The History of Nicholaston House Christian Retreat and Conference Centre
Nicholaston House was birthed in a dream/vision in the mid 1980s. Derrick and Sue Hancock had been working for a long time with a person who had suffered severe abuse. It became apparent to them, and the psychiatrist now working with them, that any healing that was going to take place could be significantly hurried up if the therapy could be more than simply sessional. Established centres were approached, but, (a) there was always a lengthy waiting time, and (b) the centre wanted to use their own staff, thus going over much of what had already been covered. The vision of a safe house was thus born.
The problem with visions is that they seldom happen overnight; that is why many God-given visions don’t materialise - people give up too soon. The vision was carried to Swansea in a quite remarkable way. A fleece was put out on a train going into Waterloo Station on a cold Monday morning in January 1990. After many months of searching as to where this vision could be realised, Swansea appeared on the screen quite out of the blue. Derrick and Sue had been in Swansea on the Sunday visiting their daughter and God spoke to them at an evening church service. The Monday morning fleece prayer was a result, and it was simply ‘if you want them to move to Swansea, they will go, but you will need to find a buyer for their house without their putting it on the market’. That was 7.50 in the morning. At 7.30 in the evening, someone called to ask if they were selling their house. The caller’s wife had that day discovered she was pregnant and they now needed a 4-bedroomed house – so they bought it.
Derrick and Sue became linked up with a charity in the city – Swansea City Mission – and soon became involved in running a residential unit for homeless men. Then three years later they were instrumental in commencing a counselling service. Many years on, this service is still operating. Well over 1,000 people have used the service, which remains donation-based. The vision, however, was for a residential place of safety and much prayer was made over many years. £75,000 had become available, and though helpful, this was by no means enough. Prayer continued and every session commenced with the reading of Habakkuk Ch. 2 v.2&3, part of which reads, ‘though the vision tarry, it will not be overdue a single day’.
In June 1998, a private hotel on the Gower peninsula came up for auction. It was withdrawn at the last minute and sealed bids were invited. The trustees decided to bid £295,000. Only one other bidder was present - the survey on the property had put many people off. The bid was opened and then the other, which was for £291,500. After the bidders had left, the estate agent said, ‘I can’t understand this – those people have an awful lot of money and really wanted it’. There was just 12 weeks between the bid and the purchase to raise £250,000. The trustees had decided in faith to purchase the property. £320,000 came in.
Three years after Nicholaston House was purchased, a lady made it known that she and her family camped at a nearby farm for a number of years in the late 1980s. They used to go to Nicholaston, which was then a hotel, for an evening drink. She said one day after her husband and children had returned to the campsite, as she sat looking out to sea, she heard God say, ‘this is My house’. Some eight years later, it was.
The view from the House is truly inspirational for igniting creativity, and the activities on offer provide the opportunity to develop skills and share interests.