Friday, 21 November 2014

It’s Fun To Stay…

…at the YMCA!

I have just spent four days at Dunford House, in West Sussex, which is a beautiful conference centre owned and run by the YMCA. [Website here]

dunford1This was for our annual WWDP Planning Conference. The National committee meets every November to sort out the service and materials for the Day of Prayer which will happen 16 months later. So this year we were focussing on Cuba 2016.

I shall be blogging more about what we did later – but briefly I want to say what a splendid venue it was. Mary and Arvind, the senior staff members were brilliant, and did everything possible to make our stay comfortable. Rooms, meals and all other facilities excellent- and good WiFi connections everywhere [shame my ancient laptop kept dying on me!]


The house was, for many years, the home of Richard Cobden, the champion of Free Trade, and prime mover in the repeal of the Corn Laws back in Victorian England [he was also a passionate campaigner for peace] I admit that I have forgotten most of the stuff I learned about him in school – but I remember Mr Watson., our history teacher, telling us that Cobden cared about poor and hungry people. Good man!

dunford3Dunford House shares many of his values – fairly traded products are used, and local businesses supported where possible. When we split up into small working groups, I was in the library, where a signed letter from Garibaldi** was in a frame on the mantel. The nearby ‘solarium’ was designed by Joseph Paxton  [creator of the Crystal Palace] and it was Cobden whose vision of Free Trade was the inspiration for the Great Exhibition.


The house was full of beautiful furniture and historical artefacts, fascinating framed letters, Punch cartoons and posters. In the corridor by my bedroom was an elderly treadle Singer Sewing machine. Lovely!

So many intriguing things to appreciate – and I kept forgetting to photograph them – sorry! It was a real privilege to spend time in such a great property with a wonderful history. These photos are from the House website – clearly taken earlier in the year - this week the trees have displayed the most beautiful autumnal foliage. If you ever get the opportunity to visit Dunford I hope you will enjoy it too.


**I do like his biscuits, especially with a cup of tea!


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