utopia britannica cover picture

Utopia Britannica

British Utopian Experiments 1325 - 1945

*Latest updates*

"Did you live in a commune?"

Utopia homebase
Travel through Utopia

Utopian Stories


Utopian Links


communes britannica cover picture communes britannica blog

Barnet Diggers Colony 1649-50?
One of a series of 'other' Diggers colonies. (See St George's Hill, Surrey for more details)
GRID REF: Location Unknown
REF :World Turned Upside down

Friends Boarding School
Quaker school that derived from a school at Islington Rd which was the descendant of the Clerkenwell workhouse set up from John Bellars’ plans for a College of Industry of all Useful Trades and Husbandry.
GRID REF: TL538381 Saffron Walden
REF: The Second Period of Quakerism / Quakerism & Industry before 1800

O'Connorville (Heronsgate) 1846 - 58
103 acre estate divided into 35, two, three and four-acre plots. Model cottages were built and each plot was laid out with roads and paths between. The first season’s crops were planted and two year’s supply of firewood and manure awaited the smallholders who had won a draw for places on the scheme. A schoolhouse was provided and a beerhouse built on adjacent land. - now the Land of Liberty,Peace & Plenty Public House.
GRID REF: TQ011936
REF: The Chartist Land Company

Carpender's Park 1846
130 acre estate bought for a Chartist Land Colony sold after a month.
GRID REF: TQ123920 Nr Pinner
REF : The Chartist Land Company

Letchworth Garden City 1903 - present
Completely new city based on the ideas in Ebenezer Howard's book,Tomorrow: a peaceful path to real reform. Became the flagship of an international Garden Cities movement
GRID REF: TL220326
REF: www.letchworthgardencity. net

The first
Garden city
heritage museum

Housed in the drawing office of Parker & Unwin the exhibits tell the story of Ebenezer Howard and the first Garden City. Special walks & tours of the town can be arranged.

Open: Mon - Sat 10am - 5pm
296 Norton Way South
Letchwoth Garden City
Herts. SG6 1SU
Tel: 01462 486056

Norton Co-operative Small-holding Society. 1905
A 152-acre smallholding centre established at Norton Hall Farm,Letchworth. The Society paid the Garden City Company 25s. an acre and sub-let smallholdings of up to 20 acres.12 cottages were built, pigsties were constructed and 10 acres planted with fruit. It was planned to set up a local farm credit bank and co-operative marketing scheme but the experiment was unsuccessful.
REF: Letchworth: The First Garden City

'Co-operative Dwellings' 1905
Scheme put forward by Walter Crane, first president of the Arts & Crafts Exhibition Society, in the July 1905 issue of The Garden City magazine. It consisted of 16 cottages arranged around a courtyard with shared kitchen, dining/recreation room and meeting room accessed by means of a covered walkway. Plans were drawn up by Cranes' son, scheme never built.
REF: The Architectural & Social History of Co-operative Living. L.F.Pearson

The Cloisters 1906-
On an isolated three-acre plot at Letchworth Miss Lawrence built ''The Cloisters', with a house for herself, `Cloisters Lodge' alongside. W.Harrison Cowlishaw was her architect. £20,000 was spent on the project intended as an open-air school. The design included an open colonnade to the south for open air sleeping.Two wings: one for kitchen and store rooms, the other with cubicles and dressing rooms leading to an oval open-air swimming bath. A small community developed dedicated to Theosophy. It became the base for the Alpha Union set up by J.Bruce Wallace of the Brotherhood Church, who organised summer schools and residential courses. After WW2 it became the local Masonic Lodge.
REF: Letchworth: The First Garden City / Utopian England / Heavens Below.

Garden City Tenants Ltd 1907-9
Tenant Co-Partnership that built the pioneering Pixmore estate,Letchworth, of 164 houses with recreational facilities and institute designed by Raymond Unwin.
REF: Letchworth: The First Garden City

Howard Cottage Soc. 1909
Developed over 300 'cottages' in Letchworth between 1911 and 1914. Became international renowned for thier design of decent affordable housing. George Bernard Shaw was a shareholder, Ebenezer Howard a director and Fredrick Osbourn secretary.
REF: Letchworth: The First Garden City

Homesgarth 1911-
32 flats set out around a quadrangle on a 4 acre site as a co-operative housekeeping scheme. All flats were serviced with meals from a central kitchen, taken either in your flat or in a communal dining room. Ebenezer Howard was a prime mover in the scheme and lived here till moving to Welwyn. Designed by H.C.Lander the scheme aimed to provide co-operative living for professional people.
REF: Letchworth: The First Garden City

Meadow Way Green 1914 - 1960s
FOUNDER/LEADER: Ruth Pym and Miss S. Dewe.
Co-operative housekeeping scheme.
GRID REF: Meadow Way Green. Letchworth
REF: The Architectural & Social History of Co-operative Living. L.F.Pearson

The Pearsall Group C1920
FOUNDER/LEADER: Ellen Pearsall.
Proposed group of co-operative houses for clerical, managerial and professional workers, put forward by Ellen Pearsall as part of the development of Letchworth. The plan was for 20 four-bedroom houses, with no kitchens, arranged as a half quadrangle facing a large central block containing the central kitchen and staff accommodation. Two meals a day were to be delivered to each house, and all washing up would be done centrally. The plan included gas fires, central heating, electric lighting and a children's playground. Never built.
REF: The Architectural & Social History of Co-operative Living. L.F.Pearson

Welwyn Garden City 1919 - Present
Second garden city on a modest scale conpared to Letchworth and with modest aspirations to utopian ideals. Was the forerunner of the series of satelite new towns built after WW2.
GRID REF: TL238124
REF: A History of Welwyn Garden City. Roger Filler. Phillimore &Co

New Town
Quaker sponsored proposal for a co-operative new town on garden city lines. The group teamed up with the Welwyn development company and ran a 500-acre co-operative agricultural guild and promoted co-operation in the garden city. Members were involved in setting up Guessens Court.
REF : Utopian England.

Dailymail 1922
Model village built as part of the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition at Welwyn. 41 houses were built using in all 16 different 'modern' construction methods. On one side of the village was a fruit tree belt. After the exhibition the houses were sold off, one of them being occupied by the Canossian Daughters of Charity, who held meetings in the living room and consecrated one of the bedrooms as a chapel. The same house was later the international headquarters of the Youth Hostel Association.
REF: The Ideal Home. D.S.Ryan

Guessens Court 1925
Co-operative Housekeeping scheme of 40 flats on 3 sides of a quadrangle. On the 4th side a 3 storey block of communal facilities inc: restaurant, kitchen & guest rooms. Designed by H.C. Lander. Later the communal block was converted into a hotel with the flat currently used as sheltered accomodation for the elderly.
REF: The Architectural & Social History of Co-operative Living. L.F.Pearson

Spielplatz 1929 -
Residential nudist camp. Up to 35 families rented plots in an area of woodland. Grew out of the Gymnosphy Society.
GRID REF: TL131012 Bricket Wood
REF: As Nature Intended: A pictorial history of the nudist. Clapham & Constable. Elysium Growth Press 1986

Great Amwell 1935-53
Community set up by Harley St psychologist who reinterpreted 'The Work' of G.I.Gurdjieff in the light of psychoanalysis.
GRID REF: TL373125
REF: Madame Blavatsky's Baboon/ Venture with Ideas. K.Walker. Cape 1951.

Hitchin Community House C1937
Home of a Guild of the Second Order of the Community of the Way from where they ran a bakery and a small market garden.
GRID REF: 20 Walsworth rd Hitchin
REF: Community In Britian


Return to top of page

Site last updated 3.1.2007