The Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty: O'Connorville, the Chartist settlement at Heronsgate
The Land of Liberty Peace & Plenty - a bit of a mouthful, but what a brilliant name for a pub. And there's a remarkable back story, too ...
And it's on the tube - on the outskirts of Chorleywood, a twenty minute walk from the Metropolitan line, and flanking the M25, London's orbital motorway.
The signboard is modern; the name is of some antiquity, and pays tribute to the Chartist land settlement here at Heronsgate which for a few years at the close of the 1840s was a beacon of British radicalism.
A plaque on the village hall at Heronsgate pays tribute to the community's founder, Feargus O'Connor, an Irishman who was the most renowned leader of Chartism.
O'Connorville was the first of these Chartist land colonies to be established. Eventually five were set-up. Several hundred Chartists moved into these communities. But all failed within a few years - the land company was declared illegal, the cultivators had little agricultural knowledge, and the plots (none above four acres) were too small, and too remote, to sustain a family.
Heronsgate - the name of the area before the Chartists arrived, and the one to which it has reverted - is now a hugely exclusive and wealthy community. But much to my surprise, several of the Chartist-era buildings still stand. The one above is, I think, the only small cottage that remains which is identifiably Chartist in origin.
Here's a side view of the same building - the modified 'H' sign on the gable seems to feature on all the Chartist buildings at Heronsgate. On the plan below, I suspect this was the cottage attached to the two-acre plot marked as '1 ii'.
Most of the cottages had two storeys and were semi-detached. Here are some that I spotted - what a joy that they have survived for 170 years.
I suspect there are a few more survivals of O'Connorville hidden behind high hedges and long, twisting drives and disguised by extensions. And in addition to the plaque on the village hall, there are other indications that some of the current residents value and honour their community's heritage.
The road names in Heronsgate seem to be another survival from the 1840s - Nottingham was Feargus O'Connor's Parliamentary constituency, while Halifax, Bradford and Stockport were all northern Chartist strongholds.
And to end where we began, the Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty was emphatically not part of the Chartist colony (though its name is clearly respectful rather than mocking). O'Connor once warned in his newspaper, the Northern Star: 'Is a beer shop near your land? Avoid it as a pestilence. The one enemy which can ruin settlement life is drink. It leads to poverty, crime, disgrace.'
He also kept churches and chapels out of O'Connorville, advising: 'Don't let a religious man come among you.' But there is now a small Church of England church, St John's, in Heronsgate - so another of O'Connor's principles has been overturned.
The pub, by the way, is a gem - well worth a visit. And Heronsgate, too, deserves a pilgrimage. Here's some details to help you on your way!
Connorville looks like an old town. It's not a happy nor a sad place, but you can say that a lot of things happened at the past. The history says it all. Reading the article made me realize that the place is worth going. If you are up for an adventure while learning on the side, this could be the perfect place to cater your needs! This wouldn't be tagged as " the Land of Liberty, Peace & Plenty" for nothing. I am sure it has served its purpose already! By the way, it was such a great read.
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My wife and I lived in Chorleywood for 30 years and he Liberty was our local and we were told that that pub marked the border between the Charterists and free folk and the pub sign when we were there had happy people on one side having a drink and on the other side unhappy people without a drink,
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