Denise Nurse helps a family swap city living for a life in rural Sussex. Land is the all-important ingredient as they are hoping to set up a fitness boot camp business.
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"That's she, the only she. Make an honest woman of her, quick."
That was the reaction of one of England's most famous 19th and 20th century's writers
on first seeing this stunning Jacobean property.
Who was he, and where am I? Find out in just a moment.
In today's show, I'll be helping a dynamic couple
swap city living for a breath of fresh air in the country.
But it comes with its challenges.
Would you have to do a lot of work here?
-WOMAN: No, I... MAN:
So we resort to shock tactics.
And the mystery house gets the ultimate reaction.
And a "wow" from Nick.
Today, I'm in Sussex, and this is Bateman's,
the former home of Rudyard Kipling.
Now, suffering from a serious case of love at first sight,
Kipling bought this house in 1902 for the princely sum of £9,300.
Both the house and the grounds became a place
of inspiration and sanctuary for the world-famous author.
He spent 34 happy years here,
surrounded by the beautiful countryside of Sussex.
Neighbouring Kent, Surrey and Hampshire,
Sussex's borders are home to over 600 square miles
of undulating rural landscape.
And since April, 2010, the county formally encompasses the South Downs National Park,
stretching as far as the yawning chalky cliffs at Beachy Head,
Besides a geological history spanning some 40 million years,
the date of 1066 is inextricably linked with this county,
as it was at Hastings, the Normans sealed their victory,
the architectural remains of their glory years
surviving to this day in towns such as Lewes.
There are plenty of period properties that echo the county's rich history,
from elegant Georgian mansions, built in its naval heyday,
to the classic red-brick, tile-hung and weather-boarded houses.
In terms of property, West Sussex is the seventh most expensive county in England,
with prices an eye-watering 41% higher than the national average.
Now, East Sussex is slightly cheaper, but the closer you are to mainline stations into London,
the more expensive and desirable the properties become.
In fact, in Sussex, properties are so desirable at times
that they are sold within hours of going onto market.
So, why don't you take a look at some of the properties on offer right now in Sussex,
because they may not be for long.
For £750,000, this three-bedroom, traditional Sussex cottage
on the edge of Lurgashall
has a wealth of historic features
throughout its spacious reception rooms,
all wrapped up in just over three quarters of an acre of gardens.
This cottage in Bells Yew Green for £500,000
is full of rustic period features
that run throughout its comfortable reception areas,
with its four bedrooms also offset by those exposed beams.
For a slice of history from the 1800s, what about this four-bedroom converted schoolhouse in Fairlight?
Priced at £350,000, its high ceilings and arched windows
are impressive, with clean lines
and light, bright rooms continuing upstairs.
Some smashing Sussex properties there, and three more coming up.
But will any of them tempt today's buyers?
Well, only time will tell, so let's meet them.
Nick, who runs his own IT company, and Sarah, a fitness instructor -
along with their two children and dogs -
have lived in their four-bedroom semi-detached home
in Wimbledon, south-west London, for the past eight years,
during which time they have completely renovated their property.
The first night, I cried and said, "What have we done?" It was hideous, wasn't it? Absolutely horrific.
And it's taken... Well, it's taken seven years, hasn't it, to sort of get it together?
And of course, typically for us, as soon as we've finished it, we want to move.
Although Nick's a self-confessed urbanite,
he's had a change of heart.
I always thought I was a city boy,
and wanted to stay in the city, but I've come around to the idea
that it would be fantastic to move out and have a lot more space.
But his decision has come after a lot of persuasion from Sarah.
I've spent the last two years getting brochures, and selling it, basically.
And she has her reasons.
Basically, Gabby's nearly 11, and you know, we live in a nice area,
but I can't open the front door and the kids can't run out
and have the freedom that I had when I was a kid.
I tend to run around like an absolute lunatic around London, as does Nick,
and I think we need that time with the kids to just be a family
and to spend more time with each other, doing simple things, really.
At least they can agree on HOW they're going to spend their time.
I used to cycle quite a lot - a lot of mountain biking when it was first invented.
So, I'd like to do that again with the kids as they grow up.
