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Life is like a bowl of cherries. Isn't that what they say?
Rather apt for today's location,
because this area was once known as Britain's cherry orchard.
The locals, they call them chuggies,
and they supported the local tourist economy.
Any ideas where I am? Keep watching, as we escape to the country.
'On today's show, our couple from the capital
'are after a character property in the country.'
-Big smile on your face.
-Yes, well, it's rather beautiful!
'Size is clearly important.'
I think this is a bit small, actually.
-It's not huge.
-It's just a little bit small.
'Will we find their spacious country home in the end?'
The house is massive. You can practically see the curvature of the Earth inside it.
Today I'm in the Chilterns.
200 years ago this area was covered with orchards.
Places like Tring and Prestwood were called "cherry villages",
and the first Sunday in August was dubbed Cherry Pie Sunday.
I wish I'd been around then!
Nowadays there are only 400 acres of orchards left,
but that's plenty to keep me going
as I explore this beautiful area.
The Chilterns stretch from Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley
northeast through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire
and into Hertfordshire. This 47-mile-long strip
is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The peaceful canals, red-tiled roofs, thatched cottages
and brick-and-flint villages are signature details
that give this area its unique charm.
The Chilterns' landscape is one of gentle hills,
untouched hedgerows, patchy woodlands and rambling tracks
through colourful fields and farmland.
After all, 75 percent of the area is agricultural land.
Although it isn't suburbia, this rural idyll has great links
both by train and road into London,
so it's a favourite with anyone that needs the city for work
but prefers the country life.
Quiet, isn't it? Idyllic, you might say.
Well, that could soon be disrupted.
There are plans for a high-speed rail network
linking London and Birmingham, so trains could soon be rattling through here
at 225 miles per hour.
Work's not due to start until 2019 at the earliest,
and lengthy public consultations are happening at the moment.
What we say is, do your research before you make that offer.
But with 517 square miles to explore,
I'm sure you'll find some peace and quiet!
We've cherry-picked these properties for you to enjoy.
Surrounded by lush landscaped gardens,
this 19th-century semi is on the market for just under £400,000.
Inside there are three bedrooms,
and a sizeable terracotta-tiled kitchen
leading to a spacious dining room.
For £500,000, this detached flint-and-brick cottage
is typical of the Chilterns, and dates back to the 18th century.
The interior is rustic yet modern in its simplicity,
with exposed beams in the living area and kitchen.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms.
And finally, sitting in beautiful manicured gardens,
this 16th-century Grade II listed three-bed thatched cottage
is on the market for £995,000.
Painstakingly restored, the property boasts original features
like the deep-set inglenook fireplace,
while the sympathetic renovation allows plenty of light
into the open-plan kitchen and living area.
Well, they say God moves in mysterious ways.
I don't think there's any mystery as to why today's buyers
want to move to this heavenly spot. Shall we meet them?
Today we're helping William, a patent attorney,
and Laura, an education advisor, escape the London rat-race.
They met 11 years ago at a church group
whilst attending university, got married
and moved into their 1920s home in Harrow.
We've decided that it's time to move now.
The house is perfect for the two of us,
but we are thinking about starting a family,
and we need more space upstairs in the bedrooms,
and also downstairs for the children to play.
There's also the area itself. It's nice being an adult here.
I don't think it's a great place to grow up as a child,
so the location isn't perfect.
So, what else is luring them away from London and into the country?
One reason is that we both enjoy country pursuits.
We like going out hiking, and it would be lovely
to be able to walk out of the front door and find a footpath,
and be able to go for a nice long walk there.
My dream of the countryside would be sitting in the garden
when the weather's good, having a great view,
no traffic noise or any planes overhead,
and having a stress-free life.
Will and Laura have chosen the Chilterns
because they need to be within reach of London for work,
but that's not the only reason they're drawn there.
We had a look at other areas around London,
like Surrey for example, but we've always come back to the Chilterns.
We think the area is very pleasant,
the landscape is fantastic,
and it's got good communication to other parts of the country.
And what do we have on the list of must-haves for the property?
We're looking for four, maybe even five bedrooms,
if we can get that, and we'd also still want to maintain
a separate dining room, though space to eat in the kitchen would be important, as well.
Our kitchen here is very nice, but it's a little on the small side.
