Property show where people search for their dream house in the country. Jonnie Irwin goes property hunting with a couple of new grandparents who have a budget of £800,000.
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A small building on this ancient bridge behind me
was once used as the local jail.
And I must say, when it comes to enviable river views, well...
it's not the worst place in the world to be banged up, is it?
So where am I?
I'll be confessing all in just a moment.
Today, a dynamic house-hunting duo
has a promising start in their search
for a country home close to family.
Jonnie, I think you might be on a winner here.
Later, those positive reactions ramp up.
Oh, wow. That looks fantastic.
That has wow factor.
Today, I'm in Wiltshire,
and this is the attractive market town of Bradford upon Avon.
There's been a settlement here by this river for over 2,000 years.
In fact, the town gets its name from the term "broad ford".
Now, it's just this river itself
that's key to the whole area's prosperity,
with attractive architecture spanning Saxon, Georgian,
right the way through the Industrial Revolution periods.
But, as you are about to see, this is just one snapshot of many
that this fascinating county has to offer.
Known as the gateway to the West Country,
landlocked Wiltshire is bordered by several counties,
including Somerset, Berkshire and Hampshire.
It's a region of contrasts, from its ancient sites such as Stonehenge,
said to have taken 30 million man-hours to construct,
to the famous white horses etched into its hillsides.
It's thought the oldest at Westbury
was first carved into the steep, chalky slopes in the late 1700s.
And it's certainly a great vantage point
for views across the stunning countryside.
Wiltshire's expansive plains give way
to an eye-catching carpet of rich, green fields in the Vale of Pewsey,
an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The county's architecture is as historic as its landscape,
ranging from attractive white timber-framed cottages
and thatched roofs
and Georgian-style redbrick townhouses
to rather more decorative facades with feature windows.
Castle Combe, dubbed England's prettiest village,
is a designated conservation area due to its array of
beautifully preserved limestone buildings,
many of which date back to the 17th century.
With its prehistoric monuments, beautiful rural terrain
and traditional architecture,
Wiltshire offers the complete country package
for aspiring escapees.
But as you might expect,
the prettiness of Wiltshire does come at a cost.
The average price of a detached house here in the county
currently stands at just under £320,000,
which is around 12% above the national average.
But don't despair quite just yet.
There are variations within the county,
and if you want your budget to stretch that bit further,
you're better off heading towards the west of Wiltshire
and the Somerset border. So, who are today's buyers,
and why have they been tempted by the wilds of Wiltshire?
Let's meet them and find out.
Former dental nurse Elspeth and her retired dentist husband, Robert,
from Warlingham in Surrey,
were in rather a compromising position
during their first encounter over four decades ago.
We met over a patient when I was a dental student at Guy's Hospital.
And she was 19.
She was tall, slim, beautiful, with long, brown hair,
and so I spotted her immediately.
And I saw you going up the student staircase, cos we all had
different entrances, the nursing staff and the dental students,
and I saw this lovely long pair of legs disappearing up the stairs.
And she said I had a cute bottom, but I don't believe it!
We started going out January 1973.
They were married five years later and now have two grown-up children.
We've got a gorgeous son, who's called Matt,
and we've got a gorgeous daughter called Heather.
And the magic bit about the two kids
is the fact that they both had children
within six weeks of each other.
So we've gone from not being grandparents at all
to having two of the most beautiful little grandchildren.
We're very proud of them. Proud grandparents.
Elspeth and Rob have lived in their four-bedroom Surrey bungalow
for 20 years, but are more than ready for a change.
I think our house has got to the stage where...
It's a little bit big for us.
Because, when we moved in, there were four of us,
whereas now, we rattle around a bit, don't we?
It's surrounded by the M25, and that's the big no-no for us.
Because you find whenever you want to get anywhere or go anywhere...
You have to go on the M25.
So, although where we live is great,
we want to get away from quite so much traffic and chaos, really.
And it's family ties pulling them towards the west.
We're looking to move near the Bradford on Avon area
-to be close to our daughter, Heather.
-And my mum.
And your mum.
No, it's a beautiful area, and it's just time for a change.
I'd love to live down there,
and then I can be a proper granny and help out.
-Which will be super. And you can be a proper grandad.
Our son lives in West London, so, sort of being out in that corridor,
on the M4 corridor, would really be brilliant,
because it would take maybe an hour and a half to get up to west London.
Perfect. Then we can do the grannying on the other child.
This sporty pair are also looking forward to enjoying hobbies,
like rowing, closer to home.
I've racked up about 120,000 miles in one car
just going to the boat club and back.
I'd love to jump on a bike and cycle to the boat club.
That would be my dream.
Elspeth has a love of horses and is an accomplished rider,
but nowadays shares in Rob's sporting passion.
I joined Robert in learning how to row about 15 years ago,
and fell in love with that too.
But that's not all.
Elspeth's got plans to get green fingered,
and they're both looking forward to making the most
of their new country surroundings with their dog, Skye.
What's more, Rob's pride and joy, his classic sports car,
will also need a new shelter with this move.
So, with their house on the market and a zest for life,
they can't wait to be closer to family, an area they love
and a future of possibilities.
We've really enjoyed being here. Loved every minute of it.
But we're going to love new adventures
and doing different stuff.
That's what we want.
It's because we don't want to miss our grandchildren growing up,
and they're only young once.
And WE'RE only young once.
Our grandson is the love of my life,
and so to be able to just pop in and give him a cuddle
and say good night to him
and then just zoom home again easily would be a joy.
