• You are very warmly invited to the

    Open Day and Launch

    We would love you to come and enjoy a day in the southern Cotswolds and see what is happening at Mays Farm! 

    You've seen so many photos, now come and see this special place for yourself.

    12noon- 4pm

    Come for as long as you can - call in, or stay!

    Light refreshments served all day

    2pm short dedication prayers in the Chapel

    The Board of Trustees will all be here

    Come and see what is on offer at this place of spiritual sanctuary - 

    retreats for you, for your leadership team, for your small group

    More details coming soon



    We very much hope to see you at The Vine @ Mays Farm before too long.

     Work parties are happening on Friday July 5th and Saturday July 20th - and any day in between that you like to come, we're here working to get it ready!

    MINISTRIES by DESIGN is based at The Vine @ Mays Farm.

    The Vine @ Mays Farm
    for retreats, 
    quiet days, 
    quiet spaces,
    Spiritual Direction
    leadership training
    & mentoring
    come alone
    come with a group
    bring your friends
    your small group
    your leadership team

    The Vine is a place for spiritual sanctuary and sustenance, and the name came partly from the two Vines growing in the Orchard and partly from John 15 where Jesus says, “I am the Vine, you are the branches – abide in Me.”  The Vine offers the opportunity and space you may need  to draw aside from everyday life and spend time ABIDING and BEING, waiting on God, taking time for reflection and repose.

    The house is a 17th Century Cotswold Farmhouse, renovated and refurbished to be a wonderfully welcoming and restful place. There are five large bedrooms, each with ensuite facilities. Breakfast is often served in your room so you can start gently and have time without even rushing downstairs! Lots of places for sitting and dreaming – the Drawing Room, the Library, the Chapel; or the Walled Garden -  the gardens are currently a work-in-progress during the renovations!

Blessings, burial, burdens – on a Bank holiday weekend!

Blessings There is so much for which to be grateful, always, daily, everywhere. But this weekend has been an especial blessing  - even in our tiredness and brokenness (see below). Friends came from far and wide to lend a helping hand or two on Saturday. Anjeanette from Virginia, Stacie from Colorado,  (yes, really, that’s where they are from and they were here to help!)  Allyson and Charlotte from north London,  Andy and Chris from Wiltshire. Together they scraped and painted and stripped (the walls that is) and in just a few hours made such a difference.

To have friends help, pray, support makes the venture seem a possibility  - even though there is still so much to do, so far still to go. The danger of course is that we try to do it alone, in our own strength, and think we can cope. We can’t; we none of us can.

Only God has the resources we so desperately need – and on Saturday He sent us good kind friends to work hard all day!  They each were and are a blessing to us and to The Vine @ Mays Farm.


We buried the time capsule on Saturday – well, laid it where it WILL be buried once the floorboards are nailed down! The Trustees of MbD chose Charlotte’s entry as the winning entry to the  competition, and it was a blessing to have Charlotte there!

In a tin which commemorates the 60 years since the Queen’s Coronation (and that was the year Kim and I were born, too, so doubly auspicious!) we placed the items Charlotte suggested – a Bible, a small holding cross from Bethlehem, a copy of my book Women By Design, photos of the renovation works so far, the first MbD brochure.

Then we placed the tin ceremoniously in its hole, before  taking time in prayer for Mays Farm, asking for blessings on it, blessings for those who may come and stay on retreat over the years to come, blessings on the village  - and sweetly, they prayed blessings on Kim and me.

Which brings me neatly to the burdens …


Why are we Christians often surprised when the enemy attacks? If God is at work, Satan doesn’t like it and will get in wherever he can – particularly where we are most vulnerable.

So we need prayers for protection!

