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Charlotte Mason Digital Collection (CMDC): Charlotte Mason Timeline

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A Timeline for Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason (1842-1923) and the PNEU (1887-1989)

This timeline was revised and updated in May 2016 by Margaret Coombs, author of Charlotte Mason, Hidden Heritage and Educational Influence.  (Lutterworth Press, 2015)

1720/21: John Gough, Charlotte’s Quaker great-grandfather, was born in Kendal; the first headmaster of Lisburn Friends’ School, teacher, writer and travelling minister.

1780: Charlotte’s father, Joshua Mason, was born on 3 January at Hall’s Mill, Laurencetown, Co Down, Northern Ireland, second son of birthright Quakers, Arthur and Mary Mason, John Gough’s second daughter.

1795: Joshua Mason was apprenticed as a tallow-chandler and soap-boiler in Waterford.

1802: Joshua Mason married Sarah Jacob at Waterford Quaker Meeting. They had 8 children: Richard Jacob, Joshua Junior, Mary, Sarah, Hannah, Arthur Newburgh, Huldah Jane and Joseph.  

1815: Sarah Jacob Mason died on 15th September, 1815.

1817: Joshua Mason was appointed Freeman of the City of Waterford.

1818:  Charlotte Mason’s mother, Margaret Shaw, was born; date and location unknown.

1819: Joshua Mason married Sarah Leckey, a Carlow Friend. They had 4 children: Caroline who died in infancy, Emily, Isabella Blessing and William Leckey.

1831: Sarah Leckey Mason’s sister, Anna, married Joseph Robinson Pim at Carlow Meeting.

1835: Joshua Mason Esq. moved with his second family and Huldah Jane to Staplestown Mill, Co Carlow, recognised as a gentleman.

1836:  Sarah Leckey Mason died on 22 January.

1840: Disowned by Carlow Friends, Huldah Jane Mason married Peter Doyle in Church.

1841: In June, Joshua Mason left Staplestown for Australia with Joseph. He must have known Margaret Shaw before embarkation. The Pim family had moved to Birkenhead.

1842: c. 1 January, Margaret Shaw gave birth to Charlotte Maria, probably at the home of Huldah Jane and Peter Doyle, 41 Garth Village, Garth Point, Upper Bangor, North Wales.

1843: The Doyle family returned to Ireland. It is not known where Margaret Shaw and Charlotte were living.

1844: Joshua Mason came back from Australia and married Margaret Shaw at St Mary’s Church, central Dublin on 25 January.

1844-c.1852: Charlotte and her parents probably stayed on in Ireland and visited Douglas, Isle of Man c.1847.

1849:  The Doyle family moved to 62 Oliver Street, Holy Trinity Parish, Birkenhead.

C. 1851-52: Joshua, Margaret and Charlotte arrived in Birkenhead and may have lodged with the Doyles or Pims.  Charlotte undoubtedly attended Holy Trinity National Society Elementary School for girls, precise date unknown.

1854: In August, Charlotte began her pupil-teacher apprenticeship at the Holy Trinity National Girls’ and Infants’ Schools. The Doyles crossed the Mersey River to Everton.

1855: Joshua Mason, gentleman, was living in flat 4 at Exmouth Place, 48 Watson Street with Charles McErithy. Margaret and Charlotte must have been lodging elsewhere.

1856: Charlotte’s half-sister Hannah arrived in Birkenhead with her husband, Edmund Birchall and their 4 children. Charlotte may have resided with them.

1857-59: Gore’s Directory recorded that Joshua Mason, gentleman, had moved to Victoria Road, Oxton. Margaret Mason was seriously ill.

1858: Margaret Mason died at 15 Whetstone Lane, at the Heighisway family’s home, on 16 September. She was buried at St Werburgh’s Roman Catholic Church, Grange Road, Birkenhead on 18 September.

1859: On 15 March, Joshua Mason died in New Road, Tue Brook, West Derby, Liverpool, near the Doyles’ home. On 19 March he was interred in Hunter Street Quaker burial ground. At Christmas, having successfully passed her pupil-teaching apprenticeship, Charlotte won a 2nd Class Queen’s Scholarship to train at the Home and Colonial Society’s Pestalozzian Teacher Training Institution in London.

1860: Charlotte began her first year’s training on 25 March; she made friends with Selina Healey, later Mrs Fleming, Elizabeth (Lizzie) Pendlebury, later Mrs Groveham and Sally, later Mrs Coleman.

