Shropshire Escape to the Country


Shropshire

Alistair Appleton is in rural Shropshire with a couple who want their £500,000 budget to give them and their young children a life in the outdoors.


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Transcript


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Talking about the weather is a national pastime for us Brits.

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In the last six hours, nine out of ten of us will have mentioned it at least once.

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But on the 13th of December 1981, the residents of this village,

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I doubt they would have talked about anything else.

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Find out why and where I am in just a moment.

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On today's Escape, it's a case of love at first sight.

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This is incredible.

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-I can't believe this.

-It's incredible, it's difficult to take it all in.

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I'm speechless.

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But will cold feet for her mean heartbreak for him?

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I still fell in love with the house when we first walked in.

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I still want to find a way to make it work.

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Today we are in Shropshire, this is the village of Shawbury,

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which hit the headlines 35 years ago when they experienced the coldest

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weather ever recorded in England.

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"How cold?", I hear you ask. Well, minus 25.2 Celsius, that's how cold!

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To put it in perspective, that is chillier than your freezer!

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But today, the weather is mild and warm,

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perfect for exploring the housing market in this lovely county.

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The county of Shropshire is located in the West Midlands of England,

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bordered by two Welsh and four English counties.

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A sparsely populated region,

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around a quarter of the county takes in the Shropshire hills

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Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

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Within this, the high peaks of the Clee Hills give vantage points as

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far afield as the Cotswolds to the south and Snowdonia to the West.

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At Clun, the ruins of a castle stand as a reminder of the 13th century

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power of the Norman monarchy and its 15th century attack by Welsh

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chieftain Owain Glyndwr. Nowadays Whittington Castle, also Norman,

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is managed by the local community.

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Architecture buffs will find even more to explore in the county town

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of Shrewsbury which boasts over 660 listed buildings,

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including many 15th and 16th century examples of timber frames.

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The old Market Hall, built in 1596 when the town was a prosperous wool

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centre, is now a film and digital media screening house.

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The town also has no fewer than nine bridges,

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due to the fact that it is almost entirely encircled

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by a loop in the River Severn.

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And it is this serpentine waterway linking the coalfields of the

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Midlands with the Bristol Channel that put Shropshire at the centre of

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the Industrial Revolution,

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as well as giving it a scenic appeal that continues to this day.

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So from kings and castles to hills and heritage,

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Shropshire is a county with much to offer those longing for a country escape.

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"Floreat Salopia."

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This is the county's motto,

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and as those Latin speakers among you would surely know,

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it translates as "may Shropshire flourish".

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It is very apt because Shropshire is one of the least populated counties

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in the UK, which means there is lots of space to flourish,

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and spacious properties will not cost the earth.

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The average price for a detached house in the county is £277,000,

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which is £42,000 less than the national figure.

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So, flourishing and good value property,

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are these the things that have drawn our couple to the county?

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Let's meet them and find out.

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Matt, a pharmaceutical compliance officer,

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met teacher Alessandra when she was on a visit to the UK

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from her homeland, Brazil.

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12 years on, and married with two children,

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they are looking to move from their Guildford home in the Surrey commuter belt.

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Houses here are so expensive

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because it is easy to go to London.

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If we move, we would be able to afford a really nice house,

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we could be mortgage-free.

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I was born in Guildford. Although I've lived in Guildford all my life,

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which is a town, I think I could adapt. A village offers you

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a greater sense of community, which is something I'm looking forward to.

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Matt's job often takes him overseas, but he can also work from home,

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so when it comes to finding a new country community with affordable

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property prices, they can live anywhere with good broadband and airport links.

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But they've got their sights set on one county in particular.

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We first went to Shropshire earlier this year, for a holiday,

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and then we realised just what was available to us.

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It was a fantastic holiday. I hope when we move to Shropshire

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our kids and I will have more family time.

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I'm looking forward to cycling along the canals there

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and spending time with them.

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More family time. Here it is easy to forget about that and come home and get your iPad and

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be each one in their rooms.

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We want to live in a place where we can sit together and play games and

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'stuff like that in winter with the fireplace.

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'And in the summer we will be outside as much as possible.'

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Peter is 11-and-a-half, and he loves to play football, he loves sports.

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He likes being outdoors. And, we have Polly, who is nine,

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she is desperate to go to the country and have some rabbits.

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Or maybe even a horse, or a goat, and a sheep, and everything.

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but as well as spending more time together,

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the hope is the family feeling will extend beyond their own four walls.

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I grew up with lots of family around me,

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I want my kids to kind of have that, in a different way.

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I want them to be part of a community,

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to be in a village where everybody knows each other,

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everybody knows the kids,

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and we can have the next-door neighbour baby-sitting for us,

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and things like that.

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When it comes to their new home,

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expectations from one party at least are high.

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I would say the decision-maker is largely Alessandra, although...

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Well, he said, sorry to interrupt, he said, "My dear, if you're happy,

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"I'm happy." So I made sure I recorded that!

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If Alessandra didn't like the house,

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'I think it would be difficult to proceed.'

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Yeah. We are looking for something extraordinary, something with a wow factor,

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something that I will go in and go, "Wow, I really want to live here."

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Alessandra and Matt are open to living anywhere in the north

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of Shropshire with good links to an international airport

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for Matt's work.

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But before we check out our houses,

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we are meeting up in their chosen search area to find out more about their

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plans for the move.

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Good morning, guys, pretty as a picture here in Shropshire.

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Beautiful, isn't it?

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We've come here, we've looked around,

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we've seen a lifestyle that is not obtainable in Guildford,

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so we're looking forward to moving here.

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Quite sparsely populated, is that what you are looking for?

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Are you looking to be quite remote, in the middle of nowhere,

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or do you want a community?

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We want a community for sure.

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I don't have family here, he hardly has family here as well.

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So we want a community, we want...

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-To be part of something.

-To be part of something, yes.

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What is the spec? How many bedrooms, how many reception rooms?

