Appreciation of the beautiful

Appreciation of the beautiful was for a good while the only declared aim of Bedales – I am not certain for how long, but it was the only declared aim that I could find when I came here in 2001. Working with the community to agree five aims that captured the breadth of the place’s ideals was a necessary, welcome and stimulating initial task for me; but there is something admirable and clear-sighted about that single aim – trenchant, idealistic and uncluttered, it announces the school as wanting to do something uplifting and, in the best sense, other-worldly. When we re-drew the school aims, appreciation of the beautiful stayed and, buoyed up by the verdant late Spring beauty of our little surroundings, I said at the opening boarders’ assembly on Sunday evening that I suspected that the memory of the sheer beauty of this place would, along with the people, be what stayed with students longest in later life as the memory of what they had learnt in individual subjects faded. To emphasise the point, I called in my old ally and prime advocate of Nature’s variety and wildness, Gerard Manley Hopkins, enlisting Pied Beauty (“landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough”) and Inversnaid (“Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”).

Far more eloquent and evocative and a timely reminder of the appreciation of the beautiful that occurs here via our rich musical life, was John Barker’s vocal advert at our first Tuesday Notices of next week’s Ian Bostridge concert – a Schubert song sung beautifully by John and a call to action of the best kind.

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.