Although being closer to family is a draw for Elspeth and Rob
to move closer to Bradford on Avon,
they're looking to settle in the peaceful surrounding countryside.
Before we start our search,
I'm catching up with them here to find out more
about their property aspirations.
So, family are bringing you here,
but what is it about this part of the world
that's capturing your imagination, then, Rob?
It's halfway to the West Country, where we like going down to.
There's a particularly good rowing club here.
Talk me through the kind of village you would like to live in from now.
Quite sort of smallish.
Perhaps a good pub.
-A little post office, perhaps.
Convenience store, maybe, even.
I think somewhere where people know...you know, know us.
It's community you're after, then?
You want to be part of that, of course.
Now, then, let's talk about the house itself.
What does it look like?
I mean, this county has just amazing architecture.
Do you want a piece of that old... old feel?
Trouble is that if it's too old, he's too tall.
-We don't want low beams.
I miss them 99 times, but it's that one time in 100 that hurts!
I think we're very anxious that we have a property
-that doesn't require a huge amount of maintenance.
I think that's something that, as you get older,
you don't have the ability to carry on earning an income,
so if you have a fabulous place that is listed,
and so you have to spend an awful lot of money doing it in a certain way...
-That is perhaps a no-no.
And it would be nice to have a good view.
Now, views. Views are important to both of you, aren't they?
Where we live at the moment, we've got the most fantastic view.
You're moving to the countryside, you want to see a bit of it,
-I suppose, from your windows.
-And somewhere quiet.
-So we don't want to be on a main road or a cut-through.
OK, that's fair enough.
-That's quite important.
-Now, size of property.
You've got your son up in West London,
-who'll be coming down to visit.
-How many bedrooms?
It would be lovely to have a big entertaining space,
-cos we're quite big people.
-Do you like open plan?
-That would be great.
-You've not really tied me down
-as to exactly what style of property you're after.
-You want light inside, then, obviously.
-We need somewhere to park cars, and perhaps have a double garage.
How essential is this garage to you?
Quite essential, cos my car rusts like mad,
so it would be quite handy to have one.
We could get away with a single garage.
Yeah, we could.
Finally, what's the budget?
-Yeah, about 800.
-Which is a very healthy budget...
..in a pretty expensive part of the world.
But I think we can get there, or thereabouts.
-Shall we go?
Elspeth and Rob's budget of £800,000 is extremely healthy
for this neck of the woods.
So I'm feeling pretty confident as we get our search underway.
They want a manageable house and garden,
but, being a sociable couple, it must be geared up for entertaining,
with a large, light kitchen.
They're flexible on style but need three bedrooms,
a large garage for Rob's classic car,
and a quiet location with fabulous views.
We've assembled a fantastic mix of properties
to tempt Elspeth and Rob with,
but the all-important price will only be revealed
after they've explored each house.
The final visit to the mystery property
will offer this gregarious pair a grandiose option
in which to accommodate their visiting family and friends.
You are hoping for a lot of people to come down and visit, are you?
I think that would be absolutely lovely. That would be great.
Cos we've got lots of chums over the years,
and now we are all going in our separate directions,
so it would be great if they would come and stay,
but, a bit like fish and friends, go off after three days!
We're starting our trip round Wiltshire in the village of
Monkton Farleigh, which is just over two miles from
Elspeth and Rob's daughter near Bradford on Avon, and around six miles from the city of Bath.
The quiet and leafy village lanes are flanked by a series of
impressive Bath stone houses, which this area is known for.
The 17th-century dining pub lays claim to being Wiltshire's most haunted.
And just a two-minute walk away is this handsome house
dating back to the 1,800.
And even the rain can't dampen its looks.
So, property number one is this one.
Now, I know you said you liked the idea of a house with a view,
but the view over that 11th century church is wonderful, isn't it?
Fantastic. Gosh, it's absolutely beautiful.
The house itself, mid-19th century wears well, doesn't it, this Bath stone?
Very pretty. Looks maybe...small.
It's not huge, so this is where I get to learn about how much you are
looking at potential downsizing, how big do you need the three bedrooms to be.
Fine. It looks as though it's got a garage.
-Well, that could be issue number one.
-Let me show you inside.
This double fronted house may not be vast,
but it is deceptively spacious.
Much more so than its exterior would suggest.
And talking of appearances being deceiving, the garage is not actually a garage at all.
So, into the dry at least.
Small utility area there then brings you straight into this fairly new kitchen.
I think it might be a bit small. I like the style.
-It's very, very nicely done.
-Yes, I thought so.
-Nicely done indeed.
I'm just wondering whether, we're quite big people, and we might bump into each other quite a bit.
-This WAS the garage.
But that comes around to the first issue.
-There's no garage with the property, Rob, for your car.
But we've made enquiries, and the local manor house
has units to let just up the road.
And there's also some new garages that you can rent as well
in a new development in the village.
So there's places nearby that you can store your car and other bits and bobs.
-That's a possibility.
-Bear this one in mind.
And as we walk through you can start thinking
whether or not this house will or not be big enough for you.
-Come with me.
Taking up the entire front of the house and also the oldest part
is a large sitting room spanning both sides of the old front door.
-More of a cottage-y feel now.
-Very cosy indeed.
-Nice log fire.
-Do you like it?
I think so, but immediately I look to that beam and think of Robert's head.
We're used to slightly higher ceilings as well, aren't we?
-I think it's a really well presented room.
There is a "but" here.
There is a "but". Robert would hit his head.
The "but" is him butting his head against that beam. OK, fair enough.
I think if we were smaller people, this would be a real possibility.
