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Utopia Britannica

British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

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Thorney Colony 1630-1727
Colony of Walloon / Hugenot Protest-ant refugees set up to drain the fens.
GRID REF: TF282042
REF: The River Makers. T. Bevis

Newmarket Diggers Colony C1650
Site of planned Diggers Colony.(See St George's Hill Surrey for details.)
REF: World Turned Upside Down

The United Advancement Societies C1830s
The United Advancement Society was established in 1838 by James Hill, proprietor of the radical Wisbech newspaper, the Star in the East. The society aimed to purchase land. Its ultimate goal was to form a community on its land. Until then it was to sell the produce from its land to increase its funds. It also adopted trading, not to generate a profit, but to provide short-term benefits to its members. Similar societies were established in Peterborough and March, and were considered elsewhere. The Wisbech society secured an estate in 1839, but its activity declined soon after. It appears to have collapsed in 1840.
GRID REF: Location unknown
REF : Heavens Below/Research by John Langdon

Wretton 1837
Estate was chosen by the National Community Friendly Society for its first Owenite community. They abandoned the scheme due to Hill's insistence on directing the project himself.
GRID REF: TL 690998
REF: Heavens Below p142

Octavia Hill

1 South Brink Place, Wisbech. PE13 1JE
Telephone : 01945 476358

The Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum is in part of the substantial Georgian Grade 11 listed building on Wisbech's South Brink in which the co-founder of the National Trust was born. The museum and archive commemorates the life and work of Octavia Hill, her family and fellow workers and those who continue her work.
(The museum has a scale model of the Manea Fen community)

Open: March to end of October.From 2pm - 5.30pm
Wednesdays,Saturdays, Sundays & Bank Holiday Mondays

Manea Fen 1838-41
'Unofficial' Owenite community on 200 acre fenland estate. Built cottages, school, pavillion and their own windmill. Was the most radical and notorious of the Owenite communities in the UK. Issued its own paper The Working Bee and had a ‘uniform’ of Lincoln green suits which gave the men the appearance of being part of Robin Hood’s merry men. Failed to find markets for its goods and collapsed after Hodson lost money following the failure of a local bank. 'Colony Farm' marks the site of the community and there is a scale model of the community at the Octavia Hill Birthplace Museum at Wisbech.
GRID REF: TL515920
REF: Alt Com 19th Cent Eng/Eve & the New Jerusalem /Heavens Below

Thorney Model Village 1856/7
Model Village built for the Duke of Bedford by Samuel Sanders Tuelon who was a descendent of one of the original Huguenot colonists.
GRID REF: TF 282042
REF: Personal visit.

Tours of the village and talks may be arranged, with refreshments. Free entry to the museum on general opening days, or a small charge for special arrangements.
Open Easter to the end of Sept,
2-5pm, Saturdays and Sundays, and by appointment

Please write to the address below with any queries.
The Tankyard
Station Road
website: www.thorney-museum.org.uk

Lambourne 1885 - 1901
In The Right and Wrong of Compulsion by the State Herbert argued for the setting up of voluntary land companies. He proceeded to set up a number of experiments buying estates and selling them as smallholdings. Others at Foxham (Wilts), Hay Farm(Essex) and Cottenham (Camb).
GRID REF: TL 450674
REF: Heavens Below p285

Cottenham 1885 - 1901
Part of a multi-site smallholding scheme. Other schemes at Foxham(Wilts),Hay Farm(Essex) and for details see Lambourne(Camb).
GRID REF: TL 452678
REF: Heavens Below p285

Fen Drayton 1935 - 82?
Land Settlement Association smallholding scheme. (See Chawston Beds.)
GRID REF: TL 339682
REF: Colin Ward D&D 94/95

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Site last updated 3.1.2007