Jules Hudson visits Dorset to help a homesick couple swap their French chateau for a 1.6 million pound house in the English countryside with five en-suite bedrooms.
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Welcome to Escape To The Country.
I'm in a part of the land that is a World Heritage Site and is also home to a flock of over 1,000 mute swans,
ideal neighbours for any country life.
'Today, we help a homesick couple swap their French chateau
'for the creature comforts of the English countryside.
'We'll tour some stunning period houses in breathtaking locations.'
What do you think of that?
I like the whole thing but sorry, my mind's still on the view!
'One house takes the concept of sharing to a new level.'
-That, I've never seen before.
-I've never seen it before either.
-Quite kinky, I think.
-What do you think, Fred?
-Not for me.
'And there's a mystery house, a real historical treasure,
'but which one will seal the deal?'
Today, I'm in Dorset, in the heart of the Jurassic Coast.
I've come down to the swannery at Abbotsbury. Swans have been living here as long as anyone can remember.
600 years ago, Benedictine monks used to farm them for the table, a sort of medieval posh nosh.
The good news is times have changed.
Swans are heavily protected and the work at the swannery is vital.
Here they are weighing and tagging them, trying to understand how these creatures live their lives.
Who can blame them wanting to do it here in Dorset?
The southwest county of Dorset has been left largely untouched
from the majestic beauty of the Jurassic Coast
to the rural valleys made famous by writer Thomas Hardy.
Typical of the Dorset countryside is the Blackmore Vale,
a wide valley of clay farmland and tucked away villages.
As far as historic houses go, Sherborne Castle is perhaps one of the most impressive,
built by the courtier and explorer Sir Walter Raleigh in 1594.
And Dorset is noted for its mild climate,
so you can see why today's property hunters have chosen this county
as the place to find their next dream home.
If you fancied escaping to the country back in the medieval period,
you wouldn't have bought your house, you'd have built it, something like this cottage.
But these days property comes at a price
and in Dorset your average detached will set you back about £344,000.
That's a staggering 30% above the national average.
So let's hope today's buyers have got nice, deep pockets.
Today's property seekers, Rosemary and Fred, live in their chateau in Fougerolles in the south of France.
Fred has led a busy working life as a company chairman
and even though he's retired, he and Rosemary have been hard at work
restoring a once run-down chateau to its former glory.
With seven bedrooms, seven en-suites, two swimming pools and 25 acres, it's kept them busy,
but culturally, it's been difficult.
Well, we came to France about two and a half years ago.
And we thought the language would be a challenge,
but it's proved to be much more of a challenge than what we thought.
We thought we wanted peace and quiet, but it's been too quiet as we've not been able to communicate much.
There's another quirk of French life that Rosemary and Fred just can't get used to.
And the fact that the shops don't open through the day from 12 o'clock to half past two
and they shut at seven o'clock in the evening.
Yes, if you run out of anything.
Yes, supermarkets that stay open through the night...
Not that we're shopaholics or anything!
So life across the Channel is not for Fred or Rosemary,
but I think they're never happier than when they're on the move.
When it comes to property, we have always been in agreement. 16 times we've purchased houses.
We've managed to live together for 40 years
and we have never had a disagreement over houses up to this date.
16 moves is quite a feat and has been largely down to Fred's career.
But having retired, they have the luxury of settling down.
So what are they looking for?
Well, we would need to have five bedrooms and preferably with five en-suites,
three reception rooms, a large kitchen.
-Maybe a swimming pool.
-That's the icing on the cake.
As far as outside space goes, Fred is after something more manageable.
With this property, we have got 25 acres of land.
That's a lot of land to manage and look after and maintain.
Preferably, the next property would have between three and five acres.
Rosemary and Fred are already dreaming of a Dorset cream tea
and are itching to get started on the move,
so we've invited round a local estate agent to value the chateau.
It's a fabulous property, renovated to an exceptionally high standard.
I think it will sell very well.
I would recommend putting this on the market for 2.53 million sterling.
With 16 properties under their belt,
how much do they have to spend on property number 17?
If we find a house, a property that meets all our requirements and really excites us,
we would be prepared to pay £1.6 million.
There is certainly no doubt we've got one of the biggest budgets we've ever had on Escape To The Country,
but what exactly do they want for it?
It goes without saying, a nice, big, spacious country house, five bedrooms, preferably en-suite,
and three acres of land to keep Fred happy.
Well, they've certainly got the money and I do believe Dorset has got the houses.
Rosemary and Fred are looking for
a traditionally English rural location,
so we're focusing our search in north Dorset,
close to the Georgian town of Blandford Forum
and within 30 minutes of the coast.
Over the next two days, I'll be showing Fred and Rosemary a selection of stunning properties,
but I'll only reveal the price after each viewing.
The final property will be the mystery house,
a real show-stopper and in a league of its own.
-Well, Fred, Rosemary, welcome here to Dorset.
