Property series. Ginny Buckley helps a couple with a healthy £800,000 budget find a perfect country house in Devon with enough accommodation for visiting family.
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I'm standing on the banks of a river whose meandering charm has had
a huge influence on a small region of the county I'm in today.
Find out where in just a minute.
Today's buyers are a retired couple seeking
salvation from the sounds of the city
and our beautiful countryside properties leave them feeling
refreshed, both spiritually and physically.
You could have your aperitifs in here, move in to the dining room
and have your dinner, and then move back here for your brandy and cigar.
With the odd surprise along the way.
Under here, there is a dance floor.
-Oh, there you go!
-No way! Honestly, we'll be busting our moves on there.
Today I'm in Devon, in the South Hams area of the county,
and this is the River Dart.
Beginning its journey on Dartmoor,
it lends its name to many of the places it touches,
including Dartington and the Port of Dartmouth, where it enters the sea.
An easily navigable stretch of waterway for 12 miles inland,
it has helped to shape the towns and villages along its course.
This beautiful river is just one of the gems this glorious
part of the county has to offer.
Devon is the third largest county in England,
but the seventh most sparsely populated,
with Cornwall lying to the west and Somerset and Dorset to the east.
We are concentrating our search in the South Hams district
of South Devon. It covers an area of 340 square miles,
with 60 miles of serene coastline, featuring long beaches
and sheltered coves.
Protected by the granite uplands of Dartmoor, South Hams enjoys
one of the mildest climates in the whole of mainland Britain.
Pretty settlements include the waterside town of Salcombe
on the banks of Kingsbridge Estuary,
ever popular with the sailing community and second homeowners.
The region also has its fair share of maritime history.
12th-century Crusaders set sail from Dartmouth.
Fast forward to the 20th century
and it was one of the leaving points for the D-Day landings.
With beautiful towns and villages, as well as rural scenery to
rival anywhere in the UK, it's no wonder that this small part
of Devon is so sought after by those wanting a slice of country life.
Devon's enduring popularity is certainly reflected
in its house prices.
The average cost of a detached property here is £305,000 -
that's £21,000 above the national average.
What's more, the southern half of the county boasts some
prime waterfront and is home to the costliest seaside town
in the country, Salcombe,
where average house prices have even trounced those in London.
So, what is it about Devon that is so appealing to today's buyers?
Let's meet them and find out.
Today's couple are Will and Kate, who live in the commuter belt
village of Kings Langley in Hertfordshire.
They have been married for six years but,
unlike their royal namesakes, they met the modern way.
I'm divorced. Will is widowed.
We actually met online, we met through a Christian dating website.
-We had a long courtship, didn't we?
-About three years?
Yeah. Until he got fed up of me nagging at him.
-Yes, proposed over the Lion King.
-Watching the Lion King.
Will was a finance manager for the health service
and Kate a schoolteacher.
But having both retired from their public sector jobs,
these keen churchgoers are no longer tied to the place
where Will has spent most of his life.
Kings Langley, it says it's a village,
it's actually a bit of a spore out of the town of Watford,
and it's very busy.
The traffic, even through the village itself, is constant.
And the noise and pollution...
It would be nice to be able to see the stars.
-We'd just like a bit more peace, wouldn't we?
And the move to Devon is a chance to fulfil a long-held dream.
It's a beautiful part of the world.
It's got a beautiful coastal pass as well as open countryside.
Some pretty little villages as well as one or two bigger towns.
-It's timeless, isn't it?
-Timeless. That's a good word. Timeless, yeah.
With six children and ten grandchildren between them,
they're looking for a home to accommodate the visiting family and
are also hoping to properly wind down after an active retirement.
People say they don't know how we found time to go to work.
I think it is absolutely true in our case. We are very busy.
We both do voluntary work at the church.
Well, the idea when we move is that we do slow down
and I think that we're going to have to be very
careful that we don't just find lots of things to do.
So, we will look to be involved but I think we need to pick what
we get involved in.
For Will, top on the list of hobbies is the garden.
I love gardening.
I find it de-stresses me, you know. When I'm feeling very stressful,
I can plant out a few plants and I get calm again.
And although they are leaving behind a busy life and good friends,
the couple are looking forward to moving into what would be
their first main home together.
It will be a fresh start.
I guess when we got married that was the one thing that was missing.
Kate found it difficult moving into the old family home,
so this will be a new start for us both.
The reality of any move is daunting.
I think we are young enough and active enough,
-and we've got the right mind-set to make it work for us.
So, that's what we're going for - the excitement.
Will and Kate have set their hearts on the South Hams region,
so we are focusing our search on this part of the county,
and I'm meeting up with them to run over the finer details of the move.
Well, welcome to South Devon. Why make this move now?
Why this particular time?
We are both retired
and our commitments back home in Hertfordshire have reduced.
So, we're free and... Yeah, I think that's...
-And no family living with us at the moment.
-So, time for an escape.
-A new start.
-Yes! Time to go.
And what will you be doing?
What about the local community and getting involved in that?
Certainly I would like to get involved in the local community.
Perhaps, I don't know, village association, WI.
Well, let's turn our attention to the property that
you'd like to find here.
What's on the wish list for you both?
We'd like to have room for our family to come and stay with us
because I'm sure they would.
We've got lots of children and grandchildren between us,
so we'd look for four bedrooms, ideally.
I would particularly enjoy a really nice kitchen -
one that is well-designed. It doesn't need to be huge,
but it needs to be a good working space where I can work
and look outwards rather than at wall.
-What else, Will?
-Well, I like open fires.
I like log burners and I like chopping wood and burning wood,
so that would be a feature in the lounge. I think I'd like that.
Lots of space in the lounge, we like entertaining a lot.
And a big family, so... And I think we would like, if possible,
annexe accommodation to rent out.
What about the things that you don't want to see, are there any no-no's?
Modern. We don't do modern, so probably not a bungalow.
-We like to go upstairs to bed.
-Yeah, and we like it light.
