Due to Covid-19, we have reduced personnel at the offices of the Sylva Foundation and our premises at the Sylva Wood Centre. Emails and phone messages are being checked but please allow a little longer than usual to receive a response.
Please do not arrange a formal visit without first checking with us. Members of the public are free to enjoy our network of permitted paths through the Future Forest as usual.


Rycotewood Craftsperson-in-Residence appointed to Sylva Wood Centre

posted on May 10, 2016

We are delighted to welcome our latest tenant to the Sylva Wood Centre, particularly as it heralds a new level of collaboration with a local further education college.

Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence Pete Burns

Rycotewood craftsperson-in-residence Pete Burns, moving into the new unit at the Sylva Wood Centre

Rycotewood Furniture Centre, part of City of Oxford College, has appointed a Craftsperson-in-Residence. Pete Burns, who also runs his own small business Pete Burns Furniture, will be based at the Sylva Wood Centre. He will be facilitating collaboration between Sylva Foundation and the college, and will supervise students while working among the community at the Wood Centre.

Drew Smith, Learning Manager, Rycotewood Furniture Centre said:

“Rycotewood is very excited to be building a rewarding relationship with the Sylva Foundation. The initiation of the Rycotewood Craftsperson-in Residence role, and the opportunity to exhibit our students’ work at this year’s Artweeks, confirms the start of an ongoing collaboration.”

Read more on Rycotewood Furniture Centre Tumblr blog

Rycotewood and Pete Burns will be exhibiting at the Sylva Wood Centre during ArtWeeks 2016, alongside other artists and craftspeople. Why not come along between 14-22 May, including both weekends. Read more


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ArtWeeks at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on May 1, 2016
Oxfordshire ArtWeeks

Sylva Wood Centre at Oxfordshire ArtWeeks 2016

It’s just two weeks to go until we open the doors of the Sylva Wood Centre for Oxfordshire ArtWeeks.

Following the inaugural opening of the Wood Centre last year, for 2016 we will be showcasing even more tree and wood-focussed arts and craft to fascinate and delight members of the public.

We are open every day from 14-22 May from 11am-5pm, except Weds 18th when we are closed to allow school visits. Entry is free.

Address (for SatNavs navigate 100m west of result):

Sylva Wood Centre, Little Wittenham Road, Long Wittenham
OX14 4QT

All businesses we host at the Wood Centre will be exhibiting — including outdoor furniture, fine furniture, upholstery, woodworking masterclasses and more — plus we have some great invited artists including photography and art. We will also have the Tree Charter Wandering Tree onsite, where you can pose for a photo. During weekends we will have tasty food and drink for sale. You can see the full list of artists and find out more in our ArtWeeks online gallery here.

We will also be launching two exciting schemes to allow everyone to support local tree planting by getting actively involved in a Community Cropshare Orchard, and a Future Forest.

Finally, we have a few tickets remaining to our inaugural WoodWords­­™ literary event on the evening of Saturday 14th. Book now to avoid disappointment.

We look forward to welcoming you.





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Wood Centre abuzz with first woodworking course

posted on April 29, 2016

Last Saturday we hosted our first woodworking course at the Sylva Wood Centre.  The course was organised on behalf of the Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group.

Course tutor Matt Mercy uses locally-grown western red cedar and larch for his hives, so the course chimed perfectly with Sylva’s principles of using more sustainably-grown wood products.  Matt helped 14 students to make Warré hives.  These types of hives are favoured in ‘natural beekeeping’ for their high level of insulation and a ‘chimney effect’, which keeps the bees warmer than some other hive types. Also the hive boxes have shuttered window inserts which allow for non-intrusive observations of bee colony activity and health.

Oxford Natural Beekeeping Group workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre

Oxford Natural Beekeeping Group workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre, April 2016

‘Natural beekeeping’ covers a spectrum of approaches to keeping bees which encompass bee-centric, low intervention, chemical-free methodologies. This is a holistic approach that facilitates natural bee behaviours and promotes bee health through providing healthy hive environments and allowing for natural selection of robust ‘hygienic’ gene pools.

Matt Mercy, course Tutor, said:

“I was very impressed with the facilities provided and would highly recommend the Sylva Wood Centre to other tutors”.

