Property series. Nicki Chapman and Jules Hudson showcase rural Worcestershire in a special episode looking back on the journeys of two couples.
Browse content similar to Worcestershire. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
Welcome to a special Escape To The Country.
Today Jules and I will be reflecting on our time spent showing two
sets of buyers property highlights in one region.
And as we immerse ourselves in our rural hotspot
we will be giving you plenty of advice and tips along the way about
buying property in this particular patch.
Our chosen area's bisected by the UK's longest river.
So where are we going to be? We will reveal all in a moment.
Today we're revisiting two separate property searches.
My house-hunters were in for a big surprise.
-It's the thatch.
And found expectations were turned on their heads.
-It's upside down.
-It's upside down.
While my buyers were getting ahead of themselves.
My first impression is Christmas tree. I do love Christmas.
You're moving in already!
-And they got distracted by the local landscape.
-This is just fabulous, isn't it?
-I just can't believe the view. It's to die for.
Well, if you picked up on that clue,
Britain's longest river is of course, the Severn,
and it cuts rather neatly right through the heart
of today's chosen county, which is Worcestershire.
Now I didn't know Worcestershire very well, Jules. But I have been won over.
It is stunning.
You've got wonderful villages and towns
and the Malvern Hills as a backdrop.
It is beautiful British countryside at its best.
Well, they certainly inspired Elgar.
The other thing I love about the county is that it is
so centrally located within the British Isles which means the rest of the UK
is also readily accessible as well.
It also offers a fantastic rural lifestyle,
with plenty more going on at its heart.
Worcestershire is bordered by six counties including Warwickshire,
Shropshire, and the Metropolitan Borough of the West Midlands.
Worcester is both the city and the county town.
And its imposing cathedral dates from the 11th century.
On the western fringes of the county, sit the Malvern Hills.
The hills are ever popular with walkers, and from the top, there
are impressive views across the Vale of Evesham towards the Cotswolds.
To the east of the county, the Cotswold Hills rise
up from the Vale of Evesham and feature the village of Broadway,
which is regarded as one of England's prettiest.
Bewdley, in the north of the county, has been described as
the most perfect Georgian town in Worcestershire.
It features a Grade I listed bridge crossing the River Severn
built by famous engineer Thomas Telford.
Bewdley is surrounded by the Wyre Forest, the third largest area of ancient woodland in England.
With Worcestershire offering such a rich variety of countryside
and architectural heritage,
it's not hard to see why this region is such a draw.
I've had good experiences house-hunting in Worcestershire.
Of course, it does offer great value for money.
The average price of a house there is £273,000.
So, that's, what, 6,000 below the national average?
It isn't bad, is it? Particularly when you consider that if
you hopped over the border into neighbouring Gloucestershire, there you could pay
another 15% more for exactly the same kind of property.
And, of course, Worcestershire gives you brilliant transport links into the city of Birmingham.
And that location makes it
so much easier to get to most of the UK from, doesn't it?
And once you're there, the Malvern Hills, my goodness, what a spot.
If you're into your hiking you couldn't go anywhere better.
And let's not forget the Cotswolds.
And that gorgeous village of Broadway.
Plus the area's rich industrial past.
I'm thinking of the Droitwich Canals, which after 70 years of decay have just been restored.
And our passion for the county was shared by my buyers,
who were desperate to leave London behind for a quieter life in the country.
Telecoms operation manager Alan and his wife, Dawn, have lived in
Chislehurst, a suburb of south-east London, for the past 11 years.
Dawn used to be a hairdresser and ran a chain of salons,
but she is currently enjoying a very successful career change.
I'm in the process of getting out of being a salon owner -
I've sold the last one.
About a year or two ago now I wrote my first novel,
in the adult romance genre.
And it was published.
It was incredibly successful.
Dawn and Alan had decided that they want to move to Worcestershire.
Having done a lot of research over the last two years,
we've decided that Worcestershire offers us, for our budget,
and for all the house requirements that we want,
the ideal location.
And there's another member of the family whose needs have to be
considered - their beloved King Charles Spaniel Ted.
He's got a local park that he loves
but, unfortunately, to get there we have to take him in the car.
The idea of moving to the countryside is to be able to
open the door and take him out the front door.
Alan and Dawn are optimistic about their change of pace.
I get up very early in the morning and quite often I'll go outside
and you hear the birds and it's so quiet, you know,
at, sort of, five in the morning.
It feels like you've got the whole world to yourself and I'm looking
forward to having that not just at five o'clock in the morning.
Alan and Dawn don't have a specific
area of Worcestershire that they prefer.
So that means we're free to entice them with some of the most
picturesque areas of the county.
Before we kick off the search for their ideal writing
and relaxation retreat, I'm meeting them
in Worcestershire to hear the detail of their planned move.
Dawn and Alan, great to meet you
and I have to say, welcome to Worcestershire.
-Why is the time right to make the move?
-I think the time's right.
First of all, if you look around you where we are standing here now,
-it's absolutely gorgeous...
..scenic, quiet and we have worked in London for a long time.
Some would call it the rat race
and maybe it's time to escape that a little bit.
-But, Dawn, you are a rural newbie, aren't you?
-New career as a successful writer.
They're quite saucy, aren't they?
-So what are you looking for with the actual house, itself?
I think we've got a fairly open mind.
We've said we would like three bedrooms, minimum,
and I would like a large kitchen.
And for you, Alan?
I'd like a nice garden
because I'm very keen to rediscover the gardening element.