-THEY LAUGH But...
This house would have been built as a worker's cottage for the
manor house just nearby.
Perhaps we should think of the manor house.
Yeah, add a couple of zeros, I can help you out there.
A couple of zeros, yes.
-Let's keep looking through, and mind your head there, Rob.
Also on the ground floor and just behind the kitchen is
a room in use as a study.
Then, moving upstairs, there is a compact family bathroom and three bedrooms -
one flooded with light, a single room, and,
given what they got downstairs, what will they make of the master
which overlooks the front and side of the house?
-I love the bedroom.
-Really nice indeed. Nice floor.
-Lovely and light. I do like light. You could feel really cosy in here.
-Yeah, feel cosy in here.
-I can imagine myself in here.
-This is good.
Real positive up here.
Whilst the weather looks like it's fairly dry,
-let's go outside and start to have a think about price.
After mixed reactions inside,
we're on our way to the landscaped garden to the rear of the property.
The sun's come out. The garden goes to that stone wall at the top.
Because it is a raised garden, you actually get some of the
evening sun coming over the top of the house.
There's your little vegetable garden, Elspeth.
-Good height. I can reach that bit.
-That's not a bad shout, actually.
All right. So, we don't need acres and acres.
-Is this all right for you guys?
-It's a really good sized patio.
So, how much do you think this property's on the market for?
You go first.
Because it's very petite, I wouldn't want to pay any more than...
Maybe I'm being very rude to the owners, I hope I'm not.
-Give me a figure.
Good guess. This place has a guide price of £650,000.
Wasn't far off the mark.
Look, end of the day, it's probably good news for you,
meaning that what you're after is maybe attainable in these
-sorts of areas, because you put quite a lot of money on it.
OK, I think now is a good time for you to have
a good look at the house on your own.
Especially when you look at the differential between how you guessed the price here.
So go back into some of the other bedrooms,
have a good snoop around, get to feel the place,
and I'll meet you whenever you are finished, all right?
-See you in a mo.
This 19th-century detached house comes in
a generous £150,000 under Elspeth and Rob's budget,
which would leave them a substantial pot to put their mark on the
property, and still have spare cash to enjoy themselves.
It's in a lovely location and has just the number of bedrooms
they asked for.
Plus both the house and garden are a manageable size.
The rooms are light and bright, and although there is no garage,
there are nearby options to shelter Rob's car from the elements.
This is quite a petite room.
Cosy room for children, grandchildren.
When we came down the road to look at this house I thought it was
a really cute-looking village house and I was really excited.
When we came inside, it's beautifully done.
I think it's going to be too small,
because it's quite low ceilings, and as you go through doorways,
the doorways are shorter than my husband, so he will bump his head.
I would quite like to have a garage because we have
a lot of gardening equipment and I've got quite an elderly car that
seems to rust a lot, so it would be quite convenient to put that in a garage.
We'll not be needing these, which is good. How did you get on, then?
-It's a lovely place.
-But too small.
-Just a bit too small?
Just a bit too small.
Maybe focus on something with slightly higher ceilings for you, Rob?
-That would be good.
When they make their move to the Bradford on Avon area,
Elspeth and Rob are looking forward to making the most of the River Avon
and the Kennet and Avon Canal, which both wind through the town.
As keen rowers for years,
they've now got their sights set on kayaking,
and have come to meet expert kayaking coach Mike Purchas
at the Bradford on Avon rowing and canoeing club
to learn how to master one of the fastest-growing sports in the UK.
OK, Robert. I think this is sort of the ideal size for you.
And Elspeth, ideal size.
-You should be able to just reach up to the top.
Holding the blade, put your arms up,
and you want to form right angles with your two arms.
That's about the correct distance. Yes, that's good. Robert.
OK, that's good.
Mike's club has over 150 members and has been running since 1873.
Its most famous alumni is British athlete Ed McKeever,
who won a gold medal for kayaking at the 2012 Olympic Games.
And there's a golden postbox in Bradford on Avon
to commemorate his achievement.
But there'll be no racing today.
Elspeth and Rob are going on their maiden voyage
in a wide and stable kayak, perfect for beginners.
Our novice pair are confident swimmers,
but there are still safety measures to take.
What happens if we capsize?
If you capsize, leave the kayak upside down,
because that contains air inside,
and then swim to the end of the kayak,
and then try and bring it into the bank.
In this case, I'll be there to help you.
With the safety briefing over, it's time to learn how to hop on board.
Put your blade across the front of the kayak
-with the curvy bit to the top.
And step into the centre of the kayak.
Still holding on firm. And then let yourself down.
-And then you're ready to go.
Well, Mike's made it look easy, and it's Elspeth who's up first.
-Try and get your left leg in, if you can. That's good.
Try and get your bum down quickly.
-One hand on the bank. Keep one hand on the bank.
Hold on to the cockpit.
One hand on to the bank.
Try and lower yourself down slowly.
That's it. That's good.
You OK? How does that feel?
-The eagle has landed.
Mike's got 55 years' kayaking under his belt
and loves sharing his passion for the sport.
Just relax, Robert.
Arms up a little bit.
Excellent, excellent. How does that feel?
Yeah, I'm getting... I'm feeling a bit happier.
-Not quite so wobbly.
-Yeah, OK now, actually.
Basic paddling stroke is into the side of the kayak...
-In and then out.
But if we want to turn these kayaks, you need to paddle
one side, draw it out, back paddle, turning round sharply.
-Out, back. OK?
Another important stroke is knowing how to stop.
If you are paddling forward, you just
put all anchors on...