We don't need it particularly big, but we'd like light.
And what about outside space? How much is manageable for you?
I'm not a gardener at all,
so gardens for me are for sitting in and enjoying.
Not more than about a quarter of an acre, I think.
Any more than that, it would have to be something we could rent out.
That would be quite good for us to have something that we could
maybe get a bit of income from, that would be a bonus.
-So, a kind of holiday let?
We wouldn't want a project for us to live in,
but we wouldn't mind a project to convert for a holiday let,
if there was space in the budget for it.
What kind of budget are we working with then?
We've said 750, but we've said, for the right house, we'd go up to 800.
If it was more than that, we could go a bit above that by selling
the little place we have.
So, up to 800 we can cope with and maybe even a bit beyond that
-if need be.
-It's a very healthy sum of money,
but we are in a very expensive part of the country.
How much time have we got to work with?
How quickly do you need to be in?
Well, we've got a buyer for our house and it's a short chain.
So, he's got nothing to sell, so... Cash buyer.
-We'd better get moving, so let's not waste any time.
With a flexible top budget of £800,000,
Will and Kate would like an older property with
enough room for the family when they come to stay.
Will is after a log burner or open fire
and Kate wants a well-designed, practical kitchen space.
They'd like a separate holiday let, or the potential to build one,
and they could sell their holiday home to find some extra cash
for the perfect home.
We've lined up a selection of wonderful homes to
show our buyers, here in South Devon,
but they won't know the price of each until the end of our viewings.
Our last property, the mystery house,
will challenge our couple on both age and layout.
Well, you are moving quite away from where you are currently.
How are the family feeling about you making this move?
-Are they supportive?
-They're sort of mixed about it.
We've got six children between us
and most of them have said that we need to do what is right for us.
And, in fact, one of our daughters
and her husband have gone on the internet and had a look
at what houses are available in this area within our sort of budget,
and they have printed out some predictions and we've got them
-in an envelope here.
-Let's have a look. Have you got it with you?
I don't know if you can read it.
It says, "Do not open until after filming."
-And it's well sealed on the back.
-Oh, that is fantastic.
So, they are predicting what we might look at.
So, we are absolutely going to have to open
that at the end of our second day's hunt.
Yes, see how close they are.
Our first house is located a short distance from the village
of Stokenham, about a mile from the coast.
Stokenham is the archetypal, picturesque South Hams village.
It has an active church for Will and Kate, two popular pubs
and a village green serving the 2,000-strong community.
The architecture is made up of an attractive collection
of listed stone and thatch cottages,
with more chalet-style modern bungalows on the outskirts.
Surrounded by rolling farmland,
house number one is located a mile south of the village
and is very much an older affair.
So, here we are at the first property I wanted to show you.
It's around 300-to-400 years old.
A beautiful stone barn that was converted around 20 years ago.
-Like the look of it.
-Devon stonework, beautiful.
-And nice windows keeping with the building.
-Palm trees, even.
I've got to say, I love that contrast between that
-beautiful Devon stone and those palm trees.
-Shows how tropical we are.
-It certainly looks interesting, doesn't it?
Eagle-eyed, you've got two doors, yes,
because the second property there
to the left is an adjoining holiday annexe.
It's a one-bedroom and it's been let for many years very successfully.
-Are you keen to have a look inside?
We'll turn our attention to the holiday let later.
But first, I want Will and Kate
to take in the spacious three-storey barn.
The property is currently unfurnished
but packed with character features.
In we come. Watch your step. Now, this is an upside-down house.
On the ground floor, off the entrance hall, are two bedrooms.
One is a double with an en-suite and the other is a single.
The day-to-day living accommodation is on the first floor
and has a host of architectural features,
including arched stained windows and exposed beams.
And you come straight up to this amazing vaulted ceiling
with these wonderful stone walls.
-A great feeling of space.
-There is. And the feeling of space continues in here.
-Oh, my word!
-We could get our entertaining done in here, Kate.
-Lovely gallery landing. Beautiful inglenook fireplace.
-Look at that.
-Look at that.
-Will, you did say you wanted to fireplace.
And you've given it to me. Definitely, that's it. Super.
-And it's interesting, the two levels, isn't it?
-An interesting space.
-And a stained-glass window up there, I see.
There is a lovely story to that window.
In the main farmhouse, when some renovation work was happening,
they discovered a priest hole and that was in the priest hole.
It hasn't been specifically dated but the general feeling
is that it probably goes back to the Reformation,
so there's a lovely piece of history in this room.
Fantastic, yes. Lovely.
Now, I know you got lots of friends, lots of family.
There's something I want to show you because, under here, there is
-a dance floor.
-Oh, there you go!
-Honestly. There we go.
-A wooden dance floor.
-Oh, look at that!
Well, we'll be busting our moves on there.
The owners describe this space as a great party space.
I should think it is.
-Well, we're into parties, so that's us.
-I should think it is.
Now, I'm keen to head up into the mezzanine level.
Let's go and have a look.
The religious heritage of the converted barn seems to
appeal to Will and Kate, as does its party potential.
And after all that dancing, they'll need a lie down.
Well, Will, you said you liked bedrooms to be quite modern
-Oh, yes. Fantastic.
-There is a lot of storage there.
-Yes, very nice. And light.
-And a lot of light. It is very light in here.
-And the en-suite.
Very nice, yes. Light and airy.
And you'd get a good double in here, wouldn't you?
-Now, Kate, I know that the kitchen is close to your heart.
So, let's head back downstairs and I'll take you to look at that.
Oh, show me the kitchen.
Some positive vibes from Will and Kate towards this vast property
with its somewhat unusual layout,
but I want our couple to start imagining how
-they could use the space on offer. And here is the kitchen.
-It's a good size.
I think I would need to use the space in the middle for something.
-A table or an island or...
-Or a bar even.
A dance floor and a bar.
I'm coming to some of your parties, Will, I'm telling you.
Oh, I'm the life and soul.
The only thing is, where would you do your preparation for your baking?
