With a budget of £475k, Alistair Appleton is helping a couple and their young sons to quit London and make a new life and home in Derbyshire.
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This metal dome is actually a map,
charting the positions of the stars and planets
above my head.
It's called a stellarsphere,
and it's a memorial to one of England's greatest astronomers.
Find out who he was, and where I am, in just a moment.
Once upon a time, two long-time Londoners
had a dream of moving to the country.
This feels to me like, you know, the sort of a house in the woods,
the gingerbread fairy-tale sort of place.
-But without the...
-But without the witch!
'And they may find their fairy-tale ending.'
Completely tugging at my heartstrings, it really is, yeah.
-I can just imagine us in here.
-I could, yeah.
Today, I'm in Derbyshire, in the village of Denby,
and this is the birthplace of John Flamsteed,
England's first Astronomer Royal.
Flamsteed spent his entire life observing the night sky,
and he was one of the first to make the observation
of what he thought was a star, and called 34 Tauri,
but he was wrong.
It turned out to be the planet that we now know as Uranus.
Derbyshire is in the East Midlands of England
and borders counties including Staffordshire,
South Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire.
The carboniferous limestone that gives the county its dramatic
gorges and heady cliffs has also produced
the many grey stone villages
that dot the landscape, such as the aptly named Stony Middleton.
A large section of the Peak District,
the first national park in England,
is found in the county.
It includes the remains of a collapsed cave system called
Winnats Pass - a craggy valley whose steep sides were formed
by water erosion.
There are many footpaths in the area.
But as well as being a popular destination for walkers,
the high moorland plateaus and ridges of the national park
are the source of many rivers.
And it's these waterways that powered Britain's
Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.
Here on the Derwent, pioneering inventor Sir Richard Arkwright
built one of his greatest endeavours, the Masson Cotton Mill,
setting the blueprints for future construction.
It's now a working museum.
On the banks of the River Wye, we find what was
once the 11th-century seat of William Peverel the Elder,
alleged to be the illegitimate son of William the Conqueror.
The current Haddon Hall showcases the architecture of the
medieval manor house,
with alterations and additions from the 13th to the 17th centuries.
Elsewhere on the River Wye,
water has been harnessed for recreation and relaxation.
The Romans called Buxton "the waters of the goddess of the grove",
and in the 18th century, the town became a spa centre,
complete with elegant accommodation for an influx
of wealthy tourists.
So, for sublime scenery, a slice of social history,
or a stop at a spa town,
it's well worth diving into the depths of Derbyshire,
and making that country escape.
With more than a third of the country lying inside the
Peak District National Park,
there's plenty of gorgeous locations in Derbyshire.
And property prices are not too expensive.
The average price for a detached house here is £216,000,
which is a whopping £84,000 less than the national figure.
However, to protect rural communities,
there are some restrictions on properties inside the park.
These occupancy restrictions means that people can't buy them
unless they've been working or living in the park
for more than three years.
However there are plenty of other gorgeous properties to be had,
so let's meet the couple who are doing the choosing today.
After 26 years together, John, a deputy headteacher,
and Steven, who runs a hypnotherapy practice
from their home in Leytonstone, East London,
have the family of their dreams.
We never imagined...
even ten years ago,
that we'd be able to get married.
So, to have the civil partnership
come along was amazing.
And then when the adoption laws changed to allow gay couples
to adopt, again, we never envisaged that we'd be able to
have the family that we'd always wanted, with children.
I can't think of a better decision we've made
than to adopt the two boys that we have.
We've got a really lovely family now.
Becoming parents 18 months ago
meant a big shift in priorities.
And they feel that leaving London for a new life in the country
is the best move for them and their two young sons.
We've really searched ourselves
and thought about how we were going to be...
to be the best for them.
And I think this move
is another part of that journey,
of wanting them to have
the kinds of childhoods that we had,
where you were able to go out and run around.
You know, go for long walks in the fields, in the countryside,
and not have to worry.
And the feeling that we don't have to do one thing after the next,
run from one appointment to another appointment.
So the slower pace, I think, quite appeals.
But also to have more space, I think, around us.
For some reason, I having a vegetable patch sounds, you know,
something I want to do, maybe even keep a few chickens.
Along with the rural backdrop and room for their growing family,
John's hoping for space to rekindle his musical side.
I love writing music...
and singing, performing.
I've worked on several operas, I've written a requiem mass,
which was a long time ago.
And it's that kind of thing that I want to get back in touch with.
My creative passions have taken very much a sideline.
So, I've got a lot of unfinished projects,
which I'm hoping will now get finished.
And then see where I'm going from there.
When it comes to the location of the new home,
they both know where they want to go.
We decided on Derbyshire as being a good place
for the boys to grow up in, and also for ourselves,
because we've visited the county so many times,
and we've never grown bored of it.
Derbyshire has always seemed to have a calling for us.
You don't have to drive too far to get out into the
sticks and the forests and the woods.
Derbyshire's just a stunning place.
And, you know, lovely villages...
and the hills and the Peak District, and all that.
It's one of those places, it's to feel...
"Wow". You know, to feel...
Feel comfortable, and to feel safe, and to feel,
"This is where I really want to be."
But most of all, it's about giving their life a breath of fresh air.
It's having that...just that room to go...
HE TAKES DEEP BREATH
You know? And just...just chill out.
-And living life rather than just existing.
Steven and John are open to living anywhere in Derbyshire
with good links to either the city of Derby or town of Chesterfield,
for Steven's client base.
But before I start showing them houses,
we're meeting in their chosen county to talk about
what they want from their move.
-Welcome to Derbyshire, although
-you know Derbyshire quite well.
-We do now, yeah.