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I don't want any closed rooms downstairs,

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somewhere you have to open the door to go into.

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This is very different for me,

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coming from Sao Paulo, everything is open,

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you don't have a hall, you open the front door and you're already in the

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living room. We need an open area, everything together, downstairs,

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-and then upstairs, an en-suite would be nice.

-Mm hm.

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-And how many bedrooms?

-Minimum three, because we have two children.

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I do have family coming from Brazil sometimes, once a year, twice a year,

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so it would be nice for them to have their own space,

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or at least a bathroom just for them.

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And Matt, do you have any specific wishes, because you work from home, don't you?

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I do. I work for a regional office.

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It's important to me to have some office space so I can work from home.

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And something with some land, half an acre or more.

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What sort of style are you looking for?

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We've mentioned barn conversion a few times.

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So I like modern, something different, quirky.

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So you're thinking more of a modern property or would you like something period with period features?

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We don't mind.

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We wouldn't mind putting our own touch on it,

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so if there is some period features that we could make contemporary,

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-I think that would be fine.

-Yes.

-Tell us again about your budget.

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It's slightly complicated.

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Yes, we set the original target of 400,000, but for the extra wow factor,

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we are prepared to go up to 600,000.

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That's quite a wow factor!

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Are you the judge of the wow factor?

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Definitely, of course.

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I'm the boss here.

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-I shall bear that in mind.

-Yes.

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I hope you'll be happy, cos we have found three beautiful houses,

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all very different. I guess the factor is whether you love them.

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So let's get in the car and find out.

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-Yes.

-Yes.

-Let's go.

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With a maximum of £600,000 for their dream property,

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Matt and Alessandra would like open plan living on the ground floor,

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and a minimum of three bedrooms.

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They'd like a separate bathroom for guests,

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plus some office space for Matt.

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It should come with at least half an acre of land,

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and they'd like to be part of a village community.

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I've got three very different properties to show them,

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all with their wish list in mind.

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After they've seen each one,

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I'll be getting them to guess the price before I reveal it.

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The final viewing will be our mystery offering,

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which could well be the crowning glory of our search.

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So there's lots of factors that play in this move,

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what would you say is the most important?

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Here we're going to be able to get a lot more for our money.

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We can never buy a house, a really nice house in Guildford.

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It all has to fit, doesn't it, with the school, it has to complement it, otherwise it won't work.

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My son just got in a very, very good school, outstanding,

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one of the best in the county.

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To move him from that school to a school that is not so good...

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I might feel guilty for a long time.

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Right.

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The schools are generally quite good in Shropshire

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but the houses we've got are all in catchment areas of good

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-or outstanding schools.

-That's very important.

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We're starting our search for a Shropshire home in the village of Bagley.

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Facilities in the larger village of Baschurch are a five mile drive away,

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and include a pub, post office, and a fish and chip shop.

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Back in the rural setting of Bagley,

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the house we've come to see is in the catchment area of a well-regarded school

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and enjoys an edge of village location.

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-Yes, I like it.

-Wow!

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-Yes! She likes it.

-Very much.

-Beautiful.

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-It's incredible.

-Is it semidetached?

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Yes, so this is a barn conversion in two halves.

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-Right.

-A good impression from the outside, bit of a question mark about...?

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-Over the split.

-Over the semidetached, yes.

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Yes, very good impression.

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-Shall we have a peek inside?

-Please, yes.

-Does it have the wow?

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This brick barn was converted around 12 years ago,

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and consists of two sections divided by a car port.

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We're starting on the side with the main accommodation where a utility

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leads into a kitchen and breakfast room.

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-Very nice.

-Very nice.

-Very bright.

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It's a nice modern kitchen.

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I'm not very keen on the wood in the kitchen.

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-I like everything modern and shiny. White.

-We were probably expecting it just to open up into the whole barn,

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when we first walked in.

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Yes. I need to see what walls I can knock down.

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So far, so good. I love the outside more than the kitchen, to be honest.

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We'll walk through it and you can see what walls you can knock down.

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Alessandra really does want to get handy with a hammer here.

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Through a hall we reach two further reception rooms,

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divided by a feature fireplace.

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It's certainly a spacious layout but is it family-friendly enough?

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I can't imagine the kids watching TV here,

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and me all the way there in the kitchen...

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So, it worries me a little bit.

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But I'm already thinking I can knock this wall down, the whole thing. Just leave the fire in the middle.

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-Basically you want to knock all the walls down?

-Yeah.

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-Just have a free-floating upstairs.

-Yes, yes, exactly, that would be great.

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But, are you prepared that...?

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That country houses tend to be country houses, not modern flats?

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But you can make it modern inside, can't you?

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But in terms of the high ceilings and lots of glass windows,

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that's probably...

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Yeah, I know, I know.

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I'm trying to get over the fact...

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-Let's look upstairs.

-Sure.

-OK.

-You wanted three bedrooms but you've got four in this house.

-Good.

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Unfortunately, a few too many walls for their liking on the ground floor.

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And completing this level,

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the wing to the other side of the car port houses an office,

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along with three separate garages.

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Let's see what they make of upstairs,

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which would give them four bedrooms in total.

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They consist of a generously sized double and a single bedroom,

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both served by a family bathroom.

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There's also a further double guest room with its own en suite, and lastly,

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separated from these three bedrooms, along the landing,

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we find the master suite.

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Walk-in wardrobes, en suite, this is the master bedroom.

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Oh, my goodness, it is very nice.

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This is small but it's very nice.

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-Yeah.

-It's incredible. It's really good.

-Yeah.

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Well done. You just close that door, you're so far away from the bed.

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And you close that door and the kids are all like, "Go to sleep."

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Grown-up wing.

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Let's go outside, look at the land again and talk about the price.

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-OK.

-OK.

-Follow me.

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More communal living is required downstairs,

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but the separated sleeping quarters upstairs mean we're finishing

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exploring the interior on a positive note.

