Property series. Alistair Appleton goes property shopping with a young family who have sold their home in Essex and are looking to move to rural Wiltshire.
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They say that a little faith goes a long way
and here that's particularly apt
because at three metres by four metres, this is Britain's littlest church.
Where am I? Find out in just a moment on Escape to the Country.
Our couple today are up against the clock.
Having all but sold their current home, they need a country escape pretty sharpish.
Nice and cosy.
-That's beautiful. Really lovely.
-Yeah, we like it.
They're happy to take on a project, but don't always agree!
-I actually quite like it.
-"Do you?! Are you mad?"
But will our search bear fruit before time runs out?
"Come on! I have to go to work!"
Today we're in Wiltshire and this is the tiny church of Bremilham, near Malmesbury.
It only seats ten parishioners. You have to know each other well to squeeze in!
But they only have to meet once every year.
There's one service in Spring at Rogation-tide
where they all pray for a bountiful harvest.
Tiny prayers in a tiny church
but it seems to have rich benefit when you look out at the beautiful big county outside.
Landlocked by six other counties,
Wiltshire is dominated by 1,350 square miles of undulating downland,
river valleys and the chalklands.
Known as the county of chalk and cheese,
a reference to the landscape and the dairy farming of the lower valleys,
Wiltshire is home to a sight that needs no introduction -
This celestial monument
sits at the heart of a county-wide Neolithic and Bronze Age complex
which includes the West Kennet long barrow,
a 6,000-year-old burial chamber said to be the largest in the country.
Further north, under the big skies of Salisbury Plain,
are the prosperous towns and villages of the M4 corridor,
home to traditional thatches and 800-year-old churches.
A peaceful county with an ancient history.
The cost of a detached house in Wiltshire
is on a par with the national average,
which, at the beginning of this quarter stood at £350,000.
But period properties are pricey. Take this for an example.
A five-bed new build in Devizes costs £360,000.
But a mile away, on the outskirts of town,
a Victorian property of the same size costs almost double that, £700,000.
So character is costly.
But if you love the golden oldies and have no problem with a big budget,
then take a look at what the county has on offer.
Just outside Chippenham, this four-bed Victorian property
is on the market for £800,000.
It sits in stunning gardens with lush, rural views.
Inside is a gorgeous country kitchen,
stylish diner and a spacious lounge that opens into the garden.
Continuing with the period theme,
this 17th-century Grade II listed, four-bed thatched cottage in Chiseldon
is on the market for £545,000.
The modern kitchen connects to this charming dining room with beams
and an inglenook fireplace.
The living room is full of character and the gardens are mature and private.
Moving to the 18th century,
this Grade II listed two-bed cottage in Pewsey
is on the market for £300,000.
The living room boasts an inglenook fireplace and woodburner
and the conservatory looks out over an enclosed garden.
Wiltshire really comes up trumps not only with landscapes but property.
But is it enough to lure today's buyers here? Let's find out.
Graham, a regional manager, and Jules, a full-time mum from Brentwood in Essex,
along with children Abigail and Gracie are ready to pack up their urban life
and make haste to the country.
Now is a good time to move for us
because the children are relatively young.
If we leave it much longer, it will be harder.
Graham's recently changed job roles so isn't tied to London any more.
And as a city girl, Jules has her own reasons for the move.
I've always lived within the M25 and London.
I really feel I could do with moving out to the country
so for me, personally, it's just the next step,
a quieter, more relaxed and less noisy environment.
Understandable, considering they live on a busy road.
They hope north Wiltshire will be a haven of tranquillity.
We actually like the county itself.
When we've been in the area, we've driven through the villages
and towns there.
That's the location sorted, but what about the house?
Ideally, our next property would be a detached property.
We'd like four bedrooms.
The property would have to have a study
or a room to convert into a study.
We'd like the property to have a garage.
And an open plan kitchen/dining family room with a large garden.
And Abigail has a must-have of her own.
I would like a purple and green pony room.
Luckily for me, Graham is happy to take on a few projects
just in case the property doesn't come with a purple and green pony room!
We are prepared, as a family, to take on a renovation project.
However, that has to be accommodated within our budget.
Which brings us to the question of money.
With their house under offer, they're in a good position to buy.
