The daughter of the founders of Sharpham Trust, Claire Ash Wheeler, formally opened the charity’s Coach House retreat venue last week (Thursday March 24, 2022) at a glittering launch event in a brand new glass and timber meditation space.

lady stood in front of plaque

Image: Sharpham Trust

The striking and contemporary venue is the result of a £1.6million investment by the Trust, five years of planning and two years of renovation (during the pandemic) of the Grade II-listedformer stable block. Already tipped as one of this year’s Best UK & European Meditation Retreats by The Sunday Times, The Coach House at the Sharpham Trust is now open and will host mindfulness retreats specifically for deepening a connection to nature and tackling the effects of stress and burnout.

Claire was joined by an array of guests to celebrate the opening, including Chairman of Sharpham Trust, Daniel Stokes, Trust Director, Julian Carnell, Trustees, William Lana, Charlotte Rathbone and Martin Wright, as well as Sally Everton, CEO of Visit Devon, BBC Gardeners’ World’s Toby Buckland, filmmaker and writer Ash Ghadiali, as well as members of the Coach House’s design and build team from Savills, Carpenter Oak and Classic Builders.

In her speech, Claire gave a fascinating history that included moving memories of her time growing up in the Sharpham House in the ‘60s. She was positive about the evolving story of the Sharpham Trust - a charity that promotes mindfulness and a strong nature connection.

She spoke of “this exciting new addition to the Sharpham ‘stable’” adding: “Here so many people will benefit from taking time out of their lives for reflection, connection and unstructured time. What a wonderful gift that is! What vision from the Sharpham Trustees!”

Quoting her father and Sharpham Trust founder, Maurice Ash, Claire said: “Sharpham, after all, has adapted before and it could adapt again, you can see in the stones. The justification for its continuance at all is that it has a role to play in the re-inspiration of the countryside.”

Daniel Stokes, Trust Chair, thanked Maurice and Ruth Ash for putting Sharpham House and Estate into Trust in 1982 and said that their “spirit of generosity” characterised all that is done by the charity - including the new Coach House. He also paid tribute to the work of Trust Director Julian Carnell in managing the 12-month project on a listed building during a pandemic, with escalating costs, staff shortages and with retreatants staying in nearby Sharpham House. "It's been a mammoth task and Julian, our director, has shouldered the burden of that unfalteringly. Special thanks must go to him."

Launch night guests enjoyed the opportunity to explore the newly converted stable block and its 18 lovely bedrooms - most of them en-suite - and its stunning new timber-framed space that extends the historic quadrangle and creates a place to meet, meditate and eat. The building is set beside the South Lawns where meditations and nature practices take place with a breath-taking view of the River Dart.

the coach house

Image: Sharpham Trust

Retreats incorporating nature’s ability to comfort and heal will take place at The Coach House on The Sharpham Estate, world renowned for its high-quality cheeses and wine, making a stunning setting beside the River Dart near Totnes, South Devon. The entire Sharpham Estate is within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Part of the estate is being rewilded and Coach House retreatants will be invited to uniquely experience and explore the fields being restored to nature, performing mindful tasks and nature practices that will deeply connect them to the land.

Coach House retreatants will also be helping to grow organic food in the Walled Garden – but they’ll also be tasting it too. 

Lots of the vegetables served to retreatants are grown at Sharpham by Head Gardener Bryony Middleton with the help of previous guests, so participants undertaking daily mindful gardening tasks will be joining in a cycle of abundance.

See more from Sharpham Trust

The Sharpham Trust offers mindfulness retreats close to nature in a portfolio of venues on the Sharpham Estate, close to the River Dart within a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. People can stay in several different locations on the 550-acre Estate, including in: Sharpham House…