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Outside, the plot amounts to just under an acre,

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including lawned garden and paddock.

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But with today's buyers clearly wanting to do some reconfiguring work to

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the house, it may all come down to the money.

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Let's talk about the price of this package.

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What do you think this is on the market for?

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It is a semi, which can sometimes affect the value, so I'm going to say, 400.

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I'm going to go higher, I think.

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-OK.

-450.

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-OK, interestingly, this is on the market for £5 shy of £500,000.

-OK.

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It's still a lot of house for your money, isn't it?

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-Compared to what we're used to.

-Yeah.

-It's a lot of house. It's a lovely conversion.

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Let's give you a bit of time to go round, sit on some chairs,

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take in the different angles, and I'll meet you out the back.

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-OK.

-OK.

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£100,000 under budget.

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Still, it's not quite what they want.

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But we do have two more houses so...

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This semidetached brick barn conversion

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offers a lot of accommodation for

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their budget, with large kitchen and breakfast room

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and two further reception rooms. There are four bedrooms,

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two of which are en suite,

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as well as almost an acre of land in an edge of village location.

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Now that I've seen my first house in Shropshire, I feel very positive.

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I love that it is quiet around here. I really liked it.

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It was a very nice surprise.

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The upstairs works really well, the number of rooms. The guest bedroom

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with the en suite works really well for us.

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It's a stunning barn conversion, so I could see myself living here.

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-There you are. Guys, we're done here.

-OK.

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-We need to get back in the car, we've another house to see.

-OK.

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Leave this one behind in your mind.

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-OK.

-OK.

-Come with me.

-Let's go.

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Beautiful landscapes,

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historic ruins and lovely towns and villages make Shropshire a delight

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to explore, especially on two wheels, using the many dedicated cycle routes,

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including the 185-mile Shropshire cycleway.

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Alessandra and Matt hope to get the whole family on their bikes once they

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move here, so today is a taste of what to expect.

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Chris Dartnell has been taking people on cycling tours for nearly 25 years,

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and today he's got one of his favourite routes planned.

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I'm Chris from Wheely Wonderful Cycling. Welcome to Shropshire.

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What kind of cycling do you normally like to do?

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Well, I do a lot of road cycling, I might do about 100 miles a week.

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I do about 20 miles a week.

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OK. Not so much. I've actually got a really good solution here.

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Because you're keen on cycling, you're not so keen,

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electric bicycles are really good,

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it means he'll have trouble keeping up with you.

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-Ali, this is your bike.

-OK.

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Matt, your one here. I'll take that one and we'll go off for a cycle ride.

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-OK?

-Great.

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Today's route is around 38 miles,

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winding through an area the poet AE Housman described as the quietest

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place under the sun.

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Although he was writing from the mind's eye, it really is tranquil.

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River valleys cut through the hills, topped with castle ruins,

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creating great places to stop and enjoy.

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Here we are at Hopton Castle, fantastic location.

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There was a really horrible Civil War siege here in 1644.

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It got knocked about a bit and not really lived in after that,

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but it's been renovated.

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Just recently, the local community managed to raise over £1 million.

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It's opened up to the public,

0:17:460:17:47

it's free to go in and just a super place to look at, I think.

0:17:470:17:51

So are landmarks like this common for the area?

0:17:510:17:52

Yeah, there's more castles in this area than any other part of the UK.

0:17:520:17:56

It's because we are right on the Welsh border here.

0:17:560:17:59

Following the network of quiet country lanes,

0:17:590:18:02

it's around ten miles to the next stop, in the small town of Clun.

0:18:020:18:06

A 15th-century stone packhorse bridge crosses the river

0:18:060:18:09

that gives the settlement its name.

0:18:090:18:12

This was an historic drove route for flocks and herds from Wales to the

0:18:120:18:17

markets of the Midlands and London.

0:18:170:18:20

It used to be a really important little town.

0:18:220:18:25

It's still classified as a town but to us, it's like a village.

0:18:250:18:28

There used to be lots of cattle, lots of sheep coming through here,

0:18:280:18:31

but now it's really quiet, yes.

0:18:310:18:32

-Is this style of village typical for Shropshire?

-Yeah, for this area.

0:18:320:18:36

Lots of half-timbered houses, medieval bridges.

0:18:360:18:38

The castle here at Clun is a very important one,

0:18:380:18:41

used to control the whole of this area.

0:18:410:18:44

-I think our kids will love to see all those castles.

-I think so.

-Yes.

0:18:440:18:48

The final leg of the tour is around 20 miles,

0:18:480:18:51

much of it following the River Teme,

0:18:510:18:53

a waterway that starts in the Welsh hills and passes through to Ludlow,

0:18:530:18:57

described by Sir John Betjeman

0:18:570:18:59

as probably the loveliest town in England.

0:18:590:19:02

The medieval walls and Ludlow Castle are a highlight.

0:19:020:19:06

One of the biggest castles around here.

0:19:060:19:08

Not only an historic castle,

0:19:080:19:11

but they have a big food festival on there as well.

0:19:110:19:13

All this square in front of you is the market square,

0:19:130:19:17

great place for buying food, and I think we've got four or five local

0:19:170:19:20

butchers here as well. So you don't have to rely on supermarkets to buy

0:19:200:19:24

all your shopping. Get it from here.

0:19:240:19:26

Is there anywhere we can go to get something to drink?

0:19:260:19:28

-Yeah, there's loads of places.

-Nice cup of coffee?

-And tea.

0:19:280:19:32

-And scones.

-Good, let's go!

0:19:320:19:34

It's time for a change of gear now

0:19:340:19:36

as Alessandra and Matt's search for a family home continues

0:19:360:19:40

here in the Shropshire countryside.

0:19:400:19:43

Our second property is located in West Felton.

0:19:470:19:50

This village grew up around a Norman castle,

0:19:500:19:53

and the remains of the castle mound can be found close to the church.