I'd quite like to be in a village environment or, certainly,
close to that, again, for the practicalities in life.
-Remind us of your budget that we're working with?
Well, we do have three splendid properties lined up
to show you and, possibly, we find you your future home.
-Yeah, Alan, are you ready as well?
-Come on, let's go.
Alan and Dawn have a healthy budget of up to £375,000.
They hope this will allow them
to buy a detached property with a spacious garden.
Dawn will be continuing to write, so a study space would be ideal
and they both have plans to be an active part of the local
community, so want to be
in close proximity to a village.
For Dawn and Alan, a detached house is a key consideration
and we've chosen three very different houses that offer
a variety of options.
When they view each house, they'll have no idea of the price -
that information will only be revealed
once they've completed their tour.
The final property will be the Mystery House,
which will offer a quirky twist on their original demands,
but will it be the one that they'll embrace?
Our first property is in the picturesque village of Wick,
11 miles from Worcester.
Many of its 200 houses are classic Tudor properties
and the village is dominated by Wick Manor,
once owned by Henry VIII's last wife Catherine Parr.
Built in the 1500s,
the Grade II listed property I'm about to show Alan
and Dawn is believed to be one of the original houses in the village.
So first house in Worcestershire and, actually,
if you take a step back,
-this is it.
I did not expect that at all and it's beautiful.
How often does a house have to be rethatched?
It's normally between 30 and 45 years.
-Oh, as long as that?
-Yeah, so you've got as long as that,
as long as you keep it in good condition. Alan?
I have the normal, probably, manly concerns about maintenance.
This one, it looks all in very good order
-and so, as a building, it looks gorgeous.
-You're surprised, aren't you?
I'm really shocked, actually.
-I guess you're keen to take a little look around.
Come on, then.
We're off to an excellent start with both Alan and Dawn
appreciating the thatched charm of the cottage.
From the entrance hall, the sitting room can be reached either directly
through a door to the right, or via a conservatory
with marble flagstone flooring.
So I thought we'd start off with the sitting room.
Come on in, have a good look around.
That slightly curved wall would have been the original
outside of the property.
That's part of the character of an old property,
where it's slightly bowed.
And you'll notice as we came through that hallway,
it's actually been extended.
So on the other side, you've got a dining room there,
you've got storage.
So what do you think?
-It's very pretty.
-It is very pretty, very cosy.
You've actually brought us to something we didn't think about
-because of the thatch, the Grade II listing.
However, being in it, it's actually quite spacious.
-It's very nice, it really is nice.
The one part that I really do love is the flooring,
which seems to go all the way through it.
Yes, you've got marble flooring, very easy to keep clean.
So let's keep exploring.
To the left of the sitting room, a second living room provides
ample space for entertaining and this leads into
the clean and modern kitchen.
So, in a way, you sort of do a circle with this property
-and it leads us to our kitchen.
-It looks pretty new.
It does, it's a very nice kitchen, actually, yeah.
Are you surprised at the size?
-Really pleasantly surprised with this one.
It sounds like our buyers are already booking the movers
but they've still to see upstairs.
The upstairs sort of weaves the
corridor until you get to the very end
where this is the master bedroom
with huge storage wardrobes behind us.
There is, isn't there?
Really impressed with, throughout the whole house, the wood.
It's certainly been done by someone who knows what they're doing.
-You've surpassed yourself on this one.
Immediately adjacent to the bedroom, though not en suite,
lies the only bathroom.
There are three other bedrooms on this level,
a double and two singles.
All are bright and airy with unimpeded views
over the attractive Worcestershire countryside.
Let's head outside
because we've still got to talk about the all-important garden.
Alan, please lead the way.
The rear garden has three distinct areas.
A lawn with raised beds for flowers or vegetables,
a patio area for dining
and a more formal garden with a hedge, shrubs and trees.
You wanted to reignite your passion for gardening.
Yes, I think what they've done here is,
there's lots of beds to put different things.
The landscaped bit up there is beautiful
-and lovely plants up there.
Adjacent to the garden is an off-street parking area
and a single-car garage.
We've got to put a price on this,
what do we think the asking price is?
-I would say 375.
I think that you're possibly just trying to stretch us a bit.
-I'm going to say 380.
The asking price is £400,000.
-I'm not entirely surprised.
-No, not at all.
I think it's a lot for the money.
£25,000 over budget, but, with
the owners open to negotiation,
our first property is a Grade II
listed thatched cottage
with four bedrooms.
It's well maintained and comes with
two reception rooms, as well as a
dining room, conservatory
and there are impressive rural views
from the first floor.
I love house number one.
If it was purely my decision, I'd probably put an offer in.
I think that was a bit of a shock coming to the house
and seeing the thatch and the Grade II listing.
I still need to do a little bit of investigation to make sure
that it doesn't need the maintenance
that I believe that it does at this stage.
Well, there you have it, our first property here in Worcestershire.
-Very good start.
I think very positive.
-I think we surprised you with that one, didn't we?
-Very much so.
-Definitely very impressed with that.
-I've got more to show you now.
One of the most peaceful ways to enjoy the rolling hills
of Worcestershire is on horseback.
So it's no surprise equestrian pursuits are popular here.
What is unexpected is the rise in popularity of the side-saddle.
This method of riding fell out of fashion in the 1920s
but, with the trend for vintage clothing and the popularity
of period dramas, the side-saddle is making a comeback,
pioneered by the few craftsmen who have the skills to create
these bespoke pieces of equipment.
-Good to meet you.
-Come on in.