-Well, that's where you would have an island, in the middle.
Now, you'll notice there is a second set of stairs
and that leads up to another good-sized bedroom with an en-suite.
And what I think is interesting about this house is
the fact that the bedrooms are separated the way they are.
I think if you've got visitors coming to stay,
it gives people some privacy.
-A little bit of privacy.
-It does, yes.
And we've still got the holiday let to see,
-so let's go and explore that.
The holiday let occupies a ground floor wing of the barn
and could be ideal for holidaying couples or small families.
Inside there is a large double bedroom,
a double glazed conservatory for dining and, off that, a shower room.
The main living space in the annexe is open plan.
It's a good space for a holiday let, isn't it?
You could always get a family in here if you wanted to. It's cosy.
The cupboards are a little bit old-fashioned, aren't they?
Don't mind them particularly but might want to make...
But the space is there and the basics are there.
-You could work on it, can't you?
-You did say that you weren't afraid of a bit of work.
-You know, there's no huge amount.
Now, the gardens on this property are really quite something.
I think you'll enjoy seeing them.
The holiday let has its own private garden, complete with summerhouse,
but the main garden for the residential part of the barn
is at the back.
It's largely lawn, boarded by beds of shrubs
and backs onto open farmland.
-Peaceful spot, isn't it?
Just hear the sounds of the birds and that's all.
Well, you know what's coming now.
This is the bit where I ask you to guess the price of this property.
So, who wants to go first?
-Shall I go or do you want to go?
-Go on, then, you go first.
I'm going to go at 725,000.
I'll go for 710.
And I'm afraid you're both off the mark when it comes to the price
because you're both over.
It's been on the market for three weeks
and they are asking for offers in excess of £700,000.
Well, that's a lot of house and the annexe as well.
That's a pretty reasonable price.
And you would have the money within your budget to do those
-things that you may want to do.
So, why don't you two head back inside and just take it in,
wander around and have a really good look?
-That would be brilliant.
This first house is a really good way to test the water
and I have to say, I'm quite unsure what they're honestly feeling.
I have a feeling it might be a bit too big for them.
At £100,000 under budget, our first property, a converted stone barn,
leaves Will and Kate and money to make improvements.
The large living space has a sitting room, with its own dance floor,
and the character features in this four-bedroom property include
a stunning stone fireplace and stained glass window.
The holiday let adjoins the main house
and is self-contained with one-bedroom.
The position of this property is a good one -
it's nice and close to the coast -
-and certainly there are some lovely views.
-It's vast, actually.
It's a vast house and the lounge certainly is great for entertaining.
Exactly how we'd fit it in when there's just two of us on our own,
I'm not sure. We might feel we rattle a little bit.
The layout is challenging.
It's unconventional in the sense that the bedrooms are off in
different parts of the house,
so you haven't got the usual four up, four down.
The layout of the barn might be a problem when we've got children
and grandchildren staying because the children would end up
separate from their parents for sleeping,
so I don't know that the layout of this barn would work for us.
I'm just admiring the palm trees
-and the blue sky.
-And we got the sun as well.
-Lots to see on that property. We've got lots to see still to come.
Perched high on the cliffs above the town of Salcombe is
the house of eccentric inventor and scientist Otto Overbeck,
who lived here in the early 20th century.
This Edwardian seaside home contains his collection of curios,
natural history specimens and gadgets.
But Overbeck was most famous for advocating electrotherapy,
a popular medical treatment in the early 1900s.
It's a house Will and Kate have visited before on their trips
to Devon but they've never been behind the scenes,
so they are meeting long-serving volunteer Malcolm Wesley.
As part of the tour, one of the things that we show people is
Otto Overbeck's Rejuvenator.
Rejuvenator? What's a Rejuvenator? What does that do?
Otto was very much into electrotherapy
and Otto had the theory that our brains were
the source of the electrical energy in our body.
And as you age, the balance between the positive
and negative electricity goes wrong
and that's what causes all of your aches and pains ailments.
And so in order to restore your health, rejuvenate, you restore
the balance in the brain and you do that
by giving the brain an electroshock.
And what he patented is this comb-type device and the treatment
consists of taking the two combs, connecting it to a battery -
and I can just show it is connected because we have lots of sparks
from it - and then very simply you just comb it through your hair.
You do that for several minutes and then you swap hands to
reverse the polarity and then you repeat the process.
And the electrical energy flows into the brain
and that restores the balance, and hence rejuvenates the body.
And does it work?
Well, I bought this on eBay a few years ago, I paid £30 for it,
I use it every day and I am just celebrating my 113th birthday.
Joking aside, the Rejuvenator's success made Otto a wealthy man,
enabling him to buy the Salcombe house.
Although early instruments were discarded,
electrotherapy is still practised to this day and is widely used
to relieve chronic pain, including arthritis and labour.
Like much of Britain's heritage,
Overbeck's relies heavily on the work of volunteers to keep the house
and its beautifully exotic six-acre garden running.
Will and Kate have expressed an interest in helping out
when they moved to Devon,
so our couple are visiting the greenhouse,
where they're meeting head gardener, Kat Saunders.
The gardens here at Overbeck's are really beautiful,
but I can see some tropical-type plants
and I'm just wondering how come we've got tropical plants in South Devon.
Well, actually, this part of South Devon's got the most amazing microclimate.
It's much warmer and it's much drier than other areas of Devon.
Now, Kat, I'm interested in volunteering in the gardens.
-I think you've got six volunteers.
-Six volunteers here, yes.
So how could I do that? How would I go about it?
Perhaps we could try something this morning, could we?
-Well, now I've got you here, I'm going to get you to do something.
Volunteer gardeners help out with a range of duties,
from regular weeding to pruning palm trees.
Today, Will and Kate are going to help Kat take some cuttings
from this aeonium plant.
What I'd like you to do is chop off
all of these rosettes, OK?
And give it about an inch.
So if you do that and I'll prepare some compost.
Aeoniums are well-suited to the balmy South Hams climate.
