Aled Jones helps a newly-married couple with a budget of one million pounds find a substantial property in Sussex. Will they go for a traditional house or a party pad?
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The thwack of leather on willow.
There's no sound more associated with the quintessential British summer.
Today, I'm in the county where that gentlemanly sport was born. Any ideas?
Stumped, are you? Join us for another innings of Escape To The Country.
In today's show, we'll be helping a couple sell up their life in the city
and realise their property dreams in the country.
We're nailing it on the "wow" factor...
-Oh, my gosh!
-Music to my ears!
But will they be tempted to party on in our mystery house?
Today, I'm in Sussex, the birthplace of cricket. It's all very exciting here!
Over 1,500 years ago, it was considered to be a sport played by children.
But by 1610, adults were definitely playing it, sometimes when they shouldn't have been.
Church records at Sidlesham state that two gentlemen were fined 12 pence
because they didn't turn up to church on Easter Sunday.
You'll never guess what they were doing!
They were playing cricket! When the game is as great as this, maybe the penance was worth it.
Spanning nearly 1,500 square miles
and with over 100 miles of coastline flanking the English Channel,
Sussex's shores are awash with history.
This county served as a gateway for the Norman invasion
and flourished in the Victorian era with its seaside resorts.
Inland serves up its own natural drama with the South Downs, Britain's newest national park,
offering up prime walking terrain on its expansive chalk slopes.
Historic towns such as Battle, Hastings and Lewis,
with their thriving independent shops, still hold on to their Norman heritage.
Sussex's villages are peppered with traditional tile-hung and timber-framed properties
making this county a compelling option for aspiring escapees.
If you are thinking of moving to rural Sussex,
the big question is should you go east, or should you go west?
Property in the east is 12 percent cheaper than in the west.
£325,000 you'll pay for an average detached house, so it's worth considering.
Or you could straddle the border,
as last year Mid-Sussex Council was deemed to have the best quality of life
out of all the south-eastern authorities.
Here's what's currently on the market in and around this area.
A cool £1 million will buy you this renovated tithe barn in Ovingdean.
Its timber-frame ceiling is tastefully offset by the contemporary decor
which is a running theme throughout the kitchen and dining room.
Priced at £575,000, this listed former Georgian schoolhouse in Windmill Hill
opens up inside to reveal enormous reception rooms, a welcoming kitchen and five generous bedrooms.
What a spectacular view it offers over the South Downs.
This two-bedroom listed cottage in Mayfield for £325,000
wears its period features with pride throughout its living room and dining room.
Outside, the pretty cottage garden is totally in keeping.
Sussex has it all on the property front.
Although I don't think this spring house will accommodate today's big spenders!
Let's meet them.
Newly-weds Tom and Briony have wasted no time in starting a family.
With baby number one on the way,
they figure it's time to sell up their three-bed Victorian terrace in Hammersmith, London,
and put down long-term roots in the Sussex countryside.
We like the idea of the kids growing up in the countryside,
with fields and the ability to play, which Briony and I didn't really experience.
But professionally as well, as Briony and I are now directors of our own company,
that can be taken wherever we want to go.
How are they going to fill the little free time they get around work and babies?
I've always had a love of horses and horse-riding.
It's something I've been fortunate enough to enjoy for most of my life, less so recently.
Location is key to their lifestyle and work.
Ideally, we're looking for the edge of a village. I don't think we want to be completely isolated.
-We still need amenities fairly close, such as schools, pubs, shops.
That kind of thing.
We'd like to be no more than 90 minutes drive from London
and to have the alternative of getting the train into London.
Maybe no more than 15 minutes from a station.
They both have a clear vision for their ideal property.
-It has to be a detached property.
-In quite a large plot of land. An acre and a half plus.
It's important to have character, for it to be a period property, but have that contemporary twist inside.
We like things to be modern inside but there's a way to do that and retain the character.
But they don't want to do the work themselves.
With regards to renovation, we wouldn't take on a project.
