Nicki Chapman has a challenge on her hands helping to uncover a new rural home in the Cotswolds for a couple with very exacting requirements.
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This parish church behind me is the only one in the whole
of England that has a complete set of original medieval stained glass.
Find out exactly where I am in just a moment.
Today, a married couple celebrating a ten-year union
are in search of their first home together.
-How are you feeling?
Not as much as me!
And I'm striving to give our buyers exactly what they want.
That's the happiest, Sue, I've seen Charles all day.
He does like his en suite.
Today, I'm in the Cotswolds,
at St Marys Church, in the small Gloucestershire town of Fairford,
and there has been a church here on this site since the 1100s.
But this present structure has its origins in the
15th century, which is when it was adorned with 28 stained and
painted glass windows, featuring a visual account of the Bible's story.
Now, it's remarkable to think that, some 500 years later, these iconic
panes have survived, largely intact.
And provide a kaleidoscope of colour,
and a captivating history, very much like the Cotswolds landscape itself.
The Cotswolds is a range of hills in the south-west of England,
lying between Oxford and Bristol and covering 790 square miles.
It's a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty,
which dominates most of Gloucestershire,
but also spills into Oxfordshire, as well as four other counties.
The area abounds with gentle rolling hills and farmland,
dissected by hedges and trees, with livestock hugging hillsides,
and wild flowers providing bursts of colour, breaking up the vivid green.
Local limestone supplies the honey-coloured stone that gives
the Cotswolds its unique look.
This delightful area attracts an estimated 38 million tourists a year
from around the globe, and less than two hours from London and
close to Oxford, the Cotswolds is a popular choice for people choosing
to escape city life, whether permanently or as a weekend retreat.
So what exactly are today's buyers after?
Well, let's meet them and find out.
French teacher Charles and his wife Sue, from Hemel Hempstead in
Hertfordshire, have had a blissfully happy union for ten years.
We met in 2004, it was at a school ball, my eyes met on Sue,
and the next morning I woke up and I thought,
"That's my little present from God."
We got married in 2010, we got married in the school chapel
and we went on honeymoon to the Cotswolds, which is where
we're hoping to move to.
The Gloucestershire Cotswolds is very close to both their hearts.
When we first met, Sue was actually living in the Cotswolds,
so she's got a very strong attachment to it, and I used
to go visit her there, obviously, as often as I possibly could
and I feel a very strong affinity to it.
Sue and Charles live in a flat in the boarding school where
Charles works in Hemel Hempstead, which couldn't be more different
to the area of their dreams.
It's large and sprawling and very populated,
and I just can't wait to get back to more rural living.
We want to have a place where we can have Sue's daughters,
my stepchildren, to stay, where we can invite guests to come for
the weekend and where we're a bit further away from London, as well.
It's not just family and friends who are important in this move.
Two-year-old Bertie, an English Pointer,
will be heading to the country, too.
We would like to be able to have a nice large garden
he can run around in.
So, with Sue's own house under offer and Charles'
school flat kept on to accommodate him in term time, there's
nothing stopping this lively couple from pursuing their rural dream.
This is going to be the first property we've purchased together,
I think it will be very exciting.
I think Sue will tell me what the perfect property is and I will agree with her.
Sue adores the honey-coloured hues of Cotswold stone
and they both love the Gloucestershire
part of the region where the stone houses are abundant,
so we're concentrating our search around the town of Cirencester.
But before we begin our hunt for a country home for
Sue and Charles, I've come to meet them
to get a better picture of what it is they're looking for.
So, Sue and Charles, welcome to the Cotswolds,
We are finding a home for both of you. That's correct, isn't it?
-It's the first home you are going to have bought together.
Let's hear about this wish list, then.
-We want a detached house.
-With a nice garden.
A flat garden.
-And we want it somewhere near where we can walk the dog.
And a nice fireplace and, most importantly, a nice little man cave
that I can call my own, with a nice sturdy lock on the door.
I do love your honesty, Charles. What about you, Sue?
-Do you agree?
-What would you like?
I could embellish. Stone, I think is important,
ones in the Cotswolds, and I would stretch it from garden to land,
I could quite see an acre, with outbuildings.
-So, ideally you do want a bit of land.
We also wanted to be within close reach of, sort of,
a nice deli, coffee shoppy sort of place,
so in the morning, you know, after a nice cooked breakfast
I can stroll into town.
