TV review: Restoration Home

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The stress of organising a massive property renovation project while living hundreds of miles away would put most couples to the test, but the pair taking on such a challenge in Shropshire seemed to have a hit on a winning formula – letting the lady make the decisions.

Uber-organised Alex Glenn and laid-back Martin Boakes featured in the opening episode of BBC Two's new series of Restoration Home last night.

It focused on their efforts in turning a dilapidated Shropshire farmhouse into their dream home in just six months – a timeframe that proved to be overly optimistic.

Rock Farm in St Martin's, near Oswestry, was only a couple of years from potential collapse before being taken on by Alex and Martin.

The pair commuted from Bedfordshire as they attempted to complete their hugely ambitious plans for the Grade II-listed Georgian farmhouse, with a renovation that began early last year.

As they faced a variety of challenges and setbacks which saw the project run over time and over budget, Alex and Martin were spending months living out of hotels.

The couple managed to remain upbeat as problems with crumbling chimneys, rotten woodwork and wrongly-sized windows stacked up.

Their grand project was put to the test by a five-week delay caused by a miscommunication about the special replacement windows for the listed farmhouse.

But the pair managed to make it through with an apparent minimum of tension between them, thanks to a combination of Alex's perpetual optimism and Martin's calm approach.


Martin was happy to take a back seat on the plans for the home, with Alex's 'mood boards' driving the vision for the restored building.

The only room he asked to choose the decor for was his study, but even then he was given some 'assistance' with selecting the wallpaper.

But by the end of the show, and despite running around £30,000 over budget due to various delays and challenges, the pair were left with a truly beautiful home which they had helped to save through determination against the odds.

While their labour of love was unfolding, there was also plenty for local history buffs to enjoy about the programme.


The show's architectural and historical experts hit the archives to try and discover more about the property's background.

Their efforts to uncover more about the property's past began to bear fruit as intriguing information came to light about the building's former owners – the Edwards farming family who helped establish a school in nearby Dudleston.

But it turned out the Georgian farmhouse was not even the most historically important building in the grounds.

Instead it was the rather-ignored barn to the left of the main house that turned out to be a somewhat unlikely jewel in the crown for the historians and the couple.

Research discovered the building dated back to the 15th Century and was likely to have been the kitchen block attached to a country house in the grounds.

The couple were thrilled as they were told the building is one of the best examples of a 15th Century building in the country, making it a site of national importance. But after all their efforts, the twist in the tale came at the end of the show as it was revealed the barn would soon be in need of its own restoration project.

Martin said: "If we leave it, it will fall down. We are going to do it again."

Better get those mood boards out again, Alex...

Chris Burn

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