And there are other important requests to factor in.
A study is really important to us both
because we work in the living room and it would be nice to be able to separate work from life.
The kitchen is really important, we have a decent sized kitchen.
We'd be looking for something similar, maybe a bit bigger.
Somewhere to be the heart of the family, that we can eat in.
Their budget depends on what they can sell their current house for.
We've arranged for a local estate agent to give them a valuation.
Given it's a three-bedroom early Victorian terrace,
and the location of the parks nearby,
convenient transport links and the river,
I'd expect to market the asking price at £800,000.
-We were pleased with it, absolutely!
-Our budget for the move...
-It's £1 million.
£1 million is without doubt a great budget and should afford Tom and Briony their country pile.
But they're not willing to take on a big project,
so can we find a classic country house with a chic, modern interior?
They're after an open-plan kitchen, high ceilings and urban clean lines that they're used to in London.
The word "modern" is so subjective. Contemporary to one person is outdated to another.
This could be tricky. Wish me luck!
Since Tom and Briony have friends near Haywards Heath,
we'll focus our search in that general area
but aim to give them the most for their money by sticking to the East Sussex side of the border.
We've picked some stunning properties for them
but I won't be revealing the price tags straight away.
Finally, we'll be encouraging them to take the plunge with our mystery property.
-Welcome to Sussex, how are you?
-Very well, thank you.
-Welcome to baby on the way.
-You want to be in this property by the time baby arrives?
-Pressure's on then. What's most important, outside or inside?
-Ah, there's a question.
-Both, I think.
-We're not the kind of people who expect the world on our budget.
Hopefully we'll get as much as we can but we are realistic,
we understand compromises have to be made.
-Saying all the right things, I love you two already!
-Making your job really easy!
-I think we should get on with it.
-Sounds good to me.
With their £1-million budget,
Tom and Briony want a detached period country pile with a modern interior that's ready to move in to
and gives them a large family kitchen-diner, a dedicated study so they can work from home,
four bedrooms and at least 1.5 acres for Briony to gallop around in,
set on the edge of a village
within a 90-minute commute of London for work.
We're kicking off our search in the village of Buxted.
It's well located, with its own train station and an hour- and-ten-minute commute into London.
Village life here is alive and well, complete with a pub, primary school,
and there's even a cricket pitch for Tom.
On the outskirts of the village we find this much-extended property, originally dating back to the 1930s.
-Come on in.
-Was that an "Oh, wow" I heard you say?
-I like it when you start with "Oh, wow".
-And the sun has decided to come out.
-A good start!
-What do you think?
-You wouldn't guess that it has had a lot of work done on it.
It's been extended, re-developed and you can't really tell where the join is.
-No, I can't.
-Very well done, isn't it?
-So, you like it?
-Love it, so far.
-Shall we go in?
That is a great first reaction. Let's see if that all-important "wow" factor continues inside.
Let's bring you into the formal living room.
-Oh wow, look at that view!
-It's the first thing that hits you.
I can't get over it. It's absolutely incredible.
-Is that what you wanted?
-Just leave me here in this spot.
-Is this big enough for you?
-It's a nice size family room.
You can see friends sitting around and kids playing.
You wouldn't need to do anything here, you've got a working fireplace,
and this recent addition of a fantastic conservatory.
-Do you want to have a quick look?
-Sounds good. Thanks.
-Wow, that's gorgeous. Wow.
-Music to my ears!
-This is beautiful.
-Look at that view!
-You couldn't have a bigger smile on your face, you know that?
-Really? You can't beat that, that's just stunning.
-You'd have to go some to beat this. What a start!
-We should take you to the kitchen.
-Sounds good to me, hugely important.
-I laugh in the face of pressure.
On the way there is this plush dining room, giving them ample space to entertain.
And there's a separate study.
At the end of the kitchen is a huge utility room for all their laundry needs.
Let's see if I can turn up the heat in here.
-So I said no pressure, and this is why.