Is there a deal-breaker anywhere along the line?
Because I'm slightly concerned about the list of wants.
I think that if I had to have a painted house, rather than
a stone house, I'd compromise there, if everything else was correct.
Well, I'm certainly looking forward to the next few days,
remind me of your budget.
At the very top end, 550. Something for 500 would be perfect.
Well, I think we should finish our tea and coffee, because weather
might be clearing and we can start with our first property
Oh, brilliant. Looking forward to it.
Sue and Charles have a generous budget, but they've chosen a pricey
region and they've got some rather exacting requirements in mind.
They'd like a detached stone house, with at least three bedrooms,
so Sue's two daughters and friends can visit.
They want big, level grounds
for their dog Bertie to run around, with plenty of walking opportunities
nearby, and they're hoping to be close to a community,
where Charles is looking forward to enjoying local shops and cafes.
We've searched the county and have chosen three excellent properties,
one of which could become Sue and Charles' first joint home.
And only after they've viewed each house will they find out its cost.
Our final visit will be to the mystery house, which may be
taking them slightly off-piste, but will hopefully give them
something they didn't even know they wanted.
We're kicking off our trip in Gloucestershire on the eastern
edge of the Cotswolds.
The hamlet of Netherton, just on the outskirts of the village
of Quenington, is eight miles east of Cirencester.
Quenington displays the typical Cotswolds stone cottages
and dry stone walls the region is famous for.
It's home to a sociable community, with great country
walks their dog Bertie would love.
An eight-minute drive takes us back to Netherton.
So, our very first property, it's quite an unusual layout,
-it's the property right in the centre.
-So that's a different property there and a different property there?
Dates back to about 1850, and in 1995 they were converted into
six separate dwellings,
-so you do have neighbours, I think it's fair to say.
-Which wasn't on the wish list.
I think it's very balanced-looking. I love the stone,
I like the roof tiles.
-It's not detached...
-It's not, no.
-..which was the number-one thing on our list.
-But what do you think of the property itself?
Yes, I think it's all plus, apart from that they're attached.
Well, let's step inside
-and see if the property itself changes your mind.
-OK. Thank you.
This delightful barn may have next-door neighbours,
but this area is one of the most costly in the country, and even
on our buyers' generous budget of over half a million pounds,
compromises have to be made to give them the space and garden they want.
Leading off a spacious hallway is the first reception room.
-Charles is smiling at me!
-Oh, that's very nice.
-You're not going to get excited about a hallway, are you?
-It is a very nice hallway.
-I like him!
OK, let's start with the sitting room.
Well, it's very light, which is very nice.
Because you've probably gathered, this property isn't enormous.
It's quite a small building, but I think they've made
-the most of it and the ceilings do give you much more space.
-So, apart from size, I think it's a lovely room.
All of the downstairs rooms lead off from the hallway, and next
to the sitting room is the kitchen, also with views to the garden.
It's nicely appointed, it's very attractively done,
but, in my mind, I was thinking of, sort of, farmhouse table.
Possibly it's not the right sort of size for our needs.
-I actually quite like something quite small.
-He likes small, yeah.
I think it's just less hassle.
On the other side of the hallway is a dining room at the front
of the house and a double bedroom and bathroom at the back.
And upstairs, the rooms are in the eaves with skylights to the
front and back.
So, when this barn was originally converted, it was just
the downstairs, and then the owners before decided to put two
-bedrooms upstairs, as well.
Come on! Talk to me, Sue!
Bijou. Good word.
Very attractive, I'm looking for more space, you know,
-a bit more elbow room.
What I feel is... I feel either side I've got people there.
There's no getting away from the fact that this property isn't
detached, but I'm hoping the beautiful gardens,
which belong to this house,
may change things as the outside space is
so important to Sue and Charles.
-It's absolutely beautiful.
-It is, yes.
I think this is one of the most beautifully kept gardens
that I've seen. So I think we've discussed
everything that there is to know about the barn, but we haven't
put a price on it. So how much do you think it is on the market for?
I would put it on at 535.
OK. Now, I might put it a bit more. 545?
The asking price for this property -
and it's only just gone on the market -
-I like it a lot more!
I am absolutely amazed and it's a lovely surprise, actually.
This converted barn is full of character
and comes in at £105,000 under our buyers' top budget,
giving them plenty left in the pot to play with.
