New views

Gemma Klein Photography

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Saturday morning and I am sitting on a hard bench in the Lupton Hall listening to the music that precedes our Open Day panel.  I am looking up over the stage out of the Oriel window behind the stage at Scots pine branches that are swaying within this stark round frame.  This is the first time I have sat, listened and looked within the newly reborn Lupton Hall.  With the old curtains stripped away and the original stark beauty of the Lupton Hall now evident, its original conception is clear – and it’s stunning.

The New Hall, as it was originally called, is an integral part of Bedales’ founding, being a product of the friendship and early professional partnership of three of the master-craftsmen of the late Arts and Crafts movement, Geoffrey Lupton, Ernest Gimson and Sidney Barnsley.  In 1911 Lupton asked Gimson to draw up plans for new buildings at Bedales – a hall, library, gym and labs around a large open quadrangle.  The New Hall became the Lupton Hall because Lupton supervised the building  and did most of the work himself; it is also thought that he paid for it himself.   The majesty of our Memorial Library, Gimson’s design but built by Lupton and the Barnsleys (Sidney and his son Edward), has overshadowed the Lupton Hall, but the refurbishment of the latter will, I suspect, re-balance matters.

Our architect, Richard Griffiths, has re-captured the original uncompromising conception of the building: the old curtain and the sloping stage have gone, re-capturing the original volume of the room and enabling the stage to be used for music ensemble practices and for concerts across all three schools.  The view I now enjoy over the stage and out that Oriel window hasn’t been enjoyed for a good 90 years because of the curtain.

Reflecting on this I remember another new view: in April 2006, hard hat on, climbing up amongst the scaffolding to the top floor of the Orchard Building site,  I looked across to the Library and could see the Library’s shape from above and the clerestory windows that you wouldn’t know existed without that perspective. Only birds and passing balloonists had seen that before.

It feels just as good to see a wonderful old building restored as it did to see a new one, like the Orchard Building, opened.

Student involvement in new Art & Design building

Much to be excited about here over recent days – not only a new BDaily, an enthralling Civics talk by multi-award winning OB author Kate Summerscale and last night’s debate at Jaw on whether private education should be abolished (defeated, but valiantly proposed by Block 4, Cameron C and Block 5 Juliet P) – but also the appearance in Reception of six A1 boards from six architectural practices with their initial design concepts for a new Art & Design building. Student involvement in how Bedales looks and feels has a long and good pedigree here. This is not only evident in student hands-on involvement in their work, for example building barns, but also in student involvement in our major building projects, such as the Orchard Building. With the new Art & Design building, students are being invited to take time not only to look at the designs but to read the boards carefully and to write down their observations about how well they think the individual practices understand the school and the particular needs of art and design students. There has already been some student feedback elicited through all the architects being given their tour by a pair of art and design students. There will be more opportunities for all members of the school community to be involved when the chosen architect produces a design. But, at this first stage, the ideas need to be harvested before the group (chaired by Matthew Rice) that selects the architect meets next Thursday. Heads of Art and Design, Simon Sharp and Ben Shaw, will be bringing groups of students from their classes and talking them through the process that the architects are engaged with – each board is a lesson in itself. Meantime, I am working with Simon and Ben on the full brief, which we expect to give to the winning architect next week.

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.