Property: Ideal Homes: Sheila Kitzinger childbirth educator

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The Independent Culture
Married with five daughters,

she lives in an old manor house on the edge of the Cotswolds

LOCATION: High on a hill in Galloway in south-west Scotland, overlooking a wide sweep of sea. It is a place with atmosphere, a place where my great-grandfather was once a blacksmith: my roots are among the farm workers in this part of Scotland.

ESSENTIAL LOCAL AMENITIES: Since we are vegetarian, a good fruit and vegetable market.

CHARACTER: A castle or a large moated house.

PERIOD: It would certainly have to be old, and integral to the land from which it grew.

CONSTRUCTION: Three storeys and made of local stone with spiral staircases and underfloor heating.

BEDROOMS: I'd need about 15, each with a bathroom. We have a large family, and there would be people flowing in and out all the time for seminars and workshops.

RECEPTION ROOMS: A sitting room with an enormous fireplace, groups of comfortable chairs and cushions on the floor. A large dining hall for candlelit dinners. A library, and a study each for my husband Uwe and me.

OUTBUILDINGS: A stable block converted into a sanctuary where women could come and give birth. Each woman would have her own birthing room, and fathers and children could be involved if they so wished.

KITCHEN ESSENTIALS: A wonderful view from the sink, and a big table around which we'd discuss politics, ethics and women's issues.

DECORATIVE STYLE: Eclectic. I would bring colour from the Mediterranean and Provence and mix it with local browns, greys and creams. Furniture would be a mixture of the very old and the very new.

LUXURY: A covered central courtyard full of wonderful big sculptures by women. Women could move between birthing room and courtyard, and use the sculptures to lean or kneel against in childbirth. Water would flow in a waterfall or big fountain - women need to be in touch with the elements in childbirth. I would be able to fling open parts of the roof to let in air and sun.

VIEW FROM THE WINDOWS: An expanse of sea and sky.

SIZE OF GARDEN: Large, because I would like women in childbirth to be able to follow paths in the garden, move between clumps of bushes, and go into their own nests as it were. I would also like an Elizabethan knot garden and a herb garden.

NEIGHBOURS: Midwives and their children.

MOTTO OVER THE DOOR: Instead of words, I'd have the birth symbol - the hooked diamond representing the birth-giving vagina - carved in stone. Women would understand the code, and men would not feel dismissed from the house.

WHAT IT WOULD COST: Link-Up Properties Nationwide estimates that such a property in Galloway would cost more than pounds 450,000. Adapting it to Sheila Kitzinger's specifications would cost a minimum of pounds 50,000.

Sheila Kitzinger's latest book 'The Year After Childbirth' is published by Oxford University Press at pounds 9.99.

(Photograph omitted)