Paul Honigmann on behalf of the Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group said:

“many, many thanks for organising our course at the Sylva Wood Centre.  Everyone left happy and smiling and with something physical they’d made – and for several, the event was their first face to face meeting with other natural beekeepers – a great day for all”.

Read more on the website of the Oxfordshire Natural Beekeeping Group.

Are you a woodwork tutor? Please contact Paul Orsi if you are interested in running a woodworking course at the Sylva Wood Centre.



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Welcome to lifestyle woodworker Paul Sellers

posted on March 22, 2016
Paul Sellers lifestyle woodworker

Paul Sellers lifestyle woodworker

We are delighted to welcome Paul Sellers as our latest business at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Paul Sellers is an internationally-renowned woodworking teacher and a leading advocate for his craft, reaching many thousands of people by recording instructional videos of woodworking techniques. Although Paul has earned a living as a woodworker, he refers to himself as an ‘amateur woodworker’ because he still does it primarily for love of the craft.

Paul is currently occupying the teaching workshop in the main building at the Wood Centre but we are in discussions to build a dedicated workshop for Paul on the current site of the Grain Store.

Paul’s workshop at the Sylva Wood Centre is not open to the public but he is planning to have regular open days where visitors are welcome. The first opportunity to visit will be Artweeks (14th-22nd May). To receive notifications about subsequent open days click here.

Welcoming Paul Sellers, Sylva’s CEO Gabriel Hemery said:

“Paul’s arrival is a significant step forwards in our plans for supporting teaching and education in woodworking design and craft at the Sylva Wood Centre. It is has been wonderful see how quickly Paul and his team have settled among our community of woodworkers.

Paul Sellers commented:

“Moving to the Abingdon area has meant new beginnings for the woodworking school and our filming studio and workshop. The Sylva Foundation kindly offered workspace at the Wood Centre in Long Wittenham to set up our base, which means we have found several new friends working as artisans all in one location. I am looking forward to seeing the work Sylva is involved in and watching their plans and vision unfold. A big thank you to Gabriel Hemery and Paul Orsi of the Sylva Foundation for their hospitality and for welcoming us to the area.”

Essential Woodworking Hand Tools by Paul Sellers

Essential Woodworking Hand Tools by Paul Sellers

Paul has just released a new book Essential Woodworking Hand Tools, which was written to pass on not only his knowledge of tools but his enjoyment of them. It helps anyone to make good choices in purchasing, sharpening, and beginning to use the tools that you need to build things from wood. We are delighted to announce that Paul will be one of four authors speaking at the inaugural WoodWords™ literary evening on 14th May . Tickets are now available for this fundraising event. Read more and book online

Read more about Paul Sellers:    www.paulsellers.com

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Unit available at the Sylva Wood Centre

posted on February 25, 2016

A unit is available to rent from the Sylva Foundation by any business connected with designing or making with wood.

Tenants at the Sylva Wood Centre are part of a vibrant community of woodworkers, enjoying excellent specialist facilities. They also benefit from the growing profile of the charity, for example by taking part in annual events such as Oxfordshire Artweeks and other public events.

Unit available April 2016

Unit available April 2016


  • Available from April.
  • Size of unit: 450 sq ft / 42 m2 (Dimensions: 9.6 x 4.4m)
  • Additional outdoor covered space available (optional): 500 sq ft/46 m2
  • Large roller-shutter door access to outside.
  • Access to well-equipped Machinery Workshop, including panel saw, planer, thicknesser and band saw.
  • Internal double door access to community space.
  • Access to community kitchen. Toilets and Shower.

Find out more about the Sylva Wood Centre: www.sylva.org.uk/wood

To talk through your requirements, contact Paul Orsi

Thinking of starting a new business? We support new wood-related businesses through our incubation facilities. Please contact us to find out more.


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New offices for the Sylva Foundation

posted on February 19, 2016

We are excited to announce that the Sylva Foundation will be moving its offices to a new purpose-designed timber building at the Sylva Wood Centre.

Ever since our formation as a charity in 2009 we have been based in the village of Little Wittenham in south Oxfordshire. Following the gift of land in the nearby village of Long Wittenham, and with early developments of the Wood Centre now well underway, we felt that 2016 would be the right time to relocate our office. Our headquarters will be at the heart of the Sylva Wood Centre, and there our staff will be part of the community of craftspeople supported by our Start-Up facilities and running their wood businesses.