If you were able to find the perfect, perfect property,
we could stretch our budget to £465,000.
But it would have to be the absolute dream home for both Julia and myself.
We love Wiltshire, but I think this could be a bumpy ride
because even though Graham and Julia's budget is perfectly healthy, £465,000 is a lot of money,
if they want a period property with some land, nice big rooms on the edge of a village,
here in this county it's going to be quite tricky to get it.
But we'll try our hardest. That's what we're famous for!
Graham and Jules have asked us to search the area around Devizes.
We've found three fantastic properties for them,
but I won't say the price until the end of each tour.
And then there's the mystery house, which promises to challenge their wish list.
Morning, guys. Welcome to Wiltshire.
-This is Bowood House, not one of the houses I'm going to show you!
A little bit out of your price range! Just a little!
-But you've got money burning a hole in your pocket because you've sold?
-We've sold subject to contract.
-We need to move fairly quickly.
-That's exciting and nerve-wracking in equal measure.
-You do want quite a lot. You know that!
-Perhaps not being too realistic.
-You've got to dream. That's the point.
In terms of what you want, you're probably about 50 grand short.
Yeah. Probably. We know that from the houses we've looked at.
So is there an area of compromise? Are you fixated on period, for example?
We're not fixated on it. We'd love it to be period. That's my ideal.
As long as it's got a nice plot of land and it's in its own plot, that's great.
You're good at renovating. You've done it before?
Yes, we've taken a couple of projects on in our current house.
-We're up for that.
-And school's important. A good school nearby.
I think a good secondary school.
She's only six, but it would be good to have a good secondary school nearby
so we don't have to move again. We want to stay for ten, 15 years.
There are lots of lovely properties. Bearing in mind your budgetary constraints, let's see them.
Our first property is less than 15 minutes by car from Devizes
in the attractive village of Bromham.
Architecturally, the village is dominated by St Nicholas church,
considered one of the finest in Wiltshire.
The oldest parts of the church date back to the 11th century.
The village is serviced by a local post office and also a primary school for the girls.
Graham and Jules want an edge-of-village location. Our first property delivers just that.
In you come.
This is the house. Lovely village.
-It's a period property.
-It is. I wasn't expecting that.
It's 250 years old. It was a pub at one point, a shop - sweet shop. What do you think?
I like it. I like the outside of it.
It's definitely, it appears from outside to have plenty of character.
I like the sash windows.
I like the slate roof.
-All looks good.
-Yes, I like it. It's a lot quainter than I was expecting.
It does look a little old,
which is a little worrying, perhaps!
Yes, it is an old property. 250 years old and it is listed.
-It's a Grade II listed building.
-Now I'm terrified!
OK. There's one more thing I have to break to you.
-This is your garden.
It's not a massive garden.
-It's a small garden.
-Smaller than we've got now.
We'll come back and look at possibilities later.
'The Grade II listing and size of the garden may have been a shock,
but the interior has been beautifully restored.
You can really see the period features here.
-Yes, it's really got loads of character.
So it's modern with lots of period features.
A lovely fireplace, which works.
-It's got a family feel. Nice and cosy.
It feels nice.
Even though it's a listed building, there are plans to develop this, move it around.
-What you see is not necessarily what you have to live with.
This is the kitchen.
OK, lovely. It's a got a country modern feel, hasn't it?
-What about proportions?
-A bit on the small side, actually,
compared to our kitchen at home. Everything's more open-plan at home.
-But I love the units, the floor.
-It was only done last year.
-So a new limestone floor, new range, lovely units.
-They sand-blasted these beams to make them lighter.
-They're a lovely feature.
'The period features are well presented.
'Although the kitchen dimensions may not suit Jules,
'there's a spacious dining area conveniently located next door.'
This is nice as well.
-They've reclaimed these floorboards from a Victorian church.
Sash windows. A nice light coming from the south-west-facing garden.
-Let's take a peek upstairs.
Upstairs, there are four bedrooms in all,
including a good-sized double and a small spare room.
Quite steep stairs.
Now, again, four square bedrooms. This is their master.
OK. It's nice. It's got a cottage feel to it.
They're not huge rooms, but they're light and bright and square.