I'd like to...kind of relax a bit as well,
because being in the city, being so connected to work...
I'll have him working in the garden, because I want a big garden, you see?
That's my plan. SHE LAUGHS
Sarah currently has her own gym, but with this move, she wants to go bigger.
What I want to do is set up fitness boot camps, training camps, in and around Sussex.
They're united on looking in Sussex villages
with good train access to London for Nick,
but can they agree on the house?
I can't stand twee, or low ceilings.
-Or, in fact, wobbly houses, so...
-I like wobbly houses.
When we're looking for character,
I'm not looking for a low-ceiling, beamed house.
You see, I love that.
That's because you're short.
Because I'm 5'4", and he's 6'1".
So I love, and I'm obsessed with all the sort of...
not mock Tudor, but real Tudor, and real, old character.
But that's where the big problem is. He absolutely hates it.
You know, I do know what Nick wants and needs
for where we're going to live,
and equally, you know what I want and need, too.
The next property needs to have four bedrooms,
I guess two reception rooms.
Well, my absolute must-have is a really big garden.
That's really important to me -
no less than three quarters of an acre.
At the moment, they're planning on renting out their current property,
so how much do they have to spend for their move?
The budget is £500,000. There's a little bit of flexibility there.
It's pretty obvious that Sarah is the driving force behind the family's decision to quit city life.
It has taken her five long years to convince confirmed urbanite, Nick,
to leave his beloved London behind forever.
It's also perfectly apparent that after a tearful and shaky start,
they both now love their house in Wimbledon so much,
they want to keep it and rent it out.
But we also know that they've chosen to move to a very expensive part of the country.
And whilst they're both willing - even eager - to take on a project,
I am extremely worried that their half-a-million-pound budget
still won't be enough to get them everything they want.
So, something is going to have to give.
They've since decided to put their house on the market,
which now arms them with a generous budget of £750,000.
So, with that, and their need to have road and rail access to London in mind,
we're basing Nick and Sarah's property search in East Sussex,
where they'll get a bit more for their money
than they would over the border in West Sussex.
We've found three gorgeous family homes to show them,
but I won't be revealing the price tag of each
until they've had a guess first. The last is our mystery house,
which adds a totally different dimension to their search.
Good morning, guys. Glad to see you've made it to leafy Sussex.
-Only five years it took you to get here.
-How are you feeling, Nick?
-Not too worried about making this big move?
-Not at all, no.
Sussex is commutable to London, but that does make it very popular with ex-city people,
and therefore one of the more expensive places in the country.
I also know it's a big step for you and it shows your commitment
to making this move and changing your family's whole lifestyle.
It is a bit scary, but we're ready for it.
You're ready to let go of Wimbledon?
I think so.
While you're in that mood, let's not spend any more time talking about it and go and see some properties!
With a budget of £750,000,
Nick and Sarah are after a detached property,
with high ceilings for him, but rustic beams for her.
Also on the wish list
is a large family kitchen, four bedrooms,
at least three quarters of an acre garden,
with the scope for a gym, music room and ideally,
space for Sarah to realise her boot camp idea.
And it must be located near schools
and a mainline train station
for Nick's commute into London.
For our first property, we're heading to the village of Pett,
with an array of attractive period housing stock
and its own farm shop.
They can take in the sea air with the beach only half a mile away.
And among the selection of period properties
is this Arts and Crafts house, built at the end of the 1920s.
This is the first property.
Wow, that is big!
That was a "wow". Nick?
That's quite funny, it's like the house I used to live in when I was a kid.
-It is, isn't it?
-It looks like it's going to have high ceilings as well, I think.
You lucky boy!
I get the feeling you're going to like it here.
-I'm just staring at it now.
-Let's see if you like the inside.
There's no doubt that our property has impressed them at the outset.
Let's hope those high spirits continue inside.
In we come.
Very, very big hallway, as you'd expect with a house this size.
I love big hallways.
-So, come through to your formal living room.
It's lovely, it's lovely.
-It's a good size.
-I think it's great.
It's got a lovely atmosphere about it. I really like it.
And does it fit your style?
I know you two spent a lot of time in Wimbledon,
re-doing it and making it the way you want it.
