Alfoxton Park image from estate agents particulars

Wordsworth’s former home to become a Buddhist retreat

A FORMER hotel, once home to William Wordsworth, is set to be transformed into a Buddhist retreat centre.

The Alfoxton Park Hotel in Holford was bought for £1.4million by a Buddhist charity last year, having lain empty for several years.

The trust looking after the building has now submitted plans for how the main house will be brought back into use as a retreat, complete with on-site accommodation.

During his stay there, Wordsworth composed Lyrical Ballads with fellow poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, a collection which included the latter’s epic poem The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, inspired by Watchet Harbour.

The house housed American troops during the Second World War, but fell into disrepair after the hotel closed in the mid-2000s, finding its way onto Historic England’s ‘at risk’ register.

The former West Somerset Council took enforcement action against a property developer in 2010 after it emerged the run-down complex was being used to house Polish workers, the BBC reported.

The Alfoxton Park Trust has unveiled proposals on how the main house would be brought back into use.

A spokesperson said: “Our vision is to renovate Alfoxton Park, a large and handsome listed building, and an important part of Britain’s literary heritage, into a significant new retreat centre for the Triratna Buddhist Community.

“We believe this will prove a successful, creative, and appropriate use of this very special building; Alfoxton will join the other eight retreat centres Triratna already operates around the UK, all of which are thriving.”

The Triratna Buddhist Community is a movement “dedicated to communicating Buddhist truths in ways appropriate to the modern world”.

Three kinds of activities would be held at the site once the work is completed – artistic and creative retreats for the movement’s ‘literary wing’, long meditation retreats, and outdoor ‘elemental’ retreats.

Visitors will be able to use the facility on a “give what they can” basis rather than being charged flat fees, with the trust stating this “leads, perhaps counter-intuitively, to an increase rather than a decrease in income”.

The main house will form the retreat centre, with space for events and accommodation, while the coach house in the grounds will become a permanent residential community.

Other barns on the site will be renovated over the coming years, with the former tennis court becoming a car park.

A trust spokesperson said: “The buildings have been sitting empty for over 15 years with extensive leaking in the roof and asbestos throughout. They are all uninhabitable in their present condition.

“The works will be carried out as a self build project by the future community members who have experience in building projects. As such the proposed phasing of works looks to provide suitable living accommodation for them as soon as possible.”

While the first stage of work is carried out, members of the community will live in a cabin and 12 caravans on the site, with the trust assuring their position will be “as discreet as possible”.

The council is expected to make a final decision on the plans later in the year.

Long Wood graphic image Jeff Bevan 350
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