-Which I know you like.
-Yes! I do like square rooms.
There's another room on the other side which might be good for one of the girls.
Another light and sunny room
and this one's got a little box room that you could make into an en-suite.
-A small en-suite.
-This would be fine for one of the girls.
-Let's have a peek at the bathroom.
We haven't talked about bathrooms. What are your requirements for bathrooms?
Um, this is fine. I love the roll-top bath. It would be nice to have a shower.
They haven't quite finished it. They had plans for a shower, but ran out of money.
-A shower is quite important.
-It has to have a shower.
-There's a toilet downstairs.
That mirrors what we've got at the moment. It'll work.
-We're fine with that.
-Depends how fixated you are with having an en-suite.
-It's not a priority, really.
-It's not for us.
Wait till the girls become teenagers! Then it'll be a priority!
-We'll need it then!
-"Come on! I've got to go to work!"
Graham and Jules like to make home improvements,
so we're heading outside to see where there's already permission
to create additional living space.
The bit I wanted to talk about is this.
This is where they've got planning permission which lapses in four years,
to extend out. Not up, but out.
So to the left of the hearth in the sitting room,
you'd put a door through and come out to here
and this space would become either a new kitchen,
or a play room, something like that.
'So, Graham has his project. Now it's time to discuss money.'
After that long hike across your considerable garden,
you get a nice view of the property again.
What do you think it's on the market for?
It's a really pretty house.
But it's on quite a small garden,
so I'd say about 400.
Yeah, I'd agree. About 400,000, this one.
You're pretty much on the money. It's just under at 395.
It's been on for a month
and so they'd probably take an offer.
The market's quite quiet round here. People do take offers.
It's a question of whether you could use that £65,000
to do the work that's needed.
Have a look round and see what's acceptable and not acceptable.
-We'll meet out the front and continue.
Will they see past the Grade II listing and the small garden?
-It's a lovely looking house.
It's a shame about the garden, though.
It is, yeah, when the garden's so important to us.
Grade II listed, a bit of a surprise.
A bit of a shock, and gave us the collywobbles!
Interesting to see what they have to say.
Let's hold your thoughts
and we'll go and continue the journey through Wiltshire.
Many of the towns in Wiltshire have grown up around the river systems throughout the county.
One of the rivers key to Wiltshire's prosperity has been the Avon.
Bradford-upon-Avon is one of the most historically significant of Wiltshire's riverside towns.
A crossing point for the river since ancient times, the town's name comes from the term "broad ford".
It's also home to architecture from the Saxon, Norman and Victorian periods.
We sent Graham and Jules to take a stroll with local historian Ivor Slowcombe
to visit some of Bradford's best examples of period architecture.
Now we come to our Saxon chapel
which is the oldest building in Bradford-upon-Avon.
-How old is the church?
-It's almost certainly early 11th century.
And you can tell by the arcading which would be of that style, that age,
and you'll notice the doorway is extremely narrow, and the windows are as well,
simply because the Saxons didn't have the engineering ability to build a wide entrance
or a wide window - that came much later on in the Middle Ages.
It's extremely important because although there are many other Saxon churches in the country,
this one is complete in the sense that it hasn't got a lot of later additions.
So you are seeing it as the Saxons would have seen and used it.
It may be the oldest building in the town,
but the river is the real heart of Bradford.
The town bridge is testament to its long and colourful history.
Once used by pack horses to cross the river,
this bridge is much more than a mere bridleway.
We're in the very centre of the town, as you see by the river.
This is our medieval bridge
which crosses it. It was built in the 13th century
with stone quarried locally.
And then it was widened on this side in the 17th century.
-What's the structure on the top of the bridge?
-Originally, it was a chapel.
But that structure was built in the 18th century on the foundations of the medieval chapel.
It was the town lock-up, where they put drunks and troublemakers
to cool off overnight before facing the magistrate in the morning!
And it's nice if you look at the top of the building,
the weathervane, which is a gudgeon, a local fish.
There's a lovely local saying, of being over the water and under the fish,
which means you're in prison!
As the centuries rolled on, the River Avon not only provided transport
to and from Bradford, it powered the mills, created a manufacturing industry
and gave those that lived here a livelihood.
