Alice Mary Buckton was born on 16th March 1867 at Puckshott House, Chiddingfold, Surrey. The eldest daughter of George Bowdler Buckton FRS, and Mary Ann Odling.
Growing up in the countryside around Haslemere, Alice used to go walking through the fields with Alfred, Lord Tennyson. She was a favourite of his and used to hold a candle for him as he wrote. He told her of his belief in the immortality of the soul, and his questions on the same. “Spirit is everywhere, it is Matter that bothers me” She told this story to a meeting of the Poetry Society at Aldworth, in 1925.
As a young woman, Alice Mary was involved with Octavia Hills’ Southwark Womens University. She also became a member of the Froebelian Society, visiting the Pestalozzi-Froebel Haus in Germany. The Sesame Club was opened in 1895 with the intention of reforming education, and showing upper and middle class parents new methods of educating and bringing up their children. Children had been educated in the home prior to this time.
Four members, of the Froebel Society, including Mr Montifiore were on the committee. The club had many members by 1898 when the Sesame League was started. They admired the Pestalozzi Froebel House in Berlin and persuaded Anett Schepel, who had worked there for years, to come to England. The Sesame Child Garden and House, for home life training, was opened in 1898, in Acacia Road, St Johns Wood, London, with Fraulein Schepel as its principal aided by Alice Mary Buckton. They taught, cooking, nature study, care of children and household management. There was a Kindergarten attached to the house, both fee paying and free. Alice Mary wrote many articles for the Froebelian Journal “Child Life” during this period.
In 1901 her first book of Poetry was published. She went on to write many poems, and plays during the next twenty years. Also travelling twice to New York, where her poems were admired.
In 1907 she became interested in the spiritual and creative movements in Glastonbury, after meeting Wellesley Tudor Pole, an occultist and visionary. Her Christmas Mystery play Eager Heart, was seen by Abdu’l-Baha, in 1911. He later went on to visit Alice and Anett Schepel at their home at “Vanners” in Byfleet Surrey. In 1912 Alice Buckton purchased Tor House and gardens, in Glastonbury. The gardens contained the much loved holy well. She moved there in 1913 with Anett Schepel, renaming the property The Chalice Well . In 1919, Frederick Bligh Bond, an architect and archaeologist, interested in researching remains at Glastonbury Abbey, designed a lid for the well head, The Vesica Piscis. Alice developed a pilgrimage route to guide visitors around the sacred sites in Glastonbury. Dion Fortune, who was a most important figure in the revival of occultism in Britain, stayed with Alice and wrote about her in her book “Avalon of the Heart” In 1914, along with Rutland Boughton, Alice became one of the founder members of the first series of Glastonbury festivals. Alice made a silent film in 1922. That film is still in existance. She proposed that the Chalice Well Trust be formed in 1938.
Alice died in Glastonbury on the 10th December 1944.The Chalice Well was then purchased by Wellesley Tudor Pole. The trust became a charity and non profit making organisation. People of all faiths visit the gardens finding them a place of tranquility. It became a World Peace Garden in 2001.
Through Human Eyes. Poems 1901
The Burden of Engela, A Ballad-epic 1904
Masques and Dances 1904
Masque of Beauty and the Beast 1904
The Pastor of Wydon Fell, A ballard of the North Country 1905
Kings in Babylon. A Drama in two acts. 1906
The Garden of Many Waters. A Masgue. 1907
Songs of Joy 1908
Eager Heart. A Christmas Mystery play 1910
The Heart Worships. Music by Gustav Holst 1910
A Catechism of Life 1912
The Coming of Bride, A pageant play in verse. Four acts. 1914
The Meeting in the Gate. A Christmas interlude 1916
Daybreak and other poems 1918