Explore Hilfield

Interactive Hilfield Map

For in-depth information about our land please visit the Conservation Page and have a look around the interactive Hilfield’s Land Compartments map.


Our Ethos

At Hilfield we live with care of creation at the heart of our life and ministry. Our proclamation of the Gospel in word and the way we live involve radical choices. These include how we welcome people as brothers and sisters, and how we order our life mindful of the need to pay attention to all that is happening within and around our community. The ethos of sustainability affects how we maintain and heat our buildings, how we source and prepare the food we eat, the way we travel, how we care for gardens and animals. The underlying motivation is love—love of God who made all things and sustains life, and love of neighbor, both human and non-human.


Sustainable Energy

Since the beginning of December 2014, the Friary has been relying on the burning of biomass (woodchips) for its heating and hot water supply. Because trees absorb carbon from the atmosphere during their growing life, this provides a virtually carbon neutral form of energy and forms a significant step along our path towards a more sustainable way of living.

(For more information about the Eta 200kW boiler, click here)

And we are warm! As one guest to the Friary wrote following her visit, “For the first time I didn’t need my hot-water bottle.!” Not only are we warm, but we are saving money on fuel bills and are receiving a regular payment form the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive.

From 2016, we have been drawing from our own woodland and from the Dorset County Council woodland on the edge of the Downs just above the Friary, both sites being managed sustainable.

Other alternative energy and energy saving initiatives have been undertaken by the Friary over the past few years. The Chapel holds 44 photo-voltaic panels which supply part of our electricity needs and feed into the national grid. We have also been insulating the buildings with celutex and wooden pine boards, in effect wrapping a duvet around the whole of the outside of our buildings.

All of this is not just about saving money and keeping warm but arises from our Christian and Franciscan insight of creation as a precious gift from God, and that nature is a community of creatures of which we are a part, animate and inanimate. A world in which we live at peace, harmony and reverence with all around us is one which gives glory and praise to the Creator and Redeemer.


Electric Car

The Friary is a wonderful place to live, but it is remote and public transport is difficult. Most of our journeys are within an eleven mile radius of the Friary, but together they make for a considerable carbon footprint.

To reduce this we have an electric car which, with a range of 100 miles, fulfills our need for short haul transport. We’ve installed a charging point for the batteries which is supplied at least partly by the solar panels on the chapel roof. It is available for visitors’ cars too. Also, our mains electricity is from renewable sources.


Hilfield food

Food plays a significant part of our life at Hilfield – it sustains us, makes us aware of our interdependence, brings us together and gives us joy and delight. It’s a gift of God. The way we grow it, source it, harvest it and share it is important to us, it is an expression of our Franciscan calling and of the hospitality of God. We aspire to have a diet that is simple and nutritious and honours the gifts that we have received.

We recognise the radical changes that need to be made if we want to feed the world population so we eat a diet that is mainly vegetarian and we aim to follow the LOAF principles where possible:

  • Locally sourced – from our own land or from local farms and businesses, trying to avoid unseasonal products and those air freighted.
  • Organic – if available and achievable within our budget
  • Animal friendly – using mostly our own meat and eggs
  • Fairly traded – supporting the best price for farmers and producers rather than choosing the cheapest

We aim to :

  • Offer meat meals twice a week with our own produce using all parts of the animal
  • Plan menus that are seasonal and enjoyable
  • Provide a wide variety of fruits and vegetables from our gardens and hedgerows
  • Aim for good portion control and use any leftovers in imaginative ways
  • Provide training in cooking and health and safety for all volunteers
  • Receive, share or exchange any extra garden foods with others
  • Use high days and holidays as opportunities for feasting