Master saddler Rob Jenkins, based at the foot of the Malvern Hills
is reputed to be one of the best.
So you've got the conventional saddle that I know and love,
but I'm really excited to talk to you, actually,
How long have you been making them?
Side-saddles, I suppose, have been
part of my workload for, maybe, 15 years.
So, Rob, this is, in a way, the bones, the spine of the saddle.
It's called the tree,
it has an extra piece of wood on the front here, which is designed for the
lady's leg to come round so she can sit with both legs on one side.
Having never tried side-saddle, I'm very keen to have a go.
-Do you think I'll be able to?
-I think you can.
I'm a confident and regular rider,
but riding sideways sounds difficult
and I expect to have much less control over the horse
but, then again, I won't be in the very impressive
full competition regalia.
Lovely, I mean, they make it look so easy.
You should be able to ride the horse exactly as you would
do astride and the horse should respond in exactly the same way.
You need to carry a cane in your right hand, which basically
replaces your right leg.
Well, I've seen how the experts do it and now it's my turn,
but I have my doubts that I can replicate their elegance.
One, two, three.
Not the most glamorous of starts.
So what do we do next?
Very gently, when you're ready, bring your right leg across
so that you're sat with the leg down this side.
Lovely and I'll take the crop, if that's all right? Thank you.
So the first thing to do, really, is to have a little walk.
The one thing you should always be thinking is to keep your right
shoulder back, so that you're always sat square.
I'm already feeling a little bit comfortable,
I'm amazed, I've only been on him for a couple of seconds.
'OK, let's pick up the pace a bit.'
Well done, good boy.
That's it, shoulders back, look up.
That's it, toe down.
Come on. OK, I'm going to canter.
I'm being left behind, but the saddle feels amazing.
Come on, come on!
-How was that, Rob?
-That was pretty good for a first go.
-That was fantastic.
-Very impressive, actually.
Do you know what, it was all down to Sam.
-Thank you very much, I think I'm a convert.
For our next house, we're travelling to the spa town of Malvern,
15 miles east of Wick.
Malvern was founded in the 11th-century,
when monks established a priory at the foot of the hills.
Our property is on the very edge of Malvern,
close to a rural nature reserve.
So quite an unusual entrance down this gravel path and it leads us
-to our second property.
-It's certainly hidden.
Yes, you wouldn't know it was here from the road, would you?
-Not at all.
-It's definitely a sweet little hidden house.
Yes, it is. Now, I'm going to be honest,
this property doesn't have a garage and it doesn't have a drive.
-That is the main way in and out of this cottage.
So what do you think standing here, taking a look?
-It looks quite quaint.
-It's not as pretty as the thatched cottage,
-but it's charming, isn't it?
-Yes, it does have a charming feel.
-Shall we take a look?
-Looking forward to it.
The house is 300 years old and was originally two separate cottages.
Immediately to the right of the entrance hall is a modern
living room with a brick fire place and flagstone hearth.
So you've got a well-worn hallway there, you can
see by the tiles how old this house is.
I've walked you straight into the sitting room.
-It's a nice-sized room.
-More cottage size.
-I quite like it so far, yes.
-Do you? Good.
And the windows, large windows, does give it a lot of light.
But it is quirky as you walk around.
Being two cottages made back into a house,
-the geography is a little bit different.
-Not too low for you?
-Not for me.
-I didn't look at you, then, did you notice?
-Yeah, I noticed.
-You don't mind?
You don't mind. OK, let's keep going.
The property has a kitchen/dining room which
lies behind the living room and is reached via a small inner hallway.
We've got a little anteroom here.
A good bit of storage but then it leads to, well, quite
a generous-sized kitchen.
It's lovely, it's a really nice kitchen.
Well fitted-out and the big range there for the cooking.
With window seat, dining table.
The ground floor also features
a utility room with a guest cloakroom.
So, unusually, the master bedroom...
But the current owners had it downstairs.
Would you use it or would you be inclined to go up?
Having not seen upstairs, but my natural inclination
would be to go up.
Yeah, I think so, as well.
The house has three further bedrooms on the top floor,
However, occupants of all three bedrooms
will need to come downstairs to use the spacious tiled
family bathroom, next to the master bedroom.
People often say, when they step inside, you just get that gut feel.
Is it a home that you could live in or not?
I wonder what's going through your minds.
I think it's a beautiful house, I couldn't see myself living here.
I think missing the driveway just tilted it over the edge a bit.
Yeah. Well, let's head back outside and take a look at the garden
which is at the front of the property
-and there's one more gem that I want to show you.
Though there's a distinct lack of excitement around this property,
I'm hoping that the south-facing
garden will rekindle their enthusiasm.
It features mature shrub and flower beds, as well as two storage sheds.
This part of the garden is on a slight gradient going down.
Right in the corner, that I had earmarked for you,
was your writing workshop.
When it comes to the garden, Alan, is there enough for you here?
Not really, I think it's just a little bit enclosed
and there's too many buildings rather than space.
Well, let's see what we think of the price.
I think it's a lovely property,
but I do think that the access issue may well affect the price.
So I'm going to say round about 360.
I'd actually go a little bit lower, and say 350.
The asking price is £349,950.
For someone that, perhaps, didn't
-have a car, it would be fabulous.
Our second house is at the bottom
of Alan and Dawn's target price range.
The 300-year-old period cottage has been
created out of two separate properties.
It features four bedrooms and beautifully landscaped gardens,
but the lack of driveway may prove an insurmountable
problem for our buyers.
I think house number two is a very nice house, well done out inside.
