Friday, July 19, 2013

A quiet garden: Holland House

This is my mother's favourite retreat house, located in the Worcestershire countryside, near Bredon Hill, an outlier of the Cotswolds. It is a beautiful setting, at the heart of the peaceful village of Cropthorne, a thatched house (with modern annexe) with a still and beautiful garden running down to the banks of the Avon.

I spent two days here this week attending a strategy meeting (that was energised, productive and engaging) but beyond that the whole space contrived to draw me both in, to a guiding contemplative stillness, and out into a quiet, background appreciation of the natural world as gift.

On both of the mornings I went for a pre-breakfast walk (and the food is excellent), up to the fringe of the village and a view of Bredon Hill, whose attendant village of Elmley Castle's church has the marble tomb of my ancestors, and down to the river's edge, listening to the flow of water, the dance of fish and bird song.

Diocesan retreat houses are a precious resource and yet a threatened one - one's in Gloucestershire and Warwickshire have closed this year - and Holland House must weave 'commercial' business into its space as well as the spiritual in order to survive. I devoutly hope that it will flourish, and I have signed up, and joined my mother, as a friend

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