Margaret Bennell

Last updated

Margaret Bennell (24 December 1893 in London 23 July 1966 in Curry Mallet, Somerset) was a Steiner school teacher, co-founder of Wynstones School in Gloucestershire and founder of Hawkwood College in Stroud. [1]

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of both England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

Curry Mallet village in the United Kingdom

Curry Mallet is a village and parish in Somerset, England. It is on the Fivehead River, 7 miles (11.3 km) east of Taunton in the South Somerset district. The village has a population of 306.

Somerset County of England

Somerset is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire is the River Avon. Somerset's county town is Taunton.



Bennell entered the boarding school for girls at Crouch End, London at an early age, for her mother died when she was still a child. The headmistress of the school, Charlotte Cowdroy, a well-known reformer of education for girls, became a substitute for her mother. She studied English Literature in London, obtained her B.A. and began to teach at Charlotte Cowdroy’s school, which in time, she took over. With a heart for social engagement, she taught young factory workers in London’s East End besides her work at the school.

Crouch End area of north London

Crouch End is an area of North London, approximately 5 miles from the City of London in the western half of the borough of Haringey.

She encountered Waldorf education, most probably through her friend Margaret McMillan, [2] attending the later conferences following the founding of the “New School” in Streatham, London in January 1925, that was to become Michael Hall. In the middle of a Eurythmy lesson, Margaret left the room together with her colleague Cora Nokes. “Cora, we’ve got to found a school!” - “Have we really?” “Yes. Indeed!”

Waldorf education

Waldorf education, also known as Steiner education, is based on the educational philosophy of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy. Its pedagogy strives to develop pupils' intellectual, artistic, and practical skills in an integrated and holistic manner. The cultivation of pupils' imagination and creativity is a central focus.

Margaret McMillan British activist

Margaret McMillan was a nursery school pioneer and lobbied for the 1906 Provision of School Meals Act. Working in deprived districts of London, notably Deptford, and Bradford, she agitated for reforms to improve the health of young children, wrote several books on nursery education and pioneered a play-centred approach that has only latterly found wide acceptance.

Streatham district in South London, England

Streatham is a district in south London, England, mostly in the London Borough of Lambeth but with some areas to the west stretching out into the neighbouring London Borough of Wandsworth, and some areas to the south stretching out into the neighbouring London Borough of Croydon. It is centred 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Charing Cross. The area is identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London.


They set about putting the plan into action and in 1935 began looking for colleagues and for a suitable location. They managed to find a large manor house in Brookthorpe, Gloucestershire to begin with. Some pupils from Crouch End decided to go along with their two teachers and soon after the founding in 1937 a number more followed. Bettina Mellinger of the original Waldorf School in Stuttgart, which had just been closed by the Nazi government, joined them for a year as consultant. Norbert and Maria Glas, both doctors, also joined the College of Teachers and they were regularly visited by Walter Johannes Stein and Violetta Plincke. Lily Kolisko moved into the region as well after the death of her husband Eugen Kolisko in November 1939. Amongst a number of other committed pioneers, Rudi Lissau took over the Greek and Latin classes and was later to build up the high school. As the bomb attacks during the war mounted, student numbers rose rapidly in their secluded rural setting, amongst them many immigrant children who had fled Germany.

Brookthorpe village in United Kingdom

Brookthorpe is a village in Gloucestershire, England.

Walter Johannes Stein Austrian philosopher

Walter Johannes Stein was an Austrian philosopher, Waldorf school teacher, Grail researcher, and one of the pioneers of anthroposophy.

Violetta Elsa Plincke was a Waldorf teacher and lecturer on education who contributed much to the establishment of Steiner education in Britain.

Hawkwood College

As a result of her increasing deafness, teaching children became difficult, leading her to step out of the school and join a friend, Lily Whincop, who owned an old Manor, Hawkwood House in nearby Stroud. Here they founded Hawkwood College as a kind of youth training centre. Maria Röschl and Ernst Lehrs joined their collegial work from time to time and the College became a venue for summer courses in languages for students and teachers. It went through many transformations but remains a centre of anthroposophical work in England.

Stroud market town in the county of Gloucestershire, England

Stroud is a market town and civil parish in the centre of Gloucestershire, England. It is the main town in Stroud District.

Hawkwood College grade II listed building in the United kingdom

Hawkwood College is a registered charity (311767) and independent centre for education in a 19th-century Grade II listed building on 42 acres of grounds, including gardens, pastures, woodland and a natural spring overlooking the Stroud Valley.

Ernst Lehrs was a German anthroposophist, Waldorf teacher, lecturer and writer.

Margaret Bennel was described as tall, of distinguished appearance with an athletic figure. In her younger years she had represented her country in fencing tournaments, later instructing keen pupils in the art. Both her voice and exceptional command of the English language were a delight to listen to and she was highly respected by both students and colleagues. Yet if the need arose, she might be found on her knees scrubbing the kitchen floor. [3]

Her cooperation with Isabel Wyatt led to the publication of her two books, one of which appeared posthumously. She was already very ill by this time and had retired to Curry Mallet in Somerset. Here she composed music to Shakespeare’s lines:

Fear no more the heat o' the sun, Nor the furious winter's rages; Thou thy worldly task hast done, Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages: Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

It was the sung as a requiem at her funeral after she died on 23 July 1966 at her home in Curry Mallet.


