Dial House, Essex

Coordinates: 51°42′44″N 0°11′21″E / 51.7122°N 0.1893°E / 51.7122; 0.1893
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The vegetable garden

Dial House is a farm cottage situated in south-west Essex, England that has been a self-sustaining anarcho-pacifist open house since 1967. The house is located in the countryside of Epping Forest in Ongar Great Park. It has been used as a base for a number of cultural, artistic, and political projects ranging from avant-garde jazz events to helping found the free festival movement.

Perhaps the best-known manifestation of the public face of Dial House was the anarcho-punk band Crass. Following the DIY punk ethic, Crass combined the use of song, film, sound collage, and graphics to launch a critical polemic against a mainstream which they considered to be built on foundations of war, religion, and consumerism.[1]


Dial House in summer

Early history[edit]

Dial House, a large rambling farm cottage, was built in the 16th century. Oliver Rackham describes Ongar Great Park as possibly having been the "prototype deer park", mentioned in an "Anglo-Saxon will of 1045".[2] During the Victorian era, Dial House was the home of the writer Primrose McConnell, a tenant farmer and the author of The Agricultural Notebook (1883), which is recognised as a standard reference work for the European farming industry. By 1967 Dial House stood derelict, its acre of garden a bramble-smothered wilderness. Dial House is Grade II listed on the National Heritage List for England.[3]


In 1967, former drummer of Crass Penny Rimbaud began using Dial House as an open space, removing doors and inviting friends to stay in the cottage.[4] Rimbaud moved into the house with Gee Vaucher and established the open-house policy that continues as of May 2023. Dial House became the site of organizing for the anarchist movement, including the Stonehenge Free Festival.[5]


  1. ^ "The story of ex-punks trying to save their rural cottage | The Guardian | guardian.co.uk". www.theguardian.com. Retrieved 29 May 2023.
  2. ^ Rackham, Oliver; Woodlands, Collins, 2006, ISBN 0-00-720244-X
  3. ^ Historic England, "Dial House (1306769)", National Heritage List for England, retrieved 9 May 2017
  4. ^ Sword, Harry (1 June 2016). "Essex Has a Much More Radical History Than You'd Think". Vice. Retrieved 29 May 2023.
  5. ^ "Crass' Penny Rimbaud is still resisting the grip of authority". Crack Magazine. Retrieved 29 May 2023.

External links[edit]

51°42′44″N 0°11′21″E / 51.7122°N 0.1893°E / 51.7122; 0.1893