It may not be detached, but it is built from the local stone
Sue adores and has just the number of bedrooms they want.
It has superb gardens and is close to many scenic paths
perfect for walking Bertie, and it's not too far from civilisation,
which will suit Charles down to the ground.
Right, you two, how are you feeling?
Well, it is a delightful, immaculately appointed house,
but I don't think it is going to quite do it for us.
-Just a little bit too small?
-Just a little bit too small.
-Well, it's only our first property.
-Got more to show you.
The scenic rolling landscape of Gloucestershire lends itself
to horse riding, and Newent in the north-west of the county is
home to a national equestrian champion.
Carl Hester was brought up on the Channel Island of Sark,
which has no cars, and he's been riding all his life.
In 2012, he was part of Team GB's dressage team, who won
gold at the London Olympics.
I've come to his training ground to meet him,
and his world-class horses.
-So, Carl, good to see you!
-Hi, Nicky, nice to meet you again.
-Thanks for inviting us to your yard.
-It's a pleasure.
I can see you're hard at work.
Yeah, well, this is what goes on here at home,
we train the young horses here.
Dressage is a very intense sport. It takes probably five or six years
to get the horse to Grand Prix standard.
"Dressage" is a French term meaning training.
It has its roots in ancient Greece
and, simply put, it's the highest level of horse training.
Now, you mentioned Grand Prix, is that the very top level of dressage?
Yeah, Grand Prix is what you see at Olympics.
So, what are you looking for, then, here?
Because it's all about the horse with the rider, isn't it?
You couldn't put another rider on this horse?
Yes, it's about the harmony between the horse and rider,
that's what we're starting with.
I mean, what we're looking at here is Amy's just teaching him to canter
when she says, to trot when she says,
to walk, so you're not supposed to be able to see the rider moving,
you know, it's very discreet.
You just see the horse doing the movements and the rider's
supposed to look like they're steering.
Almost like the perfect marriage between horse and rider.
Well, this young horse is just at the beginning of his dressage
career, but two of Carl's stallions are already champions.
So, I've got some pressies, Carl. Are we allowed?
They will be very happy to eat those, yes.
-There we go, look at that.
-This is Utopia,
and these are the two gold medal horses from London, Utopia, Valegro.
This one's known as Uti and this one's known as Blueberry.
So what makes these horses so special?
Well, they really are able to cope with any atmosphere, they are
almost like police horses in a way so, you know, you could actually
ride these two guys down the M25, they have that ability to be
able to be relaxed in any situation, like the Olympics,
like World Cup Finals, noise and a lot of people,
and yet they have this incredible presence
and energy when they're needed to perform in the arena.
I feel very lucky to be in the company of three Olympic gold medal
winners and Carl's going to give me a dressage display on 13-year-old
Fine Time, who's the current British Dressage National Champion.
I'll show you what a canter pirouette should look like.
I'm going to canter him this short so that he's
almost on the spot, and make it smaller and smaller and I'm looking
to try and get six to eight steps and it should be on a dinner plate.
Now, I do ride, I'm a passionate rider,
so I can appreciate how difficult that is.
Dressage is one thing you can get better
and better at, so that's the good news for you, Nicki.
There's hope for me?
You are only going to get better with years.
I've now done five Olympics and my best Olympics was my fifth one,
so it does show, you know,
25 years of practise, you could also be taking
a medal home maybe at that time, as well.
Carl, thank you for a glimpse into the dressage world.
Travelling 28 miles west takes us to our second house in the hamlet
of Harescomb. One and a half miles from the village of Haresfield and
five miles south of Gloucester,
it's on the western edge of the Cotswolds.
The pretty village of Haresfield has a great dining pub
and fantastic views from the Haresfield Beacon
across the valley to the River Severn.
Back in rural Harescombe, which sits in the valley at the foot
of the Beacon, is our second house, a semidetached period cottage
which I'm hoping will please Sue and Charles, despite the dreadful rain.
It might be grey, and it might be wet,
but here is your second property.
It is semidetached, but it's not a terrace.
For house number two, we have gone for semidetached
-but the proportions are much, much larger.
Our house, the one that we're looking at,
has been extended out the back and is quite substantial.
I like the Cotswold stone, so so far, so good.
Well, on that note, come on, let's get out of the rain.
This cottage dates back to the 1800s and was built from Cotswold
stone and tiles.
