Henry Morris (1889-1961) Secretary for Education in Cambridgeshire and founder of Village Colleges, was a passionate advocate of ‘decorated schools’. He inspired others such as Stewart Mason, educational administrator in Leicestershire, and architect Stirrat Johnson-Marshall whose work is recorded elsewhere on this website.
The first village college opened at Sawston in 1930. Village colleges aimed to provide not only juvenile and adult education, but also the social and cultural activities Morris saw as necessary for a healthy and progressive rural community. He believed passionately in the educational importance of an aesthetic environment, epitomized in the distinguished design which he secured from Walter Gropius for Impington Village College, opened in 1939.
Over the last two years Sawston Village College celebrated its 80th anniversary and the 50th anniversary of Morris’s death, with a film made by students about the life of Henry Morris. Continued cultivation of the arts at SVC as well as its caring maintenance of the original environment indicates the continuing influence and relevance of his ideals.
Henry Morris – the Life and Legacy http://www.sawstonvc.org/films/
Chapter 4 The Silent Teacher (21 to 30 minutes) explains how Morris was a great lover of the arts, believing that people learned from their environment. The school should be a ‘silent teacher’, for adults as much as for adolescents. Physical space, if beautiful and authentic, would contribute to successful learning. Schools should grace the rural landscape. He believed in the potential of art for social change. Art should be accessible to everyone, architecture contributing socially and aesthetically to the quality of one’s life.
Sawston Village College, Fountain Court
Italian Maiolica in cloister of Fountain Court