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 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 neighbours 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.

LaelPage

Lael: Hello! I’m Lael, and I live at the Darvell community with my wife, Helga, and our four children, aged six to fifteen. I work in the IT department and my wife works with the children in our nursery. Since Darvell is located on prime farm land here in East Sussex, one of the things that our family enjoys is looking after a small herd of Ayrshire dairy cows. Our children are also involved in many activities that keep us busy, including music, football, and chess. One of the things that I especially like about Darvell is how very close it is to the local village, where we have many friends. I’ve also been coaching football for the local football club for a number of years, which has put me in touch with hundreds of children and their families.  

Natalie Boller

Natalie: My husband, Kim, and I moved to England five years ago and have totally fallen in love with this country of history and beauty. Kim designs new products for Community Playthings, while I answer the phone at our community switchboard. In fact you’ll probably hear my cheery voice if you call Darvell to arrange a visit! When we’re not working, we love to cycle along the English seacoast and then refresh ourselves with a pint at the pub. We are both turning sixty and our six children have flown the nest: two physicians, two tattoo artists, and two sons who have joined us in living this amazing adventure of brotherly community.

Our son Hardy and his wife, Marguerite, also live here at Darvell. Last year they welcomed Asher, our first grandchild, whose sunny disposition provides us with merriment. We can’t wait till he is old enough to bring along on our bike expeditions.

We love living in community with others possessing a spirit of adventure who have “caught the vision.” Kim and I just finished bottling a batch of blackberry plum wine with fruit picked from the hedgerows of East Sussex – we invite you to raise a glass with us when you visit!

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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Another Life Is Possible - 100 years of life together at the Bruderhof