For several decades after the Second World War, a former rectory in Long Crichel in Dorset was a magnet for many prominent in the arts in Britain. The house was bought in 1945 by Eardley Knollys, a former art dealer then working with James Lees-Milne at the National Trust, and two music critics for the New Statesman, Edward Sackville-West, “Eddy” to his friends, and Desmond Shawe-Taylor. The magazine’s literary editor, Raymond Mortimer, soon joined them, making a fourth. The original idea was to form a worldlier, decidedly secular, English version of the Bruderhof, a Christian experiment in communal living that had existed in Germany from the 1920s and into the 1930s...


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