Moving inside, we're starting off our tour in the sitting room
with a wood-burning stove as its centrepiece.
We sort of gravitate towards the fire.
Oh, it's a nice, large fireplace. Is it inglenook?
It is it is an inglenook. It's got the original bressummer beam there.
Makes a really nice feature.
It's less detached than I would've liked
and I'm still slightly battling with that one.
-I feel, as a house, there is more I need to do with it...
..I think, than house number one.
Next to the dining room in the middle of the house is the kitchen.
So, with this kitchen, you really are in the heart of the home,
and the way they've set it up, you've got your dining room there
next door and it looks out onto your garden.
If I had the money to do it, I'd actually have it re-designed and
make it one big kitchen, so it would be a kitchen/living area.
I do like this kitchen a lot.
Well, let's keep going through.
On the side of the property is a recent addition -
a wood-and-glass garden room.
-And guess what? It's got under-floor heating!
I love this aspect here, looking out.
-You get to look at your gardens...
-..all the way around.
-Surrounded by flowers.
-Yeah, it's beautiful.
-It's a lovely room, it's lovely and warm.
-Especially on a cold day.
I'm not sure what to think of Sue and Charles' reactions.
Can they see beyond the fact that this house is not detached?
Moving to the first floor, I want to show them the sleeping quarters.
So, upstairs, this is where the house was extended - that was
originally the outside wall.
-So you've got a bedroom behind us,
a second bedroom there,
family bathroom, and then, come on in,
because the third bedroom is the master.
-It also has an en suite.
-And can we have a look at the en suite?
-Go on, have a look.
Oh, it is quite big.
Oh, it's fantastic! Yeah, it's lovely, it's very nice.
That's the happiest, Sue, I've seen Charles all day!
He does like his en suite.
So, the bedrooms are of a good size.
I much prefer having room around me
and I'm looking for a house with potential.
I wouldn't say any of the house wows me, but I think it's got potential.
Absolutely. It's got a very strong, warm, family,
lived-in feel, which I think is a very strong feel to it.
Sue and Charles seem to be keeping an open mind about this house and
I wonder if the question of its cost will help them make up their minds,
as we head back downstairs to find out the all-important price tag.
I suggest 475.
Well, the last house was 445, so I will say, on balance,
I will go for 474. I'll go slightly under Sue.
OK. The asking price is £525,000.
The owners are aware of your budget
and they are happy to have a conversation.
This 19th-century property comes in at £25,000 under budget
and has the local features Sue and Charles are looking for
in their new home.
Its kitchen and dining room offer them the option to convert
it into a space that would suit them, and the new garden room,
with its splendid views of the grounds,
is certainly a very attractive feature.
Situated close to villages and towns means this house offers Sue
and Charles a slice of country life with access to shops and cafes.
We're remaining positive!
Absolutely. We've had a wonderful day and I can't wait until tomorrow.
That's the spirit!
So, we've shown Sue and Charles two of our properties here in,
well, rather rainy Gloucestershire,
but we haven't managed to find them their perfect detached home as yet.
To be honest, we are struggling here in the Cotswolds
with their requirements on their budget,
but, not one to admit defeat,
we still have the mystery house up our sleeve.
Now, this time, it is detached and, if they can get over
their love of Cotswolds stone, we may be in with a fighting chance.
Travelling eight miles south is our final property
in the hamlet of Windsoredge, on the outskirts
of the market town of Nailsworth, 13 miles west of Cirencester.
Nailsworth would be a haven for Charles, with its quirky shops,
restaurants and that all-important deli, and it's been voted
one of the top 101 places to live in Britain by a Sunday broadsheet.
Five minutes' drive from Nailsworth and perched
high above the Woodchester Valley is our last Gloucestershire offering.
Its rendered exterior may not be the Cotswolds stone home Sue is dreaming
of, which has afforded it the title of our mystery house, but it is
detached and offers a great deal of home for Sue and Charles's money.
I promise you, through this mist and rain, the view will be worth it.
-Look at that!
-That's a stonker!
..is the view, and here is your Edwardian mystery house.
-Oh, my God!
-Oh! It's lovely!
Look, I've lost them already! Go on! Have a little look!
That is the most beautiful thing I've seen since
-I gaze at my wife of a morning.
So why is this our mystery house, then?
Because it's really nice.
It's not Cotswold stone.
No, it isn't. Although the cottage is rendered, the colours used
are very sympathetic.
