The Upcott Story
How it all began…
Eileen Bell (Nee Spiller) and Jeannie Rookley met at Romsey House Bible College in Cambridge in 1967. After only one term there, their friendship developed to the point where they were praying together for “a little cottage by the sea in the West Country where we can invite people to stay and tell them about Jesus”.
Meanwhile, a young Christian solicitor by the name of John Perowne had just bought a house in Seaton, Devon, which he wanted to be used for the Lord’s work. Jeannie and Eileen met with him in the May and he agreed they could move in that September. So with great excitement and faith (and very little else) they moved into Upcott on 8th September 1968 and in 1969 they hosted their first children’s week, mainly consisting of Jeannie’s nieces and nephews.
Ange Scoble joined Eileen and Jeannie, and then Dick, Eileen’s fiance, joined in 1974. This core team remained the same until Jeannie’s retirement in 1997. They were joined by various people over the years, who all formed what is known as ‘the Upcott Team’, living and working out the vision together.
Eventually the work of Upcott became a registered charity, and John Perowne generously donated the house to the Trust. A team of committed Trustees and Governing Body now oversee the work, and another team, both employed and volunteers, live on site to lead the work of Upcott.
Around the turn of the Millennium there began to be some concerns about the fact that the road in front of Upcott was dangerously close to the edge of the eroding cliff. So in 2007 the Trust relocated to The Beacon in Minehead, Somerset where Upcott continues to outwork the original vision, especially among young people.
The people who have been involved with Upcott over the years is probably well into thousands, and many of those who came as children themselves in the 1980s now send their children on Upcott Weeks.
Image: Upcott in Seaton, Devon