Unfortunately, for us, the deal-breaker may well be
the access and the no driveway.
I don't think I've quite won you over, have I, with this property.
-Change of minds?
But it has its merits, doesn't it?
-It's certainly a good house.
-That's it for today.
-We've had a positive day.
-We have, yes.
-You can relax now, more to show you tomorrow.
So property one went down better, Nicki.
It did, but Alan really struggled with the fact it was thatch.
So many people do and I'm often quite disappointed
because it shouldn't worry people.
The big issue for many is, of course, insurance,
but there are specialist insurers
who will do it for you and will make the premiums a little bit easier.
Absolutely, and, as I said, in good condition, a thatch
should last you between 30 and 40 years. I mean, that's a long time.
You've just got to keep on top of it.
Let's face it, Nicki, any property worth its salt is going
-to require some annual investments...
..so it shouldn't really be a massive problem.
But what about my buyers?
Was thatch going to be a thorn in the side for them?
Well, there's only one way to find out,
let's remind ourselves of who they were and what they were after.
In stark contrast to Worcestershire's rural
landscape is the commuter town of Hornchurch, in Essex, which is
where retired couple Jean and Michael have lived in a
two-bedroom first-floor maisonette for the last 20 years.
Jean is a former police officer
and Michael was a civilian driver for Metropolitan police.
They've been married for 23 years.
Now retired, they're free to make the break from Hornchurch,
an area Jean has lived in for 30 years.
Hornchurch has changed a lot since I first moved here.
It was very much almost village-y. There was lots of little shops
and, unfortunately, in recent years there's more bars, clubs opening up.
It's not just the town that no longer serves their needs,
their current home also has its drawbacks.
I love the flat, but the stairs are getting us down now.
The garden is far too big for us to look after.
It's not impossible now because we're still reasonably fit,
but we do know that in a few years' time that's not going to be so easy.
So that's really why we want to move.
They've chosen Worcestershire as Jean remembers it
fondly from her childhood.
I can remember going camping there when I was a little girl
with the Girl Guides.
It's a beautiful county, it really is.
But after spending most of their lives in an urban setting,
they're under no illusions as to what's at stake.
The move is going to be quite challenging, really.
I'm excited, but I'm also very, very nervous.
As I say, I've been here 30 years.
I do think it's got to be better for us, I really do.
Jean and Michael are open-minded about where
they want their new house to be.
So to make their budget go that bit further,
we'll widen our search into neighbouring Herefordshire.
But I'm meeting up with them
in Worcestershire to go over their property wish list.
Well, Jean, Michael, welcome to Worcestershire. Why now, Michael?
Well, we're not getting any younger
and where we're living in a first-floor flat, it's the stairs.
So we want somewhere that isn't reliant on stairs.
But, obviously, lots of properties have a second floor,
would that, in itself, be OK?
No, as long as there was a downstairs cloakroom,
so we weren't constantly up and down the stairs, then that would be fine.
In terms of space, what does your new home need to have in it, Jean?
We certainly don't want anything less than what we're already got.
At the moment we've got two double bedrooms, both with built-in
wardrobes, so there's a good amount of storage.
We've got a lounge and a separate dining room,
but we'd be prepared to give up the dining room
if the kitchen was large enough to have a table and chairs in there.
Now, I'm very touched, as well, by
the fact that poor old Michael here, who loves a bath,
doesn't have a bath anymore.
The bathroom is so small, it's about six foot square
and we thought, well, if we take the bath out and put a shower in...
But you don't realise how much you miss a bath
until you haven't got one.
-All those aches and pains to soak away.
LAUGHTER What are we after in terms of style?
I don't think we've got a specific idea of what we do want,
it's more what we don't want.
We don't want a project and we don't want the chocolate-box thatch,
we don't want the beams and small rooms.
How much are we planning to spend, then, Michael?
We've got 350,000.
Well, I'm pretty optimistic about your £350,000
for your two-bed, maybe three, rural dream.
-So let's get going.
-Shall we? Follow me.
Jean and Michael have £350,000 to spend on their new country home.
They would like a house with a kitchen/diner, not too many stairs,
a minimum of two double bedrooms and a bathroom, so Michael can,
at last, enjoy a bath.
They need a downstairs cloakroom and, as they enjoy the fresh air,
would like a small garden with
a patio for entertaining friends.
We're starting our property search in the hamlet of Acton Green,
which is just over the border into Herefordshire.
Bishops Frome is one of the closest villages for amenities.
The hamlet of Acton Green is a ten-minute drive away.
Surrounded by small coppices and farmland is our first offering.
So this is it, property number one.
-There you go. Michael?
-Yes, it's very nice.
It's quite pretty, really, isn't it?
It's very pretty.
It's got this lovely mixture of stone, classic oak timber-framing,
as you can see, what houses in this part of the world are known for.
It dates from around 1600, this one.
Oh, that is old!
Come and have a look, then.
Although it dates back 400 years, the inside of what was
once an old schoolhouse has been renovated recently, so should
give our buyers that "modern with character" feel they're after.
Come in, Jean. Wipe your feet and grab the door.
What do you think, Michael?
It's very small, at first thought.
Yes, it's very small compared to what we've got
but it depends what else there is.
-I mean, this is really you being cosy, the pair of you.
At the moment the property is not really lived in,
it's part furnished, so you have to imagine it with a bit more dressing
and a bit more homeliness, I suppose.
Happy? BOTH: Yes. Yes, I can see there's a slight...
With reservations, I've still got to see what else there is
-before you can say.
