Sir Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden Powell of Gilwell

From Londonhua WIKI

Revision as of 19:27, 12 May 2017 by Akgiacoman (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Lord Robert Baden Powell of Gilwell
Article Image
Representative Article Image
Artist Attributed to I.T. Design


This man was Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), a soldier, artist, actor and free-thinker. Best known for his spirited defence of the small South African township of Mafeking during the Boer War, he was propelled to further fame as the Founder of Scouting.[1]


Early Life

The name Baden-Powell is known and respected throughout the world. He was a man who, in his 83 years, devoted himself to the service of his country and his fellow men in two separate and complete lives; one as a soldier fighting for his country, and the other as a worker for peace through the Scout Movement. Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell was born at 6 Stanhope Street (now 11 Stanhope Terrace), Paddington, London on February 22, 1857. He was the sixth son and the eighth of ten children of the Reverend Baden-Powell, a Professor at Oxford University. The names Robert Stephenson were those of his Godfather, the son of railway pioneer George Stephenson.[2]

When B-P was three years old, his father died, the family were not left well off. B-P was given his first lessons by his mother, then he went to Rose Hill School, Tunbridge Wells, where he gained a scholarship to Charterhouse School. Based in London when he first attended, it relocated to Godalming, Surrey, a factor which had great influence in his later life. He was always eager to learn new skills. He played the piano and fiddle. He acted - and acted the clown too at times. He practised bricklaying, and it was whilst a scholar at Charterhouse that he began to exploit his interest in the arts of Scouting and woodcraft. In the woods around the school, B-P would stalk his masters as well as catch and cook rabbits, being careful not to let the tell-tale smoke give his position away. During the holidays, he and his brothers were always in search of adventure. One vacation was spent on a yachting expedition around the south coast of England. On another, they traced the Thames to its source by canoe. In all this, B-P was learning skills, that were to prove so useful to him professionally. He was certainly not a 'swot' at school, as his end of term reports revealed. One records: 'Mathematics - has to all intents given up the study', and another: 'French - could do well but has become very lazy, often sleeps in school'. Nevertheless, he gained second place for cavalry in an open examination for the Army and was commissioned straight into the 13th Hussars, bypassing the officer training establishments, and subsequently became their Honorary Colonel for 30 years.[3]

Military Achievements

He was responsible for the organisation of a force of frontiersmen to assist the regular army. While arranging this, he was trapped in the Siege of Mafeking, and surrounded by a Boer army, at times in excess of 8,000 men. Although wholly outnumbered, the garrison withstood the siege for 217 days. Much of this is attributable to cunning military deceptions instituted at Baden-Powell's behest as commander of the garrison. Fake minefields were planted and his soldiers were ordered to simulate avoiding non-existent barbed wire while moving between trenches. Baden-Powell did most of the reconnaissance work himself.

During the siege, a cadet corps, consisting of boys below fighting age, was used to stand guard, carry messages, assist in hospitals and so on, freeing the men for military service. Although Baden-Powell did not form this cadet corps himself, and there is no evidence that he took much notice of them during the Siege, he was sufficiently impressed with both their courage and the equanimity with which they performed their tasks to use them later as an object lesson in the first chapter of "Scouting for Boys". The siege was lifted in the Relief of Mafeking on 16 May 1900.[4]

Chief Scout of the World

BP wrote no less than 32 books, the earnings from which helped to pay for his Scouting travels. As with all his successors, he received no salary as Chief Scout. He received various honorary degrees and the freedom of a number of cities, along with 28 foreign orders and decorations and 19 foreign Scout awards.

In 1938, suffering ill-health, BP returned to Africa to live in semi-retirement in Nyeri, Kenya, where he died on 8 January 1941 at the age of 83. He is buried in a simple grave at Nyeri within sight of Mount Kenya. On his headstone are the words, 'Robert Baden-Powell, Chief Scout of the World' alongside Scout and Guide emblems. He was later commemorated in Westminster Abbey, London. BP is remembered on Founder’s Day, which is celebrated on his birthday (22 February) each year. To this day Scouts continue to enjoy activities in the outdoors and live out BP’s ideas. [5]

The Scouts Movement

In 1907 Baden-Powell held a camp on Brownsea Island in Poole, Dorset, to try out his ideas and brought together 20 boys from a variety of backgrounds. The success of the camp spurred him on to finish what would become a classic book of the 20th century. Scouting for Boys was published in 1908 in six fortnightly parts at 4d a copy. What had been intended as a training aid for existing organisations became the handbook of a new Movement, which secured the royal seal of approval the following year when King Edward VII agreed to the introduction of the King’s Scout Award. In its first census in 1910, Scouting had almost 108,000 participants; over 100,000 were young people. [6]

The American version of the Boy Scouts has it origins in an event that occurred in London in 1909. Chicago publisher William Boyce was lost in the fog when a Boy Scout came to his aid. After guiding Boyce to his destination, the boy refused a tip, explaining that as a Boy Scout he would not accept payment for doing a good deed. This anonymous gesture inspired Boyce to organize several regional U.S. youth organizations, specifically the Woodcraft Indians and the Sons of Daniel Boone, into the Boy Scouts of America. Incorporated on February 8, 1910, the movement soon spread throughout the country. In 1912, Juliette Gordon Low founded the Girl Scouts of America in Savannah, Georgia.[7]


  • Ashanti Star (1895)
  • Matabele Campaign, British South Africa Company Medal (1896)
  • Queen's South Africa Medal (1899)
  • King's South Africa Medal ( 1902)
  • The Boy Scouts Association Silver Wolf
  • Boy Scouts of America Silver Buffalo Award (1926)
  • Boy Scouts International Committee Bronze Wolf (1935)
  • Grand Cross of the Order of Dannebrog, Denmark (1921)
  • Großes Dankabzeichen des ÖPB (1927)
  • Großes Ehrenzeichen der Republik am Bande (1931)
  • Goldene Gemse (1931)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of Orange-Nassau (1932)
  • Member of the Order of Merit (1937)
  • Wateler Peace Prize (1937)
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George
  • Knight Grand Cross of the Royal Victorian Order
  • Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath



  1. Heritage. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from
  2. BADEN-POWELL Chief Scout of the World [PDF]. (n.d.). Gilwell Park Chingford London: Item Code: FS 295301
  3. BADEN-POWELL Chief Scout of the World [PDF]. (n.d.). Gilwell Park Chingford London: Item Code: FS 295301
  4. N. (n.d.). Major General (Later Lieutenant General) Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from
  5. C. (n.d.). Lord Baden-Powell. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from
  6. Heritage. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from
  7. Boy Scouts movement begins. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2017, from
  8. N. (n.d.). Major General (Later Lieutenant General) Lord Robert Baden-Powell. Retrieved May 10, 2017, from

External Links