-Oh, my gosh!
-Is it big enough for you?
-Just about, yes.
-Bri, if you were to say "this is what I want for a kitchen", it wouldn't be far off this.
-It's gorgeous, isn't it?
-Really, really good.
-That is my ideal, that range.
-Can you imagine yourself here?
-Yes, very much so.
-Shall we go upstairs?
Looks like downstairs gets a double "wow".
They get much more than they asked for upstairs with five bedrooms,
including two large, light doubles, and lots of built-in cupboards,
perfect for guests who can use the separate family bathroom.
Let's put their expectations of where they would sleep to the test in the third bedroom.
-This could be your master, what do you think?
-It's a great size. Lovely light, high ceiling, nice proportion.
-I love the windows.
-They bring in so much light.
-Again, nothing really to be done.
-Ticking boxes, aren't we?
-If you like this room, I think you'll like the one I'm going to show you now.
I love the little passageway.
-So, we have a master, do we?
You just said that that other room was the master, so this will be my room when I come and visit.
-Beautiful. Bigger than the lounge, I think.
The enormity of this room doesn't end just here. I'm dying to show you this.
-It gets bigger?
-OK, all right. I'll see you guys later.
-It is actually his and hers.
-Oh really? I don't think so, I think it's Briony's.
-Walk-in wardrobe. Really impressive, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
-Can I just have a look?
-What do you think?
-There's enough room...
-It goes all they way down!
-Yes, that'll do!
I almost forgot to show you the en-suite, of course. Not really!
It's in proportion with this room.
-It doesn't stop, does it?
-That is phenomenal.
-It's a great size.
Briony's right. It doesn't stop!
Up on the second floor in the roof space is a huge fifth double room, with its own modern en-suite.
This sprawling period property seems to have knocked them for six.
But will they fall in love with the views and land on offer?
Is an acre and a half enough?
Ideally we were looking for a bit more for me to be able to have the horse
but we always said that the house was more important.
-The house is the priority.
-We'll compromise on the land for the right house.
This property also throws a stunning swimming pool into the mix.
So, let's survey all that could be theirs and ponder on the price.
-OK. I think you like it.
-Can you afford it, though?
What do you think it's on the market for?
-It's been on the market for two weeks.
-Two weeks? OK.
I think, our budget of £1 million, I think it's going to be slightly over that.
-I think it's about £1.2 million.
-Yeah, £1.1, £1.2.
-You look depressed!
-It's currently on the market for £1 million.
-On the nose.
-Does that surprise you?
-It does, actually.
Conservatively, I thought it would be at least £100,000 more.
-Time is of the essence if we were serious about it.
-Two weeks is a bit long.
-Are you serious about it?
-It would take a discussion.
Why don't you have that conversation? Have a look at the woods, if you like.
-I'll see you out front.
-Look forward to it.
-I might be in the pool.
With a guide price of £1 million, this 1930s country pile took their breath away
and they wouldn't have to lift a finger.
It offers three generous reception rooms with that modern twist.
Briony's huge kitchen-diner with that range she asked for.
Five bedrooms with a gigantic master en-suite.
1.5 acres of land and a pool looking out over spectacular countryside
with an hour-and-ten-minute commute by train to London.
-It covers so many of the things that we want.
-Apart from the land.
-It's just the land, isn't it?
-However, we do have all this.
When we walked in, it was an immediate "wow" factor.
It's quite difficult to keep the whole "wow" up because actually every room is beautiful.
-You know what this would be perfect for?
-Office, yeah, absolutely.
-There's plenty of space and it's set away from the house so we'd feel like we're going to work.
-The view is amazing, isn't it?
-It's just stunning.
-Yeah, it is, isn't it?
Just eavesdropping on your conversation. I'm allowed to do that, apparently.
-Don't look so worried! You're smiling.
-Still smiling, yes.
-It's a lovely property, isn't it?
-We can't dally here any longer. There's more to see.
-OK, let's go.