It's fine if just one person's in there,
but we end up bumping into each other a bit.
And I'm very keen on having an open fire.
I'd love to be able to snuggle up next to that in winter.
They want to be in a village with an active church.
But are there elements we should be avoiding?
One thing that would be a big no-no for me is a main road.
Another thing we're not looking for is a home that requires a lot of work doing to it.
We're going to have other things on our mind once we move,
so we don't want a big project on our hands as well.
As they'll need to sell their property before buying,
we've asked a local agent to value their home.
A very nice 1920s Arts and Crafts house,
positioned in a very good road, very close to facilities,
which would suit a growing family moving to the Harrow area.
I would value this house at £475,000.
£475,000 is a little bit more than we thought, actually,
so that's encouraging.
Bearing in mind that the Chilterns is an expensive location,
what's their final budget?
Our budget for the new property would be somewhere in the region
of £750,000. If needs be, we could go a little bit higher than that.
I tell you what - I'm relieved Laura and Will have a healthy budget,
because an average detached property here in the Chilterns
will set you back a staggering £665,000.
Yeah, you heard me right.
I'm sure we can accommodate most of their wishes,
but there won't be much change left over.
The big story here is transport links.
If the house isn't in the right location, it won't cut the mustard.
So I've got my train timetable. It's full steam ahead.
So, we'll be searching the whole of the Chilterns
whilst making sure Will and Laura are within easy reach
of a direct train line to London.
We have three Chiltern charmers lined up,
but I won't be revealing the prices till the end of the tour.
And then there's the mystery house, which will challenge
our churchgoing couple's idea of heaven in the country.
-Laura, Will, hi.
-How are you?
-Welcome to the Chilterns.
-Why here in particular?
-We used to come out here walking at weekends,
and we really feel we'd like to live around here now.
-The more rural, the better?
although we've got to be within easy access of the train station.
We both work in Central London, so we need to be able to commute there.
Are we talking about an hour commute?
-Up to 90 minutes.
-Up to 90 minutes. But not over?
-No, definitely not.
-If you want that rural location
and that all-important commuting distance,
-it's going to cost you a fair bit.
We've got a budget of about £750,000.
OK. Are you flexible at all?
We might stretch up to 800,000 if we saw just the right place.
We should get on with it. Shall we?
Two wonderful properties to show you. I think they're wonderful.
-And the mystery property, as well.
-Yes. Looking forward to that one.
-Keep that thought in mind.
Come on. Follow me.
For a top budget of £800,000,
Will and Laura are after a minimum of four bedrooms.
They'd like a large kitchen and a living area
with an open fireplace.
And key to the move is a location that has good transport links
to London, and an active church community.
Our first property is in Eaton Bray in South Bedfordshire.
Leighton Buzzard is just six miles away,
offering a 37-minute commute to Euston,
which is important to both Will and Laura.
It's also just minutes away from the National Trust site
of Dunstable Downs, for when they fancy a ramble in the countryside.
As they're looking for a friendly village community,
Eaton Bray shouldn't disappoint. It comes complete with a village hall,
as well as St Mary's, a historic 13th-century church
that conveniently has a creche, fitting any future plans
for the family. With views over a sprawling countryside,
our first property is a charming period build.
Yet another box ticked for our London couple.
Nice and peaceful.
-And, er, this is the property.
-It's three properties, really. That side is 16th century.
The middle bit is '60s and '70s,
and this was renovated five years ago, the right-hand side.
-It is, isn't it?
-How unusual! Yeah!
-What do you think?
Well, it's a country cottage! It's got roses round the door.
-It's very pretty.
-Look over there in the corner.
-Oh, yes! A little rabbit.
-Shall we get in?
-Let's have a look.
'This property oozes character,
'which certainly seems to appeal to Laura,
'and the thatch is relatively new, with at least 20 years left
'before it would need replacing.'
-Come on through to the heart of the house.
-You didn't expect this, did you?
-Big smile on your face.
-Yes! Well, it's rather beautiful!
-Isn't it just?
I think you said to me you don't really like DIY.
-Well, you don't have to do that much here.
No, it's all very complete, very neat.
Chinese slate on the floor here, and in the sun room, as well.
Also reclaimed timbers - even a reclaimed range,
-believe it or not. An antique range.
-And the butler sink, as well.
