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This project closed June 2013

Apologies to anyone who has recently ‘followed’ this blog. The author left Bodenham Manor
in June 2013 and the group project outlined here was discontinued.

New initiatives for July

June and July will see us setting the stage and generally getting ready to launch the first of a number of events and initiatives.

We are keen to explore how spaces such as Bodenham Manor can boost the health and resilience of a community by providing some essential functions designed to facilitate greater interdependence. The following list details a number of growing initiatives to help us to meet, shop, trade and support family life as a community.

The Stables
Parent and toddler days
– We will be opening the Stables Café every Wednesday from 1pm during the summer holidays as a meeting place for parents and toddlers. From July 3rd.

The Stables Cafe

The Cafe – during Building Man

Strawberry Jam – The first Strawberry Jam at Bodenham Manor will be held on July 19th. Doors open at 7pm. Call Sophie on 07903 858 055 if you are a musician or poet who would like to book a slot.

As if by magic... a stage appeared

As if by magic… a stage appeared

Bodenham Manor Food Co-op – Come to the Stables Café on Wednesdays from 1pm to find out more about our Food Co-op. We will be buying in bulk from Wholefood, local and Organic distributors to greatly reduce your shopping bill.

The Local Shop – A basic snack shop stocking quality chocolate, flapjacks, crisps and soft drinks at reduced cost.

The Space
A great multi functional space is available for hire to run local classes and courses. You can see more photos of The Space from the Flickr link on our website.

Now ready to hire

Now ready to hire

The School
Free Shop
– Give and take items with no financial exchange! Bring us your unwanted things, we will add them to the free shop or take them to charity. Visiting hours are Wednesdays from 1pm.

If you feel inspired to help us to develop our community home there is still a lot of decorating and general beautification to do… once we have the practicalities of function established! We welcome donations of materials and resources such as – paint, tiles, unwanted tools and other surplus building or decorating materials you may have lying about. Get in touch to find out how you can contribute.


Beyond Building Man

Building Man was in many ways an experiment and in every way a success.  The event brought approximately 60 people from many walks of life to Bodenham Manor from the 2nd-27th May to take part in the first event of its kind in the UK.

The Building Man initiative is an attempt to reinvigorate the concept of festival and support communities. They are taking on what many in the festival scene have been talking about for years – to capture the Festival spirit within a longer term, sustainable focus.

Festivals, like carnivals, are about celebrating and creating something as a community and generally take place over a long weekend. The majority of festival goers in the UK pay around £130 for the opportunity to eat, drink, be entertained and search for a bizarre mix of hedonism and healing before travelling back to their lives in towns/cities to get back to ‘normal’ life.

The festival has become a commercially driven enticement for people to escape reality and on the side of the organisers, months of stress to create an event with just a three-day lifespan. Festivals are none-the-less packed with opportunities for social and personal exploration but not many festival organisers make the most of this within their packed itineraries. Most festivals end up wasting resources, upsetting local residents, and creating huge amounts of rubbish and sewage that has to be transported off site.

Building Man has a double agenda – to bring the creative festival spirit to build greater sustainability within emerging community festival sites, enabling the core team to bring small events back to the space throughout the year.

Live/work communities such as Bodenham Manor tend to have a strong land based focus i.e. they are pockets of sustainability in an increasingly unsustainable world. As a result they are of huge value, enabling people to explore another means of living that does not contribute further to the escalating instability of this apparently ‘developed’ world.

Bodenham Manor has grown into a site with vast potential. We already have a wide range of skills and abilities on site that are manifesting a similarly wide range of activities, events and services that will give back in some way to the wider community. Building Man’s main focus was to develop both land and built environment enabling us to support more small-scale events that will send ripples of positive learning experience back into the status quo.

As well as the developments in buildings and land, the Building Man experience was packed with opportunities for personal and community growth. Learning through doing, the entire group tackled unfamiliar human-to-human interactions in group decision making, leadership and direct communication. In fact, from my experience of living in community it was these lessons that were the most valuable. At times, the working days were so enjoyable and productive that I was filled with hope for the future as I witnessed a large group of people working to their strengths together in a supportive, integrated and positive environment.

It takes a certain kind of person to thrive in this way but let it be known that a top-down system of organisation is not the only way to get things done! In many ways I feel that it is the belief that we place in our in our leaders or managers that causes much of the ills in this world. If we were to empower ourselves to take more responsibility for our own local environment and local needs, taking care to be patient with each other and the differences we present to one another, we could transform the life experience for our children in a decade. All it takes is for each person to want to put the effort in to build the change. The tricky part is finding oneself supported by a group who feel the same way.

A huge thanks to all those who grafted at Bodenham Manor, may your paths be lit with flowers and forever clear of rubbish and brambles!

Our Shared Vision

Just like Building Man, Bodenham Manor represents an unfolding, experimental project engaged in an active process of co-creation.

Our collective dream for this incredible site and emerging community is a work-in-progress, but will undoubtedly involve a modular redevelopment of the already existing reformatory school and surrounding permaculture garden. By engaging in a space by space approach, we hope that this multi-use educational facility will help to fund it’s own ongoing eco build retro-fitting.


In 2013 Building Man will contribute to the retro fitting of the main educational space, to be re-imagined as a multi-use and multi- occupancy teaching facility for the wider progressive movement. We’re also raising the roof, quite literally, and timber cladding the front of the building to provide a much needed face lift.

As well as these major build projects, Building Man will work with our key partners to design and install various carbon reducing, appropriate technologies on-site, including make-your-own solar panels for a 12volt system, LED lighting, a cob field kitchen, rocket stove biomass heating and rainwater catchment.

Read more here:

Transforming the Stables


A tremendous achievement. In just 4 days, residents and volunteers tooled up to transform downstairs of The Stables – a mixed use function room. Click this link to see more: