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From: "Neil MacDonald" <>
Subject: Re: Whiteway Colony
Date: Mon, 4 Dec 2000 08:04:35 -0000

Arthur J Simpson III <> wrote in message
> Does anyone out there no anything about the Whiteway Colony, somewhere
> West of London?
> Art Simpson

Whiteway Colony is a village near Stroud in Gloucestershire, OS map ref. SO

The following appears in "The Arts & Crafts Movement in the Cotswolds, by
Mary Greensted, Sutton Publishing, 1993, ISBN 0-7509-1165-4.
[C.R.] Ashbee found the reality of the Tolstoyan agricultural settlement at
Whiteway depressing. After a bicycle expedition to Miserden near Stroud in
1904, he described Whiteway Colony as 'all very uncouth and experimental'.
This idealistic and intrepid community had its roots in a group of
Socialists from Croydon that had been inspired by accounts of the collective
life on Leo Tolstoy's Russian country estate. An initial commune established
in Purleigh, Essex had come close to collapse and a breakaway group set off
on bicycle to find pastures new. One of the founders, Nellie Shady, had been
a dressmaker specializing in artistic and rational dress for the artistic
middle classes. In her search for a purposeful existence she went first to
Croydon and then to Whiteway. She described her arrival in the area with
Arnold Eiloart, who had turned his back on his career as a chemistry
lecturer for the co-operative way of life:

"I was wearing what was then termed 'rational dress' consisting of knickers
and a neat Norfolk jacket reaching to my knees. As the weather was very hot
my companion gradually divested himself of various garments till all he wore
was a short-sleeved vest, red braces, knickers and sandals. It is hard to
say which of us attracted more attention."

Malcolm Muggeridge, who knew the colony as a child through his father's
Socialist links, described it as "a truly heroic enterprise; the more so as
most of the participants were clerks and schoolmasters and shop assistants,
with absolutely no experience of fending for themselves under primitive

The community purchased fifty acres of rough upland pasture and then
publicly burned the title deeds in a ceremonious rejection of the idea of
property. This led to the first of many crises of conscience at Whiteway,
related by Malcolm Muggeridge:

Unfortunately a neighbouring farmer heard of their noble gesture and began
to encroach on their land. To resort to the police, even if it had been
practicable, was unthinkable. So, after much deliberation, they decided to
use physical force to expel the intruder; which they did on the basis of a
theory of detached action, whereby it is permissible to infringe a principle
for the purpose of a single isolated act without thereby invalidating it.
The intruding farmer was, in fact, thrown over the hedge in the presence of
the assembled Colonists.

The colonists suffered material deprivation and great hardship in the
attempt to make themselves self-supporting. Almost worse were the petty
jealousies, quarrels and scandals within the group. From the first, they
attracted notoriety and prurient disapproval from the outside world. Talk of
free love and nude bathing was too good a seller for the popular press to
miss. The proponents of a whole spectrum of ideologies arrived at Whiteway
as well as a number of eccentric opportunists ready to take advantage of the
idealistic anarchists. Yet, against the odds, the. Whiteway Colony did
survive and continues in a much changed form today. One of the original
colonists, Sudbury Protheroe, set up a bakery which still survives producing
delicious wholemeal bread, Over the years the community has been enriched by
several printers, the sandalmaker, S.L Randolph, several weavers and the
cabinet maker, Fred Foster, who trained with Sidney Barnsley and Peter Waals
and designed many of the wooden houses at Whiteway.


There is at least one book about the Colony - a search at
gives the following:
Whiteway Colony
by Joy Thacker

Our Price: 13.99

Availability: We expect to be able to find this title for you within 4-6
weeks. However, please note that titles occasionally go out of print or
publishers run out of stock.
Hardcover ( 2 October, 1993)
J Thacker; ISBN: 0952176009

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