Property series. Jules Hudson is on a property finding mission to uncover a tranquil lifestyle in the West Sussex countryside for a couple from London.
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Well, welcome to what for me
is a very exciting start to Escape To The Country.
This beautifully preserved de Havilland Sea Vixen first entered
service with the Royal Navy back in 1960
and it forms just part of a fascinating
collection of aircraft that is now based on what was once
one of the RAF's most illustrious airfields.
A base which, in itself, was also home to a man who many
regard as perhaps the RAF's most famous of pilots.
But where are we?
Well, join me in just a moment and I'll tell you.
'Today's buyers are hoping to turn their backs on city life
'and embrace the wonder of the countryside.'
Jennifer, you wanted views.
Oh-ho-ho! That's what I want.
'And there are plenty of gems out there to get them excited.'
-You're doing very well, Jules.
Well, today we are in West Sussex
and this is the rather splendid collection of aircraft
at the former RAF Tangmere,
an airfield that played such a crucial role during the summer
of 1940, defending the skies above southern Britain
during the Battle of Britain.
But in 1941 it was also home to
the RAF's legendary fighter pilot Douglas Bader.
Now, the collection today houses aircraft that date not just
from the Second World War but also from pretty much every period
and every conflict that Britain has been involved in since,
including the Falklands.
But Tangmere as a whole has also evolved post-war.
On the other side of the airfield an enormous and very modern hi-tech
family business are busy producing something
which I think most of us will be enjoying this summer,
something which I hope I'm going to get a real taste for
later on in the show.
West Sussex is a peaceful part of the British Isles,
located on the south coast of England.
It was established as a county in its own right in 1974
and today is home to approximately 780,000 people.
At its heart are the magnificent South Downs,
over 600 square miles of stunning national parkland.
And, boasting one of the mildest climates in the UK, West Sussex
is a rich agricultural region.
At the last count there were over 125,000 sheep
on the South Downs alone.
The county also offers historic and cultural centres,
such as the cathedral city of Chichester.
The county's enviable position also means it's home
to miles of impressive and award-winning coastline.
One of its popular seaside towns is Bognor Regis, the first resort to be
developed for bathing,
and referred to fondly by Queen Victoria as "dear little Bognor".
If shopping for antiques is your thing,
head inland to the attractive market town of Petworth.
A former winner of Antiques Town of the Year,
there are rumoured to be upwards of 30 different dealers selling
a variety of interesting collectables.
This attractive and varied slice of Britain offers an appealing package
for those seeking a not-so-remote rural escape.
Well, with heaps of coastal charm, beautiful landscapes,
a fabulous property market
and excellent transport links into central London, West Sussex
certainly makes an attractive county in which to set up home.
But, of course, all of that is reflected
in the property prices here.
The average price of a detached home is currently £420,000.
That's a whopping 136,000 above the national figure.
So why have today's buyers decided that this county is for them?
Well, let's meet them and find out.
Retired tour operator Jennifer and her husband, travel journalist Peter,
have been married for 11 years after first meeting at a business lunch.
Jennifer tasted the wine at lunch
and very bravely said she thought that it was corked.
As I had already passed the wine, there was some consternation,
but actually she was absolutely right.
So my respect for her started at that moment.
He's very conscientious in his work but he's also very
affectionate and very thoughtful and a lovely person to be with.
The couple have lived together in central London for the past 13 years.
They own a Grade II listed home, built back in 1827,
which is located close to the River Thames.
When the Jubilee was on we had a big party in the house
because obviously we could see the boats
and we had lots of wine and eats
and a jolly good day with friends and family.
We certainly had a better day than poor Prince Philip,
who got a urinary infection.
They are extremely fond of their period property
but the older they get, the more difficult the house is to manage,
as is city living.
So now that Peter has decided to wind down towards retirement,
they've set their sights on a more peaceful lifestyle.
It's going to be quite difficult because I've lived here
for nearly 50 years.
So certainly the cultural side of London I shall miss.
What I won't miss is the traffic, the congestion, the expense,
just the number of people.
I will certainly miss all the amenities
but I won't miss the pollution.
I'm looking forward to some really lovely countryside air
and being able to go out and enjoy the countryside.
Peter's had a long and illustrious career but when he's not
jet-setting around the world the couple share a common interest.
We both enjoy cooking, Peter especially,
it's one of his big hobbies.
With a larger kitchen and more time on his hands,
he could really enjoy himself in the kitchen.
We have a little difficulty working together in the kitchen
but perhaps in a larger kitchen that might disappear.
Peter has three daughters from a previous marriage,
two of whom have their own families.
They both live in Surrey, the neighbouring county to West Sussex,
which is just one of the reasons why Jennifer and Peter
have chosen the area.
I feel it will bring us together.
I think it'll help us enjoy doing things together, going out
together more, excursions, just being more involved with each other.
So now that their house is on the market, Jennifer and Peter
feel it's the perfect time to begin their search.
I think that we need to do it now so that we can enjoy our next house.
If we leave it much longer it'll be too late.
Jennifer and Peter are used to having a vast range of theatres,
cinemas and museums on their doorstep,
so to quench their cultural thirst
the couple would like to be located within
a half-hour's drive of Chichester, which boasts one of the most
respected theatres outside of London's West End.
But, before we start our search, I'm meeting them down
in West Sussex to learn more about what they want from their new home.
Well, Peter and Jennifer, welcome to West Sussex
and Escape To The Country and I hope a week of beautiful weather
-and some beautiful properties for you.
-I can't wait.
What's interesting for me, Peter, is that you are leaving
a beautiful riverside home in London which many people would die for.
Why the move now?
Because it's in London.
