Foxlease is a training and activity centre of Girlguiding UK near Lyndhurst, Hampshire, UK. The Foxlease estate has been owned and managed by Girlguiding UK since 1922. The estate is 65 acres and main house is known as The Princess Mary House, in honour of her marriage. Foxlease has hosted the Guides' Third International Conference, Sixth World Conference and also the first World Camp.
The Princess Mary House was renamed in honour of Princess Mary's marriage. A Georgian house, still has Adam fireplaces and a Strawberry Hill gothic lounge. Individual rooms have been adopted by Guides from around the world and personalised by them. Modernisation has created conference and residential facilities. These including training and meeting rooms, and accommodation for overnight stays.
Princess Margaret Lodge was built to replace Beaverbrook Lodge. It accommodates self catering groups and there is disabled access on both floors. It was opened in 2005, by Sophie, The Countess of Wessex, then President of Girlguiding UK
The Coach house is a listed building, constructed in the 18th century. It provides self-catering accommodation.
The Barn is self-catering accommodation. Early photos show a thatched roof, but this has been replaced.
There are several campsites at Foxlease, including Cedars, Katherine Wilson, Birches, Appletree and Bridges. Most of the sites have a shelter with a toilet and shower block. Most of the campsites close at the end of September for the winter, but Katherine Wilson and Appletree are kept open.
In 1921, Foxlease was up for sale. Hampshire Girl Guides asked for and received permission to camp there and several training weeks were held there during 1921.
In January 1922, Mrs Archbold, the American owner of Foxlease wrote to the Girl Guide Executive Committee offering to give them the house and sixty acres to be a training centre for Guiders. Despite the suitability of the property and the need for such a venue, the considered opinion was that the Guides did not have sufficient resources for the upkeep and it would not be wise to accept the gift.
The offer coincided with the preparations for the marriage of Princess Mary, president of the Girl Guides. Less than a week before the Royal wedding, Rose Kerr was contacted by Lady Mary Trefusis, as Olave Baden-Powell was not in London. Lady Trefusis was on the committee of a fund that all the Marys of the British Empire had contributed to for a wedding present for the Princess. The Princess had insisted she could only accept a proportion of the fund as a personal gift. Trefusis proposed to Kerr that the remainder could be spent buying a training centre for the Girl Guides, whom the Princess was enthusiastic about. Kerr suggested that the fund could furnish and equip Foxlease, but this was not immediately accepted as the Fund wanted a place that would be associated with Princess Mary's name. As the matter had to be settled by the next day, Kerr gave Trefusis the phone number of Pax Hill, the Baden-Powell's home.
Olave Baden-Powell was in bed with 'flu when she received the phone call, but she went to Buckingham Palace the next day. Mrs Archbold was consulted and the outcome was that her gift was accepted. The house was renamed The Princess Mary House and Princess Mary gave £6000 from the fund to furnish and equip the house. Later she gave £4000, half the proceeds of the exhibition of her wedding gifts, towards the upkeep of the property.
Alice Behrens was appointed the first Guider-in-Charge. Each room was adopted by Guides from a country, county of Britain or school and embellished and furnished by them. Helen Storrow gave the money to equip the small lodge and Juliette Low stayed in it for several weeks to get it in order. Senator and Mrs William A. Clark furnished the Garden Room in memory of their daughter, after whom Camp Andree Clark (now part of the Edith Macy Conference Center) in the USA is named.
The Third International Conference was held at the same time as the first World Camp.
The first World Camp took place from 16 - 24 July 1924. Olave Baden-Powell and Olivia Burges formulated the idea in September 1923, during the latters stay at Pax Hill. The original invitation was for six Guides and one Guider from each country where there were Guides. However, this was modified to accommodate those who were willing and able to send more. In total 1100 girls and women attended, 600 of which were from overseas. Forty countries were represented.
The Sixth World Conference was held at Foxlease from 5 - 12 July 1930. Helen Gwynne-Vaughan chaired this conference at which the constitution of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, drawn up at the previous international conference, was settled. Olave Baden-Powell was also unaminiously voted World Chief Guide by the twenty-eight countries recognised by the World Bureau. This conference also approved the idea of a World Flag, an idea originally proposed by South Africa some years earlier.
The first International Trainers' Conference was held simultaneously with the World Conference.
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