Margaret Cross

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Margaret Cross (22 December 1866 in Preston, United Kingdom 14 March 1962 in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire, UK) 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

Preston, Lancashire city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England

Preston is a city and the administrative centre of Lancashire, England, on the north bank of the River Ribble.

Hemel Hempstead Town in Hertfordshire, England

Hemel Hempstead is a historic town, later developed as a new town, in Hertfordshire, England. Located 24 miles (39 km) northwest of London, it is part of the Greater London Urban Area. The population according to the 2001 Census was 81,143, and at the 2011 census was 94,932. Developed after the Second World War as a new town, it has existed as a settlement since the 8th century and was granted its town charter by King Henry VIII in 1539. It is part of the district of Dacorum and the Hemel Hempstead constituency.

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 Frances Cross was born on 22 December 1866 in Preston, Lancashire. Her mother died when she was two years old and she was raised by her maternal grandmother until she, in her turn, died. She then moved to her father’s family who were farming in Cambridgeshire, completed her schooling and studied at the University of Cambridge. While at the university, she met Miss Hannah Clark, one of the pioneers of co-educational boarding schools in Britain and began to work at her school as assistant teacher. The two became partners until Hannah Clark’s death in 1934, though at some point she left England to further her studies in Vienna. [1]

University of Cambridge University in Cambridge, United Kingdom

The University of Cambridge is a collegiate public research university in Cambridge, United Kingdom. Founded in 1209 and granted a Royal Charter by King Henry III in 1231, Cambridge is the second-oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world's fourth-oldest surviving university. The university grew out of an association of scholars who left the University of Oxford after a dispute with the townspeople. The two 'ancient universities' share many common features and are often referred to jointly as 'Oxbridge'. The history and influence of the University of Cambridge has made it one of the most prestigious universities in the world.

With Hannah Clark, Margaret Cross moved first of all to Overstrand in Norfolk as teacher of music and mathematics, then in 1899 to Coombe Hill House, East Grinstead in Sussex, where apparently, her father, now retired from farming, lived as a border. Here the two women developed their educational methods and values of mixed-sex education close to nature, with the practical tasks farming and animal husbandry, cooking, cleaning and washing forming an integral part of the lessons. [2]

Overstrand village in the United Kingdom

Overstrand is a village on the north coast of Norfolk in England, two miles east of Cromer. It was once a modest fishing station, with all or part of the fishing station being known as Beck Hythe. In the latter part of the 19th century it was catapulted into prominence, and became known as “the village of millionaires”.

In 1909 the Priory in Kings Langley, London was acquired, with Margaret Cross listed as co-principal and responsible for much of the development work. The intention was to integrate into the education the principles of Maria Montessori, as particularly Margaret Cross was interested in modern methods of education and made it her business to attend conferences and keep abreast of developments. Then Margaret Cross was invited by Prof Millicent Mackenzie to join her with a group of other teachers from Britain, in attending a course of lectures on education by Rudolf Steiner in Dornach, Switzerland in December 1921. This was followed in April 1922 by a further course of lectures Steiner held, this time in England, during which period he visited the school in Kings Langley. It was this visit that prompted the two women to offer their school as the first to implement the ideas of Steiner’s education in Britain, a conversion that was to take place over many years.

Maria Montessori 19th- and 20th-century Italian pedagogue, philosopher and physician

Maria Tecla Artemisia Montessori was an Italian physician and educator best known for the philosophy of education that bears her name, and her writing on scientific pedagogy. At an early age, Montessori broke gender barriers and expectations when she enrolled in classes at an all-boys technical school, with hopes of becoming an engineer. She soon had a change of heart and began medical school at the University of Rome, where she graduated – with honors – in 1896. Her educational method is still in use today in many public and private schools throughout the world.

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.

Rudolf Steiner Austrian esotericist

Rudolf Joseph Lorenz Steiner was an Austrian philosopher, social reformer, architect, economist and esotericist. Steiner gained initial recognition at the end of the nineteenth century as a literary critic and published philosophical works including The Philosophy of Freedom. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded an esoteric spiritual movement, anthroposophy, with roots in German idealist philosophy and theosophy; other influences include Goethean science and Rosicrucianism.

Margaret Cross began to concern herself with Anthroposophy and was present at the Christmas Foundation Meeting of the re-constituted Anthroposophical Society in 1923. It is not clear when she began to study and practice Biodynamic agriculture but in 1929 she joined the Agricultural Research circle of the Anthroposophical Society. Her initiative and research together with Ehrenfried Pfeiffer led to the founding of the Biodynamic Agricultural Foundation of Great Britain, today called the Biodynamic Agriculture Association. She was the editor of Stars and Furrows, the newsletter of the Biodynamic Foundation from 1935 until 1951. [3]

Anthroposophy philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner

Anthroposophy is a philosophy founded by the 19th century esotericist Rudolf Steiner that postulates the existence of an objective, intellectually comprehensible spiritual world, accessible to human experience. Followers of anthroposophy aim to develop mental faculties of spiritual discovery through a mode of thought independent of sensory experience. They also aim to present their ideas in a manner verifiable by rational discourse and specifically seek a precision and clarity in studying the spiritual world mirroring that obtained by natural historians in investigations of the physical world.

Anthroposophical Society

The General Anthroposophical Society is an "association of people whose will it is to nurture the life of the soul, both in the individual and in human society, on the basis of a true knowledge of the spiritual world." As an organization, it is dedicated to supporting the community of those interested in the inner path of schooling known as anthroposophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner.

Biodynamic agriculture method of organic farming

Biodynamic agriculture is a form of alternative agriculture very similar to organic farming, but it includes various esoteric concepts drawn from the ideas of Rudolf Steiner (1861–1925). Initially developed in 1924, it was the first of the organic agriculture movements. It treats soil fertility, plant growth, and livestock care as ecologically interrelated tasks, emphasizing spiritual and mystical perspectives.

Her friend and lifelong co-worker, Hannah Clark, died in 1934, and tombstone is in the churchyard of the parish church of All Saints'. Miss Cross continued to run the school management together with a Miss Burton, who had joined them in 1915. Vera Compton-Burnett and her sister Juliet, sisters of the writer Ivy Compton-Burnett and daughters of the well-known homeopathic physician Dr James Compton-Burnett, were amongst the teachers at the school. The full conversion to Steiner education achieved its final step when the Rudolf Steiner New School moved into the Priory House site next door, gradually incorporating the old Priory and becoming the Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley. Margaret Cross died in 1962 under the care of her friend and colleague Miss Burton. [4]

Ivy Compton-Burnett English writer

Dame Ivy Compton-Burnett, was an English novelist, published in the original editions as I. Compton-Burnett. She was awarded the 1955 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for her novel Mother and Son. Her works consist mainly of dialogue and focus on family life among the late Victorian or Edwardian upper middle class. Manservant and Maidservant (1947) is considered one of her best.

Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley

Rudolf Steiner School Kings Langley was a Steiner School located in Kings Langley, Hertfordshire, England, formed in 1949.

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  1. Rudolf Steiner in Britain by Crispian Villeneuve. Temple Lodge Press 2009 ISBN   978-1-906999-03-2 P. 718
  2. Coombe Hill School, Kings Langley published by Herfordshire Genealogy as reviewed on 2014.09.08
  3. Margaret Cross, Biographische Dokumentation der Forschungsstelle Kulturimpuls, retrieved 2014-09-08
  4. Coombe Hill School, Kings Langley published by Herfordshire Genealogy as reviewed on 2014.09.08