Olave Baden-Powell.jpgOlave Baden-Powell

Olave St Clair Baden-Powell, Lady Baden-Powell(22 February 1889 – 25 June 1977) was the first Chief  Guide  for Britain and the wife of  Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell , the founder of   Scouting  and Girl Guides. She outlived her husband, who was 32 years her senior, by over 35 years.
Lady Baden-Powell became Chief Guide for Britain in 1918. Later the same year, at the Swanwick conference for Commissioners in October, she was presented with a gold  Silver Fish ,one of only two ever made. She was elected World Chief Guide in 1930. As well as making a major contribution to the development of the Guide / Girl Scout movements, she visited 111 countries during her life, attending  Jamborees  and national Guide and Scout associations. In 1932, she was created a Dame Grand Cross of the  Order of the British Empire  by King  George VI .







22 February 1889
Chesterfield ,  Derbyshire ,  England ,  United Kingdom


25 June 1977 (aged 88)
Bramley, Surrey , England, United Kingdom


Guiding and Scouting


Robert Baden-Powell, 1st Baron Baden-Powell
(m. 1912; died 1941)


  • Peter Baden-Powell, 2nd Baron
    • The Hon. Heather KingThe Hon.  Betty Clay


  • Harold SoamesKatherine Mary Hill
Background and early life

Born in   Chesterfield , England, OlaveSoames was the third child and youngest daughter of brewery owner and artist Harold Soames (13 Aug 1855 – 25 Dec 1918), of Gray Rigg,  Lilliput , Dorset (descended from the landed gentry Soames family of Sheffield Park) and his wife Katherine Mary, daughter of George Hill. She was educated by her parents and by a number of governesses at home. She lived in seventeen homes in the first 23 years of her life.Olave became keen on outdoor sports including tennis, swimming, football, skating and canoeing, and also played the violin.
Adult life

Marriage and children

Baden-Powell with her husband and their three children in 1917.
In January 1912, Olave met  Second Boer War  hero and founder of the Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, on an ocean liner (RMSP Arcadian) on the way via the Caribbean to New York to start a lecture tour. She was 23, he was 55, and they shared the same birthday. They became engaged in September of the same year, causing a media sensation. They married on 30 October 1912 in a very private ceremony, in St. Peter's Church, Parkstone, her Parish Church. She was given away by her father; apart from clergy, the only other people present were his brother and sister and  Robert Kekewich , a close friend of his, her mother & brother, her brother-in-law and Miss Sie Bower, a close friend of hers.
The Scouts and Guides of England each donated a penny to buy the Baden-Powells a wedding gift of a car (note that this is not the   Rolls-Royce  known as "Jam-Roll" that was presented to them in 1929). Olave's father assisted financially with the purchase of  Pax Hill  near   Bentley, Hampshire , as a family home where she lived with her husband from 29 January 1919 until 25 October 1938.
The Baden-Powells had three children — a son and two daughters (who took the courtesy titles of  Honourable  in 1929; the son later succeeding his father as the 2nd Lord Baden-Powell upon his father's death in 1941):
Growing involvement in Scouting

Olave and Robert moved into Ewhurst Place (see photograph on the right), outside  Robertsbridge  in Sussex in April 1913. In June of that year, the 1st Ewhurst Scout Troop was inaugurated. Olave was the warranted Scoutmaster of this troop, assisted by the family's housemaid and the gardener. Olave accompanied Robert on many of his Scouting tours and to events. She also typed letters for him. In 1915, the Baden-Powell's bought a small car, and after Robert taught her to drive, Olave often drove him to engagements.
Although most famously connected with the Girl Guides, Olave's first offer to help them in 1914 was turned down. The Girl Guide Movement had started following pressure from girls who wanted to become Scouts; the Movement was set up by Robert Baden-Powell and his sister   Agnes Baden-Powell . After the reorganisation of the Girl Guides in 1915, Olave again offered to help, this time successfully, and she started organising Guiding in Sussex. She became the County Commissioner for Sussex in March 1916. In October 1916, the first conference for County Commissioners was held and it was here that the Commissioners unanimously requested that Olave take the role of Chief Commissioner – she was just pregnant with her third child. Shortly before this she had organised a great number of women in other parts of Britain to take up roles in Guiding.In 1918, Olave was acclaimed Chief Guide, a title she much preferred to Chief Commissioner.

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