Property series. Sonali Shah is property searching in West Sussex with a couple who want their £625,000 to buy them uninterrupted peace in the country.
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This 19th-century windmill is known locally as Jill
and just behind the trees there is her partner Jack.
Together, they stand proud over the local landscape. But where am I?
Find out in just a moment.
Today, a couple who crave quiet in the countryside,
away from the noise of next door.
At one of our properties,
the neighbours are the least of our worries.
We're not really great fans of brick.
There's going to be a lot of vacuuming I'll have to do.
But at another house, we get it right.
Oh, this is lovely.
I think this has got almost everything we want.
Today, we're in West Sussex.
And I'm in the village of Clayton
in the heart of the South Downs National Park.
The village's two windmills
are thought to have been named Jack and Jill
by day-trippers to Brighton in the 1920s.
Today, only Jill here is a working mill,
lovingly cared for by a group of dedicated volunteers,
who've been meeting here every Saturday since 1978.
Thanks to their hard work,
Jill has been fully restored and occasionally, when the wind blows,
is used to grind locally-grown wheat to make wholemeal flour,
providing us with just a taste of what this county has to offer.
West Sussex lies in the heart of the South East,
tucked in between the English Channel
and the counties of Hampshire, Surrey and East Sussex.
Despite being just a short hop from the capital,
parts of the county feel like a step back in time,
with historic architectural delights and quiet country lanes aplenty.
In the east, the rolling hills of the Weald,
once an ancient forest,
are interrupted by the Ouse Valley viaduct,
one of the country's finest.
An imposing example of Victorian engineering.
Stretching across the county from east to west
is the South Downs National Park,
which became a protected area in 2011.
These chalk hills are considered
one of the most important rural landscapes in southern England.
Nearby, the charming market town of Arundel
boasts a beautifully preserved castle,
which dates back to the 11th century.
Today, it makes an impressive sight,
towering above the banks of the River Arun.
With its easy access to both the coast and the capital,
West Sussex is a much sought-after county
for those after of a not-too-remote slice of rural England.
But property buyers beware.
With its proximity to the capital and unspoilt countryside,
houses in West Sussex don't come cheap.
In fact, the average price of a detached property here
is about 45% more than the national average
and would cost you around £400,000.
Commuter territory always comes at a premium,
but prices are more reasonable
the further south you go away from the capital.
Apart from the coast, of course.
So what are today's buyers hoping to find in this beautiful county?
Well, let's meet them and find out.
Ben and Kim have been married for almost 40 years
and live in the Surrey town of Hawley.
For the last two decades,
the family home has been this four-bedroom detached house.
But with two grown-up children having flown the nest,
they're not only looking to downsize,
but to find a quieter setting
away from the town Ben has lived in most of his life.
I've lived here for probably about 50 years now.
And when I moved here it was fantastic. It was like countryside.
We used to go to the river, where there's lots of fields.
-It was great fun.
-It was a village, wasn't it?
-It was a little village, yeah.
-Now, there's a lot more housing.
But they haven't sort of improved the town to cope with it, really.
And the road's got very busy now.
We like peace and quiet.
Ben has worked in IT for 40 years and Kim is a school secretary.
They're not giving up their jobs or their friends,
so they've set their sights south
on the neighbouring county of West Sussex.
We'd really like to move to West Sussex.
We've got friends in that area.
We'd really like to be kind of within 25 miles' radius of Horsham,
because then we could carry on visiting our friends.
We do see them quite a lot. You know, they come over for dinner.
And if we're too far away, that would take that away from us,
you know, and we really do enjoy that type of thing.
As well as entertaining, Ben and Kim hope to add to the family.
What draws us really to the country life is the peace and quiet
and the fact that, you know,
when Kim gets her dog - finally gets her dog -
which I promised her when we move,
she'll just be able to walk out the house, down the country lane.
There won't be traffic zooming past us all the time.
Be able to let it off the lead and off it'll go.
When they're not walking their new dog,
Ben wants to hit the West Sussex roads in his classic car.
The MG Midget that I've got in the garage,
Kim and I bought that in 1979.
And all through our married life she's been saying,
"We've got to sell that car to pay for something."
But somehow, I've managed to hang onto it.
And when we get into the countryside,
I'm going to get it back on the road,
drive it out to a little country pub with the hood down.
I may even take Kim with me, as well, if she's lucky.
But it sounds like Kim will be more than occupied with her new garden.
We'd like to have a smaller garden. Not too small.
Because I do enjoy gardening
and I get very carried away at the garden centre
buying plants and shrubs and trees.
But something that will be a bit easier to manage.
Hopefully, with room for a small greenhouse.
And after a busy day outside,
what better way to relax than in front of the fire.
I don't know why, I've always loved wood burners
and everything that goes with them.
It'll be really, really cold and we'll light up the wood burner
and get in front of it,
nice glass of red wine - or white wine Kim prefers -
and get some music on.
And, you know, you just can't beat it.
We really want to be able to either have a wood burner in the new house
or certainly be able to put one in, if possible.
But although our buyers clearly yearn for rural rapture,
the sociable couple have some fears
about being too cut-off from the rest of the world.
I think our main concern, if we moved too far,
is we'll be moving away from our friends.
We know we've got to do it. We've got to get away.
But, you know, when you're so familiar with something,
it is going to be a big shock.
But we desperately want to do it.
You know, if we don't do it now...
Kim keeps saying to me,
"Why don't we wait until we go into an old people's home?"
I think, "No. That will be after this move."
So we've got to do it now.
Ben and Kim want us to concentrate our property search
within a 25-mile radius of Horsham,
so Kim can continue working
and so they're not too far from their friends in Surrey.
I'm meeting up with our buyers in West Sussex
to find out more about their planned move.
-Ben and Kim, lovely to meet you both.
Now, this is why you want to move to West Sussex, isn't it?
-The peace and quiet.
-It is indeed.
It's just amazing here, isn't it?
You've both lived in Surrey for most of your lives.
So are you ready for the change?