Related Research Articles

Sophia Jex-Blake British physician and suffragist

Sophia Louisa Jex-Blake was an English physician, teacher and feminist. She led the campaign to secure women access to a University education when she and six other women, collectively known as the Edinburgh Seven, began studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh in 1869. She was the first practising female doctor in Scotland, and one of the first in the wider United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland; a leading campaigner for medical education for women and was involved in founding two medical schools for women, in London and Edinburgh at a time when no other medical schools were training women.

Sister Nivedita Irish social activist

Sister Nivedita was an Irish teacher, author, social activist, school founder and disciple of Swami Vivekananda. She spent her childhood and early youth in Ireland. From her father, a college professor, she learned the ideal of service to mankind as the true service to God. She worked as a school teacher and later also opened a school. She was engaged to marry a Welsh youth, but he died soon after their engagement. Sister Nivedita met Swami Vivekananda in 1895 in London and travelled to Calcutta, India in 1898. Swami Vivekananda gave her the name Nivedita when he initiated her into the vow of Brahmacharya on 25 March 1898. In November 1898, she opened a girls' school in the Bagbazar area of Calcutta. She wanted to educate girls who were deprived of even basic education. During the plague epidemic in Calcutta in 1899, Nivedita nursed and took care of the poor patients. Nivedita had close associations with the newly established Ramakrishna Mission. Because of her active contribution in the field of Indian Nationalism, she had to publicly dissociate herself from the activities of the Ramakrishna Mission under the then president Swami Brahmananda. She was very close to Sarada Devi, the spiritual consort of Ramakrishna and one of the major influences behind Ramakrishna Mission, and also with all brother disciples of Swami Vivekananda. She died on 13 October 1911 in Darjeeling. Her epitaph reads, "Here lies Sister Nivedita who gave her all to India".

Downfield Sixth Form was a sixth-form college located in Stroud, Gloucestershire until 2010. The building continues to provide shared sixth form provision for Marling School Sixth Form and Stroud High School Sixth Form.

Julia Tutwiler American writer

Julia Strudwick Tutwiler was an advocate for education and prison reform in Alabama. She served as co-principal of the Livingston Female Academy, and then the first woman president of Livingston Normal College. She was inducted into the Alabama Women's Hall of Fame in 1971.

Elisabeth Vreede was a Dutch mathematician, astronomer and Anthroposophist.

Daphne Olivier was the third daughter of the British politician Sydney Olivier, 1st Baron Olivier, and Margaret Cox; she was the sister of Margery (1886–1974), Brynhild (1887–1935) and Noël (1893–1969) and the first cousin of the actor Laurence Olivier (1907-1989). She established the first Rudolf Steiner school in England.

Mary Margaret Blanchard fictional character on Once Upon a Time

Snow White, formerly known as Mary Margaret Blanchard in Storybrooke, is a fictional character in ABC's television series Once Upon a Time. She is portrayed by Ginnifer Goodwin and by Bailee Madison as a child. She is the true love of Prince Charming/David Nolan, mother of Emma Swan and Neal Nolan, and grandmother of Emma's children, Henry and Hope. The character has been one of Goodwin's most well received roles, one she has said she loves playing on the show.

Alfred Cecil Harwood *05.01.1898 London (UK) †22.12.1975 Forest Row Sussex was a lecturer, Waldorf teacher, writer, editor and anthroposophist.

Margaret Cross was a British educator and school principal, a pioneer of Co-education and of Steiner Waldorf education in Britain as well as of Biodynamic agriculture. Together with Hannah Clark she founded the Kings Langley Priory School, today the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley

Millicent Mackenzie British educator

Millicent Hughes Mackenzie was a British professor of education at University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire, the first female professor in Wales and the first appointed to a fully chartered university in the United Kingdom. She wrote on the philosophy of education, founded the Cardiff Suffragette branch, became the only woman Parliamentary Candidate in Wales for 1918, and was a key initiator of Steiner-Waldorf education in the United Kingdom.

Wynstones School

Wynstones School is a Steiner Waldorf school in Gloucestershire, set on 11 acres in the Cotswolds. It takes pupils from pre-school through to university entrance and has an enrolment of around 275 students.

Eileen Morley Hutchins, born 28 June 1902 in Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire and died 9 October 1987 in Stourbridge was a Steiner school teacher, author and founder of the Elmfield Rudolf Steiner School in Stourbridge.

Eleanor Merry, was an English poet, artist, musician and anthroposophist with a strong Celtic impulse and interest in esoteric wisdom. She studied in Vienna and met Rudolf Steiner in 1922 after becoming interested in his teachings. She went on to organize Summer Schools at which Steiner gave important lectures, and was secretary for the World Conference on Spiritual Science in London in 1928.

Else Klink was director of the Eurythmeum Stuttgart, the first training centre for Eurythmy founded by Marie Steiner in 1923, from 1935 until 1991. In 1945 she established the Eurythmeum Stage Group, which she also led until 1991. Her work contributed centrally to establishing Eurythmy as a performing art within the culture of Europe and internationally.

The feudal barony of Curry Mallet was an English feudal barony with its caput at Curry Mallet Castle in Somerset, about 7 miles east of Taunton.

Margaret Hills politician

Margaret Hills was a British teacher, suffragist organiser, feminist and socialist. She was first female councillor on Stroud District Council and later served as a Councillor on Gloucestershire County Council.