0:19:530:19:57

It's a great community with a primary school, pub, post office and stores,

0:19:570:20:01

and it's in the catchment for a well-regarded secondary school.

0:20:010:20:05

Our second property lies in the middle of the village.

0:20:050:20:08

Come on in here.

0:20:080:20:10

-Wow!

-Wow!

0:20:120:20:13

So, is this one property?

0:20:130:20:15

-All yours.

-Wow!

0:20:150:20:17

-Wow!

-This was the original coach house to a big rectory,

0:20:170:20:21

this building here. And then this was added on.

0:20:210:20:23

It's probably about 250 years old, the whole kind of complex.

0:20:230:20:26

But you can see those arches straight ahead was where the coaches

0:20:260:20:29

would have gone in. And these were the stables.

0:20:290:20:32

What you've got is you've got a completely self-contained two-bedroom cottage,

0:20:320:20:37

and then you've got a beautiful four-bedroom house over here.

0:20:370:20:41

This is incredible.

0:20:410:20:43

-I can't believe this.

-It's difficult to take it all in.

0:20:430:20:45

I'm speechless.

0:20:450:20:47

Our dream scenario would be a property with some character that

0:20:470:20:51

-was converted from something. A lot to take in.

-Very interesting.

0:20:510:20:55

I can't wait to see inside.

0:20:550:20:57

First impressions don't get much better than that.

0:20:570:21:00

Built from brick and sandstone,

0:21:000:21:02

we enter the L-shaped main building through a corner entrance,

0:21:020:21:06

which takes us through a reception hall into the far wing.

0:21:060:21:10

Here, a dining room leads us into a country kitchen with some unusual

0:21:100:21:14

heritage features.

0:21:140:21:15

Very different.

0:21:150:21:17

Isn't it? I've never seen anything like it.

0:21:170:21:19

Very unique. I like the high ceilings.

0:21:190:21:22

And there, you've got a great big utility room

0:21:220:21:24

-and a sort of downstairs shower room.

-OK.

0:21:240:21:27

These are really interesting. These are where they used to put the

0:21:270:21:30

-straw for the horses.

-They've kept the original features.

0:21:300:21:33

It's a very unusual property.

0:21:330:21:34

Yeah. Good. I like unusual.

0:21:340:21:36

But I have to see the rest of the house.

0:21:360:21:38

I'm not convinced yet.

0:21:380:21:40

I'll fall in love with the dream of owning a property so different,

0:21:400:21:43

so far. I want the rest of the house to work.

0:21:430:21:47

-Let's see the rest of the downstairs.

-OK.

0:21:470:21:50

Matt seems smitten but I know Alessandra is waiting to see

0:21:500:21:54

big communal living spaces.

0:21:540:21:56

Leading back through the entrance hall into the other wing

0:21:560:22:00

of the L-shape, we find a very large family reception room,

0:22:000:22:05

with an arched entrance through to a further sitting area.

0:22:050:22:08

It's not open-plan but you can see through the whole space.

0:22:080:22:12

And these windows are incredible.

0:22:120:22:14

-Yeah.

-So much light.

0:22:140:22:16

I can see a lot of potential here.

0:22:160:22:18

-I like the room.

-I love the beams.

0:22:180:22:21

-Yeah.

-Love them.

0:22:210:22:22

A hard-won seal of approval for the ground-floor layout from one half of

0:22:240:22:28

our couple. Completing this floor is a corner study

0:22:280:22:31

that Matt could use as a home office.

0:22:310:22:34

The four-bedroom accommodation is reached by two separate staircases.

0:22:340:22:39

One in the hall leads to two of them,

0:22:390:22:42

one with a side window and skylight,

0:22:420:22:45

and a small room tucked under the eaves.

0:22:450:22:47

The second staircase in the largest reception room leads to

0:22:470:22:51

a family bathroom and the other two bedrooms -

0:22:510:22:54

a good-sized double, plus one with an en suite

0:22:540:22:57

that could act as the master.

0:22:570:23:00

OK.

0:23:010:23:03

Here we have... Well, they used this as the master bedroom

0:23:030:23:06

-because it's got an en-suite shower room.

-Mm-hm.

-OK.

-Yes.

0:23:060:23:11

And then you can see my husband knocking his head

0:23:110:23:14

every time he got up to go to the toilet.

0:23:140:23:17

Don't get me wrong.

0:23:170:23:19

I desperately want this house to work.

0:23:190:23:22

But if I'm being very realistic, I don't think it would work.

0:23:220:23:25

This is beautiful but it's right in the middle of the room.

0:23:250:23:28

I still fell in love with the house when we first walked in.

0:23:280:23:31

I still want to find a way to make it work.

0:23:310:23:33

I'm sorry I've given you so much to think about.

0:23:330:23:37

Ah! It's frustrating, isn't it?

0:23:370:23:38

It is frustrating because you think, wow, this is incredible.

0:23:380:23:42

This is so different.

0:23:420:23:44

But upstairs is a bit TOO different?

0:23:440:23:46

Yeah.

0:23:460:23:47

Well, let's look outside and see whether that clinches it for you.

0:23:470:23:50

OK.

0:23:500:23:51

Passions are running high.

0:23:510:23:53

This house is clearly pulling at Matt's heartstrings.

0:23:530:23:57

Outside, a two-bedroom cottage provides guest accommodation on the

0:23:570:24:01

doorstep, comprising a living room, kitchen and ground-floor bathroom.

0:24:010:24:07

Plus, on the upper floor, a double room with dual aspect,

0:24:070:24:10

as well as a single bedroom.

0:24:100:24:13

There's also a triple garage built from reclaimed brick,

0:24:130:24:16

whilst the cobbled courtyard has a pond and water feature.

0:24:160:24:21

To the rear of the house, the garden is largely lawn and has three sheds.

0:24:210:24:26

Perhaps this is enough to give this former coach house and stables legs,

0:24:270:24:31

or could I be flogging a dead horse here?

