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Utopia Britannica

British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

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DORSET

Talbot Village 1850 -
FOUNDER/LEADER: Georgina & Mary Talbot
22 houses, 17 cottages with an acre of land attached, 5 farms, church, school and almshouses set up by two wealthy sisters following a unemployment relief scheme. 150 acres of heath was left uncultivated. Inspired in part by the writings of Robert Owen it was described by the sisters as an institute for the industrious working man. No lodgers were allowed and no business was to be carried out except smallholding. A trust was set up to administer the estate which still exists.
GRID REF: SZ 066945 Bournemouth
REF: Villages of Vision/ The History of Talbot Village. M.Talbot. 1873.

Cooper's Farm 1892
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Major Poore 195-acre farm sold in lots of varying sizes either for cash or by instalments. From the 49 smallholdings a landholders' court (registered as a limited company) was set up to collect rents. The court had £1,500 at its disposal to advance as working capital. Some of the small plots were used as building sites, and 33 of the holders built houses. A Rechabite Hall and a Mission Hall were built on land belonging to the land court.
GRID REF: Winterslow.Nr Salisbury
REF: Heavens Below P324

Alderney Manor1911-1927
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Augustus John
Strange large house with the appearance of a 'fortified bungalow' set in 60acres of woodland outside Bournemouth. Artist Augustus John set up house here with his entourage of women, children, fellow artists and hangers-on. The house was demolished shortly after John left.
GRID REF: SZ046942
REF: Augustus John. M.Holroyd 1996

Little Commonwealth 1913-18
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Homer Lane
Experimental therapeutic/educational community based at Flowers Farm on the Earl of Sandwich's estate. In 'family' groups in farm cottages the community offered delinquent teenage girls & boys a stable home environment. A Montessori school catered for young children. The scheme closed after allegations of sexual abuse were made against Lane.
GRID REF: ST580042 Nr Evershot
REF: Homer Lane. D.Wills.

Anglican Community of St Francis 1921 -
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Brother Giles / Brother Douglas
Anglican community set up to provide shelter for unemployed & homeless 'wayfarers'. Based on vows of poverty, chastity & obedience. In the 30's depression they set up other centres. In 1931 attracted by the simple life, single people and married couples set up a third order to support the Brothers’ work. They established schools for maladjusted children, missions for lepers and Friaries scattered over the country. During WW2 took Jewish refugees & evacuated children.
GRID REF: ST665011 Cerne Abbas
REF: Stone upon Stone. M.Osborn.

Christian Contemplative Community - 'The White Ladies' 1921 -1960
St. Bride farm Burton Bradstock
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Adela Curtis
Religious Order of Silence moved from Coldash, Berks. Whilst attempting to be self supporting in food, clothing & fuel the sisters built a little colony of wooden cottages each with a quarter of an acre of fruit and vegetable gardens They also built a large chapel that was finally completed in 1938. They were dubbed "the White Ladies"
after the creamy veils and robes that they wore. After Mrs Curtis died in 1960 aged 96 the Farm & Land was given to the Othona Community and now functions as a retreat centre.
GRID REF: SY505854
REF The Rustic Mystic of Burton Bradstock C.Rudd

Fryern Court 1927 - 1969
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Augustus John
Second 'communal' household of the John clan. More open house than commune. John and his partner Dorelia lived here until their deaths. A statue to John is in a corner of the village.
GRID REF: SU153140
REF: Augustus John. M.Holroyd 1996

Springhead 1933 -
FOUNDER/ LEADER : Rolf Gardiner
Base of the Springhead Ring founded to promote the revival of rural life. Pioneered work in organic farming and reforestation alongside reviving countryside festivals and traditional song and dance. Became target of rumour of Nazi sympathys during WW2. Is now run by the Springhead Trust as a conference centre.
GRID REF: Gore Farm.Melbury Abbas.
REF: The Village that Died for England. http://freespace.virgin.net/springhead.trust/aboutf.htm

 

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Site last updated 3.1.2007