The house is situated in Ongar Great Park, an area covering five by three kilometers that Oliver Rackham describes as possibly having been the "prototype deer park", it having been mentioned in an "Anglo-Saxon will of 1045".  During the Victorian era, Dial House was the home of the agricultural writer Primrose McConnell, tenant farmer and author of The Agricultural Notebook (1883), recognized as a standard reference work for the European farming industry.
Since 1967 the place has been an anarchist-pacifist open house, the base of operations for a number of cultural, artistic, and political projects ranging from avant-garde jazz events to helping found the Free Festival movement.
Perhaps the best-known manifestation of the public face of Dial House was the anarcho-punk band Crass. Crass took literally the punk manifesto of "anyone can do it", and combined the use of song, film, sound collage, graphics, and subversion to launch a sustained and original critical broadside against all that they saw as a culture built on foundations of war, violence, religious hypocrisy, and blind consumerism.
Crass all but retired from the public eye during the mid-1980s. Physically and mentally exhausted by the efforts they had put into running the group, as well as what they describe as harassment by the forces of the state, the group retreated to Dial House to recuperate before facing more personal struggles, particularly against land owners and property developers seemingly intent on encroaching upon the last remaining green belt areas surrounding London. Over a decade later, this culminated in co-founders Penny Rimbaud and Gee Vaucher buying the previously rented house at auction, a decision which left them £100,000 in debt but at last securing a stable future for what they've now named a "Centre For Dynamic Cultural Change".
The summer of 2001 saw a gathering at Dial House for a "visioning event" for the future of the cottage. Dial House has been described as "paradise", a retreat from corporate Western society. The garden is a maze of vegetable plots, native tree plantings, fruit bushes, and flower beds teeming with humming bees and birdsong, and a multitude of hidden shelters and sitting places adorned with sculptures and carvings. The building itself contains artists' studios, rehearsal rooms, libraries, and social spaces. At the 2001 gathering many possibilities for the house were discussed, such as art venue, healing workshop space, jazz festivals, permaculture convergences, poets' retreat, fireworks parties, willow sculpture courses, and more.
- ↑ Rackham, Oliver; Woodlands, Collins, 2006, ISBN 0-00-720244
- Official Dial House website
- 'Dial House under threat'
- Compost Toilet building workshop at Dial House, summer 2002
- Crass - history & information - official website
- Permaculture introductory courses at Dial House