You moved together 20 years ago, to Leytonstone. Um...
But this is a much bigger move, cos you've got the boys on board.
How are you feeling about it? How are they feeling about it?
We're excited, nervous, as you might expect.
The boys are, um...
-A little nervous.
-A bit anxious.
But they've made several moves in their lives already,
and as one of them has said to me,
"It's just another chapter in our lives, it's just another move."
Tell me a bit about your spec.
Remind us what we're looking for today.
For just the house, which is a five-bedroom house.
-So, five bedrooms, quite a big house.
-And you want a music room, is that right?
Yeah, I need to have a space to be creative.
What about the reception rooms? What do you need there?
Well, I know John likes a big kitchen,
cos our current one is very small, and he's quite a cook.
Well, I have got a lovely sort of vision of me cooking
and the boys sitting there doing their homework, or being creative...
We love a vision on this show.... THEY LAUGH
-And then we dash it with reality(!)
-No, I don't believe that, Alistair.
Um, and one of the things I'm after is a separate room for my practice,
-because I'm a therapist.
So, that will have to be downstairs, as well.
And in terms of location and space outside,
what are you looking for there?
We want a decent-sized garden, particularly for the boys to
be able to play out and enjoy being in the countryside.
In terms of the actual style of the house, what are you looking for?
Eh, we're after a house with character.
I suppose our fantasy is the cottage,
with a lovely real fire in the living room.
So, we haven't really been interested in new-builds
unless they've got something quirky about them.
-If it feels right, if it's the right house, we can make it work.
Remind me of your budget. How much money have we got to play with?
If we find a house with outbuildings, around 475.
OK, so the outbuildings are for what...?
-For the possibility of converting to maybe holiday lets.
-OK, well, we can talk about that as we go along.
It's quite a lot that you're looking for.
-You know, it's a nice big budget, but...
We have some great properties lined up. All quite different,
so hopefully one of them will tug at your heartstrings.
And there's no time like the present, so get your bits and bobs,
With a total budget of up to £475,000
for the right house, with outbuildings,
Steven and John would like a character property with
a large kitchen, five bedrooms,
a music room,
and somewhere for Steven's hypnotherapy practice.
They'd also like a large, child-friendly garden.
We've got some incredible properties to show them,
and at each, I'll be asking them to
guess the price before I reveal it.
The final tour will be our Mystery House,
which may lead to a surprising conversion.
How are you feeling about moving to the countryside,
now you're coming up into the sticks of Derbyshire?
Everybody's been so friendly and so welcoming anywhere that we've been
that it's kind of put my mind at rest.
We love Derbyshire. We just love...
When we come up, it's just that feeling.
As soon as you see a bit of green or a tree,
you know, it's like we' just sort of relax.
It's something about being back in the countryside, in nature,
that seems to naturally help you let go of the stresses of being
in a busy city, and it just feels like it's going to be
-a slightly slower existence.
Having to go from one diary entry to another and squeeze things in and
rushed here, there and everywhere.
Our house-hunting is taking us to the village of Hatton,
close to the Staffordshire border.
Around half a mile across the River Dove
is the village of Tutbury.
Below the ruins of its medieval castle are tea rooms, pubs,
a post office and other provisions.
But this is no sleepy country backwater,
it's still a busy and populous place, as one factor of the house
we've come to see demonstrates.
So let's head back to the village of Hatton.
So our first house meets pretty much all of your commitments on paper
-except for one, and that you can probably hear.
So, behind that big hedge, we've got a busy road into the village.
-It's not the big rural location that you were looking for.
Well, we know we'd have to compromise on something, so...
-We've lived close to kind of a main road in London, haven't we?
What do you think about the actual property?
-It looks really lovely.
-Really... It looks old.
-A bit of character.
-That's what we're looking for.
Love the house. But, yeah, the road...a little bit busy.
-But, you know, we can have a look and see what we think.
-Let's go and have a look inside.
Although not in the depths of the countryside, I think
this less isolated location may well appeal to our pair,
who are used to living in London's busy East End.
What's more, this detached home, originally built in the 1850s,
shares some of the Victorian character they know and love
in their current home.
Extended to the front in the latter part of the Victorian era,
a porched front door takes us through a very large entrance hall,
currently used as a games area, and on to a further reception room.
Come into this room.
This is a good example of the Victorian dimensions of the house,
with a lovely kind of fireplace, big, high ceilings.
It's a lovely space. What do you think?
-It is really...really calming, isn't it?
-Yes, it is.
And it's very quiet.
Nice sort of sanctuary.
In terms of the kind of the style and period of the house,
-is this what you were looking for?
-Yes, absolutely. Yeah.
Yeah, it's... That sort of period of architecture is something
I really like. It's solid, it's build to last.
Nice big room, nice high ceilings, and that's...that's lovely.
There's quite a lot of reception space in this house.
As you noticed as we came in, there's a great big hallway,
where they've got a sort of pool table.
That could be a playroom, cos that's at the foot of the stairs.
Yeah, that's true.
-Good. So... Thumbs up?
-So far, yeah.
-Let's continue our exploration.
Back through entrance hall,
a corridor leads to the rear of the property where there is a large
kitchen and breakfast room
with lines of sight through to two further reception rooms.
So come in. Now we come to the very other end of the house.
It's a bit of a whistle-stop tour.
But if you look behind you here,
you've got these parallel through rooms here, lots of space.
It's quite a big ground floor.
This, then, is the kitchen, which is
-kind of your domain. Is that right, John?
I like it.
I can see me in here.
Nice table here for the boys to sit and do their homework on.
It's also nice to have a space that's sort of separate
-but you can also see what they're up to.
And then I was thinking your music room could be there at the back.
-Is that going to be enough space?
