Property series. Alistair Appleton and Nicki Chapman look back on the house hunts of two couples who were searching for dream rural homes in Shropshire.
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Welcome to a special Escape To The Country,
where we'll be unearthing some property treasures
in one region with two sets of buyers.
And because we're focusing on one county, we're going to be
scattering our tips and hints about moving to and buying in that area.
Today, we'll be centring on the home
of the world's first ever skyscraper.
Find out where that is in just a moment.
Today, we're looking back on two property searches.
My house-hunting pair were in search of a new rural home
and a new venture to keep them busy in retirement.
You've gone off with the fairies, Martin.
You dreaming about waking up here, or are you worried about woodworm?
While my house-hunter recruited her sister to help her find a new
home in an area she chose rather impulsively.
And there were plenty of surprises along the way.
Oh, my goodness, I didn't even realise that was there.
Oh, this is a fantastic room. What a wonderful space.
Today, we're focusing on Shropshire,
which is home to the Ditherington Flax Mill,
the first multistorey iron-frame building in the world.
It sounds so impressive, but what is it about Shropshire, Alistair,
that you particularly love?
Well, I do have a personal link there.
I've got friends who live there and I've had some fantastic wintry
weekends striding out along with the Long Mynd.
And it's so rural that it's really easy to forget that it was
the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution.
It does feel untouched, doesn't it? Preserved.
For me, my vivid image of Shropshire would be the River Severn,
obviously. That goes without saying, doesn't it?
Ironbridge Gorge, which is truly stunning.
And those black and white timber-framed houses,
which you see dotted all around the countryside. Stunning.
So, Shropshire may be famous as the birthplace for industry,
but for those seeking a rural life, it offers much more.
Shropshire is located in the West Midlands area of England
and is bordered by Wales to the west, plus the counties
of Cheshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire and Herefordshire.
One of England's most rural and sparsely populated regions,
it has Britain's longest river, the River Severn,
running through its crop-filled landscape.
The striking Shropshire hills to the south of the county have been
designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
with their rocky hills forming gentle peaks and troughs of beige and green.
The medieval market town of Ludlow in the south of the county,
described by poet John Betjeman as England's finest town,
has beautiful whitewashed buildings lining its narrow, winding streets.
With its convenient central location, beautiful scenery
and historic towns and villages,
Shropshire is a region that really does have it all on a plate.
I had such a lovely afternoon filming on the Ironbridge Gorge.
We'd knocked on this lady's door to see if we could film from her garden,
cos it had the perfect view. You've got the 18th century bridge
that way and then if you spun the camera around,
you see these enormous 1970s cooling towers.
But they had painted them terracotta
to match the sort of history of the area.
Wow. Well, I was really lucky because I got to explore
the whole county because my buyer didn't express a preference.
-But that opens things up.
Mine wanted to be near Shrewsbury in the centre,
but that actually is quite good, because in terms of property price,
that steers us away from the hotspot, which is your favourite, Ludlow.
Yes, I do love Ludlow.
But as a rule, the county offers really good value for money,
The average price is around £33,000 less than the national average.
As is so often the case, it's a county of two halves.
Because we often go down into the southern part with
the beautiful Shropshire hills.
But you actually get much more for your money
if you had up north towards the Welsh border.
But there is so much countryside, isn't there?
It's one of the least densely populated counties in the whole
of the UK, so if you are after peace and quiet, it's fantastic news.
Which is exactly what my buyers were after.
Retired planning manager Martin and his curtain-maker wife,
Jacqueline, live in this four-bedroom detached house
in Rufford, West Lancashire, and have been married for 26 years.
But last year, 57-year-old Martin swapped the daily grind
for a more relaxed pace of life.
It's coming up to 16 months now I've been retired.
I must admit, I have found it difficult adjusting to not working.
I want to fill my time a bit more and I think a project would
give me something to really get my teeth stuck into.
We're looking at a new adventure together, really.
Possibly looking at running a bed and breakfast.
And they've got their eye on central England for their country escape.
We're looking to move to Shropshire because we visited it several times,
we love the location. It's very quiet compared to where we live now.
And with their house on the market, the time has come to find
a new home that can double up as an exciting new business.
Jacqueline's hoping to offer sewing lessons to the guests and Martin
is sure he has also got the skills to make the B&B a roaring success.
I've always been told I can do a very good poached egg.
Jacqueline and Martin don't want to be too far away from their son
in Leeds, friends in Lancashire and family in South Wales,
so have decided to move somewhere around the Shrewsbury area,
but will consider moving further afield if the house is right.
'And before we kick off our search for a dual-purpose property,
'I'm meeting them in the county to make sure
'I know exactly what it is they're looking for.'
Welcome to Shropshire, you two. Thanks for bringing me here.
It's a lovely county. Tell me exactly your dream home.
Well, we're looking for a detached house and we're
looking for a property with potential for a bed and breakfast.
-So, about four to five rooms.
And we're also looking for a room for me
-to carry on my sewing business.
What about you, Martin? In terms of the outside, are you a gardener?
I'm becoming more of a gardener now I have more time on my hands,
Alistair. Nothing too large. I don't want it too daunting.
Maybe up to three quarters of an acre.
In terms of the bed and breakfast, are you looking for sort of a...
one of these ones where it is all separate or are you wanting them
to kind of eat with you and live with you?
We are really open on that.
Ideally, it would be nice if it's separate, but if it is
integrated in some way, we're quite happy to work around that, yeah.
Remind me of your budget. How much have we got to play with?
Our budget is £500,000 and we don't mind doing some work, as well,
-within that budget.
-Hopefully, we won't disappoint.
Let's go and look, cos the houses are ready and waiting.
Jacqueline and Martin's budget may be pretty generous for this
part of England, but they are looking for a two-in-one,
which presents a bit more of a challenge.