It originates from the Mediterranean
and can tolerate long periods without water
by storing it in its thick leaves.
Now, you can also chop this into lengths.
-So I'm going to give it to you as the gardener.
-I want about...that long.
-Four, five inches?
And...remember which way is up...
-They don't root if they go in upside down.
-Oh, right, OK.
Aeoniums do well in containers
because their shallow roots grow near the surface of the soil.
And the final step is to insert the cuttings into pots
containing a mixture of peat-free compost and grit sand.
-Firm it in?
-Firm it in.
Cuttings should then be left uncovered
and kept indoors at a temperature of around 18 degrees
in a well-lit place, like a sunny windowsill.
-Well, that was lovely.
-I've really enjoyed that. Can I take...?
-Oh, thank you.
-That's yours. Go on.
Thank you. I shall call it Kat, in honour of you!
With Will and Kate determined to put down roots of their own in South Devon,
it's time to get back to the all-important house-hunt.
We are on our way to the hamlet of Dunstone,
around a mile from the coast.
Nestled in rolling South Hams farmland,
nearby Chillington is the most convenient Village for amenities.
There's an excellent range of services, including a post office
and general store, a hairdressers, as well as a health centre.
It's by far the largest village in the area
and its narrow streets are lined with pretty pastel-painted cottages,
covered in flowering wisteria.
The property I want to show Will and Kate is around a mile away from the village,
on a quiet country lane.
It consists of two detached buildings,
arranged around a gravel courtyard,
one an L-shaped stone farmhouse
and the other an up and running holiday let.
So, I've brought you to see a very elegant,
very pretty farmhouse that dates back to 1550.
Oh! Wow! That's got a bit of age, then.
It's got some history, this house,
and you will have also noticed another building there to the left.
-That used to be the dairy.
-That was converted 30 years ago
and it's a two-bedroomed holiday let...
WILL AND KATE CHUCKLE Fantastic.
..slash family accommodation.
What are your initial impressions?
-It's very pretty, isn't it?
Windows in keeping, lovely French doors...
Lovely barn, yes, for the...dairy.
This...outlook is just beautiful.
Yeah, fantastic, isn't it?
How is it striking you so far? What about the location?
It's quite rural...
-It's a beautiful setting.
-Fantastic looking house.
-So let's go and take a look.
The look of our stone farmhouse clearly appeals to Will and Kate,
although I detect some nervousness from one half of our couple
about its location.
But I know that for Kate, the kitchen is key
and I'm pretty confident the one in this property is on the money.
In we come, through the entrance hall...
Ah! Kitchen, Kate. There you go.
-You did talk about liking some views while you cook.
-There's a pretty good view.
-Well, that is a pretty good view, isn't it?
-It is beautiful.
I could be making cakes looking out over that hillside...
And a huge table.
-I could sit there with my gin and tonic, watch you baking!
It seems like quite a sociable space
and, actually, there's a lovely flow to this house.
-If you follow me, I'll take you through to the next room.
And we come through to a really good-sized sitting room-cum-dining room.
Love it, yeah, fantastic.
And the depth of the window ledges is amazing.
Fantastic, the thickness of the walls.
-And is that a log burner I spy in the background?
-Indeed, you do.
-Give you some nice heat in winter.
-Yes, fantastic room.
Big room, but cosy, too. A combination of both.
You've been quite keen for that, haven't you?
You want space, but you also want to be able to feel cosy
-when you haven't got family.
How does that feel with that in mind?
This feels like a good room for that.
You can imagine curling up on the sofa with a book
and not feeling that you're in the middle of a...
-When I'm not out chopping wood, you mean?
-When you're not out chopping wood, certainly.
We're going to stay in this part of the house,
we're just going to go up the stairs
-because I want to show you the master bedroom.
There are four bedrooms in the main house.
Three of these are at the other end of the property
and include a ground floor room,
which is currently being used as a study.
Above that, and accessed by a second staircase,
are two further double bedrooms, both in the eaves
and each benefiting from their own separate en-suite bath and shower rooms -
useful for the visiting family.
And that leaves the bedroom we've set aside for Will and Kate.
What a beautiful room! Really light.
Sun streaming in. Beautiful. Super room.
-Plenty of space.
-Good size. With an en-suite...
Beautifully fitted, light, contemporary.
I'd just like to step back,
-if I could, and show you the view through the window.
Fancy waking up to that in the morning.
You couldn't want for more, could you, really?
Not when you've bought me my cup of tea up! Fantastic.
KATE CHUCKLES To die for.
-You couldn't ask for better than this. That's a perfect room.
Well, this is your bedroom taken care of.
What I'm really keen to show you is the holiday annexe.
-Let's head back downstairs and outside, and go and look at the old dairy.
A fantastic response to the main house,
despite the rural remoteness of the property.
I hope our couple will be equally as impressed with the holiday let,
right across the courtyard.
So this is the holiday let.
Quite nautical with the blue banister.
-It's got a real seaside feel.
-Yes. Very nice.
A good-sized lounge and there's a second log burner over there.
I don't know if you noticed when we passed through the sunroom,
-there's an indoor barbecue with a chimney.
-That's right up your street.
-Right up my street.
-You'll never use it as a holiday let!
-No, no, we'll be here all the time.
And upstairs are two really good-size bedrooms.
I can imagine its popular for being rented out.
Is the location a drawback?
I need to get in the car and I need to drive around,
and just find out exactly where we are.
Ironically, I think the mixture of remoteness which may be remote,
but actually is a beautiful setting.
To come out here and have your breakfast on the patio
and hear the sheep in the field next to you...
You know, it's just wonderful.
We've got that mixed emotion.
You've got to balance it all out
cos you don't tend to get many sheep in the middle of the village.
-Or open views in the middle of the village...
We're a contradiction, I know!
So it may be a compromise that we are prepared to take.
Well, let's go and look at those fields and those open views,
-and let's just have a chat about the garden and also the land.
