Appreciation of The Beautiful

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

This was the sole school aim for a long time.  When the current five aims were framed early in my time, I was adamant that this nugget would find its place in the current aims, as it does in Aim 3, (To foster individuality and encourage initiative, creativity and the appreciation of the beautiful).

This awareness informs each assembly, which begins with music; it certainly informed my assembly on Wednesday, as I begin with Raphael’s Madonna della Seddia and ends with Helen Dunmore’s poem to her newly born daughter, Tess, (All The Things You Are Not Yet).  It informs daily decisions, whether those be about the curriculum, a flowerbed or the balance in an individual student’s life.  And this impulse is animating the lives of Old Bedalian scientists, writers, engineers, inventors, musicians, designers, dancers and actors daily.

But what about utility, I hear you (sensibly of course) say?  How handy (crafty too perhaps) to have our Arts & Crafts heritage, because Morris & Co reverenced what was beautiful and useful; therefore it’s unsurprising that furniture and architecture should be at the heart of the Arts & Crafts movement, with the hand crafting of wood at the centre of both its furniture and its architecture.

Good therefore to learn this week that the suite of furniture at the office for the Secretary of State for Education was designed and made at the Edward Barnsley Workshop in 1960.  I am delighted to hear this from our local MP and now Education Secretary, Damian Hinds.  Edward Barnsley, apprenticed to Lupton after leaving Bedales, made some of the Library furniture.  Edward, carrying on the proud Barnsley tradition of his father Sidney who built the Library to Gimson’s design, carried on working into the 1980s and would no doubt have had a personal hand in this important government commission.  You will recognise the distinctive design of his most famous chair, below.

Edward Barnsley chair - BedalesLeft: chair designed by Edward Barnsley in memory of Basil Gimson and used in the Bedales library. Bedales School: The First Hundred Years, by Roy Wake and Pennie Denton (1993) p.306

 

 

 

 

 

Below: the suite of furniture designed by the Barnsley Workshop and used by the Ministry for Education, reproduced by kind permission of the Edward Barnsley Workshop.

Barnsley Workshop

An interesting place to be

*temp*

If, in some strange mythological challenge or a curious dream, you had to choose a place around here to be, I think it would be difficult to find a more interesting place to be than the Olivier Theatre.

Now, of course, it would be comforting feeling so well put together, with your sturdy beams, stylish dimensions and all that admirable Arts & Crafts heritage; of course it would be cheering to have the company of engaging colleagues like John Barker and all those lively drama teachers who inhabit your stylish eyrie-like upper reaches; but the real stuff – the stuff of dreams – is happening right at your centre and the last few days are typical of the glories that you have witnessed in your midst, in your splendid solar plexus of a stage.

On a weekend in mid January you find yourself colonized by a chirruping, energetic swarm of Dunhurst boys and girls working under the direction of sundry human-magicians (robe and sceptre-less but wielding plenty of magic) who start conjuring works of an exotic and a Japanese nature from them. Mid-week and the concoction is really becoming recognisable and, yes, here is Land of the Flying Dragon, involving all the Blocks pupils in as visually compelling and complex a show as the formidable Kingsley-Pallant has yet created. Three cracking performances! What home grown entertainment, you have!

Any big fat tears you might be about to shed when that dream is ended (when the show concludes on Saturday afternoon) is short-lived when, just as the rest of the working world is slowing for the weekend, it all starts up again: the moment the last admiring parent has gone, here are the men of the Bedales Estates’ staff – dismantling and pushing you around – out goes the stage in the round, retreat to the proscenium arch and, bash, knock, squeeze, you are in a different shape again and being crawled over – and it’s Saturday night.

Sunday morning you wake bleary-eyed – it has been some week and you are thinking that a bit of inactivity is in order – some, how do you say, chillaxing? No rest in prospect, however, as gesticulating people in black t-shirts with wires coming out of their ears clamber all over you – always twiddling away they are. And here are various, eager musicians – and lots and lots of guttural, twangy noise as they fiddle with their instruments and with the kit. They must really know what they are doing. You will be wondering what is going to happen, as the 2015 Rock Show girds its loins.


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.

Impressive and ambitious BAC Design projects

Quick tootle round Design on Sunday afternoon: it’s the second of the BAC all-in weekends for the Block 5s and there is an air of focussed, calmly urgent industry as the students work towards the end of term BAC deadline. BAC Design happily allows for a good level of ambition in the choice of project and, mirroring the design process in later life, puts the emphasis on design and making, rather than diverting a great deal of time to writing up and neatly presenting the writing product. So, Ed B-W is enmeshed (expertly, I know) in the guts of his proto-laptop, soldering like a dervish. Abbie A’s clever piece of furniture looks like a neat, deep coffee table, but can magic into a bed. Jasper F-W’s mahogany and ash bench has lovely curves and will be good for two. Vincent H’s table looks, well, very chipboard and rather boxy..silly me, it’s a mould!  And, taking a leaf out of the building technique that gave the Orchard Building its structural core, he is going to pour concrete into the mould and make a concrete table that, in the great tradition of the Arts & Crafts, is true to the material. An impressive variety of pieces which has me egging them on mentally towards what I am sure will be great final products. And all made possible by such committed colleagues –  Ben, Alex and Mo who are hard at work, advising and cajoling.

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.