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The path has been reinforced by local sandstone and the pond has been excavated for the mud to build cob walls, but the place still holds the sense of sanctuary, a timeless quiet so deep, it's hard to imagine I am approaching what was, until recently, a building site.
Built by Ben Law and a team of volunteers during 2002 in just six months, this is a beautiful handmade house. There is the strong sense that this house stands in its own landscape, a complete product of Ben's hard-fought vision.
Ben makes his living from his chestnut coppice and grows much of his own food within the woodland.
Ben describes how he came to own Prickly Nut Wood in Sussex, his long but successful fight to live in his woodland and build a house there in The Woodland Way.
The building of Ben's house was the subject of a Channel 4 Grand Designs episode, which can be watched on their website. Ben Law's stunningly illustrated new book takes the reader through the science and process of building a roundwood timber framed building.
Made of a sweet chestnut cruck timber frame with straw bale walls and sweet chestnut roofing shingles and not a brick or pantile in sight, it is entirely a house of the woods.
The internal walls are built from chestnut lathe and cob and every window frame has been lovingly made from coppiced ash and the catches fashioned from yew.


Much of the wood used was grown in Ben's woodland that surrounds the house and the mud for the walls is from his own pond. Indefatigable, this year he plans to extend his home gardens, grow edible vines up the sides of the house and sink that hot tub in the balcony so he can relax and survey his beautiful permaculture realm! In this book, he presents a radical alternative to conventional woodland management and demonstrates how to create biodiverse, healthy environments, yield a great deal of value added products, and provide secure livelihoods for woodland workers. I am reminded of the cathedral builders in Dark Age Britain, with their substantial stone arches that symbolised the meeting of earth and sky, matter and spirit, a divine union celeb-rated by the mysteries of sacred geometry. To the east is a balcony, waiting for its hot tub to be installed, and we laugh about the deep pleasure of living in this house, with a shower and a bath, an indoor dry compost toilet with a drop chamber that is emptied from the outside, and Ben's simple kitchen with an old carved cupboard I remember from his yurt dwelling days. Somehow, it feels like he has reclaimed a part of himself he had to leave behind to pioneer his woodland way. There's also an impressive solar voltaic display recycled from the first Channel Four TV's Big Brother house supplemented by three small wind turbines that together provide ample electricity. Everything else was sourced as locally as possible, and no skip was used to dispose of any waste – indeed there wasn't any – making this one of the most ecologically sound builds in Britain.
His vision is transforming our perception of woodlands in Britain by marrying low impact living, sustainable livelihoods and conservation within a framework of permaculture design.


You are not granted any other rights and the Web site owner reserves all other rights.The opinions expressed on this website are not necessarily those of the publisher, Hyden House Ltd, and whilst we take every care in checking the validity of information presented here, we cannot accept any responsibility for its accuracy or any liability for any form of damages incurred by the use of such information. I remem-ber the old leaky caravan it replaced, tucked into the side of the woodland and camouflaged green.
The Woodland House, all about how he built his home was published by Permanent Publications in 2004. I wish that all old leaky caravans that woodland folk have to endure could be replaced by beauties like this!
The Woodland Year is an intimate account of Ben's yearly cycle of work, his naturally attuned lifestyle and deep emersion in the very fabric of the nature of his woods and these books are all available from the Green Shopping Website.



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