Othona at Bradwell is set in a remote corner of Essex, tucked behind the sea wall, on the estuary of the River Blackwater. Nearby is the Saxon chapel of St-Peter-on-the-Wall, built by St Cedd on the site of the Roman fort of Othona. The sea, sandy beach and shell ridge are just 400 metres away and we border a renowned salt-marsh bird sanctuary. The Othona wood, pond and hedges contain flourishing wildlife and open farmland surrounds the place. Here, land, sea and sky merge and create wide expanses of solitary beauty. Indeed, we found it a remarkable place so close to London, yet so wonderfully rural with the inspiration of nature all around. Our visit to Othona was a happy and peaceful one.
The main centrally-heated building of Othona has kitchen, dining and communal areas as well as single, twin, family and dormitory bedrooms. Accommodation is simple but the facilities and good and meet most people’s individual requirements. Single rooms are limited and the more people who are prepared to share, the more Othona can fit in! An adjacent building is used for day groups and other activities. There are additional basic wooden buildings and tents to cater for the larger numbers which summer brings. Washrooms are shared (single sex). Othona is working towards having a carbon neutral footprint. This includes the use of solar technology and the recycling of all water through their own reed bed system.
The Othona Community share a simple, balanced lifestyle, enjoy being outdoors, and relish late night talks during which laughter and deep discussion coexist happily. Numbers vary from 10 to 80 people, depending on the theme and the weather! For any event there is likely to be a mixture of Othona ‘regulars’ and newcomers. All are equally welcome and all become part of the Othona Community. The daily pattern of community life revolves around four main elements: work, worship, study and play.
The Community has use of the 7th century chapel of St. Peter, which dates from 645 AD. It sits on a windswept and grassy rise on the edge of the sea and is one of Britain’s very oldest places of prayer.