The Land of Liberty, Peace and Plenty
|South West Hertfordshire|
Heronsgate is a village in Hertfordshire, in the very southwest of the county on the outskirts of Chorleywood, to the south of Chorleywood itself. Though close by junction 17 of the M25, it is adequately isolated in the woods.
The village was founded as part of a utopian social movement. It was originally named after its founder, Feargus O'Connor, and later known as "Herringsgate".
Heronsgate was founded by Feargus O'Connor and the Chartist Cooperative Land Company (later the National Land Company) as O'Connorsville or O'Connorville in 1846. The Chartist Cooperative Land Society was launched by the National Charter Association in 1845 with the aim of resettling industrial workers from the cities on smallholdings, making them independent of factory employers and potentially qualifying them for the vote.
Chartists were invited to subscribe regular amounts towards an eventual £2 10s share in the venture. Soon the money began to flood in, pennies and shillings at a time, and was deposited in an account held by Feargus O'Connor in the London Joint Stock Bank.
The land was bought on 14 March 1846, the plots allocated by ballot on 20 April 1846 (Easter Monday) and settled on 1 May 1847.
In addition to the 35 plots of land covering 103 acres, a beer house was also provided, now the Land of Liberty, Peace, and Plenty public house.
The National Land Company was wound up by Act of Parliament in 1851. The estate was administered by the Court of Chancery until the freeholds were sold off by auction on 27 May 1857.
From 1936 to 1955, a villa in Heronsgate was the global headquarters of the International Esperanto-League, later the World Esperanto Association.
The village today
Far from its roots as a settlement for poor labourers, Heronsgate is today a much sought-after, wealthy village. The heart of the village is much as O'Connor left it and the Land of Liberty, Peace, and Plenty stands as it was. Notwithstanding that his idealism failed, O'Connor built a village which remains delightful today in a new role.
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