Sussex Escape to the Country


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Sussex

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.

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There's no sound more associated with the quintessential British summer.

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Today, I'm in the county where that gentlemanly sport was born. Any ideas?

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Stumped, are you? Join us for another innings of Escape To The Country.

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In today's show, we'll be helping a couple sell up their life in the city

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and realise their property dreams in the country.

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We're nailing it on the "wow" factor...

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-Oh!

-Oh, wow!

-OK! Wow!

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-Oh, my gosh!

-Oh, wow!

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-Wow.

-Wow.

-Music to my ears!

-Yeah!

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But will they be tempted to party on in our mystery house?

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Today, I'm in Sussex, the birthplace of cricket. It's all very exciting here!

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Over 1,500 years ago, it was considered to be a sport played by children.

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But by 1610, adults were definitely playing it, sometimes when they shouldn't have been.

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Church records at Sidlesham state that two gentlemen were fined 12 pence

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because they didn't turn up to church on Easter Sunday.

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You'll never guess what they were doing!

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They were playing cricket! When the game is as great as this, maybe the penance was worth it.

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Spanning nearly 1,500 square miles

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and with over 100 miles of coastline flanking the English Channel,

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Sussex's shores are awash with history.

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This county served as a gateway for the Norman invasion

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and flourished in the Victorian era with its seaside resorts.

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Inland serves up its own natural drama with the South Downs, Britain's newest national park,

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offering up prime walking terrain on its expansive chalk slopes.

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Historic towns such as Battle, Hastings and Lewis,

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with their thriving independent shops, still hold on to their Norman heritage.

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Sussex's villages are peppered with traditional tile-hung and timber-framed properties

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making this county a compelling option for aspiring escapees.

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If you are thinking of moving to rural Sussex,

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the big question is should you go east, or should you go west?

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Property in the east is 12 percent cheaper than in the west.

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£325,000 you'll pay for an average detached house, so it's worth considering.

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Or you could straddle the border,

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as last year Mid-Sussex Council was deemed to have the best quality of life

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out of all the south-eastern authorities.

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Here's what's currently on the market in and around this area.

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A cool £1 million will buy you this renovated tithe barn in Ovingdean.

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Its timber-frame ceiling is tastefully offset by the contemporary decor

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which is a running theme throughout the kitchen and dining room.

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Priced at £575,000, this listed former Georgian schoolhouse in Windmill Hill

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opens up inside to reveal enormous reception rooms, a welcoming kitchen and five generous bedrooms.

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What a spectacular view it offers over the South Downs.

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This two-bedroom listed cottage in Mayfield for £325,000

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wears its period features with pride throughout its living room and dining room.

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Outside, the pretty cottage garden is totally in keeping.

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Sussex has it all on the property front.

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Although I don't think this spring house will accommodate today's big spenders!

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Let's meet them.

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Newly-weds Tom and Briony have wasted no time in starting a family.

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With baby number one on the way,

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they figure it's time to sell up their three-bed Victorian terrace in Hammersmith, London,

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and put down long-term roots in the Sussex countryside.

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We like the idea of the kids growing up in the countryside,

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with fields and the ability to play, which Briony and I didn't really experience.

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But professionally as well, as Briony and I are now directors of our own company,

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that can be taken wherever we want to go.

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How are they going to fill the little free time they get around work and babies?

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I've always had a love of horses and horse-riding.

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It's something I've been fortunate enough to enjoy for most of my life, less so recently.

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Location is key to their lifestyle and work.

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Ideally, we're looking for the edge of a village. I don't think we want to be completely isolated.

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-We still need amenities fairly close, such as schools, pubs, shops.

-Local shops.

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That kind of thing.

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We'd like to be no more than 90 minutes drive from London

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and to have the alternative of getting the train into London.

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Maybe no more than 15 minutes from a station.

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They both have a clear vision for their ideal property.

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-It has to be a detached property.

-In quite a large plot of land. An acre and a half plus.

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It's important to have character, for it to be a period property, but have that contemporary twist inside.

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We like things to be modern inside but there's a way to do that and retain the character.

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But they don't want to do the work themselves.

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With regards to renovation, we wouldn't take on a project.

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And there are other important requests to factor in.

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A study is really important to us both

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because we work in the living room and it would be nice to be able to separate work from life.

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The kitchen is really important, we have a decent sized kitchen.

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We'd be looking for something similar, maybe a bit bigger.

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Somewhere to be the heart of the family, that we can eat in.

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Their budget depends on what they can sell their current house for.

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We've arranged for a local estate agent to give them a valuation.

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Given it's a three-bedroom early Victorian terrace,

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and the location of the parks nearby,

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convenient transport links and the river,

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I'd expect to market the asking price at £800,000.

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-We were pleased with it, absolutely!

-Our budget for the move...

-It's £1 million.

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£1 million is without doubt a great budget and should afford Tom and Briony their country pile.

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But they're not willing to take on a big project,

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so can we find a classic country house with a chic, modern interior?

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They're after an open-plan kitchen, high ceilings and urban clean lines that they're used to in London.

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The word "modern" is so subjective. Contemporary to one person is outdated to another.

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This could be tricky. Wish me luck!

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Since Tom and Briony have friends near Haywards Heath,

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we'll focus our search in that general area

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but aim to give them the most for their money by sticking to the East Sussex side of the border.

