Jules Hudson is in the Shropshire countryside with a couple of parents who have Â£575,000 to spend on a home for them and their young son.
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Welcome to Escape To The Country.
Now, this beautiful estate behind me has been home to the same family
for some 800 years.
These days, not only is it a busy working farm,
it's also something of a living museum.
So, where have we come to
to find this beautiful vision of the past?
Well, join me in just a moment and I'll tell you.
On today's search, a couple with differing tastes.
I can't say I'm feeling dreadfully comfortable with it,
-to be honest with you.
-I mean, it appeals to me.
I like the natural sort of look to it.
Excellent, I have an ally.
That's all I needed. We're going to have to work on him.
Yeah. Come on.
But can we find the perfect property to please them both?
Beautiful. Really beautiful.
I... I'm feeling a bit emotional.
Well, today we are in Shropshire, and this beautiful Grade II star,
no less, Elizabethan mansion
is at the heart of what is now the 1,500-acre
Acton Scott estate.
But it was back in 1974 that a member of the Acton family
sowed the seeds of an idea as to whether or not it was possible
to farm using 19th-century tools. Now, later on in the show,
I'll be back here finding out a little bit more of the history
of the estate and the house,
and trying my hand at a bit of good old-fashioned
Victorian farmyard maintenance. But in the meantime, well,
here's example of some of other historic highlights
that Shropshire has to offer.
On the border of North Wales,
landlocked Shropshire is one of the largest counties in England
and makes up part of the West Midlands.
The River Severn, England's longest river at 220 miles,
runs through the centre of the county,
from its source in the Welsh mountains and, en route,
curling around the county town of Shrewsbury.
The Shropshire Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
covers a quarter of the county.
Its landscape is made up of peaks and valleys,
a diverse geological bedrock rich with wildlife.
Scattered across the south of Shropshire
are pretty villages and ancient market towns.
From Cleobury Mortimer, the second smallest in the county
known for its church's crooked timber spire,
to Ludlow, its magnificent,
imposing castle perched high above the River Teme.
Much of the town's architectural heritage remains intact,
with around 500 listed buildings.
It also plays host to a celebrated food and drink festival each year.
With a wealth of walking opportunities and nature to take in,
along with historic towns and villages to explore,
it's no wonder Shropshire has recently been acknowledged
as one of the happiest places to live in the UK.
Now, Shropshire's diverse property market and relatively low population
density have long made it popular amongst rural property shoppers,
and it does afford some pretty good value for money
when you consider that the average price
of a detached homes here is currently just shy of
£277,000, some £42,000 below the national figure.
All good news for today's buyers,
who are very keen to make it their new home.
Lana and Ashley got married 13 years ago,
before moving from North London to Little Berkhamsted, near Hertford,
where they currently live along with seven-year-old son Mallory.
I've always lived on the outskirts of London.
We wanted to go to a more rural location,
which Little Berkhamsted has been for the last 12 years,
but it's not as rural as we would like.
It's a little bit of countryside, with Hertford, Hatfield,
Welwyn Garden City all dotted around us.
And it is quiet, but we want a bit more countryside than we've got
at the moment.
This close-knit family spend most of their free time exploring the
great outdoors in the UK and abroad.
We've talked a lot about moving,
and I suppose it's the right time for us to move now,
because we want to move before Mallory gets much older,
because, you know, once he leaves primary school,
it becomes that much more difficult to move children.
And it's just sort of come to the forefront now, really,
where we thought, "Right, we either do it now or we don't do it."
So, they've decided to set up home
in one of England's most rural counties.
We know Shropshire sort of reasonably well.
We've been on holiday there a few times.
And it's just field after field after field.
And this is what we like - the peace, the quiet,
and we just want more of it.
I'd be quite happy if it was just us in a house in the middle of
-If it was up to you,
-you'd moved to the Outer Hebrides!
A move to the countryside means leaving family and friends behind,
but they will be taking a few familiar faces with them.
We've got two dogs, English bull terriers.
We've got Millie and Wendy.
We've got a tortoise called Cotton, a budgie called Hooey,
and two goldfish who are called Keswick and Goldie.
All named by Mallory, not a lot to do with us.
As you can tell by the names!
They are hoping a slower pace of life away from the capital
will be good for the whole family.
