search in Suffolk and the sun is shining
and making two things clear to me -
one, that Marion really isn't that keen on period detail.
What she wants is space.
And two, that Bob will probably agree with Marion to get an easy life.
So I'm really looking forward to the mystery house, because that
is going to challenge them in every which way.
The mystery house is the last stop on our tour and takes us nine miles east of Bury St Edmunds to Woolpit.
The centre of this picturesque village is a conservation area
and many period timber houses as well as an imposing Gothic church can be found here.
Also a good selection of traditional shops and pubs.
And right in the heart of this well-served village is our mystery house.
-This is the property I want to show you, the mystery house.
Because it's challenging some of your preconceptions. It is listed.
-What are your first thoughts when you see it?
Money? Spending money on the upkeep.
Possibly, but it's a fantastic-looking building.
-Yes, beautiful, isn't it?
-How old is this?
It's from the 1400s, so it's a classic timber-built
early Renaissance building, like a lot of the buildings here.
So the property is attached, two properties in this big historic chunk.
But the reason we brought you here is to challenge your preconceptions about listed being small and poky.
-Let's have a look inside.
Built for the community, this property was formerly a hall house and offered somewhere for
village folk to congregate, and its proportions certainly reflects this.
Come on in.
Into the dining room.
-Look at the high ceilings.
It's bigger than I expected.
That fireplace is enormous.
Original flooring, perhaps?
Yes, this one is original. The same sort of tiles.
I'm very impressed. It is much bigger than I expected it to be.
I think it's an ideal dining room. I think it's wonderful.
-Can you imagine having your wine tastings here?
-I certainly could. There is enough light, just about.
Imagine Christmas here as well.
Yes, I think it's got character, without any shadow of a doubt.
Well, that's a surprise, a glowing response so far, even from Marion!
Mind your head here, a low door.
Oh, lovely room.
This is a room with lots and lots of history, not least this,
which is a prayer wall,
so this is a very old original plasterwork
from the time of the Reformation.
When Henry VII was pulling down all the monasteries.
It's very attractive.
It's tenderly decorated, isn't it?
I love the idea of a piece of history and we become part of it in a way.
And it goes along here as well.
Could Bob and Marion be softening to the idea of a listed property?
They really seem to love the period features of this house.
Behind the sitting room is a pretty breakfast-room with
an unusual kiln-shaped fireplace which leads to the kitchen.
-The kitchen is quite small...
..and strangely shaped.
So all the units have been hand-made to fit in.
It is an unusual shape. What do you think, Marion?
-Some space there.
Some storage there, and you do have this quite nice pantry
-and you have your fridge and washing machine in there.
And there's the utility room, excellent. I'm attracted to it.
I think this is very much Marion's domain, but I like it.
It suits me. It's a case of whether it's big enough for Marion, really. I think it's good.
Well, in the tradition of all mystery houses, it's challenging.
-It is a compromise from what we're used to.
Let's look upstairs, because that's a bit higgledy-piggledy.
Well, the kitchen may have put a spanner in the works,
but I'm sure they'll like what's on offer on the first floor.
Upstairs there's a bathroom, next to a good-sized single bedroom.
And what does the master bedroom hold in store?
It's got slopey doors and slopey floors.
This is the master.
An ideal place to put the chest of drawers.
Good storage. Again, it's much bigger than I expected.
Well, similar sized to the room downstairs.
-This is certainly the main bedroom.
-It's by far the biggest bedroom.
Onwards and upwards, because there is a second floor to this house too,
with what's referred to as the third bedroom, and leading off that, a study.
-Bet you weren't expecting that, were you?
-No! Wonderful office.
Lovely. Lots of light.
It's a bit of a clamber to get up here, and obviously you're right up in the eaves,
but it's all very useful space.
-Surprising as well.
It's certainly attractive, a very attractive room, I must say.
It's quirky. You know, the layout is not straight up and down stairs.
How many people could have a home like this?
Bob seems quite smitten, but I'm not sure about Marion.