1861: Charlotte fell ill. In March, she left the ‘Ho and Co’. In April, she was appointed Mistress of the William Davison Infantine School in Worthing, Sussex. Lizzie gained her 1st Class Teacher’s Certificate at Christmas.

1862: At Christmas, Charlotte won her 1st Class Certificate for teachers in charge of schools, finally confirmed in 1871; around this time Lizzie married John Groveham.

1864: An older girls’ class was added to the Davison Infantine School. Charlotte made her first visit to Ambleside to stay with Selina Healey at her school, Loughrigg View.

1866: Lizzie Groveham opened her private girls’ school in Drewton Street, Bradford.

1868: Charlotte met Miss Emily Brandreth; this definitive friendship lasted until 1879.  Selina Healey married John Fleming, an Ambleside architect.

1874: Charlotte was appointed Senior Governess at the Bishop Otter Elementary Teacher Training College for Gentlewomen in Chichester.

1875: In Edinburgh, Charlotte was inspired by an evening service at St George’s Free Church conducted by the Presbyterian Minister, the Revd. Alexander Whyte DD.

1876-1878: Fanny Williams took the Bishop Otter training.

1877: Charlotte resigned as Senior Governess at Christmas, on health grounds.

1878: After working three months notice part-time, Charlotte recuperated with Miss Brandreth. They travelled through Europe during the summer.

1878-79: Charlotte stayed with friends, taught in Selina Fleming’s school, while writing geographical texts for schools.

1879: Contact with Miss Brandreth ceased.  In late summer, Charlotte moved to 2 Apsley Crescent, Manningham, Bradford, where Mrs Groveham had transferred her middle-class ladies’ school.

1880-c.1882: Fanny Williams joined Charlotte at the Groveham household and was appointed headmistress of the Belle Vue Higher Elementary School for Girls in Manningham.

1880: Charlotte’s first book, The Forty Shires was published by Hatchards.

1880-1884: Stanford published Charlotte’s Geography Readers.

1882: John Groveham died of appendicitis on 25 October.

1885-86: Charlotte Mason lectured to ladies on Home Education to raise funds for a new parochial institute for St Mark’s Church, Manningham.

1886: Kegan Paul published Home Education.

1887:  Mrs. Emeline Steinthal met Charlotte in the spring.

1887: Mrs. Steinthal hosted a summer drawing room meeting at 2 Walmer Place to launch the Bradford PEU with Charlotte. The PEU was established at an autumn meeting at Bradford Grammar School.  In November, Charlotte sent a copy of Home Education to the Countess of Aberdeen to enlist her support for the new Union.

1888: Lady Aberdeen invited Charlotte to address a meeting at Hamilton House on 5 June.

1889: In November, Miss Anne J Clough invited Charlotte Mason to Newnham College, Cambridge to meet leading educationists and clerics. Lord and Lady Aberdeen, chosen as Presidents of the Union, hosted a meeting which set up the Central Council.

1890: 18 January the P (N) EU Executive Committee was established.

1890: In February Charlotte Mason launched and edited the monthly journal, Parents’ Review. On 18 February, the first P (N) EU Council Meeting was held. On 3 June, the first AGM at London House, constituted the PEU as the Parents’ National Educational Union.

1891: In April, Charlotte Mason left Bradford, after 11 years in the Groveham household. She stayed at Selina Fleming’s School and started the Parents’ Review correspondence school (PRS) in June.

1892: In January, backed by Mrs Parker, Charlotte Mason opened the House of Education (HOE), to train governesses for home-schoolrooms, at Springfield House, Ambleside. She started the Mothers’ Education correspondence Course in June.

1893: Charlotte Mason invited Elsie Kitching to work for her in Ambleside.

1894: Charlotte Mason travelled to Florence with Mrs Julia Firth and was inspired by the frescoes in the Spanish Chapel at the Church of Santa Maria Novella. In late spring, Mrs Henrietta Franklin visited Charlotte Mason at Springfield. In July Miss Mason finally defeated the Lady Isabel Margesson’s challenge to her authority.

1894: In the autumn, Mrs Franklin opened the first PRS school class in London.

1895: In January, Charlotte Mason moved the HOE to Scale How; Dorothea Beale and the Revd Dr. Alexander Whyte visited Scale How.

1896: In January, the students’ launched their journal L’Umile Pianta; Kegan Paul published Parents and Children.