It's going to be quite a change,
because we have lived in Surrey for, well, 50 years
and we'll be starting again, really.
It'll be a new life.
Tell us about the house you're looking for.
Well, ideally, three bedrooms.
We're downsizing a bit.
-Kim would like an en suite, wouldn't you?
Don't mind about the style or the age, particularly.
Probably not too old.
-No. We don't want a project.
-So something fairly ready to move into?
Modern would be great, wouldn't it?
Because I do a lot of work around the house,
a lot of central heating stuff, electrics.
But I'd like to put that behind me and have it all done for me, really.
Anything else that's really important for you both?
Ben would like a wood burner or be able to put one in.
I've got to have a wood burner, yes.
So if it doesn't have one in, you'd be doing that job, wouldn't you?
I would be doing that job. That's fine. Yeah, it would be good.
And, really, it does need to have broadband as well,
because I'm into computers quite a bit
and I don't want to be cut off from the internet.
Most places nowadays, actually... You can check the companies.
Yeah, and you can always get satellite put in now. Yes.
What are the big no-nos for you?
Neighbours is a really, really big no-no.
We want to be somewhere where, whatever the neighbours do,
they're not going to affect us.
And whatever we do, we won't affect them.
We spend a lot of time in the garden, you know, sunbathing and...
-Sitting out with a glass of wine.
Yeah, glass of wine. Got a chiminea outside, wood burner indoors.
-So you must have a nice garden?
Size doesn't matter too much
because, at the moment, we've got a big garden
and we'd like to get something smaller.
But we don't mind if it's got fields around it, something like that.
Yeah, a view would be fantastic.
Or a garden that's maybe got a little area
that's more cultivated with grass and shrubs and things around
that doesn't need too much work.
Remind us of your budget.
-The budget is 625,000.
Now, in most parts of the country, that would be a fantastic budget.
-But you know how popular West Sussex is.
-Yes, we do know.
So it might be difficult
-to get absolutely everything on your wish list.
-But we've got some great properties lined up.
And hopefully, you'll find something in them that you're looking for.
-Yeah, we're really looking forward to it.
Ben and Kim have an ambitious wish list for their £625,000.
But we hope to find them a detached property
with a minimum of three bedrooms and at least one en-suite bathroom.
They're not too concerned about a particular age or style,
but would like a wood burner or the potential to install one
and a manageable garden.
But of greatest importance is the position.
They don't want to be disturbed by neighbouring properties.
We've lined up a worthy selection of West Sussex wonders
for Ben and Kim to ponder.
But I won't by revealing the price tag of their potential purchase
until the end of the tour.
Our Mystery House challenges our buyers to embrace shared living.
How do you think the process will go?
Who do you think will make the final decision?
Well, I think it's going to be a joint decision, really.
So I'm really looking forward to it. I'm really excited.
And I'm really excited to be going to the first house
because we've been looking for a long time
and haven't been able to find what we want.
Our first house is in the village of Nutbourne,
around 12 miles from Horsham.
Surrounded by pleasing countryside,
the attractive farming village
is centred on an award-winning 16th-century pub
and is close to a local vineyard
situated on gentle slopes overlooking the South Downs.
Our first house is located not far from the pub,
in the heart of the peaceful village.
-It's very unusual.
-It is unusual, isn't it?
-It is an unusual property. So this used to be a millhouse.
Built in 1750. And then it was converted 25 years ago.
-So you can see all the original stone.
And then it's got the tiled roof.
It is amazing. It's so quiet here.
-And that is the big plus point with this property.
The peace and quiet that you have requested in a huge way is here.
Definitely. That is our number one priority.
You can hear the birds singing. And that's the only disturbance.
We love the birds singing.
-But what do you think?
-I think it's amazing at first sight.
Yes. Little bit concerned about the proximity...
I guess these are other people, are they, here?
Yes, your neighbours are right here.
This used to be the bakery, the shop, basically.
If they had kind of a family of children, you know,
and they're playing ball and they've got a trampoline in there,
that would, you know, be a no-no for me,
because we've got that already.
We've got neighbours already. But to start with, yeah, it looks amazing.
-Let's hope the inside is as good as the outside.
-Let's go and see.
Ben seems a little concerned about potential noise pollution.
But hopefully, the charm of our converted mill
will dilute those fears.
They front of the property overlooks the old millpond.
The waterwheel itself has been replaced in recent years,
although serves only an aesthetic purpose.
Inside, though, it's the real deal.
I thought we'd start with the kitchen first.
Because I think it shows off
-some of the nice original features of the millhouse.
-Now, we've not really talked about size of kitchen.
At the moment, we've got quite a large kitchen-diner.
-But this is OK. It's not too small.
-And who spends most of the time in the kitchen?
Yes, I'll be doing most of the cooking.
It looks good to me for cooking in, yeah.
You're both fairly quiet about it, though.
-We're not really great fans of brick.
-Are you not?
I thought that was a real feature.
That was one of my favourite bits, the exposed wall.
-Yeah, it does it for some people.
Yeah, we should have mentioned it maybe earlier.
No, listen, this is something you can always plaster over.
-It's just most people think that's a nice feature.
I don't dislike it in the kitchen.
It's in bedrooms and things I'm not so keen on it.
-Where it's just brick everywhere, yeah.
-A little bit's all right.
-Is that OK?
-Let's see if you could see yourselves
sitting in the living room.
-Lead the way. Just through the hall...
Now, Ben, this living room has the wood burner that you requested.
Oh, that is fantastic. I love that wood burner.
Yeah, it's not the normal kind of wood burner, is it?
It's actually built-in. It looks really nice.
Yeah, it sort of integrated into the wall.
But actually, this house doesn't need one,
because they have got underfloor heating throughout the ground floor.
So the kitchen and this room makes up most of the downstairs.
There's a downstairs loo, which is also a bathroom.
You'll see that later. It's got a lovely bath in it.
But do you think it might be a little bit too small for you,
what you've seen so far?
-I think so, probably.
-Yeah, you know.
-It's got character.
