31. Edge of Essex

I don’t go looking for these things. Honest guv.

Much of ‘Out of Essex’ was based around a self-sustaining, self-contained community in Southchurch Park, Southend. A mini-breakaway society. In Chapter 3, Satan sets the scene as he sits on a train, contemplating the role of Essex as “a fertile breeding ground for all manner of collectivist, Utopian, socialistic and morally-improving experiments”.

The text adds: “Names including New Harmony, the Village Society, and the Redemption Society were among communities that flourished briefly during a period spanning the late 19th century to the eve of World War Two. The Salvation Army’s founder William Booth had created a “land and industrial colony” at Hadleigh, near Leigh-on-Sea, to reform “broken men of bad habits”. And a teetotal retreat on Osea Island had been established by the Charrington brewing family.”

Maureen and I drove out to Bradwell today, because I fancied a gander at St Peters Chapel, built in 645 AD. The 19th oldest building in Britain, and still used. Well worth a look, at a wind-blown site out on the Dengie peninsula, where the sound of duelling banjos has the potential to trend.



Maureen said the building gave her “the feel of sanctuary”. I loved its remoteness.


And what about the altar. It made me think of the monolith in ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’.


Inside, there it was. The description of a quiet Christian community based just 300 yards away. Othona, which began as an experiment back in 1946, when the nearest water source was a standpipe two fields away.


Now with accommodation consisting of two separate buildings and five yurts. Simple rules. You stay, you help out. Everyone walks over to the chapel twice a day, after breakfast and evening washing up. It even has a small football space. On me ‘ead, Pete.


Old and new. Upstream and downstream. Looping the loop.

Philip K Dick’s How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later advances the theory that we are all living in 50 AD, where Jesus Christ has just died on the cross. This saves us, allowing us to have eternal lives if we choose to follow him. Satan is trying to get us to forget this with an illusion of time.

Must go, time for dinner.





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