-It's bigger than I was expecting.
I thought it might not go back as far as it does.
-This actually peels back further. Have a look?
Just when you thought it couldn't get any better...
-..this space, as well.
-This is lovely.
-This is really nice.
-I bet it's a real sun trap.
-Yeah. Which way does it face?
-This is south.
-So we'd get the sun during most of the day.
-Big enough for you?
-I think so. Is this the main sitting area?
-So, is it big enough for you?
-I think it is, yeah!
It's actually much bigger than I expected
-from looking at it from the outside.
-I love that corner window over there, as well.
-OK. Shall we carry on?
'Next to the kitchen is a utility room and a downstairs shower room,
'and at the other end of the property is the formal living area.'
-And then the living room you were after.
-"Ooh"? What does that mean?
-It's really nice!
-It is, isn't it?
-And this is the modern part of the house?
-They've done a good job of mixing the old with the new.
I love the reclaimed wood. You've got the triple aspect,
and the two double doors out into the garden.
Too small for you, or right size?
It would be too small if it was the only sitting area,
but there is the other one, so it's more like the grown-up area, this.
-Ah! You've claimed it already.
Yes. And we've got a fireplace there, with a stove in it.
-OK. Shall we go upstairs?
'Not a bad start so far.
'I just hope the upstairs continues to impress.'
Have a look in here.
-Oh, that's lovely.
-This is the family bathroom.
-That's really nice.
-It's quite unusual, isn't it?
-I love the beams and the whole thing.
The master bedroom.
It's quite bright, for a thatched cottage.
Yeah. I think this is a bit small, I have to say.
-I don't think we'd fit our four-poster bed in here.
You didn't tell me you'd got a four-poster bed.
-I've got a saw you could use.
-It might be needed.
That's what you don't like about your current property, the upstairs.
It is small upstairs. It'd be nice to have something that felt roomy.
'There are two more double bedrooms connected to each other,
'that could be knocked together to make room for their four-poster bed.
'At the other end of the house is a further double bedroom.
'The low beams and room dimensions could be an issue for Laura,
'so we're heading outside to look at the wraparound garden.'
I must tell you now that the paddling pool - the swimming pool -
-doesn't come with the property.
So...third of an acre you've got here.
-That little vegetable plot there,
fruit there... Pretty, isn't it?
It's got a lovely open feel to it, yeah.
There's a lot of potential, quite a lot of space.
What do you think it's worth?
If the downstairs carried through to the upstairs,
it would be near the top of our budget, but as it stands,
I would put it at about £700,000.
Yes. I mean, the location is certainly good,
but it's still quite a long way from the station,
so it doesn't carry that premium. I would put it at a little bit less.
I'd say about £650,000.
Wow! OK. You're miles away.
This is going to be a good gauge for you, if you like.
It's been on the market for six weeks.
It's currently on the market for £775,000.
Ooh! That really does surprise me. And, yeah - disappoints.
-I am surprised.
-Oh, no! Don't be disappointed!
-Go and have another look around.
-You might see something that changes your mind.
-Maybe. Maybe not.
-I'll catch up with you later.
-We'll take a look.
The price of our first property has come as a bit of a shock.
But the reality is that a spacious period build
with good transport links in the Chilterns doesn't come cheap.
this property delivers all four bedrooms that they're after.
Inside and outside, the property exudes character,
and there's a good-size kitchen and dining room.
It's close to a train station, and there's a local church.
But will Laura be able to see past the space upstairs?
I really like the downstairs. It's really beautiful -
light, airy, perfect, really.
It's just going upstairs, really, that's the problem.
It's just a bit small, really.
Very steep ceilings. And the exposed beams are beautiful,
but don't give much space. It feels rather cramped.
The price was a bit of a surprise.
The location's a little way from the station,
so I would've expected it to be less than what it was,
but, yeah, I understand. The price is the price.
-Ah! Seen enough?
-I think so, yeah.
-The plan is, we carry on looking. We're not giving up, OK?
Will and Laura are drawn to the Chilterns
because of the charming character and history of the area.
As a commercial hub since its first market charter in 1217,
Berkhamsted is all about character,
with its architecture spanning nearly 1,000 years.
And one of the most significant buildings is Berkhamsted Castle.
William the Conqueror received the crown on this site
after the Battle of Hastings in 1066,
after which he built a timber fortification.