-Come on, then.
This is the kitchen/diner, which, hopefully,
will allay any worries you have.
-It's still quite compact, isn't it?
-It's a bit small.
I mean, it's got a lot of stuff in it, to be fair.
That dresser is soaking up space and light.
-If you had a more oblong table...
-Yeah, that would work better
..running that way, it would give
you that sense of separation and a
bit more working space over there, perhaps.
-Oh, dear, so space...
-..is the thing?
The size of this charming cottage might be a concern
but it does benefit from a more modern
extension beyond the kitchen,
which features a generous utility area and a downstairs guest
suite, adding more space to the original fabric of the building.
-So shower room in there.
-That's a nice little sink.
-This is the extension.
-You'd get a double bed in, wouldn't you?
-I think so.
-I think for visiting guests.
-Yeah, it's a nice little room.
If you did want it as a, you know, separate study area,
if you weren't that fussed about having it as a bedroom,
again, it takes the pressure off
-what you use the other rooms for...
-..the kitchen and the living room.
-Yeah, lots of options. Upstairs are two bedrooms.
-Shall we have a look at those?
Those upstairs bedrooms are also both good-sized spaces,
with the added bonus of exposed beams.
Plus, there's a three-piece half-tiled family bathroom.
And then, finally, this is yours.
Oh, it's a little bigger, isn't it?
Yeah, biggest of the lot.
You've got this lovely vaulted ceiling, dual aspect.
-It's not what I'm looking for.
-It's too small.
Yeah, I think so.
Perhaps the next thing is to talk about the price, then,
because that may have a bearing on it.
-It will certainly give you an idea of what's on offer here.
And I think that's what could be exciting.
So let's go down to the garden, get some fresh air... BOTH: OK.
..and talk about numbers.
In the garden, there's a pretty patio and seating area, to the front
of the property which is enclosed by mature shrubs and hedging.
Directly opposite the house, over the driveway, there's more
outside space with a vegetable patch.
-Oh, look, sunnier now! This is all good.
I'm hoping that the sunshine is going to help
-the feeling about what we have about this place.
-Do you think?
You never know. Well, the price might.
£350,000 is your maximum spend including everything.
So, Michael, what's property one on the market for?
-I think it's about 280,000.
I think it's a little bit more, 300.
It's on the market at £289,950.
-It's absolutely stunning, but I'm not sure...
-You're not sure.
..it's for us.
Under budget by £60,000,
our first property is a characterful
country cottage which has been
sensitively renovated and extended.
It gives Michael and Jean one more bedroom
than they asked for
and a downstairs bathroom.
What's more, the garden
is low maintenance
and offers a patio for entertaining.
Between the Malvern and the Cotswold Hills lies the Vale of Evesham,
a vast area of sheltered fertile flatland, known as the fruit
basket of England because of the wide variety of fruit it grows.
Since Victorian times, the town of Pershore has produced
plums by the tonne and today it celebrates the plum harvest
with a festival throughout the month of August.
I've come to meet local horticulture expert John Edgeley,
to find out about the heritage of the humble plum.
Now, John, the Vale of Evesham is famous for many things, but
I had no idea that the plum had its home here,
in particular in Pershore.
-How did that come about?
-It all came about with the discovery of the
Pershore Yellow Egg in a local wood, Tiddesley Wood, in 1827.
It was very suited for jam making, bottling,
canning, which, of course, there was no refrigeration then.
Now, you've managed to galvanise the history of the plum,
and its now increasing popularity,
into the Pershore Plum Festival.
When did that start?
It started in 1996, four of us
locally, started it, going on August bank holiday Monday.
In 2006 we expanded for the whole of August
and so, basically, August, the whole of Pershore goes purple.
Around the town are many orchards which still produce a large
variety of native plums.
With the harvest in full swing, I've timed my visit well,
as the Pershore Yellow Egg plum has a rather narrow window for ripening.
It's probably the only time of year when you can actually eat it.
Gosh, that's very nice and it really is just today?
Before today it would've been too hard and not very flavoursome.
Tomorrow it's probably very mealy and is only good for making into jam.
Well, it tastes absolutely fabulous today.
I noticed, throughout this beautiful orchard,
there are, of course, boughs full of Purple Pershore -
are they also edible today?
Yes, we can try those, we can go across and have a look.
Well, I would go for one of these here, perhaps.
-How's that one?
-That should be OK.
-A fine example.
Which are the most popular, then, between the Yellow Egg
and the Purple?
Probably, for eating, now, it's got to be the Purple Pershore.
It's got a fantastic flavour.
During the festival month, many of these historic plum
varieties are being used by local food producers in all
types of local delicacies to show how diverse the plum can be.
John wants me to sample some of their wares
and is taking me to a local cafe.
-This is Natalie.
-Nice to meet you.
-What a fabulous spread!
This is what everybody's tucking into in Pershore these days.
They are, they certainly are.
We've used all the local produce
and they're Vale plums and we've incorporated
something a bit different with our own favourite classics
and created this lovely selection.
You have made a version of everything I really enjoy.
It's got to be done, hasn't it? I can't look at this any longer.
Wow, absolutely gorgeous.
Let me try a bit of the sausage.
Oh, absolutely brilliant, Natalie.
I could be here for a very long time, I suspect.
-Thank you very much indeed, both of you...
..for my introduction to plums in Pershore. What a way to finish.
-You're more than welcome.
For our second property, we're heading to
the village of Ribbesford.
Bewdley is the closest town for shops and services, two miles away.
