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a body of people that would lead a lost society back to health and prosperity, after the horrors of the First World War. Their ethos was based on a shared appreciation of nature and handicraft, as well as a commitment to world peace.

The group was open to every age and gender and allowed men, women, boys and girls to camp together, which was rather controversial for the time. ‘It was founded by a man but about half the membership were women,’ says Pollen. ‘The women were the ones who were doing costume and banner making and embroidery. There were a number of interesting women involved in it who were themselves highly skilled practitioners.’ Notable members and supporters of the group included suffragettes Emmeline Pethick-Lawrence and Mary Neal, scientist Julian Huxley, social reformer Havelock Ellis, novelist H. G. Wells and the surrealist photographer Angus McBean, who learned his skills in photography, set and costume design while he was in Kibbo Kift. It’s rumoured that Mellors, the gamekeeper in DH Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s

Below Left: Surcoat (Herald) , 1920-1931 Costume 100 x 70cm Below: Surcoat (Blue, Skein of Emblazoner), 1920-1931 Costume 91 x 87 cm

Following Page Left: Lodge Signs Following Page Right: Lian Hodges SS 2015


Lover, is actually based on John Hargrave. ’They were forward thinking, socks and sandals wearing, sometimes vegetarian, and were also very much pro women’s liberation; so a lot of former Suffragettes joined because they saw an opportunity for women to be involved in this organisation where they might have more of a participatory role that was equal.’

Kathleen M Milnes, aka Blue Falcon, designed the group’s Kinlog, a huge illustrated history of the movement which is in the Whitechapel show. While the Skein of Emblazoners (the embroidery section) was headed up by Hargrave’s wife, herself a leader of camp groups before Kibbo Kift started. ‘The detail and execution of the embroidery on the archery items for example, is remarkable,’ says Pollen, showing me a blue surcoat from 1920-21 decorated with an abstracted image of a woman working on an embroidery screen.

Woodcraft and outdoors pursuits like hiking and camping, even sunbathing, took on a kind of spiritual importance for the group,4

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