There are 19 acres of land to explore here at the Friary, made up of woodland and meadow, kitchen and formal gardens, as well as Brother Vincent’s Secret Garden of Rhododendrons and Camellias. The Friary is situated half way between Dorchester and Sherborne in deepest Dorset, with wonderful views over the Blackmore Vale with great walks all around. It is very quiet, calm and green – both in the visual sense and the ecological one. The Community – and guests over the years – have helped make the place very green indeed with even a reed bed sewage system. They reuse, recycle and repair all that they can, use all low energy bulbs, try to keep their total carbon footprint small with the goal of using less electricity every year, have two wood burning stoves, use water from a bore hole on their land, and are exploring other ways of making the energy they use. People are encouraged to visit here by public transport, and bicycles are available to borrow from the Friary. The garden uses organic gardening methods and kitchen waste is composted for use in the garden. As if this were all not enough to inspire every retreat place, the Friary is designated an AONB (Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty) and are managing their land to provide many different habitats - wood, meadow and pond. The meadows have been praised by Natural England for their diversity, as well as the orchids, the many different grasses and the wild flowers in early summer. The nearest shop is several miles away and there are no street lights. Visitors are welcome to take part in the life of the Community and each working day begins with a diary meeting to which everyone is invited, and the tasks of the day are assigned. Some examples of the type of retreats or courses here are Buddhism, Christianity and the Violence of the Self, Working for a World without War, Making peace where we live, work and pray, and World Earth Day Celebration.
The Good Retreat Guide