The Wilderness Centre

Our history

This site has been called ‘The Wilderness’ for a thousand years. It dates back to the time when the Forest of Dean, the land between the River Severn and the River Wye, was designated royal hunting forest (the wild bore are coming back and often visit us in the night).

Looking from the vantage point of The Wilderness down to the River Severn, you can clearly see the broad curves of the river heading out to the Bristol Channel. Over the course of a day you’ll see the tide ebb and flow. In earlier times, from this point, you’d have seen Roman vessels plying their trade up and down the river. Later on, and more alarmingly, you’d have seen Viking raiders coming up river.

The recent history of The Wilderness, though diverse, has a common thread running through it that we want to sustain; it’s somewhere special, it’s nurturing and homely and it’s a place where you’ll grow and learn.

The house here was built in the early nineteenth century as a family home. In the early twentieth century the site became a children’s hospital, specialising in infectious diseases. In the 1960’s Gloucestershire County Council acquired The Wilderness, turning it into an outdoors education and nature studies centre serving the county’s schools (a number of which are still clients). Dan and Sophie Sturdy bought The Wilderness in 2015 as a key location in their vision for human potential and growth.