1897: Mrs Franklin organised the first London PNEU Annual Conference. Miss Mason succumbed to chronic invalidism; up to 1914, she travelled each year, with Miss Kitching, to take the mineral baths treatment at Bad Nauheim in Germany. R.Amy Pennethorne started the HOE training.

1898: Fanny Williams was appointed Vice-Principal of the HOE; the 1898 London PNEU conference was the last one attended by Miss Mason in person.

1899: From 1898-99, Miss Mason’s Sunday Meditations were published for subscribers.

1901-02: Agnes Drury and Ellen Parish took the HOE training; some students opened school classes; more would follow. For the 1901 Census, Miss Mason stated that she was principal of a training college for women teachers in schools.

1902-1937: The Revd, Alfred Thornley assessed the students’ nature studies annually.

1903: Mrs Steinthal relinquished her PNEU commitments for the Anglican Mothers’ Union.

1904: On 17 February, Miss Mason’s A Short Synopsis of Educational Theory was accepted by the PNEU Executive Committee, who backed publication of the five-volume Home Education Series. Mrs. Franklin was finally appointed sole Hon. Organising Secretary of the PNEU. Mrs Franklin launched PNEU Reading Courses. School Education came out in November.

1905: Kegan Paul published Ourselves and re-issued Home Education and Parents and Children for The Home Education Series.

1906: The fifth volume, Some Studies in the Formation of Character was added; Burgess Hill PNEU School was founded. Parents’ Review was renamed a Journal for Parents and Teachers,

1907: The PRS was renamed the Parents’ Union School (PUS).  

1908-1914: Miss Mason’s life of Christ in verse, The Saviour of the World was published in six volumes.

1911: Government Recognition of the Ambleside training was withheld. Miss Mason purchased Scale How, with a mortgage.

1912: Mrs Franklin organised The Winchester Children’s Gathering. Miss Mason wrote The Basis of National Strength in six letters to The Times.

1913: The Basis of National Strength was published as a PNEU pamphlet. Mrs Steinthal left the Mothers’ Union and returned to the PNEU.

1914: In spring, Mrs Steinthal launched the Liberal Education for All Movement at Miss Ambler’s Elementary School at Drighlington in Yorkshire. After War broke out, Charlotte Mason and Elsie Kitching were rescued from internment in Germany during September. There were 41 PNEU branches.

1915: Miss Mason took annual mineral baths in Wales until 1921.

1916: The Liberal Education movement was pronounced a success; teachers’ conferences were held. Miss Mason’s & Miss Agnes Drury’s pamphlets on The Theory and Practice of a Liberal Education were widely circulated.

1917: H.W. Household, Director of Education, introduced PUS liberal education methods into Gloucestershire Schools. The movement spread to other LEAs and lasted up to Second World War.

1918 -1919: Essex Cholmondeley took the HOE Training.

1919: In April, Miss Mason signed her last will to safeguard the continuation of her work.

1920: The Whitby Children’s Gathering was held in May; Miss Mason’s health improved. In September, she attended teachers’ meetings in Gloucester and Bradford.

1921: In January, Ellen Parish succeeded Fanny Williams as vice-principal of the HOE.  On 7 August, Mrs Steinthal died suddenly. In October, Miss Mason finished An Essay Towards a Philosophy of Education, published posthumously in 1925. The PNEU passed the Incorporation Measure, transferring powers to the PNEU Executive. Area Associations were promoted to support developing PNEU schools.

1922: Miss Mason joyously presided over Whitsuntide conferences at Scale How.

1923: Miss Mason died on 16 January. Her funeral was   held on 19 January; she was interred in St Mary’s Churchyard, Ambleside, between W.E. Forster’s memorial and graves of the Arnold family.

1923: On 29 March a Memorial Service was held at St Martin’s in the Fields, London, preceded by a Memorial Conference. Miss Parish succeeded Miss Mason as Principal of the HOE (1923-1934). Miss Kitching became Director of the PUS until 1948 and Editor of PR until 1949. The Ambleside Governing Council, responsible to the PNEU Council in London for the HOE, Practising School and PUS, was set up, initially chaired by H.W. Household.

1924: Essex Cholmondeley assisted Elsie Kitching with the PUS in Ambleside.

1925: Fanny Williams died.

1928: Miss Mason’s First Grammar Lessons, written for the Brandreth children during the late 1860s, was published; the admission of a Jewish student to the HOE was finally agreed.

1929-1979: Mrs Franklin founded Overstone Girls’ School in memory of Charlotte Mason

1930: Essex Cholmondeley was appointed HOE vice-principal.