Like that, OK.
..and then back-paddle, OK?
This stretch of the River Avon is very flat and calm,
providing perfect conditions to learn to kayak...
Keep paddling, keep paddling.
..as well as providing a beautiful backdrop.
Kayaks in their earliest form are believed to date back
at least 4,000 years.
Originally developed by Inuits,
they were used for hunting and transporting passengers and goods,
and were made from seal or other animal skins
stretched over driftwood or whale bones as they evolved over the years.
Elspeth and Rob are taking to the kayaking like ducks to water.
Does that feel nice and steady in there?
-Yeah, it does, actually.
-Very good. Very good, Robert.
-She's good, isn't she?
This is great! It's fantastic.
-I always want a new challenge.
This is definitely going to be one.
Oh, we've found a new sport.
Well, I hope we get a new house AND a new sport.
That would be fantastic.
And after a mile-and-a-half round trip,
they're back where they started.
-What are your thoughts?
-It felt a bit scary to start with,
but you soon kind of get the feeling and get your balance a bit.
Yeah. You were going along like a train.
You were quite professional there. Really good.
It was really great.
It was good being on the water, and, yeah, couldn't have been nicer.
-It was great fun.
-You did really, really well.
Thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it.
-Thank you very much.
-Thanks a lot.
Our house hunt continues as we journey to the village of Corsley,
which is half an hour away from Elspeth and Rob's family
in Bradford on Avon.
The nearest towns are Warminster to the east,
and Frome to the west.
The countryside surrounding Corsley is rich and green,
with the village's quiet, narrow lanes bordered by hedges,
behind which are many attractive properties.
There are plenty of great spots for dog walks,
and there's a local pub nearby.
Just over a five-minute walk from the pub
and we're at this rather imposing property,
quite different to anything else in the area.
you're after a property of size.
I think this could do the job.
Yes. I think I like that.
-It's got an Alpine style to it.
-Yeah, it has.
I can imagine it in a ski resort in Austria.
Yeah. It's almost got that chalet style, hasn't it?
You might not be will to see from here,
but looking through you've got fields behind,
-which suggests a view, something you're after, isn't it?
-That would be good.
-OK, good. Let's go inside.
This property is of an exceptionally high standard.
The current owners designed and built it 16 years ago
and chose everything, down to the materials.
Right, then. Now, for Rob, you'll be pleased to hear,
behind that door is a boot room and a double garage.
I think this is your most impressive room in the house.
What a lovely, big room.
Wow, this is fantastic.
Yes, I like this.
-It's a really, really good space.
-Let me walk you through,
-because the flow is really good in this house.
Now, if you want to get your guests out of the way,
I think this is the perfect room to do it in,
while still being connected.
Again, spilling out into a really nice terraced area there.
It is, isn't it?
-But if you want to be cosy, this is the room to do it.
The owners call this their best room.
-What do you think of it?
-Yes, I think it's a nice room.
I'm just slightly surprised that they didn't push it more out
that way, because having that veranda makes it quite dark in here.
I honestly think, it might be a bit darker here, I mean,
you've got that many windows,
but if you wanted a light room to hang out in, that's the kitchen.
-Yes, the kitchen when we wanted was top-notch.
Space is the most important thing, isn't it?
-And you've got plenty of that upstairs, so come with me.
Up a winding stairway, leading to a galleried landing,
there's a family bathroom with a skylight and four double bedrooms -
one currently in use as a study,
another that's dual aspect,
then there's a cosy double.
We're heading for the largest of the four,
which takes in some fabulous views.
Now, the master bedroom, as you would expect, is en suite,
with a big wardrobe just through those double doors as well.
Oh, great. Lots of storage. That's good.
I like the way it's so light. Good size room.
Yeah. Excellent size.
I was hoping this would be plenty of room for you.
-This is plenty big enough.
OK, well, look, these have been pretty good reactions so far.
-I'll let you have a scoot around the house later on.
-Let's go out to the front of the house, OK?
And we'll start talking about price.
It's at the front where the majority of the slightly sloping,
manicured garden is found,
with a lawn also wrapping round the side of the house.
What's more, there are decked areas
which, on a bright day, are real sun traps.
And at the rear of the property is the double garage
and also the fantastic views.
So, as you can see, this house has been designed with socialising
and a bit of outdoor living in mind,
but also being able to escape from the weather under various shelters.
-That's a good idea.
This is beautifully designed, sorted, done.
-You could just move straight in, couldn't you?
-Yes, you could. Definitely you could.
So, after a brief look around this house,
let's guess the price. Who wants to go first?
I would say 785.
I'm going to go lower.
..Rob, you're closest, but you'll both be pleasantly surprised,
because the asking price for this place is offers around £675,000.
Wow! We're way out.
I'm really surprised cos it's... They look after beautifully.
-It is immaculate.
It's a lot of house for your money.
Go back inside the house and give it a good go.
Have that chat amongst yourselves.
Could you imagine yourselves in this house, long-term?
-And I'll meet you whenever you're done.
This bespoke-designed chalet-style stone house
has a price tag that's a jaw-dropping
£125,000 below Rob and Elspeth's budget,
and delivers them all the space and light they're looking for.
There's a great entertaining kitchen
and one more bedroom than they asked for.
Rob gets his essential double garage here,
and there are also those sought-after countryside views.
What's more, the village location
is perfect for community life.
-Yes, this is good. Big room.
-We could use this as a gym, couldn't we?
-Yes, certainly could.
This sort of property, although it's modern, it would suit us very well.