-It's certainly got character, yeah.
Because you both said you didn't mind what style of house.
So I thought I'd introduce you first to a lot of character.
There is a lot of character.
Yes, maybe a bit of character overload, perhaps.
-Do you think too much for you?
-It is for me, yes.
Yes, but, you know, we're open-minded.
And perhaps we'd get to love this type of place.
Some reservations, then, about the ground floor arrangements.
But I'm hoping upstairs will get us back on track,
because there's lots more to see.
It gives Ben and Kim the three bedrooms
they wanted across two floors.
The first floor is home to two bedrooms, a single and a double
with its own en suite
and the master bedroom is found on the top floor.
So the house is over three floors. And this is the top floor.
And this actually used to be the lounge, the living room.
But the family that live here
converted it into their master bedroom
and made an en suite just through there.
And the reason why they liked this space
is they felt this was the lightest, airiest part of the house.
And the view is of the millpond. What are your thoughts?
Kim, you've been quite quiet.
It's a bit small, I think.
Looking at all those steps there,
there's going to be a lot of vacuuming I'll have to do.
And, of course, our knees aren't getting any younger,
like the rest of our bodies.
But the location is lovely.
'Let's remind ourselves of the surroundings
'by heading back down to the garden.
'Outside, a lawn wraps itself around two sides of the property
'and there's a decked seating area for summer entertaining,
'although that's hard to imagine on a day like today.'
I'd love to get your thoughts on the garden.
I like the garden, yeah.
-It's a bit secluded.
It's got lots of tall trees. It's secluded but maybe a bit dark.
Yeah. Maybe a bit dark.
Well, it's not the brightest day to see a garden, is it?
No, it isn't. No, that's true.
How much do you think the property and the garden is on the market for?
Well, I think it's quite small,
but it's got a real kind of quirky value.
I reckon 595,000.
I would say 550,000.
It's actually on the market for £625,000.
We've gone right to the top of your budget.
Remember where we are! You've chosen an expensive county.
Yeah, we have. That's true.
Do you want to go and have another look around, a final look around?
-And then I'll meet you out front in a bit.
-Thank you very much.
The price of the first property, which is bang on budget,
comes as a bit of a shock to Ben and Kim.
But this is a unique former watermill
in a sought-after West Sussex village.
It gives them the three bedrooms they asked for,
two with en suite bathrooms,
the all-important wood burner and a manageable garden.
-It's not really us, is it?
-No, I do think it's us at all, really.
-I don't like the rustic beams.
-It seems very closed in.
When we first arrived, I looked at the house and I thought,
"Yeah, this house looks amazing."
I looked at the view, the lake
and it's just to die for, that view.
But I was rather disappointed at the location of the neighbours.
They're very, very close.
Once we got inside, I realised that it wasn't really my sort of house.
It feels quite enclosed.
Although I love the location,
the house doesn't do it for me, I'm afraid.
-It's definitely not for you, is it?
-No, afraid not.
At least we know more about style and size.
Yes, and even this weather
hasn't dampened my enthusiasm for the next house.
-Well, we've got plenty more to show you.
With its rich rural landscape,
it's easy to forget that West Sussex is only a 30-mile drive
from the suburbs of Greater London.
Just south of Horsham is Knepp Castle Estate,
which dates back to the Middle Ages
and was one of King John's hunting parks.
For the last 200 years, it's been owned by the Burrell family
who, until recently, managed it as agricultural land.
But 15 years ago, they embarked on a visionary project
to return the land to its natural state
by introducing a variety of grazing animals,
a process known as rewilding.
Since both Kim and Ben are keen
to embrace the countryside and all it has to offer,
we sent them to find out more from the current landowner, Sir Charlie Burrell.
Well, it's an amazing place. It really is.
What is the history behind it?
Well, this castle is a modern one. It was built in 1806.
But it's sort of on a ground which is a bit more interesting than that.
We've enclosed large areas of the estate,
about 1,000 hectares, in large enclosures.
And we've then released
a whole load of free-roaming animals into those areas.
So we've got Exmoor ponies, longhorn cattle
and three species of deer
roaming freely in these large enclosures.
And that can kind of control the land, can it?
Well, these are considered drivers for biodiversity.
The way they eat and the way they behave
and the way they damage and rootle and all the things they do naturally,
that is considered to be a driver of the system.
So we're creating the right habitat
for lots of different species of animals.
It's about letting go.
It's about allowing the land to have a free will.
It's about seeing what happens if you do this.
And what we've had is a huge success with lots of different species.
We've got 2% of the nightingale population of the UK here.
We have one of the biggest populations of purple emperors,
which is a butterfly which is quite rare.
We've got interesting bat species.
We've got a whole load of things going on
which have been because of what we've done and how we've done it,
have come back to this land.
The best way to explore Knepp's range of grazing animals
and the role they play in rewilding the land is to take a safari trip.
Hi, there. Lovely to meet you. If you'd like to get on.
Today's guide is ecologist Amy Nightingale.
And it's not long before they come across
some of the estate's resident roamers.
So these are our longhorn cattle.
They've been brought onto the estate to browse and graze
and manage the habitat themselves naturally.
What's a browser?
So browsing means that, instead of just eating grass, which is a grazer,
they're actually going up into the bushes
and eating through the hedgerows,
they're eating all the sort of thorny scrub
that we've got on the estate here.
So will they keep the grass down or do you have to manage it as well?
There's no management on the estate at all.
No land management whatsoever. The animals manage to do it themselves.
It's entirely natural processes.
Are they quite hardy
or do you have to get the vet in quite a lot for them?
No, they are very hardy animals.
Yeah, they give birth quite easily on their own without much management.
They live out all year round with no problems.
They grow a really thick winter woolly coat.
And they'll eat through the whole of the estate.
You know, they'll go through each bit at different times of the year.
They have a big impact on the estate.
Other animals with a right to roam include fallow deer,
who make fantastic grazers and enjoy foraging in open grassland.
The herd here are considered to be among the top six in Europe.