They want a detached property with four to five bedrooms
so two or three can be part of a new bed and breakfast business.
Jacqueline would also like a room to hold sewing classes
and Martin would love to get stuck into a good-sized garden.
And they'd like to be within
arm's reach of local facilities.
To get Jacqueline and Martin one step closer to realising
their dream, we will be taking them to see three contrasting properties.
And once they've toured each one, we'll let them know its cost.
Their final tour will be around the mystery house,
a property whose exterior hides what lies within and,
after more than 25 years of marriage,
could see our duo taking another trip down the aisle.
Our first property is located near the village of Maesbrook,
just outside the larger village of Knockin.
It's 12 miles north-west of Shrewsbury
and five miles from the Welsh border.
Knockin is a pretty village, much of which was once
owned by the Earl of Bradford, whose family name is still evident.
There are many handsome and historic buildings,
plus the essential amenities to hand,
situated in a striking rural setting.
Just under two miles away, back on the outskirts of Maesbrook,
is our first property.
Come to the lawn and you can see the full splendour of house number one.
-Fabulous. Looks lovely.
-Isn't it just?
-This goes back to 1485.
-Oh, my God!
A lot of extensions in the 17th century
and in the 20th century again, and then in 2008, completely modernised.
-What do you think?
-Yes, it's got a hell of a history, hasn't it?
We're heading to the back door, which would be the guest entrance
if this property became a B&B.
We're starting off in the large open-plan kitchen/diner.
-Come on inside. Now you get an idea of the inside space.
Very light and airy.
You've got the kitchen, open-plan kitchen. Light on both sides.
And you've got a little breakfast niche here,
and then round there, you've got the dining room.
It is a great area for a bed and breakfast, I think, as well.
I just love the open-plan,
the fact that you've got the dining area in the same place.
And also the sitting area, with the wood-burner. It feels homely.
'Moving through a dining room in the middle of the house,
'we find ourselves in a large sitting room.'
-A really good size as well.
-It is, isn't it?
And this would be also perhaps quite nice as a sort of guest room,
-if you wanted to have a separate room for your B&B guests.
Through here, there's a little study room
which has another door out into the garden.
We thought that could be a sewing room. You can explore that later on.
But I want to show you upstairs
cos that's where you'd be putting your guests and yourself.
'On the first floor, there are three double bedrooms...
'a family bathroom...
'a shower room...
'and at the front of the house, above the kitchen,
'is the largest of the five bedrooms.'
-This is the master bedroom.
-And it has got an en-suite.
-an en-suite. Which is good.
And it's nice having the double windows either side.
Plenty of light coming in.
What's interesting here is you can see this is the crook construction.
-You see this big curved beam.
-This is what makes the house
historically interesting, because it is actually a fork crook. So, crooks
are when you have the bent oaken sort of beams that meet in the middle.
-So, quite unusual.
You've gone off with the fairies, Martin.
Are you dreaming about waking up here or are you worried about woodworm?
It's just so peaceful. I think that's what I'm finding.
-It's just so quiet.
-You wanted something nice, light and airy.
You can't beat anything more than this, can you?
'This centuries-old house seems to have taken Jacqueline
'and Martin's breath away and it has real B&B potential.
'Martin is determined to keep busy during his early retirement
'and, if running a guesthouse isn't enough, I think the extensive
'gardens, with mature shrubs and two orchards, would do just that.'
-Beautiful views all over the Shropshire hills.
So the garden is a good size. They say three quarters of an acre.
-Got a big veggie patch over there, lovely kind of...
Oh, look forward to seeing that.
-Double garages here, which could be your sewing studio.
And then the other side here,
-you've got a separate garden which you could have for your guests.
What do you think this is on the market for? That's the key issue.
-I'd say 495.
-I'd possibly go 475.
In this instance, Martin, you should listen to your wife
-cos she is EXACTLY on the money.
-It's on the market for 495.
-Oh, really? There you go.
This detached house is full of character
and is on the market just under Jacqueline and Martin's budget.
It would give them £5,000 change.
It's got exactly the number
of bedrooms they're after
for themselves and guests, plus
a study and a garage with a workshop,
either of which would be perfect
as a sewing room for Jacqueline.
The beautiful gardens would be
a pleasure to look after
and the property's location is rural
but still close to amenities.
I love the house. It is picture-postcard perfect.
The negative points, really, for us, would be the upstairs,
from the bed and breakfast point of view.
The rooms are quite small, and I don't see an awful lot
of scope to make them bigger or to put en suites in.
-OK, guys. Are you all done?
Well, even if you're not all done,
you'll have to leave, cos that's our time over here
-and we've got another house to visit.
'Jacqueline and Martin are attracted to Shropshire's gorgeous
'countryside, but the county is also proud of its industrial
'and cultural background.
'There are historical sites all over the region
'and, over a century ago, it was known for its production of ceramics,
'due to its proximity to clay deposits.
'In 1872, the Craven Dunnill Jackfield works
'were founded in the Ironbridge Gorge, a World Heritage Site
'and home to the world's first arched iron bridge.
'The factory produced ceramic wall and floor tiles,
'which are still made here today.
'The site is the oldest surviving purpose-built tile factory
'in the world and it is now also a museum.
'I've come to meet curator Matt Thompson to find out a bit
'more about its colourful history.'
I don't think I've ever been to a tile museum before.
There's not many of them around, to be fair.
But what you've got here is a preserved example
of a real model factory.
The classic phrase they used was "from dust to dispatch".
They made a lot of the tiles out of dust, they pressed them
under hydraulic pressure, brought them in at one end of the factory,
went through all the different processes
and finally get to the saleroom just here at this side.
-Would you like to have a look inside?
'Currently there are 25 members of staff here
'working in tile production,
'and they produce around 1,000 tiles a day.
'Jennifer Keller has been with the factory for 13 years,
'and is going to show me how it's done.'