We're very flexible on which style of property we have.
I think it's a little bit further out of my preferred area,
because if I'm suddenly called in to child mind for my daughter,
then I've got half an hour of driving to get there.
But saying that, you get an awful lot of house for your money here.
Yes, I quite like this property.
Immediately we came down the drive, I thought, "Wow.
"It looks like an Austrian sort of house in a ski resort."
But, when we went inside,
I was quite impressed with the amount of space, initially.
I think Elspeth and I both have the same sort of taste
when it comes to houses, and usually she's always right.
So, lots of rooms to look around and decorate, maybe configure.
Absolutely. And maybe make use of the view out the back.
It does seem a bit wasted, doesn't it?
I know it's south-facing, but that is a tremendous view.
It is. It's just such a shame not to maximise.
-And you know me and my view.
-I know. Well, I'm starting to learn.
Well, hopefully this has given you somebody think about.
-Onward and upward. Come with me.
It's day two of our Wiltshire house hunt,
and armed with an £800,000 budget,
we're seeking out a country home for new grandparents Elspeth and Rob
that locates them closer to family in Wiltshire.
And I've still got an overwhelming mystery option up my sleeve.
It's like a baronial hall, isn't it?
Plus, I'll be getting up close to a culinary Wiltshire tradition.
You can see now why it tastes
how it'll taste, if you know what I mean.
-It'll just taste beautiful.
Well, what I have learned so far from Elspeth and Rob
is they'd like a house to have views and that house, well,
it needs to be as big as possible.
And I think the outlook will certainly improve
with our next house.
But moving forward to our mystery property,
if they can see past the lack of vista,
they will be rewarded by a huge property.
Certainly big enough for all that entertaining they plan to do.
But before that, our next stop is the village of Westwood,
around two miles from Bradford on Avon,
and just 15 minutes from Elspeth and Rob's daughter.
Westwood really showcases that attractive Bath stone,
which includes its magnificent medieval church,
whose distinctive and beautifully carved stone tower
can be seen from miles around.
Historic Bradford on Avon is less than ten minutes away and
offers a great choice of independent shops,
along with the opportunity for walks by the River Avon.
Back in Westwood, there's a great village pub
just over a five-minute walk from our next house,
which has a story to tell, along with fabulous panoramic views.
I think I wanted you to come inside
to get a real first impression of this place. It's an old school.
-Mid-19th century. What's going through your minds?
-What do you think?
-Yeah, I like the look of it from the outside.
It looks unusual, a bit quirky.
I think the way it's been converted over the years is very sympathetic
-but it's almost been converted with you both in mind.
What were your first impressions when you walked through that gate?
-"Where's the garage?"
that could be a garage but that is now a fantastic office
with amazing views. The guy who lives here,
you can take over the rental of his garage in the village.
Excellent. Yeah, well, that sounds good.
My only slight reservation is parking for cars.
Where do guests park when they come and see you?
-Is this the only bit of garden?
-It is, yeah. You've got...
two car parking spaces there.
If you really wanted, you could put cars in here.
It depends how much garden you want.
-But there is a bit of outside space that goes around the house.
-We didn't really want that much gardening to do.
It's good, actually. It's ideal -
just one step backwards, one step forwards with the lawnmower.
-Let's go inside. Come with me.
The original part of this property was built in 1841 from local stone.
It was a primary school until 1976,
and became a family home ten years later.
We're going back to school through the door
which used to be the boys' entrance.
Well, you've got a really nice entrance hall with an office off it.
And then straight into your huge living room.
-I like this.
-Come in and get a good look at this view.
That's the business.
This is super.
-What do you reckon?
-I love it. It's nice. Fantastic.
-I like it.
-Good feelings, good vibe?
-Feelings, good vibes, yes.
And it's nice and quiet in here. You can't really hear the road.
-The house is orientated away from that road.
It's ticked a few of our boxes.
-So far, so good.
-Good. This way.
Next door serves up a huge, bright kitchen-diner,
which I am sure they'll like.
Lovely family area.
I like it a lot, actually.
And that's the old girls' entrance,
which they've turned into a utility room,
so all the gubbins is out of the way. Domestic bliss.
So far, Jonnie, I think you might be on a winner here.
Well, I hope so. What we'll do,
we'll walk out through this way and go upstairs to the bedrooms.
Also on the ground floor, and keeping the old school memories alive,
is a cloakroom, once the school secretary's office
and still furnished with the original quarry floor tiles.
Moving upstairs, there's a large family shower room
and four bedrooms - a decent-sized double,
along with a slightly more snug one with a skylight.
There's also a bright double with feature windows
that benefits from a light, bright en suite.
Finally, at the back of the house is an expansive double
with a row of windows that allows in lots of light
and those priceless countryside views.
Well, this bedroom is the one that certainly gets the views.
Oh, wow, that's fantastic.
I'd be quite inspired in here, I think.
I just want to jump on the bed and peer out there right now.
You'd struggle to get up in the morning.
-That's the thing, isn't it?
What's the feel, the vibe you're getting?
-Cos you haven't bought a house for 20-odd years.
Do you like the vibe the house gives?
I'm getting the same vibes that I got when we bought our last place.
Yeah, the views, and it's just there's a nice feel to the place.
-It feels sort of cosy.
-Could you imagine us living here?
-I certainly could.
Well, this sounds very encouraging.
Let's go back downstairs and just sort of soak up these views
but also start thinking about how much this house costs.
Outside, there's a terrace
surrounded by well-planted shrubs and flower beds,
with spectacular views as far as the eye can see.
