Sir Hew Strachan visits The Green Ribbon Club

The Green Ribbon Club (Sixth Form History) last week were treated to a visit from Sir Hew Strachan, Chichele Professor of Military History at All Souls, Oxford. He wrote the Channel 4 series on the First World War and sits on the National Defence Advisory Committee, alongside admirals and generals. The Sixth Form were joined by Block 3 as Sir Hew first turned his attention to the younger members to suggest what they should look for on their upcoming visit to the trenches of World War One in Belgium and France. He gave a lucid outline of the importance of Ypres and the significance of The Somme. He covered a huge range of issues in the rest of his lecture and in questions, from the experience of soldiers (not always as miserable as war poets have suggested) to why the war went on so long and whether it was a ‘good’ war and how best to commemorate it. The Press has, over the last 6 months, been filled with speculation and argument as to how the Centenary of the War should be celebrated/commemorated, with Boris Johnson and Michael Gove keen “good war“ protagonists. Sir Hew was the clearest and most balanced of all voices. It is not surprising therefore that he has so far racked up 60 lectures since the commemorations began last year and we were most fortunate to be privileged with his visit for his 61 st.

By Jonathan Selby, Head of History


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.

Historians impressed by Battle of Waterloo diorama

On Monday a select group of 6.1s visited the Royal Green Jackets Museum in Winchester, housed within the spectacular army barracks, to look at the excellent diorama of the Battle of Waterloo. On entering we realised that there was an amazing opportunity to try on the original uniforms of the Green Jackets throughout the ages. Peter chose a 120 year old jacket worn by drummers and Bella decided on a WW2 motorbike greatcoat. After selecting our spectacular outfits we explored the museum, trying our hand at shooting replica rifles in a shooting game, sitting at a war cabinet, and finally arriving at the model room. The diorama itself was gigantic, with an audio tour explaining all the regiments and taking us chronologically through the battle. It was a very interesting experience providing a deeper understanding of the events of that historic day which liberated Europe from Napoleon’s iron grip. On leaving the museum we wandered to a wonderful tea shop to relax and refill after an intense learning experience. The crew returned to school feeling very positive about the visit. Having visited the museum, we felt that it would make an excellent post-AS History visit, as it is was a wonderful mixture of learning and fun, and an excellent treat which everyone should have the privilege of experiencing.

By  Juliette Perry, 6.1

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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.

Busy but rewarding six days in Russia

A punishingly early start after the end of a very long, busy term saw 23 6.2 History students gather at Heathrow for the flight to Moscow. This was the beginning of an exceptionally full but rewarding six days in Russia. The programme of the tour was packed as ever with hardly a moment to rest. It was great to see the enthusiasm of the students to soak up every available historical and cultural aspect of the visit. The students learnt a huge amount in connection with their study of a century of Russian history in the Museum of Revolution and Tretyakov Gallery. A particular highlight as ever was the day in the Kremlin where our group has the privileged access to the Grand Palace where we saw the 15th century Terem Palace and the jaw-droppingly lavish Halls of St Andrew and St George. The visit to the circus, a traditionally Russian entertainment, was met in a more mixed manner but the majority of student saw some truly, excuse the cliché, death-defying acts.

An overnight train journey to St Petersburg and we were embarked on another full programme in Russia’s imperial capital. The highlight of the first day was undoubtedly an evening at the ballet to see Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake at the new Mariinsky Theatre. It was particularly rewarding to hear the delight of students who have never been to the ballet before be amazed by the beauty of not only the dancing but the music. The Hermitage is one of the world’s great art galleries and just two hours does not begin to do this justice but a highlights tour gave a clue into its treasures and has inspired many of the students to say they will return. The visit to the folklore show of traditional Russian music and dancing saw three of the group, Will, Celeste and Eddy join in and obviously upstage the performers. The final day saw a return to Communist history with visit to the Smolniy Institute where the first Soviet government was established and to the Alliluyeva apartment, home of the family of Stalin’s second wife, which was frozen in time from the 1930s when it became a monument to the life of Stalin.

By Nick Meigh, Teacher of History

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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.

True story of tracking down Auschwitz Commandant

Recently, The Green Ribbon Club was treated to a superb example of the skill of storytelling. Thomas Harding had an astonishing story to tell us, that of his great uncle, Hanns Alexander, who had tracked down the Nazi Commandant of Auschwitz, Rudolf Hoess, at the end of the war. This was the subject of Thomas Harding’s book Hanns and Rudolf, published last year and already a bestseller. Thomas Harding led us through the lives of Hanns, an engaging, good-looking and fun-filled character and Rudolf, the epitome of Hannah Ahrendt’s phrase, ‘the banality of evil,’ eliciting key moments from the lives of each. Hanns was a mischievous twin and refugee from a distinguished family from Berlin (Hanns’ father had been Einstein’s doctor) and Rudolf a lover of the German countryside where he had been brought up and where he might have stayed but for chance meetings which took him to Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp (where, extraordinarily, his path crossed with the Hanns’ future father-in-law) and on, through twists and turns of fate, to become the overseer of the development of Auschwitz, where he lived with his family (in a house adjoining the walls of the now infamous institution). At the end of the war, Hanns tracked down the fugitive Rudolf in a thrilling tale, leading to a farmhouse on the Danish border and the discovery of Rudolf, living under a pseudonym, initially denying that he was Rudolf of Auschwitz. He was identified eventually by the initials on the inside of his wedding ring. The story remained compelling through to Rudolf’s full confession (a key point for The Nuremberg War Trials since others had claimed to know nothing) and justice through his being hanged within the walls of Aushchwitz. Hanns was happily married after the war. Thomas Harding had also been able to track down and interview Rudolf Hoess’ surviving daughter, Brigitte, and his account of that interview was fascinating. It was a wonderful, compelling and educative evening. The questions (all of them excellent) flowed and would have continued well into the night had they not been halted. May I thank Thomas Harding most sincerely on behalf of Bedales History.