It is a lovely house but it is slightly impractical for us now
and we both actually genuinely want to go back to the country
because we both have roots, in our own ways, in the country.
Give us a rough idea of what your new home should have in it to make
-it work for you.
-Well, I would love wonderful views, countryside views.
I like Georgian period homes, or perhaps Victorian,
but it's that Georgian feel of high ceilings, big rooms.
The garden, not too large, we're not gardeners,
something I can just sit out and enjoy the sun.
How many bedrooms do we need?
Minimum three but I think preferably four
but the important thing for me would be three bathrooms.
-We need one each and one for the guests.
Gosh, that's rather flash, isn't it? I like the idea of that.
And in terms of space, living space, you know,
paint a picture of what you're going to indulge yourselves with.
Well, I think it's the old thing that everybody wants,
a nice kitchen/breakfast room, I'd say,
-because we'd like a separate dining room.
And also I'd like to be on maximum two floors.
We currently live in a four-storey house,
which, years coming along, is just too much.
And a huge study for Peter.
Well, I was just going to come on to the study, Peter,
because that's very much your domain.
Many people say, "We want a study, we want a bit of a home office,"
-but actually for you this is a genuine place of work.
I write and intend to continue writing,
if anybody will still buy the stuff.
I'll buy it, I'll read it, don't you worry!
Now, as you probably know,
West Sussex is not the cheapest part of the country.
So how big is the budget?
Well, the budget is 900,000,
which could be...extended slightly.
-If you find us a fabulous place, we could go up to 950.
That's a pretty good budget! I'm no longer worried!
I'm no longer worried at all.
That opens up the horizon here beautifully.
We've got some gorgeous weather, we've got the property market
here in West Sussex at our disposal, along with its countryside
and your very generous £900,000-950,000.
-Let's see what we can find.
Peter and Jennifer have a very healthy budget and they're
looking for a property that's easy to manage with a maximum of two floors.
Ideally, the home will have...
In a perfect world, well, Jennifer would like to be within
walking distance of local amenities.
We've picked out a winning selection of properties that vary in style
but which deliver the character and charm our buyers are looking for.
We won't reveal the price of each home
until they've had a good look around and we'll be building up to
the mystery house, which could level the competition.
And how do your friends
and family feel about you moving out of salubrious central London?
Well, my friends think we're bonkers,
leaving all that sort of culture behind.
-That's a very stereotypical London-centric view, isn't it?
They might be pleasantly surprised that actually,
life in Hicksville is quite rich and with a vibrant cultural scene
on your doorstep in the form of Chichester.
Well, we'll obviously book theatre tickets before they arrive.
You'll be laying it on thick, just to make the point that it's good.
-For a show that's about to transfer to London.
We're beginning our house-hunt in South Mundham,
which is less than a 15-minute drive from Chichester.
Historically part of the parish of Pagham,
South Mundham was annexed in 1897
and joined up with North Mundham.
It's a quiet agricultural hamlet where Peter and Jennifer
could live out their country dream in style.
And adjacent to lush farmland
is the first property that I'm going to show them.
Well, we thought we'd kick off our search with this one,
which in fairness you can't see all of from here.
It's quite a difficult one to describe, really,
but it is hard to get a sense of the overall geography of it.
But as you can see, it's built from very traditional local materials.
-Uh, looks fairly cottagey.
But it does look as though it's been looked after and is well maintained.
I think it's probably a place that you can't judge from outside.
-I would agree with you.
I think this is one we need to kind of get into and explore.
Good, let's get inside and see what you think.
Parts of this four-bedroom farmhouse date back to the 16th century
and it's been renovated and extended over the years.
The building was originally thatched but after a fire in 2008,
the current owners decided to add a loft conversion and a tiled roof.
The first room we're heading for is the all-important kitchen.
Wow. That's certainly a lot bigger than we've got at home now.
Nice and light, which I like.
Yeah, a nice contemporary feel, actually. Very crisp.
-And with nice tops.
-I think it's a nice kitchen.
Very nice kitchen.
There is a separate utility room as well at the other
end of the house for all the rest of it -
-washing machine and so on.
Well, the dining room is through here.
-It does flow quite nicely, actually, from the kitchen.
-That's very nice and bright, isn't it?
-Very nice room.
You've got the wood burner in there, which is rather nice.
-Yes, and I think the beams...
-Not too cottagey?
-No, they don't, they actually belong.
-And a decent height.
-Yeah, really attractive, out to the garden there.
-Yeah, I like that.
Well, in many ways, this room is kind of mirrored next door
because this is your main living room, as it were.
Do you see what I mean?
Proportionally, I think this is very similar to the dining room.
But, of course, it's got the addition of that garden room extension
-going through there.
-That's great, that makes a big difference.
If it was just this room, I'd say forget it, but having that
extension takes it right into the garden and makes it really nice.
We were wondering if that might make an interesting study area for you,
looking out over the garden.
There is a separate study already but as a place to work...
I think it would be a waste. You've got two living rooms.
You've got one for the evening, which is this,
which is quite dark and cosy, and then you've got that,
which is a light and lovely sort of morning room.
It's rather nice, the terms we're giving to these rooms.
Rather elegant 18th-century, 19th-century slice of life
with morning rooms and day rooms.
-I think we just need a bell system for you to call staff in.
Now, bedroom-wise, we've got four for you, and three bathrooms.
-You see? We've listened. We've listened to some of it, anyway.
Come and have a look through here.
When it comes to the bedrooms, three of them are on the ground floor.
One is a good-sized double with direct access to a large
elegant family bathroom equipped with Victorian-style roll-top bath.
Opposite is another large, light and airy double,
and there's also a double-aspect smaller bedroom that is
currently being used as a study - perfect for Peter.
