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If you can’t stand the sight of another church hall and tepid tea when you’re taking your little ones to pre-school class, I’ve stumbled across your kind of heaven.
Sanctum is a newly opened private luxury member’s club for pre-school kids, based in the Beaconsfield countryside, and I zipped down earlier this week to check it out. Although the definition sounds a bit Notting-Hill-banking-trophy-wives, what it really means is that there are small classes for kids, decent coffee, Cowshed products in the loo, comfy sofas and – get this – Hillmotts Retreat beauticians in the stables next door.
If you’re reading this and thinking, ‘ugh, driving all the way to Beaconsfield’, it’s worth a little drive out, particularly this Friday because it happens to be the Sanctum Pamper and Play afternoon between 1.45 – 3.30pm. You get a 15 minute manicure, pedicure, hand or foot massage or an Indian head massage courtesy of the beauticians whilst your children play in the same barn, plus a coffee and cake. I’m actually quite cross my youngest child is now at school. You need to book though so get in touch via the details below.
Sanctum is in an inspired spot, literally around the corner from the Beaconsfield M40 J2 Services (stay with me, I haven’t gone mad). You drive to the left of the services and after about 200 metres you come to Hillmott’s Farm on the right, with a perilous intercom system that didn’t work on the day I came (take a phone and call through to Sanctum and they’ll let you through the electronic gates).
Then it’s down a long drive and the M40 suddenly seems a long way away. You’re in farmland, then there’s a farm house, and the outbuildings where Sanctum currently resides. There are country walks you can take from here though it’s currently shooting season so stick to the path unless you want pheasants landing on your head.
Anyway, back to Sanctum. There are loads of classes, which take a maximum of 8 kids, all of which are FREE until 2oth December, so take the opportunity to check it out – everything from baby massage and Buggy Fit to antenatal, pre-natal or even back-to-work workshops for mums. Like any playgroup you can come early and stay late for a coffee and chat. I saw the tail-end of a really lovely toddler session where they dimmed the lights, gathered up LED stars and sang Twinkle Twinkle. It *sniff* made me remember those lovely days before I had to make flippin’ school sandwiches every morning.
You can also book a nanny service 24 hours in advance if you want them to look after your little one for an hour (£12.50) while you go and have a treatment next door. OMG YES!!!! So you’re probably getting the picture – Sanctum is here to make those early years of motherhood a little bit kinder to your nerves.
At this point, perhaps you’re thinking, Hmm, how much does it cost? It’s more expensive than your local village events – of course it is, are you mad?! – but you don’t have to take full membership, or can book bundles of lessons, whatever best suits your budget and lifestyle. Sanctum offers two levels of membership. Gold membership (unlimited classes per month, £85 per month) and Silver membership (4 classes per month, £45 per month) with no joining fees.
If you’re not nearby, maybe it’s something you go along to once a month for a change. I know when I had my first child, I felt quite isolated and unsure of what I was doing, and counted down the days until my next village playgroup. I would have loved to have had a Sanctum.
Anyway, if you go, let us know what you think. Just don’t tell me about that pamper session on Friday, I’m not above a bit of envy you know.
Sanctum, The Stables, Hillmotts Farm, Hedgerley Lane , Beaconsfield, Bucks, HP9 2SB. Tel: 0203 290 6678. [email protected]