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Houses at Purleigh, Essex - geograph.org.uk - 210342.jpg
Houses in Purleigh
Grid reference: TL838020
Location: 51°41’13"N, 0°39’32"E
Population: 1,271  (2011[1])
Post town: Chelmsford
Postcode: CM3
Dialling code: 01245 & 01621
Local Government
Council: Maldon

Purleigh is a village and parish in rural Essex, located on the Dengie Peninsula around four miles south of Maldon.


The place-name 'Purleigh' is first attested in a charter of 998, where it appears as Purlea. In the Domesday Book of 1086 it appears as Purlai. The name means 'bittern clearing'.[2]

Washington connection

Lawrence Washington, the great-great-grandfather of the first U.S. president, George Washington, was rector in the village from 1632 until 1643.[3]

Purleigh Colony

The Purleigh Colony,[4] established in 1896 at Cock Clarks, was a Tolstoyan anarchist colony that grew out of the Croydon Brotherhood Church. Initially based on a 10-acre plot, as the group grew the colony began to rent local cottages with land attached. The colony ran a printing press, publishing translations of Tolstoy and for a while The New Order magazine. For a time the colony sheltered some of the Doukhobors, forced to leave Russia to avoid political persecution. The colony was always a fissile mix, and began to break down towards the end of 1900; some colonists moves with the Doukhobors to Canada, while others went on to form the Whiteway Colony in Gloucestershire. A further group, headed by Tolstoy's literary agent, Vladimir Chertkov, moved to Tuckton near Christchurch in Hampshire, where they traded as 'The Free Age Press' – producing dirt-cheap versions of Tolstoy's religious and ethical texts, for an English readership.[5]

Local amenities

There are three public houses, The Bell, The Fox and Hounds and The Roundbush. The Bell is a 14th-century building that was refurbished in the 16th century.

The local school is Purleigh Community Primary School.

Purleigh playing field is home to Purleigh Cricket Club, who in 2008 broke a British record by scoring 499–5 in just 45 overs[6] against Herongate II.

Religious sites

The parish church is All Saints. It is of 14th-century origin.[7]

Rev. Robert Francis Walker[8] who was a curate, from 1819 to 1854, and a well-known translator of Christian books from German to English, is buried in the churchyard.


("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about Purleigh)
  1. "Parish population 2011". http://www.neighbourhood.statistics.gov.uk/dissemination/LeadKeyFigures.do?a=7&b=11127745&c=Purleigh&d=16&e=62&g=6425464&i=1001x1003x1032x1004&m=0&r=1&s=1442934418614&enc=1. Retrieved 22 September 2015. 
  2. Eilert Ekwall, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names, p.375.
  3. The Link from Rev Lawrence Washington of Purleigh to President George Washington
  4. Utopias and Utopians: An Historical Dictionary by R. C. S. Trahair p326
  5. Holman, M. J. de K., 'Translating Tolstoy for the Free Age Press: Vladimir Chertkov and his English Manager Arthur Fifield', in The Slavonic and East European Review, vol. 66, no. 2 (April 1988), pp. 184-197.
  6. "BBC News report on Purleigh Cricket Club". 27 June 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/7478125.stm. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  7. White's Directory, 1848
  8. "The life of Robert Francis Walker". http://www.essex-family-history.co.uk/revwalker.htm.