So let's go outside and see if the garden will win her over.
-And out into the garden. The little back gate.
Well, this is the smallest of the gardens I've shown you,
-but it's quite secluded.
-Private little garden.
-Yes, attractive. Low-maintenance again.
-It appeals to me.
-Definitely low maintenance.
-Two sitting areas.
A nice cooking apple tree.
And you have got a drive, a little lane that goes along the side of your property,
and behind this cottage there is a garage that belongs to you as well.
That is good. That is interesting.
So what do you think...? Let's not go into the period, because
that's a big discussion point, but what do you think about the price?
How much to think something like this in the middle of Woolpit cost?
Marion, you go first. I'm not very good at this!
Well, because of what it is,
I would say it's above our budget?
I tend to agree with you, really.
I would have said in excess of our budget, 330?
Well, you're both wrong.
It is spot on your budget, it's 325.
So, it is a challenge, and we knew it was a challenge,
bringing particularly you here, because we know you're not a huge fan of the period.
But have a wander round and see if it's made anything re-align
-in your house hunting, and then we'll see you at the front.
So I'm not sure whether Marion was just being polite.
She was smiling and nodding, whereas inside she was hating every moment of it.
But, even if she did hate every moment it's a good way of focusing your mind on what you do and don't
want, and I think it does prove the point that period properties don't have to be dark and poky.
Surprisingly bang on budget at £325,000,
this stunning Grade II listed property is steeped in character and offers a wealth of period features.
Set on three floors, it has three bedrooms and a study,
a large sitting room and a separate dining room dominate the ground floor,
which also features a hand-made kitchen and utility area.
Outside, there is a low-maintenance garden and garage.
-I think it's a terrific room.
I love this bit of history on the wall.
-I think it's fantastic, isn't it?
-And it goes well with the beams.
And that door, look at how old this is.
All the obvious period features, the fireplaces, the stone tile flooring, I think they're wonderful.
I like the beams, and I think the whole of the downstairs is superb.
Well, it's certainly a mystery in itself somehow.
It's fantastic, full of character. An amazing house.
But I've never thought that I could live in a house like that.
However, going through it, it's such a homely house as well that...
..you know, I've warmed to it, to be honest.
So, let's leave all this history and Woolpit behind and we'll go and gather our thoughts.
Although horse racing is part of Suffolk's past, the sport is also very much part of its present.
The county's association with the turf dates back to the 17th century.
And today it's home to the largest number of licensed trainers in the UK,
as well as more than 60 stud farms.
And some of racing's biggest names live here, including Frankie Dettori and the legendary Lester Piggott.
But maintaining this enviable reputation means investing in the future,
and training the next generation of professional jockeys, trainers and those who manage the industry.
I've come to the British Racing School in Newmarket to get
a rare behind-the-scenes insight into the life of a bunch of hard-working trainees.
They're part way through a nine-week course to become stable staff.
Once they've completed the course and a working in a yard, they can be put forward to train
as apprentice jockeys, and these three have their sights set firmly on a career in the saddle.
What are the things they get in the way of being a licensed jockey?
Yeah, like any job, you can always get injured.
Probably a bit more likely on a skittish racehorse, I should think!
'With breakfast over, it's back out into the yard to get the horses
'ready for the second training session of the day.' Which horse is this?
-This is Miss Jabber.
Do you ride the same horse for the whole nine weeks?
No, different horses every day.
Sometimes you might be on the same one on Monday and then again Tuesday,
but that's one of the good things - you ride a lot of different horses as well.
Have you learnt one golden tip in the last six weeks?
Yeah, I think the key is to relax and the horses relax.
Keep your horse relaxed. If you're relaxed, the horse will be, and
the horse can feel you through the reins and everything, your hands.
If you feel a bit tense, the horse feels it and it passes on to it.
-All right, pet.
As stable staff, the trainees will be responsible
for exercising their horses for up to an hour and a half a day,
so they need to be competent riders.
This is only their second day out on the straight gallop.
