Written by Astrid Radysh, Newton Dee Camphill Community

Today’s theme is the past, present and future of Management in Newton Dee. I will start with the distant past, and journey up to the near past; Simon will bring us into the present; we may both have a bit of future in what we say!

What is management? Is it how we get things organized? In the past you had a boss, or you were a boss and you organized others, a bit like a pyramid –from top down. Newton Dee has a more circular management form. What is this and where did it come from? Every one of us has a very interesting life story: and so does this community!

Pyramids and circles are forms we recognize; but what is a Form? Can you see it; is it sense perceptible? This is a piece of cardboard where I have used my thought of the Platonic solid tetrahedron to change the shape of the cardboard. I perceive a tetrahedron with my living thoughts, at the same time as my eyes see the cardboard. I begin to understand that every thing contains both aspects at the same time; that which my eyes see physically, the cardboard, and its tetrahedron form, which I perceive with living thoughts. We all perceive form when seeing matter; it is an inclusive, non-sense-perceptible experience.  

There are also forms that we use to communicate with: I put up my finger, it is in actual fact made of flesh and bone, yet even a Chinese person will know that when held up it is a form indicating number one. 

There are also forms that reveal themselves slowly, gardeners know that. Something comes up out of the dark earth; slowly the form shows it’s a bean plant, not an oak tree. 

Our community has forms and what they are, is what I have been trying to puzzle out. I began by gathering together milestones in the history of Circular Social Forms used by people that lived in Britain long ago, and in Camphills biography. I asked: how could they be informing Newton Dee’s biography? Like all good stories this one also starts long ago. 

Once upon a time, many thousands of years ago, there lived on islands in the northwest of the European continent, peoples who gave their most precious astronomical structures circular forms, in stone, such as Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth in Ireland; [1] and much later, Stonehenge in England, thereby expressing their interrelationship with all the world.

On one of their islands, up in the north, on the seacoast in an area we now call Aberdeenshire they expressed a very particular relationship to circles; they carved the Platonic solids using circles on hand sized stone balls, some with incredibly beautiful spirals, at least one to two thousand years before the Greeks mentioned them. [2] In this landscape there is an ancient consciousness of form.

It is interesting, that, one of the greatest modern geometricians, George Adams who embodied consciousness of form was a friend of the founders of Camphill.

In 563AD St. Columba fled Ireland to Iona, with 12 monks, refugees. On this West Coast Island, they formed themselves into a monastic community, became an outstanding centre of learning, and the sacred burial place of the Kings of Scotland. They had no central control and organisation, yet their work spread over large areas of Europe.

Karl König sought out fellow spiritual seekers, and Lord George MacLeod, who revitalised, rebuilt, a modern Iona impulse, came to visit Camphill.

We have a house named Columba.

In the 5th-6th centuries the Arthurians flourished in the southern part of the Isles, on a high and craggy peninsula, Tintagel. The 12 knights and the Sun-King Arthur laid a foundation for working together around an ideal that is legendary and aspired to, still today.

Camphill has honoured the Knights of the Round Table with many pageants.

In the 12th, 13th centuries the Templar Order lived in Britain. They are still well known today for their futuristic, European wide, trust based financial structures. They upheld certain ideals of Brotherhood as they worked to form communities that would freely serve the good of their time, of the land and the people. Not power over others, nor lure of gold; but rather they adopted a living attitude to the question: are we each other’s brother and keeper? On the Continent, greed and envy led to their terrible destruction, but not in Scotland.

Doctor Thomas Weihs the first farmer in Newton Dee intensely concerned himself with the Templar striving. Maryculter on the south side of our River Dee was such a Templar place. Karl Konig placed the Templar story into the context of WW2 that was raging, and their hopes for the future, when he wrote: ‘There is a knighthood of the present age whose members do not ride through the darkness of physical forests as of old, but through forests of darkened minds. They are armed with spiritual armour and an inner sun makes them radiant. Out of them shines healing – healing that flows from a knowing of the Image of Man as a spiritual being. They must create an inner order, inner justice, peace and conviction – in the darkness of our time.’ [3] 

In the early 1800’s in New Lanark, south east of Glasgow, Scotland, Robert Owen worked very hard to give the mill workers, [who were refugees thrown off their land by the greedy landowners], homes, education, work, and to help them form the beginnings of a community.