0:24:310:24:34

I don't see it working because this garden is like a back garden.

0:24:340:24:39

It's like it's not part of the house.

0:24:390:24:42

I don't feel integrated.

0:24:420:24:44

But I can feel this is not for us.

0:24:440:24:47

The only point is that it's not listed so, for example,

0:24:470:24:50

you could open up this door, you could open up this door.

0:24:500:24:53

But obviously, that's more work.

0:24:530:24:55

Is there going to be money enough in your budget?

0:24:550:24:58

That's the next question.

0:24:580:25:00

How much is this going to cost you, do you think?

0:25:000:25:03

525.

0:25:030:25:05

Despite Alessandra's reservations, I think it does have the wow factor.

0:25:050:25:09

I think it's 625.

0:25:090:25:11

So this is on the market for 599,950.

0:25:110:25:15

-Right.

-Why don't you have a look around?

0:25:150:25:17

Look inside the cottage again.

0:25:170:25:18

See if your passion will calm down...

0:25:180:25:21

-OK.

-..and we can move on.

0:25:210:25:22

-I'll find you when you've finished.

-Thank you.

0:25:220:25:25

At the top of their budget,

0:25:270:25:29

this former coach house and stables

0:25:290:25:31

has striking heritage features

0:25:310:25:33

with a range kitchen

0:25:330:25:34

and three reception rooms.

0:25:340:25:36

There are four bedrooms in the main house,

0:25:360:25:39

including on en suite,

0:25:390:25:40

plus a two-bedroom cottage for guests.

0:25:400:25:43

All in the heart of a lovely village.

0:25:430:25:46

When I first walked into the gates, I thought, wow!

0:25:460:25:49

This is what I was looking for.

0:25:490:25:51

I can't believe I've finally found my house.

0:25:510:25:54

But inside, it just wouldn't work for us.

0:25:540:25:57

You can't believe what you're seeing.

0:25:570:25:59

It's an incredible amount of wow factor.

0:25:590:26:01

We're keeping the original features,

0:26:010:26:03

such as where the hay was and where you tie up the horses.

0:26:030:26:06

It really brings a sense of history and purpose to the building.

0:26:060:26:10

I fell in love with this house when I opened the gate and I'm still in

0:26:100:26:13

love with it. I desperately want this house to work somehow.

0:26:130:26:16

Are you done?

0:26:160:26:18

-Yes.

-Are you feeling a bit calmer?

0:26:180:26:20

-Yes.

-Thank goodness.

0:26:200:26:21

OK, don't panic, because we've still got the mystery house.

0:26:210:26:24

-Good.

-But for today, we can go home and rest.

0:26:240:26:28

OK. Thank you very much.

0:26:280:26:30

We're in the stunning county of Shropshire,

0:26:440:26:46

helping Alessandra and Matt relocate with their two children from

0:26:460:26:50

Guildford, Surrey. They've already seen two options for their budget of

0:26:500:26:53

£600,000, but there's still the mystery option to come,

0:26:530:26:57

and it could well be fit for a king.

0:26:570:27:00

Or queen.

0:27:000:27:01

My family, they joke, they say that I married an English prince.

0:27:010:27:05

And now we got our own castle.

0:27:050:27:08

Plus, I'm finding out about a Shropshire approach to a very hot topic.

0:27:090:27:14

-Welcome to our biomass building.

-It's very not National Trust.

0:27:140:27:18

It's all very new and shiny.

0:27:180:27:19

Day two of our Shropshire hunt for Alessandra and Matt's dream home.

0:27:230:27:27

I have to say, I think we might have hit a wall, because Alessandra has

0:27:270:27:29

such a fixed idea of what she wants in her head -

0:27:290:27:33

a huge spacious white, modern, vast, wow factor in a barn conversion

0:27:330:27:38

that doesn't, in reality, really exist.

0:27:380:27:42

So the mystery house is really going to shake everything up.

0:27:420:27:44

It's big. It's really big.

0:27:440:27:46

And it's mostly big up.

0:27:460:27:49

But it has a wow factor that I don't think can be beaten.

0:27:490:27:53

Our mystery offering is in the village of Petton.

0:27:560:27:59

Twinned with the nearby village of Cockshutt,

0:27:590:28:02

facilities in the parish include a post office, shop and school.

0:28:020:28:07

The red-brick church of St Simon and St Jude was built in 1777

0:28:070:28:12

and is Grade II listed.

0:28:120:28:14

Two miles away in Petton, on the site of a former medieval manor,

0:28:140:28:18

is today's mystery house.

0:28:180:28:20

-And now you can look up...

-Oh, wow.

-Oh, my God!

0:28:220:28:26

-OK.

-Before you get too excited, it's not all of it.

0:28:260:28:30

-OK.

-Because the property that you are going to explore is...

0:28:300:28:33

See that bit of guttering that goes up there?

0:28:330:28:36

-Yeah.

-All the way to the left of that to the corner.

0:28:360:28:39

So this big chunk of the house.

0:28:390:28:42

Wow! With the turrets at the top?

0:28:420:28:45

-Yes.

-Wow!

0:28:450:28:46

-Four floors?

-And a basement, so five, yeah.

0:28:460:28:50

We weren't expecting this.

0:28:500:28:51

-No.

-No, not at all.

0:28:510:28:53

-No.

-This is a bit of a shock.

0:28:530:28:55

It is. The lesson of yesterday is to see inside before we start...

0:28:550:28:59

Yeah.

0:28:590:29:01

Getting too excited.

0:29:010:29:03

-Yeah.

-This is completely the opposite of what I wanted.

0:29:030:29:08

Marvellous. That's exactly why we call it the mystery house.

0:29:080:29:12

Let's go and explore.

0:29:120:29:14

This impressive mansion is the brainchild of a formidable Victorian

0:29:140:29:18

heiress, Emma Florence Cunliffe,

0:29:180:29:21

who had the medieval manor house here demolished to make way

0:29:210:29:25

for her red-brick hall.