There's also a refurbished shower room that completes
the downstairs accommodation.
So next I'm taking our couple up into the eaves for a closer
look at the master bedroom with its own en-suite.
Now, you'd better duck.
This is the route to your rooftop eyrie.
This could make a hunchback out of me, I think.
Now, in there you've got a shower room and loo.
And then this - ha-ha! - is what we are describing as the master bedroom.
It's a bit like being underground and upstairs, isn't it?
This is the kind of cottagey issue which I think you've
-It could make a nice study.
Oh, I hadn't thought of that.
What does the writer think?
You try and put a bookshelf on a wall that shape.
Very true. But, you know, how much fun would it be writing out there?
-That would be quite nice, wouldn't it?
No, that would be really pleasant.
-Let's go out to the garden and talk about the price, shall we?
Because that might also help inform your decision.
The gardens that surround the property
have been tastefully landscaped and are mainly laid to lawn.
There are well-established borders,
a greenhouse for growing fruit and veg and even a hot tub.
But this isn't included in the asking price
and would need to be negotiated for separately.
I know you didn't want a huge garden.
You've got three pockets of garden here.
This is the more formal, I suppose.
The property itself forms this little courtyard -
they've got a little hot tub in it at the moment -
and then at the far end you've got what the owner calls
the business end of things, which is greenhouse, garage and so on.
I think this end of it is my favourite bit, to be honest.
-Yeah, this would be my sun trap.
-So, that's it, property number one.
The house tour is pretty much over
and we've just got to talk about the price, of course.
I think in the region of 800,000,
-Well, I must say I was thinking about 800,
but I am concerned that that might be a bit low
because of its proximity to Chichester.
Your instincts are right. However, there is some good news.
Despite proximity to Chichester,
you could have this one for £750,000.
That's a surprise, I have to say.
That has saved you 200,000 from what you thought you might have to spend.
I mean, I know you don't want to retire, Peter,
but you are retired, Jennifer, and, you know, 200 grand goes a long way.
-Three days' work.
JULES LAUGHS Yeah, if only! If only.
Go and have another look around.
In particular, have a look at those downstairs bedrooms.
I think one of those might make a better master bedroom, if I'm honest.
-But it's a great property. Go and explore it.
-Off you go.
£200,000 would be an astonishing saving,
especially as this old farmhouse
meets many of Jennifer
and Peter's requirements.
The property is an interesting mix
of period features
with modern extensions.
It delivers the desired number
of bedrooms and bathrooms
as well as plenty of room
for Peter to set up a study.
These raised beds are nice and I could use that one for my herbs.
That would be lovely.
It's very much a working garden here
and a leisure garden there, isn't it?
Yeah, two separate gardens.
I'm cut out for the leisure garden.
One's first impression,
it looks a bit like a village hall or an old school.
Inside, the house is quite different.
It's very airy, it has a very nice feel to it.
The dining room was one of my favourite rooms.
It was lovely and bright,
the sort of place I'd like to entertain in very much.
Oh, it's not a bad room. If I was a guest, I'd be very happy here.
You've got the bathroom there.
And it's a jolly good size, and decent wardrobe in it too.
-Almost too good for guests.
I'm personally not wild about the bedroom layout.
I'd prefer to go upstairs to the master bedroom and I think that the
best bedroom is the one downstairs, which is a very nice guest bedroom.
If I was a guest and ended up in that bedroom I would be very happy.
You know, I do love gardens that are fun and I love a bit of garden art.
Look at this lovely oak owl.
Do you think this knows something we don't?
I suspect it knows quite a lot.
-Yes, very happy.
-Well, then, it's lunchtime. Come on.
Found on the upper reaches of the River Arun is another
West Sussex gem.
Horsham is a historic trading post that we've sent our food-loving
couple to in search of a special tasting.
They're visiting the Horsham Museum
and meeting up with curator Jeremy Knight.
Jeremy has offered to shed some light on the town's history.
Horsham was actually created in 947 for trade
and the market trade was so popular that we had over four fairs a year,
and five days a year there were markets
at various times in the town.
Horsham had developed a number of specialties
and it became well known for gingerbread in the 19th century,
with over 17 gingerbread sellers in the town.
Horsham gingerbread was clearly in demand
and when Jeremy was looking through some of the museum's archives
he discovered that the delicacy had a very famous fan.
The poet Shelley, who was one of the world's great poets,
his very first letter he ever wrote was about gingerbread.
We actually have a copy of the letter in a book that was
published and written by his cousin.
"Tell the bearer not to forget to bring me a fairing,
"which is some gingerbread, sweetmeats,
"hunting-nuts and a pocket-book."
So historically Horsham gingerbread went all over the country.
We know that Horsham gingerbread was sold in London,
we know it was sold in Brighton, in Lewes.
It was sold, as far as we can tell, far and wide.
In 2009, Jeremy acquired an old cookbook, which included
a recipe for Horsham gingerbread written by one of Shelley's aunts.
So the next step on their heritage gastro tour is to meet
Lesley Ward, a local food historian who's been working with
the museum, trying to reproduce the original recipe.
And after a year of trials, she perfected the mix of ginger powder,
black treacle, butter, wholemeal flour, mixed peel, oats and sugar.
Sugar used to be imported, obviously, in this form.
-Wow, that's heavy.
-It's quite weighty.
It's very weighty.
In Regency England,
you would have cracked off a lump of sugar probably with a hammer
and smashed a piece off, and then you would be using
these sugar nippers to break up the pieces into smaller pieces
before you pounded them down in a pestle and mortar.
OK, so let's start cooking.
I've got some black treacle here, Peter.
So if you can be in charge of that.
If you can put that on the cooker.
You need to add butter.
-That's a lot of butter.