By Jonathan Selby, Head of History

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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.

Poignant and evocative visit to the Battlefields

Block 3 pupils set off on a History tour of the battlefields of Belgium and France (Ypres and The Somme) early on the wet morning of 11 February. Their interest this year had been sharpened by a superb talk from Jeremy Paxman on WW1 the week before and the extensive media coverage of the centenary of the outbreak of the war. With terrible weather resulting in our ferry having to be towed out of Dover by a tug to ensure that it did not hit the harbour walls, we then headed for Ypres. The group settled in to the Salient Hotel before walking to a nearby restaurant for chicken and chips, returning to the hotel for a quiz, where students’ general knowledge impressed us and Nick Meigh’s group won. Day two saw us effectively travel down the Western Front, pausing at Notre Dame De Lorette (the French National First World War Cemetery) and the mightily impressive Canadian Monument and trenches at Vimy Ridge. Lunch was spent in the attractive market town of Arras (near where the poet Edward Thomas died) and then we explored the battlefield area of The Somme, visiting Thiepval Memorial, Beaumont-Hamel and Lochnagar Mine Crater in the village of La Boiselle, the weather turning from sunshine to storm force winds. In our party was Maud Bonham-Carter, the great, great granddaughter of Herbert Asquith, Prime Minister of Great Britain at the start of the First World War. Asquith’s son, Raymond had been killed in the war. We were also tracing Bedalians and in an extraordinary coincidence, the grave of Bedalian William Alexander Forbes was found, in the growing darkness of a fading day, directly in front of Raymond Asquith’s grave. We left tributes written on small poppy crosses. We also tracked down the grave of student Minna Whitby’s great, great uncle in a beautiful secluded cemetery surrounded by woodland, Flat Iron Copse. This was a special grave since although there was a headstone, his body was not beneath it but his comrades knew he had been killed in that field and thus he was granted a full memorial. We ate that evening at ‘Le Corner Pub’ in Albert (the pigeon English title a reminder of the war when British troops occupied Albert) returning to Ypres that evening. On day three, we explored the magnificent Cloth Hall Museum, and toured the sites around Ypres, including Tyne Cot Cemetery and Langemarck (the austere atmosphere of the German Cemetery contrasting strongly with the uplifting whiteness of British Commonwealth War Graves). That evening, we attended the moving Last Post Ceremony under the arches of The Menin Gate. Block 3 students Amelia Pike, Olly Brewer and Ed Adams laid a wreath to commemorate the 65 Bedalians who had died in the war. The wreath had been made by the family of Ed Adams. The following morning we headed back to Calais, from where we made our connections to return to Bedales that afternoon. The tour provided a poignant and evocative few days with the manifold issues of the war seeming as bright and powerful as ever, despite the passing of 100 years. View photos.

By Jonathan Selby, Head of History

Battlefields visit 2014

Battlefields visit 2014

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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.

Dunannie children explore Earth, Space and the Victorians

Children at Bedales Pre-Prep, Dunannie, have been exploring topics spanning the earth, space and the Victorians as part of their learning this term.

Children in Year 1 were delighted to explore space in their very own mobile planetarium that appeared in the school’s library. Once inside they could gaze at the night sky and learn how to spot stars and constellations. They also found planets and astronauts in the planetarium.

Year 2 were introduced to the Victorian period in a number of different ways. Through exploring the work of Swiss artist Paul Klee, they adopted his unusual technique of mixing contrasting colours to create modern samplers from the traditional Victorian craft of stitching samplers. The children then explored the streets of Victorian times during a visit to Milestones Museum in Basingstoke.

Year 3 have been enjoying plenty of outdoor activities in their study of ‘earth’. This included examining the woodland environment at Alice Holt.

Commenting on their studies this term, Jo Webbern, Head of Dunannie said, “These topics are made all the more fascinating for the children because they are learning through doing. As Head of the school, there isn’t a day that goes by without seeing the Library transformed – one day the Arctic, the next, the Vikings. Our children are fully immersed into the world that they are studying as we believe young minds learn best when truly inspired.”

Dunannie children explore earth, space and the Victorians

Year One learning about space

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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.

Dr Suzannah Lipscomb on Anne Boleyn

The Green Ribbon Club was treated on Tuesday evening to a lecture by Dr Suzannah Lipscomb from The New College of the Humanities. Dr Lipscomb is a distinguished Historian and rising media star, and an outstandingly bright and engaging lecturer. She is particularly interested in Sixteenth Century history (it has, she says, just enough evidence to keep Historians guessing and just enough gaps for them to be unsure that they have the solution). She chose the subject of Anne Boleyn for this address and divided her subject in to three areas: firstly, why was Anne so attractive to Henry; secondly was she chaste or a sexual predator; and thirdly why was Anne executed – was she guilty? Dr Lipscomb skilfully drew us in to the world of Anne Boleyn and dissected the evidence surrounding each of her three questions with precision and brilliance, leading to very persuasive explanations and answers from the wealth of conflicting evidence (Anne played the game of courtly love to her own eventual detriment. Henry was not responsible but was devastated by the trial and execution). It was a spellbinding evening and led to much debate subsequently. We were very fortunate to have had Dr Lipscomb with us and all were impressed, absorbed and enriched by this evening.

By Jonathan Selby, Head of History

Dr Suzannah Lipscomb

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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.