This is the dust bit, is it?
Absolutely, this has been dust pressed
-on the original Victorian machines.
And you can see here the pattern that's been put on,
which shows the back stamp where the tile was made.
So the smooth side, when they've been fired,
is brought into this area and we're going to decorate it.
'After the tile is made, an image is transferred onto it using charcoal.'
-It's like dot to dot.
-It is like a little dot to dot design,
and then the idea is that
we're going to follow those lines with the clay slip.
'The slip is liquid clay, which provides an outer wall
'for the design to stop colours running together.'
The idea is that you don't touch the tile, keep it lifted up in the air,
guide with one hand, squeeze with the other hand.
'It's not the easiest thing I've ever witnessed,
'but I'm a willing apprentice and I'm going to give it a go.'
I've got to join up?
Absolutely, try not to leave any gaps, and squeeze much harder.
-Harder, my gosh.
-That's it, no, you're fine, you're fine.
-That's not bad. That's great.
-You sound so surprised, Jennifer.
-I'm going to let you finish it off.
-OK, that's fine.
-You did really well.
-Thank you very much.
The speed is incredible at which you do this.
'Once the outline of the design has dried, the colours are applied.
'They look very different to the finished product.
'The liquid glaze is made from powdered glass mixed with
'metal oxides which give the colour, which are suspended in water.
'Copper oxide will turn green,
'and red iron oxide, or yellow ochre oxide, yellow.
'When the design is complete, the tile is fired in the kiln
'for two days at a temperature of 1,040 degrees.
'This melts the powdered glass and creates a chemical reaction with
'the metals in the dyes,
'and the dull hues transform into vibrant shades.'
Oh, look how much prettier they look!
These are some of the Art Nouveau designs,
and as you can see this one here is very similar...
-It's like magic.
-Absolutely, all the colours are exactly the same.
And this one here, as you can see, is going to become that one there.
Wow. Comes out looking very professional.
Absolutely, the kiln does marvellous things.
Mm-hm, I'm not sure mine will look quite so beautiful.
Well, I'm sure you'll be pleased with it when you get it.
Thank you so much! It's amazing, it's a real pleasure,
and I'm sure I'll be spotting tiles everywhere I look
-for the next few days.
-Oh, I hope so.
Travelling just over 35 miles south takes us to our second property,
in the village of Clunton.
It's almost 28 miles south-west of Shrewsbury
and about a mile east of the town of Clun.
Situated in the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
it boasts stunning vistas,
especially from the ruins of the Norman Clun Castle.
And it has a pretty town centre with an attractive mix of houses
and there's a traditional pub.
A three-minute drive and we're in Clunton,
at our second property,
which stands in the Arvon Centre -
26 acres of woodland once home to the late playwright John Osborne
and now a retreat for writers.
Down a long, windy road, or rather up a long, windy road
-into the hills and the forest to this.
-Very different offering.
-It is totally different.
It was an old coach house.
You can see the arches where they would drive the coaches in
-and also the stable.
So it's been converted by the present owners.
And unlike the one this morning, this is being run as a B&B.
-Oh, right. That's interesting.
So from the aspect,
-do you think it's somewhere you could imagine living?
I can imagine it would make a great bed and breakfast.
'We're starting off our tour in the rather large sitting room,
'with its fantastic views across the valley.'
What is your vibe as you walk in?
-Just the sort of thing we're looking for in a lounge.
And unlike the other property,
this has a separate sitting room for your guests.
-So this would be your family space.
'Just behind the sitting room, in the main body of the house,
'is the kitchen.'
So, a smaller offering than the last.
-Yes, it is a bit.
-It's very dark and small.
-It feels a bit more oppressive in here, doesn't it?
That's the only feeling.
It's more, sort of, segregated
in the sense that this would be your kitchen, where you cook,
-and your guests would be at the other end of the house.
-that's a positive thing.
But part of the reason we want to bring you here is to show you
-the B&B set-up upstairs...
-..which I think is more what you're looking for.
'On one side of the kitchen there's a utility room
'and on the other, the guest dining room.
'I can see Jacqueline and Martin taking it all in.
'Maybe upstairs will help them see things more clearly.
'There's a family bathroom,
'a double bedroom which is used by the owner as the master,
'two smaller rooms,
'and the next room along is a guest sitting room,
'with a rather attractive arched window.'
-Fabulous, yeah. I like that!
-This is a lovely, sunny aspect.
-Yes, I love it. Very nice.
This is currently what they use for the guests
and then through here is one of the guest rooms.
So there's a child's bedroom there
-and then this is
-the en-suite... OK.
-..top-dollar guest room.
-Yeah, it is.
-Yeah, terrific views again.
You've got two windows.
It shows great self-sacrifice on the present owners' part
-to give this to the guests!
-Well, let's go and have a look at the outside space...
..find out the price
-and then you can balance it all up.
'Well, there's no doubting the fact
'that this property is set up perfectly as a B&B.
'Let's see how the outside space fares.
'The double garage is currently being used as a games room
'but there's scope to develop it into more guest rooms
'or a sewing room.
'We're going to the patio garden at the rear of the house.'
-Oh, it's such a lovely spot!
It's not a huge garden.
It's actually just up to this wall
so it's really a small terraced garden,
and the land out the front, there,
-slopes down to the view over the valley.
-So very manageable.
-Very easy to maintain.
It's like a wooded valley, isn't it?
It's like you're surrounded by...
Looking at the outside, I think it would be a possibility
that you could put an extension on
-which would totally transform it.
In that case, we need to talk about budget.
Would you have the money to do that?
How much do you think this property is on the market for?
I would say 460.
-Well, in this instance you're both wrong.
-It is actually on at 470.
-Oh, OK. Oh, right.
-So a little bit over what you thought.
This Grade II listed coach house
is on the market at £30,000 under Jacqueline and Martin's budget
and it's all set up and ready to go as a B&B.
