Spencer envy

Envious in Somerset House, as I gawp at the Stanley Spencer exhibition, Heaven in a Hell of War. These are the paintings that normally hang at Sandham Memorial Chapel in Burghclere. Here at Somerset House you can get a much better look at them – and there is a good snippet from a documentary of Spencer talking about his vision for these paintings, which focus on his “very happy imaginative feelings” rather than the more familiar graphic horrors of war. My envy is on the school’s behalf. Spencer spent some time based in Steep around 1921 and knew Badley well; he offered to decorate one end of the Dining Hall and Badley turned him down, saying that it would distract the boys and girls when they were eating.  Ah well, you can’t win them all. And no doubt the insurance would have been prohibitive…

If you want to have another glimpse of what we have missed, do have a look (below) at one of the pieces which he did do about life here – Music at Bedales, a kind gift of Old Bedalian Bill Jackson.

Stanley Spencer painting

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.