The estate is also home to the rarer red deer,
although they're proving elusive on this morning's safari.
So, we've been driving around 20 minutes or so now
and we haven't seen any of the red deer.
But what we've got over here at the moment is the deer rutting season.
And as you can see, there's two males fighting up ahead.
Oh, God, yeah.
So during this time of year, sort of end of October,
the males will all sort of start fighting for territories now.
And as you can see, these two are having a really good battle.
Usually, they start off parallel walking.
So they'll walk dead in-line with each other
and then, all of a sudden, they'll turn in and fight.
As well as creating new habitats for important species,
the grazing animals at Knepp generate an income,
as some are sold for their meat,
which also helps to control the population
in the absence of predators.
The project has been so successful
there are plans to extend it across the rest of the estate,
returning this beautiful part of the West Sussex landscape
to the way nature intended it.
Our next offering is in the village of West Chiltington,
12 miles from Horsham.
Situated on the South Downs,
the tranquil village is characterised by winding lanes
with rows of idyllic cottages,
some with hung tiles and a village shop,
which doubles up as a post office.
The church, dating back to the 12th century,
features an oak-shingled spire and is tiled in Horsham stone,
a traditional roofing material found throughout the region.
Positioned on a quiet road on the edge of the village,
the next property sits in a peaceful, secluded garden
offering natural privacy.
What do you think of the chalet?
-I like it.
-Yeah, I like it as well.
A lot more promising than the last one, I think, so far. Yep.
Yes, after finding out what you didn't like about the old millhouse,
I do think this will suit you better.
-Yes, it's got a garage.
-Yes, it's got a garage.
It's more conventional, isn't it?
It's got the traditional driveway, the garage, the nice front garden.
Less of the quirk and character of the millhouse,
which I think, as we've now established, isn't for both of you.
It wasn't, no. That's right.
This looks very promising.
-I see you've still got neighbours, but...
-Not too near.
-Shall we go inside?
-Let's get out of this rain.
'Built in the 1950s, it's a classic chalet-style home.
'I just hope Ben can leave his fears
'about proximity to neighbouring houses at the front door
'as we embark on our tour.'
We'll go into the living room first.
Oh, this is lovely.
-It is, isn't it?
-Much more our style.
-Yeah, it's so much more promising, it really is.
-Lovely big windows.
Yeah, that's why it's so light. And big.
-There's enough space for a sizeable dining table just over there.
-Yeah, it's good.
-And there's a fireplace.
There is a fireplace, but that's not a real fire.
But you can take that out and put in a real fireplace.
-There is a chimney up there?
-There is, exactly.
Oh, that's fantastic, then.
So you will have to do a little bit of work if you move in.
I don't mind. I just feel so much more comfortable already,
just walking in here.
Yes, so we can just move straight in.
In fact, we might not go home.
-Everyone's happy, then.
-One room down, a few more to go.
-With the next one, we are looking after your knees.
-Oh, that's good.
'Because in this property,
'you don't need to climb the stairs to get into bed.'
You were worried about climbing too many stairs as you got older.
-This house would mean you just live on the ground floor.
It is nice, yeah. It really is. It's a good-sized room.
-Yeah, it is. Lots of wardrobe space.
-And an en suite.
-Kim really wanted an en suite, yes.
I think this has got almost everything we want.
-So would it bother you to have the master on the ground floor?
-No, not at all.
-I really like this.
-Yeah, I like it.
I just feel, you know, comfortable in here.
It just feels home from home.
So let's see if the kitchen is the right size
-for you to watch Ben cook in.
'As well as the master, the ground floor features another bedroom
'the current owners use as a study, as well as a family bathroom.'
Now, what's lovely about the kitchen is really that view of the garden.
-That is great.
I can see myself standing at that sink, washing up,
looking out into the garden.
Yeah, Kim will be sitting out there with a wine, I expect.
Watching you wash up.
Watching me wash up, yes.
How's the size for you?
Yeah, no, because we are downsizing.
You know, so this would be just right.
-It is a nice-sized kitchen, isn't it, yeah.
-I like the units.
It's that breakfast room, though, that gives it that feeling of space.
-Lovely and light.
-Because it is a big kitchen, if you count that.
Yes, it is.
'Great reactions to the practical set-up of the ground floor.
'Upstairs, there are two further bedrooms, both doubles,
'as well as a smaller boxroom and a cloakroom with wash basin.
'Outside, the lawned garden wraps itself around the house
'and amounts to about a third of an acre.'
I think this garden is a wonderful space for entertaining.
Yes, it is, isn't it? Yeah.
-Barbecues, summer parties.
-Possible wedding for one of your children.
-Grandkids running around.
-It's the forever home, isn't it?
-It is, yeah.
Talk about the elephant in the room, the neighbours.
Are they still bothering you as much?
-Yes, they are bothering me just as much.
Even after seeing what's, effectively, your dream home?
You haven't really had a negative about the house,
unless you're holding back.
The only holding back I've been doing
is about the neighbours, yeah.
-Nice high hedge. Dense hedge.
They're not too close. Can't even really see that one.
This is part of her persuasion campaign.
It is part of it, definitely, yeah.
Shall we guess the price
-and then maybe that might add to your campaign.
I think, really, this has got to be more than the last one,
because it's so lovely.
So I'm going to go 5,000 above my range.
-630,000, you think?
-Well, I would say 650,000,
just because I think it's so much better than the other one.
It's actually on the market for £600,000.
-Oh, that is good.
-Well within your budget.
-That is excellent. How can it be?
How do you feel about those neighbours now?
I'll have to have a little ponder about that, yeah.
-Do you think you can persuade him, Kim?
-I might, yes.
I think, yeah, we're on the right track.
I think tonight we'll get a bottle of champagne out, you know,
get it chilled down and have a good think about that.
-I think you should have another look around.
-I want to, yeah.
-Thank you very much.
-I'll see you soon.
This is the dream house within budget.
Kim needs to put the hard work in now and persuade Ben.
