“The Abbey is home to an open and inclusive spiritual community seeking to contribute to the transformation of consciousness in the world. The unique medieval buildings, set in extensive grounds, are tucked away in the small village of Sutton Courtenay, just 10 miles south of Oxford. The Abbey community welcomes individual visitors and retreatants and offers unique facilities for day and residential events, from yoga retreats to writing workshops, therapy training to ecological education, and team or leadership development.”
The Apricot Centre is a small eco-venue in North Essex, situated on a 4-acre organic market garden 2.5 miles from Manningtree railway station. The aim of the centre is to give courses and experiences on the theme of ‘sustainable living’ for the general public, schools and for professionals in the fields of education, therapy, creativity, and agriculture/horticulture.
“Barmoor is a house offering simple, self-catering accommodation for educational and religious groups and organisations who care for others. It can take up to 27 people. It provides a peaceful retreat retaining many features from when it was built in 1908, influenced by the arts and crafts movement. It is in a glorious setting within the North York Moors National Park with views over moorland and over countryside towards the Vale of Pickering. It is set in the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors near the village of Hutton-Le-Hole. Run by a Charitable Trust, it provides the opportunity for groups to meet in peaceful and attractive surroundings at reasonable cost.”
“We offer high quality and affordable accommodation in our static caravan, bunk barns, bothys and on our campsite for visitors. We aim to develop the site in an environmentally sensitive way by including as many sustainable ideas and technologies as we find feasible. Presently we encourage recycling throughout the site, collect rainwater for WC flushing and have fitted a Ground Source Heat Pump to provide all the heating and hot water to the bunk barns. All our electrical power requirements are sourced from the Proven 6kw turbine that has been up and running since March 2007. Throughout the construction and renovation work recycled building materials and high levels of insulation have been used where possible. We presently have a small range of animals, including Suffolk and Swale ewes , a mixed lot of hens that lay well and chicks as they arrive. But our present pride and joy are the three male Alpacas from Chile that live in the back field. These are a tester to see if we will move into breeding and raising a herd of Alpacas in the future.”
“The Cae Mabon Retreat Centre has been evolving since 1989. It is set in natural woodland by a rushing river, near a deep lake, at the foot of high mountains in Snowdonia and almost within sight of the sea. A family of beautiful, natural, earthy structures provide appealing spaces for groups to meet, retreat, work and play. People have looked all over Britain for something similar but in vain.”
A group of organisations based on an organic farm and study centre in Kent, working towards sustainable solutions in farming, the environment and education.
Just five miles from Glastonbury, on the edge of Compton Dundon village in Somerset, EarthSpirit lies within the ‘temenos’ (sacred enclosure) of Avalon. The centre is situated in a beautiful landscape next to two nature reserves; and just two minutes walk from St Andrew’s church, which has within its cemetery a yew tree over 1,700 years old. The seventeenth century farm buildings have been restored and specially converted for use as a venue. They are set within seven acres of fields and gardens.
Hazel Hill Farm
Earth Spirit Centre's main training room
“Overlooking Dartmoor, this beautiful 50-acre Valley, with 14 cosy yurts and comfortable indoor spaces, is home to The Journey. This is a programme devised by Embercombe to support people who wish to take, or are taking action for the world and are looking to take their next step. The Journey is a braid of activity, including time working in the woods or organic garden, one to one coaching, group work and time spent alone in nature. Volunteering, weekend courses and venue hire also offered.”
“The Field Studies Council is an environmental education charity committed to helping people understand and be inspired by the natural world. The FSC is aware of the importance of the right setting and right atmosphere to encourage learning. Each of the 17 centres, selected with great care over our 65yr history, is a delightful place in a rich and varied part of the country. Many FSC Centres are historic buildings that have been a focus in the development of the landscape and environment in their immediate neighbourhood. The original buildings have been adapted and extended so that they have the full range of accommodation and services that visitors need. 14 of the 17 FSC Centres offer residential accommodation for between 70 and 120 students.” (In other words, they can be hired, at very reasonable prices.
“Each year, the Green & Away team build and run Europe’s only tented conference centre – an inspirational and environmentally sustainable village – on a farm in rural Worcestershire. There are a variety of meeting spaces and craft areas, as well as a coppiced-hazel dome bar and café circling the campfire and village green. The wind and sun provide our power, and our food is local and/or organic.”