In an attempt to gain a better work/life balance,
Lana and Ashley are also considering career changes.
I've been a solicitor for 18 years.
My job is quite time-consuming and quite stressful.
I'd like to go into teaching
so that I've got the holidays to spend with Mallory.
I've changed job types a couple of times.
I'm quite sort of...
I think I've realised that if you're not that keen, or not that happy,
then you can change.
They both know and like the market town of Ludlow in the south of the
county, so they would like to search for properties within a 15-mile
radius of it, but are happy to cross
the county border into Herefordshire.
So, it's time to learn more about their property brief.
Well, Lana, Ashley, welcome to Shropshire.
-How about this?
-We've got some weather, we've got some countryside.
It's the start of your Escape To The Country.
-Beautiful, isn't it?
-Give us an idea
of the spec of this new property
that's been floating around your mind, Lana?
We're looking for something probably with about four bedrooms, detached.
A nice sort of family dining, kitchen room, you know, family room,
-so that we can all sort of be together.
And then a playroom for Mallory would be ideal.
What about outside space, Ashley?
Well, at the moment, we've got a reasonable garden,
but it's quite modest.
We've seen properties that have got a paddock, for instance, which...
Not sure what I'd do with something like that, but, you know,
the possibilities and options are there for things.
So, we're not after acres, as such,
but as much space as the budget will allow.
-What are we thinking in terms of style?
Because obviously the countryside has many different types of property
in it, predicated, I suppose, to older, more characterful
ideas. Why do you fancy?
That's us down to a T.
We like things with a bit of, you know, character to them.
Bit quirky. Something a bit different.
So, we know what you're after, but how much are you planning to spend?
What's the budget, Ashley?
We have a budget of up to around 575.
Well, you're going to put me on my mettle this week,
because you used to be an estate agent, didn't you?
Yes. It's a few years ago now.
I'm used to looking around houses.
Yeah, well, likewise.
So, I think we should have some fun this week.
Got three to show you.
A fairly good budget to play with.
And some weather. How about that?
-It's not raining. Come on, let's see what we can find you.
For the maximum budget of £575,000,
Ashley and Lana are after a detached character property with four
bedrooms, a large family kitchen, and a playroom for Mallory.
They'd also like a good-sized garden and, ideally, some extra land.
We've scoured the Shropshire countryside in search
of their perfect home and have come three exciting options.
They won't find out the price until the end of each tour,
and for our final property, our Mystery House,
I'll be luring them into unknown territory.
Our first property is just outside Church Stretton,
the only town within the Shropshire Hills
Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Set in a valley surrounded by lush rolling hills,
Church Stretton was the first town in the West Midlands to be awarded
Walkers Are Welcome status in 2008,
its location making it an ideal starting point for the numerous
hiking and cycling trails in the area.
The Tudor cottages and Georgian townhouses in its centre
are home to a variety of independent shops, cafes and delis.
And there's a well-regarded primary school in the town.
The house I want Ashley and Lana to see is 2.5 miles away,
occupying an elevated position in a quiet valley.
Here we are. This is property number one.
What do you think of that, then, Lana?
Yeah, great. Looks really impressive from the outside, doesn't it?
The aspect of this, I really like.
I mean, if you want to be immersed in the rolling countryside of
Shropshire, you know, this is it.
-Yeah, it's beautiful.
-It does look nice, and I love the approach.
-It's so peaceful.
-Well, the lane...
You know, you'll probably be the only people that use it,
-to be honest with you.
-Yeah, it's so quiet.
-One thing it does have,
which I know you're going to love, is a kitchen/diner.
Come and have a look.
This property was built in the 1930s
but benefits from a side extension added 20 years ago,
which has transformed it into a very substantial family home.
It's also been modernised inside to create a layout that I think
really works. I'm taking them in via the side entrance,
into the new extension.
Well, we'll start with this bit.
Now, the current owners use this as their sort of day room, really,
coming in and out of the garden, and so on.
And then through there is the utility room, downstairs loo, etc.
I was thinking maybe...playroom.
-Yeah, yeah. Yeah, definitely.
And he's got the indoor/outdoor as well.
-It has created a lot more space,
which has been put to good use in here.
-There we are.
That is the kitchen/diner.
