We are an open Christian community welcoming people of all faiths and none who are interested in exploring the spiritual side of life and sharing in the Othona experience. We say grace at mealtimes and encourage everyone to attend our brief informal chapel services as these are an integral part of our daily life. People with a wide range of beliefs find themselves 'at home' at Othona.
Many generations have loved the freedom to roam, the company of other children and other adults. The chapel also seems to have a special appeal to children. Children and teenagers are fully part of the community and of the chores list!
No, we don't have a self-catering option, all meals are eaten together, as a community.
Usually breakfast is porridge, cereals and toast; lunch soup and salad; and dinner a main course and dessert. We bake our own bread, and use home-grown fruit and vegetables wherever possible. We often have barbecues during the summer months. There is also an inexhaustible supply of tea and coffee, and a large fruit bowl!
To share the same food is a potent symbol of our shared humanity. But of course some people have allergies or other conditions that limit what they can safely eat. If you have a serious medical intolerance to any foodstuffs please notify us when booking; then we will clarify whether we can exclude them from the menu. We will try to meet any other dietary requirements but may not be able to meet them. Please bring any supplementary food you are likely to need; ask for fridge space if you need it; but realise that you won’t usually be able to cook it at Othona. We always stock various non-diary milk, wheat-free bread and rice cakes.
The buildings are fully accessible to wheelchair users and there is an accessible shower room, which includes a toilet, in the main Motley building. It is a bit of a bumpy ride across the field to the chapel (although some like to do it that way) but a lift can be arranged to take the long track round to chapel. We regularly welcome guests with a wide variety of disabilities.
Unfortunately your four-legged friends will need to stay at home. We welcome trained assistance dogs as part of our commitment to ensuring Othona meets the needs of people with disabilities. Please let us know in advance if you will be bringing your assistance dog so that we can make sure our arrangements are suitable for you.
Rooms are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so do book early if a single room is essential for you. Otherwise, we may need to ask you to share. Visitors are welcome to bring their own tent or campervan (normal rates apply).
We have 18 bedrooms across three buildings, plus five yurts. The bedrooms are clean and comfortable, with basic furniture and lamps. Some rooms have a sink, including all those in the Solar Building. We provide duvets, pillows and blankets. Our main 'Norman Motley' building is centrally-heated with kitchen, dining and communal areas as well as single, family and dormitory bedrooms. Our Solar building, comprises a meeting/library room and five bedrooms. The Hut provides an additional two dormitory bedrooms during warmer months. We have five yurts, each with a woodburning stove and two single beds, plus space for up to three children on futons/camping beds. Our older 'Bank' building is used for day groups, crafts, films and other activities.
To save on washing please bring a towel, sheet, duvet cover and two pillowcases. Alternatively, you can hire the bedding from us for £10.
In addition to bedding/towels we suggest bringing:
- Warm and waterproof clothing suitable for all weathers.
- Personal toiletries including sun cream and insect repellent.
- Medication you may need over the course of the event, as the nearest pharmacy is some distance away!
- Ear plugs, eye mask (the yurts are lovely and bright in the mornings).
- Swimming costume and beach towel.
- A book to read, or your favourite board game.
- Favourite readings, songs or poems for chapel services.
- A musical instrument if you play one.
- Please bring appropriate clothing and footwear if you are attending a working weekend. Tools will be provided.
- Leave your hairdryer at home. We provide one hairdryer for the use of all guests. If more than one hairdryer is used at the same time we risk overloading our electricity circuits!
To save on washing please bring a towel, sheet, duvet cover and two pillowcases. Alternatively, you can hire the bedding from us for £7.
The Bradwell Community Shop, approximately 2 miles away, offers a selection of items: newspapers, ice-creams, sweets and groceries and houses a post office (open mornings only).
Yes, you can swim on the incoming tide at First Beach, which is only a five-minute stroll along the sea wall, or at most times at Wymarks Beach, which is a twenty-minute walk away towards Bradwell Waterside. Trips to the beach and swimming become part of the daily rhythm during the summer. When local swimming times coincide with mealtimes, we alter the mealtimes! Always ask a member of the core where the safe places to swim are!
Yes – doing chores together breaks the ice and builds community. The chores (duties) are usually allocated at breakfast time and could be anything from preparing vegetables, to cleaning bathrooms, to washing dishes. All ages get a job of some kind. If you are here with a group running its own programme, we do ask you to take on table setting and clearing and washing up duties. Additional offers of help with housekeeping and cleaning are always welcome!
We do not provide or sell any alcohol. However, after supper and evening chapel, visitors may share wine or beer (not spirits) that they have brought with them and drink in moderation. They are asked to clear and wash glasses at the end of the evening.
It is illegal to smoke in the buildings. There is a designated outdoor smoking area.
Mobile phone coverage is patchy for some providers, but you should get a signal somewhere on site. There is Wi-Fi access in parts of the Motley and Solar buildings. Mobile phones, MP3 players and tablets should always be used with headphones, so as not to disturb others. Many visitors appreciate the opportunity to ‘get away from it all’ so put your out of office message on and enjoy a few screen-free days!
The Centre is managed by a Warden with a small team of residential core members. Volunteer helpers are an essential element in the running of the Community, assisting with cooking, gardening, maintenance, and looking after school groups. During the summer a 'helpers team' is formed each week with community members taking on roles such as team leader, cook, planning entertainments or co-ordinating chapel services as part of their holiday.
Othona Essex aims to be clear and responsible about the use of your data. Visit our Policies section for details of this and other policies.
We hope that nothing will go wrong during your stay at Othona, if however you do have any issues during your visit or with any aspect of your stay then please contact a member of the core staff team to report the problem. If you have a more serious complaint then please speak to the Warden in the first instance. If this does not resolve the issue satisfactorily then please contact the Chair of the local Bradwell Committee. If this still does not resolve your issue then you can send a written complaint, initially to the Warden. This will be responded to within 48hrs to agree a way forward. If this does not resolve the issue then the matter should be referred to the Head of Trustees. All complaints will be investigated and recorded.