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We've picked some stunning properties for them

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but I won't be revealing the price tags straight away.

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Finally, we'll be encouraging them to take the plunge with our mystery property.

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-Welcome to Sussex, how are you?

-Very well, thank you.

-Welcome to baby on the way.

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-How exciting!

-It is!

-You want to be in this property by the time baby arrives?

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-Hopefully, yeah.

-Pressure's on then. What's most important, outside or inside?

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-Ah, there's a question.

-Yeah.

-Both, I think.

-We're not the kind of people who expect the world on our budget.

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Hopefully we'll get as much as we can but we are realistic,

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we understand compromises have to be made.

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-Saying all the right things, I love you two already!

-Making your job really easy!

-Absolutely!

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-I think we should get on with it.

-Sounds good to me.

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With their £1-million budget,

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Tom and Briony want a detached period country pile with a modern interior that's ready to move in to

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and gives them a large family kitchen-diner, a dedicated study so they can work from home,

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four bedrooms and at least 1.5 acres for Briony to gallop around in,

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set on the edge of a village

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within a 90-minute commute of London for work.

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We're kicking off our search in the village of Buxted.

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It's well located, with its own train station and an hour- and-ten-minute commute into London.

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Village life here is alive and well, complete with a pub, primary school,

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and there's even a cricket pitch for Tom.

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On the outskirts of the village we find this much-extended property, originally dating back to the 1930s.

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-Come on in.

-Oh, wow.

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-Was that an "Oh, wow" I heard you say?

-It was.

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-I like it when you start with "Oh, wow".

-And the sun has decided to come out.

-A good start!

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-What do you think?

-Beautiful.

-You wouldn't guess that it has had a lot of work done on it.

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It's been extended, re-developed and you can't really tell where the join is.

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-No, I can't.

-Very well done, isn't it?

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-So, you like it?

-Love it, so far.

-Really nice.

-Shall we go in?

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-Yes.

-Absolutely.

-Follow me.

-Let's go.

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That is a great first reaction. Let's see if that all-important "wow" factor continues inside.

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Let's bring you into the formal living room.

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-Oh wow, look at that view!

-It's the first thing that hits you.

-Wow!

-Phenomenal!

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I can't get over it. It's absolutely incredible.

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-Is that what you wanted?

-Yeah.

-Fantastic.

-Just leave me here in this spot.

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-Is this big enough for you?

-Yeah.

-It's a nice size family room.

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You can see friends sitting around and kids playing.

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You wouldn't need to do anything here, you've got a working fireplace,

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and this recent addition of a fantastic conservatory.

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-Do you want to have a quick look?

-Love to.

-Sounds good. Thanks.

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-Wow, that's gorgeous. Wow.

-Wow.

-Wow.

-Music to my ears!

-Yeah!

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-This is beautiful.

-Look at that view!

-You couldn't have a bigger smile on your face, you know that?

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-Really? You can't beat that, that's just stunning.

-You'd have to go some to beat this. What a start!

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-We should take you to the kitchen.

-Sounds good to me, hugely important.

-Hugely important?

-Yes.

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-No pressure!

-I laugh in the face of pressure.

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On the way there is this plush dining room, giving them ample space to entertain.

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And there's a separate study.

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At the end of the kitchen is a huge utility room for all their laundry needs.

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Let's see if I can turn up the heat in here.

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-So I said no pressure, and this is why.

-Oh, my gosh!

-Oh, wow!

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-Oh, brilliant.

-Is it big enough for you?

-Yes.

-Just about, yes.

-It's amazing.

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-Bri, if you were to say "this is what I want for a kitchen", it wouldn't be far off this.

-No.

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-Very child-friendly.

-Yes.

-Dog-friendly.

-Yeah, absolutely.

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-Yeah.

-It's gorgeous, isn't it?

-Really, really good.

-That is my ideal, that range.

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-It's sensational.

-Can you imagine yourself here?

-Yes, very much so.

-Absolutely.

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-Without hesitation.

-Brilliant.

-Doing well!

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-Shall we go upstairs?

-Yes, lovely.

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Looks like downstairs gets a double "wow".

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They get much more than they asked for upstairs with five bedrooms,

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including two large, light doubles, and lots of built-in cupboards,

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perfect for guests who can use the separate family bathroom.

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Let's put their expectations of where they would sleep to the test in the third bedroom.

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-This could be your master, what do you think?

-It's lovely.

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-It's a great size. Lovely light, high ceiling, nice proportion.

-I love the windows.

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-They're gorgeous.

-They bring in so much light.

-Again, nothing really to be done.

-Ticking boxes, aren't we?

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-If you like this room, I think you'll like the one I'm going to show you now.

-Lead on.

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I love the little passageway.

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-Oh!

-Oh, wow!

-OK! Wow!

-So, we have a master, do we?

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You just said that that other room was the master, so this will be my room when I come and visit.

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-That's incredible.

-Beautiful. Bigger than the lounge, I think.

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The enormity of this room doesn't end just here. I'm dying to show you this.

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-It gets bigger?

-It does!

-There's more.

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-Oh, wow.

-Go in!

-OK, all right. I'll see you guys later.

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-It is actually his and hers.

-Oh really? I don't think so, I think it's Briony's.