There are three guest bedrooms, and the layout downstairs
means privacy for the owners when welcoming guests.
And although the garden isn't as big as they'd like,
the house is set in a stunning estate with fabulous views.
I think we...
If we took a property like this,
we'd want to adjust quite a few things on it.
I think it would work very well as a bed and breakfast
but I don't think that it's a good home for us.
Just taking in the tranquillity of the place.
-Have you seen everything you need to see?
-Think we have, yeah.
-It's been a long day. Let's find a place to relax
-and mull over what you've seen.
-So, the first house seemed to go down better, I'd say.
I think they were really surprised
at how light and bright it was inside the property.
I think that's largely to do with the crooks, the full crook frame,
or crucks as they're sometimes called.
So a cruck frame goes from the very top of the property
down to the floor and it's multiple A-frames?
Cruck frames were used in big buildings in the medieval period,
so sort of substantial barns and things like that,
and they were a sign of prosperity.
Later on, they were replaced by simple box-frame structures
which were cheaper because they used less timber.
So it's quite a rarity to find a cruck-framed building
so if you come across one they are a big draw.
Well, unfortunately I didn't have a cruck frame up my sleeve but that's
not to say that my buyers weren't impressed with what I'd shown them.
Time to meet them again.
Music composer Pam has decided to leave the four-bedroom
detached chalet bungalow on the banks of the Wey Navigation Canal
in Addlestone, Surrey,
and has enlisted one of her four sisters, Jin,
to help her choose her next home.
Pam has a very busy life and makes the most of where she lives,
but in recent years she's seen a lot of changes.
The area is very frenetic, it's very busy.
The roads are very busy.
It's quite polluted as well, and I would like to be
somewhere where the air is a bit clearer and cleaner and just nicer.
But that's not the only reason for Pam's move.
Her two grown-up sons left home a long time ago, but the younger,
Sam, who lived just two miles away, has just emigrated
with his wife and two young children.
Because my son and his family have gone off to Australia,
that was one of the significant moments.
I've been thinking about moving for quite a few years, and I was just
waiting for the right moment, and I think the right moment's come.
And Pam decided on the location of her new home
in a rather unusual manner.
My daughter-in-law, she brought a magazine back from Shropshire,
cos her parents live in Shropshire,
and in the magazine were all these lovely houses you can buy
for something that I could afford to buy,
and I thought, "Wow, that looks pretty good,"
so I started to investigate.
And then I thought, "Well, let's have a go at moving to Shropshire."
It's an interesting and exciting time really, now, for us,
to see where she'll be next.
And she's looking forward to making the most of her new surroundings.
I want lovely scenery and beautiful rolling fields, so I can look
out the window and get inspiration, cos that's really important.
So, with her house on the market, her son gone and a head full
of plans, there's nothing stopping Pam moving on to the next
chapter in her active life.
I think I'm most excited about the move because it's the unknown,
and I love unknown.
I think it will be really good, for just inspiration
and starting just new things.
I don't think she's finished yet with new ideas.
-Oh, I'm not. No.
Pam's open to considering anywhere in Shropshire,
so the county is our oyster.
And before we start the search for Pam's new pad, I'm meeting
her and Jin in Shropshire to recap on exactly what it is that's
on her property wish-list.
Tell us a little bit more about the property that you're after.
Well, I'm after somewhere where I can
create an artistic environment for the community, inasmuch I would like
-to make a mini concert hall somewhere.
-How many in the audience?
-Between 30 and 50.
-I thought you said small.
I shall be selling tickets at the gate.
OK, so we need a building for that.
I'm presuming an outbuilding or likewise?
It can be anywhere on the property, it doesn't have to be attached,
it can be a separate building altogether, but something which will
-adapt itself to what I want.
-And you're happy to do a little bit of work, are you?
Now, what about the house itself?
Well, there are two rooms that are the most important rooms.
One would be the kitchen, because my family are very gregarious.
When we all get together, it's hilarity.
-And it's noisy.
-Yeah, it's noisy.
And we need space. And the second one is, I need a
dedicated room for my baby, which is my grand piano.
How many bedrooms?
Well, I'd like four, four or five,
one of which will be on the downstairs,
cos my mum, hopefully, will come and stay for periods of time.
-And how old is Mummy?
-And she's amazing.
And I'd like to have a really nice garden,
cos I love gardening, and I'm going to get a new dog when I move,
so there has to be space for the dog to run around.
And remind me of the budget we're working to.
Well, I've got £450,000 to spend.
We've got three splendid properties lined up,
ready to show you, so I think we should just get started.
-Yeah, let's do that.
-Let's get on with it.
-Yep. Come on, then.
Pam has a pretty generous budget for the area,
but her desires are lengthy.
She'd like a quirky property, something like a barn conversion,
with four or five bedrooms, with one downstairs
for when her mum comes to stay, and there needs to be a space big
enough to give a new home to her pride and joy, her grand piano.
She'd love a large kitchen-diner to accommodate her extended
family at gatherings, and is hoping for a room, annexe or
outbuilding, which could be used as a concert hall, to share her
love of music with friends, family and the community.
And when Pam moves, she's planning to get a four-legged friend,
so she'd like a good sized garden they can both enjoy.
We're beginning our journey round Shropshire
in the south-east of the county, in the hamlet of Underton,
around three miles from the historic market town of Bridgenorth.
Split into the high town and the low town by the River Severn,
Bridgenorth's pretty streets are lined with a good selection
of local business and eateries.
An eight-minute drive and we're back in rural Underton
at our first house.
Well, it looks really interesting.
You can see there are a collection of properties here.
Although we're out in the countryside, you're not on your own.
Yeah, that's perfect for me, because I don't want to be
stuck in the middle of nowhere with nobody to talk to.
-Shall we step inside?
-Let's do it.
