History of Woodbrooke
Woodbrooke is Europe’s only Quaker Study Centre. It has a long and distinguished history in providing a broad-based spiritual and religious education to those of any faith from around the world.
Woodbrooke was founded in 1903. John Wilhelm Rowntree (1868-1905) had previously led a campaign amongst Friends for a permanent settlement for religious and social study. Within a few years, Quaker and local chocolate maker George Cadbury (1839 – 1922) had been inspired to offer his former home for this purpose. Woodbrooke forms part of their legacy to future generations, based on a vision of our actions creating a better world.
Woodbrooke is special. If its walls could speak, they would tell tales of countless individuals seeking to deepen their faith and equip themselves for lives of service. They would describe the visits of thinkers, philanthropists, and religious figures such as Gandhi who came here to extend their understanding and knowledge. They would recall with delight the visitors from the different continents of the world that came here throughout the twentieth century. They would also recount how Woodbrooke has changed to meet the needs of the times, including an extensive programme of refurbishment to the library, the addition of en suite bathroom facilities and the installation of solar panels.
Visitors who are interested in social history and ethical business come to stay at Woodbrooke in order to savour the ambience of the former home of George Cadbury, and to be able to find out more about Bournville, the village that he founded that lies a short walk away. As a pioneer in improving conditions for workers, George Cadbury created a community that had few rivals in terms of decent social housing, recreational facilities and attractive gardens. The location, history and up to date facilities of Woodbrooke make it a unique conference and bed and breakfast venue.
Although it has developed and changed to meet the demands of the twenty-first century, the aims of Woodbrooke are still the same. The historic house, home-cooked food and organically-managed grounds, with their palpable sense of peace and tranquillity, are well equipped to provide spiritual inspiration, education and nourishment to visitors for generations to come.