During the Industrial Revolution,
canals were built to expedite trade.
John Rennie, who made his name building London bridges,
also built the Avoncliff Aqueduct in 1819
and again this is a bridge with a story to tell.
As you can see, it takes the Kennet and Avon canal across the River Avon
and it's a major piece of engineering work.
It had its problems, and if you look carefully,
you can see the centre bit still sags
from when it was built with simply the weight of water which goes over it.
It was all dug by hand. You probably know the term "navvy",
which comes from the word "navigator", who were the original canal workers
and hence the modern word navvy.
And it really does form a major tourist attraction for the whole area.
If you plan a trip to Bradford, thanks to those resourceful Victorians,
you'll have the choice of river, rail or canal.
But we're hitting the road because we still have to more houses to see.
Our next property is five miles south of Devizes
near the village of West Lavington.
The village grew up around this impressive 12th-century church
and there are plenty of local schools for the girls.
Although a fire destroyed most of the buildings in the 17th century,
there are some lovely Victorian period properties in the village.
Our next property is Victorian, but isn't listed
and it's ripe for renovation. I hope this could be the project Graham and Julie are looking for.
Come on in. Close the gate.
This couldn't be a bigger contrast from the first house.
But I think, in many ways, this is a great property for you.
Because the last one was pretty and perfect and you could move in but you couldn't do much.
This one needs some work but you can do everything
because it's not listed. You can go out and up and in and all over the place!
-And it's a great location.
-ROAR OF TRAFFIC
Obviously got a lot more garden than we saw this morning.
That's a definite positive and a plus.
-We're comfortable with this area north of Salisbury Plain.
So, yeah, it's good.
This is on a road and it's not as quiet as the road was this morning.
It's got cars passing. It's not Brentwood, but it's a busier road.
Let's look round the side.
'The property consists of two cottages joined together.
'Inside, there is still plenty of work to be done,
'so I hope they're happy to use their imagination.'
Takes us into this kitchen room. It's all about potential, this place.
-Can you see the potential in here?
-Um, I think so.
That was a very definite from you and a "think so" from you!
Yeah, I think so. It's not listed, so you could knock down walls and make it more open plan.
It's a huge space. Clearly, you'd want to put in new units and so on.
But there's all this workspace here, all that there.
It's a lot of space for a kitchen.
Yes, it's of a size that we're familiar with and comfortable with at the moment.
We like a large kitchen. We like a kitchen/diner.
It works well for us and we'd seek to replicate that because it keeps the family unit functional.
'Jules seems a little daunted. Maybe the large living space will impress.'
Through the hallway into the sitting room. This would have been the two cottages combined.
-So it would have been divided in the middle here.
But they've joined them together to make one.
-You look deeply unimpressed!
A picture of non-impression!
It's hard to picture it because obviously it's empty and nobody's living here and it's really dated.
-You don't like the posts in the middle of the room!
-I don't like the posts!
Soon as I saw that, I knew you wouldn't like it!
-I think it could work, this house.
-You're really struggling!
-"Oh, I really want to like it!"
I'd absolutely have to change it completely around.
-It would have to be a complete...
-To work, I think.
-I actually quite like it.
-"Do you?! Are you mad?"
-Why wouldn't you like it?
-I don't know, I just... You know.
I can't get my head round a post in the middle of the lounge.
The thing about this whole house is you need to configure it the way you want it and how you'd use it.
Let's look upstairs. That's a bit more four-square.
On the other side of the kitchen are two small utility rooms
leading to a study which could be reconfigured to give Jules the family room she wants.
But we're going to explore the bedrooms.
Lovely big landing. I love a landing!
But also four really good-sized rooms.
They're pretty much the same size, some a bit bigger,
but they're really nice. Nice new windows, sound-proofed against the road.
It's a really good size for you guys.
Yes. Four bedrooms, or three?
There are four big bedrooms on this floor.
-And then a huge attic.
-Potential for at least two more bedrooms.
The loft space already has electricity and could become a stylish double bedroom.
There's also a family bathroom on this level. Outside,
the vegetable terraces also need some TLC,
but the garden is larger than the first property, allowing for extensions.
So we're heading outside to take in the quarter of an acre plot.
