Bedales Historians visit Russia

Grand Palace Kremlin 1

By Nicholas Meigh, Teacher of History

The 6.2 History tour to Russia seems, on paper, a short visit of six days, but the content and variety of places visited means that the students experienced a huge amount.

A select group of 22 historians led by myself, Alison Mason (Professional Guidance) and Jane Shannon (Learning Support) set off for Moscow on 2 April. The focus of the visit was naturally historical and the group visited many of the sites of revolutionary Russia. Perhaps the highlight of this city was the extensive visit to the Kremlin; here the group not only trod the usual tourist trail but had the privilege of visiting parts of the Grand Palace that are usually off limits. We were treated to a private tour of the oldest surviving 15th Century parts of the original fortress and to the lavishly restored state rooms.

We travelled by overnight train to the imperial capital, St Petersburg, where we experienced the artistic riches of Russia in the State Hermitage Museum whilst also remembering the role of the city in the revolution with a visit to the Political History Museum. A favourite venue of St Petersburg is the sumptuous Yusopov Palace, infamous now for being the place in which Rasputin was murdered in a variety of ways.

The group experienced the full range of Russian culture in the evenings from watching the traditional folkshow – with special guest star, student Orlando Goffin – to attending a production of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty in the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg.

View the slide show below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chris Grocock’s ‘My Heart Stood Still’ Big Thank You Walk a success


By Chris Grocock, Head of Classics

On 3 November 2016, I nearly died – a long story that there isn’t room for here!… Read more.

We are tired and sore but thrilled to have achieved our goal of walking from Hindhead to the Royal Surrey County Hospital, Guildford on Easter Day.

When we got there we had a lovely meeting and photo opportunity with Elaine Creighton, aka ‘Sister Squirrel’, one of the wonderful folks whose CPR saved by life, and with Hannah, one of the ICU nurses on duty. We were helped by superb weather for walking – not too warm, but dry, so much so that places which were horribly boggy when we explored the route originally, were smooth and dry. This helped us keep to time quite remarkably (left 0900 – arrived 1700 – exactly on time). We also had enough time for 30 minutes for a lunchtime drink at the Stag on the River, Eashing, and 40 minutes for afternoon tea with china cups at the Watts Gallery!

We moved on to the Cathedral where we were treated to a musical extravaganza and a very moving processional service; then home to Grayshott and a fine meal in the Gurkha Durba. Best news of all is that our fundraising effort has just reached the £3,000 in total, but there is still plenty of time to add to this – just click on and follow the simple instructions, or contact me if you want to donate in cash or by cheque.


Spellbinding Evening for the John Badley Foundation


By Veryan Vere Hodge, Head of Development

Old Bedalians, parents, students and friends came together on 21 March for a magical evening at the House of MinaLima in Soho, London.

Guests were treated to private tours of the enchanting four storey Victorian townhouse, which showcases graphic art of the Harry Potter films, created by founders of design studio MinaLima: Miraphora Mina (OB 1978-85) and her business partner, Eduardo Lima. Guests also had a chance to meet with Miraphora and Eduardo for Q&A sessions.

The House of MinaLima provides an illuminating insight into both the creative and technical aspects of graphic design, and the exhibition space, which is set over three floors and linked by a narrow, winding staircase has a distinctly Bedalian feel.  The lucky raffle winner of a limited edition ‘A Hum of Bees’ print, from MinaLima’s Collective Noun illustrations, was Adah Parris, a friend of Valerie Saint-Pierre (OB 1983-1990) and all guests went home with a wonderful goodie bag courtesy of MinaLima.

Huge thanks to Miraphora, Eduardo and their brilliant team for offering Bedales such a wonderful opportunity, to everyone who came to the event, and to parents Mariangela Franchetti, Philippa Page and Patrick Heneghan for their help on the night serving refreshments.

We are delighted to report that the evening raised over £1,500 for the John Badley Foundation which transforms lives through full bursaries.  If you would like to find out more about the Foundation’s work, or join the 1893 Club by committing a regular gift, please do get in touch.  Thank you.

View photos from the evening, here.

Big Dogs, Big Cats and the Power of Mice

By Rick Cross, Deputy Head, Staff and Co-curricular

There are more mobile phones on the planet than people. Facebook has 1.86 billion users. We can publish to billions of people. With such power at our fingertips, with the potential to use it for good or evil,  it is apt to consider the concept of ‘free speech’ and how this basic civil right has developed in our new ‘global city’. Who is in control? Do we need control? What are the consequences of ‘freedom’?

The assembly this week was inspired by reading the recently published book by Timothy Garton Ash on the subject, which breaks the world up into Big Dogs, Big Cats and Mice. The Big Dogs are nation states, who govern us and make the laws by which citizens exercise their rights. Some governments allow more freedom than others, and the biggest dog of all is the US, which has espoused its liberal ideals for much of the 20th Century. China, with a sixth of the world’s population, interprets ‘free speech’ in a very different way. As the number of users increases, each new dog adds their cultural imprint to the debate.

The Big Cats are the few corporations who can challenge nation states. Google is the online giant of advertising revenue, and their actions can either enable or limit our free speech, and crucially manipulate our view of the world.

Where does it leave the mice, the people, watching as the giants fight it out? Timothy Garton Ash suggests a number of fascinating routes still open to us all and his book is well worth a read. He reminds us of the age old advice, from Socrates to the Enlightenment, which I urged Bedales to hold true to…Think for yourself.

How about taking a Bedales pig home?


For the past 18 months we have been keeping pigs and learning lots along the way! It is a venture / journey that we are delighted to have undertaken; our rotund friends have added so much to school life, student wellbeing and Outdoor Work lessons.