The garden is comprised of a sunny patio area
and a low-maintenance strip of lawn that overlooks those stunning views.
Then across the road, there's also a paddock with a barn,
a vegetable patch and a greenhouse.
In addition to the holiday let with its adjoining carport,
there's also a further outbuilding.
This consists of garaging for two cars,
as well as a two-storey self-contained annexe
with a kitchen, shower room and an open-plan studio space,
creating even more room for children and grandchildren.
This is the bit I like.
-So you've had a good look around?
-Oh, I've got to go first.
-What do you think it's on the market for?
-I'm going to go more than that.
I wouldn't be surprised if it was over 800.
Well, you're both off the mark,
but Will you're only slightly off the mark.
-It's on the market with a guide price of £795,000.
Yep. I was going to say 795, but I would say that now, wouldn't I?
I think that's a good price. There's a lot of...property.
But there is the potential, if you didn't want the land, to sell the...
-the parcel of land off.
-That includes the land?
-Yes, that price includes the land.
-Well, that's a good deal.
Are you keen to carry on looking and to explore more?
-Yes, I am.
-Off you go.
-BOTH: Thank you.
It's funny, I can't quite get a feel for what's going on here.
But my gut instinct is that Will likes it a lot,
but Kate has some reservations about the location.
Priced at just under £800,000,
which is at the top end of their budget,
this fabulous stone farmhouse
gives our couple everything they asked for.
Kate gets her nice kitchen and Will gets his log burner.
There are four bedrooms in the main house
and a further two in the well-appointed holiday let.
The property is surrounded by peaceful countryside
and has stunning views.
Well, it's a fantastic house.
It's got the right combination, I think, of old and new...
Beautifully maintained, love the courtyard garden...
-Oh, this is beautiful, Kate, isn't it?
-What a sun trap!
Glorious. And look at this!
This is my...dream.
-An indoor barbecue.
-I could be there in the middle of December barbecuing.
This is such a lovely house, great accommodation for us,
great accommodation for paying guests
and I can honestly see us living here.
My only concern is it does feel really rural.
Kate, I think, has always felt we should be near somewhere where,
you know, we can get a paper and a pint of milk,
visit the doctors, for example.
If it's too countrified then, I suspect,
she may have more reservations than I do.
I think Will is keen on this.
I think he really likes it.
He probably likes the rurality of it, I think, and it's unusual
because I'm usually the one that goes with my heart
and Will's the one who goes with his head.
He's the sensible one.
But I think, at the moment, to me,
it feels like we've swapped roles there...a little bit.
This is such a special spot.
If Will and Kate aren't interested,
I might need to consider a little escape to the country of my own!
-I found my gin and tonic spot!
-Have you found yours?
-I think there's three,
-so I need three gin and tonics!
-There's a lot to think about!
It's the second day of our property search
in the South Hams area of Devon
with retirees Will and Kate from Hertfordshire,
who have the princely sum of £800,000 to spend.
Coming up, I meet the Devon artist whose ornate creations
are one serious labour of love.
How long would it take to create something like that?
-It's 1,000 hours.
And there's a big revelation at the end of our house-hunt.
Oh, my word. Oh, my word!
Now...I sensed a difference of opinion in our couple
over the stone farmhouse we showed them yesterday.
I could tell Will absolutely loved the position and the stunning views,
but, for Kate, I think, it could have been just too remote.
Well, we have got a new day, two new properties to show them.
Coming up later is the mystery house.
Now this is going to test out whether they really want to holiday let or not.
But, first of all, another property with fantastic views
set to rival those of yesterday.
Let's hope we can have a shared opinion on this one.
For our next offering, we're heading to the hamlet of Kingston,
close to the beautiful riverside village of Dittisham.
Situated on the banks of the River Dart,
this sought-after, attractive village has two pubs,
one of which plays host to both the post office and local shop.
During the Second World War,
the river at Dittisham played an important role
in providing safe anchorage for the D-Day invasion fleet.
Today it's popular with holiday-makers
and also offers a regular ferry trip to the town of Dartmouth,
around three miles downstream.
The property I'm going to show Will and Kate is less than a mile from the village,
set on a quiet country lane with uninterrupted views of the South Hams hills.
So, Will and Kate,
this is the property I've really wanted to show you.
-Quite a stunning setting.
-It's stunning, absolutely stunning.
We've got sheep and we've also got some other friends...
that I'll tell you about a little later on. I'll keep that a surprise.
It was originally a worker's cottage,
there's an older part to the house that dates back 150 years.
It's been extensively renovated over, the owners think, over the last 50 years.
-It looks so pretty.
And it's got that Devon, sort of, slate.
Hung slate. Oh, it's hung slate, is it?
And it looks like there's some serious windows going on that look out...
And if you're very eagle-eyed, you can probably see a second roof
-just over there, beyond the property.
That's because there's a old piggery that's been converted
-to a very beautiful two-bedroom holiday let...
-..which has been let very successfully.
-Wisteria growing up the wall.
I think we should go and see if there are any views from those windows!
-I'm going to take you back round to the front door.
Our buyers are clearly impressed with the outlook from this
whitewashed hillside property.
We're using the entrance the current owners prefer
as it's right next to the parking area.
-Kitchen! There you go.
-Oh, my gosh!
There you go!
Yeah, the views are OK, on this house, I think?
-You know. Just acceptable!
-Plenty of open space in front of you, that's for sure.
-It's got the social aspect to the kitchen...
-Yes, so it has.
-Nice breakfast bar.
-Is that a larder in there?
-Are you fond of a larder?
-I just love a larder!
Her dream is a larder.
-Are you smiling?
-I am smiling.
Can you imagine yourself cooking up a storm in this kitchen?
I think I could, actually, I think I could.
Good work space and open as well, which is lovely.
And it has a nice, sort of, country feel to it, as well.
Do you like the style, Will?
Yes, very nice. Countrified and every woman's dream - a larder.
-And some men's, as well, I guess!
-Sorry, that's very sexist, very sexist!
And some men's, absolutely.
