Charlotte and Japanese Royalty

I am reading a book that Alison recently shared with me.  If you are interested in the Armitt and Mason's relationship to the museum or who her peers were and how they worked together, you will like this book, too.  Here is an interesting tidbit about Madam Shimoda from Japan - someone I had heard about but never understood what her relationship to Mason was.

Utako Shimoda 1854-1936
Charlotte Mason had earlier lectured throughout the country, as well as corresponding for years with most of the leading educationalists, and so had become well known.  But just how well known is perhaps best illustrated by the surprising visit in 1895 to her House of Education at Scale How, Ambleside, of Madam Shimoda from Japan.  At a time when Japan tended to regard Britain with suspicion, this delightful aristocratic lady had not only been sent by the Japanese emperor to study methods of education in Europe and America, but had Charlotte Mason's establishment on her itinerary. A document recently received by the Armitt Trust from the archives of the Imperial Household of Japan shows that Madam Shimoda was in London in 1894, and under the patronage of the Duchess of Portland had been welcomed into London society.  She was even presented to Queen Victoria, and her visit reported in The Times.  She then stayed some time in Ambleside, and instructed the students in brush drawing and paper cutting and folding.  According to Miss Kitching of Scale How, she was a court poetess and belonged to the emperor's private circle.  In the evenings she wore court dress, a beautiful kimono of special design with the emperor's private signet, and her dainty appearance was much admired.  Eventually she returned to the Imperial Household to start a school of 'peeresses'. - From A Victorian Naturalist Beatrix Potter's Drawings from the Armitt Collection, p. 23-24

Obviously, the emphasis in the book is on Beatrix Potter, but while you are enjoying her wonderful artwork and marveling at her scientific work, you will also read about dozens of other important figures of the time that were associated with the Armitt and the Lake District. Be sure to check out The Armitt - very cool website!

From joy to joy,


  1. I remember reading that book and reading about the Japanese Madam visiting Ambleside. She must have been schooled in English too, Interesting connection and makes you want to know more.Then did Beatrix Potter know Charlotte? I don't think they did. DO you know?

    Congratulations on another wedding and now another Kelly!

    1. Bonnie,
      On p. 41 it says, "During her farming years at Hill Top, Beatrix always took a sympathetic interest in both the Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, and allowed them to camp on her land. (She would of course have been aware that Baden-Powell himself scknowledged that it was Charlotte Mason's work with young people which had inspired him to found the Scout movement.)"

      Beatrix was a very private person, but she had to know about CM both because of her involvement with the Armitt and her fame as an educator, don't you think? I think I'll see what Dr. Thorley knows about it.

      Thank you - the wedding was lovely! I will get pics up soon. Plus all the fun things we did in Vermont!

      From joy to joy,

  2. Looking up some of the people:
    However, supported by his secretary W.G.Collingwood, Ruskin continued to write and to play an active, if intermittent, role in the defence of the Lake District until his death in 1900. ( Collingwood wrote many PNEU articles) Canon Rawnsley, also. William Gershom Collingwood, helped with the Fesole Club Papers and I remember transcribing several of his letters for the Archives ( Deani). Arthur Ransome used some his grandchildren for characters in Swallow & Amazons.
    Of course, the Armitts wrote for the PR too.

  3. very, very interesting. i love this kind of detective work ;)

  4. Imagine taking brush drawing and paper folding from a court poetess!

  5. Richele, I had the same thought! What a privilege that would have been! Nancy, I'm so glad you are enjoying the book. I love treasures! I have been working on my own Living Books Library and plan to post on some fun finds soon. It was wonderful getting to visit with you in Virginia. Hope to see you again sooner rather than later! Congratulations to the mother of the groom!