Robert Baden-Powell, 1857 - 1941, was the founder of Scouting.
Having failed in several attempts at maths exam resits (both at school and at crammers), it became clear he would be unable to follow his elder brothers to university as he had hoped, so he opted to sit for the army officer entrance exams. His high marks earned him a direct place in the 13th Hussars as a cavalry officer without having to attend officer training school first. Baden-Powell served in the British Army from 1876 until 1910, mainly in
Once back in the UK to a hero's welcome, Baden-Powell soon became involved with the Boys' Brigade, and also met Ernest Thompson Seton, who had started the "Woodcraft Indians". Baden-Powell thought that some of the outdoor activities he had enjoyed in his youth, and in the army, along with many of the ideas he had found in Seton's woodcraft book and from other sources, could provide useful pastimes for boys such as those in the Boys' Brigade. He wrote Scouting for Boys, which was published in 1908, initially in fortnightly installments then in book form. During the writing process, he tested some of his ideas through a camping trip on
Individual boys and girls bought the new book and spontaneously formed Scout troops of their own, and so the independent Scout movement inadvertently started, first as a national, and soon an international obsession. Girls as well as boys took up Scouting, and Baden-Powell welcomed them all, noting in a January 1909 edition of "The Scout" magazine that some of the girls were 'really capable Scouts'. In September 1909, following a long build-up including many front-page articles in "The Scout" over several issues, the first UK-wide Scout Rally was held at the Crystal Palace in London. Several thousand Boy Scouts and over 1000 Girl Scouts applied for tickets and attended. Following some negative publicity given to a small group of Girl Scouts who opted to literally gate-crash the rally because they had failed to apply for tickets, and some general negative reaction to girls participating in mixed-sex activities (a hot topic in that suffragette era), Baden-Powell approached his sister Agnes to create a separate organisation for girls, the Girl Guides, on similar lines to the Scouts, and she reluctantly accepted.
In January 1912, Baden-Powell met Olave Soames, on the ocean liner Arcadian, when heading for
At the outbreak of World War I, the 57-year-old Baden-Powell volunteered his services to the army, but was told that he would be of most use organising the Scouts, who were involved in all sorts of war service, including assisting the coastguard with coastal defence patrols.
In 1920, the 1st World Scout Jamboree took place in
At the 5th World Scout Jamboree in 1937, Baden-Powell gave his official farewell to Scouting, as his health was failing. 22 February, the joint birthday of Robert and Olave Baden-Powell, continues to be marked as "Founder
The Baden-Powells had three children, Arthur Robert Peter (Peter), later 2nd Baron Baden-Powell (1913-1962), Heather (1915-1986), and Betty (1917-2004). In 1938, he and his wife Olave retired to a cottage he had commissioned on an estate in Nyeri,
Agnes Baden-Powell, 1858 - 1945, was the founder of Guiding.
Agnes Smyth Powell was born on 16 December 1858 in London. She was the ninth child of university professor Baden Powell and his third wife Henrietta Powell, and the third daughter of the family - but the only daughter to survive infancy. Agnes was 2 years old when Rev Powell died - to honour him, his widow Henrietta changed the family surname to Baden-Powell a few years later.
Despite her mother being an active campaigner for girls' schools, Agnes did not get to go to school as her brothers did, but was educated at home, and she developed a large number of interests, including natural history, astronomy, beekeeping, carpentry, metalwork and aviation - both by balloon and by aeroplane - along with her younger brother, Baden Baden-Powell. She also played various musical instruments including violin and piano, and spoke several languages. With
She was for some years President of the Westminster Division of the Red Cross, and worked for the League of Mercy and Queen Mary
Robert Baden-Powell, founder of Scouting in 1907, organised a gathering of Scouts at the
"Anyone who had come into touch with her gentle influence, her interest in all womanly arts, and her love of birds, insects, and flowers, would scoff at the idea of her being the president of a sort of Amazon Cadet Corps." On the other hand, her interests in aviation, cycling, metalwork, telegraphy - and the experience of being brought up as the only girl in a family of brothers - meant she both enjoyed and excelled at the outdoor activities of Guiding such as cycling and camping too - she apparently excelled at bicycling through hoops and other cycle stunts and tricks!
In 1909, Robert and Agnes Baden-Powell published Pamphlet A and Pamphlet B - these were precursors to the handbook and gave an initial outline of how Girl Guide Companies should be set up and run. Agnes rented a room within the Boy Scout Headquarters, and set up an office to register the Guide units and members - within four months there were 6,000 girls registered as Girl Guides. In 1912, Agnes brought about the formation of the first Lone Company and was the de facto President of The Girl Guide Association, devoting a great deal of time to the organisation, and travelling around the UK to give talks and promote the new movement.
During this time, Agnes also wrote the Guides
It was in 1912 that Agnes first met Olave Baden-Powell, when Robert brought her to meet their mother in the family home. It is clear from Olave's biographies that Olave immediately disliked Agnes, from the date of that first meeting onwards, and this seems to have continued. In 1914 the Rosebud section was started (renamed Brownies a year later). The Girl Guide Movement was given official recognition in 1915, and Agnes was made President at the same time, officially in overall charge of Guiding. In 1916, Senior Guides were started, later renamed Rangers, and Guiding was growing rapidly.
In 1916 Olave Baden-Powell, then the comparatively new Sussex County Commissioner (she had been in post for only a few months), was voted into the new role of Chief Commissioner (effectively in charge of UK Guiding), with Agnes' post of President being reduced from that of working head of the organisation, to a largely honorary role.
In 1917, following pressure from Olave Baden-Powell, Agnes resigned the Presidency in favour of Princess Mary, who was a keen supporter of the Girl Guides. Agnes continued as Vice-President (although she was often excluded from events she might have expected to be invited to) and she enjoyed camping and outdoor activities up until her death in June 1945. She was buried in the Baden-Powell family grave in Kensal Green Cemetry, London (although she is not listed on the headstone there). Unfortunately, many of the records from her time in charge of Guiding were destroyed, and many in Guiding today are not aware of her key role in creating and establishing Guides, Brownies and Rangers, travelling across the UK promoting the movement, establishing the headquarters and setting up the organisation, writing the first handbook, and encouraging the international growth of Guiding in a range of countries.
Olave Baden-Powell, nee Soames
Olave Baden-Powell, 1889 - 1977, was UK Chief Commissioner/Chief Guide from 1916 to 1930, and then World Chief Guide from 1930 to 1977.
Olave Soames was born in
Shortly after both had returned from the cruise, Olave visited Robert's mother in London, and also met Agnes, who looked after her mother - Olave took an instant dislike to Agnes. Robert and Olave were married quietly in
Although she is most famously connected with the Girl Guides, Olave
In October 1938, Olave and Robert had moved to Nyeri,
She suffered a heart attack in 1961, and was finally banned from international travel in 1970 when diagnosed with the diabetes from which she died on 25 June 1977, at Birtley House nursing home in