Would you have to do a lot of work here?
Wow, what different reactions. While Sarah is fizzing with excitement,
Nick's being more level-headed.
But maybe there's a project next door
that they'd both be happy to take on.
-It's a bit small.
That's how I thought you were going to react.
Yeah, it's a bit small.
-What's that out there?
-Good question. Let's move forward.
There's potential, of course there is.
Would we show you a kitchen that was too small without an option?
Of course not! Here, this little extra section is essentially a utility space.
However, we've already spoken to the local council and the planners,
and you wouldn't need planning permission if you went four metres and did a single storey...
-..from here, out.
-Wow, that's quite far.
-That would take you to the edge there.
-That would make it the size that we would want it to be.
-There you go.
-Well done! Very good.
So, taking that into consideration...
It's really big.
-..what do you think of this kitchen, or the potential for this kitchen?
-I think it's all right, now!
And they've got more reception areas on the other side of the hallway,
with a second smart sitting room
and a third room which Nick could use as his music den.
The downstairs of this Arts and Crafts property
has the period elegance and space they're looking for.
And those generous proportions continue upstairs.
Leading off the spacious landing are the five bedrooms -
all well-decorated doubles and a very good size.
What's more, there's a bathroom and separate shower room.
But they should definitely claim this as their room.
The reason I say this should be the master suite
is because not only does it have a little dressing room tucked behind there,
it also has an en-suite bathroom
with bath and shower just over there.
As you can see, they have so many bedrooms,
-they're using this as a boudoir at the moment.
Do you know what? I've always wanted a dressing room.
So what are you thinking?
-You'd like to keep this like that?
I'm not getting the vibe at the moment.
I have to see it in its entirety, then I can start planning it all out.
Well, hopefully seeing another master option might change his view.
Now, look at this for a bedroom,
and...that for a view.
It's lovely, really lovely.
-Are you feeling any warmer towards the property now?
There's a sort of heart and there's a head thing going on.
My heart's not in this one for the moment.
I think this house is a fantastic opening gambit,
that gives them the space and period character they asked for.
And outside might convince Nick,
as there's three quarters of an acre of tiered gardens,
so lots of space for the dogs and children to roam in,
with little secret corners tucked away among its mature trees.
It's quite a unique setting, but does it work for them?
We are up into the hills, which is why you get the wonderful views.
How are you feeling about this type of garden?
Well, I like it. I like the idea of levels
and little, sort of secret areas to hide in and play around.
What do you think?
-I'm guessing if you say you like it, you've got a different opinion!
Er, you know, it is quite a nice garden.
It could be a bit flatter, maybe.
I'm going to sound so picky, aren't I?
No, but it's about what works for you.
Now you've seen the house and the garden and the views,
have you made an opinion on how much you think it's worth?
So, I think it's £695,000.
-And I think it's £650,000.
There's a big difference there. Shall I put you out of your misery?
You're right. You win this round.
-That's a surprise.
-It is on at £650,000.
-So, it's a hundred grand under your budget,
which does mean the changes we talked about in the house are do-able.
-Go and spend some time in the house, and I'll see you later.
-We will do.
Under budget at £650,000, perhaps the £100,000 saving
will persuade Nick to warm to this Arts and Crafts house.
It's a great proposition,
giving them four large reception areas,
a kitchen ripe for extension
with the money they have left over,
five bedrooms with a potential master suite,
three quarters of an acre of grounds,
and a spectacular rural location,
but with a mainline train station
in nearby Hastings,
giving Nick only an
hour and a half's commute to London.
When I first saw it, I thought, "Wow, that's amazing."
The location was fantastic, the house looked really impressive.
In terms of all the things in this house that we've asked for -
-Yep, that's a tick.
-..nice living room...
I like the garden, location's good. I'm just... I'm just not feeling it.
-I've been taking in the view out here.
Have you seen enough in there?
-We have, we have.
-Let's keep going, then.
Along with the spectacular hinterland of the South Downs National Park,
Sussex also racks up an impressive coastline of 106 miles,
where throughout its towns,
the Normans wasted no time in making their architectural mark.
Chichester in West Sussex is home to a prime example.