0:29:250:29:27

In the 20th century it became a boarding school,

0:29:270:29:30

until being sold off in portions in the 1990s to be renovated

0:29:300:29:35

as 11 separate dwellings.

0:29:350:29:37

An imposing private entrance in the section we've come to see

0:29:370:29:40

reaches a hall, which still retains its historic grandeur.

0:29:400:29:45

Welcome to a little bit of English history.

0:29:450:29:47

-Wow!

-It is open-plan.

0:29:470:29:49

THEY LAUGH

0:29:490:29:51

This is what they call vertical living.

0:29:510:29:53

-Yeah.

-Come on, let's have a look at the kitchen.

0:29:530:29:56

Come into the kitchen, my dears.

0:29:570:30:00

-Wow.

-Lots of it.

0:30:000:30:01

Yeah, there's a lot of this kitchen.

0:30:010:30:03

This would have been the servants' wing of the big house.

0:30:030:30:06

-Yeah.

-So you've got a fantastic game larder there, a huge walk-in larder.

0:30:060:30:11

Through there, there's a great television playroom,

0:30:110:30:15

so you could have your kids nearby.

0:30:150:30:17

And through this big door, down some steps,

0:30:170:30:20

there's a huge cellar, which they've got a pool table in.

0:30:200:30:23

-So you could turn it into a games room.

-Wow!

0:30:230:30:26

It's a lot more than we were expecting.

0:30:280:30:31

I like the layout of the kitchen a lot.

0:30:310:30:33

I have no idea how to use that.

0:30:330:30:36

And in this one, there is no other option.

0:30:360:30:40

-So...

-There's a microwave.

0:30:400:30:42

Back through the hall, a corridor leads to a reception room

0:30:440:30:47

at the back of the house,

0:30:470:30:49

currently used as a large formal dining room.

0:30:490:30:52

But we thought it would make a really lovely kind of family room.

0:30:530:30:56

-Yeah.

-Because, through that,

0:30:560:30:59

-you've got another kind of lovely snug room with panelling.

-Uh-huh.

0:30:590:31:03

I like it more now.

0:31:030:31:04

It's very interesting.

0:31:040:31:06

Come on upstairs.

0:31:060:31:08

It's great that they like the space on offer on this floor,

0:31:110:31:14

as there are three more levels to explore.

0:31:140:31:17

The top floor offers a large bedroom, which is currently unused.

0:31:170:31:21

On the floor below this are three further bedrooms -

0:31:210:31:25

a large guest double with an en suite,

0:31:250:31:28

and a further guest double with a feature fireplace,

0:31:280:31:32

plus a small room laid out as a twin.

0:31:320:31:34

These all make use of a family bathroom.

0:31:340:31:37

Then, on the floor above the living accommodation,

0:31:370:31:39

are the three bedrooms

0:31:390:31:41

Alessandra and Matt might use for themselves and their two children -

0:31:410:31:45

an L-shaped double, and a further double with a single aspect,

0:31:450:31:49

both served by a family bathroom,

0:31:490:31:52

leaving bedroom number six, a large master suite.

0:31:520:31:56

You have perfect access if you wanted all the family on one level.

0:31:560:32:00

-OK.

-Through here, you have not one,

0:32:000:32:03

but two walk-in wardrobes and a great big en suite.

0:32:030:32:07

-Wow!

-OK.

0:32:070:32:09

And when your kids get to teenage

0:32:090:32:11

and they don't want to be near their parents, they can go up a floor.

0:32:110:32:15

-Perfect.

-Perfect.

0:32:150:32:17

Yes, I like it.

0:32:170:32:18

So, it's a huge expanse of possibilities.

0:32:180:32:23

Possibilities everywhere.

0:32:230:32:25

We are going to go up a very special set of stairs.

0:32:250:32:29

I can't wait to see more because now I like it.

0:32:290:32:32

It's completely the opposite from yesterday. Yes.

0:32:320:32:35

ALISTAIR SINGS TO HIMSELF

0:32:350:32:37

So, the towering interiors of this four-storey mystery house

0:32:400:32:44

have won them over, and outside,

0:32:440:32:46

there are extensive landscaped gardens,

0:32:460:32:48

including an area just for them,

0:32:480:32:50

all of which can be surveyed

0:32:500:32:52

from the heady heights of a rooftop terrace.

0:32:520:32:55

Ta-da!

0:32:580:33:00

-Wow!

-Oh, my goodness!

0:33:000:33:02

Wow!

0:33:040:33:05

This is incredible.

0:33:050:33:07

If you look down here, you can see, this is your garden,

0:33:070:33:10

see this hedged garden. And then all the land,

0:33:100:33:13

if you kind of fan down to the bottom of the fence,

0:33:130:33:16

-is yours too.

-Oh, my goodness!

0:33:160:33:19

Never in a million years I would imagine

0:33:190:33:21

I would be seeing a house like this. Never ever.

0:33:210:33:24

My family in Brazil, they joke,

0:33:240:33:26

they say that I married an English prince.

0:33:260:33:28

-And now...

-He's got a castle.

0:33:280:33:30

-We've got our own castle.

-A section of a castle.

0:33:300:33:33

This is wow, wow, wow!

0:33:330:33:35

Now you've seen pretty much the whole of the house, big as it is,

0:33:350:33:40

what do you think the price tag...

0:33:400:33:42

-Oh!

-..is going to be?

0:33:420:33:44

Again, I think this would have to be over our budget.

0:33:460:33:51

Again, I'm going to say 625, 650.

0:33:510:33:54

I'll say 650.

0:33:550:33:57

Well, then, your luck is in because this is on the market for £550,000.

0:33:570:34:02

Wow!

0:34:020:34:04

Unbelievable.

0:34:040:34:06

I'm going to give you a bit more time to explore and I'll find you

0:34:060:34:09

-somewhere in the garden.