Gosh. It's a big space.
-Oh, that's nice.
-Yeah. I'm really keen to have us kind of all together.
Whether we use it as a dining/breakfast room,
or get a sofa in here somewhere...
-Going to buy it?
We'll have to wait and see, won't we?
This one really does offer everything on their wish list.
Next door, there's a large family living room,
and upstairs are the four bedrooms they asked for,
including a single room currently used as a study and three doubles,
the largest taking up the first floor of the extension.
So, this is the master suite.
You've got a dressing area here with an airing cupboard,
and then you got all of this...
-Complete with shower en-suite.
That's fabulous. That's a big room, isn't it?
-That's a room and a half.
-Nice, isn't it?
-Yeah, lovely. Really nice.
the current owners don't use this as their master bedroom,
they keep it for their guests.
-They're too kind.
-Way too kind, I think.
-Yeah, I'm surprised how big it is.
I wasn't expecting a bedroom quite as big as this.
Ours at home isn't that small, and we thought that was big, but this is bigger.
Well, look, the next thing to look at is the garden.
Come and have a look and see what they've done with it.
Outside, the extensive landscaped grounds were once used
as a market garden, growing produce to sell in Church Stretton.
To the side of the property, there are tiered flowerbeds,
and a seating area making the most of the beautiful valley views.
So, here we are at the top of the garden.
And this is your paddock, complete with lawn mowers.
-I like the neighbours.
-They look after that bit for you.
Well, they do. The current owner borrows these off a local farmer.
So, yeah, I'm sure that arrangement could be continued.
-Sounds like a plan.
-It's nice having that in your back garden, isn't it?
From our point of view, it's unusual.
So, we've set the scene, but the final bit, of course,
is now to think about its market value, Mr Estate Agent,
-or former estate agent.
So, you can go first on this one.
I didn't work out here, I worked in London.
-A bit different.
-I get the feeling is going to be
middle 500 range. 550-ish.
-Something of that nature.
Are we being hopeful?
Actually, no, you're being very professional
in the role of an estate agent,
because you're absolutely right, mate, it's £550,000.
-It can only go downhill from here.
-Well, it's kind of does, actually.
But, yeah, 550.
I'm going to give you a little bit of time to go and explore
-this garden in particular.
-Off you go.
-That's great, thank you.
-As you said, it's all downhill from here.
-Here we go.
Try not to roll.
Comfortably within budget,
this extended four-bedroom property has the large family kitchen Ashley
and Lana wanted and a great playroom with garden access for Mallory,
ensuring the living room remains a toy-free zone.
The one-acre plot includes a large garden and a separate paddock,
plus it's just 15 miles to Ludlow.
That's some view.
Yeah. What you think of the slope?
It's not your traditional, obviously, sort of garden, you know?
Flat sort of surface area.
But...I like it, it's different.
The house has probably got slightly less character than we're used to
at home, but it works.
All the spaces work. They've done a lovely job with it.
The extension here adds a lot.
It makes a big, big difference to the house.
So, overall, it's really nice.
Only slight downside is the sort of sloping nature of the garden.
A bit more difficult for maintenance.
It's got a lot of interest to it for Mallory,
lots of little nooks and crannies and places for him to hide.
And he'd love the sheep.
That's an added bonus.
-How are we doing, then? BOTH:
Yes. We had a good look round, thank you.
I think, all in all - pretty garden, pretty house, pretty good start.
-Yeah, it has been.
-It has been.
-Come on, then.
Shropshire's geology is regarded as being more varied than any other in
Britain. Its landscape represents 11 out of the 12 geological periods
and features some of the oldest rock formations in existence.
In fact, the world's oldest known complete fossil was discovered just
outside Church Stretton.
As Lana and Ashley love spending time outdoors with their son,
we sent them to the Shropshire Hills Discovery Centre to meet
learning officer Laura Harvey to try out a recent phenomenon
that has encouraged people all over the world
to get out and explore their local landscape.
Erm, so what goes on at the Discovery Centre?
Our main aims are
to encourage visitors that come to the centre
and schools to get out and about in the countryside,
and one of our main activities here at the centre is geocaching.
And what is geocaching?
It's kind of 21st-century treasure hunting.
You'd need a smartphone or a GPS unit.
