School of Continuing and Professional Studies Faculty Publications


'Back to the land': Lady Warwick and the Movement for Women's Collegiate Agricultural Education

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Within the late-Victorian and Edwardian movement to promote women's advancement in farming and gardening, Frances Greville, countess of Warwick, founded the first women-only collegiate centre for agricultural education in 1898. Initially affiliated with the University Extension College, Reading, her scheme relocated to Studley, Warwickshire in 1903, where it flourished as an independent, private college. Historians have previously described the founding, development, and ultimate fate of Warwick's project, but in this article I consider the question of its status within the broader movement for women's collegiate agricultural education. As I show, Warwick's advocacy for a 'Back to the Land' ideology and women's scientific and practical instruction in the 'lighter branches of agriculture' added a decidedly rural, agrarian orientation to a movement otherwise dominated by an emphasis on urban horticulture; yet, despite her efforts, throughout its first decade, the scheme remained effectively trapped within the mould of horticultural education. The mismatch between Warwick's ideals and practical achievements established her as a visionary whose contributions ironically reinforced the very tendencies she hoped to counteract.