Would you pray with and for us? Please? We can’t do this without your praying support – and much as I hate hate hate asking for things, I realize that we DO need to ask you for this! Along side the enormous sense of gratitude for all the many many blessings poured out on us, not least the provision of Mays Farm, we would love your prayer support!  I read these words this morning:

Ps 35:7 Roll thy was upon the Lord (Kay’s translation)  “Way means a trodden path, the journey of life, today’s life. Often when we cannot lift a thing we can roll it … Roll everything that concerns you upon the Lord. Roll it again, no matter how many times you did before, and then rest, ‘assure thyself in Him and He, He Himself, will work. ‘ (Derby) “   - Amy CarmichaelPlease pray that we will be able to roll and rest and be reassured!  But specifically:


  • Kim has had a cough and poorly chest for over three weeks. After the first week he went to the doctor who gave him an inhaler. After the second week she gave him antibiotics. Now, he is still feeling under par (thought a golfing expression here was just the right note!) and still coughing – and badly coughs at night which keeps us both awake so we are tired and irritable and sleep deprived.  And in the tiny Bolt Hole there is no-where else for me to sleep to get away from the cough!  SO he is finding it hard to cope with the physical work and foremanship. Please pray for healing for him and for sleep for us both.
  • The Bolt Hole has been on the market since Easter and has had only a handful of people look around. We’ve lowered the price, changed agents … and still nothing. It has a lot of our capital in it – which we had assumed we would have soon when it was sold and which we now  need for the rest of the renovation work at Mays Farm!  Please pray for a buyer for the Bolt Hole.
  • The first brochure is due to be mailed out both in the UK and the USA. It is essentially to do three things, listed below. It needs to have envelopes stuffed and addressed and to actually get in the mail – the UK ones hopefully before we go the USA on Thursday! Please pray for reception of the brochure and for  financial provision for the ministry.                                                    1)    to bring awareness of the work of Ministries By Design to as many people as possible

2)    to raise finance for projects such as the Chapel and the MbD office

3)    and a bursary fund for those who need to come on retreat but can’t afford it (mostly clergy!)

  • Yes, we are flying to the USA on Thursday, for 2 weeks. The first week is holiday and staying with our daughter and her family; and the second week Penelope is speaking on a women’s retreat in upstate New York and Kim is meeting with a group of pastor friends (they get together at least once a year for mutual support and prayer – and golf!)  Please pray for refreshment and renewal; and for the Retreat talks and walks.
  • The rental property in Bath that we have owned for a long time and rented out  for years has become a real headache. Without going into too much detail,  Please pray for the Lord to sort it out somehow!
  • We will be holding more Saturday work days when we are back – June 15 and 22. The house and gardens will be most grateful of any possible help. Please pray that people will come and kindly give some very practical assistance!
The hole for the large bifold doors to form a garden/breakfast room
  • We have to get the furniture and all our belongings out of the Vicarage by the end of June ( and what a blessing it has been to be able to leave it there all this time!) Please pray that there will be at least a space large enough to store it when it arrives even if we can’t unpack.

Seven items for prayer!

Could you pray one a day for us for the next little while? And might you let us know if you are doing this?

It would be a vast and glorious blessing to have your support! Thank you.

2 Corinthians 1 was given to me today:

"We are confident that as you share in our sufferings, you will also share in the comfort God gives us. We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead. 10 And he did rescue us from mortal danger, and he will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in him, and he will continue to rescue us. 11 And you are helping us by praying for us. Then many people will give thanks because God has graciously answered so many prayers for our safety."

Thank you for your prayers already!






And the winner of the time capsule competition is ...

  A while ago there was a competition on here, asking for suggestions as to what should be included in a time capsule to bury in Mays Farm. At the time, I couldn't imagine there would ever be a floor under which anything could be hidden!

There was mud everywhere this spring. Rain and mud outside; earth floors turning to mud inside. It looked like devastation to me - and I found it quite depressing. Would there ever be progress?

Friends kindly enquired - how is it going? Can you move in yet? Aren't you excited?

And I looked at the mud on our boots and the dust in our hair and I despaired. It was an utter disaster.


But there IS progress. Suddenly, things are happening in a different way. Instead of everything coming down, being taken apart, dug up or demolished, there is a putting together, a creating, a movement of new beginnings.

Progress is seen at last - look at the little store rooms being made into a kitchen.









So it still doesn't quite look like the finished kitchen ... but it's definitely improving.

And there's a similarity with my life and its ups and downs.

Sometimes it has felt that everything is demolished, devastated, depressed. 

For I too am a work in progress. Sometimes God has had to dig deep to remove the edifices I tried to erect, to dig out the imperfections, remove my all-too-easily constructed walls of pride and passions and perceptions. And it's painful.