Work on its imposing cathedral started in 1070,
although much of what remains today dates back to the 1300s.
Its medieval spire is reputedly the only one in the UK that can be seen from the sea,
and is thought to have been used as a navigational aid.
Chichester wears its architectural heritage on its sleeve,
with over 500 listed buildings - many of them Georgian.
But in many cases, it's only skin-deep.
Earlier in the week, we sent Nick and Sarah
to meet local guide, Colin Clark, to find out more.
Are all the houses here Georgian?
Not entirely, because it's rather deceiving.
We've got Georgian frontages on many of the buildings that are, in fact, medieval.
They were...sort of upgraded for status, as much as anything,
during the 18th century.
And many builders actually reveal timbers and things
which date back way before the Georgian period.
The 18th century was a time of commercial prosperity in the city,
as grain and livestock were traded at market
and taken to Portsmouth to supply the Naval fleet.
A few miles from the city centre, Chichester harbour
is a marine playground for wildlife and boat enthusiasts alike.
And as Sarah and Nick have never flexed their sea legs before,
we asked master sailor, Nick Jones,
to give them a taste of life on the waves,
although reservations seem to be creeping in.
Nick does get a little bit seasick. He might not admit that today.
I don't think he'll get seasick today.
It's quite flat and there's not too much wind,
so we should be able to cope with that.
So, with life jackets donned, it's time to put them through their paces.
What we're trying to do, Nick, basically, is keep the boat level.
It goes fastest when it's level.
-I think Nick's pretty much a natural.
-He's good, isn't he?
-Can you, er, crack open a few beers?
-I'm just trying to stay alive!
One of the key sailing skills is tacking, where you change direction
by turning the front - or bow - of the boat up through the wind.
In three, two, one, tacking now.
Besides having such bracing activities on their doorstep,
I'm sure the spoils of Chichester have reassured city lover, Nick,
that Sussex can serve up the best of town, country and coast.
Our second property lies in the village of Brede,
within easy reach of Hastings and Rye, for schools and train stations.
Along with a church and shop, the village serves up a varied mix of character properties,
including this impressive 1930s house,
thoughtfully extended in the early 1990s.
And this is the second property.
-It's very nice.
Oh, my word!
It reminds me of something from when I was little.
It's the sort of thing that you always wanted to live in.
-It does. It looks homely.
-Homely, that's good.
A smile and a positive from Nick. I think we're doing well.
On that note, let's go inside.
How exciting that they both think this property makes a statement.
As there's plenty of parking space, Sarah could think about turning the car port into a mini gym.
Let's hope what they see inside sets their hearts racing.
Right, straight through here we have another big entrance hallway.
I thought this was a lounge. I thought we'd go straight into the lounge from the front.
This is a really great hallway.
-A nice surprise for you, then?
-Yeah, it's good. It's big.
-Le kitchen, what do you think?
-I like it!
Definitely better than the other one.
LAUGHTER I love those windows.
This is all reclaimed brick. I think the windows are lovely,
and the sun's coming through and they're letting in all that lovely light,
so it's really brightening up.
It's got a really nice atmosphere about it.
And just over there, you've got a utility room,
so more storage space, a door for the dogs, and a downstairs loo.
-We said "great" at the same time!
I'm hoping that's a good omen and you both really like it,
-so a good start all round. Let's keep going.
Perfect harmony, at last.
I hope we can build on that in the main reception room.
It's nice. It's a really nicely done room, too.
-It's cosy, isn't it?
-Do you like it? ..(He likes it.)
I can't believe it, I know! I don't want to say it out loud.
I don't want to ask any questions in case you change your mind.
-Just tell me what you like about it, Nick.
It's a good size,
nice and bright, um...
-Oh, you looked up, then!
-I was waiting for that.
-I knew there'd be something.
That's it, but it's just the ceiling, so...
I can see Nick's going to be a tough cookie to please until we get those ceilings right,
but there is the square footage, with a separate dining room
giving them a third light living area to adapt as they see fit.
And the fresh, modern style continues upstairs,
throughout its six bedrooms, and the first stop is the master.
This one is the master suite because you do have an en-suite bathroom.
You've got lovely storage, here.
