Calm House of
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