Under budget by £25,000, this 1950s detached chalet home
has hit the nail on the head, in terms of style and layout.
It gives Ben and Kim one more bedroom than they asked for,
a working fireplace to house a wood burner and a manageable garden,
offering the seclusion and privacy they wanted.
I absolutely love this house.
I can't believe we've actually found something
that I like as much as I do.
It's like home from home.
It's really nice. I love the location.
The garden's perfect. Everything about it is just wonderful.
I love the kitchen.
The lounge is just like ours at home.
And the log burner, of course, will go down very well with Ben.
Yeah, when we came up the drive,
I got out of the car and I listened and it was just so peaceful.
I looked at the house and I thought, "Yeah, this is a really nice house."
My only slight reservation is the neighbours again.
Because there is neighbours all around.
And although it's peaceful in the garden at the moment,
if you, you know, had a noisy family out there,
that could be a disturbance.
But apart from that, you know, it is great.
I know Ben's concerned about the neighbours.
But from what I can see, the neighbours here aren't that close.
It's very quiet.
We've been out in the garden and it's very, very quiet here.
They've got a greenhouse
so, hopefully, they're maybe retired like us.
And it'll be nice and quiet and peaceful.
Smiles all round. It's made for you, isn't it?
It is. Really perfect. Love it.
It is very, very, very nearly perfect.
Which means you can't let it go, Ben.
I think you're probably right, yeah.
That is music to my ears.
Well, it's been a long day, lots of action, exciting action.
-Let's go and get a glass of wine and chill.
-That sounds perfect.
'It's the second day of our property search in West Sussex
'and armed with a budget of £625,000,
'we're helping Ben and Kim from Hawley in Surrey
'find a quiet countryside property
'out of sight and out of sound from neighbouring homes.
'Coming up, two more properties,
'including a Mystery House of seemingly stately proportions.'
You weren't expecting this for the Mystery House, were you?
-We weren't, no.
-Not at all. No.
-Let's take the grand tour.
And it's full steam ahead
at one of the oldest heritage lines in the country.
We had two extreme reactions to yesterday's houses,
confirming exactly what Ben and Kim want from their country escape.
A fairly modern property that's ready to move into.
It's also become very clear that having neighbours
is a big problem for Ben.
So I'm hoping the property I'm showing them this morning
is rural enough for him.
Then comes the Mystery House, though,
which is a very grand proposition.
But will Ben be willing to share it?
For our next offering, we're heading south towards the coast
to the village of Angmering, around 20 miles from Horsham.
The village is home to a number of historic properties,
some dating to the 1600s,
and retains a quaint rural charm.
At its centre is a well-preserved village square,
hosting a range of useful shops and services.
Our next property is on the edge of the village,
on a quiet country lane,
surrounded by farmland and out of sight of the nearest neighbour.
-Can't see any neighbours.
-No, can't see any neighbours here.
You might have come up trumps this time, yeah.
It's big. It's huge!
-It is. It's a big property.
-It's not a semi, is it?
-Absolutely not a semi.
-Oh, that's good. Oh, that looks lovely.
-I love the style of it. The wood, yeah.
Well, yesterday we realised how much you liked modern.
Well, this is very modern.
So there's been a house here for a long time but,
basically, this is a complete rebuild just two years ago.
Yeah, yeah, I like the sound of that. And I can see logs.
Those logs must be for a log burner. I hope.
-You're very observant this morning, aren't you?
-No, it's good.
Very good indeed.
First impressions, great. So far, so good. Definitely.
-Let's get in.
So it's a thumbs up from Ben on location
and I'm sure he'll appreciate the modern touches inside.
But for Kim, we'll need to better yesterday's chalet house.
-We've got to do the kitchen first.
-Yeah, it's one kitchen, isn't it?
-That really is a kitchen.
-Real open-plan living.
With those bifold doors that look out onto their wonderful views.
Oh, that is a wonderful view.
Yeah, you're right.
You can't get more rural than that.
You can't get more rural than that, can you, no. That is great.
This is really the entertaining room, isn't it?
-Yes, it's nice.
-It is. It is, yeah.
You can eat your breakfast here, you can eat lunch here,
have your friends over for dinner here.
The other thing this kitchen has is a utility room
that runs all the way along this side of the house, with a door that goes outside.
-So great for a dog.
-They've really thought about the way you live as well.
'I think Ben is sold on the modern feel
'and practical layout of the ranch house.
'That contemporary ambience continues in the living room.'
So the kitchen really connects with the living room.
Oh, it does, doesn't it, yeah.
-And a wood burner.
But it also heats the hot water and the underfloor heating.
That is an excellent idea,
because normally you get so much wastage from a wood burner.
You know, and that is just going to be so much more efficient.
-They've made sure they use that energy.
-Yeah, that is excellent.
Now, would this be enough of a living room for you?
I like the fact it connects to the kitchen, but you have to like it.
For me, it's definitely enough of a living room. For me.
-Are you happy with the size of it?
Kim, you haven't said as much as Ben about this house.
At the moment, I'm not sure.
Do you think it's too modern, too industrial-looking in parts for you?
Certainly the kitchen, yes. I don't like that.
-But that's all freestanding.
-That could all be changed easily.
Is there anything else about it that's made you a bit hesitant?
I just really liked the other house.
It was more like our house we've got at the moment.
-But Ben didn't like the neighbours being there.
And I really like that kitchen.
You know, it'll be a fight whether we keep that or not, actually.
Because I really like that. And I like this room, too.
We can make this house like the other house, if we wanted to.
But we can never make the other house like this house,
because we can't move away the neighbours.
-Yeah, you two have got some chatting to do, haven't you?
-Yeah, we have.
-Let's go and see the bedrooms.
-OK. Thank you.
'So, differing opinions on our new-build ranch house.
'It seems we're yet to win over Kim.
'Also on the ground floor, a long spacious study,
'a large family bath and shower room
'and two of the five bedrooms in the property,
'including a single and a larger double,
'which is currently used as the master.