In spite of the Norman invasion,
Sussex's ancient landscape still bears the names of settlements from its Anglo-Saxon past,
including Brightling, mentioned in the Domesday Book.
But in the 18th and 19th century, one man left his indelible mark on this quiet village.
It all started here, at Brightling Park.
The estate was home to the Fuller family, who, as wealthy sheep farmers,
moved in during the mid-16th century.
Earlier in the week, Tom and Briony met local historian Jeff Hutchinson
to find out more about one notorious family member whose name has gone down in history.
The one that you've come to see is Mad Jack, Mad Jack Fuller, the most famous member of the Fuller family.
Born in 1757, he inherited the whole estate at the age of 20. An enormous fortune.
A total eccentric, a child of his times, crazy Georgian England.
He was a Member of Parliament for this area between 1801-1812. But a very good side to the man.
After the Napoleonic wars, he employed soldiers coming back from the war
to erect a wall surrounding the estate, which stretched for around four miles.
Mad Jack also indulged in a spot of flamboyant folly building,
including an observatory and a high-rise obelisk.
But this one, known as the Sugar Loaf, has to be the most whimsical.
The story goes, that while in London,
he made a bet that from his estate he could see the church spire in the nearby village of Dallington.
When he realised this was not the case, he ordered for this structure to be built overnight
so that it would be mistaken for the church spire by his betting opponent.
But John Fuller's most extraordinary building legacy lies in Brightling churchyard.
Mad Jack Fuller was a man who always wanted to be remembered by future generations.
If you want something like that to happen, what better way to do it?
-Build yourself a 25-foot high pyramid in the corner of your local churchyard.
You're 53 years of age, you've had a big row in Parliament, you come back to your local rector
and you say to him, "I'm fed up, I want to build my tomb."
He says, "How much do you want for me to put the tomb on this site?"
The vicar said, "You've been a good man to the church. No, I don't want any money for it."
But I don't think he looked at the building plans because this went up in 1810.
-A bit of a surprise.
-Yes, you can say that again!
He then goes on to live to for another 24 years. This is the sort of Georgian pharaoh, you know.
It makes a wonderful story and it's an incredible thing to have in a small country churchyard.
Yeah, stunning, really nice.
These days, Brightling is also on the map
as the venue for the International Horse Trials every summer,
which will no doubt be a must-see event for Briony.
For our second property, we're putting her hunger for horses at the top of the agenda
as we head to the village of Crowborough,
a 60-minute train commute into London from the local station.
A couple of miles down the road, Rotherfield serves up a local primary school, useful local shops
and a welcome pint on tap.
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty,
let's hope they find this property, built in the early 1900s, pleasing to the eye.
-Oh, it's really pretty.
-It is, isn't it?
-Yep, it's very chocolate-box in a non-thatch chocolate-box way which is lovely.
-There's some lovely period features here.
Originally, the current owners think it was a two-up, two-down, so it's been extended over the years.
-Same as the last one.
-Done nicely though.
-Yeah. Very nicely.
-All right, enough out here, shall we go in?
The period style has certainly got a thumbs-up,
but after our first property, it's got a lot to live up to.
-Come on through.
-You've got a little office space there.
-Tucked out of the way.
-Yeah, that's a decent size.
-French oak flooring.
-Nice, isn't it?
-Yeah. It's got a nice feel when you come in.
Let's go through to the living room.
-I don't like it when you two are quiet.
-Just taking it in.
-No, it is lovely.
-It's very sweet.
-It's a really friendly room. It's got a really nice feel.
-It has, hasn't it?
-I love the window seats.
-They're charming, aren't they?
-This is what this is so far to me, charming.
-Yeah. A very good word to describe it.
Well, I'm going on a charm offensive next door.
This kitchen was designed and built by the current owner.
-I like this.
-The oak units are lovely.
-He did all that, and the granite surface.
-It's a lovely feature to keep the exposed brickwork.
