Beech Grove Community • Nonington, Kent

About Us:
Beech Grove is similar to other large Bruderhof settlements, made up of a lively mix of families and singles, young and old, who live, work, and worship together. Bruderhof children attend our primary school, and adults work within the settlement, including in a workshop for Community Playthings – one of the Bruderhof’s businesses. As part of our community we run the Beech Grove Academy, a school for about fifty secondary students from all the English Bruderhof locations.

Setting:
Our property in southeastern England is a former sports college, adapted and expanded to include apartment buildings, a dining hall, a primary school, and a workshop. We are located in the Kentish North Downs, an area of gently rolling chalk hills and valleys, farmland, meadows, and woodlands. We are in the village of Nonington, halfway between the historic town of Canterbury and the white cliffs of Dover and are just sixteen kilometers from both the North Sea and the English Channel.

Connecting with Neighbours:
We welcome friends and neighbours to our communal dinners most Saturdays. We also host seasonal events open to the public. Local primary schools visit us to enjoy hayrides, crafts, and garden activities. You can find our Bruderhof members driving horse carts for local fairs and events. Our members also support and volunteer at local food banks, and our students visit with residents at care homes in the area. We value contact with our neighbours and often participate in local events.

Point of Interest:
Beech Grove is known historically as the St. Albans Court Manor. Recorded residence on this site goes back over one thousand years. The property includes a Grade I listed Victorian manor and a medieval thatched cottage.

Meet some of the people who live at Beech Grove:
Ben Boller

Hey, I’m Ben Boller. Bit about me: I’m a 21-year-old Christian who grew up across the north eastern United States, and then moved to the UK at the age of 16.

Our little neighbourhood here in Nonington, Kent is surrounded with a lot of really beautiful nature and woodlands. Personally, I go for the mountain biking trails just to get out in it and be as active as time permits. I’d write some of my other interests here except that they’re kind of hard to pin down… a constant evolvement. Turns out, this is actually fairly well-suited to the unpredictable and spontaneous nature of Christian community.

For the last year and a bit, I’ve been living in Beech Grove. Holding one of the larger populations of our intentional communities, Beech Grove has a sizeable communal factory, supplying finished goods for our Community Playthings brand. My day-job is to run the warehouse area of the workshop, which includes loading and unloading the trucks. Additionally, we are home to the Beech Grove Academy, so we stay pretty busy keeping it all moving along.

At the moment we have almost more work than we can deal with, so if you’re feeling up to it you should come by and help out, and see what we’re all about! We won’t pay you, but trust me we have excellent food.

Colin and Jennifer Hi! We are Colin and Jennifer Wegner. We have one little guy, Thomas. 

We live at the Beech Grove Bruderhof in Kent. Please stop by! We love having people over, even if it’s a bit of a happy mess. There will always be something to read, and Thomas is happy to share his Cheerios. For several months during COVID lockdown we experienced community with just our immediate neighbors – like, six of them. It was intense, and we soon learned how much we rely on communal living to keep our vision and our faith strong. We found ourselves longing for new faces and new experiences to broaden our horizons.

We are children of New York’s Catskill Mountains, but England is gradually winning our hearts. Living in chalk downs is new for us – imagine a place with no ditches, streams, or ponds. Rain falls and disappears. Houses are built at the bottoms of the gentle valleys. And it’s verdant – there’s grass, moss, or ivy just about everywhere you look. We love history, another thing Kent has an abundance of. Beech Grove holds the distinction of having the oldest house on any Bruderhof community worldwide! Gooseberry Hall Farm Cottage, with its thatched roof and low doorways, was built . . . well, no one knows when, but it has been lived in since the 1500s. Come visit us for a cup of tea in the rose garden.

Hannah Horning

Hi, my name is Hannah. I live at Beech Grove, an intentional Christian community of approximately 230 members in rural Kent. I’ve been at this location for almost a year, but have lived in England for about twelve years now, including a year in London. I love the grain fields that stretch for miles in this area, but my favorite time of year is spring, when the bluebells carpet the beech woods. I also love our proximity to the sea! Living together in close community has its challenges, but it can be a lifesaver when you go through crises, especially if your family lives elsewhere. There are always supportive friends to talk to. My favorite part of communal life is caring for children, specifically the three- to six-year-olds! I’ve been privileged to be a teacher for over twenty years, and treasure working closely with parents and other teachers. It’s a unique, amazing learning environment that you won’t find anywhere else. Next to being with kids, I love hosting the guests that visit our community and participating in local events. If there are opportunities to volunteer at soup kitchens or other charities, I’ll be there. These are small ways in which I can share some of the richness that I experience every day.

Toby Kleiner

Toby: My wife, Ashlie, and I are parents of two boys and twin girls. I work as an electrician, maintaining the buildings and equipment at Beech Grove, an intentional Christian community. I enjoy the weekends with our kids. There is time for play but it also gives us time to try to pass on good work ethic to them – mostly through fun projects that we do together. For example, we get calves for the kids to bottle feed and raise and we do a family garden every year, which is lots of hard work but it allows the kids to take the produce around to friends and neighbours during harvest time. Sunday evenings are always vibrant in our house because that’s “Games Night” and that gets the kids firing on all cylinders with excitement.

Hello, I’m Matt Maendel, a fifty-year-old father, grandfather, and school teacher. Together with Marion, my wife of over twenty-seven years, I’ve lived at Beech Grove Bruderhof for close to fifteen years. I moved with my family from the United States to teach at Beech Grove School. With a growing family, we got into everything that England had to offer. We got the boys a dog for hunting rabbits, and a stable full of horses kept the girls happy. We quickly fell in love with the wide open spaces that are abundant in southeast Kent.

My involvement in Beech Grove School, with dogs and horses, has brought me into contact with many locals – from other teachers, farmers, to animal lovers. It’s been great to involve myself in their lives, to meet them where they are in their homes, in the pub, or on a footpath. Those that I’ve gotten to know well often accept my invitation to come to Beech Grove to hang out. Backyard barbecues, horse cart rides, or looking around our beautiful community grounds has been the main reason to get together. There’s nothing better than spending time with people who share your interests and goals in life. Come and visit us.

 

Contact Information

Beech Grove
Forest Drive
Nonington
Kent CT15 4FB
United Kingdom
Tel:  01304 842 980
Email:  beechgrove@bruderhof.com

Established: 1995

Want to learn more?
Contact Us!

Connect online

Choose from several different Zoom discussions hosted by Bruderhof members. Learn more.

Request a visit

We welcome guests at our communities and would love to see you! If you’re interested in visiting, fill out the form below and we’ll get back to you about making arrangements. 

  1. Yes, please sign me up to receive a free weekly email from the Bruderhof