I’d first met Jonah Maurice on a cold, squally February day as he felled trees along a steep slope in Allendale. I had to go back on a more friendly weather day, not just to see his small holding but to experience the amazing house he was building from wood sourced directly around his home in Allendale.
Jonah lives off grid as regards power and the like with his partner and young family in the remote Northumberland valley. Hexham is his nearest settlement. He is small holder, woodsman and grave digger, and an example to us all of living in tune with the environment.
The 14 acre smallholding is the source of food – arable and livestock – for Jonah and his family whilst also providing an income stream with any surplus to their requirement. His work with woodlands is in managing difficult areas, where the use of his horse, Amber, allows access that couldn’t be obtained by anything mechanical. He initially purchased a working horse so that he could work areas of woodland on his own smallholding but sought an alternative to machines, and a more environmentally sensitive way of removing timber. From that largely self-taught beginning he has developed a small specialist business which is steadily growing.
Access to wood has provided Jonah with an opportunity to build his own totally unique house (not sure you can have ‘totally unique’ – something is either unique or it is not – but additional words seem needed here). Sourced from within the local environment as part of his work, the wood is very rough timber but with Jonah taking exceptional steps to retain the nature of the tree and its growth patterns within the house, the result was looking truly amazing when I visited.
There was plenty of work still be done on the house, not least the intricate job of glazing large V-shaped windows formed by the branching of tree trunks, and be under no illusions, Jonah’s commitment to his lifestyle is severally tested on many days, but oh to live in a house like that!
For more on Jonah and horse logging in Northumberland see an article in The Journal
Click here to buy the book Unlikely Heroes – the documentary photobook about the current agrarian renaissance in England and Wales, and featuring Jonah and his activities.
[Double clicking on any of the images below will open up that image up in a slideshow format. You can then run the slide show using ‘left’ and ‘right’ buttons. Personally I prefer to go also to full screen having opened the slide show – F11 on my PC, don’t forget to get out of full screen is the same button , not ESC!]