-It's a family kitchen, isn't it?
-Yeah, it is.
It feels much more of a working kitchen.
You can flash-forward and imagine the kids working round the table as we cook dinner.
-Doing their homework and stuff.
-Perfect for that.
There's more to it. There's a fantastic utility room through there, and a lovely larder as well.
-A walk-in larder.
-It's all in keeping with the cottagey-feel.
-Yeah, it is.
This is a gorgeous kitchen.
Across the hallway, there's plenty of space in here to throw a dinner party,
with French doors opening out onto the garden.
I'll reserve judgement on whether this property is charming them,
but it's certainly generous with the number of rooms.
Upstairs would give them six bedrooms,
including three light, airy doubles for overnighting guests to spread out in,
all with those nice clean lines they like.
A useful bathroom is close by.
But does their potential bedroom measure up?
This is the master bedroom at the moment.
-This is nice.
-Loads of storage.
-Look at those windows, that's fantastic, isn't it?
Let's go and have a look at the family bathroom. That's a good size.
-I like this.
-Good, isn't it?
-It's a really nice bathroom, decent size. I like the fittings as well.
-It feels very contemporary.
-It does, doesn't it?
-In difference to the rest of the house, actually.
That contemporary feel continues upstairs on the second floor
where the remaining two bedrooms make great use of the roof space
and are serviced by their own private bathroom.
They're making the right noises, but I'm not hearing the big wows we got from the first property.
However, outside, this house really does come into its own.
-This is beautiful, isn't it?
-I like how enclosed it is.
You've got some working space there, lots of working space at the back of the double garage.
-Very easily your office could be up there.
Alternatively, your office could be there.
At the bottom of the garden, there's a quirky summer house which would make a great work retreat,
with toilet and cosy wood-burner
and gorgeous views back to the main house.
But it's on higher ground where the promised land lies,
which I hope will have Briony champing at the bit.
-It is rather, isn't it?
-Yes. What are we looking at?
-You're looking at all your land.
You've got a paddock up there with a substantial vegetable plot
and basically to the edge of the trees, right down to the bottom, this is all yours.
-Two acres in all.
-OK, all right!
-It's great, isn't it?
-That's slightly different.
-You can imagine us and the kids with a blanket picnic in the middle of there.
-Just messing about.
-And you could have your horse.
-Yes. I'm hearing that, believe you me.
-Hence the smile.
Has it changed things? What do you think it's on the market for?
-It's difficult because you've thrown in the acreage at the last minute.
-I reckon it's going to push up towards our budget. Maybe £985,000?
I reckon £950,000-ish.
It's £965,000. So, it could be yours, easy.
-It's within budget.
-Yeah, it could.
-There's nothing that really needs doing in the house.
-It's just whether we can live with the house.
-Well, you did say that...
-Yeah, of course. It's definitely interesting.
-I wouldn't mind having a look around.
-Go and do that. Go down those steps.
-Or do you want to go that way?
-That way. Interesting horsey bit!
-Go and do the interesting horsey bit.
Under budget at £965,000, this beautiful period property gives them a substantial family home
which needs no work and features two large reception rooms with character charm,
a large bespoke kitchen-diner,
a dedicated study,
a staggering six bedrooms
and 2.5 acres of garden and paddock,
with an hour's train commute into London.
But is it a match to the first property?
It's nice to see this much land. It's nice to tangibly have a feel for what 2.5 acres looks like.
So I think size-wise, we're much closer to being there.
I'd rather something more farmhouse than cottagey, personally.
I would be willing to compromise a little bit on the acreage for the house.
-What do you reckon about room sizes?
The proportion of the rooms is excellent, they're nice and square and symmetrical,
but I feel for me, they are a little bit small.
They're a little bit cottagey, a bit low-ceilinged.
-You took your time! There's a lot to take in, isn't there?
-Yeah, there is.
-Two totally different properties, both with so much going for them, I'd say.
Anyway, I'm not going to try to convince you, you can have that chat tonight.
