History of the site
As a Spitalfields based Londoner the owner of Retreat East, Dominic Richards bought a house in the beautiful Suffolk countryside 20 years ago and almost immediately became much more popular with all his London friends! They would turn up frazzled and in need of clear skies, fresh air and artisan seasonal food for which Suffolk is cherished. One day Dominic heard that a nearby redundant dairy farm was up for sale. Dominic went to have a look and immediately saw how it could be the most astonishing retreat for weary urbanites. The farm had certainly seen better days; its sixteenth century farmhouse was wrapped in dangerous concrete, historic barns were largely in ruins and ugly 1960s concrete barns looked so incongruous in the landscape. The surrounding fields had all been turned over to intensive arable production with many of their hedgerows ripped out. This decline actually excited Dominic however, as he immediately had an instinct for what needed to be done.
Dominic had recently graduated from The Prince of Wales’ Institute of Architecture where he had had a very hands on training in traditional crafts and sustainability. On his visits to Highgrove he saw organic practices at first hand and saw this forlorn Suffolk farm as the perfect place to use all his recently acquired knowledge and to follow the inspiration of HRH The Prince of Wales to work with Nature to create a beautiful, healthy and restful place of renewal. Dominic was also keen that the finished place should have an economic life, bringing employment locally and keeping the farm as the centre of activity as it had been for centuries. However, from now on we would be farming Londoners not cows…
Dominic was joined in the enterprise by an old Cambridge friend Peter Ede who left a City Law firm to escape to the country. The vision was the easy part they soon discovered. Many years followed of planning applications and appeals, surviving the credit crunch and painstaking reconstruction. It tested their resolve but never faith in the idea that Retreat East could become a real place of refuge in an increasingly noisy world.
So here we are, the place has been built and operations are in full flow. Dominic found the most extraordinary team who bring magic to the place. He has been surprised how well known Retreat East has become relatively quickly and how many people from Hollywood stars to exhausted Londoners now rely on Retreat East for their wellbeing. Yet we are also at the beginning of something. We have further expansion at the farm to deliver and we have a community to grow of like minded souls seeking a new version of the Good Life.