Although this property may not have the largest garden,
it does have plenty of great little spots
from where to soak up the surrounding views, including a hot tub.
-Look at that view.
-That is stunning, and I wanted to commune with the sky
and you sure can here.
If you look over there, that's the Westbury Horse, look.
Oh, wow! And I used to have a white horse, too!
Oh, it's an omen.
OK, so it's time to guess the price.
I would say it's up in the 600s.
I don't normally give people a second chance, but I like you, Rob.
I would say 685.
OK. Elspeth, can you do any better?
I would say 725.
You're in for a bit of a shock, then.
This place is on the market for offers around £795,000.
-Quite a bit above your guess.
Well, I was way out before and I'm way out again.
So at least I'm consistent.
Well, it's interesting. These are the best reactions you've had
-of a house.
-And it's been your lowest guess.
I think he was being ever hopeful.
Could this be the house for you at the right price?
-It could well be.
-Well, we'll find out later.
-Go back inside and I'll catch you in a minute.
This converted school, built from Bath stone,
has nudged in at £5,000 under
Elspeth and Rob's top budget
and still manages to offer them
practically everything they're looking for
in a desirable spot close to their relatives.
The kitchen-diner and living room are both perfect for entertaining,
and upstairs, there's one more bedroom than they asked for.
The garden is a manageable size with wonderful views,
and although the garage has been transformed into an office,
there is the option of renting a nearby shelter for Rob's car,
and the village location is ideal.
-This is a cutie room.
That would be fantastic for guests.
I think it might be a bit iffy for you with your head.
The guest gets the best room in the house, virtually.
When I walked through the front door, I just thought, "Wow."
It's got that wow factor of space.
It's so light, and the view is stunning.
The garden area I think is quite minimal. That might suit us.
Slightly anxious that you can't get too many cars off the road easily.
And we do have lots of people popping by,
so we'd have to address that issue with the house.
But the house itself, the rooms are, as I say,
beautifully spacious, and I could really see all our things here.
So, all done inside?
Good. Well, hopefully this is something to really consider.
-Time now for something different. Come with me.
So, the mystery house.
You know it's going to be something that sometimes challenges
-I like being challenged.
Well, you're going to love this caravan, then!
What would you love the mystery house to be?
A nice area to dog walk.
Having really nice reception rooms and kitchen. Entertaining space.
-Space seems to be coming up a lot.
-Yes. And light.
Lots of light flowing into the house.
For our final visit, to the mystery house,
we're journeying to the village of Kington St Michael.
It's just over 11 miles from Elspeth and Rob's daughter
near Bradford on Avon,
and just over three miles to the market town of Chippenham.
Kington St Michael is a thriving village offering residents
a chance to really become part of the busy local community,
with a village club, its own hall, cafe, shop and a pub.
There's also the St Michael And All Angels Church,
whose elegant tower collapsed after a severe storm in the 1700s
and was rebuilt some years later.
In the middle of the village, we find our mystery house,
which might be slightly further from family
than Elspeth and Rob would like,
but I'm hoping the space and style on offer here
makes this outstanding property worth the journey.
Now, I'm starting to get the impression that
coming to Wiltshire is almost to the manor born.
-Yes, I think so!
And this is as close to the manor as I could get you,
cos the manor house is there,
and we're going to be looking around the old coach house.
Oh, wow, that looks fantastic.
That has wow factor.
Well, I think it looks absolutely awesome
and it's got the most beautiful roof.
-It's got one of the classic tiled roofs of the area.
The owner's son had a big party here, I think, last year,
-and they had 20 cars parked all around the place.
So, for your parties, I think we're all right for car parking.
-She's a beauty, isn't she?
-Yeah, it's absolutely gorgeous.
-Good. Let's go inside.
Although the mystery property
sits in the shadow of the neighbouring manor house,
it's by no means modest in size.
The oldest part of this old coach house dates back to the late 1700s,
with various later additions,
including the handsome Georgian facade.
Good grief. Look at this!
We're entering the single-storey part of the property,
turning left, heading straight to the kitchen
at the back of the main part of the house.
First of all, you think, "Well, this is it."
It's quite long and thin, almost galley-style, isn't it?
But it gets better as we walk through.
Now, pausing just here, I know you like flow and open plan...
That's a pretty room, isn't it?
Next door to the dining room is a sunny breakfast room
running from the front to the back of the house,
with French windows to the garden at one end
and a picture window at the other,
with a sweeping spiral stairway in the centre.
Now, look at this space here.
Well, I think I'd have this as the main kitchen.
-It's crying out for it.
Give you the history. This was obviously the coach house
to the manor house, which was pulled down and rebuilt in the 1800s.
-So, coaches in here. There's a stabling just down there.
-You can see it, can't you? See where they went in and out.
So just through the, you've got an office.
-Through here - a living room. Come with me.
The large living room adjoining the open-plan breakfast room
is also on a grand scale.
Our rather quirky mystery house has certainly come up trumps with space.
OK, so, I know you like big living rooms.
I know you like big everything, really, don't you?
Yes, well, I've gone for a big husband so...
-And he fits in here, doesn't he?
-I certainly do.
I mean, yes, this is a big room. A little bit...
..I suppose "soulless" is the word that comes to mind for me.
Well, look, you asked for space and you've got it.
But this is a true mystery house. It's got you thinking.
-It's like a baronial hall, isn't it? It's magnificent.
-Is it too big, then?
-No, no, it's lovely.
-think it's too big.
-Oh, no. I love it.
The extensive living space here
is beginning to stray beyond Elspeth's comfort zone.
