I followed my dreams to a château in France
Twelve years ago, Jane Webster uprooted her family and moved to Normandy to renovate a rambling, five-storey château. Now she wants to show Australians how to add “French house chic” to their own homes, writes Samantha Trenoweth.
Back in 1990, Jane Webster was speeding through the French countryside, nose pressed to the window of a very fast train, when she glimpsed a château, almost hidden behind a stand of French oak trees.
It was her first holiday beyond Australia, it was her honeymoon and it was the day she fell in love with France. “I felt as though I had found my spiritual home,” she says.
Fifteen years later, Jane uprooted her four children and her husband, Pete, and they all moved into their own grand, if slightly dilapidated, Napoleon III château on 20 hectares of sprawling gardens and woodland in Normandy. For two years, the children – Lachie, who was 12 at the time, Millie, 11, Maddie, 10, and Alex, four – went off each day to the local village school, while their parents painstakingly renovated their new home, Château Bosgouet, room by room.
“I remember the very first time I walked into the main bedroom,” Jane says with a sigh. “I saw the panelling around the walls and a beautiful Versailles parquetry floor with bits missing, and three sets of big French windows looking onto the park, and I instantly knew that was my bedroom. When we began
The magnificent Château Bosgouet in Normandy. INSET: Jane and Pete Webster with their four children.