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-Walk-in wardrobe. Really impressive, isn't it?

-Yes, it is.

-Can I just have a look?

-Yes, go.

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-What do you think?

-There's enough room...

-It goes all they way down!

-Yes, that'll do!

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I almost forgot to show you the en-suite, of course. Not really!

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It's in proportion with this room.

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SHE GASPS

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-It doesn't stop, does it?

-No!

-Oh wow!

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-That is phenomenal.

-It's a great size.

-Yes.

-It's beautiful.

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Briony's right. It doesn't stop!

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Up on the second floor in the roof space is a huge fifth double room, with its own modern en-suite.

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This sprawling period property seems to have knocked them for six.

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But will they fall in love with the views and land on offer?

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Is an acre and a half enough?

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Ideally we were looking for a bit more for me to be able to have the horse

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but we always said that the house was more important.

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-The house is the priority.

-We'll compromise on the land for the right house.

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This property also throws a stunning swimming pool into the mix.

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So, let's survey all that could be theirs and ponder on the price.

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-OK. I think you like it.

-Yeah.

-Can you afford it, though?

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What do you think it's on the market for?

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-It's been on the market for two weeks.

-Two weeks? OK.

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I think, our budget of £1 million, I think it's going to be slightly over that.

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-I think it's about £1.2 million.

-Yeah, £1.1, £1.2.

-OK.

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-You look depressed!

-I'm waiting!

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-It's currently on the market for £1 million.

-Oh, OK.

-On the nose.

-Really?

-Yeah.

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-Does that surprise you?

-Yes.

-It does, actually.

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Conservatively, I thought it would be at least £100,000 more.

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-Time is of the essence if we were serious about it.

-Two weeks is a bit long.

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-Are you serious about it?

-It would take a discussion.

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Why don't you have that conversation? Have a look at the woods, if you like.

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-OK.

-I'll see you out front.

-All right.

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-Look forward to it.

-I might be in the pool.

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With a guide price of £1 million, this 1930s country pile took their breath away

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and they wouldn't have to lift a finger.

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It offers three generous reception rooms with that modern twist.

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Briony's huge kitchen-diner with that range she asked for.

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Five bedrooms with a gigantic master en-suite.

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1.5 acres of land and a pool looking out over spectacular countryside

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with an hour-and-ten-minute commute by train to London.

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-It covers so many of the things that we want.

-Yep.

-Apart from the land.

-It's just the land, isn't it?

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-However, we do have all this.

-Yeah.

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When we walked in, it was an immediate "wow" factor.

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It's quite difficult to keep the whole "wow" up because actually every room is beautiful.

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-You know what this would be perfect for?

-Office, yeah, absolutely.

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-There's plenty of space and it's set away from the house so we'd feel like we're going to work.

-Exactly.

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-The view is amazing, isn't it?

-It's just stunning.

-Yeah, it is, isn't it?

-Hello!

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Just eavesdropping on your conversation. I'm allowed to do that, apparently.

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-Don't look so worried! You're smiling.

-Still smiling, yes.

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-It's a lovely property, isn't it?

-Phenomenal.

-Really nice.

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-We can't dally here any longer. There's more to see.

-OK, let's go.

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In spite of the Norman invasion,

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Sussex's ancient landscape still bears the names of settlements from its Anglo-Saxon past,

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including Brightling, mentioned in the Domesday Book.

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But in the 18th and 19th century, one man left his indelible mark on this quiet village.

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It all started here, at Brightling Park.

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The estate was home to the Fuller family, who, as wealthy sheep farmers,

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moved in during the mid-16th century.

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Earlier in the week, Tom and Briony met local historian Jeff Hutchinson

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to find out more about one notorious family member whose name has gone down in history.

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The one that you've come to see is Mad Jack, Mad Jack Fuller, the most famous member of the Fuller family.

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Born in 1757, he inherited the whole estate at the age of 20. An enormous fortune.

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A total eccentric, a child of his times, crazy Georgian England.

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He was a Member of Parliament for this area between 1801-1812. But a very good side to the man.

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After the Napoleonic wars, he employed soldiers coming back from the war

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to erect a wall surrounding the estate, which stretched for around four miles.

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Mad Jack also indulged in a spot of flamboyant folly building,

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including an observatory and a high-rise obelisk.

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But this one, known as the Sugar Loaf, has to be the most whimsical.

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The story goes, that while in London,

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he made a bet that from his estate he could see the church spire in the nearby village of Dallington.

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When he realised this was not the case, he ordered for this structure to be built overnight

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so that it would be mistaken for the church spire by his betting opponent.

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But John Fuller's most extraordinary building legacy lies in Brightling churchyard.

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Mad Jack Fuller was a man who always wanted to be remembered by future generations.

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If you want something like that to happen, what better way to do it?

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-Build yourself a 25-foot high pyramid in the corner of your local churchyard.

-Absolutely.

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You're 53 years of age, you've had a big row in Parliament, you come back to your local rector

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and you say to him, "I'm fed up, I want to build my tomb."

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He says, "How much do you want for me to put the tomb on this site?"

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The vicar said, "You've been a good man to the church. No, I don't want any money for it."

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But I don't think he looked at the building plans because this went up in 1810.

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-A bit of a surprise.

-Yes, you can say that again!