“A beautiful, secluded 70-acre wood, seven miles from Salisbury, offering retreats, celebrations and conservation events, some with Dances of Universal Peace. These involve simple movement and song, based on sacred phrases from spiritual traditions around the world. The wood is also available for group bookings. Facilities include heated sleeping lofts or camping, indoor group room, civilised loos and showers.” (This is a wonderful place, as long as you can cope with infestations of deer ticks.)
Holycombe is set in a verdant wooded valley on the edge of the Cotswold village of Whichford. A natural stream rises from a holy well in the nearby wood, passes though the grounds and down a waterfall. The sound of running water adds to the sense of peace and tranquillity. A coppice provides shady outdoor space; there’s a campfire area and a large stone circle on the castle site. Across a meadow is the ancient Whichford wood with many rare species of trees and plants, an abundance of wood anemones, primroses and bluebells in spring; chestnuts, blackberries and sloes in autumn. Wildlife abounds: everything from Muntjack to polecats and kingfishers.
“This co-operative of around 25 people of all ages is now well into its fourth decade. We live in and around a huge Edwardian main house, with its walled garden, stables and cottages, surrounded by 135 acres of beautiful woods, pastures and marshland which stretch to a loch in the north, in Dumfires, Scotland. Trees we planted are now being coppiced. Living spaces – communal kitchens, one-person flats, family homes – use wood for heating and cooking. A hydro supplies much of our electricity. From Easter to October a programme of events (music, self-help, creative, gay, etc.) brings up to 70 extra people a week. We grow as much fruit and vegetables as we can, keep cows, pigs, hens and bees, and do most of our own maintenance.”
“Once a dairy farm deep in rural North Wiltshire and home to seventy black and white cows, Lower Shaw Farm now has another life: as a three-acre oasis in an area of 1980s development. The farm has kept a character and atmosphere of its own. It is an environmentally friendly place, with organic vegetable, herb, and flower gardens, many native shrubs and trees, living willow structures, ponds, hens, ducks, sheep, an outdoor cooking area with clay oven, and play areas both for children and adults. The farm outbuildings have been converted into meeting rooms, workshops, and simple accommodation. This includes chalets, caravans, and farmhouse rooms, which comprise single, double, and shared bedrooms. Full vegetarian board is provided and we can cater for special diets. The price includes all meals, accommodation, and tuition. Facilities are basic but homely and generally user-friendly for all people.”
“Set amid rolling hills and within walking distance of the stunning Jurassic coast, Monkton Wyld Court has hosted events for adults, children and families for 70 years. Visitors return time and time again – often just to relax as B&B guests. As well as workshops and family weeks, we teach skills for sustainable living: permaculture, eco-building, ‘green’ technologies, sustainable land use and environmental crafts.”
Poulstone Court is set in the heart of the beautiful Herefordshire countryside and provides a clear, welcoming and supportive environment for retreats and courses with a spiritual and personal growth focus.
Only 30 miles from London, The Green Escape on Leith Hill, in Surrey in a beautiful, secluded 6 acre woodland. Available exclusively for groups of up to 20 people. Has a group room in straw bale lodge and 7 shepherds huts. Plus shower huts, compost toilets and fire pits. The Green Escape is aiming for zero carbon – there’s no electricity.
Trill is a 300 acre mixed organic farm set in the rolling hills and woodlands of east Devon, close to the Jurassic coast. Romy Fraser and her family bought the farm in 2008 with the aim of developing an education centre, and community of small businesses based on the farm, working together to use resources of the diverse landscape. There is a guesthouse for hire, B&B, camping, and regular festivals.
“Set in the lovely Derbyshire countryside, Unstone Grange attracts community and youth groups of all kinds. These groups use the atmosphere at our centre to express their creative spirit through dance, drama, craftwork, writing, painting, music, meditation, bodywork, healing and a wide range of other activities.”
“For twenty three years, The Yarner Trust has provided information and practical advice in the skills needed to live a sustainable lifestyle. Set in a wooded valley, one mile inland from North Devon coast, it has a variety of different buildings to hire for events, as well as a celtic roundhouse.”