Jessie and Henry Ward transformed a large rundown farmhouse into a Warm and inviting family Home
From rundown farmhouse to opulent family home, this large property has enjoyed a welcome revamp
a new baby, a huge Bernese mountain dog, two cats and a growing number of horses and alpacas, barristers Jessie and Henry Ward were beginning to feel the squeeze in their previous home. What’s more, it was located by a busy road, which was becoming a concern.
‘After our first son, Xander, was born, the road started to worry me and we needed more outside space for the animals,’ says Jessie. ‘We looked at around 20 properties before we came across this seven-bedroom farmhouse.’
The listed property is set on an ancient sunken lane in rural Hampshire. The couple were drawn to it as space would definitely no longer be an issue – it came complete with a large detached barn, cricket pitch and 38 acres of land. It was also ripe for renovation. The Wards were about to make an offer when their buyers pulled out, and in order to stop their dream home slipping through their fingers, they bid above the asking price to ensure the vendors took it off the market. Their tactic worked and, by Christmas 2014, the property was theirs.
Work began in 2016 and throughout the process, the family lived out of two downstairs rooms and moved from bedroom to bedroom. During the renovation, Jessie fell pregnant with their second son, Kit, so the pressure was on to get everything ready in time for his arrival.
Jessie and Henry had to obtain the necessary listedbuildings consent and planning permission to reconfigure
the downstairs, creating a large kitchen-diner, a boot room big enough to accommodate Arthur’s bed, and a large family room. They also added a porch in Bargate stone, complete with iron pyrites, to avoid the front door opening directly into the living room. They then totally replumbed and redecorated throughout, adding new fixtures and fittings. Work went fairly smoothly until a major setback towards the end of the project.
‘The windows were a mixture of Crittall windows that wouldn’t shut properly, or single-glazed timber windows that were rotting, so the house was freezing,’ says Jessie. ‘We decided to replace every window, but the only ones the conservation officer would approve were bespoke handmade timber with extremely narrow glazing bars. They were meant to be delivered two weeks before Christmas 2016, but they didn’t turn up until the following March, so everything had to be put on hold until they arrived.’
With their second baby due any day, the timing was far from ideal. ‘We finally finished on the day I went in to hospital to have Kit in April 2017,’ says Jessie. ‘But going back to a beautiful home with a new baby was magical.’
Outside, the couple have built a stable block for their alpacas and horses. ‘Going in there on a cold winter’s night to find 12 alpacas nestled in the straw with the horses next door, munching on their hay is pretty special,’ says Jessie. The animals entail a lot of work, but the
family love it. ‘We were given two alpacas as a wedding present,’ Jessie says. ‘They were so enchanting that we couldn’t help but get more. One, Miss Moneypenny, gave birth to her cria Wilbur soon after I had Kit and I ended up having to bottle feed him. I would be up at 2am feeding Kit and would then run down to the stables to feed Wilbur.’
The property also has an ancient barn that the family uses for parties. ‘All we have done is clean it,’ says Jessie. ‘I think to do anything else would ruin it – the reason it is so charming is because it is in its natural state.’
The farmhouse comes into its own at Christmas. Jessie bedecks each space with wintry greenery, baubles, candles and festive touches. Her favourite tree is in the music room, with little manuscript scrolls adorning the branches.
‘We love Christmas,’ she says. ‘My birthday is three days after Christmas and Xander’s is on December 24, so it’s a very special time of year. We have a family party for Xander on Christmas Eve and then it’s just the four of us for stockings in bed on Christmas morning. We feed the animals and then come back in for a hearty brunch, before opening presents under the tree. The animals need feeding again at 3pm but then we come in for a traditional lunch at 4pm – and then we can properly relax.’
Now the family are happily ensconced in their idyllic historic home, they intend to stay put. ‘I wouldn’t change a thing about this house,’ says Jessie. ‘I love it here.’
Family room Jessie’s style is classical with an ethnic twist. Rajasthani pot and Berber rugs(on coffee table), Wattle & Daub. Cushions, similar from Etsy.
Oranges studded with cloves create a pretty table centrepiece and emit a delicious seasonal scent.
Kitchen The couple reconfigured this into an openplan hub and added a stunning reclaimed floor to match the oldest part of the house. Light fittings, Original BTC. Kitchen, Thomas Ford & Sons. Bar stools, similar from Where Saints Go.
Exterior The renovation included the addition of a Bargate stone porch to the front of the property. Front door and windows, for a similar paint colour, try Ammonite by Farrow & Ball.