-That's what I like, it's sympathetically done.
This handsome house dates back to the early 1900s
and is laid out over three floors.
We're going straight to the front of the property, to the
smallest of three reception rooms, just off the entrance hallway.
Obviously, it's small, but that's fine. It's got a lovely wood burner
-It's very pretty.
-You did want a man cave
and I've managed to ignore that in the past two houses, haven't I?!
Perhaps we need to find a man room for you here.
-Does that sound good?
-That sounds promising!
Next to this small sitting room is a rather impressive dining room.
-Wow. That's really nice!
Come on through because I want to show you a second
sitting room/reception room.
It's really nice!
-You wanted space with this property.
-You mentioned the dog sort of dominates.
-Yes, he seems to.
Is this sort of what you had in mind?
Yes, yes. A nice lot of room.
Behind this sitting room is a utility room
and just behind the dining room with windows overlooking both
sides of the grounds is the kitchen.
-Another large space.
-It's light, airy and full of joy.
So, the downstairs of this property, how are you feeling?
-Not as much as me!
This mystery house may not be built of local Cotswolds stone,
but that doesn't seem to matter as Sue and Charles are totally smitten.
And I think they'll fall for the first floor, too.
Just opposite the stairway is a family bathroom,
there are four bedrooms and to the front is the master.
So, on this floor, you've got four bedrooms in total
and a family bathroom, but you've got an additional bedroom
up in the loft with an en-suite bathroom, as well.
So, instead of a man cave, perhaps, Charles, I'm thinking man attic!
Things couldn't have gone better on our tour of this distinguished
house, but the garden's just as important as the inside,
especially for Bertie, Sue and Charles's beloved English Pointer.
Outside the grounds surround the house and we're headed to an
elevated section with far-reaching views across the valley.
Now, I'm not going to give you an acre of land
because I don't have an acre of land to give you here,
but I can give you quite a substantial garden - fenced.
-You've got a very large garage behind us...
..with plenty of storage. So...what do we think?
-I can't find anything wrong with it.
-Can you not?!
How much do you think the asking price is?
Well, the top of our budget is 550,000, so I shall say 550,000.
And I think that this is such a good house, so I think 575
and then you're going to say it's actually 585,
but there's room for negotiation.
The asking price is £550,000.
You were spot on, Sue.
Oh, she usually is.
-So, how do you feel about that?
-Oh, it's exciting!
-I'm almost lost for words!
Bang on their upper budget, this detached period house
goes above and beyond Sue and Charles's expectations -
even giving them two more bedrooms than they asked for.
It's got a safe garden, perfect for their young dog to
run around in, and it's close to a town with all the amenities
that are important to Charles.
It may not have the Cotswold stone exterior Sue was hoping for,
but she's more than happy with the sympathetically painted render.
So why don't we go somewhere quiet and perhaps have a little drinky,
-and we can discuss what your next move is going to be?
Well, Charles and Sue, I have to say,
we've had a very entertaining few days.
Yesterday we didn't end on a high. We saw super properties,
but they weren't quite right for either of you, were they?
Well, the first two houses, as nice as they might have been,
just weren't our cup of tea. And then when you showed us
the mystery property today, that was such a surprise
because, by this time, I had expected the third house to be
not to our taste. As soon as we looked at the front of the
house, we both said, "Wow." This is definitely got something about it.
Here we are, we're already waxing lyrical about the mystery house.
Where do we go next with that property?
Even though it's the top of our budget,
there is always room for negotiation
-and we're going to put an offer in.
-We are, yes.
-You really have fallen in love, haven't you?
-Yeah. It's lovely.
Well, I'm thrilled that we've been able to help you because, of course,
this is the first house that you will have bought together.
You have made us all smile and chuckle,
it's been an absolute pleasure.
You are welcome to come and stay whenever you like, Nicki.
-And I will take you up on that offer!
-Charles, Sue, thank you so much.
-Thank you so much! Thank you.
So after a bit of a rocky start with Charles and Sue, we eventually found
them their perfect mystery property. As we went to say goodbye,
they were on the phone to the estate agent, putting in an offer.
I'm thrilled for the both of them. I'll see you next time.
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Nicki Chapman has a challenge on her hands helping to uncover a new rural home in the Cotswolds for a couple with very exacting requirements. While in the region, Nicki rubs shoulders with three Olympic heroes.