Redskins in Epping Forest : John Hargrave, the Kibbo Kift and the woodcraft experience
This thesis attempts to locate and explore the world of the Kibbo Kift, a camping and handicraft organisation established in 1920, by John Hargrave. The Kibbo Kift proved to be the most controversial, complex and colourful component of the English Woodcraft movement. The aim of this thesis is three-fold. First, to explain what is meant by the term Woodcraft and to examine the varied cultural influences that lay behind its growth in Edwardian England. Second, to give a more balanced and detailed historical account of the development of the Kibbo Kift, its secession from the Boy Scouts and its transformation into the Green Shirt Movement for Social Credit. Finally, it will orientate the movement within the English pro-rural tradition. In doing so, I hope to develop the idea of there being a collection of diverse and often contradictory strands within this culture, with the Kibbo Kift occupying a so-called pastoral Liberal-Transcendentalist stance, in contrast to the more agrarian Tory- Organic wing of the movement. It will be argued that the Kibbo Kift was 'progressive', forward looking and essentially 'modern', representing, in effect, a suburban interest in the inter-war countryside. However, the ultimate failure of the Kibbo Kift's Woodcraft strategy adds to the argument that the English rural revival of this period was not as hegemonic as once thought and that pro-ruralism was limited in its cultural scope and impact.