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He then goes on to live to for another 24 years. This is the sort of Georgian pharaoh, you know.

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It makes a wonderful story and it's an incredible thing to have in a small country churchyard.

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Yeah, stunning, really nice.

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These days, Brightling is also on the map

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as the venue for the International Horse Trials every summer,

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which will no doubt be a must-see event for Briony.

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For our second property, we're putting her hunger for horses at the top of the agenda

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as we head to the village of Crowborough,

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a 60-minute train commute into London from the local station.

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A couple of miles down the road, Rotherfield serves up a local primary school, useful local shops

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and a welcome pint on tap.

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Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty,

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let's hope they find this property, built in the early 1900s, pleasing to the eye.

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-Oh, it's really pretty.

-It is, isn't it?

-Yeah.

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-Typically Sussex.

-Yep, it's very chocolate-box in a non-thatch chocolate-box way which is lovely.

0:20:160:20:21

-Absolutely.

-There's some lovely period features here.

0:20:210:20:24

Originally, the current owners think it was a two-up, two-down, so it's been extended over the years.

0:20:240:20:29

-Same as the last one.

-Done nicely though.

-Yeah. Very nicely.

0:20:290:20:33

-All right, enough out here, shall we go in?

-Yes.

-Come on.

0:20:330:20:37

The period style has certainly got a thumbs-up,

0:20:370:20:39

but after our first property, it's got a lot to live up to.

0:20:390:20:43

-Come on through.

-Oh, wow.

-You've got a little office space there.

0:20:430:20:47

-Tucked out of the way.

-Yeah, that's a decent size.

-French oak flooring.

0:20:480:20:52

-Beautiful.

-Nice, isn't it?

-Yeah. It's got a nice feel when you come in.

-Yeah, lovely.

0:20:520:20:57

Let's go through to the living room.

0:20:570:20:59

-I don't like it when you two are quiet.

-Just taking it in.

-No, it is lovely.

0:21:070:21:12

-It's very sweet.

-It's a really friendly room. It's got a really nice feel.

0:21:120:21:16

-It has, hasn't it?

-Yeah.

0:21:160:21:17

-I love the window seats.

-They're charming, aren't they?

0:21:170:21:20

-This is what this is so far to me, charming.

-Yeah. A very good word to describe it.

-Absolutely.

0:21:200:21:25

Well, I'm going on a charm offensive next door.

0:21:250:21:30

This kitchen was designed and built by the current owner.

0:21:310:21:35

-I like this.

-The oak units are lovely.

-Absolutely.

0:21:350:21:38

-He did all that, and the granite surface.

-It's a lovely feature to keep the exposed brickwork.

0:21:380:21:43

-It's a family kitchen, isn't it?

-Yeah, it is.

-Exactly.

0:21:430:21:46

It feels much more of a working kitchen.

0:21:460:21:48

You can flash-forward and imagine the kids working round the table as we cook dinner.

0:21:480:21:53

-Doing their homework and stuff.

-Good point.

0:21:530:21:55

-Perfect for that.

-Yeah.

0:21:550:21:58

There's more to it. There's a fantastic utility room through there, and a lovely larder as well.

0:21:580:22:03

-OK.

-A walk-in larder.

-Nice.

0:22:030:22:04

-It's all in keeping with the cottagey-feel.

-Yeah, it is.

0:22:040:22:09

This is a gorgeous kitchen.

0:22:090:22:11

Across the hallway, there's plenty of space in here to throw a dinner party,

0:22:110:22:15

with French doors opening out onto the garden.

0:22:150:22:19

I'll reserve judgement on whether this property is charming them,

0:22:190:22:23

but it's certainly generous with the number of rooms.

0:22:230:22:26

Upstairs would give them six bedrooms,

0:22:260:22:28

including three light, airy doubles for overnighting guests to spread out in,

0:22:280:22:34

all with those nice clean lines they like.

0:22:340:22:36

A useful bathroom is close by.

0:22:360:22:38

But does their potential bedroom measure up?

0:22:380:22:42

This is the master bedroom at the moment.

0:22:420:22:46

-This is nice.

-Dual aspect.

-Yeah.

0:22:460:22:50

-Loads of storage.

-Look at those windows, that's fantastic, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:22:500:22:53

Let's go and have a look at the family bathroom. That's a good size.

0:22:530:22:58

-I like this.

-Good, isn't it?

-Yeah.

-Yeah.

0:23:030:23:06

-It's a really nice bathroom, decent size. I like the fittings as well.

-It feels very contemporary.

0:23:060:23:12

-It does, doesn't it?

-In difference to the rest of the house, actually.

0:23:120:23:16

That contemporary feel continues upstairs on the second floor

0:23:160:23:19

where the remaining two bedrooms make great use of the roof space

0:23:190:23:23

and are serviced by their own private bathroom.

0:23:230:23:26

They're making the right noises, but I'm not hearing the big wows we got from the first property.

0:23:260:23:31

However, outside, this house really does come into its own.

0:23:310:23:34

-This is beautiful, isn't it?

-It's lovely.

-Totally private.

-Yeah.

-I like how enclosed it is.

0:23:370:23:42

You've got some working space there, lots of working space at the back of the double garage.

0:23:420:23:48

-Very easily your office could be up there.