Then, 100 years later, Thomas Becket rebuilt the castle
with local stone and flint, and it became a home to royals until the 15th century.
Ex-mayor John Cook was pleased to tell Will and Laura more about these historic remains.
Hello, and welcome to Berkhamsted Castle -
in the rain, I'm sorry to say.
It was a royal residence right until the time
of the Wars of the Roses.
At the end of the Wars of the Roses, it stopped being a royal residence,
and it fell into ruin. After that it was used as a quarry, really,
because stone was very scarce. There's no building stone in Hertfordshire.
The place was looted by the locals
whenever they wanted to build a garden shed or anything,
and that's why we're left with so little, really,
of the old stonework of the castle.
The impressive thing which is left are the moats,
and we have a unique arrangement here, or pretty unique, anyway,
and that is that there are double moats.
And they're both still here, and in fact, in wet weather,
they actually fill with water still.
Although there's not much of the structure left,
what we have got is a good example of a motte-and-bailey castle.
The motte is the sort of tower, which is over there,
and the bailey is this part here, this big enclosed area.
On the tower there would've been a fortification of some sort,
and this is the place, when the castle was under siege,
they would have brought the animals in to protect them
from the marauders threatening the castle.
Another area of historical importance in Berkhamsted
is Ashridge Forest, just a short walk from the castle.
This woodland would have provided beech for local furniture-makers,
an important industry for the Chilterns for hundreds of years.
These beeches are famous because they're very old,
and they were pollarded in ancient times,
so they are a grotesque size and shape.
So, what do you mean by pollarding?
Pollarding means that the branches were cut off,
for fuel, basically, I think,
and perhaps also for furniture- making, when they were big enough.
Perhaps this is the most famous of them.
This particular tree is called "The Tree" by walkers
in this part of the world, because of its particular dimensions
and shape and spread.
At a span of 25 metres, the tree is about 400 years old,
and is thought to be slowly dying,
although this may take another 200 years.
The pollarding redefines the natural shape of the trees,
so the forest has a supernatural ambience,
and, unsurprisingly, Ashridge has been used as the location
for films such as Harry Potter and Sleepy Hollow -
just one of the historically significant forests in the Chilterns
and a perfect place for our rambling house-hunters to explore.
Our second property is in Haddenham, Buckinghamshire,
just a short walk from Haddenham and Thame Parkway train station.
Again, we've managed to keep Will and Laura's commute into London
to a minimum. The village boasts the 13th-century Church of Our Lady,
overlooking an idyllic pond, surrounded by thatched properties,
and after the Sunday service, they have a choice of inviting pubs
for a hearty Sunday lunch. With great transport links
and a charming village on the doorstep,
our second property is a sympathetic mix of old and new.
-Not much further to walk.
-This is it.
-Oh, that's quite different.
It is, isn't it? This was originally a chicken farm, in the 1800s,
-the middle part of the property.
-The chickens have left?
-The chickens have left.
-This was done about 12 years ago.
What you're looking at here is your kitchen.
I can just see that through the window.
-What do you think?
-Yeah! I think it's interesting.
Very different, and good to have a look round.
OK. Let's get in there, I think.
'Based on reactions to the last property,
'it seems space is a big issue.
'Well, with 3,600 square feet to make use of inside,
'this property shouldn't disappoint.'
We'll start here. First thing you've noticed...
-It's got beams.
-I was going to say it's got no furniture!
-You're looking up first.
What do you think? This could be your dining room,
-overlooking your garden.
Yeah. I mean, it's quite bright in here.
-We've got windows on both sides.
-Not going to hit your head.
No. That's always a plus.
Um, yeah. I quite like the beam, as well.
It's seen a bit of action there. It's got a bit of character to it.
-When was this bit of the house built?
-This is 1800s.
Did you expect it to be like this inside?
No. I thought it actually...
-I thought the house itself looked more modern.
I think because it's got additions onto it, which they possibly are,
-this bit is a pleasant surprise.
'So, they have their separate dining area,
'but Laura and Will were also after a large kitchen.
'And that's exactly what this property delivers.'
Come on through.
I am slightly worried that this won't be large enough for you.
-I think it might be! Goodness me!
-You could hold a dance in here.
Yes. THEY LAUGH
-See? I've still got it.