Lots of space for you, but is it big enough for you, Nick?
This is a really good size room. No, it's good. I think it's working.
What do you think, Sarah?
You know me, Denise, I really like it.
-Silly question - "I love it!"
-I think it's lovely.
You could just move in and not have to do anything.
-I wouldn't do anything.
-It's never happened, ever.
The remaining five bedrooms are just as tastefully furnished,
and include two lovely, light doubles and two smaller rooms,
one with built-in cupboards, and an ingenious little single
with storage and a skylight.
The Victorian-style family bathroom has a fabulous roll-top bath,
and there's a separate, sleek shower room.
I think the contemporary interior has reassured Nick that a country home doesn't have to be twee.
And they're excited by the fact that they could move straight in.
Let's head outside and see if the garden scores as highly.
Right, here we are, out in the garden.
Is it flat enough for you, Nick?
That's a lot flatter. You can play football on this one!
You can, they're even ready for you!
What about the size? Does it work for you?
Yeah, it's a lot better.
-Would you like your garden any bigger than this?
-Good! Because all of that is yours as well.
-You're joking? No!
Now that is... Wow! That is fantastic.
-Are you ready for a little bit more?
-How much of that...? ..What?
-It's not just that little bit there. You see that little woodland there?
And guess what's at the back behind there?
I don't know!
A little stream!
SHE SOBS Sorry!
Don't be sorry!
Are you all right?
It's perfect. I can't believe this.
I'm just blown away. Blown away, I can't believe it.
I don't know if you're ready for any more.
There's not more?
-There's a little bit more!
It wraps round a bit, and there's enough space there -
the current owners have got planning permission -
-they were going to build a stable block with a tack room.
Mmm. At a cost of about £80,000 to £90,000,
so it's a substantial plot and building.
And all in all here, you have three-and-a-half acres.
Well, I just cannot... I just can't believe it.
-I was thinking about the boot camp.
-You're absolutely right.
To develop that would be absolutely magnificent.
It's what I've always wanted to do.
-Nick, is it enough to win you over?
-I'm going to have to think hard about this one!
And now the wife's burst into tears!
All right, now, you've seen it all,
but how much do you think you'd have to pay?
I think it's going to be the full monty. For your dream home...
-Without a doubt.
-If not a bit above our budget.
-So you're going for £750,000?
-I'm going £765,000.
Put us out of our misery.
Yes, put us out of our misery.
You win this time.
It's on at £750,000.
-Right at at the top of your budget.
Have a think, take it all in,
maybe explore some of those acres!
-I'm going to!
-Great, let's go.
-I'll find you.
Wow! Our 1930s property has blown them away,
and in Sarah's words, is "perfect".
It may be priced at the top of their budget,
but for £750,000, they get a substantial family home
and they wouldn't have to lift a finger.
It features three light, airy reception areas,
a large kitchen-diner,
six bedrooms with a master en-suite,
and over three-and-a-half acres
of garden, woodland and a stream,
all of which bowled Sarah over,
and gives her the scope
to develop her boot camp business.
-There's a lot of potential, isn't there?
-It really is, and it's gorgeous as well.
It's beautiful - the stream, everything. Everything.
I'm so excited, I just... I just can't believe it, it's perfect.
The additional bonus that this house is on this land, is quite incredible,
because if this had been a derelict house on this land,
I still would have been really tempted.
But the fact that this house is done beautifully
just makes it so much easier.
I know Sarah really, really likes the house, I can tell that.
Um...so I guess that means it's all up to me, doesn't it?
I'm saying the head's really thinking this one through,
the heart - I have to say - it isn't the one that I sort of fell in love with straight away.
I rarely do that, though.
Right, that's it. I've got to drag you out of there, I'm afraid.
Yeah, you have.
But that's it for today. Come on.
As the sun sets over the Sussex countryside,
it marks the end of the first day of our property search.
It's taken five years, but Sarah has finally convinced Nick to leave the capital
and head for pastures new in Sussex with their children,
So far, one of our properties has completely bowled her over...
It's just...perfect. It's perfect.
..but can our mystery house turn the tables?
I'm getting nervous...
because I'm not used to this.
