For the past little while we’ve been investigating a property and site as far south as Dorset. Hardly central I know and far from ideal given that the journey time for central and northern UK centres is the same as to Padmaloka.
I could list it’s other faults but despite them all it does offer something we’ve not come across before - enough accommodation for 300 as well as a few other useful buildings which means we could be up and running in some sort of shape very quickly. Oh it also features a large and beautiful stone Grade I listed manor house dating from the early 17th century which has been beautifully maintained and could possibly accommodate the Dharma Training Centre and Sangharakshita Library. At the entrance are two huge 20th century imitation cottages which serve as lodges.
It’s last function was as a christian retreat centre. Let me share their blurb with you:
“Driving up the winding wooded lane to Chantmarle, you enter a world where historic charm, peace, spiritual inspiration and contemporary convenience blend beautifully together to offer all the needs a Christian Residential Resource Centre could possibly have. The Centre is nestled in 100 acres of beautiful Dorset countryside. Thomas Hardy country, and whether you are a family or a group of up to 222, we have the facilities to cater for your every need. If you are looking for a beautiful retreat centre to hold seminars, meetings, courses or just be together, then we have accommodation to suit every need.”
For many years Chantmarle was the Dorset Police Training College and in the fifties they built some remarkably inappropriate buildings to provide the accommodation, sporting and training facilities they needed. So, if we bought it, we’d have a beautiful mansion house, listed gardens, at least 100 acres and facilities to run large events. The obvious questions include: Why on earth would we want to take on the maintenance and running costs of a grade 1 listed mansion? Aren’t the other buildings horrible and in need of replacement? How do we make a place like that our own? Isn’t it just too far South? What about the ecological costs of running such a poorly insulated site? And so on.
So do we dismiss it and move on? Well we feel the need to carefully consider the pros and cons as with everything we come across that has some potential. At the moment we are costing the replacement of the entire oil fired heating systems and considering other immediate cost implications. If it still seems at least considering further we’ll arrange to book more people on site to get other perspectives. Otherwise we’ll put it down and move on a little wiser and better informed than before. Maybe we’ll find another gravel quarry next....
See also sangharakshitalandproject.co.uk