14 acres of woodland
Minsteracres sits in 110 acres of above the Tyne valley facing north towards the Cheviot Hills.
Perhaps its most famous feature is the beautiful avenue of nearly 200 year old Californian giant redwoods which lead from the A68 up to the house.
There are also 14 acres of woodland, established more than 200 years ago by former owners the Silvertop family, which contain several rare mature conifers and deciduous trees, hybrid rhododendrons and remnants of ancient woodland.
The shrubbery fell into decline in the twentieth century and with the help of our conservation volunteers, we are gradually restoring it.
replacing lost habitats
In the past three years, we have planted around 3,000 new trees as part of a continuing programme to replace habitats lost to the choking laurel and rhododendron.
The 60 acres of parkland was designed by John Dobson a contemporary of Capability Brown and is managed under the Natural England Entry Level Stewardship Scheme. In addition, there are two lakes from Victorian times.
Under the stewardship of environmental consultant Andrew Pennington, we received an Awards for All grant of £9,200 in 2015 to create open water in the weed-choked lakes and clear the banks for endangered water voles to nest and feed in. A second lottery grant enabled us to install a human sundial in 2017, using volunteer labour from one of our outreach groups, Free the Way, in Middlesbrough.
Andrew has been instrumental in introducing traditional skills, ensuring the conservation of techniques and tools in the restoration programme and preserving those skills for the future.
In sharing these practices, skills and values, Minsteracres is responding in a very practical way to Pope Francis’s encyclical letter ‘Laudato si‘ on care for the earth, our common home.
Caring for the Environment
Conservation at Minsteracres
Protection and care for the environment is one of the three key aims of the Minsteracres Retreat Centre charity, established in 2012. One of the priorities of the new board was to instigate an environment policy and all our decisions about how to manage the buildings and grounds are guided by it. In the autumn of 2013 our biomass boiler was installed, reducing our CO2 emissions from 143 tonnes to 18 tonnes per year, while delivering great savings over the previous oil fired heating. We are particularly proud of our achievement and very grateful to the engineering company Re:heat who installed the boiler.
Part of the Minsteracres estate is ancient woodland, charted on maps going back centuries. In fact two of the oak trees are over 500 years old. In recent years though, the woodland has become choked by invasive species. To ensure the long term survival of the woodland, work has begun to plant natural species including English oak, Scots pine and Downy birch. The aim is to reverse the decline in woodland birds, increase the numbers of red squirrels on site, and protect the plant species on the ground which thrive in the ancient woodland. The work which began in 2012 is planned in phases up to 2032.
If you’ve got some spare time and would like to get some exercise on a beautiful estate then why not become a conservation volunteer and enjoy the company of like-minded people? Call us on 01434 673248 or email
Download a Map of the Minsteracres estate
To help you enjoy the estate and to get your bearings among the 110 acres we have produced an estate map
Environmental Policy | Minsteracres
Minsteracres Retreat Centre’s vision is to provide a space where people feel welcome, can be themselves and are enabled to find healing and wholeness in their relationship with God, themselves, others and creation. We offer a simple and sustainable experience where people are invited to be more with having less.
One of the charity’s objects states:
“To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Minsteracres.”
We are committed to carrying out our activities in a manner which relates, in a responsible way, to the environment with respect for creation. We are especially mindful of the potential impact of environmental change on the poor and disadvantaged and the need for responsible stewardship.
a simple and sustainable experience
- Minsteracres Retreat Centre is committed to the protection and enhancement of the local, national and global environment and strives for continual improvement of its environmental management system.
- The ultimate responsibility for determining and ensuring implementation of the environmental policy rests at Director level. Operational responsibility lies with the Operations Manager.
- All employees are required to conduct their work in a manner compatible with the Centre’s environmental policy and objectives, and this also applies to members of the resident community in their lives within the Centre. All retreatants and suppliers will be encouraged to conduct themselves in a manner compatible with the Centre’s environmental policy and objectives.
- We are committed to the provision of appropriate training, personnel and resources to ensure that the environmental policy can be implemented effectively.
- We are committed to compliance in the letter and spirit of relevant laws and regulations, and will maintain a proactive approach to the implications of future legal requirements.
- We will take steps to minimise any detrimental impacts on the environment caused by the operation of the Retreat Centre and estate.
- We aim specifically to minimise the adverse environmental impacts associated with effluent discharge, land use, emissions to air, and waste generation. We will do this through best available techniques as they emerge in order to prevent pollution and also to maintain water quality.
- Environmental performance throughout the Centre will be audited and evaluated regularly through the office of the Operations Manager. We will ensure that objectives, targets and action plans are determined for reducing all significant environmental impacts caused by the operations of the Centre and estate. Objectives and targets will be regularly revised with the aim to continually improve the environmental performance.
- All new developments will be evaluated prior to approval to assess their likely environmental impacts. Particular consideration will be given to any activity which may adversely affect the Shrubbery and Lakes area which are located within the estate.
- We will seek to conserve natural resources by ensuring the responsible use of energy, water and materials by the continual implementation of a policy of ‘Reduce, Reuse and Recycle’ whilst providing the quality expected by our retreatants.
- We will ensure that environmental considerations are integrated into purchasing requirements with regard to suppliers, their products and/or associated packaging.
- We will conduct rigorous and regular environmental reviews of all our operations to ensure compliance with this policy.
- As part of our drive to be an environmentally responsible organisation we will encourage a proactive, open and co-operative attitude to environmental issues. We will communicate our environmental aims and objectives to our customers, investors and other external stakeholders.
- The key driver of this policy will be our environmental management system which will be fully and clearly documented and subject to regular review.
- An annual report of our environmental performance will be made to our Board by the Operations Manager.
This Policy was approved by the Minsteracres Retreat Centre Board on 8 November 2011.