-That's good. Yeah.
-It's a good size.
-It's huge! I want to put an island in there,
otherwise I'll be running from one end to the other.
I think so, or you'll be on roller-skates to get round.
-You've got a gas range there.
-Chinese slate again.
This is, you know, a substantial-size kitchen.
You could have a massive table in here if you wanted.
-Back there you've got a toilet and also a utility room...
-..with a door leading out onto the patio, as well.
What do you think? Can you imagine yourself in here?
-I think I can, actually, yes.
-What I'm particularly impressed by,
although this is a newer part of the building,
you've got the beams coming through, so you've got continuity there.
'At the other end of the hall is a ground-floor bedroom
'which could be used as a playroom,
'and next to that is an enormous living area.'
-It's big, isn't it?
-It is huge. It's got a nice bay window.
-Lovely, isn't it?
-It's really good.
-It's got a working fireplace.
What about the low ceiling? What do you think?
I feel that makes it more cosy than small.
I think with a room this long, you can't feel small inside it.
Because they haven't painted it, it doesn't really notice.
-Good. Excellent. Let's go upstairs.
-The rooms are tiny.
-You don't believe me, do you?
'Upstairs is split into two separate wings.'
We'll concentrate on that wing of the house later on.
Um, good-size family bathroom there, bath and shower, storage.
And then... Well, I don't know. How can we describe this?
It could be a very large master bedroom,
or it could be a totally separate annexe.
'Next to this is a hall that could be converted into a kitchenette,
'using plumbing from the adjacent shower room,
'and there's also a spacious double bedroom.
'And the space keeps on coming. At the other end of the house
'is the perfect place for the four-poster bed
'that they were finding it hard to fit into the first property.'
-I was thinking that this would probably be your master.
We should be able to fit the double bed in here.
It's lovely to have windows on either side
-and get a lot of sunlight in.
-What do you think's through there?
I hope an enormous en suite with dressing area.
-Oh, come on, then, spoilsport!
Look what's through here!
'This room has plenty of wardrobe space,
'leading to a good-size en suite.'
-So, you eventually make it into your en suite.
Wow! And very, very fancy-looking bath.
-Never get me out of that.
-No. So, you've seen the inside of the house.
-I think you like it, don't you?
Obviously it's huge in every dimension.
It's reasonably well decorated in most rooms,
some better than others, but there's no major project
we'd need to undertake to get it liveable.
-Um, yeah. Yeah, very impressive.
-Well, I'm glad you like it.
Let's pop outside.
Um, not a lot of space in the garden,
which I know you've looked at through the window.
Let's get out there and see what you make of it.
'It looks like the dimensions of the bathroom have also impressed.
'Although the garden is smaller than the first property, it's very manageable.'
-It's not as big as the last place.
-It certainly isn't.
The dry weather recently hasn't done it any favours,
-but it is quite small.
-You didn't want a big garden, did you?
I don't, no, but it is overlooked. That's what I'm disappointed about.
I could cope with the size, without next door looking in.
-Is that a big issue?
-Um, it's an issue.
-I'm not sure it's a big issue.
-Let's talk money.
-It's a big property.
-It's a big property.
-With a small garden.
-It's not going to be chicken-feed, is it?
-Ooh, good action!
-It hasn't got the character of the last property,
-but I think, overall, about £750,000.
-I'd put it a bit higher than that,
and I would say 765,000.
OK. You said earlier on
-that the most you could go to was -
Yeah. This would take you almost to that.
-It's been on the market for three weeks.
Does that change anything?
No. That's within the margin of what I was thinking.
Go and have a look around. Please don't take hours.
-Don't lose each other, either.
-I'll be waiting outside for days.
A shade under budget at £795,000,
this property has all the space that Laura and Will were after.
They wanted four bedrooms. We've given them five,
and the kitchen is huge.
Finally, the transport links to London are great,
with just over a 30-minute commute.
The house is massive. You can practically see the curvature of the Earth inside it.
It's really a head-and-heart thing. It ticks a lot of boxes.
It's very practical and it's very functional.
But I don't think there's any one thing about it
that really makes me passionate about it,
so from that point of view, I'm not in love with it.
The village seems very pleasant, what we've seen of it so far.
It's got a good school and a big church, which is a good plus for us.
