Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The Brotherhood Church of Stapleton is one of Britain’s two remaining Tolstoyan communes. The commune can trace its history back more than a hundred years. In 1894, when Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy was at the height of his fame, a group of acolytes known as the Croydon Brotherhood founded Purleigh, the first community in the United Kingdom governed by the principles laid out by the Russian novelist—who, following a mid-life moral crisis, had begun writing philosophical works in which he outlined his belief in Jesus Christ as a human prophet who preached pacifism, communal living, and a general distrust of governing bodies. Tolstoy quickly gained a cult-like following both at home and abroad—which he somewhat disapproved of, on the grounds that to follow a human leader was to ignore one’s own conscience.
More:The New Yorker