-Let's wander on through.
Before we go and explore that view, that very tempting view,
I just want you to duck in here.
This is the main sitting-room for the property,
with that spectacular fireplace.
-Ah, I get my log burner.
It is a lovely room,
but I think the most spectacular room of the property
is the one that I am going to show you next.
So with Kate happy with the larder, and Will with his log burner,
we're weaving our way through a dining room,
which leads to the star of the show.
-Beautiful views, look at those views!
I don't think you'd ever leave this room, would you?
-Just live in here.
-Almost speechless, really.
-It's the kind of view that's good for the soul.
-Yes, it is, isn't it?
You could have your aperitifs in here,
move into the dining room, have your dinner,
and move back here for your brandy and cigar.
And once Will's finished for the evening,
there are numerous beds to choose from.
Of the four bedrooms, three are on the first floor,
they're all doubles, and one is currently being used as a study.
There's also a family bathroom, complete with roll-top bath.
But I think the bedroom our couple may want to use
is below the sunroom, down on the lower ground floor.
-So, great views from this room.
-Cup of tea in bed, very nice.
And a door out onto the garden.
-And you've got a nice, modern en suite.
-What about the size of the bedroom?
It's fine. It's compact, it's not huge, is it?
But there's a sofa in here.
And you're yet to see the annexe, which has got two beautiful,
-very large double bedrooms.
So the main house gets the royal seal of approval from Will and Kate.
But before we see the annexe, it's time to meet the neighbours.
There are the extra friends I told you about -
-the owner's pet alpacas.
-They're so beautiful.
The holiday let is accessed by its own path and garden,
-and is finished to a very high standard.
-We could live in here, Kate!
I could work as happily in here as I could in the one in the main house.
For a holiday let, it's terrific.
It lets out at various points in the year,
from anywhere between £400-900 per week.
And you've got this great-sized kitchen,
a good-sized living room with a cosy log burner, two beautiful,
large double bedrooms, and a really well-equipped family bathroom.
-I think you could have a queue of people wanting to come
and stay here, couldn't you? It'd never get let!
We won't be short of guests, that's for sure.
Let's take a look at the garden and then you can guess the price.
Amounting to one acre,
the attractive grounds include a vegetable patch and greenhouse
on sloping land overlooking the property.
A separate orchard with space for a hammock
and a more traditional lawned area lie just outside the master bedroom.
Will and Kate wanted a manageable garden
and I'm conscious this is more than they asked for.
-Is this too big for you, would this be daunting?
Obviously, it's quite easy to maintain,
so most of it's going to be grass cutting.
And there's lots of lovely places that you can sit
and catch the sun or the shade.
And it's a haven for grandchildren, I can just see them
chasing around all these different levels. It would be lovely.
So although it's more ground than we thought we would need,
I suspect we could...
It needs thinking about it, but I think it's manageable.
You know what's coming now, I need you to guess the price.
I suspect we're looking over budget, so I'd go 825,000.
Yeah, I was thinking certainly over budget.
A wee bit to 835, perhaps?
You're both right, it is over budget.
Unfortunately, it's over budget by a little bit more
than you've both said. It was on the market for £895,000.
-It was reduced a month ago and relaunched at £850,000.
However, the owners are open to potentially a slight negotiation.
What are your thoughts?
Because I can't read you on this one, either of you?
I know you love the views,
but I don't know if this is just too much of a house for you or not?
The house isn't huge, it's not vast.
I think the jury's still out, I wouldn't discount it.
But we do need to talk about the budget and this amount of ground.
Lots of think about, so off you go, go and explore,
do some thinking, and I'll come and catch up with you soon.
-Thank you very much.
Over budget by £50,000, the price
of our white house with views
would mean our buyers possibly
selling their second home
to cover the cost.
Dating from the 19th century,
the house has undergone
modernisation in recent years
and gives our couple spacious,
a cosy living room,
and a sunroom with
180 degree views across the valley.
The house and separate
up-and-running holiday let
is set within an acre
of stunning grounds.
This house seems to be all about its view from the back,
which is amazing.
A beautiful house and the annexe is stunning, really.
The finishing is excellent to say the least. It's first class.
-For a holiday let, this is a really good size.
-Yes, it is.
Look at the lovely wood burner in the corner.
You could spend a couple of weeks here without any problem,
couldn't you? You could spend your life here.
One concern, really, is the outside space.
There is actually quite a lot of ground to be maintained,
which we don't want to find is a problem for us in the future.
Have you seen enough?
-I think so.
-Fantastic views, a shame to go.
Lots to think about.
I think there might be a bit of head versus heart going on with this one.
Yes, I think there might be.
What would be the worst possible thing that
I could show you for the Mystery House?
Probably a Baptist chapel.
As we said, we don't want to do any conversion.
I reckon you're going to make us convert a Baptist chapel.
I'm not all that keen on thatch,
and Will's not particularly keen on barn conversions,
so I think you might show us a thatched barn conversion.
One thatched barn conversion in the middle of nowhere,
with a Baptist chapel at the side, waiting to be converted - coming up!
That'll be amazing.
Our final property is located in the large hamlet of Ledstone,
just two miles from Kingsbridge,
which is one of the South Hams' most popular towns.
Situated on its own river estuary,
the market town is a magnet for the boating community and tourists.
In the 19th century, Kingsbridge was a centre for the tanning
and boat building industries.
Today there's vibrant local arts scene
and an independent cinema operates from the old town hall.
Our Mystery House gives our couple a more modern,
contemporary feel and layout,
but the location gives them the close proximity
to all the amenities they want.
And here is our Mystery House.
-So what's mysterious about it, I hear you ask?
Hasn't got thatch.
It hasn't got thatch! No, it definitely hasn't got thatch.
No, it's a large, detached stone property.
It dates back a couple of hundred years
and it was originally a little worker's cottage that's obviously
been massively extended over the last 30 years.
I guess the thing for us is that it is going to challenge
you in the thought that you want a holiday let
-because there's no holiday let on this property.
