Stories from Braziers Park Archive: Reflections on Networks and Communities, Past and Present

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A 4000-word article exploring the history and legacy of the founding of Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research in 1950 in Ipsden, Oxfordshire. Established by a range of diverse intellectuals as an attempt to found an experimental Adult College that would explore social process through conscious communal living, the community continues as the oldest secular intentional community in the UK. This article builds on Pollen's involvement in community history and experimental arts events at the site over several years. It draws upon previously unanalysed archival documents to put Braziers Park in historical context, showing its links with well-known and lesser-known thinkers and practitioners in pacifist politics, alternative education, psychoanalytic communities and early sociological societies.
Archival documents in the Braziers Park stores, specifically the handwritten pages of notes that list the invitees to the Official Opening of Braziers Park School of Integrative Social Research, reveal the intellectual and social networks in which the founders moved, and in which they aspired to move. These humble scraps, never previously analysed, offera telling snapshot of the new organisation's friends and supporters in 1950, as well as those they were inspired by and hoped to connect with. Invitees include high-profile authors and thinkers, campaigners and reformers, politicians and psychiatrists, anarchists and aristocrats. This essay explores some of the people and ideas that the organisation sought to align with, and reflects on the continuities and discontinuities with Braziers' current communities and networks. What might the 21st century organisation learn from its past networks and aspirations? Brazier's anticipated cultural position was ambitious and outward-looking in its social and cultural reach; where does this endure, and where might this have this changed?
Original languageEnglish
JournalBraziers Park Research Communications
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Braziers Park Research Communications journal, following editorial review, in May 2018.


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