Psychogeographical ramble

By Keith Budge, Headmaster, Bedales Schools

Obscurely wandering in an early cloudy dawn after freshening night’s rain, I am thinking about psychogeography. Curious, yes.

Why? A mélange of reasons: here are five. We have a geography conference today and there will, I am sure, be talk of it there.  Local poet (and poet’s poet) Edward Thomas, on our minds in the 100th year of his death,  played his part in the development of psychogeography, being a rambler-thinker who was intrigued by ancient paths and therefore an inspiration for Robert Macfarlane (The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot).  A big Macfarlane fan, I have even been inspired to read his muse, Nan Shepherd, and walk in her steps imaginatively over the Cairngorms.  More locally, I have been struck too by the artwork that children in Dunhurst and Dunannie have produced, inspired by Thomas’ poetry.  Thanks to a kind birthday gift, I am reading two books that have a psychogeographical flavour, being based on the idea of the flâneur and the flâneuse, and such those moody trampers of urban landscapes as Baudelaire and Jean Rhys.  And finally, summer’s lease invites plenty of walking in our dreamy nook of Hampshire– mainly early morning and late evening.

Bringing it all closer to home and to the psychology of space, my driftings around our outdoor spaces remind me how influential our students and other resident mammals have been on our landscape.  Yes, so much of this place’s nature was set by its early agricultural life, whether that is the division between its fields or the quasi-agricultural establishment of the Orchard at the school’s heart; but there is a more recent series of shape-shiftings.

My dawn walk along what I think is a familiar path suddenly has me pulling up sharp, aided for once by a cowering black dog whose instincts are better tuned: black mutt the saves day, I think, as I pull up sharp to avoid walking into an electric fence: pigs!  Of course, the pigs have been moved – well, their location has been moved; they are distinctly unmoved, I note, observing the gentle rise and fall of a sleeping flitch of sandy and black, cosy in its sty.  Pigs clear land of scrub, so their progress around the school’s messier bits of woodland is making those places easier to walk through and more pleasant to be in.  We continue down the hill, admiring the view we have through the trees.

Our outdoors affects our indoors: bringing the beauty of the outdoors inside was one of the aspirations of the Orchard building and, more recently, the Art & Design one.  I am glad of that as I sit in classes and meetings in rooms where the benefit of outside combines with that of being inside.

This is all in advance of our Parents’ Day this weekend when members of the community – future, present and past – will be celebrating the place we share and which has or will shape us.

Although the Orchard will exert its usual gravitational pull, I trust there will be plenty of what (brace yourself) those psychogeographers called dérive.  This means (more or less) drifting, but like many things, sounds better in French.

 

Celebrating Badley and his values

Mr Badley or the Chief, as he was often known, was such a strong presence in the school that it must have seemed unnecessary to commemorate him with anything like the Badley Celebration Weekend, as we will shortly. Arriving here 12 years ago, it struck me as curious that there was no specific occasion in the year when the school’s founder and the values he stood for were celebrated in ways that reminded us all of the school’s founding ideals. Indeed there was nothing that carried his name explicitly. The Whole School Effort was then about a decade old and naturally became the central, communal event at the heart of the weekend. We placed the weekend close to the start of the school year, rather than in the summer term, because we wanted students new to the school to be experience it early on. Since the first Badley Weekend 8 years ago, the event has evolved –  very much in the Badleyan spirit of regularly re-fashioning things. As well as the communal efforts (which have led to things as diverse as the landscaping around the Orchard Building and a much improved path to Petersfield) we have had in recent years the 6.2 Legacy Project, without which we would not have the re-modelled Cecily’s Garden or the Sotherington Outdoor Theatre. This year  the 6.2s are landscaping the area around the Music School and building a pergola. Over recent years outreach and performance have also been strong features. It was good to see that this year’s celebrations will conclude with a community created performance in the form of a ceilidh – outdoors, in keeping with the theme of the Natural World, on Steephurst Lawn. As you would expect, as well as there being a strong communal element to the weekend there is plenty of choice of activities when it comes to choosing the one you sign up for. At the annual Badley Jaw at Dunhurst on Friday I will use this excerpt from Badley’s Jaw of July 1914: it says it all.

Another thing that I hope Bedales has grown to mean is the habit of service; of work done, I mean, not only for the pleasure of the doing (though that is a great thing), nor for any personal gain, but for the school’s good, to raise rather than in any way to lower its standards, and to leave it, if in any way we may, better than we found it; for those who have had this feeling at school, and worked for it in this spirit, will carry it with them, and find, wherever their lives are laid, many opportunities in service of their fellows.

J H Badley

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.

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.