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Utopia Britannica

British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

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DEVON

Woodbine Cottage. 1812
Large 'cottage' which was rented by the poet Shelley for his second attempt to set up an egalitarian community. The property continued as guesthouse,popular with cyclists in the 1930’s. It changed its name to the 'Shelley’s Cottage Hotel' in the 1940’s and in 1952 was badly damaged in the famous Lynmouth flood. An article in the North Devon Herald in 1917 claimed that the owners still had an old visitors book with an entry by Shelley.
GRID REF: SY024948 Lynmouth.
REF: www.shelleyshotel.freeuk.com/history.html

Devon & Exeter Co-op Soc. 1826
37 acre estate taken on by members of the Devon & Exeter Co-op Soc. They had originally proposed an ambitious Owenite community of 2000 people. 12 cottages were built but the scheme collapsed after its backer Jasper Veysey withdrew his support for domestic reasons. Some of the "communitarians" moved on to form the Dowlands Devon Community.
GRID REF: SY024948 Rockbeare.
REF: Alt Com 19th Cent Eng

Dowlands Community 1827
Community set up after the collapse of the Devon & Exeter Co-op Soc. community. They grew crops through the summer of 1827 and had plans to set up their own school. Lack of capital and new members caused the community to fold by the end of the year.
GRID REF: Location Unknown
REF: Alt Com 19th Cent Eng

Buckfast Abbey 1882-present
New monastic order originally set up by French monks fleeing persecution. The self-sufficient community rebuilt the original Abbey church and produced their own successful tonic wine.
GRID REF: SX ???????
REF: Utopian England.


Dartington Hall 1925 - present
FOUNDER/ LEADER: Leonard & Dorothy Elmhirst
Successful experiment in rural regeneration financed by New York heiress’s fortune. Inc: 800 acres of farms & forestry, experimental school, art college & open-air theatre, cider press, glassworks and various research projects. Became a series of trusts in 1931 and managed to maintain its radical edge beyond the death of its founders.
GRID REF: SX 800626
REF: The Elmhirsts of Dartington.

High cross house
A superb example of the International Modernist style designed in 1932, by the Swiss American architect William Lescaze, High Cross House stands within the grounds of Dartington Hall, an 800 acre mediaeval estate. Its bright blue and white exterior contrasts sharply with the ancient buildings of the crown of the estate. High Cross has been renovated and specially adapted by the Dartington Hall Trust as an exhibition and study centre. The house is listed Grade II.

Opening Hours: 14.00 - 16.30
1 May - 26 Oct. Tues to Friday
Admission £2.50 (Con.£1.50)
High Cross House. Dartington Hall. Totnes. Devon. TQ9 6ED http://www.dartingtonarchive.org.uk/pages/visitingdtnhall.html
Tel: O1803 864114

South West Co-operative Housing Society 1944 - Present.
Pioneer housing association set up by L.Elmhirst of Dartington Hall, A.E. Malbon of Staverton Builders and Dr A. Mansbridge a leading figure in the WEA and Co-operative Movement. Carried out developments at Yate, Totnes & Bridgewater.
REF: Brick Upon Brick. Eric Stafford 1994

Pacifist Community 1939-45
FOUNDER/LEADER : R.Duncan
Pacifist land colony
GRID REF: North Devon?
REF: All Men are Islands .R.Duncan.

Withymead 1941 - 54
FOUNDER/LEADER : Irene Champernowne.
'The Jungian Community for the Healing Arts', a pioneer therapeutic community, treated 240 adults between 1942 and 1954 in a residential setting supported by the Elmhurst's of Dartington Hall.
GRID REF: Exeter
REF: website.

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Site last updated 3.1.2007