Nestling on the banks of the River Severn, it is one
of Worcestershire's most historic and scenic places.
Our second house is a few minutes' drive away.
Surrounded by beautiful and unspoiled countryside,
it's part of a small development of former farm buildings.
-That is property number two.
-What do you think?
-A lot better.
-A lot better, why a lot better?
-More excited. I don't know.
It looks bigger, it looks a lot nicer.
It is a little bit bigger. It's one of half a dozen
properties in this renovated farm complex.
You've got six properties here, so you've got neighbours,
-you've got a community, which is great.
-You've got some amazing views...
-I just sneaked a peak.
..that you can just glimpse through there.
There's a real treat in the garden which makes best use of those.
But, yeah, this is interesting.
My very first impression is, it's very nice.
And I'll let you into another little secret, Michael,
it's got a bath.
-A real bath you can have all to yourself.
-Thanks very much.
-Good, come on, let's have a look.
People will think he hasn't had a bath for years.
Well, that's a better reaction to our second property,
our semi-detached barn conversion.
I'm confident Jean and Michael will be equally impressed
with the interior.
Let's start in here, this is the living room.
-Oh, this is lovely.
Oak flooring, you've got the beams, but, of course,
they're nice and high.
The fireplace over there with wood burner and so
nice and cosy in the winter, again.
My first impression is Christmas tree.
-I do love Christmas.
-You're moving in already.
Right, then, kitchen.
Come on, follow me.
The living room also takes advantage of the impressive views,
with French doors leading out to a garden patio.
Across the hallway, up these two steps, you've got the kitchen -
well, kitchen/diner, really.
-That's a lot bigger as well, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's very nice.
You've got a nice little bit of storage space over there, with that
freestanding unit and, again, double doors out to the terrace beyond.
-Very nice, very nice.
-Very nice, indeed.
It's virtually a brand-new house,
let's face it, but with some lovely touches -
the stone coming through there, these stone coins,
as they're called, round the door reveal - the oak doors -
the old beams and so forth.
It's a lovely mixture and the slate floor, of course, is just brilliant.
-It's been really well done, hasn't it?
-It has, yeah.
Now, it's not massive down here - I mean,
this is it for the ground floor
but would this space be enough to keep you occupied day-to-day?
-I think so.
That wraps up our tour of the ground floor,
although let's not forget the all-important downstairs cloakroom.
Upstairs there are three bedrooms -
two have their own dressing or study areas, one room is
being used as a nursery and the
other could make a good guest option.
There's also a family bathroom, complete with roll-top bath -
something Michael should be happy soaking in.
-And this is your bit.
-Oh, it's quite a nice size, as well.
-I mean, there's no built-in, as such...
..but, I think, plenty of room for a bit of freestanding,
which is, obviously, what they've got there.
-And, of course, with those other, slightly quirkier bedrooms...
..you might allow yourself a bit of the dressing room.
I think we probably would do, yeah.
So property number two is scoring a little more highly than
-property number one?
-Could you see yourself in this place, Michael?
-I could, yeah.
-I could, I like it very much.
So the interior of the house gets the thumbs up,
but I think I've saved the best bit till last -
the landscaped garden that extends to the rear of the property.
From this elevated position, the views are simply breathtaking
and the owners have built a superb decking area to make
the most of the surrounding countryside.
Now, this is a remarkable structure.
This is just fabulous, isn't it?
-I just can't believe the view, it's to die for.
-This really makes the best of it.
-It does, yeah.
But look back at the house, that's the thing that we're really buying,
-the view is a bonus.
-It certainly is. It's almost picture perfect.
Perfect says your wife, sir.
I think it's perfect, as well.
So, then, what's the damage, missus?
What is property two on the market for?
I think it's going to be near the top of our budget,
but I'm hoping... I'm going to be optimistic and say 340,000.
I think it's going to be 350, it's going to be on the budget.
-If it were 350, you could do it if you chopped in everything.
But if we could save you a bit of money, that would be all right, wouldn't it?
It would be great.
Particularly if property two was on the market for £329,000.
Wow, that's fabulous.
Below budget by £21,000,
this beautifully finished barn
conversion has charmed our buyers.
It provides Jean with the
kitchen/diner she wanted,
Michael gets his bathtub
and it comes with three
bedrooms - one more than
they have at the moment.
The garden is manageable
with magnificent views of the
Your second property certainly made a mark, didn't it?
That decked area, wow, was gorgeous, what a selling point.
Absolutely, but when you've got views such as those to play with, you've
got to make the best of them.
It's worth remembering, ambitious decking like that does require
Yeah, you only don't need it provided your decking is less
than 30 centimetres high or covers less than half your garden.
Let's be honest, though, you don't need to a huge amount of space or
a large budget to make a feature out of a view.
I know one couple that were sold on a window seat.
Well, if you are selling any property,
-if you have got a view, you've really got to milk it.
Well, my Mystery House certainly gave Alan and Dawn
something to think about.
It turned their search on its head, in more ways than one.
Our final property, the Mystery House, is in Longley Green,
ten miles from Worcester and to the north of the Malvern Hills.
Longley Green combines a variety of house styles
and the village is well-served with local amenities.
Will this modern stylish four-bedroom family home win over
Dawn and Alan? I'm hoping a new day brings a fresh enthusiasm.
Our third and final property, it is, of course, the Mystery House.
-I really like it.
That was a great delay.
-I do quite like modern houses.
-Good, it's certainly modern.
Brick and weatherboarded and it was built in 2005.
-You like what you see, do you?