Our workmen have been digging and demolishing  in order to restore and renew and recreate. And so has God -  He restores and renews and recreates my life.

If the LORD does not build the house, it is useless for the builders to work on it. If the LORD does not protect a city, it is useless for the guard to stay alert. (Ps 127:1)

Auspice Christo: built with the help of Christ.

I am learning to be patient about Mays Farm.

Please be patient with me, God hasn't finished with me yet!

There are other signs of new life everywhere around the Farm. And blossom in the Walled Garden.


Come and see! On May 18th & May 25th there are invitation days - details here.

And on May 25th we will be burying the time capsule under the elm beams of floor boards on the top landing. Come and pray with us for the new ministry at The Vine as we do this.

CHARLOTTE LEAKE: your entry was chosen by the MbD Trustees! Congratulations on winning a free retreat night at The Vine @ Mays Farm in September!


Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  (2 Cor 5:17)

Might you pray for us? Pray for The Vine @ Mays Farm to be built by the Lord; pray for the ministry  of offering retreats and spiritual sanctuary; pray that all will be auspice Christo. Me and Mays Farm both.




















Last chance to book a Preview (ie free!) Retreat ...


There are only a VERY FEW places left for the Preview  (ie FREE !) Retreats  at The Vine this summer. So if you would like to apply to be considered, please contact Ministries by Design very very soon!

  •  Guided Silent Retreat              July 22 - 26                    ONE space still available
  •  Guided Walking Retreat         July 29 – Aug 2            THREE spaces still available   
  •  Guided Silent Retreat             Aug 12 - 16                       fully booked
  •  Guided Walking Retreat        Aug 19 - 23                     fully booked
  • INDIVIDUAL RETREATS:    Weekend of July 19 - 21: ONE room still available.                                                               Mid week of August 5 - 9: fully booked

We have been amazed at the response already, and are praying for the “right” people at the right time. The House will not be quite finished, and the work available will be things such as painting and decorating, gardening, tidying, finishing … and praying! These are all PREVIEW – the House will not be fully finished! So there is no charge, but help around the House should be offered in exchange for full board & lodging & retreat.

A WALKING RETREATget fit spiritually AND physically! Arrive on a Monday afternoon, settle in with a cup of tea. First session, then supper. On Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings, after a buffet breakfast, Penelope will lead you on one of several local walks, each of about 6 miles, with opportunities for spiritual reflections and meditations as we walk. Return for lunch and spend the afternoons as you wish to make the most of this time - praying, sitting in the chapel, journalling, sleeping; and helping out manually for a couple of hours. There will be a short session each day before Supper, which will be followed by compline and early nights. Final session on Friday morning, and leave after a light lunch. Maximum of 10 people, in en-suite twin bedded rooms.

A GUIDED SILENT RETREAT - to concentrate on your relationship with God. Arrive on a Monday afternoon, settle in, enjoy tea. First session, then supper, compline and early bed, after which we will move into silence. Breakfast will be served in your room to allow time to rest, reflect, be renewed. Each day there will be individual time with a Spiritual Director, and there will be guidance if required as to how to get the most from this time. There will be opportunity to help manually around the Centre for a couple of hours each day. Meals will be taken in communal silence or you may take your meal to your room if you wish. Leave after a final time with your Director on Friday morning followed by a light lunch if required. Maximum of 5 people, in private en-suite rooms.

PREVIEW INDIVIDUAL PRIVATE RETREAT We are also offering space for you to come on your own private retreat, again Preview A minimum of 2 nights. Maximum of 5 people at any one time, in private en-suite rooms. Spiritual Direction available if required. AVAILABLE: July 18 – 21 August 5 - 9

SMALL GROUPS WEEKENDS:  Bring your small group any weekend Friday night – Sunday afternoon, Preview (free) but help out around the house too.

FROM SEPTEMBER 1st, the House will be fully open 

INDIVIDUAL PRIVATE RETREATS (Paying) The House will be open and fully operating from September 2 for private retreats or group visits. Dates for Walking Retreats and Guided Silent Retreats will be posted very soon!

Italy Pilgrimage on the Via Francigena, Tuscany: September 7 – 14  now fully booked, but there is a waiting list available

If you have any queries and/or would like more information and an application form, please email