-Well, you need the butter for the flavour.
Whilst Peter melts the treacle, butter and sugar,
Lesley gets Jennifer to mix up the rest of the ingredients.
It's thought Indian ginger was first exported to Europe
as early as the 1st century AD.
But as world trade boomed in the 19th century,
spices like ginger became more readily available.
Indian ginger powder is what the original Horsham bakers used
over 200 years ago because it's mild and aromatic.
Lesley, too, uses powdered rather that fresh ginger
but she's given the recipe a new addition to make it her own.
By adding the oats, I kind of stabilised it.
Every gingerbread maker added different things
and I felt happy that I'd added my own.
-So, how are we doing?
-Now, this is boiling.
What you need to do is pour it into the dry mix
and Jennifer can mix it all up.
Ooh, that looks gooey.
It's tough going when it gets mixed.
A large quantity is quite hard work, actually.
I think that's just about ready now.
The mix is poured into trays...
-It's getting quite solid, isn't it?
-Yes, it cools down.
..smoothed out and popped into a hot oven.
20 minutes later the gingerbread is ready.
They look fantastic.
-They smell good too, don't they?
-Look at that.
Lesley lets the gingerbread sit for ten minutes
and then uses traditional square cutters to divide up the portions.
It's time for the cooks to head into the garden
for that all-important tasting.
It's really quite fruity.
I can taste the lemon and the orange and,
gosh, it's much stronger than I anticipated.
It's the ginger.
It's quite subtle and then it comes through...gives it real heat.
It's the ginger from India that does it.
It doesn't hit you in the face like some of the hotter gingers.
-It's delicious. Thank you.
Yes, fantastic, Lesley, thank you so much.
Well, that taste of Horsham may have spiced things up a bit,
but now it's time to get back to our property search.
For our next stop, we're making our way to the desirable village
of Bosham on the banks of Chichester Harbour.
The area is particularly popular with sailing enthusiasts
and this quaint waterside residence has a rich history.
It was once inhabited by Romans and is featured on the Bayeux Tapestry.
Bosham itself is served by a good selection of quality pubs
and tearooms and the village has a strong sense of community.
The next home I'm showing them is less than a five-minute drive
inland towards Chichester.
It's one of two impressively converted detached barns
that were completed in 2011.
In you come.
Right, well, we've come up with this converted beauty.
Built originally about 1750, many of the original beams survive,
but it was all done up four years ago.
Looks big and it looks as though it might be quite bright,
there's a lot of glass there.
And it's got lots of bathrooms. And a huge kitchen. How about that?!
Come and have a look.
'The internal footprint of this barn covers over 3,000 square feet
'and the ground floor is open-plan,
'split into three modern living areas.'
Now then, Jennifer, come on in, because I think this is remarkable.
Speechless. It's enormous and it's such a nice, clean space.
It's so beautifully done.
I mean, just the colour. I love the simplicity of the colour.
-The wood and the...
-They've done this really well.
Of course, it's only four years old,
so it's built to all modern building regulations and standards.
Very efficient to heat, very well insulated.
It really sells itself.
I don't really need to say an awful lot here, I don't think.
There's a little mezzanine there.
Is that where it goes round the corner?
Ah, well, no, you have got two sets of stairs here,
one there and one there.
They both lead up to two bedrooms each, of the four that are on offer.
-It does appeal.
-I certainly wouldn't rule it out.
I think it's an exciting building.
Come and have a look at the kitchen, look at this. Again, not small.
-Funky, young, slick.
-It's got everything. Space...
-..fantastic marble tops.
..and room to...
I'm not sure that I like that layout
but it could be made cosy and...
I think I'd go for something which was more of a kitchen/living room.
-A nice breakfast...living...
-That door goes through to the utility room.
You've got built-in, integrated washer-dryers and all the rest of it.
Currently, I sometimes don't see Peter from morning till night
because he's downstairs in the basement working
and I've got three floors to play with, so...
Here you'd see nothing else BUT me.
You would trip over each other, that's the thing.
Well, if you think about it, it is only two rooms, really.
We'd have to find our own little corners.
So, where shall we go next? We've got two staircases to choose from.
Er... Let's go up this one.
Running from left to right along the back of the building
is a half landing that links the ground and first floors.
We're accessing the first floor via this landing,
from the staircase at the kitchen end.
Here we find two shower rooms
and stairs that serve the upstairs bedrooms.
These two bedrooms are lofty and well-proportioned doubles,
with exposed beams that add character.
Now, technically, this is used as a guest room.
-A guest room!
-It's not bad, is it?
This is one of the two en-suites that are here.
The en-suites have showers.
So this is mirrored, effectively, next door.
That staircase we've just come up from the kitchen would
offer you a, sort of, guest wing.
-I like that.
-As a room, I think it's lovely.
-It's the wardrobe space worries me.
So you couldn't imagine anything freestanding,
-adding to what's already here?
How much are you bringing with you? SHE LAUGHS
Is this not time for a clear-out, I'm beginning to think?
Look, before we go outside and talk about the price, let's go
and look at the bedroom they've given over as a study.
Because you do need somewhere to work.
You're a very accomplished writer, Peter, and I don't want you to
be without, so let's go and find you somewhere of your very own.
'We're making our way back downstairs
'and heading for the northern end of the barn.
'Here the half-landing consists of a relaxing mezzanine
'and a high-spec family bathroom.
'Once again, there are two separate staircases
'leading up to the remaining bedrooms.
'The smaller bedroom is being used as a study,
'giving the master bedroom sole access to the family bathroom.'
Now, it's hard to judge but I suppose this is probably fractionally
the smallest of the bedrooms, but they've got it set up as a study.
It's an area where you can be quiet and concentrate.