There are no big projects we'd have to undertake.
-No. It's generally been well done.
Hey! You don't look too tired.
I thought I'd have to mop your weary brow, but you're not too bad.
Don't want to know what you think about it yet.
You have a chat tonight and we'll reconvene tomorrow. How's that?
As the sun slips behind the hills,
Will and Laura will be pondering the possibilities
of the two properties they've seen today.
'Our London-based house-hunters
'are looking for a spacious Chiltern character property
'with plenty of period features. They need good links into London
'for work, and we've shown them two possible options.'
-Very, very fancy-looking bath.
-Spa bath, as well.
Never get me out of that.
'They love the features of their current 1920s-built house in Harrow,
'so how will the ultra-modern interior of our mystery house compare?'
-It doesn't fit our furniture at all!
So, from the beginning we've known that location was key
to Will and Laura's move here to the Chilterns,
but yesterday we found out that the house, interior and exterior,
is also important. Now, this is where the problem arises, OK?
We found it really difficult finding their dream home
in their dream location for their budget.
This is such an expensive area. Something's got to give.
What will it be? Let the mystery property be the judge of that.
I must say, it's been difficult finding the dream house
in the dream location.
Part of the problem is, we've got a very nice house as it is,
-and so, er, it's quite hard to better it, really.
'This is going to be a gamble which could go either way,
'as the interior of the mystery house is stylistically the opposite
'of their current 1920s Arts and Crafts home.
'Just outside the village of Tyler's Green in Buckinghamshire,
'the property is six miles to a main-line train service
'at Beaconsfield, offering Will and Laura a 30-minute commute
'to London. We found them a friendly village atmosphere,
'from the yearly fete held on the green
'to the community-minded local church.'
'A perfect location, and on the outside,
'it has plenty of period charm.'
-Come on in.
This is it, the mystery property,
next door to the oldest free house in England.
-OK! Could be handy.
-It is an amazing location, yeah.
How do you feel about being so close to the pub?
We know the pub, and it's a really good one, so that's not a problem.
It's not the sort of pub where you'd get a lot of drunken rowdiness.
-It's a quintessential country pub.
-It looks lovely.
-so I'm happy with that.
-Are you bothered about the road?
It's not a very busy road, so not really.
-What about the property?
-It's good. It's quite pretty.
It's a period property. It's rather nice.
Lat 1800s. The kitchen was added on in the '50s,
and what we've got here, though,
is a really contemporary interior.
The mystery property! Why do you think it's the mystery property?
-Because it's near to the pub?
-That could be it.
We're not looking at four bedrooms here.
-We're looking at three.
And I can guarantee the rooms aren't as large as the second property.
-Shall we go in?
'Although it has less space upstairs than our other properties,
'this house is in a very desirable and much sought-after area.'
So, just how modern do you want to go?
-It is pretty modern, isn't it?
-Er, yep. Very.
-Do you like it?
-It doesn't fit our furniture at all!
I mean, it's, um...
I've got pros and cons in my mind, I think.
The pro is, of course, it's been done.
It doesn't need any instant attention.
I suppose my concern is that it's very contemporary.
It might date quite quickly,
so might need a bit of changing before too long.
-Some lovely touches, though.
-The fireplace is fabulous.
-Does it actually work?
-Er, no. Not at the moment.
Not a big job, though. The chimney's there,
so you could sort that out pretty easily.
I like the way they've opened up the back there,
-and you can see straight through.
-It's all double-glazed.
Lovely window in the corner there, as well.
You do get a lot of light. From the outside,
it's a house with fairly normal-sized windows,
but they have made the most of the light you get.
-There's also underfloor heating.
-Oh, that's nice.
-So no radiators downstairs.
-Gives it a clean look.
That's the need for the porcelain tiles there.
I'm going to take you back to the 1950s now,
-so we'll go to the kitchen. Well, 1950s/2010.
'Laura is after a large kitchen, so fingers crossed.'
Ooh! This is different.
-There's some storage there for your coats.
-It's quite a big kitchen, actually.
-It is, isn't it?
-You've got French windows
straight out onto the patio and the garden.
-So much light!
-I do like the way they've done their sun-room area.
It really does make the whole room look much bigger.
Tucked away around the corner you've got a utility room
-and also a downstairs loo.
-This is a great kitchen.
