The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday
‘These days, we’ve got forest therapists instead of piggeries’
Broughton Hall, Yorkshire Wellbeing centre, café, addiction clinic
Roger Tempest is the 32nd custodian of the 3,000-acre Broughton Hall Estate near Skipton in North Yorkshire. He has managed the estate since he was 27, reimagining it for the 21st century. “It’s far beyond what we had ever imagined now, but estates like this had lost their purpose in their 20th century. After the war it was desperate,” he says. “We struggled for survival, big time.”
He say his cartoonist sister Annie Tempest’s Tottering-by-Gently strips for Country Life were based on Broughton, “depicted things like putting dogs on beds to keep warm because it was so freezing,. We were very lucky, but it was overcoats in the dining room and a pretty frugal upbringing.”
When he took the helm, his first move was to convert old estate buildings into a business park, creating office space for 600 employees of around 50 companies. Chandelier by chandelier, he restored the rooms in the hall. Seven years ago, he commissioned architect Sir Michael Hopkins to design Utopia, a glass and timber cafe with a walled garden by landscape designer Dan Pearson OBE. Three years ago, he and his partner, Paris Ackrill, built the Avalon Wellbeing Centre, designed by Yiangou architects. The Avalon Wellbeing Centre is all glass-fronted yoga studio – there’s meditation pods, a “conscious library”, a tranquil indoor pool and therapy rooms. Many attractions are outside – woodland hammocks, cycling trails and wild reservoirs.
On one level, it’s like a posh wellbeing CenterParcs: there are nutritionists, Land Rover experiences, tennis courts and holistic practitioners who co-ordinate retreats. “These days, we’ve got forest therapists and sweat lodges instead of piggeries,” says Tempest.
The pair have welcomed an eccentric mix of guests to Broughton. “We might have the Yorkshire cricket team here doing cold water immersions one day, and Tinie Tempah doing a sound meditation the next.”
The pair are also introducing medical testing, specialist grief and menopause retreats and support for rape victims. In March, they opened an addiction clinic – The New Life Centre – in a converted farm building.
There are 120 beds for guests across the estate of all price ranges, including restored farmhouses, barns, cottages, gate houses and within the historic hall itself. There’s corporate wellbeing days, and both the Avalon Wellbeing Centre and the historic Elizabethan hall (which dates back to 1597) are available to hire for events. The hall sleeps up to 30 guests in 18 bedrooms (excluding Tempest’s private quarters), and a new Conscious Concept Store features “mindful” products for sale.