But there's even more to explore on this expansive floor.
There's a single-storey wing, comprising a games room
plus a double bedroom with en suite, along with a utility room.
Our mystery house has begun to divide their opinion,
but perhaps the upstairs will unite them once more.
There's the stylish family shower room and three bedrooms -
a double at the back,
a large double at one side of the house,
and on the other side of a galleried landing
is the master bedroom, with its own en suite.
Now, you get two equal-sized bedrooms either end of the upstairs,
but I think this has the nicer view of the manor house.
Oh, gosh, that's beautiful, isn't it?
Now, bedroom - size-wise?
-It's just the right size, perfect.
You seem quite happy here.
-Yeah, I love it.
-Is it just because it's massive?
I could see me here, I'd become lord of the manor!
-Well, you're pretty close to it!
I like something a bit different.
I think I would be rattling around,
wishing people were here apart from...
Obviously, I thoroughly enjoy your company...
Grandchildren, they could come down, stay long weekends.
It'd be wonderful.
Let's go outside, look at the outside space
-and start having a think about price.
-Looking forward to this.
While Elspeth seems daunted by the space inside,
Rob already has visions of family staying.
But we've still got the garden to inspect.
It's of a reasonable size, completely manageable
and thoughtfully designed around a large walled courtyard.
There's plenty of space for parking,
plus Rob's all-important garage.
Now, outside space...
You probably get as much as we've seen, actually.
-I love it.
People did used to call you Lord Pinkney of Peckham.
-There you go.
Well, it's been fun looking around the place.
Now you've got to try and price it.
Who wants to go first?
I think I'm going to guess this one bang on the nail.
I would say it's over budget, about 850, 875.
-It's so beautifully done and it's a magnificent property.
I think, like Rob, I think I would say 820.
It's on the market for offers around £785,000.
-Gosh, you get an awful lot of property for your money, don't you?
-So, you know the price, go back inside, discover it,
fight it out amongst yourselves and I'll catch you when you're done.
-See you in a mo.
Our mystery coach house
is a surprising £15,000 below Elspeth and Rob's budget.
The super-sized proportions give them
a wealth of open-plan, bright spaces they wanted,
and it's perfect for entertaining.
There's one more bedroom than they asked for
and, outside, there's a low-maintenance,
attractive courtyard garden.
What's more, Rob gets his garage,
and there's a thriving community
on their doorstep.
Party central! Gosh, that's a huge room.
The mystery house, I think, is absolutely incredible.
But I think the practicalities of needing to heat it, clean it,
fill it with people and fill it with life...
It feels to me as though
it's just waiting for a lovely family to live here.
Oh, this is a pretty courtyard.
-Great for drinking gin and tonics in the evening.
My initial impression when I walked down the drive was,
"Wow and double wow."
I just loved the look of the place.
It's nice and big, nice and airy.
Even though we wanted a smaller house, to downsize,
as soon as I saw it, I just thought, "Wow."
It's got to be consensus and Elspeth usually is always right
and I get voted down, but it is a lovely house.
It's absolutely fabulous.
-Now, then, you haven't fallen out, have you?
-No. Not quite!
You don't look like a man that's got his own way, which is...
-Well, it's disheartening for...
-I never get my own way, Jonnie.
Well, hopefully, we've shown you
at least one house that's in the running.
Let's find somewhere for you to have a chinwag,
-and then we'll all catch up. Yeah?
Wiltshire's landscape is largely agricultural,
and pig farming is one of the county's
most important rural businesses.
Roger Keen is a pig farmer and grew up on the 350-acre farm in Sandridge,
just south of Chippenham, that he took over from his father
more than half a century ago.
I've come to meet him to find out about the Wiltshire bacon
he produces and cures using a method developed by another local family,
the Harrises, in the 1800s, now known as the Wiltshire Cure.
They had a pork-processing factory in nearby Calne
and made a huge mark on the local employment map.
When the factory shut down in 1983,
2,000 of the town's 10,000 residents were employees.
So, Roger, how did pig farming here in Wiltshire
come about historically, then?
This area, in the north of Wiltshire, is a dairying area.
There is always something left over.
If you're making cheese, it's whey.
If you're taking cream, it's going to be skimmed milk.
Pigs love both of those items.
We still feed them to the pigs today.
It wasn't only dairy products
that attracted local farmers to keep pigs.
In the 1800s, animals were walked over long distances
by people called drovers.
As they transported pigs from Ireland to London,
they stopped in this part of Wiltshire after landing in Bristol,
to rest and feed their pigs before continuing on their journey.
Calne, which is where the Harris bacon factory was positioned,
is right on the drovers' route,
so pigs were walked all the way to London.
Blacklands Hollow, which is one of the stopping places near Calne,
where they would rest up overnight, perhaps a few pigs in the morning,
Mr Harris would pop down and get a bargain, as it were.
"Well, I don't think he's going to make it to London, guv'nor."
-Talk his quarry down a little bit?
Tell me more about Wiltshire curing, then, Roger.
Wiltshire curing differentiates from just curing.
Just curing, the plain curing, taken place since Roman times,
preserving pork meat with the use of salt.
Wiltshire curing uses brine, and that produces,
whatever way you look at it, a much milder bacon.
And that was what the public wanted back in the 1850s,
when it was first developed.
Roger wanted to keep the cure process alive,
so he recruited one of the Harris factory managers
and some of the workforce,
skilled at this traditional way of curing bacon in brine -
a solution of saltwater.
The bacon house is where all the action is.