No problem with anything colour-wise.
Right then, let's see if you love the price.
We'll talk about that now.
Jennifer was originally wowed by this converted barn
but I'm finding it hard to gauge just how they're feeling now.
They asked for a manageable garden and, although there are no views from
the main living area, it does afford some overlooking nearby fields.
By the main entrance, there's another lawn garden with well-stocked borders
and a nicely designed patio for outdoor dining.
All that remains is to find out just how much
they think this place is on the market for.
-What's coming next, Jennifer?
-And I'm first.
-You're going to go first, yeah.
How much is it on the market for?
I think because of the quality and the position, 925.
925, yeah. Peter?
-850, no nonsense there.
Straight in with a very cheeky 850.
Well, you've sort of straddled it, actually!
This is on the market for 895.
It was over nine, but they've reduced it. All right, so 895.
Have a look around.
Go and enjoy it and I'll catch up with you a little bit later on.
This impeccably finished converted barn could be
bought for £55,000 under the top end of Peter and Jennifer's budget.
It offers exactly the number of bedrooms
and bathrooms they wanted and is conveniently located
less than a 15-minute drive from the cultural hot spot that is Chichester.
Good room for parties but it's not intimate.
It looks so huge because of that glass panelling there, but it's...
I don't know, a bit too open, maybe.
When I got inside, it really exceeded expectations.
I love the way that they've used the old beams,
there's some lovely brackets and things like that.
So the inside was stunning.
-It's not a bad room.
It's a magnificent space but the property is all about the property,
whereas I really want to come to the country to enjoy
the country from my garden and I haven't got a view.
-Yes, thank you. Some place.
-Well, very interesting day.
If nothing else, I think we've learned that you do quite like
-a barn conversion.
-I must say, it had a lot going for it.
Well, let's see if we can find you another one tomorrow. Come on.
'It's day two of our property search in West Sussex
'and with a maximum budget of 950,000,
'married couple Peter and Jennifer
'have decided to sell their central-London pad
'and start a new life in the countryside.
'Coming up, we've got our mystery house to show them...'
This is your main living space.
This is a bit special.
'..and I visit one of Europe's largest nurseries here on home soil
'and risk being mauled for the sake of pest control.'
-Is this going to bite or anything?
-No, they don't.
-What's in it?
Oh, you're joking! They're like little fleas.
Well, it's our final day of house-hunting here in West Sussex
with two very discerning buyers in the form of Jennifer and Peter.
Coming up, we have two more properties,
last but not least, of course, our mystery house,
something which I don't really think they'd have looked at on paper
but, looking ahead to their future, I think it could really work.
Is my hunch right? Well, we'll have to wait and see.
But before we get to that we have our penultimate property to show them.
Now, Jennifer has been very clear,
she wants something that's peaceful, that's quiet,
with far-reaching countryside views, but which also gives them
access on foot to local amenities.
That, in my experience, is a very difficult combination to find.
But on this occasion, well, we might just have done it.
Our next home is located in the South Downs National Park,
a 25-minute drive north-east of Chichester in sought-after Amberley.
This scenic parish is a real jewel in West Sussex's crown.
Recorded in the Domesday Book as having just 17 villagers
living here, Amberley also has a castle that proudly stands
in the northern part of the village
and dates back to the early 1100s.
The River Arun runs through the parish,
which has a good variety of amenities
and a direct train to central London taking an hour and 20 minutes.
Less than a ten-minute walk from Amberley Castle is our next
property, which has an attractive timber and render frontage.
But the real selling point is its location.
At the back of it are the kind of views that I think
Peter and Jennifer are after.
-Now, Jennifer, you wanted views.
-You've done it!
Yeah, that's what I want.
..uninterrupted views right across that flood plain known
locally as the Amberley Wild Brooks.
So you've got this lovely elevated position
here in the heart of Amberley.
-I think this is a really good spot, location-wise.
That's the property. What do you think?
Oh, it looks sensational.
It started out life in about 1860 as a pub.
It was then converted into a home about 1960, so 100 years later.
It has four bedrooms, one of which is in a one-bedroom annexe over there.
I'm thinking that the annexe might make a great writing studio for you.
The garden is quite extensive.
You've got this flat area here and then it's terraced down the hill.
-That is ours, is it?
-Yeah, towards the meadow.
-Oh, I was afraid that was our neighbour's.
-No, that's all yours.
Wow, sensational. Let's get in!
Yeah, come on then. This way, let's start with the kitchen.
'Well, I was confident the wonderful outlook would hit the mark
'and I'm delighted at Jennifer's enthusiasm
'to view the rest of this period property.
'I'm just hoping the stylish kitchen has the same impact.'
There we are, what do you reckon?
That's terrific. Look at the views as well.
-Well, look at the view through there.
That used to be the pub kitchen but they've opened it all up.
Round the corner you can see that leaded window -
that was the old serving hatch back in 1860.
It's really nice. I think you've got a nice mixture
of the modern country kitchen, as it were,
but a nice bit of more elegant dining through there.
-You're doing very well, Jules.
We're finally getting there, edging our way forward to a solution.
Now, through that door there you've got access to the annexe,
which I'm going to let you two explore on your own
a little later on.
-But in the meantime let's continue this way.
'We're making our way into the spacious hallway
'past a good-sized study with
'fitted wardrobes, shelves and desk space.
'But our next stop is a beautiful room,
'where I imagine our couple will do most of their unwinding.'
Now, this is the main living room.
It's nice having the dual-aspect windows.
It's possibly a little smaller than I might have liked.
Next door they've got a study set up but you could, in theory,
-open that up.
Which would give you perhaps a bit more living space,
if you didn't want to have that as a separate study
-because you've got so many options outside for that.
