Baden Powell at a scout gathering in the 1930s
image: Godalming Town Council, 1937 Album, 17D


Chief Scout Lord Baden-Powell (1857-1941) was the seventh son of the Rev’d Baden-Powell, Professor of Geometry at Oxford, and was born Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell in London on the 22nd February 1857.

He was one of the Charterhouse boys who moved to Godalming in 1872, and was a ‘good goalkeeper’ in the football eleven at Charterhouse. He competed for the Ashburton Shield at Wimbledon both in 1874 and 1875 while still at school. The school has a portrait of Baden-Powell by G F Watts of Compton. Said to be fond of acting, Baden-Powell left Charterhouse for Oxford in 1876, but before matriculation obtained a direct army commission for the Regiment of the 13th Hussars in India by examination. He proved to be a ‘skilled and thoughtful soldier, and a resourceful and dauntless leader.’

Baden-Powell served successively in Indian, Afghanistan, Zululand and Ashanti. Before and during the Boer War (1899-1902) he was Chief Staff Officer during the British campaign in Matabeleland, Colonel of the Irregular Horse, South Africa, and Lieutenant Colonel of the 5th Dragoon Guards. He fought in defence of Mafeking in 1899. Baden-Powell organised the South African Constabulary towards the end of the war laying the foundation stone of the South African War Memorial Cloister in 1901 at Charterhouse. He became Inspector-General of the Cavalry in 1903. Knighted in 1909 Baden-Powell retired from military services a year later. During World War 1 he served in the British Intelligence Department, and was created Baron in 1929.

The Boy South Movement was founded by Baden-Powell on the 1st August 1907 on Brownsea Island with 20 people. Now renamed The Scout Association, it came about entirely to his enthusiasm, insight and territorial skills learned from his Indian and African scouts. The movement was approved and encouraged by King Edward V11, and in 1908 he published his Scouting for Boys, and wrote other books. In 1910 Baden-Powell helped his sister, Agnes, found the Girl Guides. He became World Chief Scout from 1920.

In 2007 the scout centenary was celebrated at Charterhouse with a Sunrise Ceremony followed by a gathering of the World Scout Foundation and its president King Carl XV1 Gustaf of Sweden. The Godalming District Scouts held a centenary camp on Hampton Estate at Seale, where over 900 people attended from three Scout districts, Godalming, Farnham and Haslemere. They held a Beacon Lighting Ceremony in line with other centenary camps across the UK. The theme for the camp was ‘Past, Present & Future of Scouting’ and they enjoyed various activities over the weekend.

Godalming Museum © 2009