So you can see from up here more clearly where you can go
-in terms of extending out and across.
-Yeah, we like it.
Was that a royal "we", or do we like it?
No, we do. I definitely can see the potential.
How much is it on the market for?
A bit more than the house we saw earlier.
Probably 425 to 430.
Yeah, I'd say about 435.
You'll be pleasantly surprised to know it's on at 415.
-They're very keen to sell.
It's been rented out for a year. Chain-free. They could just ker-ching!
And you could move in.
-That's very interesting.
So wander around. This one, more than any of them,
has got... You have to think through what you could do with it.
For £415,000, this property does need plenty of work.
Will Graham and Jules both see the property's potential?
You could keep the study room, then knock everything else through
into a big kitchen family dining room.
-It's certainly big enough.
It's a footprint here for your money.
Internally and externally. Pretty good location.
I'd rather not compromise on the road and the garden
and rather compromise on the house, I think.
Did you have a good run round?
-Lots of head scratching?
-Yep. Had a good look round.
-Definitely needs some thinking, that property.
As the sun settles over Wiltshire,
Graham and Jules will have plenty to consider after their first day of house-hunting.
Along with their two daughters, regional manager Graham and wife Jules
want to trade Brentwood in Essex for a property in Wiltshire.
And they don't mind taking on a project.
Can you see the potential in here?
-I think so.
Their budget has meant compromise.
A bit on the small side, actually.
But will our mystery property have the right balance?
I can definitely visualise Julia and the two girls living here. Yeah.
I always knew this was going to be difficult. As it stands, something has to give.
Maybe the busy road, maybe the garden.
Maybe the post in the living room.
So we thought for the mystery house, rather than pursue the village idyll,
we'd go closer to a town.
And that's why our mystery house is ten miles from Devizes
in Westbury, a town with an interesting past, cut into the hillside.
The origin of the Westbury white horse is unknown,
although it may date back to 878 in commemoration of King Alfred
and his victory over the Danes.
The town itself is home to many period properties.
Angel Mill is a reminder of Wiltshire's prosperous wool industry,
and the impressive All Saints parish church dates to the 17th century.
There are plenty of local schools to choose from
and it's set in a peaceful location.
But will being in a town be a problem for our village-loving couple?
And this is the property.
Come here and get a better view. This is the house I want to show you.
It's beautiful. Really lovely. Victorian?
It is from around that... It was the farmhouse to a big house over the way,
now the army barracks.
This was the farmhouse. It's now the home farm and several outbuildings have been turned into properties.
It's round the Victorian period. A bit later. Edwardian.
So this is the mystery house because it's nearer town.
You didn't want to be nearer town, you wanted a village. But this is by far the quietest property!
We wouldn't have considered Westbury as a location.
It's a really nice town but we thought it would be quite noisy.
But this is definitely the quietest of the three places we've seen.
Ironic that the quietest is the one closest to town.
-But also it's a lovely house.
-It's really attractive.
Shall we look inside?
'Well, that may be the most positive first impression we've had so far.
'Let's hope we continue the way we've started.'
This is the sitting room which has been extended.
This was the outside wall and they've gone out. It's twice the size.
-It's a lovely sized room, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
-It's deep, it's high ceilings.
Yes, brand new, this hardwood wooden surround.
It's lovely with this bay window. And the French windows to the garden.
-Yeah, it's good.
-Definite thumbs up, yeah.
On the other side of the hall, the dining room is part of the original house.
Towards the rear, an extension has been turned into a play room.
But we're heading to the all-important kitchen.
The back of the house is the kitchen.
-New units. They've done a good job on this.
-Yeah? Is this to your taste?
-Yes. Two windows, very light.
Good size with the units and everything.
-Yes, it's good.
-To your taste?
It's probably not to my taste with the kitchen,
but I like the squareness of the room.
And I think there's plenty of cupboard space.
-It's perhaps not the units I'd choose, but it's perfectly nice
For seasoned renovators like Graham and Jules,
changing kitchen units is a relatively small job.
Now it's time to find out what they think of the upstairs space.
They're using this as the master, but you could use any because they're all huge.
Yeah, the high ceilings I really like.
Although you've got slanted roofs, you're in the eaves,
-it doesn't feel like that. It's really nice.
