Welcome from the editor: September 2023


It’s a curious place, the Whiteway Colony.

Founded in 1898 in the parish of Miserden, near Stroud, by Tolstoyans, on what were at the time considered rather radical ideals, it has been the subject of much fascination – as well as lurid and unwanted tabloid attention – over the years. The admirable utopian socialist ideals on which it was established, where no-one would or should own the land, led to the property deeds being ceremoniously burnt on the end of a pitchfork.

In The Express and Star, dated September 12, 1832, refers to the colony as ‘England’s Strangest Village’, going on to say it’s ‘inhabited by free love exponents, nudists, Communists and cranks’ and that ‘it is a village into which no policeman has any right to go unless armed with a warrant, and where respectability is a matter for scorn’. The Stroud Journal of December 18, 1936, talks of ‘assaults at colonists’ gathering’ which ended in ‘free fights’ and a woman being accused of ‘wilfully breaking a window in the Colony Hall’. All grist to the mill on a slow news day in the Cotswolds.

These sensationalised stories were part of a fascinating history display set up in the Colony Hall on Whiteway’s recent open day, which had so many of us flocking to walk through the dreamy gardens – beautifully tended by residents who would never own the land. It was the warmest of welcomes given to visitors keen to learn more about the 125-year history of the colony and find out what it’s really like to live there now.

Katie Jarvis visited on the open day and on other occasions to find out more about this fascinating place to write about it for this issue. It’s a brilliant read as always from Katie, and gives great insight into what life in Whiteway is like, straight from the mouths of current resident. Pick up a copy of the September mag, turn to page 36, and you too will find yourself yearning for a piece of paradise in the Gloucestershire community.

Also in this issue we explore the secret gardens of the Cotswolds and Cornwall; get to know more about the area’s inviting open spaces and parkland; walk the slopes of Hackpen Hill in search of fairies; and go in search of canal boat art along our beautiful waterways. As you can see, we’re still embracing the great outdoors, and plan to do so well into the winter months. A little bit of rain and wind never hurt anyone, did it?

And for those dark evenings, when your walking boots are drying out in the hallway and your rain mac is steaming by the fire, get cosy in your favourite armchair and read the brilliant interviews we have lined up for you this month. What do Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp get up to at home when the webcam is turned off? Who is Dame Joan Collins’ least favourite movie star?

Looks like I’ve run out of space again, and there’s so much more to mention, so I’ll leave you to turn the pages and discover the gems inside for yourself. Trust me, it’s a cracker.

Candia McKormack
Editor, Cotswold Life
Twitter: @cotslifeeditor


Three things we learned this month…

It’s no mystery
Toyah Willcox and Robert Fripp have almost 100 years’ experience in the music industry between them.

Musical monarch
King Charles III has been patron of Tetbury Music Festival since its inception in 2003. 

A close call
In 1546, Katherine Parr narrowly escaped a trip to the Tower of London for ‘treasonous heresy’.