-Yes. Yes, definitely.
-Phew! Cos we can't give you any more.
-No. Lots of possibilities about how we can use the room.
If you look over here,
through this window, across the courtyard here,
that's the annexe, so that's fully wired up,
and we were thinking that would be a perfect place
-as your therapy space.
-Oh, wow, wonderful, OK.
Cos, you know, your clients could park, come in,
they'd never have to come into the main house.
No, that's a great idea, yeah.
-Very excited actually.
-As you say, it ticks a lot of the boxes.
-I get a good feeling in here.
Yeah, I got that as soon as I came in through the door.
It's important for me sort of the emotional connection to a place.
-I can see us entertaining here as well,
because we do enjoy our entertainment, don't we?
Particularly when you're cooking a lovely meal.
We'll give you plenty of time, obviously, to look around,
-but let's look upstairs.
The tranquillity, space and elegant dimensions offered up inside
this home seem to have dispelled their initial reservations for now.
And completing this floor is a cloakroom and utility.
Upstairs, we find the four-bedroomed sleeping quarters.
Above the kitchen,
a family bathroom sits next to a double room.
Another double has a single-aspect window,
whilst a third enjoys aspects to the front and side of the home.
That leaves the wing above the hall and sitting room
for the fourth, largest bedroom, complete with an en-suite.
Here we are, the master bedroom.
-It's a lovely sized room.
-It is. Yeah.
It's got a nice feel to it. Our sanctuary!
Lots of room for storage and getting all your clothes in.
-Oh, yeah, all my shoes.
But this is quite a spectacular en-suite.
It's enormous, isn't it? Yes.
Oh, that was a surprise.
It is a very spacious house.
-You know, those Victorians, they didn't skimp on space.
-I think let's get the price in place.
-So let's step outside for a moment.
A good reaction to the interior of this large Victorian home.
And outside, there's gated rear access
to that self-contained annexe.
There's also off-street parking
and two single garages,
as well as a rather luxurious hot tab.
The front of the home features a large lawn
plus a paved terrace for al fresco dining.
What do you think of the garden size?
-It's a good size. I can see the boys being quite happy here.
Plenty of room for them to play in, I think.
Nice sort of zones to sit out in, on a summer's day.
What do you think about the price? You think this all comes in at?
-I'm going to go for 410.
I'm going to go more towards the top of our budget. I think around 470.
Aha, right. So quite a disparity.
-Slap bang in the middle, actually. It's on at 430.
That's, I think, pretty good.
that gives you some money to play around with,
maybe redecorating stuff.
Why don't you go and explore and I'll catch up with you afterwards?
Brilliant, thank you.
That's a pretty good first house. I know the road is noisy.
That's going to be an issue.
But there's so much to offer in this property,
we couldn't not show it to them.
I think they are pretty charmed.
This detached Victorian home
comes with a large kitchen/breakfast room
and four further reception spaces.
There are four bedrooms, including a spacious en-suite,
and a self-contained annexe as well as two garages.
This would make a good therapy room.
-Yeah, I think so, yeah. Really fit the bill.
-Nice big space.
-And actually it is big enough to do small workshops as well.
-That's an idea.
I think the first thing I noticed about the property was its size.
It seemed like it held a lot of rooms.
And certainly we weren't disappointed when we came inside.
It was quite an imposing building, but at the same time,
we felt quite comfortable in here.
I think the house definitely
has potential, particularly if I think about my therapy practice
and that the annexe outside could definitely be converted to
a nice therapy space.
It's definitely a contender, I believe.
I feel at home.
I could see us living here.
I can see all our stuff here.
I can also see me pottering around in the kitchen,
watching the boys do their homework, so, like, I've moved in, in my head.
-OK, we're done with this one, let's go on to the next.
Derbyshire may be best known for its Dales,
but at one time wealthy tourists came to the county not to clamber
up on its craggy cliffs
but to enjoy the alleged benefits of its naturally heated waters.
The town of Buxton, once popular with the Romans, enjoyed
a renaissance as a spa resort from the 18th century onwards.
And in 1903, an impressive opera house was built.
John, an opera fan who has even written some himself,
plans to explore his musical side after the move, so during the
week, we sent him and Steven to tour this theatrical treasure.
They are starting in the Dress Circle meeting Jenny Mather,
a keen amateur dramatist who has performed here herself.
-Hi, nice to meet you.
Blimey, what an amazing theatre.
It is a stunning theatre, isn't it?
It was built in 1903 by Frank Matcham,
who was the most prolific theatre architect in the country
in the Victorian and Edwardian period.
Buxton Opera House is similar in design to the London Coliseum,
which you may be familiar with,
but it's considered one of Frank Matcham's most perfect design.
What makes it so special?
The proportions of the theatre are perfect,
and of course the decor is just to die for, isn't it?
It's just simply stunning.
And at the time in his career that Frank Matcham
built Buxton Opera House, you know, he had many years' experience,
so he mixed practicality with safety, lavish interior decor.
Of course, Frank Matcham was master of sight line and master of the key
sticks, so wherever you sit in the theatre, you are guaranteed
a fantastic view of the stage and you can always hear the performers.
It's still, you know,
a fantastic experience wherever you sit in the theatre.
There may be great views from all angles,
but the tiers tell tales from the strict social classes of yesteryear.
The middle and upper classes sat closeness to stage
level on the comfiest chairs and kept apart from the working class
up in the galleries, who were packed in on hard wooden benches.
And you'll be pleased to know that there are proper seats
upstairs in the gallery now.
There's so much gold everywhere,
then these amazing paintings on the ceiling.
The different painted panels represent the various arts,
so we've got music, literature,
dance, painting, poetry and comedy.