-It's ticking a lot of boxes.
-Good. I'm working hard on this one.
I love it, I think this village works for you,
I think this property can work for you.
I think the village is a huge attraction and I like...
I think the house is...
It's a good old traditional family English house.
-Exactly right, sir.
OK, now, let's have a look upstairs and see what you make of that.
'It's good to hear they're keeping an open mind but, of course,
'any structural alterations may be subject to planning permission.
'We're making our way upstairs to the first floor,
'where there are three bedrooms.
'Two are good-sized doubles with more fitted wardrobes,
'one of which has a sloping ceiling and exposed beams.
'These rooms all share a well-appointed family bathroom
'but I want to show Jennifer and Peter the master.'
-This is yours, with built-in storage, Jennifer.
THEY LAUGH You see?
They've got a chest of drawers, which we've got.
Plenty of room for that there.
And it's also got en-suite with shower and bath,
all quite nicely done.
-I think this looks very promising.
It's just about manageable, I think.
Funnily enough, I think I'd put the bed here. But anyway, that's...
Ah, well, it's all good, you see?
You've slipped into that moment when you're planning your layout.
-This is all revealing stuff.
Right, then. Well, let's go out to the garden
-and take in those views again, shall we?
Our buyers have responded really well to this intriguing house.
I know they like the terraced garden with its summer house,
fruit and veg patch, as well as the wonderful views,
but I'm now keen to see what they really think of the price.
Just gorgeous out there.
-It's wonderful, it's just what I asked for.
-It is what you asked for,
but it's the property we really want you to focus on now, and its value.
-I would say 925-935.
Well, I'd have to go, I think, with an optimistic something like 895.
An optimistic 895.
You're a bit more realistic, sir.
It's on the market currently for 950.
-However, I think it is probably open to some sensible offers,
and in my experience, sensible offers tend to get sensible answers,
which might reflect those things that need a little bit of tweaking.
No, there's a huge amount going for it. It's a serious prospect.
-A serious contender.
Well, have another look around. In particular,
-go and explore the annexe - you haven't really seen that yet.
And I will find you somewhere a little bit later on.
-Thank you very much.
-Good, off you go.
There you are.
Well, we have managed to spend pretty much all of Peter
and Jennifer's budget but what a property and what a location.
I really do think this could work,
but of course, at the end of the day, it's got to work for them.
This house is at the top of their budget
but I think it's their favourite property yet.
It offers them character,
the living space they wanted,
good local amenities and magnificent views,
as well as the added bonus of a separate annexe
for Peter to write in.
This is a surprise.
Well, a bedroom up there, presumably.
I think it's a really attractive guest room.
I mean, terrific independence someone would have here
and they'd love it.
Yeah, and they'd have great views out onto the terrace
-and total independence.
The position of the property is what I particularly liked about it.
It's in a quiet road in a lovely village with that sensational view.
When we walked up the drive and into the garden, then I was
totally taken aback and I thought all my dreams had come true at once.
The view was so sensational, I just fell in love with it.
This is the wall that could come down to extend the sitting room
-That would be nice.
-And then you get the window as well.
Yeah, but then you're stuck for study space.
-Well, we'll have to think about that.
Thinking about this house compared to the other houses we've seen,
I would say this probably comes top of the list.
But there are concerns about the money we'd have to spend on it.
Ah, just wondering where you had got to. We've got to go.
-A lot to think about.
-It's a really interesting proposition.
I hope it is a serious contender.
It is, without a doubt.
I mean, food for thought - this is a FEAST for thought, I think.
Well, can we top up your appetite with our mystery house, I wonder?
So, one more property to come - our mystery house.
Any ideas as to what it might be?
Well, I think have shown us such a range of houses the only thing
I can think left is a caravan, which we could tow from view to view.
For your budget, it would be a pretty extensive caravan,
wouldn't it, really?
You don't know what we'd tow it with.
Oh, there we are, yeah.
Well, I think it's a really interesting property, but I suspect
that on paper it's probably something you wouldn't have looked at.
Our mystery house is located 20 miles further west in another sleepy
South Downs village, Stoughton.
The surrounding golden rape-seed fields frame this peaceful place.
Stoughton may have a remote feel and only one public house but it's
barely a 20-minute drive from the cultural activity in Chichester.
Tucked away among the fields
and accessed via a country lane is our mystery house.
Peter and Jennifer are used to four-storey living
so we're taking it down a level or two
and there's nothing more rural then an agricultural conversion.
Well, at long last I can reveal the mystery house.
There it is. What do you think?
Well, it's certainly a mystery. It's very difficult to tell quite...
well, what it WAS, let alone what it is now.
-Is it all of it?
-It's all of it.
Everything you can see is yours.
The word bungalow comes to mind.
I knew... I knew that was going to surface.
I'm going to call it a single-storey cowshed conversion.
-I always wanted to live in a cowshed.
Well, I use the word cowshed specifically
because that is what it was.
It's not your classic two-storey great big Sussex barn.
Let's call it a barn conversion, you know, for want of argument.
Let's be realistic and practical about this.
I want this home, your future home, to work for you for, you know,
a long time to come, and I think this is a property that you'd never
-have to leave, to be honest with you.
-So let's not use the bungalow word any more.
'The original building was constructed in the 1800s
'from brick and flint and it's awash with timber beams.
'It was converted into a home in the 1970s
'and further alterations have been made ever since.'
Dining room there, we'll talk about that a little more in a moment.
This is your main living space.
-This is a bit special.
-Do you like it?
I'm not sure yet but I find it very attractive.
Something catches your eye everywhere you look.
-Oh, it's moving you, I think.
Is it moving Peter?
