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A ‘Secret Society’? The Internal and External Relations of the Kinship in Husbandry, 1941–52


First meeting in September 1941, the Kinship in Husbandry was a group of twelve men concerned for the future of English rural life in the post-war world and determined to communicate their vision of a revitalised countryside. Central to this vision were an agriculture based on organic principles and a rural culture which would encourage craftsmanship while drawing spiritual sustenance from a Christianity reconnected with nature. This paper traces the Kinship's origins in the pre-war activities of Gerard Wallop (Viscount Lymington) and Rolf Gardiner, and examines the names of those considered by the original twelve as possible associates. Archival evidence indicates tensions between Kinsmen over the group's strategy and the extent to which it should cooperate with other bodies. In particular, correspondance shows that H. J. Massingham was deeply unhappy about Gardiner's pro-German sympathies and mistrusted the influence within the Kinship of Gardiner and his fellow landowners Wallop and Lord Northbourne, who appear to have formed an inner circle. The article concludes by considering briefly the extent to which the Kinship succeeded in spreading its ideas, and suggests that, despite its failure to influence post-war developments, its longer-term impact can be seen in the current public interest in organic food and farming.

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Rural History
  • ISSN: 0956-7933
  • EISSN: 1474-0656
  • URL: /core/journals/rural-history
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