"The White Ladies"

In 1912 a lady by the name of Adela Curtis started a religious Order of Silence in Coldash, near Newbury, Berkshire she was described as a Christian, vegetarian, tee-totaller, English patriot, pioneer of self sufficiency, spiritual director, healer, school teacher, economist and ecologist. During her life time she was an organic farmer, vegetable gardener, fruit grower, bee-keeper, weaver, shoe-maker, clothing manufacturer, dietician, hygienist, sewage expert, publisher and book seller. In 1921 Miss Adela Curtis, then aged 57 and in poor health, brought her Christian commune of celibate and contemplative vegetarian ladies to the Dorset coast to work on land around the newly built farm of St. Bride just on the outskirts of Burton Bradstock. For 50 years the land had produced nothing but gorse, brambles and couch grass, rabbits, weasels, stoats, snakes, foxes, badgers and wild birds. The object of their enterprise was to prove, on a small scale, that they could not only be self supporting in food, clothing, fuel, housing and all other necessities but that they could provide for a larger healthier and happier home population. The Bible was taken as the source of inspiration on every subject and the results were so good that a little colony of wooden cottages each with a quarter of an acre of fruit and vegetable gardens gradually grew up. They also built a large chapel and this was finally completed in 1938. By this time they had become the Christian Contemplative Community and they lived by a strict set of rules. Papists and Christian Scientists were excluded from membership and they lived the "Good Life" on organically produced food to help this their waste sewage was collected and distributed on the fields and they managed without piped water or electricity as this did not conform with their type of living. The local villagers were intrigued and as the ladies of the commune were always in creamy veils and robes they were soon called "the White Ladies".

At the beginning of the 1939-45 war Adela told her 'sisters' that she abhorred pacifism and "regards the most effective of all weapons in our warfare as faithful prayer. The following year she wrote in The Two Edged Sword, and advised on the method of furthering the war effort through positive prayer:" We are to summon each leader by name. For cumulative effect the message should be spoken three times- Adolph Hitler! Adolph Hitler! Adolph Hitler! Hear the Truth!"

Miss Curtis died on 17th September 1960 aged 96 (1864-1960).

The Othona Community took over St. Bride's farm and brought a more relaxed regime.

Acknowledgements to Rodney Legg's books Literary Dorset and Dorset at War Diary of WW2 and Chris Rudd's book called The Rustic Mystic of Burton Bradstock.