The gold leaf was repainted in 2001 and, I believe,
there's £85,000 worth of gold leaf up there.
And it is still as sparkling as what it was 2001.
In 1927, like many theatres at the time, the opera house became
a cinema before briefly closing during the 1970s.
Fortunately, it was restored and reopened, and it's now one of
around 20 surviving theatres in the country designed by Frank Matcham.
To demonstrate how productions are brought to life here,
technical manager Guy Dunk is on hand in the lighting box.
Well, it seems like a lot of buttons to press and control.
So how many lights are you controlling from the box?
Typically, for our own lighting rig, we've got about 130,
140 lamps. They're not all rigged at the same time,
but of course we get productions in from all over the world,
and they will bring additional lighting with them,
and so, you know, we can control, well, hundreds of lights.
The ancient Greeks were the first to use lighting cues with epic
performances calling for sunrise
and sunset at certain points of a production.
Several centuries later,
the Savoy Theatre in London went fully electric,
and others followed suit.
So, just to go through the basics, there's a touch-screen here.
Steve, if you want to press just there, we'll see...
..the house like going down, just gently fading out.
And then, John, if you perhaps just want to push up that fader.
-And there we can see the blue lights on the forestage.
You are now officially lighting operators. Well done.
So now what we are going to do is head down to the stage
and see what we can find there, OK?
The opera house uses what is known as a fly system.
This means hemp ropes and manpower are employed to raise
the stage curtain just as they were when the theatre first open.
So then, gentlemen, this is quite low-tech,
but this is the authentic experience,
so perhaps if you would like to head out onto the stage, and I will go
up the stairs, up to the fly floor and operate the curtain.
-See you in a bit.
OK, guys, are you ready? House curtain going up.
The boards of this 902-seater theatre have been trod by acting
legends such as Sir Alec Guinness and Dame Sybil Thorndike.
Just stand and perform here.
Ladies and gentlemen...
Let's have a go of it.
Luckily, there are no signs of performance anxiety
as joining John and Steven on stage are community singers
The Kaleidoscope Choir for a rousing rendition
of Handel's Hallelujah Chorus.
# Hallelujah, hallelujah Hallelujah
# Hallelujah... #
No time for an encore, I'm afraid, as it's back to see if any
of our properties will get a curtain call on our Derbyshire house hunt.
The village of Brassington, in the Derbyshire Dales,
is where our search is heading.
Nestled in the rocky limestone uplands of White Peak
and close to many footpaths,
the quiet country lanes take in a pretty Norman church,
village shop and primary school,
alongside lovely old stone houses.
Once an important centre for lead mining,
reminders of the industry remain.
The house we've come to see is located in
a small residential close.
ALISTAIR SIGHS Listen, guys...
-Mmm. No road.
-Just quiet. Peace and quiet.
-Good. Good, good, good.
-This is the property we're interested in.
We're just a village away from the beginning of the national park.
-So, great location.
-It looks beautiful, I think.
-It does, yeah.
-Really sort of country cottage-y.
-Lovely. I love the brickwork.
-It feels nicely quiet down here, particularly.
-So, the boys could play out here, I think...
..and I'd be perfectly happy with that.
-Well, you'll see there's more play options elsewhere.
Let's take a look inside.
Built in 1992 with a later extension,
a central hall takes us to the first room of the home,
which is currently unoccupied.
It's an unusual property because there's nothing in it,
-so the owners have already moved out.
-But it gives you a blank canvas.
Obviously, this is sitting room,
and it goes through into this lovely sunroom at the back.
-Not sure at the moment.
-I like the location, I very much like the location.
Not sure about the size of the house.
-I need to see the rest of the house.
It's interesting, as well... Because it hasn't got the furniture in,
-it takes a bit more imagination...
..to imagine the cosiness of it.
-So, there's a little bit of that going on as well.
So, you're feeling it's a bit small...?
That's just first impressions, yeah. That might change as we go round.
Let's have a look in the kitchen.
Across the hall, the kitchen/breakfast room
sits to the front of the house.
Kitchen, again, bare of any furniture and...
What do you think?
-It's a good size.
-Yeah, very good size.
The thing about this property is that...
one - it requires a bit of imagination
to put the furniture in place,
but also there's a potential to kind of change the interior.
So, there are plans that the owner had drawn up to knock through
there so you've got a big kitchen/diner that goes
right to the back of the house, right into the garden.
OK, that sounds like a good idea.
So it's definitely a property that you kind of need to kind of think
-beyond what you can see right now.
We'd be up for that, I think.
We wouldn't do it ourselves. Get somebody else in to do it.
You've got a sort of cryptic smile, polite smile, John...
THEY LAUGH Does that mean you've given up
-on this one?
-No, I haven't given up on it at all, no.
I'm just struggling to see how we're going to fit everything in.
It remains to be seen whether this house can coax John and Steven
to make it work for them, although it seems they are open
to doing some reconfiguration.
Completing the current layout of the ground floor,
a utility and cloakroom sit behind the kitchen.
And behind that, a dining room with views
and doors out to the garden.
Upstairs, there are four bedrooms.
To the front of the house, there's a double bedroom
with built-in wardrobes,
and a single room,
which are both served by a family bathroom.
There's a further bedroom to the rear of the house, with an en-suite.
Then, overlooking the garden, is the en-suite master.
This would be your bedroom.
Got great views.
Yes, it has.
And you've got an en-suite here.
It's a nice-sized room,
but I don't see much in the way of storage, you know.
-Once you get your...
-Yeah, once you get your bed in.
Yeah, that's true. Oh, dear. Feel like it's ebbing away.
JOHN LAUGHS Sand dropping through my fingertips.
