This is really a development of this post from August last year. It described a paper I had presented at the AHRC conference, Common Ground a couple of months earlier.
Recently I have been developing that paper into a longer piece about architectural coincidences and temporal slippages on St. George’s Hill. The current abstract (a bit overlong and stripped of its footnotes) goes like this:
In 2011 on a suburban plot in Surrey a then newly built house, Ravenridge, was put on sale for £14,750,000. The architecture of this house was described by the Daily Mail as ‘an unthreatening kind of bloated Georgian’. Just above the house, inaccessible now since the ‘gating’ of St. George’s Hill on which it stands, hulk the eroded ramparts of an Iron Age hillfort. Ravenridge also happens to occupy part of the likely site of the first, proto-communist, ‘Digger’ community established on April 1st 1649 by Gerard Winstanley and others on what was then the common land of Walton-on-Thames.
Co-present on St. George’s Hill, three ostensibly unlike modes of dwelling – the visible yet inaccessible gated mansion, the ruined and hidden hillfort, and the only guessed-at squatter’s hut – ‘stand’, spatially united but temporally uncoupled. Drawing on historic ideas of common land and contemporary notions of commoning, whilst siting radical 17th century proto-communist ideals and protest in forms of architectural demarcation, this paper attempts to draw back together the separated architectures of St. George’s Hill.
The temporal slippage of this landscape of architectural co-presence, ruin and the commons – between the Iron Age but also what we might term the ‘age of surveillance’ – this gated community offers an opportunity for and provides a reflection of, I will argue, an increasingly elusive yet critical notion of architectural ‘commons’.
Had I succeed in my attempt to drive in to and around the St. George’s Hill compound (see title image) this is what I might have found:
Pinewood, Mole, Sylvan, Old Oak, Shamwari, Breton Hill, Holland Hill, Toad Hall, Lane End, Frogmore, Narjes, Myanmar, Kinsmere, Abbotswood, Bowater, Brackendene, Long Wall, Hillbrook, Cedarwood, Snowhill, Hamilton, Conifers, Abbots Mount, Gregory, Larchmont, Tudor, Three Oaks, Silver Glade, Pine Dale, Hillside, Dalriada, Nirala, Windy Heights, Pine Croft, The Chalet, Cumbroc, Fosseways, Little Lincoln, Caesar’s, Fairwood, Catalina, Highclere, Panorama, Squirrels Wood, Horizon, Charisma, Oakwood, Pentlands, Cullen, Huf, Providence, Egon, Hevesta, Somerton, The Ramparts, Hill, Hill Top, Rumah Panjai, Rodona, The Vertex, Whitecliff, Albany, Pine View, Berachah, Edgeworth, Ondine, Patrice, Ravenspoint, Matrix, Sparta, Boodabus, Pine Close, Wildwood, Fox Hollow, Dalegarth, Spinney, Brockspur, Burghley, Ravenridge, Radleigh, Lavaniya, Vandravan, Tor Point, Pisces, Waldegrave, Anodor, Gateside, Tanglewood, Chilton, Hartlands, Jasmin, Solana, Badgers Wood, Oakover, Wood End
367 years earlier Digger leader Gerard Winstanley wrote ;
The work we are going about is this, To dig up Georges Hill and the waste Ground thereabouts, and to Sow Corn, and to eat our bread together by the sweat of our brows. And the First Reason is this, That we may work in righteousness, and lay the Foundation of making the Earth a Common Treasury for All.
 Will Jonson, ed. The True Levellers’ Standard Advanced, the Law of Freedom and Other Writings – Gerrard Winstanley (Great Britain: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014), 13.