Escape to the Chateau’s Dick and Angel Strawbridge captured our hearts right from the beginning of their property buying journey.
And less than a fortnight before the new series of Escape to the Chateau starts on Channel 4, I spoke exclusively to the much-loved couple about the secrets to their property success.
Not only have we watched them establish a thriving business at the chateau they bought in the north-west of France – which includes being a popular weddings venue – but they have also created a happy family home where the couple live with their children and Angel’s parents.
It is a far cry from their two-bed flat in Essex’s Southend-on-Sea, which the couple swapped for the derelict chateau almost five years ago.
Since then, extensive works have been carried out at the chateau, which now has refurbished windows, a lift and a walled garden.
Escape to the Chateau’s Dick and Angel Strawbridge bought Chateau de la Motte Husson almost five years ago
The property has undergone a challenging but rewarding transformation. The couple were never put off by any of the work, but would they ever be tempted to sell up in the future, especially if the right offer came along?
THEIR BUYING TIPS
Dick and Angel’s top three tips for buying a property to renovate:
1. Ask yourself do you love it?
2. Is it going to give you a lifetsyle you want?
3. Do you have enough resources, in terms of time and money, to live there?
I went to a central London hotel to meet the couple and find out. They were as positive and fun in real life as they are in the TV series.
But don’t be misled, as this is a hard-working couple who are not afraid to take on new ventures and roll up their sleeves to ensure they are a success.
Dick explained: ‘Everything we do is thought through. It took us four years to find the chateau that we bought.’
Evidently, it wasn’t a last minute decision to buy the property – which is called Chateau de la Motte Husson – and they insist that everything they have done since has been true to who they are.
The designer! Angel is seen at work in her specially designated space at the top of the chateau
We have watched them grow up! The couple’s son Arthur and daughter Dorothy have featured throughout the series
What advice would they give other people looking to take a similar journey in buying a property ripe for renovating?
Angel suggested: ‘You have to work backwards when buying a property. What do you want your life to be?
‘We had a set of skills and we had to work out how we could combine them in a life where we did not have to go to work in an office every day and could run a business that would work well.’
Angel has previously run a hospitality company while Dick – a retired lieutenant colonel – has previously worked on TV shows called Cabins in the Wild with Dick Strawbridge and the Biggest Little Railway in the World.
Unique! Fans of the show will instantly recognize this photo and know that it is of the hallway in the chateau
Previously, we have seen Dick create a walled garden where he grows his own food for the family to enjoy
The couple’s latest venture is a tour called ‘Dare To Do It’ which will see them talk at several venues across Britain next February and March.
Dick said: ‘We hear lots of excuses but not lots of reasons about why people don’t do things.
And Angel added: ‘There is a fear of failure and we don’t have that, and will give everything a go.’
We have watched the popular couple renovate the chateau, including this bathroom where they installed a copper bath
Dick and Angel have several ventures they run from the chateau, including a weddings business and home furnishings
The couple’s latest venture includes a design business selling homewares such as coasters and tiles
The family insists it will never sell the chateau as it is their home and they have no intention of leaving it for anywhere else
So if someone is thinking about following in their footsteps and buying their own renovation project – be it in France or elsewhere – what are their three top tips for doing so?
Dick says his number one piece of advice is to ask yourself if you love it. He makes it clear that this is key, and the reason why him and Angel drove five hours to see – and ultimately – buy Chateau de la Motte Husson after seeing a photo of it.
Angel follows this, saying you also need to ask whether a property is going to give you a lifestyle that you want.
And finally, she advises asking yourself if you have enough resources, in terms of time and money, to live at the property. For example, how are you going to live in a chateau in France if that is what you are going to buy?
Angel tells me that finding a property is like finding a husband, saying ‘you can get the man but you need to have the skills and ways to keep him’.
‘It is about working out what you want in life,’ she says.
The couple married in November 2015, after their son Arthur was born in 2013, followed by their daughter Dorothy in 2014.
What a makeover! The bright and light hallway in the chateau was once a dark and derelict space
The interiors have been transformed since the couple first bought the chateau almost five years ago
The couple are strict about their approach to their home despite the commercial pressures that undoubtedly come with the programme being shown in 43 countries around the world and the vast cost of running the chateau.
She says: ‘We have not put anything into the house that we do not want there, there are only things that we like.’
Would the much-loved couple ever sell up if they were offered a huge amount of money by a potential buyer.
Angel insists: ‘We can’t ever move. If we made loads of money, I would still do the weddings and design at the chateau, but our priority is looking after our family. Everything we do is for our children and leaving a legacy for them.
And Dick agrees, concluding: ‘Where would we move? A bungalow?’
DATES FOR YOUR ESCAPE TO THE CHATEAU DIARY!
Monday October 28 at 4pm:
Series three of ‘Escape to the Chateau: DIY starts on Channel 4.
Sunday November 3 at 8pm:
Series six of ‘Escape to the Chateau’ starts on Channel 4
Dick and Angel are going on tour with their show ‘Dare to Do It’ from February next year, starting in Edinburgh and finishing at the London Palladium in March. Tickets available at www.thechateau.tv.
Plus, the new ChateauTM range is now available at www.thechateau.tv. The range includes personalised notebooks, diaries, calendars, gifts and homewares including coasters, tiles and work aprons, and reusable tote bags.