The plotlands was an area of natural land available for rent/purchase as holiday spots, popular with Londoners who wanted to escape to the countryside. No proper development was really carried out and the residences, pathways, and streets, were the handywork of those visiting Dunton for leisure. It was used as a plotlands site until 1980 when many of the structures were demolished as a result of the Basildon Development Corporation bought the properties up for compulsory purchase, but some still remain. It began life in the very late 19th century when imported American grain made farm land decrease in value, but did not reach full popularity until the 1930s when actual bungalows began to be built – such as the Haven which is now a museum, furnished to appear as it might have around the 1940s when the plotlands were most popular as a result of the Blitz and its aftermath. Sometimes tents and wooden shacks sufficed for the holiday-makers. Many ruins survive today and there is numerous clues to what the area – now an Essex Wildlife Trust reserve, was once used for.
We first visited the site in 2015, and returned in 2022 after the new visitors centre had been completed.