-Shall we get going?
-Yeah. Let's go.
As the sun sets over the Sussex countryside, it marks the end of the first day of our property search.
Armed with a £1-million budget,
expectant parents Tom and Briony want to swap their urban pad in London
for a sprawling country pile in Sussex.
They've been bowled over by one of the two houses we've shown them so far.
But coming up, our mystery property serves up some completely unexpected pleasures.
I am actually stuck for words. That doesn't often happen!
-Did you not expect this to be here?
So, we start a new day, refreshed and raring to go.
Our mission is to find Tom and Briony their typical country house with a modern interior.
"Easy for £1 million!" I hear you say.
Not when you take into account the land that they're also after.
Compromise is a key word, I think.
Today we're showing them the mystery property.
It's traditional from the outside, something else on the inside,
with a surprise lurking behind almost every door.
Our mystery house takes us halfway between Maresfield and Crowborough
with a train station that would get them to London in an hour.
Maresfield serves up character charm with its church and local post office.
And it seems we're laying on the chocolate-box charm quite thickly with this thatched cottage.
But first impressions are definitely deceiving in this case.
Although dating from the early 20th century,
the interior isn't just the contemporary twist Briony and Tom are after, it's a full pirouette!
-The original part of the cottage dates to about 400 years.
This is a house ideal for a young couple who like inviting friends round for a party.
-OK, that sounds good.
-Sounds like you!
-It's sounds cool, yeah.
They can leave all notion of oldy-worldy at the front door.
-It's not what you expected is it?
-No, not at all from outside.
-It's very roomy.
-I like it.
-It's very light.
If you think this is spacious, come on through here.
-How's this for a reception room?
-A working fireplace there, as well.
-Brilliant. It's a really nice space.
-Very light, very airy.
-A big room.
-Big, big room.
-You wouldn't have expected this room when you're out there.
No. It's really nice. Really lovely.
That's the first of your surprises. Loads to come.
Across the hallway, the draped marquee ceiling in the dining room
is a taste of the fun in store with our mystery property.
And I think they'll be dazzled by the next room.
This is where you'll be chained to the kitchen sink.
-Very modern, isn't it?
-I wasn't expecting this.
-You've got a back door there and you've also got a walk-in larder.
This is, for me, a little bit strange. You've got a bedroom through there.
-A double bedroom with a massive en-suite.
-I don't know whether you change it to a TV room or a kids' playroom.
-But the options are endless.
Down at the far end of the cottage is a second comfortable sitting room,
perfect for the family to sprawl out in.
Close by off the hallway is a shower room and two double rooms for the weekend guests
with a modern walk-in shower opposite.
Which brings us to the other end of the property, into a world of never-ending surprises.
-This is your master bedroom.
-This is a really nice size.
-It's got a nice feel about it.
-When I said master bedroom, what I really meant was a suite.
-It goes on and on and on! OK, deep breath, are you ready?
-This is your dressing area.
-I'm not sure it's big enough!
No, not for Briony's stuff, definitely not!
Just when you think it couldn't get any larger or stranger, come on through to your en-suite.
-This is huge! Look at that bath!
-What a fantastic room.
-You would not expect all this to be here when you're in the master bedroom.
-It's very different. Just the whole layout is very different.
-It's quite exciting.
-You can hear an echo, can't you?
-What's down there?
-Go and have a look.
Yes, it's time to descend into the underworld.
I am actually stuck for words! That doesn't often happen.
-Did you not expect this to be here?
-No! Funnily enough!
Not the first thing I thought of when I was walking down the stairs, no.
It is a fantastic addition. I really... I like abstract thinking, I think that's really cool.
-It's quirky beyond quirky.
-It really is!
-Yeah, it's one hell of a twist, isn't it?
-It is Tardis-like.
And the labyrinth continues on the other side of the master,
where stairs lead down to every man's idea of heaven.
Don't look that way, just look this way for now.