Yeah, I like the beams and all those trusses
and I like that big brick chimneybreast, that's great.
I love the windows. I like the fact that you could open that up
-and bring the outside inside.
-Absolutely, yeah, imagine it.
I think you could have a nice dining area here, say,
making the best use of the views out that way.
-Maybe the dining room as it stands could become your study.
Come and have a look through here. This is the kitchen.
There we are. Not enormous, to be fair,
but beautifully formed, one might say.
Nice worktops but, yes, just a little on the small side.
That's the little dining space they've got at the moment.
That's fine for breakfast.
And there's a utility room through that door over there.
I think this would operate very much as a functional kitchen.
I don't think this would be a focal point of life in the house.
If you think this is a little disappointing, do not worry,
because I am going to more than make up for it with the master bedroom.
Oh, yes, come and look at this.
Including the master, our mystery barn has five bedrooms.
One is dual-aspect with enough space for a double bed,
another is being used as a cosy guest room,
and the smallest space is currently set up as a study
with doors leading out onto the garden.
They all share a family bathroom with walk-in shower
but the master bedroom is en-suite
and has access to a studio that is being used as a further study.
So, finally, at the end of the corridor, this is what's on offer
and I'm hoping it will not disappoint you.
Isn't that astonishing? Can't help looking up all the time.
It's lovely, isn't it?
Now, there's a glorious room.
-And, look, it's got loads of storage.
Lots of built-in storage.
Now, if you look ahead, you've got two doors there.
On the left, that's currently your en-suite bathroom with bath.
On the right, a bigger room that they're using as a study
but I'm thinking you probably wouldn't want to walk through
the bedroom to go to work, Peter.
In which case, you could, because you've got the plumbing next door,
make that another en-suite
but perhaps with a dressing area as well because it's bigger.
And then you could fight over which one you each have.
-That would work very well.
-Yeah. This is a beautiful room.
Actually, a really stunning room.
-Right then, shall we go outside and talk about the price?
That, I'm sure, will have a bearing on things.
The garden is a peaceful space with a terrace to sit out on,
a lawn to stroll around in and a fishpond to encourage wildlife.
But it's the glorious countryside setting that I'm hoping
will really excite our buyers.
The garden, I think, is big enough for what you want to be worried about
and certainly manageable enough.
Now you know what's on offer, let's wrap it all up...
-with the difficult bit, the nitty-gritty, the money.
I suspect this is going to be over our basic budget, so I'm going
to pitch on...920.
Well, I'm astonished by that
because I'm going to go quite the other direction.
I'm going to say 825.
The scales of optimism have shifted between you today!
Well, it's 875.
What do you think about that?
Well, it does give us a bit of room to spend
-on a few alterations that we might like to do.
Go and have another look around
-and I'll find you a little bit later on.
Our mystery barn is another property we've found that's under budget.
Peter and Jennifer have loved the character it offers,
its manageable garden and countryside location,
plus that extra bedroom means there are options for Peter's study.
Hmm. This is a nice, bright room,
but it is a bit on the small side for guests, I think.
-A little, yes.
Jules brought us up this lane and
ahead of us was this wonderful scenery.
Then we turned into the gateway, into a very pretty little garden
which was surrounded by an eight-foot wall,
which was, again, a nice wall,
but it cut the view off.
I think Jules's idea, actually, is a good one -
to make this into a bathroom. It would be a very nice bathroom.
-Well, it would be a very nice dressing-bathroom for you.
My favourite room in the house is undoubtedly the master bedroom,
I think it's a stunning room.
But this house doesn't really offer
a natural room for a study, I think.
West Sussex in the sunshine, it's like being in the Bahamas here.
Hey, here we go! I hope you didn't rush for me,
-I'm enjoying it out here.
-Not at all, every nook and cranny.
Good. Well, I think we've given you lots to think about this week.
Wow, maybe you're a bit bamboozled but you are about to spend a fortune
so you do need to think about it.
-Fancy a beer?
-Now you're talking.
Towards the southern end of the county
is the former RAF base at Tangmere.
It was established after the First World War but closed in 1970.
However, 18 years later, new life was breathed into the site
when Dutchman Dirk Houweling bought the land
and established a family business producing peppers.
I'm meeting up with general manager Gerard Vonk to find out
more about Tangmere's 21st-century successes.
-Welcome to Tangmere Food Nurseries.
-Thank you very much indeed.
Gerard, nobody serving on this airfield during the Second World War
could have ever imagined that it would find a new life
as the centre of the UK's pepper production 70-odd years later.
-It's an astonishing place, this.
-Thank you very much.
We've got over 75 acres of greenhouse
growing red, green, yellow, and orange peppers.
How many peppers do you get out of 75 acres of greenhouse?
-About 65 million.
In terms of our consumption as a country, how does that
-equate as a percentage?
-It's about 30%.
What persuaded you to bring your operation here
to West Sussex and Tangmere?
We are a family business and we came over from Holland
to be closer to the consumer, the market,
and this part of Sussex is very nice, warm and sunny -
exactly what a pepper plant needs.
You've got a couple of bikes here, I've noticed, Gerard.
Is that the best way to get around your 75-acre site?
That's right, and even a healthy one.
-Do you want to come along?
-Absolutely, yeah! Great.
-Have this bike.
-Thank you very much.
It's not just the cycling that's healthy here.
Gerard and his team concentrate on producing sweet, or bell, peppers.
They're all very low in cholesterol and saturated fat,
as well as rich in vitamins such as vitamin K, that helps with healing,
and B6, that reduces fatigue.
This is absolutely astonishing.
-How many acres is this greenhouse?
-How many pepper plants have you got?
-About a quarter of a million.
-A quarter of a million?!