-Yes, we do.
Let's see what you make of the inside because there's another
-little twist there.
The house has generous off-road parking capacity
and the forecourt can accommodate three cars comfortably.
Age aside, there's a distinctive feature to the Mystery House
that I'm hoping Alan and Dawn will appreciate.
-It's upside down.
-It's upside down.
-The reason they've done that is to make the most of the light.
It's a little bit overpowering with the colours,
but that's just decoration, so I'm not concerned about that at all.
It's not our taste and in decor, but that's immaterial.
-It's a good size. Yeah, it's a good size, good shape.
OK, well, that's one room done, let's see what's next door.
Next to the sitting room lies the airy family dining area with
double doors conveniently connecting it to the kitchen.
-This is a really, really good kitchen.
-It's big, isn't it?
-Very big and really nicely fitted.
-I wouldn't change anything in this kitchen.
-Would you not?
And you like the dining room next door.
Love the dining room next door.
The fact that it's so close, it feels open-plan, so if you had
guests you could still cook and be part of the conversation.
The garden is accessed from this level through patio doors
in the dining room.
There's also a utility room with granite surfaces, a separate toilet
and a compact study, which could be a good spot for Dawn's writing.
We're going to head, funnily enough,
-downstairs now to take a look at the bedrooms.
In addition to the master, there are three other distinctively
designed bedrooms on the ground floor, all big enough to be doubles.
There's also a shared bathroom, complete with whirlpool bath.
So now we're downstairs, this is the master
and you've also got an en suite.
-I think that's the first one I've offered you, isn't it?
It is a little bit darker down here
and you can see now why the house has been designed in such a way.
Yes, it does make sense.
-They've made good use of the space.
So when it comes to the actual house, is it hitting the spot?
It is for me, yes. Yeah.
The upside down thing doesn't worry me, I think it is just
such a nice spacious, nicely laid-out house.
-And I think the same.
-I do think the same.
So we're going to go outside, were going to go back upstairs.
Please, lead the way, thank you.
As well as the garden, the outside space features a decked
eating area and a garage, currently used as a gym.
-So we have quite a different garden here, don't we?
It's not your usual country cottage garden.
-No, but it's beautifully done...
..and it's fully enclosed which,
-having a dog, that's, really, the prerequisite.
Is this a compromise, this part of the garden?
It is a compromise in that it's unusual
because it's not laid to lawn and all those things
that you're usually accustomed to.
We've got to talk money, then, so what do we think it's on for?
-I think, possibly, a little bit over our budget, about 390.
I'm going to say 380.
-Well, the asking price is £349,950.
Our Mystery House is an unexpected bargain
and sneaks in just below the bottom end of Alan and Dawn's price range.
The upside down property was built in 2005
and has four individually designed bedrooms, living areas with a view
and the landscaped, yet enclosed, gardens
would be perfect for their dog Ted.
-There we go, have you seen enough?
-We have, yes.
Our final property here in Worcestershire.
You wouldn't give anything away earlier on,
I bet you're not going to give too much away now, are you?
-Let's go and have a proper chat.
Well, Alan and Dawn, I wonder
if we've got close with any of our properties here in Worcestershire.
-I think you have.
I think with the first house, I absolutely adored it.
The location was absolutely perfect.
And the other properties that we showed you,
did we get close with the other two or not?
The problem with the second house for us was,
pure and simply, the access.
And our Mystery House?
I loved it. It kind of hit the spot a bit for me.
What we'd have to do is do a little bit more research for the area
because, obviously, that was a little bit more rural.
But I'm not going to let number one house lie yet, I'm going
to push you on it.
Is it worth a second viewing?
It's definitely worth a second viewing.
I think a second viewing of the house with the rest of that
village and the surrounding area, I think you're going
to lose your heart, but we'll have to wait and see, won't we?
If you do put in an offer or even if you move to that area,
-you'll let us know, won't you?
-Of course we will.
You'll be the first to know.
-Lovely, thank you both very much indeed.
-BOTH: Thank you.
Well, my upside down house went down really well, didn't it?
It was designed like that to make the most of the light.
That's so important when you're viewing,
try and work out where north and south is.
I would suggest taking a compass with you.
It's a really good idea and, let's be honest,
-these days, most of us have them on our phones...
..would you believe? I'm really looking forward to seeing how that
search pans out later on in the programme. In the meantime,
let's get back to my search in Worcestershire with Jean and Michael.
They were moving from Essex with £350,000, but the burning
question was, could our Mystery House possibly trump property number two?
Our Mystery House is in the village of Whitbourne on the county
border, about five miles from the town of Bromyard.
Bromyard is an attractive town with a number of half-timbered buildings.
It also boasts a number of shops - many of them historic.
Just down the road is Whitbourne, where we find our final property.
Come into our Mystery House.
-Up you come, Jean.
-That's certainly a mystery.
This is very, very different.
It is a 16th-century cider barn, evidence of which is inside -
that's all I'm saying for now.
It's as quirky as you like. Come on.
Our Mystery House is a Grade II listed 17th-century cider barn.
As well as incorporating modern elements, it makes ingenious
use of the building's historic agricultural heritage.
-What do you reckon?
-King Arthur comes to mind.
There's something of the Round Table and Camelot about it, definitely.
-Actually, that's the cider-press.
That is amazing, isn't it?
-As tables go...
-Do you know, I don't think I've got that many friends.
I think it's amazing. You've got a huge wood burner over there,
lovely stone floor, as you can see,
very, very quirky.