-Yeah.

0:23:480:23:52

Alternatively, your office could be there.

0:23:520:23:54

-Oh, wow.

-Oh, OK.

0:23:540:23:56

At the bottom of the garden, there's a quirky summer house which would make a great work retreat,

0:23:560:24:01

with toilet and cosy wood-burner

0:24:010:24:05

and gorgeous views back to the main house.

0:24:050:24:07

But it's on higher ground where the promised land lies,

0:24:070:24:10

which I hope will have Briony champing at the bit.

0:24:100:24:15

Oh.

0:24:150:24:17

Wow.

0:24:170:24:19

-It is rather, isn't it?

-Yes. What are we looking at?

0:24:200:24:23

-You're looking at all your land.

-Wow.

0:24:230:24:25

You've got a paddock up there with a substantial vegetable plot

0:24:250:24:30

and basically to the edge of the trees, right down to the bottom, this is all yours.

0:24:300:24:36

-Two acres in all.

-OK, all right!

-It's great, isn't it?

0:24:360:24:39

-It's fantastic.

-Really pretty.

-That's slightly different.

0:24:390:24:42

-You can imagine us and the kids with a blanket picnic in the middle of there.

-Yeah.

-Just messing about.

0:24:420:24:48

-And you could have your horse.

-Yes. I'm hearing that, believe you me.

-OK.

-Hence the smile.

0:24:480:24:55

Has it changed things? What do you think it's on the market for?

0:24:550:24:59

-It's difficult because you've thrown in the acreage at the last minute.

-Sorry!

-Yep. Um...

0:24:590:25:04

-I reckon it's going to push up towards our budget. Maybe £985,000?

-OK.

0:25:040:25:11

I reckon £950,000-ish.

0:25:110:25:13

It's £965,000. So, it could be yours, easy.

0:25:130:25:17

-Yeah.

-It's within budget.

-Yeah.

-Yeah, it could.

0:25:170:25:20

-There's nothing that really needs doing in the house.

-No.

0:25:200:25:23

-It's just whether we can live with the house.

-Mmm.

0:25:230:25:25

-Well, you did say that...

-We'd compromise.

-Yeah, of course. It's definitely interesting.

-Yeah.

0:25:250:25:31

-I wouldn't mind having a look around.

-Go and do that. Go down those steps.

0:25:310:25:35

-Or do you want to go that way?

-That way. Interesting horsey bit!

-Go and do the interesting horsey bit.

0:25:350:25:42

Under budget at £965,000, this beautiful period property gives them a substantial family home

0:25:420:25:49

which needs no work and features two large reception rooms with character charm,

0:25:490:25:55

a large bespoke kitchen-diner,

0:25:550:25:57

a dedicated study,

0:25:570:25:59

a staggering six bedrooms

0:25:590:26:02

and 2.5 acres of garden and paddock,

0:26:020:26:05

with an hour's train commute into London.

0:26:050:26:08

But is it a match to the first property?

0:26:080:26:11

It's nice to see this much land. It's nice to tangibly have a feel for what 2.5 acres looks like.

0:26:110:26:20

So I think size-wise, we're much closer to being there.

0:26:200:26:24

I'd rather something more farmhouse than cottagey, personally.

0:26:240:26:28

I would be willing to compromise a little bit on the acreage for the house.

0:26:280:26:34

-What do you reckon about room sizes?

-Um...

0:26:340:26:37

The proportion of the rooms is excellent, they're nice and square and symmetrical,

0:26:370:26:44

but I feel for me, they are a little bit small.

0:26:440:26:47

They're a little bit cottagey, a bit low-ceilinged.

0:26:470:26:50

-You took your time! There's a lot to take in, isn't there?

-Yeah, there is.

0:26:500:26:54

-Two totally different properties, both with so much going for them, I'd say.

-Yeah.

0:26:540:27:00

Anyway, I'm not going to try to convince you, you can have that chat tonight.

0:27:000:27:04

-Shall we get going?

-Yeah. Let's go.

0:27:040:27:07

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

0:27:180:27:26

Armed with a £1-million budget,

0:27:320:27:34

expectant parents Tom and Briony want to swap their urban pad in London

0:27:340:27:38

for a sprawling country pile in Sussex.

0:27:380:27:41

They've been bowled over by one of the two houses we've shown them so far.

0:27:410:27:45

But coming up, our mystery property serves up some completely unexpected pleasures.

0:27:450:27:51

I am actually stuck for words. That doesn't often happen!

0:27:510:27:56

-Did you not expect this to be here?

-No!

0:27:560:27:59

So, we start a new day, refreshed and raring to go.

0:28:010:28:04

Our mission is to find Tom and Briony their typical country house with a modern interior.

0:28:040:28:09

"Easy for £1 million!" I hear you say.

0:28:090:28:11

Not when you take into account the land that they're also after.

0:28:110:28:15

Compromise is a key word, I think.

0:28:150:28:17

Today we're showing them the mystery property.

0:28:170:28:20

It's traditional from the outside, something else on the inside,

0:28:200:28:24

with a surprise lurking behind almost every door.

0:28:240:28:28

Our mystery house takes us halfway between Maresfield and Crowborough

0:28:320:28:36

with a train station that would get them to London in an hour.

0:28:360:28:39

Maresfield serves up character charm with its church and local post office.