I notice they're all growing up these strings.
Are they all planted and strung by hand?
Where are these plants in their life cycle?
At the moment they're halfway.
I mean, at the end of the year they will be roughly about four metres.
-So they will, kind of, double that, going right up to the top?
Now, what are you planting them in? Cos this isn't soil, is it?
No, this is rock wool, which is
a growing media which can hold all of the roots and water.
I mean, most of us would associate that with roofing insulation.
It's actually a similar material, although it's very uniform.
A very sustainable way of retaining water
and giving the plant exactly what it wants.
Peppers originated in South America,
with wild varieties dating back as far as 5000BC.
It only takes 30 days for a bud to grow into a fully-formed fruit.
However, at this stage it's green and still considered immature.
It takes a further three weeks for the pepper to reach full maturity
and change its colour.
-I'm dying to try one. What about that yellow one there?
-Yeah, no problem.
-Is that ready to go?
Fabulous, look at that. Beautiful, beautiful pepper. Absolutely perfect.
Now, I must confess, Gerard, that when I buy peppers
I don't really ascribe a particular taste to any of the colours.
-I mean, is there really much of a difference?
-Definitely there is.
Green is an immature pepper. That's the most tangy -
bitter, some people might say.
So what's the sweetest pepper?
-Sweetest, I would like to think orange.
Red is also a very tasty one.
What about insects and bugs and things?
Things that might destroy the plants.
There are millions of it, but I can show you.
I've got something for you.
Gerard's taking me to the company's hi-tech research
and development area, where they test different techniques
for producing the perfect product, including pest control.
The four main problems we've got are aphids, red spider mite,
-caterpillar and thrips.
-What's a thrip?
A thrip is like a kind of thunderbug.
How damaging could these pests be? What will they do to the plant?
They can be very damaging. Look over here, there's been scuff marks
-and it actually deforms a leaf.
-Gosh, it does, actually, doesn't it?
Potentially, the thrips can actually give a virus to the plant.
What have you got in there?
We've got over here a predator called orius
and they actually eat the thrips.
-Is this going to bite or anything?
-No, they don't. Look.
-You're joking, like little fleas.
-That's right, that's right.
That's astonishing. They are like little fleas, they're jumping around.
-What are those?
-That's where they actually stay.
-What do we want to do, get them on the leaves?
-Pop on a leaf over here.
-Ah! I can feel them on my...
-There we are.
-There you go.
Off you go, fellas.
Gerard, you say this is your research and development greenhouse.
-What are you particularly looking at for the future?
-For example, LEDs.
Maybe you can see them already in the distance in the crop.
-Those little, yeah, purple, red...
-Red and blue, yes.
Yes, now, we try to get a little bit more light in the crop.
And it going to improve the size of peppers further down the plant?
That's right, maybe more peppers throughout the plant.
You know, I think we all tend to take the pepper for granted
when we pick it up off the supermarket shelf.
There's much more to a pepper than you think.
There is so much more to it than I could ever have thought.
-Gerard, thank you very much, mate.
So, from planes to peppers, this part of West Sussex still plays
a significant role in the county's heritage.
Well, it's been a week of high hopes and high numbers
but have our efforts for Peter and Jennifer been successful?
-Hello, how are you doing?
-Hello. Fine, thank you.
-The perfect spot.
-Got yours in.
Ah, thank you very much indeed.
Well, it's been quite a week, hasn't it?
We've had some lovely weather, gorgeous houses,
but have we managed to find you a home that you can move into?
-I think you've come very close.
The house in Amberley is very close to...
and that view is sensational.
The garden is lovely and the house could be good.
We'd just want to do a little bit to it.
And at the price that it's on at at the moment,
I just don't think it gives us quite enough room to do it.
Yes, it was offers in excess of £950,000.
It's been on the market for a couple of months -
it may be one to watch.
I suspect that's your favourite too.
Most definitely. I mean, I just fell in love with the view
and the garden there and the terrace.
I mean, it took the sun most of the day.
And I think the village itself offered you everything that you were
-Yeah, the fact that you could walk to a shop...
The pub and the tearoom and all those other lovely things
-that Amberley has.
-And the station.
And, of course, the station links back to London.
So I can take some heart in the fact that we found you the right
-property but just not for the right price.
OK, so the search goes on.
What have you really taken away from this experience?
Has it helped refine what you're after?
I think it's helped me realise that perhaps I'm expecting
a bit too much for our money, in this area anyway.
What about West Sussex itself, Peter, for you?
I think West Sussex is a lovely place to live and I would like to
persevere and give it a bit longer and look at some other places.
I really hope we can find one little patch of West Sussex that
gives us what we're looking for, for slightly less money.
Well, it's been an awful lot of fun.
I'm glad to hear you haven't been put off this gorgeous county.
Your search will continue. Let us know how you get on.
It's been a great deal of fun. Very best of luck.
-And, as ever, keep us informed as to how you get on. Cheers.
You know, I love coming to West Sussex.
This gorgeous landscape filled with pretty villages and sumptuous houses
means that wherever you look there is something beautiful to see.
So you can imagine my surprise when I thought,
having come here with a lovely couple armed with £1 million,
we would have a pretty successful house-hunt.
Sadly, this week it just wasn't to be.
But I do think Peter and Jennifer are taking away two really
important things. Firstly, a much sharper focus
on what their new home needs to be, and, secondly,
an invigorated determination to finally make this county
their new home.
Hopefully sooner rather than later.
I'll see you next time.
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Jules Hudson is on a property-finding mission to uncover a new home and a tranquil lifestyle in the West Sussex countryside for a well-travelled couple from London. Whilst there, Jules hits the runway where planes have made way for peppers at one of Europe's largest nurseries.