This former barn is the only detached conversion in this
group of three homes,
something I'm sure the neighbours will be pleased of
if Pam moves here. She's planning to make quite a noise,
albeit a tuneful one.
So, as you come through the front door,
it's a bit drier in here, thank goodness.
-You've got this wonderful living space.
-I like it.
Very high ceilings, leading to this beautiful fitted kitchen.
Oh, this is a good kitchen
cos you can have a nice sitting area over there,
and you can talk to your friends as you're cooking. I mean...
-The whole of the house, really, for you?
-It is for me, yeah.
And everybody congregating in the kitchen, rather than anywhere else.
And there is somebody else in the family
we've got to think of and consider.
Let's see if you think she might like this.
-I'm talking about Mummy.
'This beautiful home has the five bedrooms Pam's hoping for,
'and there's one with an en-suite on the ground floor.'
So the good news is this barn has downstairs...
Oh, it's perfect for Mum. It's a real Mum room, this.
But is there a toilet attached?
Can actually do a little bit better than that. We can give you
-your own en suite.
-Cor, wasn't expecting that here.
'Well, that's Pam's mum sorted, but there's another very important
'family member to accommodate, too.'
So, as you can see, you've got a dining area here,
but it's upstairs I want to show you.
'I'm taking Pam and Jin to the top of the house.
'Most of the second floor is currently used as a living
'area, and there's a bedroom-cum-study at the other end.'
Oh, this is a fantastic room!
-Ooh! Yeah. Gosh!
What a wonderful space.
It is! Amazing area.
I'm thinking piano's up here.
-Well, it's possible. I'm just a bit worried about the stairs.
Well, luckily, if you just look to the side, there is
a stable door, so you could take the...
You could take, you could manage it, if you...
-You could get it here, could you?
So I don't know if I could quite get the 50 people that you wanted
to up here. However, you could have a lovely soiree, couldn't you?
On the first floor is a family bathroom, two bedrooms, both
at the front of the house, and lastly there's the master,
which also has access to the bathroom.
Oh! NICKI LAUGHS
-I like showing you houses!
-It's nice. It's really nice.
-This is a cosy room.
-It is, yeah. Really lovely.
-I like it.
I like the whole house, so far we've seen.
I know. I was hoping we might see something we didn't like, actually.
It just has such a nice... It does have a nice feel about it.
Have we surprised you with our first property so far?
Yeah, you have. Yeah.
It's just house one of three, and we've already got two happy
customers. Let's see what they make of the garden, somewhere Pam's
planning on spending plenty of time.
It's a lovely little space, isn't it?
I mean, you've got lots of lovely beds.
-You've even got a pond behind us as well.
-Got a pond, yes.
So, manageable size garden.
Yeah, this is perfect, really. Enough for the dog to run around in.
There must be something not quite right with this house.
It's almost too good to be true.
-Well, is it going to be the price?
Well, this is the big question.
What do you think this barn is on the market for?
I would say it's over my budget. I would say...
-Just over your budget.
Well, I think it's over budget too, but I was thinking more in the area
-of maybe 460.
-Oh, my goodness!
This fabulous detached barn is on the market just £5,000
under Pam's top budget,
and has the number of bedrooms she'd like, including
one downstairs with an en-suite,
ideal for when her mother visits.
It's also got a spacious kitchen-diner, big enough to
accommodate Pam's large family,
and most importantly, there are
options to give a home
to her beloved grand piano.
The great space on the second floor
would be perfect for a recital
or two, and the pretty garden has
enough scope for Pam to plant
to her heart's content.
Close to Shrewsbury and sitting in 4,000 acres of parkland
is Attingham Park,
a splendid Neo-Palladian mansion,
built almost 230 years ago
and owned by just one family for more than 160 years,
before being bequeathed to the National Trust in 1947.
Currently eight years into a conservation project,
the estate is managed by Mark Agnew.
Now this is one imposing building, isn't it?
What's the history of this house?
There used to be a house here called Tern Hall,
and the first Lord Berwick decided that wasn't good enough for him,
now that he was very successful and had been ennobled,
and he built Attingham wrapped around the original Tern Hall.
'This fine house greets around 370,000 visitors a year,
'which helps fund the ongoing conservation project on site.'
What are you concentrating on now?
Our big focus at the moment is repairing the roof,
replacing and putting a new roof in on the picture gallery.
Can I take a look today?
-Of course. Come inside and have a look.
This stunning property has over 80 rooms, and it's a lengthy,
and costly, process to keep them in their splendour.
The price tag is a cool £1.2 million a year,
just for the house and estate to be able to open its doors.
And one of the most resplendent rooms here is the imposing
picture gallery, with its glazed roof.
-Welcome to the picture gallery ceiling.
'But it's hard to see its beauty right now.'
Now, this is remarkable.
So all of this is glass?
Yep, it's individual panes of glass.
When it was first built over 200 years ago,
this roof may have looked spectacular, but it had
design flaws, due to its curved structure, meaning plenty of leaks.
Mark's hoping that the problems will be ironed out once and for all
with a new glass roof covering the existing one.
The joined panes of glass will be supported by steel beams,
floating above the existing roof and acting as a canopy to protect it.
The new roof will keep the water out, the old roof will
carry on being the wow factor when you walk into our picture gallery.
-Great. OK. One more floor, up we come.
-Up we go, yeah.
Above us there are up to 20 skilled workers at any one time,
painstakingly restoring this roof, not only to its former glory,
but with a shiny new addition,
weighing in at a hefty 20 tonnes.
How long, Mark, do you think this new roof will last for?
Well, we expect it will last about 100 to 200 years, but with
regular maintenance we expect we can make it last a lot longer than that.
It's finally going to be waterproof.
That's what we're hoping.
-Exciting times. Thank you so much.
-Thank you very much.