It seems the accommodation in this detached Dales house
has failed to convince our buyers,
but perhaps the glorious garden setting will win them over.
As well as a stream,
there's a paddock of around a fifth of an acre.
And with a footpath on their doorstep,
the Derbyshire countryside is in easy reach.
Plus, the attached garage provides a versatile space
that could be adapted for Steven's therapy practice.
So, the garden, you can see here, is a great run-around for the boys.
LAUGHING: Still not looking very impressed...
-It's kind of everything that we weren't looking for.
Yeah. The look of the house is great,
it's just the actual size of the rooms, I think.
I love the fact the stream is there, not that we asked for that,
-but it's a lovely extra.
-Mmm. A good extra.
-Um, you know,
land-wise, garden-wise, it's here.
I find it difficult to see the therapy room being here
unless we invested in converting the garage.
Yeah, there are some options. You could kind of build out, over
the garage. You could also possibly go up into the roof, although,
as you see, it's got quite some impressive solar panels,
which brings back around £2,000 a year,
-so you're heating's pretty much for free.
Which is a pity. I mean, I love the conservatory, the size of it.
Obviously, there's features of it that are nice.
So, what do you think it's on the market for?
I'll go for 400,000.
Your both a bit low, it's on a 418,000.
But go back inside and have another snoop around,
and I'll see you out front
and then we can see what else we can rustle up for you.
-Great. Thank you.
Coming in below budget,
this detached Dales house comes with
a kitchen/breakfast room,
dedicated dining room
and a large conservatory.
There are four bedrooms,
two with en-suite bathrooms,
and a good-sized garden
surrounded by countryside.
-The conservatory's stunning. The views are amazing.
So again, a lot of our boxes, I think, have been ticked.
-Maybe not enough.
I think the house promised a lot.
From when we rolled up at the front door, I thought,
"Wow, this looks just what we're looking for."
And the location was stunning.
The conservatory particularly appeals to me.
I quite like the idea of the sun coming in and kind of sitting
out there and reading.
As a growing family, I think we just need that room to expand.
The floor space, as a whole, is not as big as we've got at the moment.
It feels like there's too many compromises for us,
with this property.
This is the quiet location that we want,
-but just a bigger property.
I don't know how many extensions or skylights
or new solar panels
is going to make this house work for them, so...
I was just saying, I can't really tweak this property
to make it sing to you, can I?
-No, I'm afraid not, Alistair.
-Let's draw a veil over it.
-And go and get some rest and get ready for tomorrow.
We're in Derbyshire, with a maximum budget of £475,000
to find John and Steven, from East London,
a country home for them and their two sons.
They've already seen some lovely property, but there's
some more to come, including the Mystery House,
which could take our search to new heights.
-Do you like what you see?
-I do, yeah.
-I do like what I see, yeah.
It's lovely, it's welcoming, it's warming.
Got that lovely calm feeling.
And I'm at the cutting edge of a local craft revival in Derby.
I think there's something to be said about the warmth that
you get from wood. It's... Yeah, less sterile.
-It's lovely - you're kind of beaming as you say that.
We didn't quite hit the mark yesterday, but today's
another day, here in the beautiful peaks, and we're hoping that
we can get closer to meet John and Steve's expectations,
even though they are quite high for their budget. But it's all for a
good cause - getting the boys a new home up here in the north -
so I'm hoping that one of today's properties is going to hit the mark.
I'm really hoping one of them does.
We're travelling to the small hamlet of Shipley Gate,
on the border with Nottinghamshire.
The town of Eastwood is under a mile and a half away and provides
a good range of shops and services. The writer D H Lawrence
was born in this former coal town, and as the son of a
barely literate miner, his exposure to colliery life was formative.
A short drive away, our next house is located by a canal
built to transport the region's coal. Accessed via a gated drive,
the surroundings may be picturesque, but it holds its own
rather gruesome link to the mining industry.
OK, now, I love this property, but I have no idea whether
you're going to love it or hate it.
-This used to be the slaughterhouse.
I was toying whether to tell you that or not. It's the slaughterhouse
-where they used to slaughter the pit ponies.
-My goodness, wow.
This is a project, so it's whether you're going to be willing to
-do the work and make it happen.
-I'm up for a project, yeah. Are you?
-I think so, yeah, yeah.
-What are your first thoughts, coming down the drive?
-I love it.
-This kind of feels to me like the house in the woods,
you know, the gingerbread fairy-tale sort of place.
-But without the nasty...
-But without the witch!
-Yeah, no, this looks fantastic.
-It does, yeah.
-Really excited about seeing inside.
-Let's see what you think.
With a stable block dating from the 18th century,
the main building was constructed in the 1920s
and converted into a home in the 1980s. Its intriguing layout
begins with an entrance hall, which leads into the country kitchen.
Come into the warmth, and into the kitchen.
I love it, actually. The fact it's kind of like a farmhouse kitchen.
-It just kind of gives that nice feel to it, doesn't it?
-It does, yeah.
-Full of character.
-I love the beams as well.
-I love it. It feels like a home...
-..which is what we're after, isn't it, really?
-Mm, absolutely, yeah.
But I think it's a love it or hate it sort of thing, you know,
-if you like the vibe of the place, you can do something with it.
Directly off the kitchen is a reception room,
packed with period appeal.
This is the heart of the home, really. This is the sort of
-central sitting room.
-Lovely and quirky.
-It is quirky.
-Which is exactly what we're after, isn't it?
This house has a lot of character.
-Great big roaring coal fire.
Completely tugging at my heartstrings. It really is, yeah.
-I could just imagine us in here.
-I could, yeah.
-It's a very cosy house.
-And you could do so much with it.