'Upstairs, accessed from a large landing,
'are three further bedrooms,
'including two that can be made into one large one
'by opening a partition. and another sizeable double.
'There's also another spacious family bathroom up there.
'But we're continuing our tour with the ground floor master.'
-So the master bedroom is actually on the ground floor.
But, of course, you don't have to use this as the master.
But I think the couple that live here just really like the views.
It's not a problem for me being on the ground floor at all.
-It's lovely being open to the garden.
Yeah, just walk straight out there.
There are two family bathrooms.
We just passed one on the ground floor. There's one upstairs.
So there's no en suite.
But there is a walk-in wardrobe.
I don't know if that's your thing, Ben or Kim.
Room for all my clothes.
-Oh, that is good, isn't it?
-So what do you think?
-I think it's great.
-What do you think, Kim?
-Yes, I'd like to see a bit more.
But, yes, promising.
-Always a but.
-Always a but.
I really want to show you the land around the property.
-So let's do that. Let's go back into the kitchen.
Outside, the gardens are to the front and rear.
At the front, there's space for parking and a garage.
At the back, the garden is mainly lawn.
But there are options to lease further garden space
from the neighbouring stable owners.
So the garden that comes with this property just goes to this fence.
So the bit beyond that with the vegetable patches
is rented from the stable owners next door for next to nothing.
Yeah, I think we'd definitely want to rent that bit as well
-and take down the fence.
-And grow some vegetables.
Exactly, you can have your own vegetable garden.
-The dog needs a bit more space.
-Need to fence it in more for the dog.
Yeah, that's true. But that's not a problem.
It depends on the price of the house, really.
-Which is something we absolutely should talk about.
Who'd like to guess the price of the house first?
I think it's going to be the top end of our budget.
-So I would say 650,000.
Well, I'm going to be wildly different to that, Kim.
Because there's not a lot of land.
You know, I know we've got the advantage of a lot of land,
but there's not much land.
And looking around, I'm going to go for 595,000.
You're almost spot on.
It is on for £599,950.
-So just shy of £600,000.
That is good.
Does that make you like the house a little bit more, that price?
I love it. I do. I love it, Kim.
-You loved it before you knew the price.
Why don't you both have a chat as you look around?
-Because Kim's not so keen on this house as much as you.
-So I think you two need to go off and have a natter.
-And I'll meet you out the front.
-Thank you very much.
Well, I think this is a case
of who is going to be the one to compromise,
because Kim really likes the chalet house
and Ben really likes this house.
So it's about who will win over who.
But I have a feeling Ben is going to win the battle.
£25,000 below budget,
this modern ranch-style property impresses Ben,
thanks to the lack of immediate neighbouring houses,
but its contemporary feel isn't Kim's cup of tea.
It gives them a large kitchen-diner,
two more bedrooms than they asked for
and a stylish and practical wood burner.
-This is nice.
-It is nice.
One big bedroom or two single bedrooms.
-Oh, this is two, is it?
-Sliding doors, I imagine, yes.
I love this house. I really do.
The location is perfect.
As perfect as you can get. It really is.
You know, it's got a small garden,
but the views extending out of the back of the garden and to the sides are fantastic.
We want to be rural and it's almost like exciting again.
You know, it's such a young, vibrant house, really.
I don't think Kim's going to be quite as enthusiastic as me.
But I think I can bring her round, probably.
I hope we're on the same page.
But sometimes I think we're not even in the same book.
The other house, as soon as we walked in, I felt at home.
I really liked it.
This one, I'm just not so sure, really.
Something about it isn't quite me.
The kitchen area, I will definitely want to change.
Then that might persuade me.
I guess, if Ben really likes it, then we'll probably go for it.
I know you've both got mixed feelings about this house
and I'm going to confuse the issue further with the Mystery House.
Our final house choice is located close to the village of Duncton
in the heart of the South Downs and around 20 miles from Horsham.
Nearby Petworth, a 10-minute drive away,
offers the best range of local services.
The pretty market town has a strong reputation
as a leading antiques centre
and an abundance of cafes and eateries
line its attractive cobbled streets,
with the parish church of St Mary dominating the skyline.
Our Mystery House is truly one-of-a-kind,
set in parkland not far from the village of Duncton.
The stately driveway should give Ben and Kim a clue
to the property's pedigree.
Ben said he didn't want close neighbours.
He gets them here, but not in the way he probably imagined.
That is amazing. It really is.
Now, you both actually could live in a house like this.
I'd love to live in a house like this.
I'd love to own a house like this.
-Well, you can own a part of a house like this.
-That would probably do.
-Have a wing each.
-Yeah, a wing each, yeah. OK.
This is a Grade I-listed Georgian mansion.
And inside there are apartments.
And one of them is up for sale.
With our name on it.
What do you think about the prospect of shared accommodation?
Where not only do you have neighbours, but you're fairly close.
Yeah, I'm not a great one for shared accommodation.
I like solitude, really, and rural.
And I know this is in a rural setting.
This is an amazing setting, though. Imagine living here.
But, you know, think of all the people.
-How many apartments are there here?
-There are nine apartments.
But most of them are people's second homes.
People are only here for weekends or every month.
-This is not a noisy building.
You're not going to have screaming kids with footballs
annoying you night and day, which I know is your big bugbear.
It is, yes.
Kim, how do you feel about this style of accommodation?
I'd certainly give it a thought. I think it's just amazing.
-The grounds are just wonderful.
-So, let's have a look, see what happens.
You weren't expecting this for the Mystery House, were you?
-No, we weren't.
-Not at all, no.
-Let's take the grand tour.
This magnificent Georgian Grade I-listed manor house
was built in the 1830s as a private residence
and later became a girls' school,
before being converted into luxury apartments.
-How grand is this?
-Look at that staircase!
It is something else, isn't it?
-This could be yours.
-As long as I don't have to do the dusting.
You'd need a big ladder.
Kim needn't worry.
For an annual service charge of £5,000,
cleaners will take care of communal areas,
such as the grand hallway,
and gardeners will tend to the landscaped gardens,
as well as the 140 acres of parkland.