Benfield ATT

Benfield ATT

The Sylva Lodge—as it will be known—is a wooden low-energy building designed by South Wales timber building specialists Benfield ATT. Naturally it has been constructed with timber, most of which is home-grown, and all sourced from sustainably-managed forests.

Talking about the building Professor Michael Benfield—Director of Benfield and the inaugural Chair of Wood Knowledge Wales—said:

“I am delighted that the Sylva Foundation selected to work with our company to build their new offices. This confirms our joint aspirations to stimulate a vibrant forestry and wood industry”.

Benfield ATT sourced high-quality Douglas fir from Gloucestershire and sent it to Cilfiegan Sawmill, near Usk in Monmouthshire, to be milled from the log and cut to the desired lengths for the build. The photos below work underway at the Benfield ATT workshops.


We will be following progress of the build over the next few weeks, and plan to move in to the Sylva Lodge by mid April.


Our new address (from April 2016) will be:

Sylva Wood Centre
Long Wittenham
OX14 4QT

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Wolverhampton University students visit Arboreal building

posted on February 18, 2016
Wolverhampton University architecture students visit the Arboreal competition building

Wolverhampton University architecture students visit the Arboreal competition building

Another university group visited the Sylva Wood Centre this week to work on the third National Student Design Competition organised by TRADA, through its successful University Engagement Programme (UEP). Named Arboreal for 2016 the project will see students tasked with designing a brand new flagship timber structure named Arboreal at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire.

arboreal logo

TRADA 2016 Arboreal competition

They were given a tour of the Wood Centre and Sylva CEO Gabriel Hemery explained more about future plans for the whole site. The students took the opportunity to take photographs and note details of the building and its local environment.

The deadline for entries is June 3rd 2016, with a shortlist produced shortly after. There will be a final judging event in early July and an awards ceremony in autumn where the winners will be announced.

Read more about Arboreal

Category: WOOD
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University groups start Arboreal challenge

posted on February 1, 2016
Arboreal competition - Coventry University

Architectural students and tutors visit the Sylva Wood Centre to work on the Arboreal project.

arboreal logo

TRADA 2016 Arboreal competition

University groups across Britain are starting work on the third National Student Design Competition organised by TRADA, through its successful University Engagement Programme (UEP). Named Arboreal for 2016 the project will see students tasked with designing a brand new flagship timber structure named Arboreal at the Sylva Wood Centre in south Oxfordshire.

This weekend architecture technology students and tutors from Coventry University visited the Sylva Wood Centre. They spoke with Sylva CEO Gabriel Hemery to learn more about the charity’s plans for the whole site, and took the opportunity to take photographs and measurements of the building that it is the subject of the competition.

Read more about Arboreal

Category: WOOD
Tags: ,

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Plaque celebrates support from Grown in Britain for innovative cladding

posted on November 11, 2015

As regular readers will know, we were the proud recipients of innovative thermally-modified hardwood cladding earlier this year when we opened our first building at the Sylva Wood Centre. The cladding featured on BBC Countryfile and has attracted a great deal of interest: read the full story.

The costs of the cladding were met partly by a grant provided by Grown in Britain; the material supplied by Tyler Hardwoods. This week we were pleased to receive a handsome plaque using the same thermally-modified timber; this time made from a board of sycamore complete with decorative fiddleback figure (commonly used in violins and other string instruments). The laser-engraved plaque, which has been erected near the entrance to our first building at the Wood Centre, celebrates the close working relationship between the Sylva Foundation and Grown in Britain.

Grown in BritainWe are indebted to Grown in Britain and Tyler Hardwoods for their support.

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Research into hardwood timber supplies in UK construction

posted on November 9, 2015

Grown in BritainAs part of an Innovate UK-funded project, we are working with Grown in Britain, the Building Research Establishment (BRE), English Woodlands Timber and others in the timber supply chain on a project looking at hardwood timber supplies in UK construction.

Specifically we would like to gather information from processors, suppliers and customers, about what applications hardwood timber is specified for within the construction industry, and where known, what species are being specified/purchased. We would also like to know your thoughts generally on UK-grown hardwood.

The link below will take you to a very short survey that should take you no more than 5 minutes to complete:


If you know anyone else who would be able to answer these questions, please feel free to forward this to them.

Thank you in advance for your time; we appreciate your valuable input into this project.

Category: WOOD
Tags: , ,

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