I am with trainer Julie Lingham, who's keeping a watchful eye on their technique.
Just use your voice. Just as you're walking away, nice and quietly, nice soft hands and then use your voice.
Think about your distance there, Matthew.
Racing may be known as the sport of kings, but a jockey's life
is a tough one, and only a handful will make it to the top.
Professional jockeys can ride in up to 14 races a day,
sometimes travelling hundreds of miles between racecourses.
So are the chances of one of these guys being a professional jockey is slim?
It is slim, yes.
-You're realistic about it and you let them know that?
-Yeah, they have to know.
It is pretty slim, but it's nice.
If they've got a goal and an aim in life to do it, then it's great to see them come back and get their licence.
Julie seems pleased with their performance, and I'm keen to find out how they fared.
Well done, you looked amazing, and that's only the second day
-you've been on the long straight run?
-How was it for you, Shelley?
-Amazing. Like, the feeling of going up that long straight is amazing.
Every time I ride, you get such a buzz about it.
It's been a real inspiration meeting these enthusiastic young riders.
And good luck to them all in their chosen career.
Look at this mass of blossom in the beginning of September.
No wonder Bury is called the floral city of Britain, and it's also been the epicentre of our house hunting,
so a fitting place to meet Bob and Marion for a final sum-up.
So we come full circle back to Bury, because I know you love it here,
to the Abbey Gardens, which I think is a fitting place to finish our historic jaunt around Suffolk.
-It has been quite historic, hasn't it?
Let's spin the clock back to the first day when we looked at the house on Cow Green.
-What are your thoughts about that now?
-I liked it quite a lot.
I don't know if it was the first room which seemed so much older
and almost slightly spooky for me, actually.
But then moving round, the bigger rooms and so on, and the outside
aspect of the garden, the big kitchen, it had everything, really.
-So there was space there, wasn't there?
-There was space, yeah.
But it seems you liked the features more than Marion, first off.
I did enjoy the character of the place.
Although it was semi-detached, I was quite surprised,
and I was even more surprised when I found out what the price was. I thought that was really good value.
You are down pricing rather than downsizing. That was evident in the second house. What did you think?
I did quite like the front aspect
and the rear. Inside...
It was just the bit in between you didn't like!
It was a little...cosy.
Although I did like the kitchen, even though it wasn't huge.
My great misgiving, really, would be the location on the main road.
-I think that would niggle me after a while.
-It annoys you?
It was noisier than I expected, that's for sure.
Now, the mystery house certainly had character.
Just a few hours ago, what do you think of that?
I thought the mystery house was stunning. I really did like it.
Again, it's on the main road, which I think could be a problem,
but the downstairs area I thought was superb.
It was far more well lit than I expected it to be and, all in all, I thought it was a terrific house.
I can see myself and there, but I'm not sure about Marion.
No, you live in that one, I'll live in the other one!
I noticed you had problems on the stairs in the mystery house.
Yeah, they're a bit steep for me. And curving round.
It looked like the sort of house that you see in these lovely villages,
but one that I wouldn't think of actually living in.
And in terms of what happens next, how will you proceed? What do you think you're going to do?
The only one I think I would go for
would be the first one.
I think I'd like to see the immediate surrounding area.
-And the village.
-Yes, just to sort of judge that and check that out.
-So, a second look straight away.
I hope things work out, if not with our properties, then with others.
It does seem like this is a good place for you to look to down price,
but also to guarantee yourself some peace and quiet
-while you are off gadding around the world enjoying your retirement.
-Thank you very much.
It's really nice to have a budget in the low 300 thousands that
gets our couple everything they want plus a bit of history thrown in,
so fingers crossed that Suffolk comes up trumps and gives exactly what Bob and Marion are looking for.
If you'd like to see other counties are opening their property treasure chest,
tune in next time for more Escape to the Country.
In the end, Bob and Marion didn't pick any of our houses, but they did fall in love with
the village we showed them where our second property was located. The good news is,
they've put in an offer on a contemporary style home there.
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