Driven by green concerns, house prices, the desire for a simpler existence – and now Covid, too – there’s been a boom in communal living
After 40 years, Dave Hodgson has a sixth sense when it comes to an aspiring communard. “If they take one look at our shared bathrooms and say they need a good scrub, or complain about having to put a jumper on when Old Dragon packs in, they won’t make it,” Hodgson says, referring to his commune’s biomass boiler.
Would-be members used to contact Bergholt Hall, one of Britain’s longest standing farming communes, at the rate of 70 or so a year: 50-something empty nesters looking for companionship; 30-something couples in pursuit of an idyllic upbringing for their children; 20-somethings keen to erect a yurt on the hall’s rolling Suffolk pasture. Since the Covid lockdowns, however, Hodgson admits, it’s been “bonkers”. “We had 70 applications in April and May alone.”