Ecology and sustainability at Bullock’s Ley

Our overarching aim is sustainable living and minimal impact on the environment and the wider community.

Bullock’s Ley was converted from working barns using natural materials and a combination of traditional and modern technologies, including a state-of-the-art heating system. Visitors to Bullock’s Ley often comment on how comfortable the building is inside, regardless of the conditions outside.

The under floor heating, coupled with continuous 
mechanical ventilation, a high-tech air supply system and a well sealed building ensure that your stay will be a comfortable one.

A Ground Sourced Heat Pump was selected as the method of heating. This involved the installation of a kilometre of heat collecting pipework buried outside and a further two kilometres inside, distributing this heat under the floor.

Laying the under-floor heating

This system is four times more efficient in its production of heat than the best gas or oil powered system. It is fully automatic and thanks to its monitoring system, which takes external conditions into account, produces only enough heat for the interior to reach the desired temperature.

Digging the trenches for the eco-friendly heat pump system.

A Continuous Mechanical Extraction System was installed, ensuring that the minimum amount of air necessary to effectively ventilate the building is admitted. Fans running constantly at low level draw a set amount of air through adjustable vents in the ‘wet’ rooms. When higher moisture levels are detected (i.e., when bathrooms are in use) the fans automatically boost until levels return to normal. This system operates in conjunction with the Supply Air Windows mentioned below.

Supply Air Windows were fitted throughout the building. These were a new innovation in the UK at the time the conversion was taking place and are still relatively unknown. Air is drawn into the building by the ventilation system; it flows between the internal and external panes of the windows, gaining heat in the process as a result of the greenhouse effect. In addition to this gain, any heat escaping through the internal pane is caught up in the air flowing into the house and so returned. The overall efficiency is comparable to or better than triple glazing.

Draught Proofing is at least as important as insulation and perhaps more so. Great care was taken to seal the building and any small gaps remaining after installation of insulation were filled with silicone sealant before internal finishes were applied. Any penetration of external walls, such as by roof timbers, were carefully inspected and sealed as necessary. All windows and doors were supplied with integral draught seals.

The original barn

Clay Lump construction was used in the majority of the internal walls. This added 40 tonnes of unfired thermal mass to the building enabling both heat and moisture to be absorbed and released, effectively regulating the internal climate.

Clay lump, pictured here drying in the sun, is just one of the ecologically sound materials that were used in the conversion of Bullocks Ley.

Mixing the traditional ingredients for clay lump bricks

Insulation was paid particular attention. Warm roof construction was adhered to throughout. This involved three layers of insulation to the roof: Celotex sheets to the underside of the rafters, blown cellulose (recycled newsprint) between them and mineral wool batts on top.

The first floor walls are of timber construction and these received similar treatment.

A skin of hemp lime blocks was applied to the inside face of the original solid brick external walls. This resulted not only in greatly improved U-value but also in a completely breathable construction which enables moisture to dissipate naturally. Use of lime render to internal surfaces assists this process.

Bullocks Ley Logo


The house is beautiful to behold, with its warm colors and lovely views of open fields and trees. The hosts were warm and welcoming, and the food was some of the best I have had in a retreat center.
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Ariel Giarretto – Faculty, Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute USA

… loved the way you and Jackie welcomed everyone with such warmth, giving a feeling somewhere between being house guests and members of the family.
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Abel B’Hahn

The care and attention to detail in the building is also reflected in his welcome and comfort of his guests.
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David Shilton

Mark is a kind and generous host, and his attention to detail is evident from the design of the buildings right through to the choice of teas on offer. I look forward to my next visit.
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Charlotte Whitestone

Bullocks Ley is not just a venue, rather a complete and loving experience for those who value community and connection!
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Colin Campbell

An oasis of tranquillity in deepest countryside, beautifully shaped building, letting in natural light and sunshine. Comfortably furnished in light shades, it is both conducive to quiet reflection and provides ample space for sitting round a wood-burning stove or sitting on comfortable sofas for lively social interaction.
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David Clark – Workshop participant