0:28:390:28:44

And it seems we're laying on the chocolate-box charm quite thickly with this thatched cottage.

0:28:440:28:50

But first impressions are definitely deceiving in this case.

0:28:500:28:54

Although dating from the early 20th century,

0:28:540:28:56

the interior isn't just the contemporary twist Briony and Tom are after, it's a full pirouette!

0:28:560:29:03

-Oh, fantastic.

-That's impressive.

-The original part of the cottage dates to about 400 years.

0:29:030:29:09

This is a house ideal for a young couple who like inviting friends round for a party.

0:29:090:29:15

-OK, that sounds good.

-Sounds like you!

-It's sounds cool, yeah.

0:29:150:29:18

They can leave all notion of oldy-worldy at the front door.

0:29:180:29:24

-Ooh.

-Oh, cool.

-It's not what you expected is it?

0:29:240:29:29

-No, not at all from outside.

-It's very roomy.

-I like it.

-It's very light.

0:29:290:29:34

If you think this is spacious, come on through here.

0:29:340:29:37

-Oh, wow.

-How's this for a reception room?

0:29:390:29:41

-It's lovely.

-Fantastic.

0:29:410:29:44

-A working fireplace there, as well.

-Brilliant. It's a really nice space.

0:29:440:29:48

-Very light, very airy.

-A big room.

-Yeah.

-Big, big room.

0:29:480:29:51

-You wouldn't have expected this room when you're out there.

-No.

-Absolutely not.

0:29:510:29:55

No. It's really nice. Really lovely.

0:29:550:29:58

That's the first of your surprises. Loads to come.

0:29:580:30:02

-Really, loads!

-OK!

0:30:020:30:05

Across the hallway, the draped marquee ceiling in the dining room

0:30:050:30:09

is a taste of the fun in store with our mystery property.

0:30:090:30:12

And I think they'll be dazzled by the next room.

0:30:120:30:15

This is where you'll be chained to the kitchen sink.

0:30:170:30:21

-Ooh.

-Very modern.

-Very modern, isn't it?

-Yeah.

0:30:210:30:25

-I wasn't expecting this.

-You've got a back door there and you've also got a walk-in larder.

0:30:250:30:30

This is, for me, a little bit strange. You've got a bedroom through there.

0:30:300:30:34

-A double bedroom with a massive en-suite.

-OK.

0:30:340:30:38

-I don't know whether you change it to a TV room or a kids' playroom.

-Yeah.

0:30:380:30:42

-But the options are endless.

-Mmm.

0:30:420:30:45

Down at the far end of the cottage is a second comfortable sitting room,

0:30:470:30:50

perfect for the family to sprawl out in.

0:30:500:30:53

Close by off the hallway is a shower room and two double rooms for the weekend guests

0:30:530:30:58

with a modern walk-in shower opposite.

0:30:580:31:01

Which brings us to the other end of the property, into a world of never-ending surprises.

0:31:010:31:07

-This is your master bedroom.

-This is a really nice size.

-Yeah.

0:31:080:31:13

-It's got a nice feel about it.

-Yeah.

0:31:130:31:15

-When I said master bedroom, what I really meant was a suite.

-OK.

0:31:150:31:20

-It goes on and on and on! OK, deep breath, are you ready?

-Yep!

0:31:200:31:25

-This is your dressing area.

-Yes.

-I'm not sure it's big enough!

0:31:340:31:38

No, not for Briony's stuff, definitely not!

0:31:380:31:41

Just when you think it couldn't get any larger or stranger, come on through to your en-suite.

0:31:410:31:48

-Wow.

-This is huge! Look at that bath!

-What a fantastic room.

0:31:480:31:53

-You would not expect all this to be here when you're in the master bedroom.

-No!

-No.

-Crikey!

0:31:530:31:58

-It's very different. Just the whole layout is very different.

-Yeah.

-It's quite exciting.

0:31:580:32:03

-You can hear an echo, can't you?

-Yeah.

0:32:030:32:06

-What's down there?

-Go and have a look.

0:32:060:32:09

Yes, it's time to descend into the underworld.

0:32:100:32:14

I am actually stuck for words! That doesn't often happen.

0:32:180:32:23

-Did you not expect this to be here?

-No! Funnily enough!

0:32:230:32:27

Not the first thing I thought of when I was walking down the stairs, no.

0:32:270:32:30

It is a fantastic addition. I really... I like abstract thinking, I think that's really cool.

0:32:300:32:36

-It's quirky beyond quirky.

-It really is!

-Yeah, it's one hell of a twist, isn't it?

-It is Tardis-like.

0:32:360:32:43

And the labyrinth continues on the other side of the master,

0:32:430:32:47

where stairs lead down to every man's idea of heaven.

0:32:470:32:50

Don't look that way, just look this way for now.

0:32:500:32:53

-I'm seeing neon blue that way. Oh dear! OK!

-Oh, cool!

0:32:530:32:57

"Oh dear!", "Oh, cool!"

0:32:570:33:00

-Boy's room, at last!

-This is fantastic.

0:33:000:33:02

-This is also attached to your master bedroom, you realise that?

-Yes.

0:33:020:33:06

-If this isn't party and boy enough for you, follow me. You're going to love this!

-Uh-oh...