Now, you have got a fantastic budget, well over £1 million.
-Exactly how much are we talking about?
-Up to 1.6.
Up to 1.6, which means clearly we have got some fantastic properties to show you.
-They're all special, as you would expect for that sort of money.
But I have a concern. My concern is this - you are serial house-movers, aren't you?
-How many times have you moved in your lives?
-This will be number 17.
-The longest we've lived anywhere is about nine years, isn't it?
-As long as that?
-I think so.
Now, is this gonna be the final move, do you think?
-Every move is the final move.
I love your candour and I love your good humour.
Great budget, great location. I love Dorset. There's an awful lot to see.
Who knows? Maybe we'll find you the place you'll stay in forever.
-Wouldn't that be good?
-We'll stay for a while.
'I've got a feeling we're going to have our work cut out.
'Finding something as stunning as their French chateau is gonna be a tall order.
'Rosemary and Fred have a very healthy budget of £1.6 million,
'but they are expecting to get their money's worth.'
What's the most important thing you think that you've missed living outside of the UK
that you're hoping to find when you come back?
For me, I think it's being able just to decide, "Let's go to the cinema."
Or "Let's go to the theatre."
Down to the language problem again.
-You're really saying you miss the English language.
'Our first property is on the outskirts of the town of Gillingham,
'30 minutes north of Blandford Forum.
'The town has a long history that dates back to Saxon times
'and there are plenty of opportunities to meet the locals
'as the town has lots of amenities, including a pub, post office and ironmongers.
'The property is two miles from the centre and sits back off its own private gravel driveway.'
Out you come.
Now then, Rosemary...
What do we all think of that?
What do I think of it? It looks like a good, big, substantial house.
It's very typical of a late Victorian farmhouse for this part of the world.
It has had a lot of work done to it recently. Some of it is still in progress.
-But first, let's go in and see what you think of it.
-That's a nice floor.
-Nice, isn't it?
-Yeah, it looks good.
-Let's start in here.
This really does give you a sense of the proportions that you get in these properties.
I like the high ceiling and I like the bay window.
-And also the doors opening out.
-To the garden, yes.
I suppose in some ways there is something quite neutral about this property.
Because it has just, a lot of it, been done.
-So it's not cluttered with so much stuff.
-But the decor doesn't bother me. We can always do that.
-It's the fabric of the building.
-The fabric of the building.
-And it's space.
-That's gonna have a huge bearing.
-Proportions and how solid it all is.
Let's continue. This is just but one part.
'Across the entrance hall is an identical sized reception, again with a large bay window.
'Along the hallway is a small study for Fred.
'Next to this is a cosy snug with a wood-burner, perfect for Rosemary's dogs.
'And the final reception is the formal dining room.'
-This is a good size.
-It's a surprise, yes.
It hasn't got a bay, but it has still got those lovely windows and the shutters.
-It's perfectly adequate as a dining room.
-Yeah, it's a good size dining room.
And it will take a sideboard here.
The other great thing is it's right next door to the kitchen. Come and have a look at this.
-Oh, this is nice.
-Good size kitchen.
-That is nice.
I thought you'd like it. Under-floor heating underneath this Travertine floor.
-It's rather sweet. Come and have a wander through.
-And it's quite bright.
Loads of windows and doors. The main cooking end of things is here.
You've got that huge, great big, double gas range cooker, central island...
Through here we've also got a utility room
for all your white goods and bits and pieces.
-Dogs, etcetera, in there potentially?
-And a great big walk-in pantry.
-That's good. I like that.
-But I think this is terrific.
-It's a very nice kitchen.
-Everything is hand-built as you would expect.
-Downstairs, reasonably happy with?
It has got more interesting as we have moved through.
-There is method in the madness.
-You know what you're doing.
'They're not giving much away, but after a lukewarm start, I think the kitchen has impressed them.
'And hopefully they'll be equally impressed with the ideas I have upstairs.'
This is one of the six bedrooms that this property provides you with.
Loads of light. But here's the thing.
-This is en-suite...
-And it's through there.
I'm imagining that this collection of rooms we're about to explore
could be the master wing of this property.
-I'd imagine you using this as a dressing room because the bathroom is through here.
-Have a look.
-Now, this is the bathroom that joins...
-This is a good size.
-..what would be the dressing room to the master bedroom which we'll see in a minute.
-Right, I see.
-It's very much a his'n'hers arrangement.
-I thought I was seeing double!
-That, I have never seen before.
-I've never seen it before either.
Quite kinky, I think.
-What do you think, Fred?
-Not for me.
I thought your eyes would light up then!
Come and have a look at the master bedroom through here.
So this is technically the bedroom, I'm thinking, of the master suite.
-Come in, Fred. Come right round.
-Good, it's big.
-Very big bed. Takes up a lot of space.
-But there's a lot of space left over.
-Loads of light coming in and nice and quiet.
-Would this work as a master?
Right, there's plenty more. Come and have a look.