It's always been apparent that Nick is much more reticent about this move to Sussex,
whereas Sarah, she just fell in love with our second house yesterday.
So, one more to go.
Let's see if the mystery house can provoke some emotion from Nick.
Our mystery property takes us to the village of Mayfield.
Along with great schools in the area,
Nick would have just a ten-minute drive
to Wadhurst or Stonegate
with just over an hour's train journey into London.
Mayfield's streets are spilling over with charming pubs,
boutiques and independent food retailers.
Our mystery house is a less practical option than they've seen so far,
with fewer bedrooms, quirky features, and plenty of beams.
I'll be amazed if Nick goes for it.
And our mystery house.
-I like that.
And a "wow" from Nick! Oh, my word!
It's an oast house, 200 years old,
and it was only converted 65 years ago.
I like that. It's cute, isn't it?
-It makes a statement.
Good! Let's have a look inside.
Well, Nick has shown a really strong emotional reaction to the unique character of the oast house,
built in the early 19th century for drying hops,
with its conical roofs and circular kilns,
which are still defining features of its rooms inside.
So, on this side, you have your kitchen.
It's a very nice kitchen.
I think it's the height of the ceiling, Denise.
Ah, of course!
No, I like the way it's done out, and I like...
Yeah, no, it's very nice.
I love the shape of it. I love round rooms - it's just really different.
And that is not a cupboard door, that is actually the utility space.
It's a good size and there's a little downstairs toilet in there as well.
-I know that you want a family kitchen.
There's not an obvious amount of room here for the children.
-Would that bother you?
-It's definitely a consideration.
Let's hope our charm offensive on Nick continues in here.
So, over this side, you get the living room, and as you can see,
it's open plan into the dining room.
I would switch this completely and have this as the kitchen-diner
-and that as the lovely, round lounge.
-Just seems obvious, doesn't it?
Yeah, because this is the space that we want for us all together,
and that's the relaxing room, so that would work.
-I think that would work really well.
-And it's still a little bit more height than before.
-It's got a lot of character, yep.
-I am impressed that you like it so much.
I hadn't really considered an oast house.
-I have tried.
-That's why it's the mystery house!
Come on, let's go through and have a look at the space through here.
Because you come through and then the ceilings lift again.
So, any reservations so far, Nick?
I mean, it is obviously smaller than everything we've seen before, so...
interested in how we solve that problem.
At the moment, I'm going to sell the children and we'll just live here(!)
Radical thinking! Sell the children, that is an option,
but I'm hoping I can find a way that you don't have to do that, Nick.
-That would be good.
-I'm thinking of you, kids. Let's go and look upstairs.
Nick's clearly loving the fact that our mystery property is a slice of local history.
And he seems to square the circle to make it work for them.
Upstairs, along with a well-furnished family bathroom,
are three bedrooms, which I hope will raise the roof.
-That is a "wow", isn't it?
-That is a high ceiling!
-There you go. I want no complaints from you about ceiling height!
Could this be the bedroom for the two of you?
We'd have to find somewhere to put Sarah's clothes.
Because, you know...
-that might just about do ME.
-OK, so great space for the two of you,
-but still concerned about storage.
-Yeah, I am, too.
-We had a role-reversal!
-Yes, I know! That is, it is a concern.
And also, it's just a family bathroom.
Could be a bit of scrapping over that.
Could be, couldn't there?
Well, I've been a bit naughty,
because at the other end of the landing
is the room which I'm sure will put all their fears to bed.
Come in here.
Now...how about if you slept on this side of the oast house?
-I think it's right for us.
-I think so.
Ah, and there's shower. I was worried about that.
-And enough storage?
It's got rid of that problem, I think.
So we're getting rid of problems. I like that.
Come up and have a look at the bedroom.
I think, of all the properties, you are having a stronger emotional reaction to this one.
-I am, aren't I?
-You kind of like it, you feel at home.
And I'm feeling a bit cooler from you, Sarah.
Probably because he's feeling a bit warmer.
-You don't make life easy.
Yeah, it's funny.
I think I'm getting nervous... because I'm not used to this!
-You can't win, can you?
-He actually likes it!