-I'm seeing neon blue that way. Oh dear! OK!
"Oh dear!", "Oh, cool!"
-Boy's room, at last!
-This is fantastic.
-This is also attached to your master bedroom, you realise that?
-If this isn't party and boy enough for you, follow me. You're going to love this!
-Oh, this is a real boy's den down here.
-You're now in the 400-year-old part of the building here. This was the original little cottage.
-It's been extended quite considerably, hasn't it?
Outside may not have the land for Briony's horse, but there's scope for garden parties galore
in the acre of beautifully landscaped gardens, complete with a tennis court,
a summer house currently used as a studio, and a fantastic swimming pool.
-Think you'd use the pool?
-Lovely, isn't it?
-Just a bit.
-It also feels like it's larger than an acre.
-It does. So many twists and turns, aren't there?
Let's ask the question. How much do you think this is on the market for?
-I think it's about £975,000.
-I would have pictured it around the same, probably.
-It's currently on the market for £975,000.
-Bang on the money, yeah.
-Go and have a look around. There's so much to take in.
-We'll see you in a couple of hours!
-I defy you not to go down to that spa room.
First place I'm going!
-I'm going to leave the end of a thread with you to take with me.
-You'll probably get lost, yeah!
Under budget at £975,000,
our mystery cottage offers up a labyrinth of modern rooms in a character shell.
It includes three reception rooms,
an enormous state-of-the-art kitchen,
four bedrooms, with that extravagant master suite,
all wrapped up in an acre of land.
Briony would have to spare the horse,
but visiting family and friends would lap up the chance for a spot of tennis and a dip.
And the location is spot on with an hour's train commute into London.
I was really surprised when we walked up the drive. Coming into the hall, there was big "wow".
Light, bright, airy, very modern.
-The living room is perfect, the dining room is really nice.
-Kitchen's a nice size.
-But then we go further and we find more attached.
-It's a little warren.
-I would change certain areas.
-Perhaps change certain rooms.
-We've got a bit of budget to do that.
The boy space is fantastic. Having a bar in the house is a dream.
Also, being somewhere like this is something you would never have thought of.
-Oh, did you have to? I was having a lovely snooze!
-You've a lot of thinking to do, I should imagine. Let's get on with it.
Sussex is home to some fine English country gardens.
But one of the undisputed jewels has to be that of Christopher Lloyd's,
one of the 20th century's most influential and maverick gardeners.
It's here at his home in Great Dixter where it blooms.
Despite his death in 2006, his legacy lives on.
I've come to meet head gardener Fergus Garrett
at the house where the inspiration for this unique site started.
Christopher's family, the Lloyd family, didn't really buy it until 1910.
At that point, it had been on the estate agent's books for over ten years
so it was in quite a derelict state.
They bought the house, they wanted to restore it
so they commissioned that famous British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, to come and do that.
It was Lutyens who laid out the gardens as well and true to that period, he compartmentalised it,
so he sub-divided it into a series of rooms, each of those rooms can have a different feel,
a different set of plants and there's an element of surprise.
Lutyens may have laid the landscaping foundations
but Christopher's parents introduced their own, distinct styles.
His father created the more formal features such as the topiary.
But it was his mother's love of botany and planting
that inspired Christopher's pioneering approach to horticulture.
He was a big fan of a mass of colour, wasn't he? Was it a case of anything goes?
It was a case of try anything, but then analyse it.
Because you could put an unusual combination of pink and yellow
and you may find the pink is a bit too strong
so you would swap it for a lighter tone and see if that works.
But at the end of the day, it's your own garden,
so why not do something that pleases you rather than worry about what other people think?
He was also a very welcoming guy, it seems. If he liked you, he'd open up the house to you.
Yes, he loved people.
If he was wandering through the garden and he thought someone was really interested,
they were paying attention to what they were looking at and taking notes, he would try and fuel that.
If he liked you, all was fine. If he didn't?
I think he would... Somebody said that interviewing Christopher Lloyd was licking a prickly hedgehog.