They've really exposed the bones of the building,
the oak beams have been
-revealed and opened up to create all these amazing spaces.
Dominated by that amazing cider-press table,
I don't think Jean and Michael really know what to make of it all.
But the kitchen is a little more conventional.
I mean, it is something of a sort of kitchenette
because you've got that huge space through there
but they've removed the fill of these panels -
these would have been wattle and daub panels originally -
so they've opened it up, which is rather nice.
-It's big enough, really.
-It's big enough to cook in, yeah.
I bet you never expected to see something like this
-on your travels this week.
-Certainly not in my dining room.
-Can you imagine living here, more to the point?
It's sort of taken us aback.
Well, you have got three bedrooms here, believe it or not.
-Oh, right, that's good.
-One of them's on the ground floor,
it's through here.
You've got this, kind of, central hallway, there's a loo there.
Quite an interesting, sort of, wet room in there.
-Oh, that's mine.
Ideal, isn't it? You're the shower, aren't you...?
-Yeah, I'm the shower.
-..he's the bath.
-There is a bath here, don't worry.
Next door, they've got it currently set up as a twin,
but it could easily be a double.
You've got two staircases - this spiral,
which gets you up to the master
and the other staircase which gets you up to another lavish guestroom.
The master suite is located at the top of the spiral
staircase on the gallery level which overlooks the ground floor.
Now, as master bedrooms go, what you reckon to this, then, Jean?
it's a bit open for my liking.
-A bit open?
-In what sense?
-You're straight up the stairs and into the bedroom...
..there's no, sort of, privacy.
-In there, Michael, your bath.
-Open the door, there you are.
Really the bedrooms are interchangeable.
We've given you this as the master because it's got the bath.
Yeah, thank you.
The other one has a shower.
-But what's it worth, our Mystery House, do you think?
Where do we begin with this one? Come on, let's go down.
Outside, as well as the paved courtyard at the front
of the property, there's also a pretty medieval style
walled garden with box hedges and a variety of herbs.
So, the price.
The final price guess of the week, folks.
Who's going to go first? Come on, Jean.
-I think 335.
-345, I think.
£345,000, he's trumped you by ten, look, you see?
Well, here's the truth of it.
The exciting thing, I think, is that this is on the market for £295,000.
Under budget by a generous £55,000,
our Mystery House is a former 17th-century cider mill
which has been transformed into a stunning three-bedroom property.
It comes with a wealth of original features,
but its focal point is that wonderful cider-press dining table.
There's also a downstairs cloakroom and the garden is largely paved,
so low maintenance.
Blown away, I mean, the mill, the table, the press...
I love it, I really love it.
The rest of the downstairs, I'm not sure that it really works for us.
It's a fabulous property for someone, but I don't think it's quite for us.
Well, our quirky Mystery House has
-certainly given you lots to consider.
-It certainly has.
And, of course, our other two properties, as well.
-A lot of thinking to do.
-Right, then, let's go.
Oh, better shut the door.
Well, Jean and Michael, this has
-been quite an interesting week, I think.
But have we managed to find you your new home?
There's a clear winner, which is, of course,
-property number two.
-It certainly was.
So, let's hear it, your thoughts on that one.
It was just amazing, the views from the garden were stunning,
to die for. I just loved it, my heart went, everything was perfect.
So what, if anything, is going to happen next? You said it's perfect,
you said it's ideal, but is it good enough to want to move to?
We've arranged to stay on in the area for another three days.
So what we're going to do is maybe contact the agents
and ask for a second viewing, so that we can have a real good
look and talk to the owner and get a feeling for the area.
We want to travel around the area and see where the doctors are,
the shops, you know, just get a feel for the area.
If all that stacks up then, hopefully, that's the one to go for.
-I think so.
-I think it will be because those...
Those views were just stunning.
And you could comfortably afford it at, what, 329.
-We could, yeah.
Guys, well, it's been an absolute pleasure,
I have very much enjoyed this week with the pair of you.
-We've had a good laugh, I think, along the way.
-We certainly have.
-So let us know how you get on.
-We will do.
-We will do, yeah.
The best of luck. BOTH: Thank you very much.
So the second property was, obviously, the favourite.
Did they go back for a second viewing?
-Well, I thought they would go and buy it, if I'm absolutely honest.
But they went back, had another look
-and decided that, actually, it was a bit too rural for them.
Splendid property, but location just didn't work.
Well, to be fair, you do have to consider the longer-term needs.
It may work for you now, but is it going to work in five, ten,
20 years' time?
Particularly if you're in retirement age, which they were.
So I can understand it, but, yeah, their search goes on.
Yeah, what a shame - if it's their forever home,
the location's got to be right.
For me, Alan was really put off by the thatch of that superb first
property that I showed them.
Since then, they've decided to move their search area
-and they're looking in East Sussex.
Yep, East Sussex. Sold their home, looking to move as soon as possible,
hopefully next month.
Well, completely different county, completely different lifestyle.
-I know, there you go.
-It just goes to show, you never know, do you?
Well, we've enjoyed our trip through Worcestershire, I hope you have too.
So do join us again for more rural escapes, we'll see you next time.
If you would like to escape to the country in Northern Ireland,
Scotland, Wales or England and would like our help,
please apply online at...
Nicki Chapman and Jules Hudson showcase rural Worcestershire in a special episode of Escape to the Country looking back on the journeys of two couples who were searching for dream homes in the county.
Away from the house hunt, Nicki meets a local craftsman who is preserving an equine tradition, and Jules visits the 'fruit basket of England'.