Kim and Ben's apartment is a garden flat arranged over two floors
and accessed by its own private entrance,
through a two-tier patio space.
We're starting our tour on the lower ground level.
So you come straight into the kitchen, really, in this apartment.
This is a great apartment. Yeah.
-I like the kitchen.
-I like the kitchen.
This is ultramodern living.
And this is the proposition, this sort of grand mansion
and you get to have a small part of it in a very modern way.
I love this ultramodern. I really do.
Yeah. It is good.
-Good size, as well.
-It's not a small pokey kitchen, is it?
-No, it's not.
I thought it could have been smaller than this, but it is amazing.
-Let's go to the living room.
'As far as mod cons go,
'nothing has been spared in this stylishly modern apartment,
'from underfloor heating
'to top-of-the-range kitchen appliances.'
So the owners decided to go with a Moroccan theme for this room.
But all of that is very cosmetic.
So, easily changed.
-It's just the soft furnishings, really.
-It's like being in a cave.
-That is really clever.
This apartment is over two floors
and all of this is the lower ground bit.
And this is what they use as their main living room.
But that wall is actually a stud wall and next door is a room
that they haven't really decided what to do with it.
It has all the plumbing to be a bathroom.
It's bigger than this space.
But what you could do is just knock it all through
and have one lovely big living room.
-You still need to see more?
-Yeah, I need to see more.
-You're not saying much.
No, it's very small.
-Do you feel?
-Yes. And no window.
Well, this part of the house doesn't.
-Let's go to the bedroom, where there are windows.
The subterranean living space darkens the mood a little,
but I'm hopeful the sunlit master will lift the spirits.
You can see why the couple use this as the master bedroom.
This is lovely. I really like that.
-Very light and airy.
-It is. Lovely.
Door straight out onto the terraced patio area.
A little courtyard garden.
-This is just what you like, isn't it?
-Nice clean lines. Yeah, this is lovely.
This is more my sort of house again.
Yeah, it is, yes, definitely.
After seeing the bedroom.
Now, there's no en suite, but there's a lovely shower room
just on the other side of the kitchen.
So that's what the couple use.
How many bedrooms has it got?
So it's a two-bedroom apartment.
The other bedroom is being used as a study
and that's on the ground floor, so the level above this.
But I thing that makes a lovely study
and I think, for you guys, you can use it as a study
and then when people come round, you turn it into a bedroom, really.
Yeah, sounds good.
-So you've seen a lot of the apartment now.
Is now the time to ask you whether it would ever be a realistic option?
I think it's lovely. I'm not sure about whether I could live here.
For me, it is a fantastic place.
As a second house, it would be amazing.
But I honestly think I'd be bored here.
The countryside around looks amazing.
The thought of getting up in the morning to that view,
taking the dog for a walk, yes, I could definitely be tempted by that.
Well, I am going to try and tempt you with that. I haven't given up.
-Let's go out into the garden.
As well as Ben and Kim's private patio area,
they also have access to the communal grounds,
which include a stunning formal landscaped garden.
So this Georgian manor house comes with 140 acres of gardens.
-Lots of room for my dog.
-You don't seem surprised any more.
Well, it's just so...
You know, you can't grasp it, can you?
-No, it's a little bit unreal, isn't it?
-Yeah, it's just so amazing.
-Your own medieval church, tennis courts.
How much would it cost you? Who'd like to go first?
-She's gone straight in there.
-She has, hasn't she? Yeah.
It's just such a hard house to gauge, this one.
I think it's 619,000.
OK, that's a very precise 19 there.
-You're trying to win this game, aren't you?
-I want to win, yes.
-This time the winner is Kim. She's closer.
It's on for £595,000.
-That is surprising, isn't it?
You don't want to miss out on these stunning gardens.
Have a look around. Go back and see the apartment.
-And then we'll get a cup of tea and have a chat.
-That sounds fantastic.
See you soon.
Under budget by £30,000, our stately Mystery House
offers Ben and Kim a share of a splendid Georgian manor.
Stylishly kitted out with modern facilities,
it features a top-of-the-range kitchen,
a cavernous living space and two bedrooms.
But the real selling point is the grounds.
140 acres of communal parkland, including formal landscaped gardens.
When we came down the long one-mile drive
and saw the front of the building with the sun on it, I just thought,
you know, it's got to be almost a joke.
It's like a film set. It's like a film star's house.
And I can imagine that the neighbours here
are going to be, you know, like Kim and I, quiet.
But I don't think it's for me,
because I just don't know what I'd do all day.
I've got a garage, I've got an old car I'm restoring,
I've got all my computers.
I wouldn't be able to have any of that here.
I think the house would make a lovely second home.
If we won the lottery and could afford it, that would be perfect.
But as a main home, it's just too small for us.
-You've both got a lot to think about, haven't you?
-But not about this one.
-No, that's your second home.
I mean about your primary residence.
Let's go and get a cup of tea.
With its cottages and village greens,
there's something of an old England feel about Sussex.
And carving its way through the landscape here
is another reminder of a bygone era.
The Bluebell Line is the UK's first preserved
standard-gauge heritage steam railway,
which reopened part of the old Lewis to East Grinstead track in 1960.
Since then, it's developed into one of the largest tourist attractions in Sussex,
mainly run by a dedicated team of volunteers.
And I'm hopping on to meet one of the longest serving, Mick Blackburn.
-Nice to meet you.
-Nice to meet you.
So, Mick, tell us how the Bluebell Railway came about.
It was opened in 1882 by the London to Brighton South Coast Rail.
But it closed in 1958.
And a group of students, four students, thought,
"We don't want this to close."
So in 1959, they formed the Bluebell Rail Preservation Society.
And the line reopened again in August 1960.
So, really, it's here because of a group of train enthusiasts.
It was four students, train enthusiasts,
who really didn't want to see it close.
And when did you start volunteering?
I came here in 1960, when I was a schoolboy.
I couldn't afford the five shillings to join. I was here on opening day.