The pork is cured at a constant temperature of five degrees,
which is perfect to allow the pork to stay fresh
whilst gently being transformed into bacon by the uptake of salt.
What's the difference between the bacon that I might buy
on a daily basis, say, in a big shop or a supermarket?
They have to make sure
that the brine gets to the deep amounts of the cut
in as short a time as possible.
So whereas we're allowing the side to immerse in brine
and take up the brine gently,
it's forced into the side
because they're looking at a speedy process.
-We give it what my daughter often calls "the missing ingredient",
which is time.
The pork, cut from the middle section of the animal,
is immersed in the salty water for four days.
It's described as a living brine.
-Which means it's got, um...
bacteria within it.
You have helpful bacteria in yoghurts,
helpful bacteria in making bread, with the yeast.
But it's a helpful bacteria that, in effect,
when we started, we took a gallon of the original brine
that had been used by the Harris company
and put it in our brine, and since that time,
we've merely been adding over the years.
So we could say we've got a brine
that's history goes back maybe 100 years.
When it emerges from the brine,
the pork is stacked for two to three weeks.
The water drains out of it and the salt that remains in the meat
cures it and it matures into bacon.
The next stage for about 40% of Roger's bacon
is to infuse it with an aromatic smoky flavour.
Now, behind this door lies what?
In essence, it's just a room and on the floor is the smouldering sawdust
that we get from the local sawmill,
which is smouldering for about two days.
Wow, I bet it smells good, doesn't it?
-Well, let's have a go.
-Let's have a look.
Oh, I can just see some embers on the floor here, still burning away.
-I think now we've witnessed the smoke,
surely we deserve the taste, haven't we?
-I think that means the farmhouse kitchen!
-Lead the way, sir!
Roger has around 2,000 pigs on his farm,
and the bacon he produces is sold into local butcher's
and farm shops in Wiltshire as well as in neighbouring counties.
Now, it may take up to four weeks for Roger to bring home the bacon
but the best things come to those who wait.
This looks absolutely gorgeous.
Well, I think we're ready.
We'd better get to it, then.
Cor, this looks good!
Now, then, I much prefer pan-fried to grilled, anyway.
Oh, that is gorgeous. That is absolutely gorgeous.
-It's been fantastic seeing this very traditional process
and I wish you every success with the future. Thank you very much.
That's great. Thank you.
Well, I think we could all see that Rob really fell
for that huge mystery property. But, personally,
I'm not convinced it's done enough to beat that house with the views.
So let's catch up with them and find out.
OK, you've had a discussion.
What's the plan? Have you got a favourite?
Well, I do.
She goes her way, and I go her way.
That sounds very sensible.
So your favourite house is...?
-The one with the view.
-Yes, it was gorgeous.
The views were stunning.
Kitchen with a view, living room with a view,
-bedroom with a view.
-Yeah, that's not bad.
And a small garden with a view.
To sit there and just look at the White Horse in the distance as well.
-That's a bonus.
Now, the view, of course,
that was one of the big things we had to put a tick against
but you wanted to be within striking distance of Bradford on Avon.
-You're a mile away with that house.
What about the whole layout of the house?
Cos you wanted big rooms all along, didn't you?
I think that worked really well -
that gorgeous big lounge that all our furniture will fit in.
-Somewhere for your oar.
I'm glad it fit, cos you didn't ask me for that,
-so that's just luck.
-Yeah. No, that was good.
You've agreed, the house with the views is your favourite between you.
What about the mystery house, Rob?
You seemed to fall head over heels for that place.
And it was definitely WOW.
-Do you still love it?
-I do, but it would be...
slightly impractical, really.
It was just a bit too big, you know, for the two of us,
which it would be most of the time.
I thought it really brought into definition how perhaps I thought
that the house with the view might not have been downsizing enough
-for somebody of our age group.
But when we went to that big mystery house,
it made me realise that the size of the one with the view
was actually perfection.
And I saw fantastic reactions from you guys in the house with the views.
-You both really seemed to enjoy looking round that house,
-so what's next?
-Well, I think a second viewing, definitely.
Definitely a second viewing.
And then, most probably, discussion with them on price.
What do you think your daughter will say with you looking at a property,
quite seriously, for the second time, nearby?
I think she'll be quite pleased, actually.
She'll be looking at us as the babysitter, I should think.
-Which we will love to do.
-Perfect all round, then, isn't it?
Well, look, I wish you the very best of luck
with the house with the views.
Before you go, you loved looking round the house.
You had you had fantastic reactions,
your guesses were miles out on price.
-I know, that's the only slight issue we have.
-Price issue. Yeah.
But we'll work that one through.
Well, let us know what happens, how you get on with that second viewing.
-We certainly will.
-And if we buy it,
-we'll stick your picture over the fireplace.
-Don't devalue it, please.
Come on! I've got to advise you against that.
-Thank you very much.
Well, Rob and Elspeth gave me quite an exacting wish list, didn't they?
But I must say, to find a property with brilliant views,
all that space to entertain, even with a good-sized budget,
that close to Bradford upon Avon wasn't easy,
so I do hope they take full advantage of this second viewing
and really seriously consider this as an option
to escape down here to Wiltshire.
I wish them both the very best of luck.
See you next time.
Elspeth and Rob decided not to pursue the old schoolhouse
but have since exchanged on a converted barn
in the same village as their daughter.
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Jonnie Irwin goes property hunting with a couple of new grandparents who have a budget of £800,000 to buy a rural home in Wiltshire close to family. Whilst there, Jonnie learns a traditional process of curing Wiltshire bacon and savours the results.