One of the driving forces behind the decision to keep pigs is to offer students a very real experience of the ‘farm to fork’ process. Having pigs at Bedales has allowed us to examine the entire life cycle, from ‘conception to digestion’ – a process not everyone is comfortable with. Some have found the idea of the pigs going for meat upsetting, which is understandable. Such differences of opinion have been welcome, and led to interesting discussions about vegetarianism, veganism, animal welfare and the importance of informed choices.

I’ve been delighted that over the last year several parents, students and neighbours have taken Bedales bred pigs home to rear themselves. The stories below speak volumes, and if you are interested in doing the same, please do get in touch via email or phone on the contact details below. We will have two litters of Oxford Sandy and Blacks crossed with Vietnamese Pot Bellies available at the end of April, once they are about 8 weeks old. Crossing these two breeds is not something we have heard of elsewhere – so if you want to get in early on a (possibly) entirely new variety of pig, you know what to do! We also have a litter of pure bred Oxford Sandy and Blacks available at roughly the same time.

– By Andrew Martin, Head of Outdoor Work. Contact: / 07786381427

Continue reading

Chris Grocock’s ‘My Heart Stood Still’ Big Thank You Walk

Chris Grocock 1On 3 November 2016, I nearly died – a long story that there isn’t room for here! Guildford ICU played a huge part in saving my life on that day. Another hospital helped later and I spent five weeks in hospital, but without the immediate intervention of staff at Guildford they wouldn’t have been needed. It’s a scary fact to write down, but true. So how can I say “thank you” to them? (I’ll say thank you to St Thomas’ later!).

Well, combining a recovery plan to build up my stamina with a fund-raising event for the ICU Trust Fund at the Royal Surrey County Hospital seems a good idea. So on Easter Day, 16 April, I am leading a charity walk from Grayshott to the Royal Surrey County Hospital – about 16 miles in total – then taking in a terrific choral service for Easter at Guildford Cathedral* before adjourning to the Stag on the River at Eashing for an evening meal.

The plan is to leave cars at various points so if people want to join in for part of the walk they can. I’d love to have lots of people to help along the way!

You can join for either some or all of it as we will do the journey in stages:

  • Hindhead – Thursley – Eashing Compton (Stag On The River) – 0900 – 1240 – refreshments and loo stop!
  • Eashing – Compton (Watts Gallery) 1310 – 1455 stop for Tea Room and loos)
  • Compton (Watts Gallery) – Guildford RSCH 1525 – 1700 – then 1715 depart for Guildford Cathedral, service at 1800*

There will be refreshments paid for on the walk and a souvenir t-shirt so we are asking for a £20 donation if you join the walk – and please get all your friends and contacts to chip in by donating as well! Sally and I have walked all the bits in 2-hour stages so far – and it is a fairly easy walk through some gorgeous countryside.

How to give?

  •  log on to and follow the instructions (this is the method suggested by the RSCH)
  • e-mail me at and I will send you a form so you can gift-aid your donation and send it to back to me  – at Timberua Glen Road Grayshott GU26 6NB – or send me a cheque made out to RSCH – ICU


*you don’t have to be religious – just come and enjoy one of the best choirs in the country and leave a tenner in the plate!

Yes, Chef, or, What exactly do our boys like to do in the evening and at the weekend?


By Clive Burch, Deputy Housemaster, New Boys’ Flat

Last summer I wrote an ‘action research’ paper as part of my Boarding Schools Association Certificate of Professional Development in Boarding Education. One element of this was to gather the opinions of the boys in our care about ‘on flat’ routines and activities (using something similar to Question Donkey). One section addressed what they prefer to do during their down-time in the evening on flat. The clear top three answers were: play football, watch a film and cook.

When colleagues ask me on my evening duty where a particular boy is (perhaps to give feedback on a prep, or lack thereof), if they are not outside playing football, or pursuing some other appropriate outdoor activity, weather permitting, or chilling out watching Webfilmz in their or a friend’s dorm, they are often to be found in the kitchen. As much as the housemasters argue that their offices are each the heart of the flat and the matrons would like to think that their surgery is the centre of attention, it is in fact the kitchen that is the hub of activity most nights.

Why? Well, it would be all too easy to say that boys love to eat. However, our boys also love to cook. This is not only reflected by the popularity of the GBBO (Great Bedales Bake Off) activities with their matrons at the weekend, but also their strong take-up of cooking activities run by certain ‘friends of Boys’ Flat’ in the week, as well as the ever-popular Outdoor Work Bakehouse option. And it’s not just bacon sandwiches (my own personal speciality) that they cook on their own. Our boys bring in a variety of ingredients from home or Pefe (Petersfield to the rest of the world) and produce a wide range of multi-cultural fare for their fourth (!) cooked meal of the day. Sure, there’s still the odd Kettle Pasta, but more often than not there is something that looks, smells and undoubtedly tastes good, leaving those of us on duty decidedly jealous.

However, clearing up after themselves remains an issue for some. Why anyone would leave their rubbish on the side for someone else to clear away rather than put it in the bin, I don’t know. Similarly, why would they leave their used crockery and cutlery on the table rather than put it in the dishwasher (let alone wash it up) themselves? I’m sure they don’t do this at home, so why the aftermath here? (Sorry, but I had to get math(s) in somewhere!) This mystery remains something for me to ponder upon in my own down-time as I enjoy something chilled with my Geronimo’s pizza before drifting off (down-stream?) to another outpouring from a certain South American river…

So, I am left thinking, what can we take away (my last pun in this missive) from this? Kudos to those celebrity chefs out there who continue to make cooking ‘cool’, and the parents who are encouraging their children to prepare meals for themselves, their family and friends. Perhaps rather than asking ‘what’s cooking?’ we should all be asking ‘who’s cooking?’.