-Perfect.

-OK. OK.

0:34:090:34:11

-Thank you very much.

-Down the stairs.

0:34:110:34:15

Wow!

0:34:150:34:16

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a mystery house.

0:34:160:34:21

£50,000 below their top budget,

0:34:230:34:25

this four-storey Victorian mystery mansion comes with a range kitchen

0:34:250:34:30

and a cellar. There are six bedrooms, including a master suite,

0:34:300:34:34

plus a roof terrace and a section of landscaped grounds.

0:34:340:34:38

What's more, there are several well-regarded schools close by.

0:34:380:34:42

I don't think I've ever seen you quite so speechless by anything.

0:34:420:34:46

I don't think you have ever seen me like that.

0:34:460:34:48

I might change my name now.

0:34:480:34:50

You can call me Princess Alessandra.

0:34:500:34:52

How about that? Queen Alessandra!

0:34:520:34:54

I don't think you should push your luck.

0:34:540:34:57

I was absolutely speechless,

0:34:570:34:59

because I would never ever think of a house like this.

0:34:590:35:02

-Ever.

-There's no way I would have chosen this if we'd been looking around.

0:35:020:35:06

I would have just passed over this house straight away

0:35:060:35:09

without thinking about it.

0:35:090:35:10

I think this is the house we've fallen in love with

0:35:100:35:13

-in a very short time.

-That view is just...

0:35:130:35:18

How can you say no to that?

0:35:180:35:20

I'm emotional because, thinking where I grew up,

0:35:200:35:22

where I saw buildings everywhere, cars and pollution,

0:35:220:35:26

and thinking that I would have

0:35:260:35:28

an opportunity to give my children this...

0:35:280:35:31

It's overwhelming.

0:35:310:35:33

It must go all the way down there.

0:35:330:35:35

Yeah.

0:35:350:35:36

-And it's really...

-It's beautiful.

0:35:360:35:38

-Hey, guys.

-Hi.

-Hi.

-Are you being bewitched?

0:35:380:35:41

-Yes.

-We are.

0:35:410:35:42

We've been sucked in and we love the place.

0:35:420:35:45

Well, I'm going to have to drag you away because we are going to find

0:35:450:35:49

somewhere separate from this to kind of think about everything.

0:35:490:35:52

-Sure.

-Have a cup of tea.

-OK.

0:35:520:35:54

Shropshire's mineral rich-soil explains why crops have been

0:36:020:36:05

cultivated here since the Bronze Age,

0:36:050:36:07

including the surroundings Attingham Park near Shrewsbury.

0:36:070:36:12

During Britain's agricultural revolution in the late 18th century,

0:36:120:36:15

this Palladian stately home

0:36:150:36:17

was built for the politician and 1st Baron Berwick, Noel Hill.

0:36:170:36:22

Now in the hands of the National Trust,

0:36:220:36:24

Nicki Chapman last visited it in the grips of

0:36:240:36:27

a major multi-million-pound renovation project.

0:36:270:36:30

Two years on, research and interpretation officer Saraid Jones

0:36:300:36:35

is on hand to show me the impressive results,

0:36:350:36:38

starting with the roof of the picture gallery,

0:36:380:36:40

designed in 1805 by John Nash.

0:36:400:36:43

Saraid, the last time we were here,

0:36:430:36:45

you had Nicki Chapman climbing up scaffolding.

0:36:450:36:47

-It's all vanished.

-Yeah. This space has completely changed.

0:36:470:36:50

Above, we were installing

0:36:500:36:52

a brand-new secondary roof to protect this space.

0:36:520:36:55

-Because it was leaking.

-This space had leaked from the start,

0:36:550:36:58

so over 200 years.

0:36:580:36:59

And the new roof is the latest phase to protect it for the future.

0:36:590:37:03

We've also repainted the ceiling to represent how it would have been

0:37:030:37:07

painted originally. It's a stencil effect but designed to look 3-D.

0:37:070:37:11

A magnificent space. And this is a Nash building, isn't it?

0:37:110:37:15

Yeah. Nash was creating something very innovative here.

0:37:150:37:18

He was making use of curved cast iron

0:37:180:37:20

with this fantastic top-lit roof.

0:37:200:37:23

This roof represents Attingham's Regency heyday.

0:37:230:37:27

In 1827, just 20 years after it was completed,

0:37:270:37:30

the 2nd Lord Berwick, who commissioned it,

0:37:300:37:33

was in financial ruin.

0:37:330:37:35

The contents of his house was sold off in a 16-day sale

0:37:350:37:38

and for the next century, the place fell into disrepair.

0:37:380:37:42

And then in the '20s,

0:37:420:37:44

the 8th Lord and Lady Berwick started to revive Attingham

0:37:440:37:47

and carefully restored parts of the house,

0:37:470:37:51

which is what the National Trust are continuing today.

0:37:510:37:54

There's also ongoing research into the hall's post-World War II role

0:37:540:37:58

as an adult education college.

0:37:580:38:01

At that time, this former servants' dining hall was filled with people

0:38:010:38:05

on a variety of residential courses.

0:38:050:38:08

So, it started in 1948, so that's just after the war,

0:38:090:38:12

so there was a big boom in sort of adult education.

0:38:120:38:15

What sort of things did they learn?

0:38:150:38:16

All sorts. I mean, we've got leaflets here.

0:38:160:38:19

So we've got lots of history, arts,

0:38:190:38:23

they also looked at industry, design,

0:38:230:38:26

-stargazing...

-Stargazing?

-It's wonderful here at night.

0:38:260:38:29

It's very clear, and they would have gone up onto the roof.

0:38:290:38:32

"A critical look at Britain's coniferous forests.

0:38:320:38:35

"Bird behaviour and wildlife."

0:38:350:38:37

I think for a lot of people, it had a life-changing impact on them,

0:38:370:38:42

that excitement of new education at the time.

