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Page last updated at 13:05 GMT, Tuesday, 18 May 2010 14:05 UK
Postlip Community celebrates 40 years living together

Postlip Hall
Sandy McMillan (centre) founded the Postlip Community in the 1960s

In the late 1960s, Sandy McMillan got together with a group of friends, and came up with a unique co-housing concept.

They wanted to choose neighbours who they would live and socialise with as one big happy family.

The group, including Sandy, bought a huge Cotswold manor house in Winchcombe for £20,000.

Forty years on, is living in the beautiful Gloucestershire countryside still as idyllic? We find out.

By Faye Hatcher
BBC Gloucestershire

The first thing which strikes you as you're driving up the long private driveway to the Jacobean Mansion, is the beautiful surroundings and wildlife.

Two young deer jumped across the track in front of me and baby rabbits hopped about on the verges, seemingly without a care.

It was like I was on a film set - it had a very magical feel about it.

As I pulled up to the house, there in front of me was an impressive lawn with a trampoline and a group of kids playing and having the time of their lives!

Postlip Hall is imposing but hauntingly beautiful, and I imagine comes with its own incredible history.

There, I met up with resident and founder of the Postlip Community, Sandy McMillan, who explained how the idea of co-housing came about.

"We all had young children and we all wanted to be together, but we recognised everyone needed privacy as well as community.

"And so we invented - though we didn't realise it - the idea of co-housing, which is a private house, in a communal co-operative framework.

"But we've been like that from the start. We were trying to create a balance between privacy and co-operation."

'Socialising together'

"So the houses are separate - there are eight separate units within the large house, and the whole thing is owned by the housing association, and the housing association is, of course, us."

Tree house
Postlip Hall's grounds feature idyllic countryside scenes

Over the years families have come and gone, but the idea of living, working the land and socialising together remains the same.

Evelynn Shaw has lived at Postlip for 22 years and said the community matched her ideal route out of city life.

"We lived in Bristol before we came here, but I really wanted to bring the children up in the country, but I didn't want to be isolated in the country, so this seemed to be the perfect solution.

"We moved just before my third child was born, and there we a lot of children, which meant you always had somebody to baby sit, you could share your child care.

"It's a terrific place for children. There's so much space... they can have a real childhood."

Beer festivals

It's all very harmonious but there are plenty of opportunities for the public to share the beauty and serenity of Postlip Hall and its grounds.

The residents often put on beer festivals, school visits, music events, festivals, work days and wedding receptions.

Postlip Hall is certainly stunning, and so are the 15 acres of private land which sprawl over the foothills of Cleeve Hill.

During my tour of the grounds I discovered a medieval tithe barn and a chapel which dates back to the year 1140.

There is also a private courtyard, ponds and a stream, a kitchen garden, chickens, sheep and three Gloucester Old Spot pigs called Florence, Pigley and Bonkers.

Openings at Postlip Hall don't come around very often: but a unit has come on the market should you want to escape the rat-race.

Find out more

If you'd like to find out more visit the Postlip Community website .

You can listen to Faye Hatcher exploring behind the scenes at the Postlip Community by listening to Chris Baxter's programme on BBC Radio Gloucestershire all this week, 17-21 May 2010.

You can also tune in to Richard Atkins every Sunday from 23 May 2010.

Royal couple's Cotswold home sold
11 Apr 06 |  Gloucestershire
Artist Hirst buys up manor house
01 Sep 05 |  Arts & Culture


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