For our second property, we're travelling just under 29 miles
north-west, past Shrewsbury, to the small village of Kinton,
which is less than two miles from the larger village of Nesscliffe.
Nesscliffe is dotted with houses built from smart red brick
and sandstone, and there's a post office here, plus a family-run pub,
serving locally-sourced food, where Pam could get to know the locals.
A three-minute drive takes us away from Nesscliffe to Kinton.
Our second property is this handsome detached barn conversion.
-In front of us you've got the barn, which is about 250 years old.
To our right, you can see the extended buildings,
-still part of the barn. They've been converted.
If that wasn't enough, just behind us,
over our shoulder there, is another barn.
-And then, cos I like to give you just that little bit more, we have,
well, I would say it was a barn, but it seems to have lost
its roof over the years, but ripe for a little bit of love and care.
Yeah, it's a good space, isn't it? That's a good space...
-And some outbuildings.
-Wow. You've done well.
So let's step inside and I'll explain more as we go round.
We're starting our tour in a large, open-plan area.
There's the kitchen, which was a sheep-shearing storage area
in its day, and a dining room leading to a living room,
which has no clue to the bull who once lived here.
Is it a bit small?
It's only the lay out that makes it look small.
It's a bit like a railway station.
-There's a platform, and another platform.
Are we on the train? I'm not sure we are, are we?
-We haven't boarded, have we?
-We'll see where the journey ends.
-I'm not mad keen on the layout.
-No, but let's not be daunted with it.
No, let's just get the full view first.
-Full view. Overview.
So we haven't got off to a great start on our trip round this
barn, with its colourful history, but I'm not feeling defeated just
yet, as I've got a rather special room to show Pam and Jin.
A spectacular, semi-circular sitting room, with a fabulous vaulted
ceiling, which was once home to a mill and working horses.
-Gosh, this is a huge room.
-Isn't it just?
-What a nice shape.
-Dramatic is what it is.
You're not expecting this when you come out of the...
Not at all.
And you could fit your grand piano in, absolutely.
It could go anywhere, it could go in any place.
The acoustic is really good, yeah.
-Ooh, things are looking up.
Also on the ground floor are two bedrooms, both with doors to
There's no en suite for Pam's mother, but there is scope to
put one in.
Then moving upstairs, there's a family bathroom and three
including two doubles, both in the eaves,
and one with a skylight letting in plenty of light.
This part is the master en suite.
There's your en-suite shower room, bath.
Here is the master bedroom. Down a couple of steps.
Oh, this is a nice room, isn't it? Yeah, lovely.
-So you've got your own wing, in a way.
It's quite nice.
-Well, it's looking promising.
Yeah. More promising than when we were in the kitchen.
Well, this lovely home seems to have won back favour with both Pam
and Jin, so although the weather has changed, I'm glad that spirits
are still high, and I've got plenty more to show them.
So, you've seen this splendid property,
but when we walked in, I pointed out a barn on our right.
That barn has had planning permission already granted.
Now it has expired, but it was given to make it
-a three-bedroom dwelling.
Crikey, that's quite an asset on the end of your house.
That puts something else into the mix.
-That's really confused me now.
-And then behind me,
you also have this building,
so there's electricity and power in there, there's light.
It could be a music studio even. There's all sorts of possibilities.
-There is, isn't there?
So how about the garden space?
Well, the garden space is not as big as I would have wanted,
but it's big enough for a dog to wander around in.
We've got to put a price on this barn.
How much do you think it's on the market for?
Probably 4... 460.
I'm going to say 455. Still over budget, I think.
in actual fact, this barn is,
again, under budget.
Asking price is £439,000.
-Gosh, that does really surprise me.
This historic barn conversion, with its assortment of outbuildings,
is on the market at £11,000 under Pam's budget.
The kitchen may not be the large entertaining space that's so
important to her, but the home does give her the number of bedrooms
she would like, including one on the ground floor for her mother.
There's a wonderful space to house Pam's precious grand piano
and hold concerts, plus the various additional rooms and buildings
mean that, with a little work, there are plenty of options to
transform this property into more than a home.
Well, this house is really something very different, and it's got
so many possibilities, I'm actually a bit blown away by it all.
I feel a mixture of emotions really.
I feel quite daunted with the whole thing.
I also feel very excited with the whole thing.
A successful day?
-Really successful. Very interesting.
-Very successful and interesting.
-And more to show you tomorrow.
Oh, well... SHE CHUCKLES
Well, that is all going rather well.
-Were you feeling rather smug by this point, Nicki?
-Smug, what a good word.
I was, actually, because that barn was beautiful, even though
the planning permission had expired.
Because, of course, if you do apply,
you have about three years to do the work from the time it is granted.
If you haven't started the work, you've got to reapply again.
So, in Pam's case, she'd have to reapply
-but it would be OK because she had precedent.
-I would have said so, yes.
Right, back to my house hunt with Martin and Jacqueline,
with their half-a-million-pound budget.
I have to say I was crossing my fingers here
because the mystery house was a bit of a leap of faith.
Our final visit takes us 44 miles north-east to the town of Newport,
a 40-minute drive from Shrewsbury
and close to the Staffordshire border.
'Newport is a Britain In Bloom finalist
'and its centre offers locals a good selection of shops and eateries.
'Just on the outskirts of town and down a tree-lined drive
'is our third and final house.
'The mystery is revealed at first sight.'
-The mystery house is a church.
This, next door, is the old church,
-which was knocked down to build this one.
-Oh, right, looks very pretty.
Character, isn't it?
That's what screams at you when you first see it.
And I can see it on the front of your flyers for your B&B.
-It's certainly an unusual...
-It will certainly attract people.
-Let's look inside.
'This striking Grade II listed church dates back to 1800
'and was converted from a derelict shell,
'making use of many reclaimed materials.
'The ground floor is laid out in a rectangle, with an octagonal
'room at the back and a tower at the front, which is where we are
'entering the building and heading straight for the kitchen-diner.'
