Healing, spirituality and help in ‘God’s House’: How Nicholaston House can serve for the next 20 years
Healing, spirituality and help in ‘God’s House’: How Nicholaston House can serve for the next 20 years...
“I feel loved here. I feel safe. People are prepared to listen to me here and make me feel like I have worth after all.”
These heart-tugging confessions from people who are staring directly down into the abyss, or are even in that hellish space, are what make Nicholaston House a true retreat, beautiful haven and answer to prayer.
The noise, crowds and smoggy roadworks of Swansea start to fade out as you drive west towards the Gower. Suddenly you feel the bump of a cattlegrid and the scenery dramatically changes to that of Pembrokeshire or Cornwall. The roads narrow, the trees fatten until they are like arches above the car and, just like the pictures in all the tourist leaflets, the sunshine dapples against stone and stream. Already you feel this place is special. And then you arrive at Nicholaston House.
The whole place is steeped in prayer, beauty and love. It is easy to say that when the sun is shining but what makes it so apparent is the welcome from everyone you meet and the stories behind the warm smiles and kind eyes.
Nicholaston House is a place where our everyday stresses, anxieties, worries and illnesses meet calm, fourth dimensional prayerful solutions.
It is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year and one of the original masterminds, who is writing a book to tell the story, tells me of its fascinating beginnings.
“We had a vision from the start and it has been an extraordinary journey,” says Derrick Hancock. “When this house came up for auction it was for sealed bids. Our trustees agreed to bid £295,251. The unusual figure arose because I had suggested adding £250 to the £295,000. Our solicitor then suggested the extra £1 in case someone else bid £295,250.
“Only two bidders turned up – us and a smartly-dressed young couple. They had bid just over £291,000. We later found out that their string of travel shops had been bought for £40 million. They had really wanted the house so I have no idea why they didn’t bid more, but it worked out perfectly for us.”
For 20 years, volunteers play a huge part in the running of Nicholaston, a place where funds are limited and the good work of the Christian community is heavily relied upon.
David and Jane Closs have been volunteering here for a number of years. One of their particular roles is in Prayer Ministry, they explain, as we stand outside a beautiful former hermitage in the grounds which looks like a really beautiful writing room, rather than a counselling suite.
“Prayer Ministry is a really important part of Nicholaston House,” says David. “Unlike counselling which, at the end of each session, directs the patient to take some sort of action, Prayer Ministry is about asking God to do His work. People come with a particular weight on their hearts but often find themselves unravelling several other layers during the session.
“They often say that they feel loved and safe here and are amazed that people are prepared to listen to them. What bigger compliment is there than that?”
Norma Gray comes one day a week to get through piles of ironing. The former cancer nurse says it is something she would never have dreamt of doing but she does it because she is a disciple of Christ, by whatever means.
“I am working to be the doorkeeper in the House of the Lord. This is a good discipline for me and I will wait to see where I am needed next.”
The stories of healing here are both intense and numerous. Helena Wilkinson, who has been running courses for more than 20 years to help people with eating disorders, has many a moving tale to tell.
“We use equine therapy because horses reflect human emotion. They give tangible help to people who have never felt love and acceptance. We had an autistic person on one course who was a bit nervous of horses and, when it came to the end of the course, the horse bowed to her, keeping a safe distance.”
One of these people who has been helped is Sarah. She is clear that, from first setting foot in Nicholaston last year, this was ‘the place for my healing.’
“I didn’t feel I had a purpose before. But, through the daily rhythm of this place, it has been amazing to discover myself and to mature my faith. I am discovering my purpose, who I am in Christ and where I belong in the world. The equine work, in particular, has helped me as my horse has been with me, beside me and holding me.”
Over the last 20 years, Nicholaston House has been privileged to help people from all walks of life with a host of different needs. But, in today’s pressurized world, where so many are in need of spiritual and mental healing, a huge re-development is desperately needed.
Trustees have launched an exciting initiative to help to raise £2million for a life-changing re-development. The aim is to be able to accommodate additional people, yet have more private ‘breakout’ spaces, as well as bedrooms with balconies and self-contained eco-pods in the garden.
For most individuals and companies, a £2million bill for the works would be a serious undertaking, but, for a charity, it is a very significant challenge. Funding will come from a number of different streams but the owners, Swansea City Mission and Educational Trust, need to raise at least 25% of the total cost.
With your help, we can do this – and achieve even more – over the next 20 years.
Welcome to Nicholaston House, Christian Retreat and Conference Centre
Nicholaston House, standing in its own grounds overlooking Oxwich Bay, is set in Britain’s first designed Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Step outside and wander onto open moorland with its purple heather and golden gorse, and view the Gower ponies grazing on the gently sloping hillside. A leisurely walk to the cliff-top takes you to a beautiful view of Three Cliffs Bay - come and see for yourself.
The Celtic Chapel at Nicholaston House endorses the vision of the House. Completed in March 2010, it is built in medieval style by a well-known local sculptor and is available for private and corporate prayer and worship. The vision is to create an atmosphere of love and prayer where people can find acceptance, peace, hope and healing through a Christian residential house.
The focus of the House is to facilitate different groups for conference and away days. The primary focus, however, is as a centre for healing and restoration channelled through the various courses and retreats. In the words of a recent guest – it is a place of blessing, safety and sanctuary.
Our Accommodation at Nicholaston House comprises twin, double and family bedrooms, all with en-suite provision, as well as tea- and coffee-making facilities. The bedrooms are situated on the first floor and accessed by stairs or lift. One room is adapted to meet some of the needs of people with disabilities. Linen, towels and complimentary soaps are provided in all bedrooms. Guaranteed single occupancy supplement charges apply to non-single rooms.
The Bryn Room is a self-catering studio apartment for one or two people, attached to Nicholaston House with patio doors opening onto the open moorland of Cefn Bryn. It is available to book for personal retreats and time out, with counselling or prayer ministry available if requested in advance.
Facilities at Nicholaston House include a conservatory overlooking the magnificent sweep of Oxwich Bay, conference room with audio-visual equipment, games including table tennis, art and craft studio, prayer room, bookstall, lounge with TV. Our Garden If you need respite from the hustle and bustle of life, then the peace of the garden may be the answer. Water cascades down to the lily pond with the flowers adding colour and beauty. Seats are strategically placed to capture the view of the garden, countryside and coast. The small ‘Hermitage’ may be used for personal prayer and quiet times.
Nicholaston House is a member of The Quiet Garden Movement and is also one of the few places in Wales with a wild bird garden, having equipment for viewing from the conservatory. It includes a prayer walk and is open each day from April to October, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. Please ring the House on 01792 371317 to advise of your intended visit. Bed and breakfast at the House can be arranged subject to availability.
Staying at Nicholaston House was a really special time and I benefited greatly from the prayer ministry. I enjoyed and appreciated the comfort of my room with its lovely view and the warm hospitality generally.