0:33:060:33:12

-Oh, brilliant!

-Oh, this is a real boy's den down here.

0:33:150:33:20

-You're now in the 400-year-old part of the building here. This was the original little cottage.

-OK.

0:33:200:33:27

-It's been extended quite considerably, hasn't it?

-Yeah!

0:33:270:33:33

Outside may not have the land for Briony's horse, but there's scope for garden parties galore

0:33:330:33:38

in the acre of beautifully landscaped gardens, complete with a tennis court,

0:33:380:33:42

a summer house currently used as a studio, and a fantastic swimming pool.

0:33:420:33:47

-Think you'd use the pool?

-Yes!

-Lovely, isn't it?

-Just a bit.

-Gorgeous pool.

0:33:470:33:51

-It also feels like it's larger than an acre.

-It does. So many twists and turns, aren't there?

0:33:510:33:57

Let's ask the question. How much do you think this is on the market for?

0:33:570:34:01

-I think it's about £975,000.

-I would have pictured it around the same, probably.

0:34:010:34:05

-It's currently on the market for £975,000.

-Really?

-Really?

0:34:050:34:09

-Bang on the money, yeah.

-OK!

0:34:090:34:11

-Go and have a look around. There's so much to take in.

-I know.

-Yeah.

0:34:110:34:16

-We'll see you in a couple of hours!

-I defy you not to go down to that spa room.

0:34:160:34:19

First place I'm going!

0:34:190:34:21

-I'm going to leave the end of a thread with you to take with me.

-You'll probably get lost, yeah!

0:34:210:34:27

Under budget at £975,000,

0:34:290:34:33

our mystery cottage offers up a labyrinth of modern rooms in a character shell.

0:34:330:34:38

It includes three reception rooms,

0:34:380:34:41

an enormous state-of-the-art kitchen,

0:34:410:34:44

four bedrooms, with that extravagant master suite,

0:34:440:34:47

all wrapped up in an acre of land.

0:34:470:34:50

Briony would have to spare the horse,

0:34:500:34:52

but visiting family and friends would lap up the chance for a spot of tennis and a dip.

0:34:520:34:58

And the location is spot on with an hour's train commute into London.

0:34:580:35:03

I was really surprised when we walked up the drive. Coming into the hall, there was big "wow".

0:35:030:35:08

Light, bright, airy, very modern.

0:35:080:35:11

-The living room is perfect, the dining room is really nice.

-Kitchen's a nice size.

-Yeah.

0:35:110:35:15

-But then we go further and we find more attached.

-It's a little warren.

0:35:150:35:20

-I would change certain areas.

-Yeah.

-Perhaps change certain rooms.

0:35:200:35:24

-We've got a bit of budget to do that.

-Yeah.

0:35:240:35:26

The boy space is fantastic. Having a bar in the house is a dream.

0:35:260:35:30

Also, being somewhere like this is something you would never have thought of.

0:35:300:35:35

-Oh, did you have to? I was having a lovely snooze!

-Sorry!

0:35:380:35:41

Really comfortable.

0:35:410:35:44

-You OK?

-Yes.

0:35:440:35:45

-Seen everything?

-Yes.

-Think so.

0:35:450:35:47

-You've a lot of thinking to do, I should imagine. Let's get on with it.

-All right.

0:35:470:35:52

Sussex is home to some fine English country gardens.

0:36:030:36:06

But one of the undisputed jewels has to be that of Christopher Lloyd's,

0:36:060:36:10

one of the 20th century's most influential and maverick gardeners.

0:36:100:36:15

It's here at his home in Great Dixter where it blooms.

0:36:150:36:19

Despite his death in 2006, his legacy lives on.

0:36:190:36:23

I've come to meet head gardener Fergus Garrett

0:36:230:36:26

at the house where the inspiration for this unique site started.

0:36:260:36:29

Christopher's family, the Lloyd family, didn't really buy it until 1910.

0:36:290:36:35

At that point, it had been on the estate agent's books for over ten years

0:36:350:36:39

so it was in quite a derelict state.

0:36:390:36:40

They bought the house, they wanted to restore it

0:36:400:36:43

so they commissioned that famous British architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, to come and do that.

0:36:430:36:48

It was Lutyens who laid out the gardens as well and true to that period, he compartmentalised it,

0:36:480:36:55

so he sub-divided it into a series of rooms, each of those rooms can have a different feel,

0:36:550:37:00

a different set of plants and there's an element of surprise.

0:37:000:37:04

Lutyens may have laid the landscaping foundations

0:37:040:37:07

but Christopher's parents introduced their own, distinct styles.

0:37:070:37:11

His father created the more formal features such as the topiary.

0:37:110:37:15

But it was his mother's love of botany and planting

0:37:150:37:18

that inspired Christopher's pioneering approach to horticulture.

0:37:180:37:22

He was a big fan of a mass of colour, wasn't he? Was it a case of anything goes?

0:37:220:37:26

It was a case of try anything, but then analyse it.

0:37:260:37:29

Because you could put an unusual combination of pink and yellow

0:37:290:37:34

and you may find the pink is a bit too strong

0:37:340:37:37

so you would swap it for a lighter tone and see if that works.

0:37:370:37:40

But at the end of the day, it's your own garden,

0:37:400:37:44

so why not do something that pleases you rather than worry about what other people think?