-It is. It's very functional, I suppose.
-You've got granite work surfaces,
the very modern range, as well. You could do some serious cooking there.
Probably more serious than I normally do.
'Despite the period exterior,
'the modern interior is proving challenging for Laura.
'Next to the kitchen there's a separate dual-aspect living room,
'with a feature fireplace. We're heading upstairs
'to the bedrooms.'
-You've got a bedroom through there, just about a double.
-This is light and airy.
-Yeah! That's not too bad.
-Nice corner window again.
-High ceiling, as well.
-And plenty of storage.
Yeah. Built-in wardrobes, yes. Yeah.
-It could be a decent-size spare room, couldn't it?
You've got a great view. That's got a lot going for it.
Nice waking up and looking through that window. More to explore!
'The bedroom next door would be an ideal nursery,
'and there's a modernised family bathroom
'leading to the master bedroom.'
This is your master.
Yes. It's a reasonable size. It's not huge by any means.
I think you might struggle to fit our bed in here, our four-poster.
You can tell you've been married for ages.
You come in and go, "Right! OK!"
And then she looks as you as if to say, "Help! Bail me out!"
-Is there a wardrobe anywhere?
-There is, through there.
-That's something, yeah.
And also a wardrobe back there. Loads of storage space.
-Hadn't seen that.
-That's your en suite.
Go and have a look around, see what you think.
Don't think you'd fit your whole family in there.
-It's on the small side, but it's got everything you need.
-And it's good that we've got it.
'Heading downstairs, the kitchen opens out onto a sun terrace
'and private garden laid to lawn.'
-This is it.
-You wanted a manageable garden.
We've got the whole countryside as the rest of our garden.
-And you've got that pub next door.
-You can't say you're overlooked.
-No, it's wonderfully private.
-Shall we talk money?
I would put it around what I would say was our limit,
-which would be 750,000.
Interestingly, and we haven't prearranged this,
I would also say £750,000. That's how I'd price it.
You're going to be happy. It's cheaper than that.
-Which gives you 25 grand to spend in the pub.
-Does that change things?
Um, it would if it were a little bit bigger.
Well under budget at £725,000,
this house has a large, well equipped kitchen,
certainly on their list of must-haves,
as well as a rural aspect and great transport links to London.
Contrasting with the other two properties, our mystery house
has an ultra-modern interior, and with three bedrooms,
it also had the least amount of space upstairs.
Certainly a property worth considering,
but definitely challenging in style for Will and Laura.
I like the kitchen. A contemporary feel isn't too bad in here.
I'm not sure about the rest.
The location is just amazing. It's got everything we could want
from the location point of view, and it's also got great views
to the countryside around, and it's near to the pub, as well.
So you couldn't ask for more on that score.
I like this open-out-into-the-garden bit. Be lovely for a conservatory.
As a property, I like it. It's got a good feel about it.
It's in a wonderful location. It's just a little bit small.
-You whizzed round there.
-Yeah. It's not very big.
You've seen everything we have to offer,
-so you should have a think. We'll talk through it all.
Although the Chilterns conjures images of thatched cottages and villages of flint and brick,
Amersham is home to the first modernist country house to be built in Britain.
Known as High & Over, the property was a collaboration
between architect Amyas Connell and Professor Bernard Ashmole.
Built in 1929, this ultra-modern property
wasn't embraced by all the locals.
'As I pass it on my travels quite regularly,
'I've been intrigued by this decidedly un-Chiltern-like house,
'so I jumped at the chance to be shown around
'by Alan Powers, the professor of architecture and cultural history
'at the University of Greenwich.'
Was this meant to shock?
-Well, I'm sure it was, yes.
-It did, didn't it?
I mean, Connell and other architects from Australia and New Zealand,
they didn't have that much respect for the English niceties
of old Tudor brickwork and crumbly bits and that kind of thing.
So far, at this point in England,
there was very, very little in that style,
so when this was finished, it made a huge impact.
I think we should get in, don't you? Come on.
Modernism was about creating visions of the future,
using new technologies such as reinforced concrete and steel,
buildings for a new way of thinking.
By 1931, Country Life devoted a large feature
to the building, which read, "Here is architecture
pure and unalloyed by sentiment, reminiscence or clap-trap."