It's a lovely house, isn't it?
And don't worry, kids. There IS space for you, in the third bedroom, now set up as a study-cum-library.
Nick is obviously in love with our mystery property,
while Sarah appears to be stepping into his shoes as the rational one.
But she'll be pleased that outside, there's lapsed planning permission
for a two-storey outbuilding with upstairs accommodation.
And the garden is delightful,
with gently sloping lawns and established fruit trees.
So, we'll climb to higher ground
and really soak up the sight of the surrounding countryside.
Wow, that is some view, isn't it?
-Worth that walk.
-It's beautiful, beautiful.
This plot is just under an acre.
My only worry - she says, being the sensible one now -
is how much that is, and whether we could afford to do anything.
-That's my worry.
Well, you pre-empted the question.
-How much do you think it's worth?
I think it's definitely... Must be about £775,000.
This property is on the market for offers between...
£695,000 and £735,000.
Well, that's very different. And it's something that I never thought he would ever consider.
Nick, you have been the biggest surprise!
-I have, haven't I?
-It's usually the mystery house that shocks everyone,
but it's your reaction that I've been so impressed with.
Before you change your mind, spend some more time in what could be your house and I'll see you later on.
-See you later.
-See you later.
It looks like our mystery oast house conversion
has thrown everything up in the air.
With a guide price of £695,000 to £735,000,
it's comfortably under budget,
and packed to the rafters with historic features,
giving them two reception rooms
with those exposed timber ceilings,
a quirky, round kitchen,
three bedrooms with a master en-suite,
and just under an acre of garden
with the potential
for an outbuilding
to house their gym and music room.
I think it could work. You know, this location could work, it's...
..yeah, I think we could be...
I really do think we could be here.
I think what was going through my mind about Nick
was it was the first time that I've seen him actually react to something,
and I could feel that he was falling in love with it.
I've never seen that before.
I was upstairs trying to imagine how I'd feel if we were living here,
and there's such a feeling of calmness in this house.
I mean, I really, really... It makes me feel really happy...
..so I really want to be here.
-Thoroughly confused now?
Don't worry. We'll find you somewhere that you can sit down,
think about it, and work it all out. Come on.
Over the years, the Sussex countryside has inspired many of Britain's greatest writers,
with William Blake describing it as, "England's green and pleasant land,"
and it's where AA Milne wrote Winnie The Pooh.
But it was Rudyard Kipling
who made this magnificent example of Jacobean architecture his home.
Now looked after by the National Trust,
Kipling referred to this house - known as Bateman's - as his "good and peaceable place".
I've come to meet curator, Gary Enstone,
to find out more about Kipling's own reasons for escaping to the country.
It really is beautiful! I can see why Kipling moved his family here, and fell in love at first sight.
He moved here from Rottingdean in 1902.
He had a lot of problems with...
basically being a celebrity of the age,
so he moved out here to the country
and somewhere a little bit more peaceful and quiet for both him and his family.
So this was his own escape? He was actually quite a private and family man, wasn't he?
-This move was for his children.
-Very much so.
People forget that although he was such a famous author,
and wrote so many well-known books, behind all that,
he wrote all of that work for his children.
Over the 34 years that Kipling lived here,
his estate grew from 13 to 300 acres,
on which he farmed crops and kept prize-winning cattle.
But one particular part of the garden
was very much devoted to his children.
Well, Denise, this is the rose garden and the pond,
and basically, what you're looking at here
-is the 1907 Nobel Prize for Literature.
-What do you mean?
Kipling, in 1907, became the first British man to actually win the Nobel Prize for Literature.
He was given £7,700,
and that money he used to build the rose garden and pond.
Kipling also harnessed the energy of water,
installing a turbine in the old working mill
to generate enough light for ten 60-watt bulbs
for some four hours every evening.
Inside, the rooms remain, as he put it, "Untouched and unfaked,"
with Kipling's furnishings reflecting his passion for the subcontinent.
And upstairs is where all his inspiration came together
for works such as the Just So Stories
and the famous poem, If.
Oh! It's almost as if he just popped out of the room.
Yeah, this is Kipling's little hideaway from the rest of the world,
but that doesn't necessarily mean that he wanted to have a solitary life.
