The English Courtyard Association

The ECA pioneered upmarket, purpose-built retirement developments in the UK, changing public perception from one of institutionalized living to one offering independence, security and style.  The concept of the Association, a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee, was based on the need for comfortable, spacious accommodation in a pleasant setting, near shops and other facilities; the need to take account of the problems of advancing age; and the need to protect fixed income and capital inflation

Over thirty years from 1977, when Noel Shuttleworth and Christopher Thornhill founded the ECA, 37 award-winning developments were built in 21 counties, including one in the Channel Islands.  The design and architecture of its buildings are traditional in style, surround a courtyard and echo the feel of an Oxford or Cambridge college and the garden of an English country house. 

The day-to-day management of the courtyard is the responsibility of a resident couple, the courtyard managers, who also look after the guest suite and laundry and are there to respond to any emergencies. Properties are sold on 150-year leases with no ground rents.

In 2010 the English Courtyard Association joined up with The Beechcroft Trust to form Cognatum Estates.