A couple weeks ago I got the chance to attend the LSE philosophy retreat at Cumberland Lodge, so I thought I’d tell you all about it. The retreat was interesting, there were about 40 philosophy students there, and we spent the weekend attending lectures, drinking around an exceptionally cozy fireplace, and exploring Windsor Great Park (the Lodge is located a few miles south of Windsor Castle, the royal residence).
First, it was really great to get out of the city and see more of the English countryside. I’ve been so busy with school that I hadn’t gotten the chance to really enjoy fall (there aren’t many trees in London, besides in a few groomed parks, and those don’t count), so it was nice to go somewhere and see the leaves change. I unfortunately signed up for the conference pretty late and so was unable to stay in the Lodge itself. Instead I stayed in the adjacent building, The Mews. ‘Mews’, I learned, means a stable that has been adapted for residential purposes. Luckily there haven’t been horses in the building since the 1700s and it was very nice inside.
The Lodge itself was beautiful; we received a short history lesson upon our arrival and learned that it was built by army captain John Byfield in the 1650’s after he was sold the land by Oliver Cromwell, whose intention was to pay off debts incurred during the recent civil war. After the captain’s death and the Restoration, King Charles II reclaimed the land. For hundreds of years following, the Lodge was used to house the Ranger of the Great Park, who tended to be a close friend of the King or Queen. Then, in 1947, King George VI granted the Lodge to the St Katharine’s Foundation for use as an educational establishment. Its purpose since has been to gather together students to discuss scientific, social, and ethical issues in order to avoid another catastrophe of the scale of WWII. The Foundation’s founder, Amy Buller, believed that a large contributing factor to the rise of Nazism was the lack of such open discussion in the German education system of the 1920s and 30s.
I took a walk with some other students on Saturday through the park and saw a group of cows in a green, misty field – which felt like a decidedly English moment so I’m happy I got a picture. There was also a lovely stuffed bird in the Lodge – I got a picture of that too.