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Order of our Days

Music, mediation, and prayer will open our days as we gather together for Matins at St. Mary's Church. After Matins, immersion-style lessons on a variety of subjects will occupy our mornings, allowing us to experientially learn how to implement Charlotte's philosophy in our homes and to be enriched ourselves with the literature, history, geography, and art of the Lake District. After lunch together, we have the afternoon to explore (with a guide or alone) the nature, history, geology, and architecture of Ambleside and the surrounding area as well as the resources of the Armitt. Evenings will find us all together again for dinner and Scale How Evenings, such as Mason's students used to enjoy. Among others, our featured guest, Malcolm Guite, will provide stimulating ideas about and through song, poetry, and imagination.

Matins and Morning Lessons

Afternoon Excursions

Scale How Evenings

At Evening's Close by Beatrix Potter - 1902

Matins and Morning Lessons (return to top)

Langdale Pikes and Oak Howe Farm by Alfred Heaton Cooper

Malcolm Guite

Morning Matins: Praying Through Poetry

In these three matins sessions Malcolm will show us how we can enrich our prayer life with poetry. He will be offering poems for each session and showing how they can guide and deepen our prayers. These will be poems by George Herbert, Seamus Heaney, and some of Malcolm’s own poems

Langsdale Pikes by William Lakin Turner - 1881

Kerri Forney

Immersion lessons on local topics

Ambleside Hymns, History, Geography, and Literature

Herding Cattle by Susanna Matkin - 1900

Rachel Johnson

Pictures Books to Grow the Imagination

After a brief introduction, we will take the generic criteria discussed in the lecture, and apply them to the books provided, through discussion in small groups.

Format of session

Participants will divide into small groups. Each group be provided with one book and will concentrate on one criteria with which to examine the text. Materials will be provided to note group discussion and particular examples of ways in which the book demonstrates the criterion.

If time permits, another book can be discussed, or a different criterion with the same book within the group.

Finally the groups will feedback their discoveries to all participants in the workshop.

Outcome – this session will generate much lively, energising interaction after which it should be possible for participants to apply broad and deep specific generic criteria to any book considered. 

 Daisies by Lilias Trotter - 1899

Malcolm Guite

Five Ways to Access Poetry

Drawing on my book Faith, Hope and Poetry, I will open up five ways into reading poetry, using examples from classic poems. These five approaches are:

  • Tasting the Words
  • Echo and counterpoint
  • Image and Allusion
  • Ambiguity and Ambivalence
  • Perspective and Paradox

 The Startled Hollies by William Heaton Cooper

Echoes of the P.N.E.U

With: Kerri Forney, Nancy Kelly, Lisa Cadora, Jennifer Spencer, Carroll Smith, Jane Haworth, Kathleen Sutton, Anne Reece, Ann Colville, Josephine Peel, Fiona Sparrow

Afternoon Excursions (return to top)

Peacock Feather by John Ruskin - 1880 

Historical and Architecture Tour of Ambleside 

Led by Bryan and Fiona Sparrow

Rose by Beatrix Potter - 1896

Literary Excursions: Rydal Mount and Dove Cottage

Led by Peter, Marian, and Clara

A "guided wander" through these literary sites.

Waterfall by Susanna Matkins - 1898

Geography/Geology/Nature Hikes

Led by Local Experts

Nature Walk with a focus on Trees 

Nature Walk with a focus on Birds

Nature Walk with a focus on Flowers and Lichens

Geography Walk 

Up Loughrigg Fell Geography Walk

Scale How Evenings (return to top)

Study of a Kingfisher by John Ruskin - 1871

Malcolm Guite

Songs and Sonnets

This will be a light, informal evening, with Malcolm reading from his three poetry collections and singing songs from his two CDs. He will especially select poems and songs that anticipate some of the themes of our time together: the beauty of Nature, the power and insight of imagination, the role of poetry in bearing truth and awakening our minds’ attention to the wonders both of God’s world and his Word.