So we've got a third double in there. That's not en-suite. OK?
The bathrooms have had a lot of attention in this house. This is the family bathroom.
-This is nice.
-Go and have a look at that.
-Oh, I'm disappointed. It's just a single shower(!)
That's lovely, the roll-top bath,
-very much in keeping with the sense of period that this house has.
-It's a very comfortable, good size, isn't it?
All right, come on. Let's keep going.
'Along the hallway, there are another three bedrooms,
'making six in total, all good sized rooms with polished wooden floors and two have en-suites.
'Inside, this house certainly has all the bedrooms Rosemary is after,
'and outside, there is a manageable amount of land for Fred.'
Right, out you come. I'm a huge fan of courtyards and I think this one is really pretty.
And of course, on one side you've got this range of what would have been the stable block.
-A building to convert.
-Absolutely ripe for conversion.
-I know you are gonna be itching to do that if you bought this property.
-You'd have to.
-You would have to do something with it.
And it's very, very private. It's nicely out the wind too. Let's go and have a look at the rest of it.
'The courtyard would be the perfect sheltered area for a swimming pool
'and there are just over seven acres of land to play with.'
All of this, Fred, is just crying out to be turned into a garden.
Oh, there's more than a garden! That's a field!
-There's a paddock there too.
-You name it!
So let's have a think then about...its value.
It's the first one that you've seen. How much do you think it's worth?
-Do you want me to go first?
-There's a question. On you go.
I think it's probably 1.25.
-I'd say 1.3.
How about 1.5? That's the current asking price.
OK. 1.25 would be nicer!
I knew he was gonna say that.
Have a wander round. It's the first one we've seen.
-And have a think about that obvious list of things you would want to do to it.
Have another look around and I'll catch up with you later.
So what's the verdict?
First impressions, good family house. Good size.
I really like the kitchen. I think the kitchen is excellent.
I think it's a well-presented house.
This is a nice, bright room.
-I do like the bay windows and the shutters.
-You've got two windows, so you've got plenty of light.
It's a good, sound building. It has all the bedrooms that we require.
It has a good number of reception rooms. Bit of work to be done, but I don't see it as a major obstacle.
And obviously, it's something we'll have to consider after we've seen the other properties.
-Well, chaps, all done?
-Have you seen enough?
-Yes, thank you.
-Yes, for now.
-Are you gonna part with £1.5 million, I wonder?
-Need to think.
Well, there's plenty more to see and a lot more to think about. Come on, follow me.
Fred and Rosemary's decision to go house-hunting in Dorset is slightly unusual
as they've never actually set foot in the county before,
so earlier, they headed to Blandford Forum to enjoy one of their favourite pastimes.
-What time is it, Rosemary?
-It's two o'clock.
-And the shops are open at lunchtime. Wonderful, this is England.
-Oh, good. Let's go shopping.
Blandford Forum was rebuilt in 1731 after a great fire destroyed much of the centre.
As a result, it is one of the best preserved Georgian towns in England.
And there are plenty of individual shops to keep Fred and Rosemary busy,
from butchers to antique emporiums.
It's got all the little keys and nooks and crannies.
I wonder if it hasn't got a secret...a secret drawer?
The wood feels lovely, doesn't it? It's really nice.
It's got that squeaking, polished feel.
Antiques aren't the only curiosities on display.
The Cavalcade of Costume Museum is a fascinating collection spanning 250 years of fashion,
inspired by the late Mrs Betty Penny.
And the museum has a traditional tearoom, serving Dorset cream teas and home-made cakes,
something that Rosemary and Fred have been dreaming of.
-What are we going to do next?
-I think eat more scones.
-Oh, good idea.
Our next property is just north of the town of Shaftesbury,
one of the oldest and, at 750 feet above sea level,
one of the highest towns in England.
The cobbled street of Gold Hill will no doubt be familiar.
It was made famous by the Ridley Scott advert for a well-known loaf of bread.
Many of the older buildings are built from local limestone,
salvaged from the demolished Shaftesbury Abbey.
The property we are going to see sits in an elevated position
across the Blackmore Vale.
Let's see what Fred and Rosemary make of it.
Well, I thought we'd start, unusually, in the garden of this particular property
because I know you wanted somewhere with a view, Fred.
This is a view.
This is some view.
The Vale of Blackmore stretching as far as you can see.
-It's amazing, it's lovely.
-Fantastic. It really is good.
But, of course, it also comes with a house from which to enjoy it.
What do you think of that?
I like the whole thing but my mind's still on the view! THEY LAUGH
Well, concentrate if you can, Rosemary, on that.
What we've got here is not the oldest house in the world,
built about 1930 or so. This one, however,
has been completely renovated in the last five years.
Let's have a look inside.
Now, come on in here.
What do you think?
I think this is very nice and bright. I do like the archways.
-I have a thing about archways.
-Well, there's a few in here.
There's a nice little study in there for you, sir,
which you can explore a little bit later.
