Agnes Baden Powell

Agnes is the oft-forgotten member of Guiding�s early days, overshadowed by the vivacity of Olave.


BPs eldest sister, she was, like her high-achieving brothers, a woman of many talents. She was an expert apiarist, steel engraver, artist, musician, and craftswoman. In her younger days she was a skilled balloonist. With her brother Major BFS Baden Powell she made balloons, working the silk for the envelope. They made many flights together and share the excitement of ascents from the Crystal Palace. She joined her brother later in making aeroplanes. He was the President of the Royal Aeronautical Society for seven years, and Agnes was an honorary companion from 1938.

She had a great interest in natural history and had a variety of uncommon pets. A visit to her home, where she lived with her mother, meant dodging birds in the hall, butterflies in one room and bees in another. The bees in a glass hive found their way out to the park and back by a pipe laid through a hole in the wall.

She was a bicycle polo player, collected old lace, and retained her enthusiasm for swimming and dancing until after she was eighty years old.

Agnes became President of the Movement and not only wrote the handbook How Girls can Build Up the Empire � the Handbook for Girl Guides in 1912, but inspired and interested her friends in guiding through her own enthusiasm. She deserves a great deal of credit for having been willing to face the strong prejudice that existed against such a Movement at that time. Many were convinced that guiding would turn girls into tomboys and deprive them of "maidenly modesty". However, Agnes was the perfect asset with her gentle influence, interest in all �womanly� arts, love of flowers, birds, and insects.

ES, Guiding in Australia, September 1989


Miss Agnes Baden-Powell, the only sister of the Founder, Lord Baden-Powell, died on 2nd June, 1945, at the age of 86. She was the first National President of the British Girl Guides Association and, as she liked to call herself, "the grandmother of the Guides."

At the beginning of the Movement, when the girls wanted to follow their brothers, the Scouts, the Founder called upon his sister to help. Miss Baden-Powell started the first Committee in May 1910, and a year or two later she brought out the first handbook for Guides, How Girls Can Help to Build the Empire. And so the seed was sown!

Miss Baden-Powell loved to be asked to visit Guide companies, and, up to a few years ago, often used to stay with them in camp, where she slept under canvas. The photograph we publish shows Miss Baden-Powell on the occasion of a visit to Guides and Scouts at the Queen Mary Hospital, Carshalton, Surrey, England, in 1942.

Her knowledge of gadgets was great; one, of particular interest to Sea Rangers, was a breeches-buoy life-saving apparatus in miniature which worked!

She was for some years President of the Westminster Division of the Red Cross, and worked for the League of Mercy and Queen Mary's Needlework Guild. In the early days she was a very keen balloonist, an interest which she shared with her brother, Major Baden Baden-Powell.

Miss Baden-Powell was quite fearless. After a luncheon party given in her honour at the Forum Club, Grosvenor Gardens, London, when the flying bombs were at their worst and two had just fallen, she was offered a lift in a car, but she said firmly "No, thank you; I shall walk home" and she did!

Her activity and energy remained unimpaired until the last, and at parties given in honour of her birthdays as they came round she was always the brightest and the "youngest" there.

The World Bureau has received many messages of condolence from Guides and Girl


I'm always happy to receive updated information about Lady Olave. Email me