This is a beautiful place set in fabulous grounds just a stone’s throw away from Bournville (yes, of chocolate factory fame). You don’t have to be a Quaker to come here – I’m not- and it’s not a place where you’ll feel overwhelmed by religion or religious activity. Yes, there’s a strong emphasis on Quakerism if that’s what you’re looking for and the only slightly ‘odd’ practice I’ve come across is the bell that sounds during lunch and dinner for a moment’s silence. It’s not odd to me as I am familiar with Quakers’ silent worship but it might seem unusual to others; it’s just a few fleeting moments when you stop shovelling the food in and think about how lucky you are to be at Woodbrooke / to be alive / to have good wholesome food to eat … whatever you want. There are daily periods of worship, too, but it’s entirely your choice to seek those out if you want to partake.
There are some people here on courses - there was a school party here for a couple of days - and there are people, like me, who are on holiday, either on their own or with someone else, in order to enjoy some peace and quiet. There are also people who stay here on a long-term basis either volunteers who work here or others who are working or studying in the area. There’s a 24 hour library, several lounges, wi-fi throughout, extensive grounds, a small supplies shop, a spiritual bookshop, pianos you can play, a computer room, quiet rooms, mini kitchen areas and hot drinks machines on the go all day with bowls of fruit available if you’re peckish outside meal times. It’s highly doubtful that you’d feel hungry between meals here as biscuits are laid on mid-morning and cake in the afternoon! All food is organic, home cooked and locally sourced where possible with many of the vegetables grown on site. Food is hot, fresh, plentiful and caters for all tastes - always one meat / fish and one vegetarian option per day but, if you don't like what's on the hot board there's always a salad bar, cheese, crackers, fruit etc. and you can order packed lunches, too.
The atmosphere / ethos here is peaceful and accepting and it’s not unusual for people to be here alone. There’s always someone to talk to at mealtimes if you want to talk and I’ve met some lovely people but there is a lovely air of sensitivity that allows me to be quiet if I want to and / or to sit alone.
Accommodation is clean, warm, comfortable and well supplied - I'd be surprised if you even thought about TV while you were here but you can ask for one if you want to - even with a school party here earlier in the week and a whole bunch of people arriving last night for a conference, it is very quiet. Yes, you hear just enough to reassure you that you're not alone but no disturbances.
A great place for a retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life but close enough to the city and other attractions to have other holiday fun, too!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Why not take a short break in our peaceful urban retreat? Enjoy the 10 acres of beautiful organically-managed garden, explore the Grade 2 listed building and taste our delicious home cooked food. Woodbrooke is located in Selly Oak, only a few minutes by train from Birmingham city centre. Half/Full board also available. ... more less
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