Tinkers Bubble an Off-Grid community in Somerset, England.


This is the communal kitchen at Tinkers Bubble, a small off-grid hillside woodland community on 40 acres (16 hectares) of land in rural Somerset, England. The residents, known as Bubbleites, manage the land without fossil fuels, and have been for the last twenty years making a living mainly through forestry, apple products and gardening. As a result they say they are money poor but happiness rich.


The name Tinkers Bubble comes from the spring that flows through the woodland ending in a small waterfall by the road. This is where gypsies brought their horses to water them at the bubble; the gypsy name for a waterfall.

The home pictured right is Mary and Joe’s, a roundwood timber frame with lapped exterior walls and thatched roof and repurposed windows. In the video right Mary introduces their community and how they live together in Tinkers Bubble .

Living this way is not a picnic that you can cancel if the weather is less than clement. There are always jobs to do come rain or shine.

Nature never quite goes along with us. She is somber at weddings, sunny at funerals, and she frowns on ninety-nine out of a hundred picnics.

Alexander Smith, 1829-67


The woodland provides the fuel for all their cooking, space and water-heating. A wind-generator and solar panels provide enough electricity for lighting, music and laptop computers. This is true low-cost eco-housing using local free natural materials.


Living in a woodland can be a damp experience. Buildings can rot quickly, so many of the homes have added protection from tarpaulins here and there. The houses are compact; some might consider them too small, but actually perfectly designed with space for a chair, desk, bed and fire. Often the beds are on mezzanines high in the roof creating fun sleeping platforms which free up living space below.

Pictured below (left), perched on the side of the hill is Charlotte's house, a straw bale, cordwood, cob and pallet house she built by herself without any pervious building experience. Inside the house has a large living room with two sleeping platforms high in the roof. The guest house (middle), is a larch timber-framed two-storey building. The green painted house (right) is Dan's home and workshop. The Bubble also has a communal bath house, an asset few communities have.


The residents manage around 28 acres of douglas fir, larch, and mixed broadleaf woodland using horses, two person saws and a wood-fired steam-powered sawmill. Their pastures, orchards and gardens are organically certified. The gardens are at the bottom of the hill, divided up amongst residents, with a communal garden, horse and cow fields and orchard the other side of the woodland. They press apple juice for sale, grow most of their own vegetables, keep chickens and honey bees selling their produce (jam, chutney, pickles, cider and wine) at local farmers markets.