I think particularly, what appeals to me, is the boys loving
-exploring and hiding...
-..and running around, and having
a lot of fun living here, I think, particularly...
-I think it would appeal to the boys, wouldn't it?
-Yeah, I think so.
Upstairs is a little bit tight, I'm just warning you,
so let's have a look there.
I'm glad the somewhat grizzly origins of this
former slaughterhouse have not distracted John and Steven from
its undeniable charms. Off this reception is a dining room with a
spiral staircase up to the upper floor,
as well as doors out to a sunroom.
Next to this is a second kitchen space, and beside
the entrance hall is a utility, plus a flight of stairs down to
the first of four bedrooms, that includes an en-suite cloakroom.
But we're taking the main stairs from the sitting room up to
the remaining three bedrooms.
I'll give you a sort of... Your bearings up here.
You can explore a bit more later. This is the master behind you.
So you've got lots of storage under the eaves.
-But no en-suite, you'd have to use this bathroom here.
And then, on this side, you've got a chain of two interlocking rooms,
and another bathroom, and then the spiral staircase.
You'd all be one family, snug under the eaves!
-Yeah, I think it is quite snug, isn't it?
Not a big problem, I don't think.
-We could work with that, while we get the place sorted out.
-You can imagine playing hide and seek up here, or sardines.
There are even more hidden corners to explore, as outbuildings
include a garage and a disused cottage, ripe for renovation.
But first, we're investigating the former stable block,
which is currently divided into six zones and dates from the 1700s.
Oh, this sort of space makes a developer drool a little bit,
but maybe it puts you off, does it?
No, not in the slightest.
I think there's so much that we could do with this.
-There's so many opportunities, I think...
..for therapy rooms, and play room for the boys, or a music room...
Just, yeah, there's a lot of potential here.
And it feels really solid as well, so, you know, structure's there.
-There is a lot of potential.
-Well, I'm hoping that the garden might just seal the deal.
The three-quarter acre grounds had been planted with
over 300 trees by the current owners,
who also rent one and a half acres of land for around £350 a year.
It's the perfect territory for budding adventurers,
offering them its very own stretch of uncharted waters.
-Look, you've got a river!
-This is the Erewash River.
-This is proper countryside.
-You've outdone yourself, I think, today.
The sound of the water's amazing.
-Beautiful garden. I love it.
-I love the naturalness of it, too.
-Yeah, it's wild.
-So, I'm getting a good vibe.
Now comes the tricky bit - guessing the price.
I'm going to be cheeky.
I think with the amount of work that needs to be done, I think that
has to be reflected in the price, so for me, I'm going to go 385.
I'm going to be even more cheeky, I think, then, and go for 375,
OK, you're both being very cheeky, cos this is...
-It's a big lot of property. This is on the market for 450.
-You could negotiate down, but probably not that far down.
Cos you're right, there is a lot of work, and you're going to
have to budget about whether you can actually afford to do it.
So, take a look at the outhouses, the cottage,
and have a sniff around inside to see if that's going to work for you.
-And I'll see you out the front.
-Great. Thank you.
Well, they ARE cheeky, aren't they? That's a very low price.
But, you know, they're right, it's going to take a lot of work,
but what an opportunity.
I think it could be such a great place for the boys to grow up
and for them to have a life together.
With a guide price £25,000 below their top budget,
this converted slaughterhouse comes with a country kitchen,
characterful sitting room and four bedrooms.
There's lots of potential in the various outbuildings, plus it's in
a canal-side country location, with its own stretch of river.
I'm enamoured with this property.
I like the canal, I like the river at the bottom of the garden.
The garden just seems to go on and on and on.
It's an amazing property.
It has so many things that we haven't asked for,
but would have been on our higher sort of fantasy wish list, I guess.
It's a delight, isn't it?
And there's so much, I think, that we could do with the place,
-whilst keeping it in character.
It just appeals to me on so many different levels.
-I've walked round with a smile on my face since I came here.
I think this could definitely be our home, and for the boys particularly.
I could just see them having so much fun in the garden.
I really see their smiling faces in my imagination,
just having a wonderful childhood, which is really
a big part of the reason why we want to move to Derbyshire.
I think this has got potential.
Yeah, I like the idea of it being converted to a holiday let, I think.
-Having seen the rooms next door,
I think we could possibly use part of that.
Good, I like this planning what you're going to do with the space.
It's a very good sign.
I'm afraid I'm going to have to drag you away,
cos we've got other houses to see, other things to do.
-So, follow me.
Amongst the moors and peaks, the mines and mills of Derbyshire
played a pivotal role in Britain's Industrial Revolution,
and the area around the Derwent River was particularly productive.
This former cotton mill now houses the workshop of Ben Edmonds,
who's bringing back a local skill - knife-making.
And it's fantastic what you're doing, because obviously Sheffield,
the Peak District, famous for knives, scissors, and steel.
-And now here you are, kind of reviving.
Yeah. We just make one-off kitchen knives.
What was the fascination of steel and wood and blades?
I suppose it developed over time.
When I first started, I just thought, "Surely it's only me
"mad enough to make knives."
There's a nice kind of revival of makers now.
I had a meeting with about 15 knife-makers from Sheffield,
and it's really nice,
all these people just, you know, hand-crafting one-off pieces.
I'm from the Midlands,
and I wanted to make a knife that I thought was true to me.
I wanted to pick the right steel, the right design,
and produce something quite simple, but best for the job.
I mean, we use a specific high-carbon steel
which basically means you can get it quite tough
and you get a really fine edge.
So, the handle - this is wood?
Aesthetically, I think it's great, and I think there's something
to be said about the warmth that you get from wood. It's...
Yeah, less sterile.
-It's lovely - you're kind of beaming as you say that.