Already in 1905, Rudolf Steiner, who has inspired many of our ideas, honoured Owens’s work, taking it one step further, and formulating the Fundamental Social Law that became central to Camphill: ‘The well-being of a community of people working together will be the greater, the less the individual claims for himself the proceeds of his work, i.e. the more of these proceeds he makes over to his fellow workers, the more his own needs are satisfied, not out of his own work but out of the work done by others’. [4]

In 1959, Karl Konig made Owen one of Three Pillars of Camphill, together with Zinzendorf and Comenius [5] inspiring us to know not only Owen’s many ideas and impulses, but to also what lives in Scotland.

Many of us have been to the inspiring ‘New Lanark Conferences’!

These are some examples of Circular Social Forms in Britain’s history; now for some milestones from Camphills birth influencing Newton Dee. 

December 1927 Arlesheim, Switzerland – Dr. Karl Konig witnessing children with special needs placing their candles into an Advent Garden spiral, pledged to build a hill upon which a big candle would burn, a beacon of hope, from which each could light their own candle that radiates forth. [7]

11th March 1938 Vienna, Austria – Sweeping the European continent, was a black, heavy, deathly, isolating cloud, settling into many hearts, obliterating the light of the stars and the sun, as meaningless destruction swallowed civilization. But, Konig, and a group of young people, lifelong friends and co-founders of Camphill having experienced mutual recognition left home and country, pledging to find each other again and found a community. They are now all refugees. (Central yellow circle; drawing at end of article)

10 months later, 18th December 1938 – Karl Konig visited Mr. And Mrs. Haughton, of Williamston, Scotland, friends of Dr. Ita Wegman who had asked them if they could take in these refugees. They very generously gave them Kirkton House to use, and Anke Weihs told how they also received sacks of potatoes and oats. Was this the back of the beyond in the far north? Not entirely, as three large local landowners were converting their estates to the very latest Biodynamic ideas.

28th May 1939 – Whitsun was celebration in Kirkton House. [7] Present were 16 adults and 5 children, each seemed to represent the future threads of Camphill, and included Peter Bergel a child, and Rudi Samoje an adult, with special needs. Konig gave a short foundational talk, including addressing the heritage of the land that had given them refuge, promising not to recreate where they had come from, but to work for the good of this land. Whitsun the archetypal Community festival has remained central to Camphill since then.

Tilla Konig grew up in a Moravian Brotherhood Community. It was Tilla who set the mood for daily life within Kirkton House and who later trained house parents, teaching them about the importance of peace, devotion to the smallest detail, the need for beauty and simplicity, order and discipline. She contributed these ingredients to Camphill community life, which persist to this day, and are vital ingredients for good practice in management.

Through his many experiences Karl Konig learned what, above all, became the guiding stars of his life: that every human being is equal in spirit even if the bodily home is malformed; that we must respect, honour and trust everyone, particularly those who are untrustworthy; that we must practice empathy as a life’s task. This is not a list of his achievements but a list of some of his most potent strivings, which he encouraged his colleagues to strive for too; again, vital ingredients for management.

1st June 1940, the men had been interned as enemy aliens. Anke described how the women decided to move from Kirkton House into Camphill House. Imagine: 3 wanted to stay, 3 to move; after putting forth the pros and cons they decided to sleep on it. The following morning they awoke and all 6 said, we move. (6 yellow stars on central circle) 

I experience this as one of the archetypal foundations in the development of management in Camphill. Place it all out there in the centre, the facts, work on them; then ask what do I feel, what do you feel, and listen; now take it into your inner self, work on it; all sleep on the question. Now have the humility and courage to be able to change your mind for then a true Image may appear, of what to do. Anxiety, apathy, resentment etc. appear when not all facts, feelings, actions already taken, are transparent to all. Also, women generally have a more, lets-gather-around-the-kitchen-table-and-sort- this-out-humanly attitude, rather than principalistically. They dared to be midwives to Camphill. Anke did speak about how it was not easy when the men came back with their more hierarchical attitudes, a mix that has made Camphill always interesting.