You can download coordinates to caches, which are boxes
that have been hidden,
and the idea is you go and find these using your GPS unit,
and you take something along with you that you can pop into the box,
and you also take a piece of treasure out.
So, the beauty of it is actually finding the cache,
but also doing a bit of this treasure hunting along the way.
Geocaching started back in 2000 when,
after a significant advance in GPS technology,
an American computer consultant decided to test its strength
by hiding a package in the woods and posting the GPS coordinates online.
His only instruction - take some stuff, leave some stuff.
Within three days, the items in his box had been changed,
and geocaching was born.
So, why is it called geocaching, Laura?
OK. Two parts of the word.
Geo for the Earth,
and then the cache part comes from the French word cacher, to hide.
As well as being a geologist's paradise,
Shropshire's rural landscape makes it perfect for geocaching.
Within ten miles of the Discovery Centre,
there are over 40 caches to be found.
OK. So, we're going this way.
Off we go.
With Laura's guidance,
Lana and Ashley are going to be finding their way to one of the most
visited, on a key site of geological interest.
This is an interesting place to stop.
This is part of our Secret Stones trail.
So, how old you think they are, then?
I suspect you're going to tell us millions.
Quite a few million years.
-340 million years, to be precise.
This particular rock is Carboniferous limestone,
and that was formed by the bodies of lots of sea creatures,
millions of years ago, building up
on the bottom of the sea as sediment.
This is a fantastic way of knowing that, once upon a time,
Shropshire actually lay under a shallow sea.
So, shall we see if we're going in the right direction?
-Off this way.
The great thing about geocaching is that it's a low-cost activity that
appeals to the whole family.
And it really is as simple as it looks.
You can explore the local landscape
on foot, by car, or by public transport.
Lana and Ashley have arrived at Bury Ditches, eight miles away,
the site of an Iron Age hill fort dating back to 500 BC, and today,
a popular viewpoint looking out across the Shropshire Hills.
-I think that's it. I think we've found it.
-Have you got it?
-Ah, here it is.
-OK. We've got official geocaching box.
-Oh, a proper box.
Ah, here we go. Look what's inside.
-Lots of little trinkets that people have left.
-That's the logbook to sign and say you've been here today.
Say we've found it.
-And you leave that in the box,
and a little gift of your own in the box.
Leave the pencil for the next person.
That's it. And are you going to take something
-Looks like a little hacky sack.
Somebody's visited all the way from the Netherlands, maybe.
-Mallory will like that.
-That will be great.
The possibilities of geocaching are far reaching,
with around 2 million hidden caches worldwide,
and 9 million registered users.
-Make sure it's hidden.
We'd better find our way back.
But with plenty to discover right here in Shropshire,
Lana and Ashley won't have a shortage of places to explore
with their son Mallory when they finally make their move.
Back on the search,
we're crossing the county border
into Herefordshire for our next property,
which is in the rural surroundings of Bircher Common.
It's just seven miles from Ludlow
and less than three miles to the nearest primary school.
The village of Yarpole is just a few minutes away by car,
where there's a pub
and a church which, uniquely, also houses a full-time village shop.
And even closer to home is the rather lovely Croft Castle.
Now, you are probably wondering
what we are doing here. There's been a castle here in one way or another
for 1,000 years.
It's now in the care of the National Trust.
Thousands of acres for you to explore here,
with the family and with the dogs and so on.
I think this is a great place to have on your doorstep.
-Yes, fabulous. A great day out.
-Oh, definitely. Yeah, yeah.
So, I think we should go and find you something to buy because, sadly,
this is no longer for sale. SHE SCOFFS
-But this one is.
-Just missed it.
-Can't have it all.
The house we are seeing is just on the edge of the Croft Castle estate,
and what our last property may have lacked in period character,
this one certainly makes up for.
What about this, then?
Hm. Different. Yeah. Really different.
-This is old. Compared to the last one.
-This is really old.
This, historically, was an old malt house.
-Oh. Oh, right.
-Built about 1570, '75ish.
With some lovely views out as the hill slopes away behind it.
If you want something that's got a real sense of history about it
and is genuinely quirky...
-You did say you wanted that.
-I did, yes.
..this could well be it.
-What do you think, Lana?