Bags of room in there, enjoying the view as well.
Come here and look at this.
Now, this is what I think is what this property is all about.
Yes, that's special.
Isn't it? It's a picture.
-Just a picture.
-It's not bad, is it?
It's a lovely, bright room.
I mean, this space is wasted. It could be a dining area...
-Why spoil it?
-You'll spoil it, no.
-I think it would spoil it.
-What would you...?
I like it as it is, as one big room.
Beautiful, it's nice.
Yeah, I think it's very, very nice.
OK, let's continue. Let's go and have a look at the kitchen.
Follow me up the hallway here.
What we've got is lovely underfloor heating,
-underneath this floor.
-Yes, you can feel it, it's lovely.
Running through into here.
-Good size. Manageable.
-Very manageable, all new, as you can see.
You can have a kitchen that's so large you're exhausted walking round it all day.
-This would be manageable.
-This is... You'd have the space, but the working area is right.
Off the kitchen is a cosy sitting room, making only two reception rooms,
which may be a sticking point.
But there is more space in the basement, which has been converted into a personal gym
and a well-stocked wine cellar.
I love this arrangement, I think it's terrific.
Purpose-built wine cellar.
Whether you drink it or not, your friends will love you if you stock it like this.
It's beautifully presented, as wine cellars go.
-That's pretty much it for the downstairs of the property.
Let's have a look upstairs.
They're definitely keeping their cards close to their chest,
but I think they are impressed by the immaculate finish of this house.
This landing is terrific. It's really light, really wide.
Yes, it's nice and bright.
Let's start in here.
-I do like bright.
Family bathroom, Rosemary, what about that?
That's very nice, isn't it? I've never seen one quite like that before.
These are nice, these are original doors to the build of the property, 1930s, these brass fittings.
So, there are a few bits that survive from when it all was put together.
The whole lot renovated, as you can see.
It's a nice job.
We've also got you, of course, a number of bedrooms. Five doubles.
Oh, good. That's about right.
Some are en-suite. Let's go and look at those.
All of the bedrooms are bright, generous-sized doubles,
neutrally decorated so Rosemary can put her own stamp on them.
This is your master.
And it's a very nice master.
Yes, good one.
Yes, it's lovely.
You've got a range of choices up here with all the bedrooms.
You've also got an en-suite in here. Look at that.
Go on, check it out, while we're here.
It's a wet room, really.
Yes, I like that idea. It's nice.
Let's go outside and have a look at the gardens,
-you've got plenty to keep you busy out there.
So much for retirement.
Now, outside, you have this huge gravelled area,
you've got that great big double garage there, Fred,
to put all your bits and pieces in.
-all in all, it's about 15 acres.
-That's quite a bit.
-You've got a huge field and the rest of it
is a mixture of mature garden, as you can see,
orchards running down there, through to the paddock.
'But that's not all. The other little bonus you get
is the self-contained three bedroom gatehouse at the top of the drive.
With that in mind, will they get the price right?
I'll say 1.45.
1.45. OK. Rosemary?
I'll say 1.5.
You always had expensive tastes, didn't you?
You married the right one there!
So you're saying, top end, 1.5 million.
OK. It's on the market for...
That is a shock. I thought I might be a little low, but not 300,000 low.
Yeah, well, we are in a bit of a hot spot, this area of Gillingham,
Shaftesbury and so forth. It's a very popular place to be.
Of course, there's an awful lot with this property and they've done a lot to it.
So you'll know from your work on the chateau, they want to get their investment back.
-The work they have done very well.
Very well finished.
But I still didn't think it was 300,000!
Well, go and have a look around, a good old think about it.
-Everything's negotiable, Fred.
Off you go. I'll catch up with you later.
Both properties have recently been refurbished, so no work
for Fred inside, but outside he'll be kept busy
with 15 acres of land.
It's more outside space than he wanted,
but what's a little extra garden between friends?
I think this house is very nice.
It's very well presented.
It has a lot of things going for it,
especially the view. The view is just stunning.
I don't think we could find nicer in Dorset.
The only thing that I'm a bit concerned about is the extra room,
reception room. We're really one down, perhaps, here.
I wonder if it didn't have the bookcase,
and didn't have the desk, is it big enough for a snug?
-And what are you going to do with the other snug?
I think the renovation is absolutely superb and the decor is very nice.
Very tastefully done.
All in all, a very good property.
Well, there you go.
Lots to think about. I know we haven't had time to look around that specifically,
but clearly if this house is going to be of interest,
and if it is a contender on the list,
you can explore that later.
It shows how much extra you get with this property,
-albeit slightly over-budget.
-So, shall we continue?
Until recently, Fred has led a busy working life, but now he's retired,
he's hoping to spend more time in the garden.
I've brought them here to meet gardening expert Steve Griffiths.
The gardens boast a collection of rare and exotic plants from all over the world,
from the Himalayas to the Mediterranean.