1934-1937: Essex Chomondeley succeeded Miss Parish as principal. There were 300 PNEU schools

1937: Joyce van Straubenzee (CMT) was appointed HOE principal.

1938: The HOE was renamed Charlotte Mason College (CMC); 138 PNEU schools were recorded.

1945: The CMC course was extended to three years; the Practising School had been greatly enlarged, taking boarders at Fairfield and The Annexe. Provisional government recognition linked CMC to Manchester University School of Education.

1946: The PUS moved to Low Nook.

1947: Ellen Parish died and was buried in St Mary’s churchyard. Mrs Franklin founded Desmoor Boys ‘Preparatory School (1947-1968) in memory of Charlotte Mason.

1950: CMC students began teaching practice in Westmorland schools as well as in the Practising School

1953: Full affiliation with Manchester University achieved,

1954: Mary Hardcastle (CMT in Miss Mason’s time) was appointed CMC principal.

1955: Elsie Kitching died and was buried at the foot of Miss Mason’s grave.

1960: Westmorland Education Authority took over CMC under Manchester University; CMC ceased to be a private institution. The 36 subject CMC syllabus, ranging from astronomy to ‘solfa,’ and Practising School ‘crits’ were no longer recognised as a teaching qualification; thereafter it was adapted to the Ministry of Educations’ requirements.

1960: Essex Cholmondeley’s biography, The Story of Charlotte Mason 1842-1923 was published. Monk Gibbon brought out Netta, a biography of Mrs Franklin.

1962: Marjorie Boulton, an Oxford graduate, was the first non ‘in-house’ principal. The in-house Practising School (1892-1962) was finally closed; the students gained all their teaching practice in various schools.

1964: The Hon. Mrs Henrietta Franklin CBE died

1966:  PUS management was finally transferred to London.

1967: Lancaster University (1964) established a Chair of Education and validated the CMC courses. Charlotte Mason’s books were no longer studied.

1970-1983: Bill Percival, a former headmaster, was the first CMC married principal.

1974: Westmorland County joined the new Cumbrian local authority, which administered CMC under Lancaster University until 1989. Charles Smyth was appointed Director of PUS,

1978: The World-Wide Education Service was created as a separate division of the PNEU to encompass an expanding overseas educational service for company schools and home-schools

1979: Parents’ Review was renamed The Journal of the World-wide Education Service of the PNEU

1980-1989:  Hugh Boulter was appointed WES/PNEU director, liaising with home-school pupils and schools in 100 countries, including the UK, and with the 30 remaining British PNEU schools.

1983-1994: Dr John Thorley, a senior headmaster, was appointed CMC Principal.

1984: The last surviving PNEU branch, (Birmingham) closed. Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s book For the Children’s Sake was published and inspired the American home-schooling movement which flourishes in the twenty-first century.

1987: WES/PNEU celebrated the centenary of the founding of the PNEU

1989: WES/PNEU closed. The overseas work was passed to the Bell Educational Trust in Cambridge.

1990: CMC reached maximum size with 800 full-time undergraduate students, including joint teacher-training courses with several French universities, and an extensive programme of in-service courses for teachers from the UK and abroad.

1992: Due to further financial pressures, the college became the tenth college of Lancaster University.

2007: CMC had merged with St Martin’s College Lancaster. Both colleges joined the new University of Cumbria based in Lancaster and Carlisle; the Ambleside site was temporarily closed.

2010: The University of Cumbria decided to end teacher training at Ambleside.

2012: Although all UK PNEU schools had closed or were renamed; several UK schools still practise Charlotte Mason’s methods.

2013-14: The University of Cumbria re-opened the Scale How Campus in Ambleside for the study of Forestry and Wild life Conservation etc. Charlotte Mason is acknowledged as the founder of the CMC at Scale How.

2015:  L’Umile Pianta now appears annually instead of quarterly.



The Revd, Dr Benjamin Bernier.

Dr Hugh Boulter.

Margaret A Coombs, Charlotte Mason, Hidden Heritage and Educational Influence.  (Lutterworth 2015)

Mrs Caroline Heal, former editor L’Umile Pianta.

The Revd. J.P.Inman, Charlotte Mason College, 1985

Charles S Smyth, Charlotte Mason and the PNEU.

Professor John Thorley.

Dr Deani Neven Van Pelt.

The Charlotte Mason and PNEU archives are housed at the Armitt Library and Museum.

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