They're king-sized rooms, aren't they?
Much bigger than doubles, really.
And a lot of them have lots of built-in storage as well.
I don't know if I'd have this as my master. It's light and bright,
but there's another one with its own corridor, which might be better.
This is like a little wing. A small room there, with lots of storage.
And then you come down to another big room which they used to have as the master.
Right. It's a lot bigger than it even looks from the outside.
It feels like a kind of private wing.
-So thumbs up for inside?
What about outside? Let's go look!
The other double bedroom has built-in wardrobes.
And the bathroom has a large window letting in loads of light.
So upstairs has plenty of space.
But I'm worried the gardens may not be quite large enough.
There is always a compromise and unfortunately it is with the size of the garden.
It's not huge, but it is wrap-around.
What you've lost is because of all the extensions.
-I don't think that's too bad, actually.
-It's private and it's quiet.
-Private and quiet.
Yes, it is smaller, but it works better with this house, doesn't it?
It's not overlooked at all.
-Lovely French doors coming out with this apple tree.
However, there is an added bonus to this house.
Something to do with its location.
-That's your house...
This is your recreation centre!
All this on your doorstep.
-That's very nice.
In the summer you've got cricket and tennis.
In the winter, football and rugby.
You've got squash, a gym, badminton in the leisure centre.
-So even though you don't have the garden, you have all this.
-That's very good. Very good.
And you don't have to mow it!
-How much do you think it costs?
Oh, I don't know!
-I feel a bit stumped, actually.
-We don't know the area very well.
Definitely a bigger place than we saw yesterday.
In square footage.
And it's in a town. I'd say it's probably about 425 again, maybe?
I'd say a bit higher, actually.
You're actually on the money. It's on the market for offers over 425.
-They won't look at anything under that.
But I think that's a good price
and they're packed and ready to go to Australia.
So they're ready to move out straight away.
You're desperate to find a place to move into,
could be a marriage made in heaven!
Go back and have a look around. There's things to think about.
-We'll meet out the front.
Quite a result!
Graham and Jules liked the mystery house
and it's well under budget at offers over 425,000.
But will the size of the wrap-around garden be an issue?
The garden's on the small size, but because it's so quiet,
it's a fair compromise because the house is so lovely.
There's a world of possibility.
-I love it. Yeah.
I like the style of the house. We like period properties.
I can definitely visualise Julia, myself and the girls living here.
I hate Leylandii. The bane of my life!
Excellent. We like that.
I'll whisk you away for some more thinking time.
Leylandii may not be my favourite plant,
but earlier in the week I headed to Malmesbury
to visit a garden that makes the most of well-trimmed hedges.
Malmesbury has been a conservation area since 1971
due to its long and significant history.
Key to the development of the town is the historical 12th-century abbey.
Part of the original abbey complex
is the 16th-century Abbey House and the surrounding gardens.
In the mid-'90s,
Abbey House was bought by a couple making their own escape to the country.
Since then, they've developed these wonderful gardens
that are now said to house the largest private collection of roses in the country.
But these gardens are exceptional for another reason!
Because here, on certain days of the year, clothing is optional!
I'll keep mine on to spare your blushes,
but others have not!
Famous for being closer to nature than most,
Ian and Barbara Pollard bought Abbey House in 1994
and created their very own Garden of Eden within this historic conservation area.
-Good morning, guys!
-Good morning! How are you?
I don't know where to look! Amazing!
-Just keep it round the face!
So let's talk about this amazing garden, which I'm keen to explore.
But there's an elephant in the garden - you're both naked!
-Ah, yes, unavoidable, yes.
-Sure you've both noticed!
Tell me about that. How did that all start?
It's been going on for Ian for about 40 years.
-You're a hardened naturist.
More like 20 years for myself since Ian persuaded me to have a go!
And they're happy to extol the virtues of sewing seeds in their birthday suits!
The sun all over your body is good for you. It kills off bacteria and all sorts of things.
-What about prickles? You've got a lot of roses!
-We pick our jobs!
It seems that Barbara and Ian aren't alone in being naked in the garden.
We do have half a dozen days in our season
when we invite others to join us if they want to.
-How many people rook up?
-Up to 600.