Referred to sardonically by locals as "the aeroplane house",
their words were grimly echoed in World War II,
as it's said that the powerful and visual Y-shaped design
of High & Over was used by German bombers
as a directional marker.
In the 1960s it was nearly torn down,
but by the 1970s, the drama and sincerity of the design
had weathered the architectural assaults,
and in 1971, English Heritage listed the building.
What sort of design characteristics are attached to modernism?
Well, you can see here in the hexagonal pattern
of the room, and then the triangles on the floor,
this is the guiding idea of the geometry of the house.
Not so typical of the way modernism carried on after that, in fact,
but this is the sort of Art Deco phase,
which is very obsessed with angles and geometry.
And using what light, as much as you can, natural light...
Yes. Yes, like bringing windows right the way down to the floor.
-Very light, for the time.
Apart from the opulent chrome front doors,
the three-storey building houses original features
like the gilded Art Deco dining room with authentic lighting.
The steel-framed windows and doors are typically modernist,
and the striking hole that once allowed a ground-floor fountain
to travel through to the first floor is a reminder of the extravagance
of Connell's design.
Thankfully the current owners have kept many of the original features,
and the decor is sympathetic to the aesthetics of modernism,
shown off in the living area and the bedrooms.
I presume this staircase is original.
Very much, yes, and you get these fabulous views
through the space, and that's very much a modernist thing.
Yeah, absolutely. Incredible. Love it.
An important philosophy of modernism
was to reclaim the footprint of the house on upper levels,
and that's precisely what Connell has achieved with this roof terrace.
Why do you love the modernist house so much?
I think it's the fantastic expression of an idea.
It's almost a romantic idea, because it's a dream
that didn't totally happen.
I think we're still waiting for it.
But there are moments when the sun shines,
and, you know, it all lights up,
and you sort of believe in this great optimistic hope
that life is going to be good for everybody.
Will and Laura have been weighing up the pros and cons
of the charming Chiltern properties we've shown them,
and now it's time to find out their thoughts on all three.
So, have you enjoyed the experience, first of all?
It's been brilliant. It's been such a good experience,
because we've seen places we'd never have considered before,
-Good, good. Let's talk about the properties.
We'll start with the idyllic thatched cottage.
It really was picture-postcard perfect, wasn't it?
It was fantastic. We couldn't have asked for a better house to view,
and the little rabbits in the garden, all the birds around -
it was perfectly cottagey, absolutely lovely.
The look of the place was incredible, and it's got that isolation as well,
so you really feel you're in the countryside.
You seemed to really love the downstairs space,
but you weren't that convinced with upstairs.
That sums it up very well.
If the upstairs had been of identical size with the downstairs,
we would definitely want to go for that property,
but as it is, upstairs a little bit small.
There are four bedrooms on paper, but in terms of usable space,
it's not quite so easy to see how it would work.
Let's move on to the old chicken farm. Lots of space there.
Yeah. I mean, the place was huge. I think it would take us a while
to work out where to put everything, frankly.
-If you had the furniture to fill it.
-We'd probably live at one end
-and leave the rest for later.
-The house I rather liked, actually.
I liked it more than Will did. But the proximity of the neighbours
-was what let it down for me.
-Finally, the mystery property,
next to the pub that you already knew,
right in the countryside in a perfect location.
Yes. It would be perfect if it just had one extra bedroom!
Right. Any of the properties you're going to see again?
I think probably the old chicken farm.
That's the one we'd go back and see again.
There's a lot to see there. I'd want to have more of a think
-about how we could use the rooms.
-I agree with Will, yes.
That property had a lot to commend it,
and although I was keener than Will, I would like to explore the area,
see how close the schools are, how long it takes to walk to the station, that sort of thing.
-It hasn't been a waste of time?
-By no means.
I've thoroughly enjoyed meeting you. You've both been so positive.
You've seen through the negative and you're dwelling on the positive. I'm sure you'll be here soon. Cheers!
-Great to see you.
Well, Will and Laura's Chiltern adventure has come to an end.
They're so enamoured with their current property,
but for the fact that it's in the city,
that it's going to be tough for them to find like for like
in an area where property comes at such a premium.
But in the little time that we've spent with them,
I think we've given them plenty of food for thought, and who knows?
They might go for one of our properties. Only time will tell.
Until next time, goodbye.
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'in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales or England,
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