Stanton Guildhouse - A centre inspired by
the great Gandhi
In the beautiful Cotswold village of Stanton looking out over the Vale of Evesham from high on the Cotswold escarpment is a unique centre inspired by one of world history's great statesmen and built by a tireless social campaigner.
In the 1920s the founder of Stanton Guildhouse, Mary Osborn, worked
at a centre for the poor in the East End of London. It was there
that she met the man who would change her life - Mahatma Gandhi.
He shared her love of spinning but what impressed her most were
his descriptions of his `ashrams', which were the simple religious
retreats he had founded in India.
His philosophy gave her the germ of an idea - she would set up
a similar type of centre, a retreat from the world, but dedicated
to the instruction of traditional crafts.
After founding a charitable trust, Mary Osborn set about building
the centre with the help of a team of young international volunteers
and local people. The building, which was completed in 1973 and
listed in 1999, was built out of reclaimed materials from the surrounding
area and also includes paving stones from the streets of London
and oak from the Blenheim Palace estate.
She also opened her doors to give temporary homes to homeless
families, a base for those in times of personal turmoil and happy
summer holidays for children from disadvantaged areas.
Over the years the centre has enjoyed the support of such well-known
people as J B Priestley, John Betjeman, Enid Blyton and Flora Robson
- as well as from its inspiration Mahatma Gandhi. He maintained
links with Mary Osborn and on his 63rd birthday presented her with
a spinning wheel, which still stands in the central room of the
After Mary Osborn's death in 1996, the Guildhouse, which was also
her home, has continued to be a place where people can get the
best tuition in traditional craft techniques.
Courses on offer in the forthcoming autumn term, which starts
on Monday, include pottery, patchwork, quilting, art, woodwork,
calligraphy, woodturning, creative writing, stained glass making
and furniture restoration.
Manager Susan Mawson said she hoped to continue the legacy of
Mary Osborn. "When Mary died the trustees had to decide how to
keep the Guildhouse going. These days there is not so much demand
for spinning and weaving so we go with what people want to do.
We have got to be prepared to be flexible and move with the times."
The most significant development at the Guildhouse in recent years
has been its growing role as a national training centre for social
entrepreneurs, bringing together business, public and voluntary
sectors and others involved in community services.
Stanton Guildhouse provides residential breaks or away-day visits,
IT training facilities, tutored manual arts and crafts programmes
and specialised workshops throughout the year.
Importantly, the Guildhouse offers self-catering accommodation for upto 15 people during the week and at weekends at very reasonable rates - ideal for family get togethers/reunions and for conference delegates.
The atmosphere is conducive to respite or meetings, training or
team building, creativity and development, and hospitality is carefully
tailored to each group according to their needs.
For information about the range of courses available at the Guildhouse
call Susan on 01386 584357 or visit the website at - www.stantonguildhouse.org.uk.