This is what we call the Victorian Garden.
Here we've revived the Victorian practice of using sub-tropical plants and big foliage effects.
It really does look its best towards the late summer with the bananas and the hardy perennials.
Let's talk more about your gardening ambitions, Fred.
Would you take on something like this where you've got this mix of exotic?
If I thought I could grow all these plants, I would certainly do it,
but I have trouble even growing pampas grass.
What's the secret, Steve? Why can't Fred grow his pampas grass?
I don't know. We can't kill it here!
I've been trying to kill it!
Perhaps you need me!
Well, if you still struggle, you know where to come to revise.
These are fantastic. Tell me what these huge plants are.
That's a relative of the banana, it's Ensete ventricosum.
It's the Abyssinian banana with lovely red leaves.
-Do you have any real bananas?
-Of course. We have other species
and there are bananas on a plant at the moment if you'd like to see?
-Yeah. Come on! Bananas in the UK. After you.
-Are you hungry?
I could be!
The reason Steve can grow bananas here is thanks to a unique microclimate.
It's a combination of Dorset's higher-than-average sunshine hours,
the warming effect of the sea,
and the clever planting of oak trees, which helps to keep the heat in.
It's like Jurassic Park in here, isn't it? Look at that!
-There's your bananas.
-Who'd have thought you'd see bananas in the UK?
It's amazing, isn't it?
Right, so, you've seen bananas, if you want to get your hands dirty,
I've got some planting for you round the corner.
-There you go, Fred!
-Let's see what kind of gardener you really are!
There you go, that's what you need.
That's a big spoon, isn't it?
What are we planting, Steve?
Today, we're planting these lovely oak trees. They're evergreen
-and they come from Mexico.
They're quite tender, but this is a lovely spot here, they've got sunshine,
a nice slope, so they should do quite well.
There we go.
There we go. Look at that.
I'm an expert already, you see.
Like launching a ship, Rosemary.
'As long as this tree survives longer than his pampas grass,
'we'll be all right.'
Just working it in with my heel
to make sure there's not too many air pockets.
It will be firm around the roots.
It won't dry out that way.
-There we are, Fred.
-How about that?
-Have your spoon back.
So a part of Dorset forever yours.
You can come back and see how it gets on.
Come back in 20 years and carve my name on it.
There you go.
-Steve, thank you very much for having us.
It's a terrific garden.
We wish you all the very best of luck and hope the frost keeps off.
With the day drawing to a close, Rosemary and Fred head back to the hotel
to take time to reflect on today's properties.
What did you think of the house hunting today?
Oh, I think it was exciting, it was different, it was enjoyable.
And what did you think of the Victorian farmhouse?
Well, the Victorian farmhouse... had all the rooms we would require.
I like the high ceilings.
And the en-suites were good.
-And the kitchen was a super size.
-The kitchen was excellent.
In contrast, what do you think of the house on the hill?
The house on the hill, you're not going to better the view, I don't think.
The view sells it.
But I'm not sure that the garden and the land is more than what we actually want.
However, I'm looking forward to seeing what tomorrow produces.
Yes. Cheers to a successful day.
After two and a half years of living in the south of France,
Rosemary and Fred are ready to pack up and head home.
They're looking for a property in Dorset and have a budget of £1.6 million.
So far, they've seen two impressive country piles,
but coming up, Fred and Rosemary plan to go their separate ways.
A house for you and a house for me.
Oh, right. That's the best idea today.
Have we found them a match for their French chateau?
That's a proper house. You've saved the best till last.
Welcome to my final day's house hunt here with Fred and with Rosemary.
We've got a terrific budget and a county that really does deliver some fantastic houses.
Armed with such resources, property hunting down here is like being a child in a toy shop.
And today, well, it just gets better.
'Our next property is in the village of Durweston,
'two miles west of Blandford Forum on the edge of the Blackmore Vale.
'Durweston sits in the Stour Valley and is fairly quiet, but is just two minutes from Stourpaine,
'which has a post office, a general store and a pub.
'I'm very excited about this next property. I think it's a real gem.'
Now then, what do you think of that?
Ah, this appeals.
This looks good.
This to me is the classic English, archetypal country house.
-It's Grade 2 listed.
-Georgian, 18th century.
An enormous house.
Absolutely enormous, but packed with character. Just you wait and see.
-Just you wait and see.
-OK, you've got me excited now.
-Fred, what do you think?
Come on, let's have a look.
Right, chaps. Come on in.
-Don't be shy. Come on.
-This looks good.
I wouldn't normally dwell in a hallway, to be honest, on a house tour,
but there's a wonderful presence to this property as soon as you walk in.
-What do you think, Fred?
-It's very different to what we've seen so far.
-Does this Georgian period appeal?
-Yes, it does to me. Very much.
-And I do what I'm told!
-Just let me see it. It'll grow on me.
I hope it will. Come and have a look through here.
Now, this is one of three reception rooms that you've got.