Ben first started crafting knives at his kitchen table,
using techniques he learned from the internet.
Four and a half years on, he runs a three-man enterprise.
Each knife begins as flat metal,
which is worked through a series of four belts,
starting with the ceramic belt that grinds a V-shaped blade edge.
You can see the steel coming off.
And now Zack has to be careful that he doesn't get that knife too hot,
which is why he keeps dipping it in the water.
The remaining belts, we're just looking to remove
scratches and get finer and finer.
And then we go on to hand-sanding after that.
How long does all that process, like, to get from the stock,
-from the, you know, the...
We could probably do four of those in a day.
There's now a three-year waiting list for these artisan knives,
each of which features a hand-crafted handle made
from a selection of over 50 types of wood.
So this is our clean room.
We glue all the handles here to avoid any dust.
So Pat's now just using a resin, and we are literally gluing the wood
and the pins to the steel.
Yeah, so we clamp that tight. We leave that for 24 hours,
and then we have to take it back into the other workshop
-and start sanding it down on the machines.
Because the finished product is very finished indeed, isn't it?
It is, yeah.
For those of us who don't have £1,000 for new knives...
I mean, I've got knives that are probably horrendously blunt.
Is there a way of keeping knives that we already have sharp?
The main thing is to keep them sharp.
Once a knife has dulled, it's tricky to get the edge back.
Have you got time to give me a little workshop on that?
-Yeah, let's do it.
The travelling knife sharpener, who once visited towns
and villages every year, was a common sight in Victorian Britain.
Now left to our own devices, without those sharp skills,
blunt knives are an all-too-common problem.
-So, I recognise these, but I have no idea what to do with them.
So, these are two very different things,
although they look relatively similar.
-That's a hone, and that's a steel.
So, a hone doesn't have an abrasive edge - that's completely smooth -
whereas a steel has got a slight abrasion.
'With a dulled knife, we need to start with the steel.'
So, from the heel, we put the knife flat,
and we give it about 15 degrees.
And all we're going to do is drag the knife down, making sure that
you go from heel to tip all the way, and then we go to the other side.
-So, give that a go.
Set that angle, and pull it all the way down.
-That's it. Maybe a bit more pressure.
-Yeah, bit more.
'Then it's onto the hone, for a few light strokes.'
-You're probably talking three or four times on each side.
-And all that does...
-Caressing the blade.
-Yeah, caressing the blade.
And all that does is realigns the edge.
'And, finally, we use a wet stone to give a really sharp finish.'
-So, start here...
Yeah, and work all the way to the tip.
-And pushing up?
Let's have a look.
-I think we are. And we'll try the paper again.
And we'll see what happens.
-There we go.
-Nice and sharp.
If you love your knife, then, yeah, it should last...
Yeah, it should last a lifetime. That's the idea with them, anyway.
If you look after them properly,
you should be able to have one knife for life.
In terms of the Mystery House,
do you have any concept what we might be showing you there?
-Something possibly converted?
Converted barn, or a...windmill or something, I don't know.
It's going to be something that will stretch our spec,
you know, maybe we've said we don't want this and you'll show us that
because the mystery property will have other things going for it.
A very unusual property, like...
A very quirky property indeed.
-Like a lighthouse...
-Converted mill chimney, or something!
-A mill chimney.
-Just doesn't stack up, really.
Our Mystery House is found in Flash, a village in the
Peak District National Park, just across the Staffordshire border.
A range of services are found three miles away in the
Derbyshire spa town of Buxton,
whose architectural delights include the 18th-century
Devonshire Dome, which originally provided stabling and quarters
for the servants of the nearby Crescent Hotel.
Back in Flash, there are stunning views of the Peak District,
as well as a shop and pubs.
Its claim to be the highest village in Britain has been disputed,
but there's no doubt that it did once feature
the country's highest Methodist chapel,
which has been converted into a home
and is the property we've come to see.
-And this is the Mystery House.
You were correct about the conversion - not a windmill,
-but a Methodist chapel.
-OK, what do you think?
-Looks very interesting from the outside, doesn't it?
-Completely renovated and done up inside two years ago.
-It's a Mystery House, remember, so it's a bit of a curve ball.
-There's one very obvious feature that you might not like.
-But I think there's a lot to admire.
-You ready for a go?
-Yeah, can't wait to see it.
Let's go inside.
Wesleyan Methodism was well-established in Flash when
a chapel was built here in the 18th century
to serve a 61-strong congregation.
Rebuilt in 1821, it's now a Grade II listed home.
Spread over three levels, we're starting in the multi-purpose
living space that has been created on the ground floor.
Come right into the heart of this big beast of a house.
-As you can see, it's pretty much all open-plan.
-Do you like what you see?
-I do, yeah.
-I do like what I see, yeah.
It's lovely, it's welcoming, it's warming, it feels cosy,
even though it's a big space.
Cos you've got a big log burner sort of solid fuel heater here.
That actually heats all the water. You've also got another one here,
-if you get chilly in the winter.
And, as you can see, this is what would have been the worship space.
-I've got a thing about converted churches, anyway,
just that lovely, calm, feeling.
-Nice feel let's look in the kitchen.
The sitting room is sandwiched between an area used as
a study-cum-music-room, and a dining space.
Then, at the back,
we find a separate country kitchen/breakfast room.
Everything flows very nicely,
and then you've got a kitchen with amazing views.
It's amazing. Just unexpected, in such a modern kitchen.
I just get a really good feeling about the place.
The style fits lovely with the house, doesn't it?
Yes, it does, yeah.
Well, the space and the serenity of this former chapel
may yet convert John and Steven.