A Spray of Juniper Berries by John Ruskin - 1863

Rachel Johnson

'Many Books are Necessary'  Or: Books 'for children of five, or fifty, or seventy-five'

After briefly situating why we need to facilitate the matching of books and children, I will introduce Charlotte Mason’s concept of living books and how far some of her criteria can take us in terms of identifying the books we need. I then move on to some children's literature theory and what kinds of questions we can ask to help with selection, before progressing to some specific generic criteria taken from children's literature theory, and which can be used by anyone selecting reading material.

These generic criteria are then applied to George MacDonald's At the Back of the North Wind as a textual example.

Within the content of the above are references to character, characters, and George MacDonald’s views on character creation within a story. Included in the discussion is a short section on the ongoing scientific research demonstrating the effect of reading and its contribution to the development of empathy.

The lecture aims to provide the theoretical setting for the hands on session of the Workshop.


Windermere by J.M.W. Turner - 1821

Malcolm Guite

Coleridge on Education and the Poetic Imagination 

In this lecture Malcolm will show how Coleridge’s Theology of Imagination can lead to a whole new way of thinking about education. We will look especially at his major poem Frost at Midnight, in which he reflects on his own upbringing and thinks about how he would like his own children to learn. At the end Malcolm will draw out some of the ways we might apply Coleridge’s insights to our own lives as learners and teachers.

Crib Goch by William Heaton Cooper

Deani Van-Pelt, Margaret Coombs, John Thorley

Significance of Place, CM Kendel Connections, and CM Ambleside Places

Charlotte Mason (1842-1923) not only impacted Ambleside but she was deeply influenced by it.  In this evening of focusing on "Significance of Place", our first talk will overview the key locations in which Mason lived and worked during her life, with particular emphasis on three formative locations early in Mason’s professional years. The second talk will focus on Mason’s Kendal and Quaker connection, and the final talk will emphasize, in some detail, the reciprocal impact Ambleside and Mason shared. The session will end with discussion and reflection on the significance of place for a Charlotte Mason Education in the 21st century.

  • 1.     Influence of Place in the Formation of Mason’s Design for Education: 1860-1878

By Deani Van Pelt, PhD, Hamilton, Canada

Prior to her pivotal 1885-86 “Lectures to Ladies” in Bradford which launched the Ambleside years from 1890 onward, Charlotte Mason lived, studied, and worked, in, among other places, London, Worthing, and Chichester. In this session we will consider how the years at the Home and Colonial Training Institution, the Davison Infantine School, and Bishop Otter College served as a formative backdrop to the development of Mason’s design for education.

  • 2.     The Significance of Kendal and the Quaker Connection on Charlotte Mason’s Development and Influence

By Margaret Coombs, MPhil, Oxford, UK

Although Charlotte Mason’s reticence about her early life was remarkable, we now have enough evidence to suggest that her father, Joshua Mason, must have been important influence. Brought as a committed, birthright Quaker, interested in education, he was the grandson of John Gough , the second  schoolmaster son of Kendal Quakers, whose  Mansergh ancestors might have been taken to  hear  the founder of the Society of Friends, George Fox, preach dynamically in Kendal during the definitive Westmorland Whitsunday fortnight of 1652.

Our question is:  If Charlotte Mason was influenced by her paternal Quaker background, how might this affect the interpretation of her educational ideas for the 21st Century?

Secondly, although her college friend, Selina Healey, was the first to invite her to Ambleside in 1864, was Charlotte Mason’s determination to settle there warmed by the sense of a return to her ancestral home?

  • 3.     The Significance of the Ambleside Years: Springfield, Scale How, and the Charlotte Mason College

By John Thorley, PhD, Milnthorpe, UK

It is no accident that the House of Education was located in Ambleside, first in Springfield (1891-1894) and then in Scale How. In this talk Professor Thorley, former Principal of the Charlotte Mason College (1983-1994) will reflect on the significance of this location for Charlotte Mason and on the development and spread of her ideas. Ambleside, Charlotte believed, was ‘an unwalled university’ for her trainee teachers. How far was she right?

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