0:37:440:37:49

He was also a very welcoming guy, it seems. If he liked you, he'd open up the house to you.

0:37:490:37:54

Yes, he loved people.

0:37:540:37:57

If he was wandering through the garden and he thought someone was really interested,

0:37:570:38:01

they were paying attention to what they were looking at and taking notes, he would try and fuel that.

0:38:010:38:07

If he liked you, all was fine. If he didn't?

0:38:070:38:09

I think he would... Somebody said that interviewing Christopher Lloyd was licking a prickly hedgehog.

0:38:090:38:15

And he was exactly that.

0:38:150:38:17

His colourful character fuelled his philosophy not just to gardening, but to life in general,

0:38:170:38:23

observing that "we do not all want to float endlessly among silvers, greys and tender pinks."

0:38:230:38:30

"Some prefer a bright, brash, midday glare with plenty of stuffing."

0:38:300:38:34

At times, though, he caused outrage and even received hate mail from conventional gardening circles

0:38:340:38:40

when he ditched the traditional rose garden in favour of some thing far more daring and exotic.

0:38:400:38:45

It was full of tired old roses.

0:38:450:38:48

He decided to take most of the roses out,

0:38:480:38:50

leaving about 11 of our favourite plants and create a sub-tropical jungle.

0:38:500:38:56

Christopher wanted to feel he was stepping closer to the equator as he stepped into this space,

0:38:560:39:02

the paths close in on themselves and if we get a bit of rain, it's all misty and humid

0:39:020:39:07

and you really feel like you are stepping into the jungle.

0:39:070:39:10

You tell a good story, Fergus. I'm there with you! What's his lasting legacy?

0:39:100:39:14

I've seen quite a few tourists here today. What do you hope they take away with them?

0:39:140:39:19

Well, this life in and around the garden, that these spaces are there to be enjoyed,

0:39:190:39:25

for you to get a thrill from growing plants, putting them together and creating a scene.

0:39:250:39:30

Just going out and doing it with real energy and joie de vivre.

0:39:300:39:34

-It's one of the most beautiful places I've ever visited.

-It's a really, really lovely place.

0:39:340:39:40

Thankfully, Christopher's joyful garden is in safe hands

0:39:400:39:43

and will thrive for future visitors to experience.

0:39:430:39:47

It's fair to say

0:39:500:39:51

that we've shown Tom and Briony three very charming properties for their budget here in Sussex.

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On the whole, they've been quite a compromising couple.

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But was that mystery property one compromise too many?

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Let's find out.

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Sorry, guys, this is reserved, sling your hook!

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-You enjoyed it?

-Very much so, thank you.

-It's been fantastic.

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We've shown you three quite different properties, but they've all got something going for them.

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Let's start with the first one, the 1930s typically Sussex house.

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That one was real "wow" factor for us. It was a beautiful looking property.

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Inside, every single room lived up to the initial wow.

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When we got into the kitchen, we looked at each other and said, "This is perfect."

0:40:370:40:41

-Exactly what we wanted.

-The kitchen was amazing.

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It felt like a family house which is exactly what we're looking for.

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It didn't have the wish-list land for the horse,

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but we were always very open-minded on what we'd have to compromise on and that view was just astounding.

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What about the second house?

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It was finished to such a high standard and all the rooms were well-proportioned.

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For me, it had slightly too many rooms upstairs.

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I felt a bit constrained inside it which is the whole cottagey feel which I don't particularly like.

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-What did you make of the summer house?

-It was a nice touch. It was different which is a selling point.

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Another great selling point for that property was further up the steps,

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the two acres of land which is exactly what you wanted.

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That was beautiful.

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What about the mystery property? What a property!

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From the outside it was a lovely, thatched cottage.

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I enjoyed the house more as we got into it. I think the underground jacuzzi was an interesting touch.

0:41:380:41:45

-It certainly was.

-For want of a better word.

-The house amuses me.

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It gives me a good feeling, because I find it fascinating.

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The outside space is fantastic. The pool was stunning.

0:41:520:41:56

It sounds to me like it's in with a chance, the mystery property.

0:41:560:41:59

Um...

0:41:590:42:00

It's in second place.

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-Yes, definitely.

-Ah, OK. Behind...?

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-The first house.

-The 30s house.

-The 30s house, OK.

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Do you like that enough to put in an offer?

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-I think...

-It's up for discussion.

-Yeah. Our worry would be that it will go for more than our budget...

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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...

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So we're trying not to get too attached to the idea.

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But I think there's no reason why we shouldn't.

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I hope you find your ideal home here in Sussex, you've been fantastic.

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-Good luck, especially when bump comes along!

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

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We might even name it Aled!

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Don't do that!

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What a positive outcome for two very positive people.

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I've thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Tom and Briony.

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I can really imagine them living in that property with that gorgeous view.

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Let's hope they can make their dream become a reality

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and let's hope they invite me to use the pool!

0:43:010:43:03

Till next time. Bye bye.

0:43:030:43:06

If you want to escape to the country in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland or England and would like our help,

0:43:070:43:15

please apply online at bbc.co.uk/beonashow

0:43:150:43:18

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0:43:350:43:39

E-mail subtitling@bbc.co.uk

0:43:390:43:43

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?