In fact, we've got many, many recorded people visiting here, and he did keep a visitors' book.
-If you just look at this month here, of 1909,
you can see just down here in two or three days,
he had Percival Landon, Henry James... A tremendous amount of people came and visited here.
There's one more thing I wanted to ask about -
that bed, did he sleep in there? Was he that immersed in his work?
He used to work very much in the mornings,
but he was only really inspired at certain times,
and they say that he used to get himself into a bit of a mini-daze
by laying himself out on the bed, waiting for inspiration to strike.
As soon as it would strike, he'd move straight over and start writing.
For all of the celebrity that Kipling was caught up in,
he willingly bequeathed his historic home to the public so that like him,
future generations could enjoy its awe-inspiring setting.
Yesterday, I thought we had a clear winner,
but today, as is so often the case,
the mystery house has turned everything on its head.
So, have we finally convinced Londoner, Nick,
to make his escape to the country?
Sarah's already here, so let's find out.
-Hello, you two.
We've had a good week, haven't we?
Finally got him out here in Sussex looking for properties.
Finally got a big smile out of you!
We started with that beautiful Arts and Crafts house.
What did you think of that?
In terms of space, a good amount of space,
and I liked the parquet flooring.
I...didn't feel that we could stamp our mark on it.
What did you think of it, Sarah?
Well, you know me. I liked it. I thought it was very nice.
The garden, I quite liked, on different levels.
There was nothing wrong with it.
It just... I just didn't feel the love!
It just didn't happen!
But it did happen when we went to the house
with the three-and-a-half acres.
You were certainly feeling something, because we had tears, I hope, of joy.
I thought it was absolutely magnificent. I loved it.
It was very nice inside, I thought it was done very well,
but I think, for me, when I started to look more into it after we'd been there,
I sort of realised the commute was going to be really quite a big one.
And I think I was looking at close to two hours to get to the office,
which is nearly four hours every day. I can't really take that out of my day.
But it was the perfect house... potentially!
Because there was, of course, the mystery house!
So, what did you think of the oast house, Nick?
The first thing that struck me was the location.
The setting is absolutely magical.
I saw a really beautiful house.
Erm, it just looks amazing.
So, I was really quite taken aback when I first saw it.
You, when we walked in, became almost silent,
-which is unusual!
I mean, I was really pleasantly surprised, but shocked.
Surprised but shocked?
It only has three bedrooms.
Mmm...so, I've been turning that over in my mind, and erm...
I think the fact that we've potentially got the ability to put something outside,
I think that can solve all of those problems.
Well, the question has to be, which way have you decided to go?
-Shall I say?
-Erm, the third. The mystery.
This has made me feel warm, cosy, and I can see us all living here.
-Very happily, actually.
-And how committed are you to that decision? What is the next step?
Erm, well we're going to go back and see it. I'm going to do things like trial the commute.
-How soon would you want to be out here in the countryside?
Well, I'm going to be very practical and think, "We've got to think about schools," so...
-I think you're ready to do it.
-I think so.
It's been one of those things that we had to do,
the experience has been fantastic.
It's really given him a push to look properly and think about it.
-I think that's made all the difference.
-I think so too.
I hope it's not too long before you're moving to the countryside,
-and please do let us know how you get on.
It's funny how things work out.
You show a couple a property that they would never, ever have looked at,
and it turns out to be the one that both Sarah and Nick not only agree on,
but they seem to have fallen in love with.
So, they're coming back with the kids to have another look, and what happens after that,
well...we'll have to wait and see. See you next time.
Sarah and Nick eventually decided they needed more rooms than the oast house offered,
but it has made them realise that East Sussex
is definitely the area for them,
so hopefully it won't be long before they find their perfect property.
And if you want to escape to the country
in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England
and would like our help, please apply online:
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Denise Nurse helps a family swap city living for a life in rural Sussex. Land is the all-important ingredient as they are hoping to set up a fitness boot camp business. So when Denise delivers a delightful 1930s period house with over three acres and on budget at £750,000, it's game, set and match. There's also a visit to Bateman's, Rudyard Kipling's very own Jacobean escape to the country.