Calm House of

Berkshire Life - - Spa Round-up - WORDS: Sarah Rodi PHO­TOS: Mau­reen McLean

Coach, psy­chother­a­pist and au­thor Hester Ban­croft shows us round her Lit­tlewick Green home, which she trans­formed into

a tran­quil, safe haven where she can host her Mind Re­treats

Si­t­u­ated down a quiet, leafy coun­try lane in Lit­tlewick Green, and ap­proached through a large, gravel drive­way, Lane Farm is a beau­ti­ful sight to be­hold. The large au­to­mated gates may seem im­pos­ing, but as you step in­side the spa­cious re­cep­tion hall of the house, the scent of laven­der and the warmth of the fire greets you, as well as the wel­com­ing smile of Hester Ban­croft her­self, mak­ing you feel at once re­laxed and safe.

When I tell her as much, Hester is de­lighted. “The feel­ing of a home is ev­ery­thing,” she says. “When we bought Lane Farm two years ago, it needed lots of work to bring it up into the 21st cen­tury and to make it feel homely.

“We pre­vi­ously lived down the road in Waltham St Lawrence and wanted to stay here in Berk­shire as we en­joy liv­ing near the Thames. We go kayak­ing a lot. My hus­band, Si­mon, and I have a pas­sion for bring­ing old houses back to life. We en­joy putting the love back into a place. For­tu­nately, we have very sim­i­lar taste and vi­su­alise things in the same way.”

The cou­ple share the house with which­ever child or chil­dren are home, as she has Zoe, 26, Jess, 24, Max, 22, and step­daugh­ter Har­riet, 27, and “they are all find­ing their way in the world, liv­ing in Lon­don and one in New York,” Hester says. They also have two black Labradors, Dud­ley and Ben­son, plus Bob the tor­toise.

“When ev­ery­one is home, the kitchen/break­fast room is the hub of the house,” says Hester, as Si­mon switches on the ket­tle. The room of­fers glo­ri­ous views over­look­ing the gar­den and there’s an ad­join­ing pantry. “It’s the only room we didn’t do much to. We kept the units as they matched the style of the rest of the house.” Al­though her added lit­tle touches can be seen ev­ery­where − the hang­ing Emma Bridge­wa­ter cups, the en­graved chop­ping board and fam­ily din­ing ta­ble laid out for tea.

Lane Farm was orig­i­nally a Hall House, which means the orig­i­nal part was built pre-1570 − over

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