-I like it. Yeah, initial impressions are great.
Well, let's test your quirky scale and see how far up it's going to go.
This property really is one of a kind.
Originally a malt house supplying beer and cider to Croft Castle,
the current owners have transformed the ground floor from a windowless
undercroft into a surprisingly light, modern living space.
So, what you think of this as an entrance hallway, then?
It surprised me slightly, looking at the age of the outside.
-Immediately more modern than I was expecting it to be.
I wasn't expecting this inside.
And you won't be expecting what's through here either.
There we are.
-See what I mean?
-Just full of surprises.
That door apparently came from
-This is a nice open...
-..open space, isn't it?
-There's fabulous features in there.
I mean, yeah, it's really fun.
And behind all this lot, there's loads of steel
tying it all together.
-So it's not going anywhere.
-Not least because of those.
-I did notice that, yes.
Come on, look, you can hug a tree on the way round.
You can't do that in every living room, can you?!
Although at first Lana and Ashley were thrown by the age of this one,
they now seem pleasantly surprised by the space on offer.
So, once you finish with the tree, this is where you can end up,
-in the kitchen. BOTH UNIMPRESSED:
Now, this is the but, isn't it?
-OK, come on, let's have it, then, Ashley.
Erm... OK, it is a kitchen/breakfast room,
but not kind of what I had in my mind's eye.
I like the space.
It's not massive. It's not a classic kitchen/diner, I suppose,
in the modern sense.
-I can't say I'm feeling dreadfully comfortable with it,
-to be honest with you.
-I mean, it appeals to me.
I like the, you know, sort of natural look to it.
Excellent. I have an ally.
That is all I needed. Right, we're going to have to work on him.
Yeah. Come on.
Downstairs, there's no obvious playroom as such,
but with a total of five bedrooms upstairs,
including a single and three good-sized doubles,
it offers plenty of space for Mallory and his toys.
And then finally, this is yours.
-It's a curious arrangement, this one, though, because it...
You've got the dressing area through there,
the shower room that goes with this room,
then that door leads you into one of the five bedrooms
that is on offer up here. So, the layout is by no means conventional.
-Is it working?
-If I'm honest, probably not quite.
I appreciate it for what it is, and the age of the house,
and I love all the woodwork and so forth,
I just feel a little bit hemmed in.
Erm... Again, I think the period features are brilliant,
sort of a slice of history.
I mean, it's fabulous. The lounge, you know, is fabulous.
Absolutely beautiful space.
But it's lost a bit upstairs for us, hasn't it?
OK. Right, well, I'm not going to give up on this one just yet.
We have yet to really explore the gardens and talk about the price.
-And money does talk, sometimes, doesn't it?
It might talk and persuade you.
Outside, the property sits in the centre of its plot,
with a variety of garden areas surrounding it.
There's an outhouse currently used as a workshop to the side
and a patio to the rear which extends to a large area of lawn.
Well, I did promise you a view, and there it is, look.
-Just rolling fields. Lovely.
-A garden of two halves, really.
This is the most open, of course, with the views.
-Perhaps the most amenable to kick a ball around with Mallory,
Yeah. A bit flatter. Yeah.
So, let's get down to the brass tacks of this one, then,
-and talk about the price.
-My head is kind of saying 495.
-495. An optimistic...
-Miles off, probably.
However, Lana, you have done very well, actually.
Which leaves you a fair chunk left over
to make a few adjustments to it.
-Look, go and have a look around.
The house is yours for as long as you need it,
and I will come and find you a little bit later.
-Off you go.
Under budget, this converted malt house is packed
with the quirky period features
Lana wanted, and has five bedrooms.
The kitchen may not quite be the modern hub of the home
Ashley had in mind, but it is a good size and, outside,
there's a huge garden for Mallory and the dogs.
I liked the character, quirkiness of it, and the appeal of where it is.
It's fabulous. As much as I might appreciate it for what it is,
and its quirky nature, its, you know, history,
it's got to be somewhere that we're both happy with.
As nice as it is, and where it is is fantastic,
I'm just not feeling it.
I think, an instructive day, but that is it.
Ludlow, famous foodie capital of England, is just down the road,
but it also does a very good pint.
-Off we go.