-It looks a labour of love, doesn't it?
-I like it.
It is very nice, very unusual.
There's some scope to make more use of the space, I think.
And there is a utility room and larder and pantry through there.
So more storage, all your white goods.
-Let's head towards the altar.
'Moving on from the kitchen of this beautiful church, there is
'a small bedroom-cum-study and a shower room on the opposite
'side of the house and we are entering the open-plan living area,
'which takes up the rest of the ground floor.'
-I love this room.
This is the centrepiece of the house, you can guess.
-It is absolutely stunning.
-So this would have been the altar.
When you sit in a church, the windows are high,
so you can't see out of them, so the problem with that, of course,
if you're living here, you don't get any views. So they stepped it up.
You can look out of these beautiful vaulted windows.
Making the most of the view.
Wow, it's just really impressive.
-It's just so different. But homely as well.
-So the decision you have to make is how to make it work as a B&B.
'This beautiful conversion gives Jacqueline
'and Martin the freedom to decide how they want to divide it as a B&B.
'The first floor is smaller than the ground, as it's square.
'There is a family bathroom with a feature window
'and a further three bedrooms - one single,
'and an en-suite double.
'And at the front of the house is the master bedroom.'
-It's lovely. Beautiful.
-Big and spacious.
-It is, yeah.
-South-facing window and it has an en-suite which is in the tower.
-It's wonderfully done.
'I think it would be hard not to be wowed by this property
'and I'm sure it would hold great appeal for guests.
'Outside, the landscaped gardens are a striking contrast to the
'imposing red sandstone of the church.'
-What do you think?
-Very nice layout, it's very tasteful.
-It's beautifully kept.
There's also this very big garage space here, which is huge
and it could easily be turned into a workroom for you, or even converted.
-So, a good vibe?
-A very good vibe.
I'm just a bit lost for words. Staggered.
Can I drag a few more words about the price out of you?
-I'm going to go for 495, Alistair.
-A little bit below at 485.
Well, it is actually right at the top of your budget, 499,995.
-So there's obviously space for a bit of negotiation.
I think that sounds reasonable.
-For a B&B, there's plenty to market, isn't there?
-It's so unique.
This listed converted church is only £5 under Jacqueline
and Martin's budget, but there's always room for negotiation and it
would make a great marketing tool to attract guests if it became a B&B.
It has just enough bedrooms for them and guests
and a garage that would be the perfect space
for Jacqueline's sewing room.
And the gardens may not be extensive,
but they are striking and easy to look after.
It is very different to everything we've seen so far.
I think it would make a great bed and breakfast, very unusual inside.
I just think it's such a unique opportunity to move outside
the box, it's just unbelievable.
OK, so that's the mystery house done.
-All three properties seen.
So let's go and find a place to have a cup of tea
and then we can pick your brains about how it's been for you.
-Plenty of food for thought.
Let's cut to the chase.
I want to know which of the houses is a contender.
Well, every house was such a contrast.
I think the last one is the most impressionable. For me, anyway.
Yes, it was the mystery house. Definitely.
Ah. What was it that finally swayed you on that?
I was overwhelmed by, obviously, such the uniqueness of it,
and I just feel what a unique opportunity to live in such a...
stunning environment, really.
I think it'll be great for a bed and breakfast.
That's music to our ears.
Have you found the whole experience has sort of geed you up?
-Very much so.
I mean, I'm fired up now to start planning
what I would do, potentially, if we did put a bid in for that property,
what rooms we could do and what we could utilise the space for.
So it's given me a feeling like I'm excited that way to start a project.
Well, I really hope that Shropshire provides pastures fresh for you.
-I hope so as well.
-And great if it was the mystery house,
but do keep us in the loop.
We will. We really enjoyed it. It's been a really good experience.
-OK, thank you very much.
So the mystery house made the biggest impression, then.
Church conversions, they are an interesting position
-and there are certainly lots of them about.
thanks to the Victorians, who seemed to build
so many in the 19th century.
Although this is an interesting fact - legally you are not
-allowed to convert any church before 1969, when the law changed.
-Now there are hundreds, thousands probably.
But if you do see a disused church and you want to convert it
into a family home, you've obviously got to get
the local authority planning permission is sorted
but also you've got to look at the church organisation as well because
some of them have to give you permission before you can proceed.
We'll find out what Jacqueline and Martin thought
about the mystery house in just a moment.
But let's get back to my search with the wonderful Pam.
She was after the perfect rural retreat for £450,000.
For our third and final visit, we're journeying 34.5 miles
south-west, deep into the heart of
the Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
to the rural hamlet of Whitcott Keysett,
which is just under two and a half miles from the small town of Clun.
Clun, which gets its name from the river that runs through it,
was once described by the poet
AE Housman as the quietest place under the sun.
A six-minute drive takes us to the sleepy hamlet of Whitcott Keysett
and our mystery house, a recently converted 18th century cow shed.
Oh, what a lovely place.
It's a little bit special, isn't it?
It is a bit special, it's a lot special.
And this is our mystery house.
Any idea why this is the mystery house?
Well, I'm thinking about this behind.
Could this have something to do with it?
Oh, my goodness, I didn't even realise that was there.
-A rather large barn behind us.
Because with our mystery house, not only do you have a splendid
home, but there is also scope...
-..to have that little something extra...
-..right on your doorstep.
-Absolutely right. Crikey.
This unusual home is built from stone
with wood cladding covering the majority of its exterior.
So, like the owners, come through the back door.
-Right, OK. Bright and cheerful.
-And it leads straight into
this, I think, rather large kitchen.
Mmm. Large-ish. OK.
-I might be wrong.
I might be wrong, but I'm not feeling quite love.
-Just needed to be a little bit bigger, maybe.
I'm just thinking about where we would eat.
You could take that away,
-because I've got something else to show you next door.
