Henry Rolf Gardiner: Papers

Scope and Content

A. Writings

  • A1. Poetry
  • A2. Books and monographs
  • A3. Pamphlets, articles and miscellaneous writings
  • A4. Periodicals
  • A5. Press cuttings

B. Personal and family papers

  • B1. Diaries (microfilms)
  • B2. Notebooks
  • B3. Letters to parents
  • B4. Letters to wife
  • B5. Miscellaneous family papers
  • B6. Birthday letters
  • B7. Death, memorial

C. School, university, youth work UK

  • C1. School records and juvenilia
  • C2. Cambridge University
  • C3. Folk dancing and morris dancing
  • C4. Youth work: personal contacts
  • C5. Youth organisations
  • C6. Kibbo Kift
  • C7. Hikes and lectures

D. European youth movement

  • D1. Early contacts and correspondence
  • D2. Folk dancing and festivals
  • D3. Expeditions and camps: correspondence
  • D4. Expeditions: messages and reports

E. Springhead and the Springhead Ring

  • E1. Work camps and land settlement
  • E2. Springhead Ring: foundation and miscellaneous
  • E3. Springhead Ring: correspondence
  • E4. Springhead Ring: reports and papers

F. Farming and rural industries

  • F1. Springhead farming records
  • F2. A Kinship in Husbandry
  • F3. Slape Flax Mill
  • F4. Forestry
  • F5. Rural industries

G. Conservation and landscape husbandry

  • G1. General
  • G2. Local activities and issues
  • G3. Regional activities and issues
  • G4. National issues
  • G5. Organisations

H. Post-war Europe

  • H1. Wartime and post-war contacts
  • H2. Youth organisations: renewal and retrospect
  • H3. Landscape husbandry

J. General correspondence

  • J1. English correspondents
  • J2. Foreign correspondents
  • J3. Personal files: English
  • J4. Personal files: German

K. Africa

  • K1. Tour reports
  • K2. Correspondence
  • K3. Writings

M. Miscellaneous

  • M1. Photograph albums
  • M2. Correspondence
  • M3. Papers
  • M4. Printed material

Administrative / Biographical History

Henry Rolf Gardiner (1902-1971) was born on 5 November 1902, the eldest son of the egyptologist Sir Alan Gardiner and Lady Hedwig Gardiner (ne von Rosen). He was educated at West Downs School, Winchester, 1913-1916; Rugby, 1916-1918; Bedales School, 1919-1920; and St John's College Cambridge, 1921-1924, where he studied modern languages. He was involved in international youth work, 1924-1932, in particular trying to promote understanding between Britain and Germany by organising work camps, teaching and lecturing on folk dancing and leading musical tours in England, Germany and the Baltic States.

In 1932 Gardiner married Mariabella ('Marabel') Honnor Hodgkin. They had two sons and a daughter. In 1927 he took over Gore Farm, Ashmore, Dorset, from his uncle, the composer H. Balfour Gardiner (1877-1950), and in 1933 added the Springhead Estate, Fontmell Magna. Gardiner revitalised the farm and woodlands, employing organic methods. He had a vision of the estate as a 'rural university', along the lines of the Danish Folk High Schools, and the training institutions at Frankfort an der Oder (the 'Musikheim') and at Lwenberg in Silesia (the 'Boberhaus'). To this end, he organised a variety of work camps and choral and dramatic festivals, aided by a group of like-minded friends, who in 1934 constituted themselves as the 'Springhead Ring'. Christmas and Easter plays and Whitsun choral festivals soon became annual features of the life of the estate, and encouraged the development of Marabel's talents as a producer.

In 1941 Gardiner founded 'Kinship in Husbandry', an informal group of farmers and writers, to promote and publicise agricultural revival. He was an active member of the Dorset Branch of the Council for the Preservation of Rural England, the Soil Association, the Country Landowners Association and many similar organisations. He was a member of Dorset County Council, 1937-1946, and High Sheriff of Dorset, 1967-1968. Gardiner built up contacts with European conservationists, and was a founder member of the European Working Party for Landscape Husbandry. He was awarded the Lenn Gold Medal for landscape husbandry in 1971. He inherited an interest in the Finnish island of ngholm, and in estates in Malawi: the Nchima Tea and Tobacco (later Tung) Estates and the Mchiru Company. He was also a director of the textile firm of Bradbury, Greatorex and Co., 1952-1967.

Gardiner was the author of England herself, ventures in rural restoration (London 1943) and three volumes of poetry, published privately, and produced his own periodical, North Sea and Baltic/Wessex, 1932-1968. He contributed to many other periodicals, and left a mass of unpublished writing. He died suddenly, following a hip operation, on 26 November 1971.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Purchased from Mrs Rosalind Richards, daughter of H.R. Gardiner, 1991.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.

Other Finding Aids

A full catalogue of the collection is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Related Material

Cambridge University Library holds letters from H.R. Gardiner to his sister, Margaret Gardiner, MS.Add.8932.


For further information about H.R. Gardiner and his works see Andrew Best, ed.,Water springing from the ground (Springhead 1972), an anthology of Gardiner's writings, with a biographical introduction.