On February 22nd, as Girl Scouts and Girl Guides celebrated World Thinking Day, Boy Scouts celebrated Founder’s Day. A blog about the Baden-Powells seems appropriate in February, and will answer the question from last week’s blog about why the 22nd was chosen for those important celebrations.

Robert Baden-Powell and Olave Soames were not childhood sweethearts. They met completely at random on board the Arcadian and fell in love as it crossed the Atlantic.

They married in October 1912 at St. Peter’s, Parkstone, Poole, Dorset. St. Peter’s sister church is St. Mary’s on Brownsea Island, where Baden-Powell held his first Boy Scout camp in 1907. (Follow the Brownsea Island link and the map will show you the area.)

Usually, weddings occur in the bride’s home church, and that was the case here. Olave and her family moved to Dorset in 1908. According to her memoir, Window on my Heart, they lived in “Grey Rigg,” a house on the edge of the village of Lilliput. She stated that the house was later called “Crichel Place.” In my quick on-line searches, I can’t locate anything known as Grey Rigg, except for this, called Gray Rigg Villa:
“Gray Rigg Villa”
And there’s nothing at all called “Crichel Place.” There is a Crichel House, though. It’s decidedly different from the photo of Grey Rigg! Unless Gray Rigg Villa is that building in the far right of the photo of Crichel House, below.
Crichel House
The serendipity isn’t about which house she lived in, though. It’s about the proximity of Olave Soames’s home to Brownsea Island. She could have lived anywhere in England—and she did, actually. Her family moved around a good bit. Nevertheless, I still think it’s amazing that one of her homes was so close to Brownsea Island that she could see it from a second-story window!

The fact that the Soames family did not move there until one year after Baden-Powell led the celebrated Brownsea camp does not lessen my sense of astonishment. If it does yours, however, how about this:  I mentioned that their meeting aboard the Arcadian was random, and it was…except that Baden-Powell thought he recognized her walk.

Two years earlier they had lived near to each other in London, and he had seen Olave (though he didn’t know it was she) pass by with her dog. At that point in his life he happened to have been studying the connection between people’s character and their manner of walking. The way she carried herself was so memorable–and his powers of observation so acute–that he even recalled the breed of her dog.

Still not enough? They were born 32 years apart–but on the exact same day–22 February. And that’s why that date is considered Founder’s Day for Boy Scouts around the globe and was chosen as Thinking Day for Girl Scouts and Girl Guides.

Sir Robert Baden-Powell and Lady Olave Baden-Powell


Sources (other than those linked above):
Olave Baden-Powell, Window on my Heart (London:  Hodder and Stoughton, 1973), 52.
First photo from: http://www.alfapostcards.com/product/house-rp-grayrigg-villa-grange-over-sands-postcard
Second photo from: http://www.martinstown.co.uk/WEBSITE/crichel.htm
Third photo from: http://en.scoutwiki.org/Robert_Baden-Powell