The Chateau dates from the 1700's, backing onto the remains of an 11th Century monastery. Other buildings consist of a collection of farm buildings, a gatehouse and a hunting lodge. The land offers 160 acres of grassland, woodland, walled garden and marshes, with natural springs, a river and ancient fishing lake embedded in the south-facing aspect of the main house.
This place was bought in October 2017 through funds raised from an international network of meditators rooted in the contemplative mystical traditions of Christianity. Restoration of the buildings began in January 2018. A small group have been living on site during the renovations, which has seeded the start of the resident community and daily rhythm of life. In March 2018 we began our trial Workaway volunteer program. It was a huge success; a wonderful experiment and learning-curve that convinced us that welcoming volunteers will be a vital part of the life here. A vessel for mutual learning; the chance for everyone to feel valued and empowered in their specific skills and contribution to a greater whole; spiritual development through participation in the day-to-day rhythm of the community's rule of life and meditation. We feel very grateful to have lived and worked alongside such amazing people, all so generous and open-hearted in participating and contributing to what we are building here.
The renovation of The Abbaye was completed in Easter 2019, which is now inhabited by an evolving residential community. Renovation is now underway of 'the farm' which will eventually become the meditation retreat centre. This coincides with the start of our Volunteer Programme for 2020. We are inviting members of the Workaway network to apply for volunteer opportunities from 10th January through the end of the year. The requirement is five hours of work each week day in exchange for board and lodging, and that volunteers join in with the life of the community for meditation and lunch.
The current stage of renovations (being undertaken by professional contractors) is on the farm buildings to create a large space for meditation and accommodation for retreats and seminars. This will eventually include a 'contemplative village' consisting of small individual hermitages for people to enter deeper silence in their practice. Over the coming years we will be creating a varied program for all aspects of contemplative practice; retreats and courses in various disciplines will run inspired by the practice of meditation rooted in the Christian tradition. Our vision is to build a space inclusive to practitioners, seekers and pilgrims from all spiritual traditions (or none) to help to make the world more peaceful.
Creating/ Cooking family meals
Help with Eco Projects
Help around the house
Help with Computers/ Internet
Volunteers will have the opportunity to learn about gardening, land management, house-keeping, cooking, living and working with others from diverse backgrounds and different cultures, meditation and spiritual writings from Christian and other traditions.
Please note that stays of a month or more is preferable / desirable but we will consider volunteers for periods of a minimum of 2 weeks. Unfortunately we do not currently accommodate families.
Type of help needed
Creating and maintaining a vegetable garden
Forest clearance and fencing
Managing wood collection for fires
Basic building maintenance work (under supervision)
Cooking / shopping for the community (not guests)
Cleaning of communal spaces
Small admin tasks
Filming online events and retreats
We are looking for people who enjoy living on the land in quiet countryside and are willing to offer a flexible open-minded approach to doing what needs to be done, as well as participate in the day-to-day rhythm of meditation and meal times. A space to be in relationship with other whilst exploring the nourishment of silence and solitude is at the heart of life here. We aim to encourage varying levels of silence as part of the every day life here and with the support of the community and resident teacher this is an opportunity to discover or deepen your own spiritual practice.
Typical Daily Rhythm (please note this is adjustable with the change of seasons)
Sunday to Saturday
6.30 – 7.00 - Silent meditation (optional)
7.00 – 7.20 - Private walking or Lectio
7.20 – 8.05 - Morning meditation
8.05 – 9.15 - Breakfast in silence
9.15 – 10.00 - Study / Reading / group sharing (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday)
10.00 – 12.00 - Work
12.15 – 13.00 - Midday meditation
13.00 – 14.00 - Lunch / Clean-up
14.30 – 17.00 - Work
18.00 – 18.45 - Evening meditation
18.50 – 20.30 - Dinner
Wednesdays are days of no work, a chance to rest, be creative or in silence, walk, visit the local area.
Saturdays are the same as weekdays except there are no meetings.
Sundays generally start later, another day of rest – no work and no meetings.
Projects for 2020 include:
- Support with the organisation of communal spaces in the newly-inhabited Abbaye and meditation centre.
- Ongoing planting and maintenance of the vegetable and flower garden.
- Upgrade of the Hunting Lodge for use as a place of silent retreat.
Living with Covid - because people like yourselves come from different countries around Europe we live by a Covid protocol that looks to ensure everyone's safety and prevention of complaints of negligence. This protocol generally involves taking of temperature each day and extra care around hygiene. If your application is agreed we will send you a simple document to agree to and sign.
From the January 2020 travellers will be accommodated in accommodation in bedrooms in the newly renovated Abbaye. During summer months there will also be accommodation in the characterful Gate House. Volunteers will be invited to share in the cooking of meals in the community kitchen, which will be eaten in the dining hall with community residents. Volunteers are invited to join the community for lunch and dinner every day, consisting of a blend of international cuisine, where we will accommodate as far as possible any special dietary requirements. They also have the option of self-catering for breakfast and evening meals when staying in the Gate House. The Abbaye building provides a good WiFi connection and there is an excellent mobile data 4G signal at the Gate House and elsewhere.
Our place is situated amidst beautiful countryside for walking and many places of historic and cultural interest. The nearest village is Marçay, 2 kilometres (along the route Jacque de Compostella), with a tabac, bar and bread shop. The nearest market town is Vivonne with supermarkets and other facilities. The ancient Abbey of St Martins at Ligugé is 6 kilometres to the north. Fifteen kilometers away the medieval city of Poitiers (which has an airport along with local and TGV train links from Paris) boasts one of the most significant gothic cathedrals in France. Further afield there is also the cities of Tours and Saintes and the coastal town of La Rochelle.
When making travel arrangements to our place please note we plan arrivals and departure to allow you as volunteers to settle into the life here with minimum disruption for the life of the resident community. So following your registration and interview, please arrange your travel accordingly. We can arrange pick-ups from Vivonne train station (regional line from Poitiers). Pick up from Poitiers main line station or airport is also possible for a contribution of 20 Euros.
Limited internet access
We have pets
We are smokers
Can host families
Maximum 5 hours a day, 5 days a week
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