Permaculture Introductory weekend at Dial House, near Epping, Essex, May 27-29 2005.

PERMACULTURE; A weekend for beginners

Creating sustainable human communities by following nature's patterns; "Permaculture is a way of life. It shows us how to make the most of our resources by minimising waste and maximising potential. But living ecologically and sustainably doesn't mean giving everything up, it means relearning the value of nature, to understand new ways of being wealthy. Permaculture methods can be applied now, whether you are gardening, doing the shopping, looking after kids, going to work or building your own home. Permaculture is not about getting away from it all- it's about taking control of our lives, ourindividual needs and our common future."

For more details and to book places visit

The Dial House compost toilet building workshop, July 2002

Pictures from previous Dial House permaculture courses

  dial house appeal

24 October, 2001

Contact Details

Cheques can by made out to:
Penny Rimbaud

Dial House
Ongar Park Hall,
North Weald,
Epping, Essex CM16 6AE

We're very sorry for the people who have sent us emails and have not received replies but it all became too much and we no longer have email.


Dial House Trust - A Centre for Dynamic Cultural Change

In a culture increasingly suffocated by myopic corporate interests, it is refreshing, if not downright life-confirming, to be able to announce any victory over those interests.

As the monstrous steel and glass edifices of commerce cast their ever-darkening shadows over whole communities, the crude lottery of day-to-day existence becomes an ever more complex battle. Just who on earth benefits from the raging bull of globalisation? How are we to exist if we are to be treated as no more than cyphers chained to the production line of the corporate circus? What future is there for our culture if art, poetry and music are seen only as commodities? Just as Tin Pan Alley will never produce a Miles Davis, so Charles Saatchi will never produce a Francis Bacon. If Marx didn't say that commerce was the antithesis of true creativity, he should have done.

To write that the problem is a matter of 'us or them' might appear simplistic, but perhaps it is that simple. Put crudely, authentic and/or indigenous culture is systematically being buried alive beneath the cosy euphemisms of 'world progress'.

For over thirty years, DIAL HOUSE, a large rambling cottage set in the middle of the Essex countryside, has stood as a symbol of opposition to the all-pervading dictates of commercialism. Throughout that time, the cottage has operated as a cultural community centre with interests ranging from organic gardening to free-form jazz, from herbal remedies to direct action on the street. Of its more public emanations, DIAL HOUSE is respected for having been the birthplace of ICES 72, the UK's biggest ever avant-garde festival; of the legendary Stonehenge Free Festivals, which, until they were finally and violently crushed under the boot of Thatcherism, for over a decade offered the fun-loving public a chance to paint rainbows in the face of sobriety; and of CRASS, the anarchist punk band who may have failed in their ambitious bid to change the world, but succeeded in changing the minds of a generation.

When we first rented DIAL HOUSE thirty years ago, it was a derelict, rat infested dump with a rubbish heap for a garden. Nonetheless, we could see in it the possibility of making real our dream of setting up a communal creative and theraputic centre.

Having completely renovated the house to include studios, print-rooms, a rehersal space and workshops, we created an organic garden that enabled us to be largely self-sufficient. The more we expanded, the more we were able to share.

From the outset in 1967, the lifestyle at DIAL HOUSE has sought to offer residents, guests. visitors and the broader community a workable alternative to the all-pervading consumer ethic. For over thirty years, the DIAL HOUSE community has shared its vision of possibility and hope against a culture in which personal greed has become an accepted norm.

Over the past twelve years, DIAL HOUSE and the acres of rolling farmland that surrounds it have been a target for the greed of various corporate bodies, of whom British Telecom was the most powerful (and MI5 the least mentioned). Proposals ranging from theme parks to massive luxury housing developments were put forward, but thrown back with all the muscle of effective public protest. Enraged at having been denied the huge profits of what they thought would be easy pickings, the speculators identified DIAL HOUSE as a hornets' nest of opposition and turned their spite on its residents. There followed a spate of eviction orders, court battles and Rachman-like harassment, none of which had the desired effect. Eventually, realising that they were beaten, the fat-cats withdrew with their tails between their Armani-suited legs, and Dial House was put up for auction - bidder takes all.

If you know anything about CRASS, you will know that despite selling thousands of records, profit was never on the agenda. As long as there was food in the garden, a roof over our heads and friends to share time with, we were happy enough. Not surprisingly, we are now as broke as we were thirty years ago and consequently didn't have the necessary funds to make a bid for DIAL HOUSE. For too long we had to suffer at the hands of Landlords whose only interest in DIAL HOUSE was its material value. For too long we had had to put aside our desire for radical change simply to be dragged through the Courts or to conform to the limiting legal restrictions of our Tenancy Agreement. We wanted to grow personally and to expand our operations, but we knew that unless we owned DIAL HOUSE it would not be wholly possible.

