January 1915: the first St Christopher pupils.
The school did not actually bear the name St Christopher from the start, and there are those who would see the start of St Christopher School from 1920, when it began its active existence in its new buildings. This was, however, only a re-christening of what began as the Garden City Theosophical School, and was for a while also known as Arundale School. Thus we trace our founding back to the start of the theosophical school on 20th January 1915.
At the Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society held in Adyar, India in 1912, an address by George Arundale on Education as Service, primarily addressed to the needs of India, stirred a hope in Miss Ada Hope Russell Rea and others of founding a school run on Theosophical lines in England. The idea was put before the Convention in London in the summer of 1913, and Josephine Ransom, wife of Captain Sidney Ransom, was chosen to further the idea, helped by an on the spot collection of eight guineas from passing the hat round.
Mrs Ransom began to make enquiries about progressive education. She visited a number of coeducational schools, the original idea being to perhaps find a school which already embodied the principles they sought, or could be persuaded to embrace them. For various reasons none did, and so it was decided to found a new school in Letchworth, where three of the principal ladies involved lived, and where there was much sympathy for theosophy. By January 1914 Mrs Ransom could announce the formation of a committee to gather information on educational practice in England and to make a practical effort to raise funds for a school. The stated aim was to launch a school based on the best modern methods, to which should be added the elements set forth in Education as Service by J. Krishnamurti and the broad religious setting detailed in The Universal Textbook of Religion and Morals by Mrs Annie Besant.
By the summer of 1914 funds were available for the school to open, but the outbreak of war put a halt to its planning; the Head designate, Dr Armstrong Smith, had gone to France to help organise two field hospitals. In the event The Garden City Theosophical School opened in temporary premises - two adjacent houses in Broadwater Avenue - on 20th January 1915, with thirteen children, of whom five were boarders.
|January 1915||The first pupils and staff|