This is probably the biggest, I would say. But what do you think?
-It's a good room.
-It's very good. The proportions are very good.
Lovely, great big fireplace. Double doors out to part of the garden.
Yeah, I think it's a very cosy room, this. It is but one.
There is plenty more. Come with me.
Now, the stone floor continues right through into the kitchen. What do you think of this?
You see, I do like stone floors.
I do like that old feel.
There are some original features in here. Those great big cupboards, that's all as it would have been.
-You've got a new Aga, of course.
-Proper Aga, yeah.
-Proper job there.
-In terms of size, reasonably big enough for you?
-Plenty of room in here.
-Very much kitchen-cum-diner.
But you've also got a separate dining room next door. Come and have a look at this.
-How about entertaining in here?
-Yes, very nice.
-Yes, a good size.
Yes, it is a good size. There's a sideboard and all the chairs there.
-And that's a long table.
-I love this room.
And it's huge. It doesn't have to be a dining room, depending on...
-It lends itself very well to it.
'Across from the dining room is a downstairs toilet-cum-reading room
'with enough literature to keep you busy.
'And there's a second sitting room, smaller and cosier than the first with a real fire.
'Up the main staircase to the first floor and an impressive feature landing.'
This is quite special, I think. How many landings have a fireplace on them?
-This is true.
-Yeah, a good landing.
Nice and bright, airy.
-I've always wanted a gallery landing.
-Well, there you go.
-How many bedrooms did you want ideally?
-OK. This has nine.
-Oh, right, OK!
Sons and daughters better start and produce, I think.
Don't put the pressure on them just yet! Let's start our little tour through here.
Right, this is currently the master bedroom. You've got nine to choose from, so take your pick!
-But this is currently set up as the master.
-It's certainly big enough.
-Ample space in here.
Bags and bags of room. In there we've got an en-suite. Have a look.
They've gone a bit French, haven't they, with the hand-painted doors and that?
-In terms of size, I think it's plenty big enough.
-I think it's a good size.
There's plenty more to see. Come and have a look through here.
There are so many rooms to show you here, it is hard to know where to start and where to finish.
Have a look at this one.
Oh, isn't that lovely?
It's very nice that they've left all the fireplaces. So many people block them up or get rid of them.
Good, right, come on. There's loads to see. Out we go.
'With a further four bedrooms on this floor, Rosemary and Fred will be spoilt for choice.
'Only one has an en-suite, but I'm sure Fred will relish the opportunity of remedying that.
'And for the final three bedrooms, we're heading to the attic.'
So here in the eaves we've got the last of the nine bedrooms.
Three up here - one across the landing. This is the central one.
And in here, the very final one.
They're both very similar, a good size double. You can't say there's not enough space in this house.
There's loads of space. And there's even more space outside.
-Are you coming to live with us(?)
-I could do! Would you have me?
-Would you have me after all of this?
There's loads to see outside. If you won't let me live in here, I might go and live out there! Come on.
You also get this barn, Fred. That's all included. Used as a bit of a party area by the current owners.
-And this one on the left as well?
-And you also get this quite private little courtyard.
-Oh, yes, that's a surprise.
-You see the old stables arranged around it?
-Good stable block, yes.
You also get that building over there, built to mirror this range.
-That was built in 1998 for the housekeeper.
-Very good. Very good.
-We've got a house for you and a house for me.
That's the best idea today!
There's plenty more. Come and follow me.
And what about this, Fred?
-There you go.
-At last you've found me a swimming pool.
-You've done it.
-I knew you would get there eventually.
-What about that?
-You've got a pool house to go with it.
-It looks a good size.
-Any idea what size it is?
-It's that big.
'I said that this property is massive and it really is
'as there are plenty of lawn gardens, a greenhouse to indulge Fred's gardening ambitions
'and a tennis court and paddock, so how much is it on the market for?'
Oh, there's the burning question.
I'm lost on this one.
All right, I'll have a shot, I'll have a shot.
-I think it's more.
-Well, you go ahead.
-I say 1.7.
Well, it was on the market for 1.85.
There you go, did it again.
However... It's been reduced to 1.55.
You were absolutely right, Fred. What do you think about that figure?
It would require some thinking about and a bit of work to be done.
-It's still within budget.
-But I know you'd want to spend some money on it.
-Well, he would.
-Have a look around and start making that list, Fred. I'll catch up with you later.
-The list's already there.
-I dread to think how long it is.
-It's not how long it is, it's how much it is!
Go on then, off you go. See how much it might cost you.
This Georgian farmhouse is on the market for £1.55 million.
You get a lot for your money, so could this be the one?
This is one of my favourite rooms.
Yes, very comfortable, very cosy. Nice fireplace. Plenty of light coming in.
Good dimensions and it's the double aspect again, isn't it?
You know, as they say, the first few minutes are what sells the property to you.
So I did, I got that warm feeling.
There are things certainly that need to be done.