We're in Shropshire with Ashley and Lana from Hertfordshire
who are hoping their maximum budget of £575,000
will buy them a rural property with the perfect blend of character,
charm and contemporary style.
So far, though, impressing ex-estate agent Ashley
has proved a tough task.
But coming up, well, there's a first time for everything.
Please tell me this is good enough.
It's nice. I didn't ever really feel that way about a property.
And later, we turn back the clock as I find myself on a 19th-century
That's hot. Water.
-You don't get long, do you?
Well, yesterday's property certainly elicited some pretty extreme
responses from both Ashley and Lana, both for and against.
So, as we head into a final day of house-hunting,
I think it's fair to say that our house search
has still got some way to go.
So, what can we possibly conjure for our final offering from Shropshire's
sumptuous property market?
Well, I think at this stage,
it is obvious they don't want
a project or any kind of building work,
regardless of how small,
but they do want something
with lots of character and lots of space around it,
so that is exactly what I am going to show them.
Let's just hope they like it.
What would it take you to spend every penny of your budget?
Erm... It would definitely have to be absolutely spot on.
-In terms of finish, location, space.
Yeah, we're not frightened to do so, so long as...
..we're getting pretty much what we want.
I'll hold them to that,
because for our Mystery House, we're breaking out of the boundaries
of our search area and heading north of the Shropshire Hills
to the small village of Fitz.
Two miles away, in Bomere Heath,
facilities include a number of shops,
a hairdresser's, a tennis club, and a well-regarded primary school,
which should appeal to our buyers.
Back in Fitz, across the road from the beautiful 18th-century redbrick
village church, we find our Mystery House.
-There we are.
That's not what I was expecting.
-What do you think of it?
-First impressions are great.
I haven't mentioned it before, but as Lana knows,
I'm quite taken by barn conversions.
Well, this combines the best of both worlds, Ashley,
because not only is it a barn conversion,
it's only six years old in its conversion.
Yeah, it looks great. It looks like it's got sort of the benefit of
character but also the sort of benefits of modern living as well.
Well done. That's exactly it.
That's why we picked it as our Mystery House.
Come on. Let's see what you think.
Well, we may have brought them outside their preferred search area,
but I'm hoping the mix of character and contemporary in this Grade II
listed barn will get them onside.
its unusual layout means most of the living rooms
in this property benefit from being dual aspect.
There's a kitchen/diner to one end,
a room in the middle of the property,
and a study and the master bedroom at the other end,
on the ground floor.
A staircase leads to two further bedrooms and a bathroom
on the first floor.
Come through here. We'll start with the kitchen/diner.
Please tell me this is good enough.
I'll leave that to Ashley.
I... I'm feeling a bit emotional.
So you should - it's amazing.
-I love it.
And in terms of you as a family...
-Plenty of space.
-Oh, yeah, plenty of space.
Probably plenty of time spent in here as well.
-It's nice. Very nice.
-You are quite emotional, aren't you, actually?
Yeah. I... I didn't ever really feel that way about a property, you know?
-So, yeah, this is a... It's surprising.
-Let's see what
the rest of it does to you, shall we? Come on.
He may have seen a fair few properties in his time,
but there's no doubt this mystery barn is working its magic on Ashley.
Also off the entrance hall is a useful utility room
and a downstairs cloakroom.
And then this is your principal living room.
That's nice again, yeah.
Again, nice woodwork on the ceilings.
But what do you think of this, Lana?
Because so far you've just agreed with your husband.
Well, that doesn't happen very often, Jules, I'll tell you, the agreeing with him, but...
It's just great.
It's got all the sort of, you know, character that I like
plus the more modern living.
You know, I know it appeals to Ashley, so boxes ticked,
-Is he hard to please?
He's much more hard to please than I am.
-He loves it. We must be doing something right.
The corridor from the sitting room takes us past a large study,
or possible playroom for Mallory.
At the end of it, the staircase leads out to two well-presented
bedrooms on the first floor,
which share the use of a great modern family bathroom.
But I want to show them the master on the ground floor.
So, this is the en-suite for the master suite.
-There you go, bath and shower in there.
-And then this is you.
VOICE QUAVERING: That is nice.
Big double. Big double, yes.
The emotions coming up to the surface again, Ashley.
