Keith Gascoigne



Brithdir Mawr Community
‘That Roundhouse’


Brithdir Mawr farm house

I visited Brithdir Mawr for a few days in the early 2000s after leaving the Findhorn Foundation Community in Scotland and I also wanted to see Tony Wrench's roundhouse which was causing so much aggravation to some dictatorial members of the local authority, the so-called ‘servants of the people’.
Brithdir Mawr or ‘Great Speckled Land’ is an intentional, self-sufficient community where the members grow their own food, using ducks to eat the slugs instead of spraying poisonous chemicals all over everything, generate their own electricity using a wind generator and also a water powered generator in the stream nearby, and use only composting toilets and welcome people to join in the work and experience a self-sufficient community for themselves.


octagonal house at Brithdir Mawr

This small octagonal ecohouse at Brithdir Mawr is unusual and surprisingly spacious and warm. It was cheap to build and is very cheap to heat. It stands in the middle of a large vegetable garden so the occupier can just walk outside and gather food for dinner and it is really fresh - not supermarket ‘fresh’ (three, four or usually several days old and practically valueless as food). I discovered later that the house was originally built at the Findhorn Foundation.

That Roundhouse

the ecological roundhouse

That Roundhouse, built by Tony Wrench, Jane Faith and helpers was built for very little money, caused minimum disruption to the earth, showed what could be done to help save our countryside from more exploitation and yet caused so much bother from some blinkered members of that local authority. It is still there - despite the short-sighted, antihumanity stance of the local authority. (It was referred to as ‘That Roundhouse’ in a heated discussion by that particular member of the local authority.)


the ecological roundhouse blends in perfectly with the grass and trees

I asked Tony Wrench if I could go and look at his and Jane Faith's roundhouse and he told me where it was. I followed his directions: along the lane, turn right at the stone, walk about 50 paces ... but thought I’d taken a wrong turning and was in the wrong place, that is, until I saw the stove flue-pipe just in front of me, apparently coming out of the ground. I was nearly standing on the turf roof. Anyone who complains about this home spoiling the welsh countryside (as that councillor did) has a big problem. Thankfully, the councillor has gone and the roundhouse is still there. Common sense prevails - sometimes.
If all the people without homes could build one of these there would be no housing problem and probably much less anger and frustration in our society but in our over-regulated country (regulated by those who have nice homes but no compassion whatsoever or intelligence) many of us don’t have a chance of having somewhere to call our own and bring up our children in natural surroundings.


roundhouse - front door

The turf roof overhangs the walls to protect them against the heavy rains that can fall in Wales. It also provides shade during hot sunny days. There is nearly as much greenery inside the house as outside. No available space is wasted here. ‘It would be so nice to come home to ...’ and when the house is no longer needed it can either be left to turn back into earth or taken to pieces and the glass and metal reused or recycled.