A sanctuary for the inner state
You don’t need to go to India to find yourself – just hop on a train to Yorkshire
Published: 24 July 2020
This Article was Written by: Katie Hill - My Green Pod
This article first appeared in our Health Revolution issue of My Green Pod Magazine, distributed with The Guardian on 24 July 2020. Click here to subscribe to our digital edition and get each issue delivered straight to your inbox
At first glimpse of the beautiful Broughton Hall in Yorkshire, you might think it is classic Downton Abbey – and Julian Fellowes did indeed consider the Estate as a primary location for the series.
However, look just a little below the surface and your whole perception will change rapidly.
The 32nd generation of the Tempest family – Roger, the current custodian; Paris Ackrill, his partner and their baby, Aya – are on a mission to turn Broughton into a leading centre of light and a beacon of hope in this rapidly changing world.
A centre of transformation
It’s over 900 years since William the Conqueror sent the original Tempest family member to help to look after these lands, and change has been necessary for the Estate’s survival ever since.
Over 10 centuries it has moved from an agricultural community to a purpose-led centre that’s a force for good, supporting transformation in the mind, body, spirit – and the land.
The newly created Avalon – ‘an island of spiritual refuge’ – is now at the heart of the Estate. It’s a state-of-the-art wellbeing centre that rebuilds the human spirit right across the spectrum.
Fire temples and moon baths
Avalon’s dynamic range of experiences and retreats covers everything from yoga and wellbeing to addiction and recovery, relationships, menopause, anxiety and mental health.
The place activation is subtle but extensive: a primal sweat lodge, sauna, steam, hydro-thermal pool, meditation pod, fire temple and pits, wild swimming, mountain bike courses, yoga, group presentation rooms, cinema screen, the Garden of Cosmic Origin, moon baths – the list goes on.
Retreats and courses here cover everything from eco-therapy and medicinal and herbal support to nutritional and behavioural change – but in each case the experience is fun and always entertaining, framed by a breathtaking panorama of the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
A new frontier
‘Avalon is less about revolution and more about renaissance and reformation’, Roger explains. ‘No street demonstrations are needed yet!’
Paris and Roger try to avoid divisiveness and anger with any current issues, and instead promote compassion, understanding, unity and freedom of choice, with a focus on personal responsibility.
‘This island of personal responsibility acknowledges human frailty and weakness’, Roger tells us. ‘It’s less New Age and more New Frontier. The work is led by heart and solutions, and centres on the inner state of human beings. The goal is to give people the strength to define and express their sense of purpose and their art of being.’
Avalon is attracting philosophers, changemakers and lifestyle managers like a magnet. It has hosted Guatemalan Mayan Elders and events and courses ranging from a spiritual Davos, Path of Love and the Hoffman Process to sound journeys, Conscious Cafés, kirtans and pop-up wellbeing events.
Lawrence Bloom, Lily Cole, Tim Freke, Andrew Harvey, Jasmine Helmsley, Yantara Jiro, Malcolm Sterne and Rebel Wisdom are just some of the names in the guest book, and each visitor is part of the sanctuary’s journey.
Rewilding and nature
‘Renaissance and reformation’ is a key theme at Broughton; it goes beyond the reuse of Estate buildings and travels deep into the land.
While Avalon specialises in the inner nature of the human being, a rewilding and nature recovery programme on the 3,000-acre Estate is nurturing the environment as well.
There are plans to plant 180 hectares with woods this year – that’s around 8% of the provisional figure for all new woodland created in England in 2020.
The trees planted will extend to a foraging forest, orchards and a programme with the Environment Agency to ‘slow the flow’ and prevent future flooding by working with nature instead of against it.
The Sanctuary’s in-house forest therapist and Earth shaman is also on hand to help visitors re-establish their connection to nature and continue on their wellbeing journey.
Wellbeing for all
On this historic Estate, it’s fantastic to see conservation embedded in development – and the regeneration of mind, body and spirit running parallel with the loving restoration of the Estate’s land and buildings.
There are over 100 beds on the Estate, from rooms in the 16th-century Hall and farmhouse holiday homes to an idyllic hermit’s hut. A new Recovery Centre is being created on a more remote farmhouse.
The broad range of accommodation available creates a full spectrum of affordability, and the Avalon Foundation makes sure that nobody is excluded.
You can currently rent a holiday home and safely enjoy a weekly range of activities, from sound baths, guided forest bathing, yoga and mountain biking to fire temple drumming, story evenings and ecstatic dances in nature.
A new way of life
Paris and Roger have found a formula that caters for all groups, needs and programmes – whether people are looking for a day hire or a family retreat in one of the 12 holiday homes.
In each case it’s a conscious and ethical wellbeing break away, where individuals and groups can experience one of Britain’s leading lights in the mission to serve a new way of life.
A human celebration
It could be said that Broughton has a feel of Esalen meets Soho House meets Daylesford meets an ashram. It’s a place and community that spirals up, energised by its enterprising culture.
In its celebration of human endeavour, Broughton is guided by two individuals who are embracing and encouraging the evolution of the human spirit.
Paris and Roger had hoped the 21st century would usher in a new era of personal responsibility, delivered by renaissance and reformation and hallmarked by a sense of being in service without any need for heavy state intervention.
In this vision, there is no place for the breed of revolution that failed in China, Germany, Russia and so many other places in the 20th century.
The goal at Broughton is to inspire a different way of living – a new civilisation that involves compromise and acceptance, so we can coexist in a sustainable and tolerant way.
Here, you can live the life of a new story in an authentic way – feel it, live it, read it, touch it, sleep it and, above all, enjoy it. It’s about inner transformation for outer change – in an inspirational and regenerative space that celebrates all that is good in the world.
‘In order to create a more harmonious world, we need to learn to live peacefully around difference’, Paris tells us. ‘The more able we are to cultivate peace within, the more we will be able to create peace with one another – and that is something humanity needs’.
Avalon was founded on the idea of source, or the belief that all philosophies lead to the same thing: the essence of life and creation. In a culture of over-consumption, it offers experiences of an inner type that create a positive impact on our lives, communities and the Earth.
Humanity is in crisis, yet what could emerge could be profoundly beautiful if we could all commit to making positive change in the ways we are able.
Avalon and the Broughton Hall Estate are providing the space for a new humanity to emerge. A place to come home – to yourself and to nature. The great reset is here and we are all involved.