Safe to say, this is scoring quite highly.
-There's nothing to dislike about the house.
Right then, the garden.
Let me show you what you have.
I think they'll find it hard to fault the outside space, too.
To one side of the property,
the kitchen opens on to a seating area and a small lawn behind it.
On the other side of the barn,
there's a vast, level lawned garden,
but that's just for starters.
What about this lot for Mallory to run around in?
Yeah. This is plenty, cos it's going round the side there as well.
-This isn't all of it... BOTH:
..because you also get that paddock through that gate.
-So, in all, it's about two acres.
You know what's coming now, don't you?
-I do, yes.
-What's it worth, then, madam?
Is going to be 575, definitely, if not more.
-I have to agree.
I think it's 575 as well.
Your instincts are absolutely right.
It is at the top end, and it is 575, so there you are.
You both were correct.
That's a nice way to finish, isn't it, really, on our Mystery House?
I'm not going to rush you on this one.
Have a good look around and I will come and find you later on.
-Off you go. Brilliant.
Fabulous. Our Mystery House might have done it again.
I love it, they love it,
and I'm pretty sure you probably love it as well.
Bang on budget, this mystery barn might be listed,
but it's impeccably finished with no further work needed.
There are three bedrooms with the potential for a fourth,
or a separate playroom in the study.
And the property comes with just over two acres of land.
Now, granted, it's almost twice
as far as they wanted to be from Ludlow,
so they've just got to work out if they want to go the distance.
Fabulous high ceilings again.
-Yeah, that's lovely.
-Playroom for Mallory.
That's what I'm thinking.
I'm a bit more composed now, I've gathered myself.
You know, it is said that when you walk into somewhere, it feels right,
and certainly when we came in here, it had the right feel about it,
and I could see us in each of the rooms.
It's an area over here that we don't know as well as sort of the Ludlow
side of things, and obviously that was our primary focus,
being near Ludlow, but I'm not sure that it matters, really.
For a boy who loves to be outdoors, it's absolutely perfect.
This has been a great morning, hasn't it?
However, that is it.
You have now the very difficult task
of trying to make sense of everything
we have shown you and everything we have talked about
to see if we can find you a new home of the future.
-Which one will it be, I wonder?
Shropshire is renowned for its industrial
and agricultural heritage.
Ludlow, in the hillier south, is surrounded by cattle country,
whereas the flatter terrain in the north lends itself to more arable
farming. Tucked away in the Shropshire Hills
is one farm that echoes of the past.
At its centre is a Grade II star listed Elizabethan mansion
built by the Acton family in 1580,
which today remains their private residence.
Tom Acton inherited the Acton Scott estate and its 40-acre home farm
more than a generation ago.
But instead of introducing modern farming techniques,
he chose to preserve its buildings and the 19th-century farming skills
he'd grown up with. I've come to meet his son Rupert
to find out more.
Very nice to see you.
-Nice to see you.
-And look at this, there we are -
Shropshire rolled out before us
and overlooked by that wonderful building.
How long has your family been farming here?
Well, the Actons have owned land here for over 800 years.
Now, whose idea was it to try and turn the clock back
and pick up those tools from yesteryear,
to create a 19th-century working farm?
The home farm was tenanted up until about 1974.
The tenant then left,
and my father had the decision to make about the farm's future.
It seemed a pity to him to demolish the fine set of 18th-century farm
buildings, which were there on the site
but not adequate for modern farming,
so he decided to start farming it himself with the one horse called
Blossom, and that's how it began.
But going back to the early '70s, it was an age of concrete, of steel.
Everybody was looking to a modern future.
Some would say his decision was quite eccentric, if not bold.
Yes, I think some people thought it was an odd thing to do.
Nobody else was doing anything like this at the time.
With a small collection
of 19th-century farm machinery and tools,
Rupert's father took over the running of the home farm
until he was approached by the county council
with a proposition to run it as a working museum.
I'm keen to explore the site and see the techniques for myself.
Rupert's pointed me in the direction of wheelwright Mike,
who is about to tyre a traditional horse-drawn wagon wheel.
Mike? Are you Mike Wright?
-Nice to see you, Mike.
-How are you?
Hello. Mike Davis.
Mike Davis. Do you have to be called Mike to work in the blacksmith's
-shop here at Acton?