And Fred being Fred, I know we'd have to address the ceilings
because there are a few cracks about.
But I don't know many people that would buy a property that was spot-on, everything.
We would always have to do something.
I like the grounds. The swimming pool is a plus. The tennis court is a plus-plus.
So all in all, I think the house really has a lot to offer us.
-Right, guys, out you come.
I think that was definitely worth having a look at.
-Yes, I think so.
-It was interesting.
-I'm glad you think so. I think it's terrific.
-But there's plenty more to see, so I'm gonna whisk you away.
At last, I can reveal the mystery house to Fred and to Rosemary.
This picture postcard white cottage behind me offers some clue as to what it is.
It's typically Dorset and it is thatched, but, believe you me, it's a lot bigger.
What do you think would make the perfect mystery house?
Well, I was on the internet and I did see a beautiful property.
The only thing was it was £5 million!
But if you could have scaled that all down, I don't need a helicopter pad, that would have been perfect.
'Rosemary will be relieved that the mystery house is well under £5 million,
'but it's still got plenty going for it.
'It's in Hammoon, eight miles from Blandford Forum.
'Set against a quiet rural backdrop,
'Hammoon does have a parish church dating from the 13th century,
'but for shopping, it's a short drive to Sturminster Newton,
'a pretty town beside the River Stour.
'The streets are lined with thatched cottages and there's a good selection of shops and pubs.'
Now then, that's what I want you to feast your eyes on.
That's a proper house. You've saved the best till last.
A 15th century manor house, Fred.
-Grade 2 star listed, so just one off Grade 1. Handsome enough for you?
-Can't wait now.
'This house is brimming with old-world charm,
'but, as we'll discover, it does need some attention.'
-Right, come on in.
-A nice big hallway.
-Lovely hallway. We'll explore that later.
But come on in here. What do you think of all this?
-This is nice.
-It's a good sized room, isn't it?
-Indeed, very good.
-A huge room.
-And I like this.
It's very, very interesting. All sorts of features around this house. Great big lumps of oak everywhere.
-But quite surprising, the height of the ceilings.
-Right, come with me through here.
-That's nice and bright, isn't it?
You've got this mullion bay window and this nice, big fireplace.
Great big lintel on top of it.
What would you be moved to tackle with this?
I don't think you would touch this room at all.
-You'd leave it painted...?
-I might change the colour.
-It might be very, very dark.
-I wouldn't darken it.
-From the oak panelling.
'I thought Fred would be itching to do some renovations,
'but so far, he is being very relaxed, which is good news.
'Aside from the two main reception rooms, there's a small snug with a stone fireplace and carved surround.
'And then there's the kitchen.'
-Oh, my goodness!
-That's a bit of a surprise.
-They've suddenly come up to date.
-That's not bad, is it?
It's totally unexpected. I don't really know what I did expect.
I didn't expect a modern Aga and all sorts of things in here.
-I think it works. It's certainly big enough.
-It is. The kitchen's big enough.
And you've still got all these lovely features,
these lovely stone mullion windows, leaded lights and so forth.
-So far, so good?
Let's go upstairs because I think that's where it probably needs a bit of attention.
-But there are seven bedrooms to play with.
-Oh, I didn't expect that!
'Upstairs, there's a good sized family bathroom and the first two bedrooms are generous doubles,
'one of which has an en-suite.
'Then there are a further three bedrooms all of a similar size which just leaves two left to see.'
-Well, as long as I don't go through it.
-That's the ghost coming in again.
I'm sure there are one or two ghosts around here. You never know!
-How are you feeling about this property?
-I think it's a really wonderful property.
But is it engaging you to think about, "Oh, yeah, we'd want to take that on and do it"?
-Yeah, we're maybe ten years too late!
-Don't say that. You're never too young, Fred!
It's not the "too young" he's worried about, it's the "too old".
It might take me ten years to do it all.
OK, it's not over yet. Let's have a look at the rest of it.
'I think there's plenty of life left in Fred yet and maybe he could be persuaded to take on this project,
'especially when he sees the next room.'
-More squeaky boards.
-Oh, my goodness!
But this is extraordinary. These painted boards with these stars on,
it's thought these go back to the origins of the building.
They are a really historic part of it.
-To be honest, they probably do need some measure of conservation at some point for the future.
-But nonetheless, well worth seeing.
-You're sleeping under the stars!
-It caught my eye as soon as I came in.
-The stars are shining down on you, yes.
There's a lot to show you outside.
-It was a working farm and that'll give you some clue as to what you might find out there.
-Lead on, sir.
Let's have a look.
'At the back of the house, there is a large courtyard surrounded by brick outbuildings,
'including a coach-house.
'Unusually, the main garden is a short walk from here, but there is lots to keep Fred out of mischief.'
Now in here is a little secret.
-How do you fancy a walled garden, Fred?
-Yeah, it's very nice. It looks pretty.
-Yeah, it's a very charming place.