On the lower ground floor is a cosy snug, a store room, utility,
and a wet room, serving two of the home's four bedrooms -
a very large double, and a smaller double.
And, taking the stairs, we reach a galleried upper floor.
So, again, let me just give you a little bit of geography.
On that side, you've got a very nice...
probably would be your master.
And then a beautiful bathroom,
a family bathroom with one of those sort of slipper baths.
And then you've got this lovely...
basically a sitting room for a landing.
Another bedroom here, and then a great big kind of...
-Well, it's a dressing room here.
As it stands, it doesn't work.
I mean, I still love it - that's the thing about it,
there's a lovely feel to it.
Practically, I don't think it would work...
You know, I'm thinking about your therapy room,
where we would have that, but I do love the house.
I really love the house.
-I guess I could always retire early, or something.
Well, in a way,
the question marks may be resolved when we look at the outside space.
-OK, all right, OK.
-Come with me.
Despite the impressive spec and location,
John and Steven remain to be convinced that this house
has everything they need for family life, and outside,
it's time to reveal why this is a bit of a gamble,
because restrictions here in the national park mean that
this sizeable home is limited to a rather modest patio plot.
So, this might be the shortest garden tour we've ever done,
-because this IS your garden.
-The idea, of course, is that THIS is your garden.
But, it being the Peak District, you cannot turn arable land into garden.
Not much to say, really, about this.
Well, you know, clearly for us, the garden was an important part,
because of the boys, and we want them to be safe.
-That's a big missing piece, I think, for us.
-It is beautiful, there's no doubt about that.
-We love it, I think.
Yeah, we do.
There's just the missing pieces, I think.
And what do you think it's on the market for?
-I think it's... It's got to be over budget.
-Do you think so?
I would even go so far as to say maybe 520.
Ooh. I do think it's above what we were prepared to pay.
I think I'll say 475.
-This is actually on the market for £445,000.
-I'm sorry about the garden, but, you know, we couldn't resist
-showing it to you, because it's a classic Mystery House.
And it has, you know, lots that recommends it.
This converted Methodist chapel offers open-plan living
on the ground floor, and a separate kitchen and breakfast room.
There are a total of four bedrooms, two bathrooms, and it's in
the heart of a village within the Peak District National Park.
I think... If it was just the two of us,
-I think this would be absolutely perfect.
But our priorities have changed.
It just wouldn't be suitable for the boys.
-Unfortunately, this isn't the house for the family.
From the moment we pulled up and saw the house from the outside,
the Mystery House, I just thought, was beautiful.
Had a brilliant use of space.
This house would have been a contender
had it had a garden, and I think we would have gone for it.
Ordinarily, I think it would be lovely to move in
and consider putting a bid in for it,
but it just doesn't fit our new family requirements,
so, unfortunately, we're going to have to let it go.
Ah, beautiful views, but I feel a rotter for showing you
this property and not giving you a garden, but what can I do?
But, we're done here,
but there is a pub - probably the highest pub in Britain -
over there, so why don't you get yourself settled in there,
and I'll come and join you in a minute?
Oh, Mystery Houses can be so heartbreaking.
They can either go wildly right, or wildly wrong.
I mean, the garden was always going to be a hard thing to swallow, and
it didn't quite work out, but let's go and find out what they think
about the whole experience of being on Escape To The Country.
Hey, nice to see you've really settled in to the neighbourhood!
-Drinks ready and everything.
Have you been mulling over the properties?
We certainly have, and I think there's no doubt in our view
that the house that's the favourite is the one by the canal.
Yes, I'm glad, because it's a great property.
So, what are the brass tacks? What happens next?
Look at the finances, and...
-Yeah, and look at the plans for the place...
..to get a rough idea of what we want to get done pretty quickly,
and how much that'll cost.
And I see that being absolutely possible.
Have you thought about what's the priority in that property?
I think the priority's probably the holiday let, first of all,
to get some income coming in,
and then we focus on the bits, I think at least anyway, that we want.
-It is definitely liveable as it is, so we'll live with how the
set-up is at the moment, I think.
We can do that and focus on the other things first.
-So, are you excited? Does it suit your...?
I guess I'm not going to sleep tonight cos I dare say
-I shall be dreaming about it.
-And what about the boys?
What's the plan? Do you bring them up and...?
Yes, we'll have to bring them up and let them see the property.
They are an important part of the decision-making process.
They'll love the stream, they'll love the canal,
they'll adore the garden.
-So much room for them to just run around.
-And a great house for them to hide in.
Exactly, so many cubbyholes.
-It's going to hold their interest, I know.
Well, I'm delighted that we've found you something,
cos it was quite a tall order. We seem to have found you something.
And I really hope that you and the boys take that house and settle in.
-Keep us in the loop.
-Yeah, thanks very much for your help.
-Been a fantastic few days.
-Really has been amazing.
-And it's always nice to be in Derbyshire.
Can I let you in to a secret?
I thought, for a while,
we had bitten off more than we could chew,
because Steve and John really wanted a lot for their budget,
but it was such a good story, with the boys, and the new family,
and moving from the East End to all of this,
that we did take on the challenge, and I am so relieved that
we seem to have hit a bulls-eye with that house by the canal.
It's going to be a lot of work,
but it's the sort of work that will really bring that family together.
If they need a peak experience,
then this is the landscape that will give it to them.
So, on that happy note,
join us next time for more rural adventures on Escape To The Country.
If you would like to Escape To The Country
in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or England
and need our help, you can apply online.
Series which helps prospective buyers to find their dream home in the country. Alistair Appleton helps a couple and their young sons to quit London and make a new life and home in Derbyshire on a budget of £475k.
Alistair also spends time with a craftsman who is bringing back the local skill of knifemaking.