Bridport & West Dorset News, Views, Videos & Curiosities

Pilsdon the model for new woodland commune in Somerset

THE WRITER Tobias Jones has sold his house in Bristol and bought 10 acres of woodland in Somerset so that he and his family can set up a commune modelled on the Pilsdon Community in the Marshwood Vale. 

Pilsdon is a Christian refuge for people with broken lives, set up in 1958 by a clergyman who wanted to reinvent the 17th century community called Little Gidding (the inspiration for one of TS Eliot’s Four Quartets.)

Tobias Jones first stayed at Pilsdon a while back and his experiences there are written up in Chapter 5 of his book Utopian Dreams: A Search for a Better Life (Faber, 2007). It’s a book that always struck me as an odd mixture of tortuous and superficial. At one point Jones writes: “It’s mind-blowing the number of communities there are just within a few dozen miles of here [Pilsdon]: Monkton Wilds, Othona, Tinkers Bottom, Gaunts House, Magdalen House, Hillfield”. I remember thinking, ok, but for a start you’ve got the names of Monkton Wyld and Hilfield spelt wrong… and should Magdalen House actually be Magdalen Farm, and Tinkers Bottom Tinkers Bubble? I wasn’t sure.

 But clearly Jones wasn’t just a tourist. He ends his chapter on Pilsdon by writing: “It’s a place with a radical simplicity, which comes at a stark price. It costs, as Eliot wrote in ‘Little Gidding’, ‘not less than everything’.” Moving with your wife and two small daughters to a wood suggests to me that Jones is putting everything into what he believes. Good luck to him.

You can read a very good piece by Tobias Jones in The Guardian by clicking on this link. And about his move in The Yorkshire Post by clicking here.

 While Pilsdon’s website is here.