1897: Utopia in Alderney

A Tolstoyan colony (communal, semi-pacifist, vegetarian, elitist) was planned for Alderney.


Strugglers for an existence in the crowded hive of London life have eagerly welcomed the opportunity of joining the Tolstoyan colony which is about to be established in the Channel Islands, and thus, they hope, insure a happy, frugal, and peaceful passage of their days. Mr J Herbert Wilkinson, president of the Institute of Architects and Surveyors, as the promoter of this latest scheme of an earthly Elysium, was seen a few days since by a Daily Mail reporter, and readily unbosomed himself on his pet project.

'We have now under offer from the Government,' he began,

200 acres along the North shore of the Island of Alderney at a very low rental for the period of fifty years. At any time within twelve months we will also be permitted to increase this allotment to 1,000 acres. At present we will start the community with fifty people, each contributing £100, and we have already received 115 applications, many from ministers and people in good positions. One lady writes from Jersey to offer us £500, but we will not take it; no person can bring in more than the fixed amount. We would, however, allow her to nominate four friends so as to divide the contributions into separate hundreds. We hold that money to any great amount will not be necessary in our community at Alderney. Of our capital we propose to rent the land and build a large hotel or bungalow with accommodation for fifty persons. Here all the numbers will live under one roof. I may say we intend to take our colonists from the middle class of the people, for although many of our people will work as gardeners, fruit growers, fishermen, &c., for the general benefit of the community, yet we would not attempt to reconcile the difference in habits and conversation by mixing up uneducated labourers with college-bred literary men or artists. After we may establish a settlement for another class on an adjacent area. We hope to build and furnish our home on tasteful and aesthetic lines, without incurring much expense, and all our aims will be concentrated in developing a pure, healthy life for refined people who are worried and disgusted with the turmoil and moral mire of city life, and who possess but little means. If approved of by a selection committee yet to be appointed, a candidate will paying his fifty pounds as a preliminary deposit when the habitations are ready for their occupants. On the payment of the £100 being completed, it cannot be withdrawn from the general fund. A member may leave the community, say, after three years, and may sell his hundred pounds interest to a substitute, who must, however, be approved of by the committee. Should he be thus successful he will have lived three years for nothing but the willing labour of his brain and hands. For it will be left to the conscience of such individuals to work when and how they will, but all results of such work must be handed over to the general fund of the community and our motto will be, 'Each for all, and all for each.'


We are providing a smoking–room, as it is decided no smoking will be allowed anywhere else in the house. Glass-houses, apiaries, and dairies are to be erected, and we hope to export grapes, honey, and produce to one of the large London stores, who will give us groceries, &c., in exchange. The idea is to eliminate the use of money as much as possible. There is no money to be made out of the colony for anyone. I am out of pocket up to the present, though I expect to be refunded the two or three pounds expended in advertisements. I feel confident that the colony will be a success, for we are proceeding on business lines, and we know there are large numbers of middle-class people of simple, refined tastes and pure principles who would gladly combine to form the community we desire.'

A cutting from Newspaper Cuttings: Guernsey Various III, p. 82; an excerpt apparently from the Daily Mail, 1897. 'The other day it was announced that Count Tolstoy's friends are preparing to found a Socialistic or Communistic experimental settlement in Alderney, while others are engaged in making efforts in this direction in Essex.'

Review of Reviews, 1897.