Keep in mind that Aberdeen city was bombed a lot from 1940 to 1943, which they would have heard. They kept choosing life, and joy, grateful to be alive in a country that found them awkward but did not want to kill them. 

Meg Farquhar was part of the nightly Aberdeen city fire watch; much later she lived in our house Nortour with son Alistair. 

30th August 1941, the war rages, but another aspect of the community came about, the Bible Evening, which was to play a fundamental role. Through this weekly coming together the peace and harmony that can descend on ones house is incredibly nourishing, 

it warms the spaces between us. 

The Birth of Newton Dee:

It is 1944 and a group of boys are sent to Camphill by the Juvenile Courts and the question arose: what are we to do with them? They rented land neighbouring Camphill and Dr. Thomas Weihs began to work on it with the boys. He soon gave the most positive reports of the beneficial effects of this land work on the teen-age boys, This led the community to follow up on an advert which appeared in the local paper for the sale of Newton Dee, a farm of 180 acres, just a walk away from Murtle. 

In Advent 1945 they moved into Newton Dee becoming the third estate owned by Camphill, funded by Helen Macmillan for £11,000, which, like all the other estates, was repaid. In November 1946 the old estate farmer McBain moved away and the first farming activities in Camphills biography began. [7] WW2 ended; people came, fragile but joyful, grateful to be alive, wanting to work. 

 In 1945 Konig wrote the First Memorandum, as a leading image for Camphill. 

I have chosen 4 people, Thomas, Peter, Anke, and Paul whose influence on the birth of Newton Dee we still feel today.

 Dr. Thomas Weihs now became Thomas the biodynamic farmer. For the delinquent boys to whom he gave training and a tremendous sense of responsibility, this was real work, not just taking part in an activity; they were growing food and delivering milk, meat, and eggs to the other estates. This maturing individual attitude the boys grew into, we have carried forward, and loose at our peril.  The juvenile boys grew up and moved on. That Thomas was there in the beginning of Newton Dee may be central to the way we have lived and worked over the years. He was always looking out for others in the world that were asking questions, looking for living – even if often challenging – truthful ideas, and not the easy way out, often sharing elements from his own life, in his struggles to find profound answers. (Green star)

Peter Roth went to London to become a Christian Community priest, so that the pastoral-medical work could support the group of adults with psychiatric problems who came to live in Newton Dee farmhouse and Cottage. This first seedling of living and working with adults was how the initial vision of the village impulse was born, also in Newton Dee.  (Blue star)                                                                                              

This was later formalized in 1954 by the founding of the Camphill Village Trust. Then on the 5th of September 1955 Peter and Kate Roth and a small band of pioneers moved into Botton Hall in the Yorkshire Dales [9]

In 1964, shortly after he had started L’Arche, Jean Vanier came to Botton, a visit that confirmed for him, these are the new ways to live and work together. [6] This gentle giant died, 6th May 2019 age 90.

Anke Weihs brought to the beginnings of Newton Dee enormous experience and enthusiasm, but she said it was tough, basic. She started storytelling, folk dancing, plays and festivals, all of which are still very important to us today. [8] Anke overviewed their before-breakfast-daily meetings to discuss arrangements for the day. This was the beginning of management in Newton Dee; when you are small, everyone knows about and participates in everything. We in our varying ways, still continue this in our houses today. For larger issues, they had across-the-estates-weekly Council meetings of which Anke was secretary. In 1957 she and Thomas went back to the schools; Thomas was needed as a doctor.

