When Sir Geoffrey Boycott (Read more on Sir Geoffrey's knighthood here )and his wife, Rachael, agreed to buy Boston Hall, it was on one condition.The feng shui had to be right. The hall wasn’t sold subject to contract. It was subject to feng shui,” laughs Rachael, who was very serious about making sure Mr Li, a highly-respected feng shui master, inspected the property to ensure it had good chi that would be beneficial for Geoffrey’s health.
Boston Hall, Boston Spa. All images copyright Croft ResidentialMr Li declared the energy and orientation not just good for the cricket legend but excellent for wealth and health in general.It’s another selling point for the gorgeous Georgian property in Boston Spa, near Wetherby, which is now on the market for £2.85m with Croft Residential.
Boston Hall now has a claim to fame
Family comes first
The grand Grade II-listed house, which the Boycotts bought in 2012, is for sale due to the couple relocating to CheshireBoth Yorkshire-born-and-bred, they are leaving to be closer to their daughter, Emma, who runs a bridal shop in Macclesfield, and who is expecting her first baby.“This has been an amazing house but we can’t be of any use as grandparents here in Yorkshire, unfortunately, so we have decided to sell up and move to be close to Emma, where I will be able to help with the baby and with her business,” says Rachael.
The rear of the house, which has a staff flat and a cottage
They will probably rent in Cheshire until they find another home that passes Mr Li’s feng shui tests and aim to spend winter at their property in South Africa.“What surprises people is that Geoffrey Boycott is open to feng shui but I suggested it when he was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2002 and he agreed. When you are given three months to live, you are open to anything,” says Rachael.Mr Li, who was recommended by a friend, immediately made changes to their then home in Woolley, near Wakefield.He altered where Geoffrey was sleeping so that the back of his head faced south/south east. He also moved the chair in the snug, where the legendary player-turned-commentator sat to have his cancer treatment, so that it faced a “good health” direction.Mr Li also explained that there is a health area in every house and that a small light should be on there 24 hours a day and that a water feature had to be installed in the kitchen.“Who’s to say it helped Geoffrey beat cancer and to survive the quadruple bypass he had last year? All we can say is that he is still here and still open to feng shui,” says Rachael.The couple sold Geoffrey’s long-time home in Woolley and moved to Jersey where the climate was warmer and more condusive to aiding his recovery.
The dining room
A grand restoration
They moved to Boston Hall seven years ago to be closer to family and friends and near to Yorkshire County Cricket Club, where Geoffrey was elected president in 2012.“We were flying back here a lot for work and to see our daughter. I took 17 flights from Jersey to Leeds Bradford one summer and that’s when I said ‘can we go home back to Yorkshire?’ ” says Rachael, who hired Garrington homefinders to hunt down suitable properties. They came up with Boston Hall before it was put on the open market.Built as a ‘gentleman’s residence’ in 1807, it is one of the finest properties in Boston Spa. It had served as the Ogden property group’s headquarters for more than 20 years and many of the rooms had been converted into offices but there was planning consent to turn it back into a private home.“I can visualise and Geoffrey can’t, and he said, ‘I don’t really know why we are buying it but I trust you’ and Emma liked it so we bought it,” says Rachael, who knew exactly what was required to turn the historic building into a stylish and comfortable home.It helped that her brother is York-based architect Mike Swinglehurst. He drew up the plans for the conversion and helped steer a course through the listed building regulations.
Heart of the home
The new kitchen with Aga and dining area
Rachael, who project managed the design and building work, says: “There was some discussion over us turning a wood-panelled dining room into our kitchen because the council maintained that it was original and couldn’t be removed.”Luckily, Ogdens sent us photos revealing that the panelling had actually been installed in the 1990s so we were able to go ahead and create a fantastic modern family kitchen. We were also allowed to install more bathrooms.”When they first got the keys, she left Geoffrey working in New Zealand while she dashed back to Yorkshire to renovate the hall’s staff apartment.She and Geoffrey, who is now 78, lived in the flat for 14 months while the hall was transformed from a commercial building into a beautiful home.“The project was a challenge and we lived in a building site at first but I enjoyed it and the house has been an absolute joy to live in,” says Rachael, who referenced the property’s Georgian roots when planning the decor.
Rachael took charge of the interior design.
Period furniture plus Versace
Most of the furniture, including the Versace sofa, came from their home in Jersey and has been collected over their years togetherThe antique dresser in the kitchen and a display cabinet are recent additions from local auction houses, which Rachael enjoys buying from.They suit the perfectly proportioned rooms, which look out onto an extensive lawn and formal gardens where the Boycotts have held large social gatherings in aid of the Yorkshire Air Ambulance charity, of which Geoffrey is a patron. Their 2017 dinner raised more than £50,000 for the charity.
One of the stylish bathrooms
Boston Hall also has a separate west wing, along with a cottage and the staff flat, all with their own private entrances.“Geoffrey and I haven’t utilised the entire building but there is certainly potential for a new owner to create a lot more space within the main house by incorporating the west wing, which would be a straightforward project,” says Rachael. “The flat and cottage could also be repurposed as rental or holiday accommodation to generate an income, or they could be used to house elderly relatives.”The Boycotts have also appreciated the convenient location of Boston Spa, which made Geoffrey’s regular journeys down to London for media appearances a speedy commute. “We’re only 14 miles from York and the brilliant high-speed train service to London has made travelling back and forth very easy for Geoffrey. “We are also very near to the A1 and Leeds,” says Rachael.Boston Hall, set back from the town’s high street, is close to all the local amenities. “We walk everywhere,” says Rachael. “There are so many good shops and restaurants in Boston Spa and it still has a proper old fashioned high street. It’s a lovely community and a great place to be. We will miss it very much.”
Estate agent's view
Toby Cockcroft, director of Croft Residential, which is marketing Boston Hall, says: “It is a truly magnificent house and Rachael and Geoffrey have done a fantastic job in restoring it to its original elegance as a home. Without a doubt it is one of the finest historic houses in the area, with its roots stretching right back to Boston Spa’s prosperous early days as a spa town.“There is also enormous potential to further enlarge the living space in the main house and the hall is in one of the most sought-after and easy to reach locations in the the north. Needless to say we are expecting plenty of interest from buyers.”Croft Residential, tel: 01904 238222, www.croftresidential.co.uk. All images copyright Croft Residential. See more pictures of Boston Hall here: https://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/lifestyle/cricket-legend-geoff-boycott-is-selling-his-yorkshire-home-to-move-to-cheshire-1-9875309?page=4