Holmsted Manor is the oldest YWAM Training Centre in England and the third oldest in the entire world! Holmsted’s history and legacy are rich and the story of how God brought it into existence is truly remarkable as noted in Loren Cunningham’s book, “Daring to Live on the Edge”. It has been a place that has continued to train apostolic leaders and still attracts people who are called to pioneer today. Over the years, Holmsted Manor has continuously sent out pioneers all over the world and much of the YWAM work that has been started in many nations and regions can trace its roots back to Holmsted Manor.
Since its establishment as a YWAM training centre in September of 1975, Holmsted Manor is a bit older, but there is a freshness that is felt as you walk through its doors! Intention and purpose to all that’s going on is obvious, contagious faith is evident, and a passion and pursuit for God and all He has for the world is simply infectious.
Youth With A Mission staff first saw Holmsted Manor in October 1971. There were only four full time YWAMers in Great Britain at that time and their main mission was to start a training school. They felt that God was leading them to establish a base near Crawley, West Sussex, and so began looking for a property in that area.
Eventually they were led to visit Holmsted Manor – which was then a country club called “Silver Springs”, situated about 8 miles from Crawley. Their first reaction was that it was too big. This place could house 80-100 trainees, whereas they were looking for a place to accommodate 25-30. But they sensed the Lord say to them, “This is the place, this is the time”.
Holmsted Manor consisted of a number of buildings on fourteen acres of land. The owner had already sold some of it, so he offered YWAM the main house, plus nine acres of land for £55,000.
At that time, YWAM had nothing but a promise from the Lord, that the “silver is mine and the gold is mine” (Haggai 2:8). They knew that God would provide for them in His perfect time. However, within a few weeks the property was sold for £75,000 to someone else, and they were left feeling confused.
During this time more people were joining YWAM. Eventually they had 42 people all living in a small house in London. Virtually every room in the house was turned into a bedroom.
Late in 1972, they felt God say that they should again try to buy Holmsted, and after making some enquiries, found that it was for sale again. This time, nearly all the buildings and the fourteen acres of land were for sale at a staggering £175,000. At about that time, God had been showing His goodness to them through the provision of finances. A number of people in the south of England become aware of the housing need and began to give selflessly and generously. They estimated that with bank assistance they could make an offer in the region of £130,000. But to their surprise, the owners were not interested in anything less than £155,000.
In January of 1973, God made it clear to them to leave the rented house in London, and move to Crawley. People from local churches opened up their homes and during this time news that Holmsted had been sold for £150,000 left them feeling confused again. Yet beneath the confusion was still the unmistakable promise from God.
A “Summer of Service” (SOS) was approaching, and YWAM had nowhere to house the 100 people who were coming. A week before the SOS began, they obtained an agreement for a long-term lease for a former Dr. Benardo’s (a children’s charity) home called Ifield Hall. It was a perfect provision from God.
Thoughts of Holmsted started to fade, but still God gave them words of encouragement from time to time; and those who had given money towards this venture stood by them in faith.
By August of 1974 they were outgrowing Ifield Hall and the need for another place became more apparent. Faith for Holmsted Manor rose once again.
In February, 1975 the property once again went on the market. Due to a sudden slump in the property market, it was worth much less than before. The asking price was £75,000. This price not only included the main house, but also a very large coach house, other secondary buildings, and 17 acres of land.
They sought the Lord and offered £55,000… the owners appeared not to be interested. Months went by with the same offer and finally in August 1975, the owners entered into negotiations with YWAM. After a few weeks it was agreed that YWAM would purchase it at £60,000. However, at that time they were a few thousand pounds short. But God faithfully provided in different ways, and YWAM was able to move into Holmsted Manor, not just debt-free, but also with money to do some basic renovations so that it could be habitable for a training school to start in January 1976. God’s timing was perfect!
In retrospect we can see some of the many blessings that have come to us as a direct result of those events. We have learned much, especially about persisting in prayer. Most of all God brought this miracle to pass in such a way that He would have all the glory. No glory comes to us because it was very clearly God who brought the whole thing about.
In recent years we have been able to undertake a considerable amount of renovations. The Lord has continued to provide faithfully for us to restore the coach house and the gardens surrounding the house. A new garage workshop and a shed have been built. There is still much to be done as we attempt to restore the property to a state that is beautiful and reflects the way in which God worked to release it to our stewardship.
Since 1976 Holmsted Manor has been a beauitful home for our training schools. Thousands of people have been trained to be disciples of the Lord and are now living for Him in many different places throughout the world.
We trust that as you have read this story you have been able to join with us in praise to the Lord – He is worthy! Nothing is too difficult for Him!
Holmsted Manor is a Victorian manor house in the beautiful county of West Sussex in the south of England. It is just an hour from London, 30 minutes from Gatwick international airport, 25 minutes from the seaside resort of Brighton and 15 minutes from the nearest railway station at Haywards Heath. Holmsted Manor is set in 17 acres of beautiful grounds, with ponds, gardens, and a football and volleyball pitch.