0:38:420:38:44

We have some images of some of the folk-dancing courses,

0:38:440:38:49

here, so this is students dancing at the front.

0:38:490:38:52

Look at that. That's wonderful.

0:38:520:38:54

The school left its physical mark on the hall in the form of dormitories

0:38:550:38:59

and quarters for a warden in what is now the orangery,

0:38:590:39:02

as well as several student-made mosaics,

0:39:020:39:04

but the biggest legacy was what these people took away with them.

0:39:040:39:08

"Stately home becomes people's college,

0:39:090:39:12

"where Tom, Dick and Harry, of any age, may learn enjoyably."

0:39:120:39:17

Yeah. It was education for all,

0:39:170:39:20

and definitely changed people's lives.

0:39:200:39:22

But it's not all about history.

0:39:220:39:24

Attingham is seeing the largest biomass boiler system

0:39:240:39:27

of any National Trust property installed here,

0:39:270:39:30

and general manager Mark Agnew is going to tell me more about this

0:39:300:39:34

ambitious project.

0:39:340:39:35

-Hi, Mark.

-Hi. Nice to meet you. Welcome to our biomass building.

0:39:350:39:39

It's very not National Trust.

0:39:390:39:41

It's all very new and shiny.

0:39:410:39:43

Yeah, we are still in the construction phase at the moment.

0:39:430:39:46

So this is the woodchip from the estate.

0:39:460:39:49

We've got about 300 acres of woodland.

0:39:490:39:51

This is from our day-to-day sort of maintenance of trees, felling trees.

0:39:510:39:55

We'll be delivering about 200 tonnes of chip a year...

0:39:550:39:58

-200 tonnes!

-..into these amazing boilers here.

0:39:580:40:01

It's a sustainable source.

0:40:010:40:04

We think it's going to save about 60 tonnes of carbon a year.

0:40:040:40:07

So we are doing our bit,

0:40:070:40:09

not just for sustainability but also for climate change as well.

0:40:090:40:13

The showrooms of the house have conservation heating,

0:40:130:40:16

which is actually more about getting the right humidity levels.

0:40:160:40:20

-It's not very warm.

-So, often, it might not be very warm,

0:40:200:40:23

particularly over winter,

0:40:230:40:24

but it's about making sure it's not too damp or not too dry.

0:40:240:40:28

It's wonderful. It really is great.

0:40:280:40:29

It's so nice to come and see these properties and see how they constantly renew. Well done.

0:40:290:40:33

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:40:330:40:34

It's wonderful seeing this stately home undergoing a new lease of life.

0:40:360:40:40

But now let's find out if Alessandra and Matt plan to take on their own

0:40:400:40:44

slice of stately living

0:40:440:40:46

and, indeed, what they've made of all the properties I've shown them.

0:40:460:40:50

Well, what a week that was.

0:40:510:40:53

Which of the properties really stood out for you?

0:40:530:40:56

It's very weird because for years

0:40:560:40:59

I dreamt of one thing,

0:40:590:41:01

and the third house was really, really a mystery,

0:41:010:41:05

a shock and a surprise,

0:41:050:41:07

because if I had to write down everything I didn't want in a house,

0:41:070:41:12

-that would be it.

-And how are you feeling about the mystery house now?

0:41:120:41:15

We're very excited. I mean, we're planning to come back

0:41:150:41:18

as soon as possible with the children

0:41:180:41:20

to see their faces when they just drive up the drive.

0:41:200:41:23

We want to do that as soon as possible, don't we?

0:41:230:41:25

Yeah. I really like it.

0:41:250:41:27

It was like a trendy fashionable London house in the countryside.

0:41:270:41:33

Looking at that house, it looks like an adventure.

0:41:330:41:36

It looks fun. And I want that spirit to continue while we live there.

0:41:360:41:39

Every day to be something new.

0:41:390:41:41

You just want it to be something spectacular.

0:41:410:41:44

Obviously, I do hope that you buy the mystery house,

0:41:440:41:47

simply so that you can prove to your in-laws and family in Brazil that

0:41:470:41:51

Matt is the king of the castle.

0:41:510:41:54

We really appreciate your help and...

0:41:540:41:56

-It's been a fantastic week.

-A fantastic week, thank you.

0:41:560:41:58

Whatever you do, I hope you find somewhere lovely in Shropshire.

0:41:580:42:02

-Thank you.

-Thank you.

0:42:020:42:03

What a week, what a mystery house and, indeed, what a move

0:42:060:42:09

because Matt, he's lived his whole life in Guildford,

0:42:090:42:12

he's moving to the countryside.

0:42:120:42:13

Alessandra grew up in one of the most densely populated cities in the

0:42:130:42:17

world and is coming to live in one of the least populated counties

0:42:170:42:20

in the UK, but it just goes to show

0:42:200:42:22

that when you have a move this momentous,

0:42:220:42:25

you can't afford to be too precise in what you are looking for.

0:42:250:42:29

I mean, the mystery house just blew everything out of the water.

0:42:290:42:32

Although she was a bit shell-shocked,

0:42:320:42:35

I personally can see Alessandra as the lady of the manor.

0:42:350:42:39

Anyway, do join us next time for more Escape To The Country.

0:42:390:42:44

Matt and Alessandra returned to Shropshire to view more properties

0:42:460:42:49

and are still interested in the mystery house.

0:42:490:42:52

They plan to move into rented accommodation if necessary

0:42:520:42:55

so that their children can start in their new schools next term.

0:42:550:42:59

If you would like to escape to the country in England, Scotland,

0:42:590:43:03

Wales or Northern Ireland and need our help, you can apply online at...

0:43:030:43:07

Alistair Appleton is in rural Shropshire with a couple who want their £500,000 budget to give them and their young children a life in the outdoors with community close by.

While in the county, Alistair visits the mansion of Attingham Park to see the recent restoration successes for himself, as well as discovering some intriguing stories from its past.