600 naked... What's the correct term these days? Naturists?
-Naturist, I suppose.
-I hate labels!
-I hate labels, yes.
-People. 600 people.
-People who choose to take their clothes off.
I can't think of a more exquisite place to do it!
Of course, most of the year, you can enjoy these beautiful gardens fully clothed.
Thanks to Ian's flair for design, there are plenty of nooks and crannies to explore!
You're clearly very talented gardeners, but there's a lot of architecture here.
-That's your background?
A great eye for scale and proportion that comes out of his former career in architecture.
Can we see a bit more? I know there's lots more to see.
-Lead the way!
Malmesbury Abbey dates back to the sixth century
but Abbey House was the site of an abbot's lodge built in the 13th century. Ironically,
a wealthy clothier purchased the land from Henry VIII in the 16th century
and built a Tudor manor house over the abbot's lodging.
That's the property that Ian and Barbara fell in love with.
Led by Ian's expert eye, the gardens have been redesigned, repaired and replanted.
-How much grounds are there? It seems endless.
-About five acres altogether.
Five acres. And all so incredibly beautifully landscaped.
-What was here when you moved in?
-Where we are now.
-It's incredible what you've done in 15 years!
We're lucky there's lots of different microclimates. Because we're on a hill,
half of the garden is on top in hot environments, and the other half is in a much cooler environment.
-The soil conditions are different in both places.
-It allows a good range of plants.
-Because of some of our helpers!
Like a thousand monks!
It was their cemetery as well!
It may have been a cemetery, but these days, the gardens are full of life.
Ian and Barbara have worked hard, planting over 2,000 varieties of roses
making this garden a major attraction
and a wonderful addition to the conservation area that is Malmesbury.
-This planting is exquisite. What are these?
-And hydrangeas as well. A lovely colour combination.
Do you get mums who come and go secretly
"Can I take my clothes off? Don't tell my husband! Don't tell the vicar!"
There are one or two like that, but I'm under oath not to tell you who they are!
Tell me. I won't tell anybody!
-It's wonderful. Thank you so much. I know you're busy.
-Thank you very much.
It's inspiring. I might strip off when I'm off camera!
Now it's time to find out which properties have grown on Graham and Jules
and which are destined for the compost heap!
-So, how's it all going?
-I think it went well. Three different properties to look at.
Let's go through them one by one.
The first one I showed you was the pretty period listed building.
What are your thoughts about that now?
We liked that property. It was very quaint.
Loved the period style.
But what we didn't like about the property was it had a front garden
rather than a back garden and it was quite small.
And it was quite near a road as well.
With the Grade II listing. It's smaller than we've got now.
And the garden being at the front and a bit noisy and overlooked.
-It didn't work for us.
The second property was more of a project,
which you were kind of looking for.
We liked that property.
We could see the potential. We liked the plot and really liked the area.
-You had problems with the post in the living room.
I wasn't overly keen.
-But I think we could have worked around that.
-But I don't think I could overcome the road noise.
especially if you're moving to escape the road noise.
-And the mystery house?
-We really liked the mystery house.
I thought it was really attractive. Plenty of room, lots of space.
And it was really quiet.
So the pressure's really on to move.
You've got to move quickish. Would you proceed on the mystery property?
We'd like to go back for a second look on the mystery property.
We need to investigate the schools in the area a bit more.
But yeah, I'd like to go for a second viewing.
Hurray for Escape to the Country and hurray to you, too.
I really hope it works out, cos it has to.
And I hope you get to Wiltshire tickety-split!
Thank you. Your help over the last few days has been great.
-Thanks very much.
Phew! Cos I have to say even though I was very confident-looking,
I was slightly anxious about the mystery house.
It could have gone horribly wrong as they weren't too pleased with the first two.
But that's a function of the fact that their budget was going to make it difficult.
So I was very pleased they liked the house outside the town.
Could be for them. If you enjoyed our adventures today,
join us next time for more Escape to the Country.
If you'd like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland or England,
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Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Alistair Appleton goes property shopping with a young family who have sold their home in Essex and are looking to move to rural Wiltshire. But in the fashionable northern eastern corner of the county, their 465,000 pound budget doesn't go as far as they had hoped.