Following the June 29th "What Do We Do Now (not the official title!)" event - see here for more details - a PETT team consisting of Chair Rosemary Lilley, Executive Director Rich Rollinson, Transition Project Manager Fiona Talwar-Lomberg, and archivist Craig Fees travelled over to Braziers Park in Oxfordshire on Tuesday, the 3rd of July. Invited by Brazier's Aggie Forster, and meeting with Brazier's Treasurer Cliff Jordan, it was the first fruit of the June 29th meeting. In the words of Transition Project Manager Fiona, the PETT team "found an appetite to explore how we can go about working collectively to build a stronger future for all."
Braziers is a beautiful and very old house set in extensive grounds and fields, but it is far more than that. Historically and philosophically, PETT and Braziers Park are cousins, descending from shared roots in the significant social experiments of Grith Fyrd and the Q Camps Committee of the 1920s and 30s.
Q Camps grew out of Grith Fyrd (Anglo-Saxon "Peace Army"), which was a self-help and self-sufficiency, camp-based organisation. Grith Fyrd, or Grith Pioneers, was created in the years leading up to the Second World War as a practical response to the devastating impact of the Great Depression, which itself rolled out of the immense trauma of the First World War. The Q Camps organisation was created in the early 1930s to work with men who were far too damaged and disturbed for the Grith Fyrd Camps, and in its Hawkspur Camp - immortalised in PETT Founding Trustee David Wills' book, "The Hawkspur Experiment" - demonstrated a way of living and working which had a significant, recognised influence on the post-war Therapeutic Community movement. AND brought psychoanalyst and paediatrician Donald Winnicott directly into the work with residential therapeutic child care, in which his influence has been so immense (see here).
PETT is what is called a successor organisation to the Q Camps Committee - we inherited their archives and their residual funds, and all three founding Trustees were closely involved together at Hawkspur, and were members of the Q Camps Committee. Dr. Norman Glaister was also a member of the Q Camps Committee. After the War he bought Braziers Park, and in 1950 established the Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research there. To get a sense of some of the connections and convergences with PETT, it is worth reading Brazier's information about itself (for their website as such, see here):
Braziers Park, School of Integrative Social Research (BPSISR) is a Specially Authorised Friendly Society, registered with the FCA, and Charity Commission Registered as Friends of Braziers (Charity No. 1042429). We are a community, an adult educational institution, and venue hire business that has sustainable aims for public benefit. Due to the nature of our organisation as an integrative social research institution, and our ever-changing cohort of members and residents, our aims, courses and events are constantly changing and developing. Briefly and widely, we are concerned with process – how is it we, as a society, contribute to social issues? What can we do to address this?
We are committed to being a community of diverse minds and backgrounds so that we can develop holistic and sustainable reasoning, living, and thinking to address environment, social, and personal issues that affect our society.
Above right: Braziers from the summer house
Below: The entrance hall
One of many spaces for reflective sitting, and group discussions.
Listed, and evocative of possibilities.
The milking parlour - built to be cool all year round (and it is!). One of many places Braziers' fascinating archives could perhaps be stored.
Members of the PETT team making their way back from the milking parlour to the main house, past orchard, abundant walled garden, glass houses, and fertile vegetable plots.
The dining room, where community and visitors eat together, and where much from the gardens ends up.
Through an 18th century window; an older house built around a much older core.