-Oh, all right.
I also think the style could be perhaps slightly different to
what you've seen before, what you would've naturally looked at.
But we'll find out about that. What do you think?
It doesn't look as old as it seems to pertain to be.
I suppose because it's been extended, and I suppose the whitewashed walls,
and the roof looks new,
so it doesn't have that age to it from immediate impact.
-But it's a sweet-looking little property.
-And a nice, quiet spot.
Be interesting to see what it looks like inside.
-Would you like to go and explore?
-Yeah, let's go.
The lack of a holiday let
doesn't seem to be a huge problem at the moment,
but the house itself will really have to appeal to our buyers'
tastes if it's going to win them over.
It is, as you can see, a split-level house.
-This is what I want to start off with.
-Open-plan living space.
-You wouldn't expect this from outside.
-Think of all the space, my word!
-Lot of space.
I know you weren't keen on a barn conversion...
It's definitely not a barn conversion!
No, but it has that feel, doesn't it?
-Because you've got the high ceiling.
-Quite modern inside. And it's light.
Plenty of windows.
-Have either of you ever lived in an open plan style property before?
So this is new. It'd be a new experience.
Let's just walk across and see the kitchen layout as well.
-We didn't have to travel far.
-That's the benefit of open plan.
Very contemporary as it's set out at the moment.
And I could work without facing onto a wall.
It's quite unusual, in a sense,
the house being so old, or parts of it, but some of it's very modern.
Although, yes, it's a contemporary, light, very sociable space -
it does have a feeling of character to it as well.
It's not stark and modern.
No, no, it's a very homely sort of space, isn't it?
If you were looking on the search on your own,
would you have been drawn to a contemporary interior like this?
-I don't think we probably would have, really?
I'd like to show you the master suite,
which is on a separate level, so we've got to go upstairs to it.
-If you follow me.
The house comes with five bedrooms -
three of those are back down on the ground floor
and include a large double with two smaller bedrooms.
This level also has a family bathroom
and utility room with an airing cupboard.
The two remaining bedrooms are back on the upper level.
They're accessed by a couple steps from the living room and feature
a guest double with an en-suite, as well as the master suite.
-Nice, bright, airy room with a modern en suite off it.
-It is very light.
-Yes. Plenty of space. Good-sized room, yeah.
I sense something, I don't know if it's disappointment,
but I don't sense any natural enthusiasm for this property?
You're very astute, aren't you? It hasn't hit a chord with me yet.
Maybe it's the contemporary nature, or maybe it just hasn't grabbed us,
but we haven't seen it all.
The immediate reaction's not, wow, this is a house we must have.
-Let's head outside.
-OK. After you.
Although the house doesn't wow,
the grounds here are certainly more manageable for Will,
with terraced patio areas leading up to a level, lawned garden.
Despite the lack of a holiday let,
the property does come with an outbuilding - the garage -
which has been converted into a useful office space.
-How do you feel about the garden, is it a manageable size?
I think this is perfect, really. Grass, easy enough to cut the grass.
Not too much by way of bushes and open ground.
And also this is a nice spot
because you've got these open views there.
You've had a good look round, now is the price bit.
-What do you think it's on the market for?
-I'm going to go...
595, I think.
Well, I'll pitch it down, but I wouldn't go that low.
I'll go 675. 675,000.
That's quite interesting
cos you're both under.
-You are, yes. It's not been on the market long,
and it's gone on for offers in excess of £700,000.
Oh, my word. OK.
I guess its location, close to Kingsbridge,
has probably pushed the price up.
But I'd pitched it down because of the lack of the holiday let.
Why don't you take a look around,
see if you can imagine yourselves in contemporary, open-plan living?
Under top budget by £100,000,
our open-plan mystery property
leaves money in the pot for
Will and Kate to make improvements.
And even build their own holiday let if they wish,
subject to planning permission.
The five bedrooms offer plenty of
potential for visiting family,
and the garden is easy to maintain.
just a short drive to Kingsbridge,
also gives our couple
all the services they want,
right on their doorstep.
The situation is perfect,
and the little hamlet it's in makes it feel not isolated,
so that's good for us.
The position of the house is fine. I'm not used open-plan living -
I don't think I've ever lived in a house
where we've had open plan, not totally.
My low price estimate is
an indication of the fact that this house is not for me.
This house is a fantastic space.
I can see that it really works for a family,
but we are past that and our prime concern needs to be a home for us.
That's all the properties we have to show you.
-Now it's time for us to go and have a chat.
-Decision time then, eh?
If there's one to be made.
Devon's diverse and beautiful landscape has long been
a source of inspiration to artists.
On farmland just outside Exeter is the studio of one
of the country's leading architectural sculptors.
Geoffrey Preston specialises in making ornamental plasterwork.
It's an art form which adorns the ceilings and walls
of some of Britain's greatest buildings, including the
Church of St Martin-in-the-Fields in London's Trafalgar Square.
I've come to the studio to meet Geoffrey
and find out more about his work.
Geoff, could you tell me about this form of decorative plasterwork?
It goes back to Roman times and probably before.
And how did it arrive here in the UK on our shores?
It probably already happened
with lime plaster decoration in houses in medieval times
and Devon's very rich in plasterwork from the Tudor times
and Jacobean times.
Talking about your work,
we're surrounded by some wonderful pieces here
and this piece is stunning. Tell me about that?
This was a commission for a house in Ireland,
but it's actually a direct copy of a vault in a church in Bavaria.
In the 18th century, there was an international style,
so the forms in this particular piece,
you would see them all over Europe.
How long would it take to create something like that?
Well, Jenny, my wife tells me it was 1,000 hours.
1,000 hours, that's incredible!
I'd love to see the process
behind creating something as beautiful as that.
-Would you show me?
-Yes, certainly. Come this way.
Until the late 18th century,
decorative plasterwork was handcrafted directly onto
the ceiling using a material called stucco.