-I'm afraid so, yes.
-What are you doing?
This looks very, very dramatic.
Well, what we are doing...
There is a tyre in there.
A tyre in Victorian times is a metal band,
not a rubber tyre as we know it now.
So, one of these that's against the wall?
Yeah, exactly. And it's a bit smaller than this wooden wheel,
and that's what the wheelwright does, makes the wooden wheels.
So, we're heating it up. Metal expands - while it's hot,
it's going to fit on. We're going to cool it down quick before it burns
the wood. It will shrink on, contract on,
tighten all the joints up and stay on.
How long would it take you to produce a wheel like that from scratch?
A big wheel like this?
-Three or four weeks.
-Three or four weeks?
-Well, I can certainly feel the heat coming off of that fire now.
Presumably, the band is buried within that lot?
-How long do you have to leave it in there for so it's hot enough
-to put on?
-Well, it's normally about 20 minutes once the fire gets going.
When the iron band expands, it turns a dull red colour.
Then it's a race against time to get it out of the fire,
fitted on the wheel and cooled.
While the two Mikes do the important part,
I'm on standby with a bucket of water.
-You don't get long, do you?
You can see it bubbling off the red-hot iron, there.
The iron takes less than five minutes to contract.
Once re-tyred, the new wheel could last another 50 years.
It's amazing how much it does expand.
-It is amazing.
-I mean, there was a much bigger gap than I thought
Mike and Mike make or repair around ten to 20 wagon wheels a year.
-There we go.
-There we are.
-Brilliant, guys. Well, what a fascinating insight.
Thank you very much indeed.
A window on your world like no other.
And thank you for your help, sir.
-Let me guess, you're called Mike, too?
-Three Mikes on the site.
-So, I need to change my name, really, don't I,
-if I'm going to take up residence here?
-If you want a job, yeah.
Well, with the hard work done, before I get back to my day job,
there's one more thing to do - have a test drive with wagoner Simon.
-Go on, then, big man.
-Oh, good boy.
Well, it is now, of course, decision time
for Lana and for Ashley.
They've given us a very handsome budget this week,
and in return, well,
I think we've shown them three very handsome houses,
but, of course, they can afford to buy only one.
So, which one, if any, is it likely to be?
Let's go and ask them.
Well, this all looks very jolly.
Does this mean that there's some good news on the horizon, I wonder?
What a place to finish up.
So, is there a clear winner?
-I think there probably is.
-I think there is, yes.
The Mystery House...
You could see... When I first saw it, when we walked into
-It is absolutely gorgeous.
I think it took me back, obviously.
I think it took Lana back as well.
So, yeah, we're very keen on that one.
It's all of your budget.
-Every last penny.
I mean, I do suspect that he's open to a sensible offer but, boy,
-wouldn't it work?
Absolutely beautiful. And nothing to do.
Absolutely nothing to do.
What do you do next in your master plan for making this move happen?
Well, I think we'd probably like to go
and have a look at the local area,
get a bit of an idea for Shrewsbury and around.
Yeah, we will do all of that as quickly as possible.
And then hopefully make an offer on it.
-Well, I'm delighted.
I know it's in a slightly different part of Shropshire,
but you're still in the county,
and there's lots around there to occupy you and sustain you,
and I think that's the important thing in terms of work going forward
and schools for Mallory.
Brilliant. Here's to you.
We should, really, I suppose, have some champagne.
We'll have to make do with a cup of tea.
-But here's to you, well done.
Well, I said it before and I will say it again -
it is very rare that this region ever disappoints
in terms of the property that it can offer,
regardless of budget,
and certainly that has been the case this week.
Now, clearly, Ashley and Lana have some homework to do,
but I'm pretty optimistic that in the not too distant future,
that beautiful barn will be bursting with their new family life
here in Shropshire. I'll see you next time.
Lana and Ashley did end up making an offer on the Mystery House,
but unfortunately they were beaten to it by cash buyers,
so their search continues.
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Jules Hudson is in the Shropshire countryside with a couple of parents who have Â£575,000 to spend on a home for them and their young son. While in the county, Jules visits the Acton Scott Estate, home to an authentic Victorian working farm, and tries his hand at being a wheelwright's apprentice.