Selected Films, Videos & Podcasts

Film: Unfamiliar Territories

Ken and Patrick

On Tuesday, 8 June 2021, in the Swedenborg Society library in Bloomsbury, Ken and Patrick Wright were invited to sit down and discuss their distinctive approaches to researching and writing literary and social history, notably the ‘unfamiliar territories’ of urban memory, marginal literary cultures and landscapes, and pastoral disenchantment and rural modernism.
A Swedenborg House Production, 2021 (38 minutes)

> Watch the film on YouTube

Film: Walking the Essex Way

Ken and Michael Landy

As part of a project organised by Focal Point Gallery in Colchester, Ken joins artist Michael Landy in walking a favourite stretch of the Essex Way, from Wivenhoe to Frating, the setting for Ken’s history of the pacifist farming community at Frating Hall Farm. Focal Point Gallery, Colchester, 2021 (4.32 minutes)

> Watch the film on YouTube

Podcast: Red Heaven

farming community

Dr Simon Machin in conversation with social historian and writer Ken Worpole. Taken as a child by his parents in 1950 to the “pioneer territory” of Canvey Island, Ken subsequently became interested in the many social experiments in Essex since the 1880s that took root in this terrain, some offering secular or spiritual recuperation from the effects of London poverty while others espoused a Tolstoyan renunciation of industrial life. The episode concentrates on two communities linked to the trauma of war. Firstly, back-to-the- land pacifism in wartime Britain at Frating Farm Hall, which is the subject of Ken’s 2021 book, No Matter How Many Skies Have Fallen. And secondly, the Othona community which was formed to foster post-war reconciliation in 1946 by the RAF chaplain, Norman Motley, next to the historic, 7th century chapel. St Peter on the Wall, at Bradwell-on-Sea.
Podcast: Red Heaven, April 2022 (1 hour 24 mins)

> Listen to the podcast

Podcast: Ken Worpole: Designing social care

Wilfrid's approach

A lively discussion between architect and writer Ambrose Gillick and Ken on the need for a 'philosophy of design for providing care for the elderly and the vulnerable, taking the importance of architectural aesthetics, the use of quality materials, the porousness of the design to the wider world, and the integration of indoor and outdoor spaces as part of the overall care environment.' There is also a close-up discussion on the place of the hospice in the modern urban and social environment as a new kind of 'serious building on serious earth', citing lines from Philip Larkin's seminal poem, 'Church Going'. The episode starts, however, by talking about the formative influences on Ken's later-life gravitation towards the role of architecture in the wider public domain.
A is for Architecture, February 2024 (50 minutes)

> Listen to the podcast

Video: The Dandelions & The Docks

Walkers in the countryside

In this illustrated talk, Ken outlines the complicated relationship between London’s East End and its outward exodus to the suburbs, new towns and coastal areas of rural Essex. In the process he describes the many religious and political ideals – and organisations - which encouraged people to lead a healthier life away from the slums.
The Architecture Foundation, 2015 (16 minutes)

> Watch the video on YouTube

Radio: Brightening from the east


As part of a series of short BBC Radio 3 essays, Ken recalls how his family moved from east London to Canvey Island after the war, and the contrast between the ‘frontier’ territory of a community inhabiting a landscape of unmade roads, dykes and rough shoreline and self-built bungalows, and that of the closely-packed neighbourhoods, street markets and crowded roads they left behind.
BBC Radio 3, broadcast 24 November 2022 (13.5 minutes)

> Listen on the BBC