In 1986 it was wonderful to accompany Anke through Newton Dee House, with her sharing recollections, what those times had been like, with them all squeezed into the house, 30 boys and 9 co-workers. You know, she said, we worked hard trying the best we could to live together in a way that seemed true and good; only afterward did we discover those different things that Rudolf Steiner had spoken about, such as working for the other; we knew from experience, not theory, what that meant. Anke was always involved in all aspects of the growing outer and inner Camphill Community. For her, who you were, mattered, and the continuing working on your striving was central to growing a Community, for outer work was nourished by inner work. Central to this was her very strongly held knowledge that our communities can not coast along on the past inner work of others but that each generation needs to “reconquer the spiritual work and create the community anew in each one of us”, only that way will it stay alive and metamorphose. (Red star)

Also, Anke mentioned how the estate had been so covered with wild flowers that every week they picked baskets of flowers for Camphill, Murtle and the Christian Community in Aberdeen. Could we see Newton Dee with more wild flowers again? 

In 1951 the Newton Dee Chapel was the first building project in Camphills story built by Paul Bay. The architectural impulse includes ongoing questions concerning how it supports all the other arts and most importantly the Social Art; also how our built and natural environments interrelate. This also started here, and is ongoing! (Purple star)

SO! Newton Dee pioneered in the Camphill story; 1- working the land with Biodynamic agriculture and forming a team of farmers; 2- the seed for the Village Impulse; by responding to the needs of the juvenile youngsters and a group of adults with psychiatric problems; 3- asked, does ones surrounding effect one and if so, how do we make visible the Art of Architecture? Each came out of experiencing the next need as seed, that they were intimately interlinked, from the ground up, and not directed by a management. Of course, when the right person was there to do it they discussed and talked and ‘managed’, and then came action – Thomas the social farmer, Peter the social priest and Anke the social artist, with Paul the social architect. 

3rd to 4th September 1960 – Newton Dee became an adult village, part of the Camphill Village Trust. It was felt that the adolescents could climb the power lines that now ran through the property. Dr Thomas had fought this to the top, to the House of Lords, but to no avail. This lay deep in Newton Dee’s memory when the road issue came up in 2004.

Joining the CVT lead to an increase in management groups for the areas of work we had in common with Botton. 

Each phase of Newton Dee’s life brought different ways of doing things. The first phase 1945 to 1960 was all about coming into being, we were in totally unchartered waters and different from the other Camphill estates. Then the high-tension wires through our land required of us a transformation, of becoming a village similar to Botton rather than the earlier, more experimental beginnings. But the attitude pioneered here continued; that amongst adults, living community together is the central focus, while in the Schools the child is the focus.  

At the age of fifteen a second phase began – 1960 to 1984: we transitioned into the Village; this meant involvement with the Ministry of Labour and Department of Employment; then Sheltered Workshop funding gave us a boost as they funded us for what we could not earn ourselves. By 1970 the population had almost doubled. The focus was on work, producing, our quality had to be consistent as we began to sell everywhere, through Central Sales in Botton. The ideal was to let goods, go out into the world, and be bought on their own merit. We grew: a store was built; the Phoenix Hall was built, with a tiny office with a lovely local lady who came in 3 mornings a week and typed up our letters to the government departments, created a weekly Diary Sheet etc.

In 1962 Rachael Carson woke the world up to the ecology of life in her book, ‘Silent Spring’, about the dangers of monocultures in nature, pesticides etc. ‘Nothing in Nature exists alone’, she said. We worked on the ecology of human beings and ‘humans do not exist alone either,’ we said, nor does the monoculture of normality. Pesticides we had got rid of long ago. Sharing cars as a climate change issue we did right from the beginning; and even practiced gratitude to nature with saying grace at the table, we are an early eco-village. 

In 1965, 25 years after the founding of Camphill, Karl Konig paid tribute to what had developed so far writing an essay called, ‘The Three Essentials’. The first essential was, have regard for the spiritual nature of one’s fellow man; second, the endeavour of one’s own inner development; the third, the establishment of a true community with four layers – family, the village, a community of language, awareness of all of Mankind. He called these Essentials a Threefold unity. [7] Here again there isn’t any direct mention of management but rather the ingredients needed, as he was trusting in our common creative abilities.

Konig also at this time stepped back from the international spiritual and management groups as they evolved to inter-relating autonomy; again he was trusting in the future.

