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 BenEliezer

Hello, my name is Ben! I live at a big community called Beech Grove. I work in the woodshop making furniture, and I collect eggs from 400 chickens. I love to play soccer and watch my favorite team, Chelsea. My dog Barley is a golden retriever. I like to hang out with my nieces, Ellen and Shanna. Three years ago I grew a giant pumpkin that weighed 1248 pounds. It won first prize at the show in London!

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.

IdaNeal

Hello, my name is Ida Neal and I live with my husband, Dale and about 200 other people at the Beech Grove Community, which is an intentional community. Our family has lived here since 1999 when we moved here from the USA so I could be a nurse at this community, which had started a few years earlier. Beech Grove is a beautiful place located in Kent County (the garden county of England), at the edge of the village of Nonington and only about eight miles from the sea, the English Channel. I am a somewhat ‘retired’ nurse, which I did for about 45 years.  I say somewhat retired because a nurse never retires. One is always looking at things from a nurse’s perspective. Since I retired from nursing, I enjoy doing many other things. I spend part of everyday fixing old and broken books for our library, and I enjoy making quilts and joining several neighbor women in a quilting club once a week. A good chance to get together to work and chat and catch up with each other. I also enjoy doing pottery and for this school year, I am teaching sewing to two high school girls as part of their studies. Dale and I have 11 grandchildren. Our daughter and son in law and two grandsons live in the same house as we do and so we see a lot of them, which we enjoy. For exercise, I enjoy swimming and biking with one of the other sisters in the community. We go several times a week (weather permitting) and explore the countryside around us. Dale and I also enjoy gardening and we usually have a vegetable garden, which we try to grow using sustainable techniques. We also have a small worm farm, which is for the same purpose. The worms eat the leftovers and vegetables and multiply rapidly!

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