And he was exactly that.
His colourful character fuelled his philosophy not just to gardening, but to life in general,
observing that "we do not all want to float endlessly among silvers, greys and tender pinks."
"Some prefer a bright, brash, midday glare with plenty of stuffing."
At times, though, he caused outrage and even received hate mail from conventional gardening circles
when he ditched the traditional rose garden in favour of some thing far more daring and exotic.
It was full of tired old roses.
He decided to take most of the roses out,
leaving about 11 of our favourite plants and create a sub-tropical jungle.
Christopher wanted to feel he was stepping closer to the equator as he stepped into this space,
the paths close in on themselves and if we get a bit of rain, it's all misty and humid
and you really feel like you are stepping into the jungle.
You tell a good story, Fergus. I'm there with you! What's his lasting legacy?
I've seen quite a few tourists here today. What do you hope they take away with them?
Well, this life in and around the garden, that these spaces are there to be enjoyed,
for you to get a thrill from growing plants, putting them together and creating a scene.
Just going out and doing it with real energy and joie de vivre.
-It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.
-It's a really, really lovely place.
Thankfully, Christopher's joyful garden is in safe hands
and will thrive for future visitors to experience.
It's fair to say
that we've shown Tom and Briony three very charming properties for their budget here in Sussex.
On the whole, they've been quite a compromising couple.
But was that mystery property one compromise too many?
Let's find out.
Sorry, guys, this is reserved, sling your hook!
-You enjoyed it?
-Very much so, thank you.
-It's been fantastic.
We've shown you three quite different properties, but they've all got something going for them.
Let's start with the first one, the 1930s typically Sussex house.
That one was real "wow" factor for us. It was a beautiful looking property.
Inside, every single room lived up to the initial wow.
When we got into the kitchen, we looked at each other and said, "This is perfect."
-Exactly what we wanted.
-The kitchen was amazing.
It felt like a family house which is exactly what we're looking for.
It didn't have the wish-list land for the horse,
but we were always very open-minded on what we'd have to compromise on and that view was just astounding.
What about the second house?
It was finished to such a high standard and all the rooms were well-proportioned.
For me, it had slightly too many rooms upstairs.
I felt a bit constrained inside it which is the whole cottagey feel which I don't particularly like.
-What did you make of the summer house?
-It was a nice touch. It was different which is a selling point.
Another great selling point for that property was further up the steps,
the two acres of land which is exactly what you wanted.
That was beautiful.
What about the mystery property? What a property!
From the outside it was a lovely, thatched cottage.
I enjoyed the house more as we got into it. I think the underground jacuzzi was an interesting touch.
-It certainly was.
-For want of a better word.
-The house amuses me.
It gives me a good feeling, because I find it fascinating.
The outside space is fantastic. The pool was stunning.
It sounds to me like it's in with a chance, the mystery property.
It's in second place.
-Ah, OK. Behind...?
-The first house.
-The 30s house.
-The 30s house, OK.
Do you like that enough to put in an offer?
-It's up for discussion.
-Yeah. Our worry would be that it will go for more than our budget...
At the moment it is bang on budget, so for us to put in a viable offer, it might take a bit more sway but...
So we're trying not to get too attached to the idea.
But I think there's no reason why we shouldn't.
I hope you find your ideal home here in Sussex, you've been fantastic.
-Good luck, especially when bump comes along!
We might even name it Aled!
Don't do that!
What a positive outcome for two very positive people.
I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tom and Briony.
I can really imagine them living in that property with that gorgeous view.
Let's hope they can make their dream become a reality
and let's hope they invite me to use the pool!
Till next time. Bye bye.
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Aled Jones is helping a newly-married couple with a budget of one million pounds find a substantial property with acreage in the ever-popular rural commutable belt of Sussex.
But will they go for a typical Sussex tile-hung period house or for a sprawling thatched party pad complete with sunken jacuzzi room and swimming pool?