Radical ESSEX

An often maligned county, Essex’s recent history has been the subject of stereotypes, neatly surmised by Spitting Image’s anthem, Essex is Crap.

Radical ESSEX seeks to tell another story, exploring the less-known innovations and creativity of the county. It examines living practices from Christian communities, retreats for Tolstoyan princes and the first practices of naturism in England, to radical University development, and social working estates in East Tilbury and Silver End.

Essex was significant in the Plotlands movement, seeing individual land ownership develop into controlled New Towns, and can claim to be the birthplace of British Modernism with 1917 designs for cottages on the outskirts of Braintree. With a rich cultural history including musicians Depeche Mode, Alison Moyet and Dr. Feelgood, and a home for artists Henri Chopin and Grayson Perry, this book demonstrates Essex as a hotbed of radical activity, open to all possibilities.

Radical ESSEX accompanies an ongoing project that re-examines the county in relation to radicalism in thought, lifestyle, politics and architecture. It sheds light on the vibrant, pioneering thinking of the late 19th and 20th centuries, celebrating the crucial role Essex has played in the history of British Modernism and its utopian ideologies.

This book features a new suite of specially commissioned images by British photographer, Catherine Hyland. She has been shortlisted for numerous photography awards, and her work is featured in magazines such as Creative Review, and ICON.

The Radical ESSEX programme is funded by Arts Council England and Visit Engalnd’s Cultural Destinations. This publication receives additional support from Essex Heritage Trust.

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