Today, the most common method of producing plaster ornament is
to model in clay first before making a silicone mould
and casting in gypsum plaster.
Geoffrey's commissions include the drawing room ceiling
at Great Fulford, a Grade I listed manor in Devon.
It took over 3,000 hours to create
and is based on designs from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Geoffrey's going to take me through some of the processes
involved in this art form,
in particular making a cast from the mould of a leaf pattern.
This is one of the silicone moulds I was talking about.
It's actually got a case behind it to keep it rigid.
Less likely to bend while we're doing the cast,
so it'll be accurate.
-And the cast would be the messy bit?
-That's going to be messy, yeah.
-Shall I put this on then?
-Put an apron on.
The cast mixture is made from gypsum plaster
and a specific quantity of water.
So you pick it up with two hands, like that,
and let it fall through your fingers,
so it goes in evenly.
Is there a limited time for how long you've got to work with it?
In terms of the finished product, I've noticed that everything in
the studio is this beautiful, chalky colour - is that how it should stay?
I think so, yeah.
It never looked very good when it's actually painted a colour.
Do they need to be treated?
Cos they look incredibly fragile, some of them.
No, they don't. They don't need to be treated.
Right now, it's just taking the water on board.
But very shortly, it's going to begin a chemical reaction
which is going to create crystals of gypsum,
which is ultimately going to give it that rigidity. So, rapidly.
Why is it, whenever you've got hands like this,
you get a really itchy nose?
I've got a really itchy nose!
The next step is to start mixing by hand to dissolve the lumps,
all the time trying to avoid introducing air into the plaster.
Right, we're ready to pour, so just put the handle over that side.
And then if you just pour in one location right in the middle...
-So don't move around?
Before the advent of silicone in the 1980s, artists used
a range of materials to make moulds, including lead and gelatine,
although neither were as flexible and durable as modern-day rubber.
Once the plaster is set a little, the over-fill is screed off
using a straight edge.
-Slowly, or one big fast movement?
In order for the piece to be hung on a wall, a wire hook is
embedded in the drying plaster and it's then left to set.
Now, just push it in a bit.
An hour so later, the plaster has fully hardened,
so the case and silicone mould can be removed.
Shall I turn it over?
-There's some weight in it, isn't there?
Getting the large pieces out must be a big...
Ooh, it's already fallen out.
Just take the case. Got that?
-Yeah, got that bit.
OK, now you can have the fun job of just pulling off the rubber.
This is like taking the best cake ever out of a cake tin.
Oh, it's beautiful. Oh, goodness me! It's beautiful!
Oh, it's so lovely!
-I don't know why I'm surprised.
I know, you did sound a bit shocked then!
I would be pleased with that for my first one.
It's absolutely beautiful.
I've got a long way to go to get your standard, but...
Oh, I don't know. Give you a job.
With ornamental plasterwork very much in vogue, it's amazing
to see this 500-year-old tradition still going strong in South Devon.
We certainly gave our couple plenty to consider
and it's time for me now to discover
if any of the houses we showed them could become a home.
What a glorious two days we've had in South Hams.
The sun has been shining for us, we've see some fantastic properties,
and I have a feeling that two are standing out for the two of you,
Am I on the right lines?
The stone farmhouse, I think, ticked all the boxes.
Absolutely stunning, loved the courtyard, loved the accommodation,
and the ideal holiday let for us as well.
And even gave us an acre pasture, a little paddock,
which we hadn't expected.
We want to check out the location, I think,
because of the proximity to Chillington.
We'd just need to check how easy it is to get in and out of Chillington.
I think that was the only thing that didn't fully tick the box,
to say, all right, we'll sign the contract today.
When it came to the white house, that was stunning.
The fittings and the features, absolutely outstanding.
And the holiday let, well, you could have lived in there
quite happily on its own.
The views from both were stunning and lovely.
So, I think we would do that one on the back burner, but only
because, if need be, we would have to secure the extra funding.
It's obviously over-budget.
We can do that, but it would take a little bit longer to achieve.
But I think that's absolutely fantastic news.
I'm so thrilled that we've managed to find two properties
that appeal to you.
So are there any plans for the stone farmhouse?
We'll certainly check out the area
and just get that solidified in our minds.
And go back and have a second viewing,
just to see if it's just as good the second time as it was the first.
Because, you know, it helps to view something twice at least.
Now, I recall at the start of this process,
you had this very large envelope and inside it was some properties
that your daughter thought we might pluck out for you to look at.
-Are you ready to open it?
-I think we need to do that.
Now we have to see whether these predictions are anything like...
I'm really intrigued to see if people
that know you well have chosen similar properties. So...
Oh, my word!
Oh, my word.
There we are.
-There we are.
-They do know you well.
Oh, she's gone quite emotional. Oh, bless yourself.
-Who knows? Maybe it's meant to be.
-Oh, dear me.
-You all right?
Oh, my word. That's...
-And it says, on a big sticky...
-Big, orange sticky...
"Our first choice."
-Well, the family like it, you know that much!
-Oh, my word!
I think you need to go and get that second viewing booked.
-I think we might, before we go back.
-Oh, deary me.
We wish you well with your search and we really hope you find
somewhere that makes you very happy down here.
Well, thank you, Ginny, too for a fantastic experience for us.
-Thank you very much.
-Yes, it certainly has.
While we're looking around the stone farmhouse, I got such
a strong sense that our couple really liked it, Will in particular.
So, hopefully, once they've explored the area more,
they may have found the perfect home to enjoy those gin and tonics in.
Join me next time on Escape To The Country.
Will and Kate did return to the stone farmhouse for a second
viewing, but in the end their heads overruled their hearts
and they decided it was too remote for them.
If you'd like to escape to the country in either
England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland and need our help,
then please apply online at...
Ginny Buckley helps a couple with a healthy Â£800,000 budget find a perfect country house in Devon with enough accommodation for visiting family.
Plus Ginny meets an architectural sculptor who, from his rural studio, creates ornamental plasterwork which graces some of Britain's most famous historic buildings.