Lady MacKinnon

Secretary’s Letter No 1. May 1951 (Carl Meir)


Ever since its beginning in 1928, the anthroposophical agricultural movement in this country has been served by outstanding personalities without whose enthusiasm and hard work we would not be in our prosent position. We take so much for granted while these friends are with us (and they would not wish it other that much attention should be drawn to then). But when they lay down their tools and pass on, it is our duty and privilege to remember then in gratitude and reverence.

Today we must speak of Lady Mackinnon

She was intimately connectol with our work and especially with the Bio-Dynamic Association, during the last twenty years or so of her life. It was a great encouragement indeed that she re-joined the Anthroposophical Agricultural Foundation in 1947. It is befitting that we should remember her in this the first Secretary’s letter of the new body, as we can be sure that her spirit blesses the new phase of our work.

Miss Aline Mackinnon wroto to Miss Thornton on 1st larch 1951: “Following your Annual General Meeting you wrote to my dear Mother on the 17th July conveying a message or friendship and remembrance from the menbers present.

This letter reached ny Father on the morning of the day on which he was himself to undergo a serious operation, but he spoke to me of his intention to write to you on his recovery to express his appreciation of the terms of your letter. In a period of sadness and anxiety I am afraid this was overlooked and now that she has passed peacefully from us your letter is amongst her papers. We read mother her letter at the time it came, and although she could not respond, we are confident she understood, and was made happy by that message from her colleagues and fellow members of the Bio-Dynamic Association.

When the opportunity arises will you please convey to the members of the Association our gratitude on behalf of our dear Mother; and let them know that her passing was as serene as her life had been. She became unconscious about mid-night on the 27th February. All day of the 28th she lay with shafts of the spring sunshine falling across hor bed until the last rays touched her face with a warm glow – and then as the sun finally dipped below the horizon her own life ebbed quietly away as if her day too, was ended.

She has left memory we all treasure, and I know not least by her friends of the Bio-Dynamic Association who were the friends with whom she shared her interests.”

Miss K. Thornton writes:

“Lady Mackinnon was one of the original founders of the Bio-Dynamic Association in this country. Then the Secretaryship became vacant on the departure of Dr Poppelbaum for America in 1938, she valiantly offered to carry it on and acted as Hon. Treasuror and Hon. Secretary during the following ten years.

She worked indefatigably in this sphere as is shown by her voluminous correspondence with people in diverse parts of the world.

When confronted with difficult and scientific questions relating to treatment of soil and crops, more especially in overseas countries, she sought the advice and help of Dr Pfeiffer with whom she worked in close collaboration whenever circumstances permitted.

Her earnest desire was to make known, in a quiet and unostentatious way, the great need for bio-dynamic treatment of the land and the benefit to be derived from it. In doing this she took a very active part by travelling to all parts of the country to advise or instruct people on the making of’ compost, the proper use of the preparations or changing over a farm. Also she received and helped many enquirers at her home in Kent, and in her garden there, she did some experimental work, made preparations, stored them most carefully and despatched them when and wherever required.

In August 1937 Lady Mackinnon toured Germany for the purpose of visiting a great many of the then bio-dynamically established estates, farms and gardens there. A very interesting and instructive account of all that was seen and heard on the individual places was written jointly with Mr H. J. Heywood-Sināth who accompanied her on the journey. This appeared in Bio-Dynamic News Sheet No 5.

All her work was given freely, and solely for the benefit and furthcrance of the bio-dynamic work; but when financial assistance was sought, in one or other direction, Lady Mackinnon would willingly supply it,

During all the difficult War Years she contrived to keep the Association together and, with one exception, always managed to hold the annual General Meeting in London. For me personally, one of the memorable features of the earlier London meetings was to the greeted by Lady Mackinnon and see her receive each Member and guest with a friendly welcome..

It is a great privilege to have known so loyal, kind and gracious a personality as Mabel Mackinnon – one who, out of a single-hearted, unswerving action made it her life’s task to make known and carry out in practical application Rudolf Steiner’s agricultural research for the benefit of humanity.”

Mir H.J. Heywood-Smith writes:

“Members of the Bio-Dynamic Association and the anthroposophical Agricultural Foundation will be sorry to hear of the death of Lady Mackinnon who was one of the first to devote herself to the spreading of Rudolf Steiner’s methods of farming and gardening in England.

It gave her intense plcasure to hear of this side of anthroposophical work and her interest led her to visit the training contre at Worpswede and various farms and market gardens in Germany and Holland.

Returning to England she organized the work of making and distributing es Preparations. Her home, High Quarry, becand one of the Information Centres where she herself made and distributed tho preparations.

Later she became Hon. Secrctory for the B.D.A, a post she held for a her number of years, and the conscientious manner in which she carried out her work and the unstinted time and knowledge she gave to it was a model for all who assisted or consulted her. Her many kindnesses will not be forgotten.”

The following. verse was read by John Gale (Lady Ilackinnon’s grandson) at the close of the Memorial Service:

“You Leave to us

Pleasure in strong trees, and small gay flowers, and the grass:

Time to consider wide views, and the shape of clouds as they pass.

Your feet were set in a large room enriched by books and friends,

Laughter and wonder and love set free for the life which never onds.”


Miss N.S. Fisher, Lady Mackinnon’s niece, who acted for many years as her secretary, kindly arranged with Miss Mackinnon for a quantity of books, periodicals and papers to be placed at the disposal of our Archive and, Lending Library. We are most grateful for this gift, a lasting reminder of a great personality and warm friend.

Wikipedia gives her some context:

Wife of Lloyds of London !

MacKinnon married Mabel Lockett in 1896 in Hornsey, Edmonton, Middlesex, England. They had three daughters, Jean, Aline, and Margaret, and a son, Graham.

MacKinnon’s older brother, Sir Frank MacKinnon was an English lawyer, judge and writer, the only High Court judge to be appointed during the First Labour Government.

He died at his home in Crockham HillKent, aged 84.