I helped on the station, I helped in the car park.
In March 1961, I managed to find five shillings and I joined the railway.
-It was myself and four friends from school.
And myself and one of the friends are still here.
And you've been coming every week since?
-Well, not every week. When I can, yes.
-When you can.
-When I can, yeah.
It's quite a sweet name, the Bluebell.
Why is it called the Bluebell Railway?
The press really dubbed it the Bluebell Railway before it closed,
because there used to be lots of bluebells and still is along the lineside.
And they used to say the trains ran so slow that you could get out and pick them
and get back in again which, of course, wasn't true.
And that's how the Bluebell Railway got its name.
Mick has worked his way up the food chain
to driving trains on the Bluebell Line.
The society has seven working steam engines
and runs a daily service from March through to October.
But old engines need some TLC to keep them going.
And that's where the maintenance team, based at Sheffield Park, step in.
I'm meeting engineer Andy Sabin,
who's currently warming up a restored 323 engine,
which was built in 1910.
So what are we going to do here?
-What we're going to do, we're going to give her a warming-up fire.
This is because the engine's out tomorrow
and we need to be kind to the boiler.
So we're going to put some warmth in it
and it won't stress the boiler so much.
-It's boiler maintenance, basically.
-Boiler maintenance. It's good care.
So the first thing, the most important thing we need to do
-is just make sure that we've got water in the boiler.
-So what we're going to do now, is if I give you this stick...
We need a rag and that's covered in paraffin.
-You can probably smell that, can you?
What we're going to do is you light the rag
and you throw it on the wood in there.
-Can you see the wood?
There you go.
That's it. You see the fire in there burning?
-We will add coal to it now.
When we add coal to it, the coal will burn through
and it will take a few hours
and then overnight it will just sit there by itself,
it won't create any steam
and that'll be it, ready for them in the morning.
But engines are only half the story.
Old rolling stock also needs to be maintained
but, more importantly, protected from the elements.
The society is hoping to raise money to put the most at-risk carriages
under shelter at their depot in Horsted Keynes.
-Where did you get all your carriages from?
-Well, various places.
British Railways. People's seaside bungalows, all that sort of thing.
People used to buy them, put a roof over them and live in them, yes.
Oh, wow. You've got so many here, though. How many have you got?
I haven't counted for a long time. Probably 50 or 60.
Something like that. All awaiting restoration.
-That's a lot of restoration.
-That's a lot of restoration.
A lot of work, yeah.
At the moment, we have an appeal out
to try and get some of these carriages, at least 20 of them, under cover.
Because you don't want to do them up and then...
The problem we've got, we spend lots of time, money, energy
doing them all up and then stand them back in the open again.
They start to deteriorate straightaway.
-Best of luck with the campaign.
-Thank you very much.
-I hope you get the money you need.
-Thank you for showing me around today.
-That's quite all right.
-It's been brilliant.
The Bluebell Railway And Preservation Society
has been operating this heritage line for over 50 years.
And with the passion and dedication of volunteers like Mick,
thankfully, it seems there's little sign of it running out of steam.
Ben and Kim were in total agreement about the Mystery House.
But that hasn't necessarily been the case with all the properties.
On their budget,
it is unrealistic to get everything on their wish list.
So which one of them is willing to make the compromise?
So, Kim and Ben, what are you both going to do next?
I'd like to go and have a second look at the chalet house.
Have a look around the neighbourhood,
see what it's like, how close the neighbours really are.
Get a feel for it there. Because I really loved that house.
What about you, Ben?
I would like to go and have a second look at the wooden house, ranch.
Because I really liked that.
What are we going to do, really?
Because you both like different houses.
Kim, if you want to go back and look at the chalet,
Ben, would you be willing to compromise on the neighbour issue?
I know that's the reason you came into this process,
but it is Kim's dream home.
I can see that Kim just loved that house.
And, you know, don't get me wrong, I loved that house as well.
And, yeah, maybe the neighbours are not going to be a problem.
But we started back in April house-hunting
and the number one priority was we would not have any neighbours.
So, I could compromise.
And I wouldn't mind making that compromise,
but I just feel as though it's not what we really both want.
I mean, it sounded like a no, the answer to my question,
would you be wanting to make a compromise? It did sound like a no.
Yes, I was like a politician, wasn't I? The answer is a no.
-Is it really a no?
-It is really a no.
So therefore there's no point Kim
going back for a second viewing, is there?
Oh, I suppose not, really, no.
How do you feel about that, Kim?
But then I can't really see me living in the ranch house.
The things that you didn't like about the house,
-I really feel you could change.
-I could fix.
Unless you both really think that, over time,
you can find something that is perfect inside for you
and perfect outside for you, in your budget.
I mean, that's the crucial factor.
Yes, I actually do think that, you know, if we keep looking,
we will find something that we both really like.
I think that is the crux of the matter,
we've both got to really love it.
So are you both OK
about not going to see your favourite houses, really, again?
Yeah. I think Kim has made a bigger sacrifice than I have, actually.
Because I think she loved that house more than I loved the wooden house.
So at least you know exactly what you're looking for.
I feel I know exactly what you're looking for.
It's the chalet house on the land of the ranch house, isn't it?
You've got it, yes.
-So you just need to go out and find that now.
Well, thank you for taking me along on your search. It's been fun.
Well, thank you for guiding us. It has been wonderful, it really has.
Really enjoyed it.
-Good luck and let us know how you get on.
-You must call me.
-We will, definitely. Thank you.
Well, it turns out neither Ben nor Kim were willing to compromise
in order to secure one of the two houses so right for each of them.
So their search continues.
They believe the perfect property for the both of them
is out there and within budget.
Let's hope they're right, because it would be lovely to see them both
starting their new life in the country sooner rather than later.
See you next time.
If you'd like to escape to the country
in either England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland
and would like our help, then please apply online at...
Sonali Shah is property searching in West Sussex with a couple who want their £625,000 to buy them uninterrupted peace in the country.
Sonali also stops off at one the UK's finest preserved heritage steam railways.