Common Life and History

Pilsdon Manor House, located 8 miles north of the West Dorset coast

Pilsdon Manor House, located 8 miles north of the West Dorset coast

Pilsdon is set in the beautiful West Dorset countryside, just 15 minutes from the coast and the market town of Bridport. The community is made up of 25-30 people who live and work together on a small farm, based around a Jacobean manor house and its converted stables and barns. We enjoy home baked bread, fresh vegetables from the garden and milk, butter and cream from our small dairy herd.  Foundational to life at Pilsdon is a shared common life; based simply on prayer, hospitality and work. Our worship and spirituality is Anglican by foundation but ecumenical in expression. People of any faith, or none, and of any race, culture or sexual orientation are made welcome.

The community is led by the Warden and a core group of members and together they take responsibility for day to day organisation and maintain the vision and ethos of the community’s life. The Warden and members are supported by residential and day volunteers.

Hospitality is offered to those who find themselves in need, either simply for a meal and overnight accommodation for wayfarers, or for more long term assistance following a crisis point in life.

The Chapel and Church are open all the time and services are held four times a day – Morning Eucharist, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline – which are held in either the church within the grounds or the chapel in the main house. These services are led by either the Warden, Community Members or Volunteers and are central to the daily rhythm of life, offering times of reflection and quiet for those who want to particpate in the worship of the community. Particpation is encouraged and welcomed from Guests, Visitors and Wayfarers, but there is no requirement for their attendance at services.

A day at Pilsdon follows a regular pattern built around the pillars of prayer, meals and work. Our common life means that everyone shares in the tasks, working together in the kitchen or garden, or helping to care for the livestock. Guests and visitors are encouraged to practice their skills and trades for the benefit of the community, or indeed to learn new ones.

Our daily timetable runs as follows:

7:25am    Rising bell (8:00am on Sundays)

7:30am    Eucharist or Morning Prayer in the church (8:00am on Sundays)

8:00am    Breakfast (8:30am on Sundays)

11:00am   Morning coffee/tea

12:45pm   Prayers in the church

1:00pm    Lunch

4:30pm   Afternoon tea and toast (except Wednesdays)

6:30pm   Evening Prayer in the church (5:30pm on Wednesdays)

7:00pm   Supper (6:00pm on Wednesdays, 7:30pm on Sundays)

9:15pm  Compline in the house chapel

9:45pm  Lights Out


For nearly six decades the Pilsdon Community has been a place of prayer, home and comfort, as well as a place of work and shared life for many hundreds of people. Since its foundation by Reverend Percy Smith and Gaynor Smith, each day has been characterised by twenty-five or so people sharing meals, work and rest together. Experience has shown that by sharing in the life of the community a gentle healing and restoration takes place and as men and women share their life together in a spirit of equality and acceptance.

The Pilsdon Community is Anglican in foundation and ecumenical in expression. The community is based on the model set by Nicholas Ferrar, who in 1625 formed ‘Little Gidding’, the first Anglican community after Henry VIII’s dissolution of monasteries. Like Little Gidding, Pilsdon is set in a small hamlet and comprises a manor house, a small farm and a little church. The constant stream of guests to Little Gidding found there the ‘spirit of joy and serene peace’, a peace that continues today at Pilsdon, where the life of prayer, hospitality and manual work is maintained.

A recounting of the first twenty years of the Pilsdon Community can be read in Gaynor Smith’s book ‘Pilsdon Morning’ and is referred to in Tobias Jones’ ‘Utopian Dreams’.