We have been gathering interviews now for 6 months and have managed to record almost 40 people's experiences of life at the Pilsdon Community over the last 60 years.
We have interviewed a variety of people who have lived here as guests, some who have volunteered, former members and wardens and several people who have supported the community as visitors and neighbours over the years. Together the stories paint a rich and moving picture of life in community, what Pilsdon has meant to people, and what it continues to stand for in the world.
A former member of the community, Jonathan Herbert, who was warden from 2004 to 2008, summarised in his interview what he remembers about living in the rhythm of Pilsdon:
"Yeah, I thought it was just wonderful and those rhythms, so important and we’ve lost them. In particularly urban society, people have lost that sense of rhythm. Each day was, in a sense, very contained. It’s one of the things that made Pilsdon, I think, feel like a safe place; you had that routine, which held some of the pain, some of the fear, some of the anxiety, some of the madness there. Yeah, I loved that. I think the rhythm of prayer is a really hidden, understated thing at Pilsdon but I’m sure it’s the glue that holds it all together. [...] I remember my early days, we used to turn off the generator at 11 o’clock and it went completely silent, so there was a real contrast of the silence of the night. Then, all the agricultural year and the rhythms of that. Cleaning out the winter quarters, which was a great communal effort every January, every May when we’d have 15 wheelbarrows up and down the yard and three or four people digging out all the muck and another person at the other end, building the new muckheap. All those things. The lambs being born, planting in the vegetable garden. Then, the hay harvest, big one and then in the winter, going out collecting wood, chopping logs. Winter work, the big fires that would… lovely, coming in at half past 4 when it was already dark in December to see this great blaze going in the common room. Lovely, lovely".
Alex Kelly, a former guest of the community, also spoke about the impact of living in the daily and seasonal rhythms at Pilsdon:
"You live in harmony with the seasons here. So, when the summer comes, you really notice it and appreciate it. Winters tend to be a bit dark and stuff but during the winter, you get cosy nights by the fire. Everyone’s sat around and ‘cause of the mix of people here, the conversations range from deeply profound to completely absurd and chaotic and nonsensical. You get conversations that have been happening for years. I’ve just come back now after being away for two years and there are conversations that are still going on now that are still a really big issue. They range from, like I say, the absurd to the very profound and spiritual to petty squabbles. Like I say, in the winter, you get more cosy nights by the fire, more conversation. As much as is measurable, out working in the rain, it’s really nice to come into the house and that sense of all being together and hunkered down in the warmth, or out pushing against the elements a bit, ‘cause you have to push. Waterproofs on and sometimes, the rain’s blowing in sideways and you have to go and muck out at six o’clock in the morning or whatever, or go and do the gardening. You don’t get that in everyday life, do you? Here, you live in rhythm with the elements and the change of season".
Our 60th anniversary will be held this year on 14th October; it will be a celebration of the community and an opportunity for some of these tales to be told. Details of the day can be found here.