Peace Begins Here
You are warmly invited to join a group of Plum Village Monastics for a five day retreat, where we will learn how to cultivate peace, clarity, joy, and resilience. All ages are welcome and we will live simply enjoying mindful activities together as a community. There will be a separate programme for children and teens, Wake Up Groups – young adults (aged 18-35) in addition to that for adults.
This is a precious and rare opportunity to be able to practise with a team of monastics from the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh in the UK. The retreat will include sessions of guided meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating, talks and sharing circles – plus time to simply relax and to be with others and nature in a peaceful environment. As we generate calmness and insights we will see how we can act compassionately and courageously to protect, heal and bring peace to ourselves and our planet Earth.
Venue & Accommodation
The retreat will be held in the spacious grounds of Old Swinford Hospital School which will be dedicated to our use. Here we can enjoy walking meditation underneath ancient beech trees with the grass under our feet. There is also a lovely park and countryside nearby to appreciate. This venue is situated in the West Midlands and is easily accessible by public transport or by road from most parts of the UK.
Accommodation is in singles, twins and small dormitories with simple bathroom facilities. Family rooms are available. These rooms are in one of seven boarding houses that are on the school campus. There are a few en-suite rooms available. It is also possible to attend the retreat as a non-resident. There are no camping options available.
Old Swinford Hospital School was set up by a philanthropist in 1670 to educate the poor boys of the local area. So the campus retains some historic buildings as well as more modern ones. Thich Nhat Hanh led a retreat there in 1997 and there have been four other retreats here with Plum Village monastics since 2014.
The journey can be done in less than three hours from London by train with a short walk at the end or we can organise pickups for the last half mile. The venue is easily accessible by train from most other parts of the UK.
Arrival and departure
You are invited to arrive between 15:30 and 18:00 on Monday 25th March, dinner will be served shortly afterwards. The retreat activities will start on Monday evening. The final retreat activity ends at 3pm on Friday 29th March
Please note that the School Easter holidays are occurring at different times next year. The dates for this retreat have been chosen according to the availability of the Monastics group and the venue. The Stourbridge venue was only available for the last week in March. We regret that the Easter school holidays do not fall on the same dates across the country and we are really sorry if that may prevent you from attending the retreat.
If cancelling up to 8 weeks before the start (29th January) we can refund your payment less £30 to cover the transaction fees and administration.
After this, you would need to find someone else to fill your place, or we will refund you if we have a waiting list.
Children and Teens Program
There will be a children’s programme, for children aged 4 and over, to cover the times of the main adult sessions in the morning, afternoon and evening. Unfortunately we are not able to look after the under 4s. There will also be a teens programme.
What to bring
Bed clothes (duvet covers, sheet and pillow cases) and towels. If unable to bring, please let us know at time of booking.
Some kind of meditation cushion and mat if you usually use these
Any extra snacks or special food that you might like
We will be enjoying a simple vegan diet during our retreat and will include some gluten free options. Please let us know if you need a gluten free option. If you have other dietary requirements we will try our best to accommodate this but we can not guarantee that this will be possible.
The price of the tickets have been set to cover the main costs of the food and accommodation. The monastics offer the teachings freely, and you are invited to offer a donation in gratitude for the teachings either during the booking or at the retreat. This offering is a practice of generosity for having received the teachings. Practically your generosity contributes towards monastic expenses during the retreat and generally including training, shelter, food and healthcare, which is paid for entirely by donations. If you can support and help the monastics in this way it will be gratefully received.
There is also be the opportunity to offer donations to enable two other activities:
- Towards bursaries enabling those on low incomes to attend the retreat
- Towards the UK Being Peace Practice Centre project which is an initiative aimed at setting up a residential Practice Centre in the Plum Village tradition where retreats can be offered year round.
Supported places / Bursaries
We aim to make our retreats and spaces as inclusive as possible and have bursary funds available for those on low incomes. We especially encourage those who identify as People of Colour/ BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ and who are unable to afford the retreat to use the bursaries. Through generous sponsorship we now have an additional funds to make the retreat more accessible for People of Colour/BIPOC/People of the Global Majority.
Here you can access the 2024 Bursary Request Information and Guidelines for Ticket Purchasers. To apply for a bursary please complete the form available here.
Order of Interbeing Pre-Retreat
If you are a member of the Order of Interbeing and would like to join the OI pre-retreat the two days before the Peace Begins Here retreat starts, please add the OI retreat option on top of your room for the main retreat. The OI pre-retreat starts on Saturday, March 23rd.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question that is not answered here, please have a look at our FAQ document here that we update daily. If that does not answer your question, please contact us by clicking on ‘contact the event organiser’ As we are a team of volunteers, it may take 1-3 days for us to get back to you.
How to attend
Retreat Update – February 9th 2024
Due to the insurance cover, we will not be able to accommodate as many people as before in the main hall that we use as the dharma hall. This means that we will set up a video link to a nearby hall to accommodate all of our participants. At the retreat we will need to ask you to take turns being in the video link hall and in the live hall with the monastics for the dharma talks. However many of the activities – mindful walking, mindful eating etc. can be enjoyed together as a whole community. We will also enjoy some activities in smaller groups such as dharma sharing.
Bookings for this retreat will re-open on Thursday, 15th of February at noon.