A third phase began in 1984: after years of looking for properties, Newton Dee was ready to support a new village, Loch Arthur.  This changed us and we began putting energy into our questions; who are we now at 40 years old? By 1988 Newton Dee was 185 people and didn’t fit into the old chapel; so after much discussion we built at the same time, the Michael Chapel for our Offering Service and Francis House for our aging population. 

Management structures up to now were relatively simple, with individuals and groups taking care of the various aspects and conferring with others. Now all the groups had to help each other, developing competence in working with government bodies that were increasing their interest in us. Central for all decision-making was the Responsibility Group; they were held alternating Wednesday evenings with the Threefold Social Order groups where we choose to study about the spiritual-cultural questions, or financial brotherliness aspects, or equality, rights, the human questions. These were based on ideas from Rudolf Steiner that have inspired Camphill since its beginnings. They supported our conversations about how to organize this growing community; they kept us active, creative in what we did. We began to feel confidante enough, to open up more to the locality, hoping that the escapades of the boys in the 50’s would have been forgotten, by now. 

The Social Art has no fixed road map; rather it has signposts such as, humour, gentleness, fragile, listens etc; and then we choose the challenge of trusting the creative unknown. Sharing, doing all the arts together, recognising them as a language of the Soul made possible that management discussions flowed easier and decision making faster. We worked hard to have a clear and common Spiritual Vision, that could inspire the work and inform the management, experienced by us as all intimately interlinked. 

The words we say at the beginning of Newton Dee meeting, says this clearly. Rudolf Steiner composed the verse for the English sculptress Edith Maryon and wrote it into her copy of the Threefold Social Order:                               

The healthy social life is found, when in the mirror of each human soul, the whole community finds its reflection, and when in the community, the virtue of each one is living.  [10]   

We are fortunate that we have always had those in our community who made sure we all had opportunities to live in the world of all the arts. Even our barn is graced with a David Newbatt mural, which really impressed Jeremy Paxman [BBC presenter] when he came to open it!  The Chinese artist Ai Weiwei said, ‘Art is a social practice that helps people to locate their truth’. [‘Human Flow’- film] 

Finally: The other half of growing is dying; trusting and letting go these seeds containing our vision. 1990 was 50 years Camphill, a milestone and we really stepped into the public space: ‘Candle on the Hill’ was written; films were made; a huge exhibition travelled for a year through Scotland, Wales and England; a Gala concert was held in London’s Royal Albert Hall, interviews held on BBC radio, articles written etc. Then the troubles also began; the government thought we were old fashion, nobody came to meetings and decisions were not stuck to, there was talk of making rules and uncreative doubting arrived, we didn’t seem to be walking our talk. We invited George Perry to come for visits, to help us; I think Simon will tell you about that – our mid-life crisis – how we got out from under it and reinvented ourselves, by knowing our roots and ourselves in a new way. 

Rounding up our journey: What do all these Ideals and Communities in Britain have in common with Camphill Newton Dee? They all had living ideas and forms, were circles of individuals mutually supporting each other and recognising their common spiritual vision that imbued all their work of doing the good in the world. We are working on this in the context of our world. We are so fortunate; let’s keep it simple, real, human.


1 – The Stars and the Stones, Martin Brennan, Thames and Hudson 1983

2 – Time Stands Still, Keith Critchlow, St. Martin’s Press, New York 1982

3 – Shaping the Flame, Camphill Foundation 2000

4 – Anthroposophy and the Social Question, Rudolf Steiner, Three essays 1905-6

5 – The Camphill Movement, Karl Koenig, two essays, 1960 Camphill Books

6 – Camphill Pages, Vol.20 Spring 2015

7 – A Candle on the Hill, images of Camphill Life, 1990, Floris Books

8 – The Builders of Camphill, Lives and Destinies of the Founders, edited by Friedwart Bock, 

      Floris Books 2004

9 – Camphill Villages, edited by Anke Weihs and Joan Tallo, Camphill Press 1977

10 – Verses and Meditations, Rudolf Steiner, Rudolf Steiner Press, London 1979