-Very, very private.
-Just a little quiet haven.
It's the garden for the house because you don't have sweeping lawns and all the rest of it.
But you do get 11 acres.
Oh, gosh, right.
You get two very big paddocks, all the farm buildings, the walled garden and you get the house.
-Are you still excited?
Let's go back and have another look at the property from the outside.
In this sunshine, it's gonna look gorgeous and you can tell me how much you want to pay for it.
So we're back where we started outside the front of this beautiful building,
begging the question, how much do you think it's worth?
I think finished it's probably worth 2.5 and it's possibly 750 to do it.
-Rosemary, what do you think?
I think because of the history, etcetera, attached to it, perhaps 1.8?
It's on the market for 1.3 million.
There you go. That's a surprise.
-It is the cheapest of the properties that we have shown you.
-Go and do some maths. Have a wander round and I'll catch you later.
-I'll count on my fingers.
-And your toes, I expect! I'll catch you later.
This historic thatched manor house is on the market for £1.3 million.
The house does require some sympathetic updating, but has plenty of charm and character.
So are Rosemary and Fred ready to be lord and lady of the manor?
I do like this room. It's very nice, isn't it?
-I do love that inglenook.
When we first arrived, I just looked at the house and I thought it was absolutely superb.
I was excited about getting inside to see what it would reveal.
I like the front room. I really like the mullion windows.
I like the main rooms, the drawing room, the dining room. I really like the walled garden.
The only thing, as I look at it, there's a lot of work to be done,
a lot of money to be spent.
And am I too old to take it on?
All right, then. The day is coming to a close.
That was it, guys, that was it, the final house of the tours.
-Lots to think about?
-Lots to think about.
-Fancy a drink?
-I'd love one!
Come on, then.
'Rosemary and Fred are discerning house buyers, but we've given them plenty of options.
'So now for the tricky part - trying to reach a decision.'
As you can probably see behind me, the light is going
and our journey is almost over with Fred and with Rosemary,
but not before we have found out if they have decided whether or not any of the properties could be for them.
They are all worth an awful lot of money. The question is, are they gonna part with any?
Well, Fred, Rosemary, this is the end of our journey through Dorset
and some of the properties it has to offer.
Let's see how successful it may have been. It started with the Victorian farmhouse.
-What did you think of that?
-I liked the house.
I think we could improve the house by putting on a garden room.
At the walled courtyard, there is certainly room there for a swimming pool.
So there's a lot of things we could actually do
to improve the look and the value of the house.
-What about the kitchen? It was quite special.
-The kitchen was great.
-Yeah, a good kitchen.
-It had all the space you would need.
Absolutely. The kitchen was good.
Then we took you to something different, the white house on the hill.
what did you make of that? The view was amazing.
The view was stunning.
But once we thought about it,
and thought about the garden,
to be realistic,
we're not getting any younger and I think it was...
Fred thinks differently!
It was an all-work garden.
There certainly wouldn't have been anything relaxing about that garden.
-I think it's too much work for us.
Then another day dawned and we took you to something with much more manageable amounts of land,
that Georgian farmhouse. What did you think of that as we arrived?
I liked that one. I liked that one a lot. I liked the appearance of it.
And I felt that the grounds were manageable.
-It had everything that we wanted.
-And a pool.
-It had a pool, a tennis court. Everything was there.
But there were a few cracks and things inside
that I don't think the boss liked.
No, I think that house had an awful lot more work to be done.
And if we're talking about budget, I think we were going to go way over the budget
if we continued with that house.
OK. Then we took you to something very different, the mystery house.
The old manor house. What did you make of that one?
Certainly it was very interesting, but I wouldn't know where to start as regards renovations or anything.
But I think there would be a heck of a lot.
Although it was the cheapest house, when you add on the price of the renovations, you're way over budget.
It would work out the most expensive house of the four.
I'm gonna ask you for a decision. What happens now?
I like the Georgian one.
Fred likes the other.
So I think we'll have to go back and have another look at both properties and then compromise in some way.
I'm sure whichever one you do decide upon, if you do,
it will be a terrific house, once it's finished.
-I look forward to coming back and seeing you in there with everything done.
-You would be very welcome.
-It'd be a great pleasure.
Well, Fred and Rosemary are now well on their way back to their gorgeous chateau in the south of France.
It's given me more time to consider what this house search was about.
When it started, it seemed like the sky was the limit and we had a fantastic budget and great houses.
But Fred's determination to throw several hundred thousand pounds at any one of the properties
made me wonder perhaps this was less about finding a home and more about finding a labour of love.
But sometimes that's what property is all about. I'll see you next time.
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Jules Hudson visits Dorset to help a homesick couple swap their French chateau for a 1.6 million pound country house in the English countryside. They are after a period property with five bedrooms, all with en-suites, at least three reception rooms, a large kitchen diner with a cooking range and three acres of land. Jules shows them a selection of impressive houses but will any tempt them to buy?