Page:Life of Octavia Hill as told in her letters.djvu/339

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
vii
317
FOUNDATION OF THE KYRLE SOCIETY

helpful people came to its support; and I well remember that one gentleman was stirred, by the attacks of Punch, to send a subscription to the new Society.

The name of the Man of Ross was chosen as the most fitting, badge of the new movement, and Her Royal Highness Princess Louise consented to become the President. Thus the Society which began with a small knot of friends, meeting at Nottingham Place, became widely useful, and Kyrle Societies were formed in other parts of the country, while the London Decorative branch was assisted by such artists as Leighton and William Morris, and the Musical branch was helped for many years by Malcolm Lawson.

When a sub-committee was formed for dealing with open spaces, a very zealous and energetic lady was chosen as Honorary Secretary. She was full of the wrongs suffered by the poor, in the destruction of their rights over commons. Octavia was no less impressed with these grievances; and she took an active share in the work of the Commons Preservation Society; but she felt that the Kyrle Society had a different function from that of the larger and more combative body; and that to secure open spaces, and lay out disused burial grounds, was a work which could not be joined on to the struggles for legal rights undertaken by the Commons Preservation Society. As the Honorary Secretary of the Open Spaces Committee was unable to recognise the desirability of the separation between these two kinds of work, she resigned, and I took her place for a time. Like all good work, this movement led to unexpected consequences; and while much of the preservation of Metropolitan Open Spaces was afterwards undertaken by the Metropolitan Boulevards Association, Octavia, as will be shown later on, took an active part in still wider developments of this and similar undertakings.

Thus it will be seen that the Open Spaces movement had a great many branches . . . and its growth was well summarised by Octavia in a remark to her sister Miranda.

"When I first began the work, people would say, "I will give money for necessaries for the poor; but I do not see what they want with recreation." Then after a few years, they said, "I can