To endsure a chance of a successful bid, we needed to raise something in the region of £150,000: a huge sum of money for us. So, because we were desperate to preserve what has become almost an institution, at the beginning of this year we took a course of action that we would not normally have contemplated; we set up an Appeal Fund. The response was immediate, and although by the date of the auction we had nowhere enough for a successful bid, we felt sufficiently confident to borrow from friends and supporters the sum needed.

Knowing that the Landlords would block any attempt made by us to purchase DIAL HOUSE, we asked for help from Sue, a dear friend who twenty-five years ago was a resident of the house, and who now runs a property management company in East London. From the outset, the advice she gave to us was so impeccable that we began to feel reasonably confident that soon the house would be ours. By the evening before the auction we had agreed that on no account should we bid higher that £155,000, and Sue had left for a holiday in Italy arranging for a colleague to do the bidding on the following morning. Later that evening around midnight, Sue rang from Italy to say that she had a hunch we should push our limit to £158,000 and that she instructed her colleague accordingly.

The next day, the bidding stopped at £158,000 and the house was ours. If Sue had been at the auction, she'd have been hugged out of existence.

Having taken several weeks for the facts to sink in, and having to keep quiet about Sue's purchase until after the formal exchange of documents on the 20th February, we were able at last to look to the future and, although now in debt to the sum of £100,000, we can celebrate that DIAL HOUSE is at last secure.

Our current plan is that DIAL HOUSE should contine as it always has been, as a 'safe house': a space where there is a welcome, where there is a bed for the night, conversation, food and the possibility of sharing ideas. On this base we will expand on DIAL HOUSE's traditions of radical creativity, offering its facilities to an ever wider public under the new title of 'THE DIAL HOUSE TRUST - A Centre For Alternative Globalisation'.

We intend to arrnage workshops covering a range of activities from healthcare courses to literary weekends; to offer studio and rehersal space to visiting artists and musicians; to organise formal discussions and debates to contribute towards the ever growing intertnational radical dialogue; to arrnage gigs, film and art shows, readings and debates (possibly in the local village hall); to widen our own field of visions and at the same time to involve the local community, most especially the young.

Any capital raised through these activities will be re-cycled back into the Trust for further projects. We will be opening a website to broaden the network, opening the house and garden to new activities and new thoughts and opening our hears to a new vibrant future.

A management committee is being set up of around half a dozen interested individuals, made up of residents and non-residents, who will meet regularly at DIAL HOUSE to guide and adminsiter the overall policies and agendas of the Trust's running. In addition to this, the permanent residents will pursue their personal work - painting, writing, music-making, gardening etc..

The Trust aims to bring together the many diverse elemtns of a culture that over the last twenty years has been so devastatingly torn apart. DIAL HOUSE is once again opening its doors to a radical future. Be it the healing power of music or the confrontational rage of the road-protestors, the Trust will give facility both for debate and for development - the future is ours if we want it.

However, in the short term, our immediate attention must go to the essential repairs neglected for over five years by the previous owner and which at threat of prosecution we were forbidden to carry out. Once warmer weather permits, we will be repairing and partially re-roofing the house. Apart from dealing with the physical infrastructure, our second concern will be to further develop our plans for The Trust. By the end of the year, we aim to have defined both a management structure and an initial programme of workshops and events to be hosted by DIAL HOUSE. We would be interested to hear of any suggestions for activities,particuluarly if you would like to organise a workshop yourself - please put your ideas down on paper and send them slowmail to us at DIAL HOUSE.

Meanwhile, the events that we and other are organizing as part of the Appeal continue, as does the Appeal itself. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of numerous individuals and with the addition of our personal savings, we have already been able to repay £65,000 of the money borrowed from friends and supporters for the purchase of DIAL HOUSE. As the house was sold at auction for nearly twice the price we had estimated, the Appeal will be invaluable in helping us to meet our commitment of reimbursing the entire debt within three years, by which time the Trust's programme of events and workshops should be well established.

Once again, many, many thanks to all of you who helped us to buy the house and who, we hope, will continue to help us to make the Trust a reality.

Self-determination and self-empowerment are crucial tools in the struggle against the rampant forces of capitalism. The new Centre will be committed to assist in the creation of those tools.



This website was originally produced by Southern Records in the 2000s. It has been reconstructed as part of