Darvell Community • Robertsbridge, East Sussex

About Us:
Darvell is the oldest and most populous Bruderhof settlement in Europe. We are similar to other large communities in that we are made up of a mix of families and singles, young and old. Bruderhof children attend our independent school, and adults work within the settlement. Our business, Community Playthings, manufactures classroom and play equipment, and many customers visit our Darvell showroom and workshop to see the products and plan their learning environments. We also make classic Adirondack chairs and tables for gardens.

Setting:
Our community is located about one hundred kilometers southeast of London in East Sussex near the historic town of Hastings. The rolling hills that immediately surround Darvell include woodlands and hedge-lined fields, usually grazed by sheep and cows. On our property you’ll find brick apartment buildings and communal buildings including a dining hall, meeting room, kitchen, laundry, school, offices, and factory. From 1920 until we purchased the property in 1971, the site was used as a sanitarium for tuberculosis patients.

Connecting with Neighbours:
We welcome friends and neighbours to join us most Saturdays for communal dinners, and we often have seasonal events open to the public. We also occasionally offer our conference room facility, free of charge, to local social enterprises who need a place to meet. Some Darvell members volunteer at a local soup kitchen, and we work in conjunction with local churches and charities to do other social outreach projects.

Point of Interest:
Part of our property used to be a Mesolithic campsite. When we are playing or digging we occasionally find ancient relics: chipped flint pieces, tools from the Stone Age, fossils, and pottery fragments.

Meet some of the people who live at Darvell:

OliviaBarth

Olivia: I’m almost forty years old (Can it be true? Most days I feel like I’m about twenty-three…or sometimes seventy), married to Ian Barth (of Bruderhof Blog fame), and we have four sons, ages two to twelve. Darvell has about three hundred souls living together and we are located in rural East Sussex, surrounded by sheep, cows, and hops! One of the greatest things about our intentional community is that it’s right in the village of Robertsbridge. We get to know loads of neighbors, participate in local fetes, and forge good relationships with the local schools. With four boys it’s perfect to live in the country with loads of opportunities for activities – they enjoy hiking, running, football, horse riding, growing vegetables, and also just playing with mud and pebbles – at least the youngest one.

RichardKurtz

Richard: I live at Darvell with my wife and our youngest daughter. We have fun exploring God’s wonderful and varied creation. We thoroughly enjoy learning the English wildlife, especially the birds. British bird watchers joke about England’s LBJs (Little Brown Jobs) but I think British birds are great! We love the network of public footpaths leading past centuries-old thatched cottages and villas, past ancient twisted oaks and lichen encrusted hornbeams. The footpaths also lead to frequent interesting encounters with other hikers and nature lovers, many from the village that adjoins our Christian community. And the daily flocks of gulls and other shorebirds are a constant reminder that we are not much more than a half hour drive from the coast.

Joyce Kurtz

Joyce: Darvell has been my home for more than a year now and I love the place! I’m work as a graphic designer for Community Playthings. I grew up in New York and was very excited to have the opportunity to move to England. It’s been a great chance to get to know a whole bunch of different people and to explore a new landscape! I’m an artist and a bit of a shutterbug, so I’m enjoying every bit of the English scenery. One of the interesting aspects of living at the Bruderhof is that I never know where I’ll be needed. When I became a member, I promised to serve wherever and however, so I’ve had the chance to live at several different community locations. Each one is unique but our faith unites us, and in the end, I find it doesn’t matter where I live. On the contrary, it’s the relationships I form with the people I live with that make life exciting, meaningful, and a lot of fun. I love the diversity of each individual here at Darvell, and I love how old and young can live and work together. I find it liberating not to have to worry about my worth, as set by standards in society. Here there is no pressure to conform to unattainable goals – maybe that’s why I’m so happy! I am free to be who God wants me to be, and free to work right here with others who strive to live in harmony and work for God’s kingdom.

Contact Information

Darvell
Brightling Road
Robertsbridge
East Sussex TN32 5DR
United Kingdom
Tel:  01580 883300
Email:  darvell@bruderhof.com

Established: 1971

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