Oh, this is a lovely room, isn't it?
-I like this one.
-It's big, big space.
Pretty impressive, and what do big spaces need?
-Yeah. Really nice.
My slight concern would be where are your guests going to sit?
-Because this is the main sitting room.
Well, is there anything else they can sit in, further along?
-You want this as your music room.
Well, it would be a nice music room, but if there are other options,
we could have the music room somewhere else.
-Well, it would be an amazing...
-Like over there.
-That's what we're thinking.
And also on the ground floor is a bedroom with an adjacent
shower room, suitable for Pam's mother.
So up a couple of stairs... you've one bedroom up here.
Lots of natural light, and then another bedroom just here.
They're not the widest of bedrooms. They call them cattle bays
because that's exactly what they were.
'And up a few more stairs...'
You've got a study/dressing room on that side.
Family bathroom on this side, which leads
-into the master bedroom.
Oh, it's a nice, cosy room.
I think it would be fair to say with this property,
-the bedrooms are more functioning.
You know, the space has actually gone into the kitchen
and also that wonderful huge sort of sitting room.
Yeah, that's true, it's true.
The kitchen and bedrooms in this house might not be the size
Pam was hoping for, but this is the mystery house and, unlike the
previous two homes, the house is not the star here.
It's the cavernous stone barn outside.
It may require rather more work than Pam was hoping for, but it's
a blank canvas just waiting for her to bring her visions to life.
-Mind your head!
-Oh, look at this!
Wow! It is quite something. Just look at the roof.
I mean, just look at these struts and all these beams.
You could do something with this.
-It would make a very nice, small theatre, wouldn't it?
-It's exactly what I had in mind...
-..to actually convert
into my mini concert hall.
The house and barn sit in a beautiful country garden,
with bursts of colour provided by flowers and a variety of
fruit and vegetables growing here, too,
all with a spectacular outlook.
-Beautiful, isn't it?
-Isn't it gorgeous?
-Really is nice.
-Enough land for you?
-Yeah. About right, this is.
So what do we think it's currently on the market for?
I think it's probably on for about 399.
That's interesting. Jin?
I think it's more likely to be about 430.
I'm hoping you're going to be pleasantly surprised,
because the asking price is
-Just not very good at guessing.
This property may have begun its days as a lowly cow shed, but it's
grown into somewhere I hope that Pam
could well imagine calling home.
And although in our mystery house
the stone barn is the main focus,
and it might need a bit more work
than she was planning
to transform it into a concert hall,
at a staggering £80,500 under budget,
there's plenty of cash to play with.
The kitchen may not be huge, but the large room next door is perfect
for entertaining Pam's extended family.
There are four bedrooms, including
a ground floor room for her mum,
with a shower room next door.
And the garden, with its far-reaching views,
would allow Pam to make the most of
the stunning Shropshire countryside.
-Oh, this is a nice room.
-I like this.
You could get two grandchildren in here without too much of a do.
Oh, they'd love it. Kids would love this space.
Well, I'm a bit confused about this property.
The barn is definitely the one I think is going to be fantastic,
but I'm not so...100% on the house.
-How are we, ladies?
Have we confused you?
Never thought you'd find three properties with all
the things on my wish list. Extraordinary.
-So we've now got quite a lot to discuss, haven't we?
Made it harder now, cos you've really done the business.
-Let's go and have a chat. Come on.
It's been an interesting few days, hasn't it?
I'm not really sure which way you're going to go.
Well, property number one, that was an absolutely stunning property.
And that, to me, summed up all the things that I want in my home.
Property number two was a difficult property,
-in that there was so much of it.
-And property three -
the barn, fantastic. House, not so wonderful.
So out of everything we showed you, it sounds like our first property
suited you the best, but could you see yourself living there?
I could see myself living in that house. I just have to do a little bit
-more researching about the area. It's quite daunting, actually.
This move is a huge leap of faith,
-it is diving into the unknown.
-What was going through my mind was,
at the beginning Pam was so absolutely sure that this was the
right place, and she was full of enthusiasm and she was going to go
100% to it, and I was just thinking, "Whoa a minute."
-I think it is time for a bit of a reality check.
It's cos I'm not really sure,
I'm not sure in my head, in my heart, whether that is...
-whether Shropshire is the right place for me.
If I'm completely, brutally honest about the whole thing.
-And I think you have to be.
-Well, whatever happens,
-you're going to be happy, I know you are.
-Oh, I will be.
decide to go. Jin, thank you so much for all your support,
invaluable support. It's been a delight, ladies.
-Thank you so much.
-And we've loved being with you too.
-It's been a pleasure. A real pleasure.
-All the best for
-the future to both of you.
-Thank you very much.
-Well, that was an unexpected conclusion.
And that's what this whole process is all about, isn't it?
Sometimes it's finding people the perfect property,
sometimes it's showing them the search area they should be
looking at, or perhaps it's questioning why they want to move.
I think with Pam, she was really surprised by the outcome as well.
It didn't dawn on her until we'd finished the whole process.
She's decided to stay in Surrey for now
and she's put relocation on hold for the time being.
Well, good luck to her.
And actually Martin and Jacqueline didn't go back
and look at the mystery house.
They did continue looking in Shropshire, though,
and then, after all that, they decided they'd fallen in love
with a property just a quarter of a mile
-from where they already live.
They are now the proud owners of a B&B in Lancashire
and they're going to be opening their doors this year.
Exciting times for them.
Well, I hope you've enjoyed our focus in Shropshire,
and join us again for some more country escapes.
If you'd like to escape to the country,
in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland,
and would like our help, please apply online at...
Alistair Appleton and Nicki Chapman look back on the house hunts of two couples who were searching for dream rural homes in Shropshire. Alistair also visits the oldest surviving purpose-built factory in the world, and Nicki calls in at a stately home that is raising the roof.