Raised Eyebrows and Frightened Vicars

It might be said of Bertrand Russell that no intellectual in history has ever offered so much advice to humanity over so long a period of time to so little effect.*

As is befitting a philosopher on a mission to bring light to darkness, Russell, together with his second wife, Dora, once had the notion that setting up a "progressive" school might be a good idea. So it was that in March 1927 an advert appeared in the Nation, recommending the Beacon Hill School to its readers:

We offer to educate, from babyhood to university age, in ideal country surroundings (with large wooded private grounds), a group of boys and girls who, in September 1927, when the school opens, are between the ages of two and seven years.

The progressiveness of the education on offer raised eyebrows and frightened assorted vicars.

"Rumors were rife of godless orgies. When a pastor visited Beacon Hill, a naked teenage girl was supposed to have answered the door. 'Good God', gasped the astonished cleric. 'There is no God,' she replied, slamming the door in his face."

(Source: English Progressive Schools, Robert Skidelsky).

*With thanks to Paul Johnson.

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