Shaping the Trust

Ruskin Mill Trust was established in 1986 by Aonghus Gordon. At the time, the project was part of the Cotswold Chine School, offering continuing education post 16 to young adults from the school.  The first course was the Living Earth Training Course which included opportunities to work alongside master craftsmen, in the biodynamic gardens and café.

Aonghus and his family were influenced by the works of Rudolf Steiner and others, including John Ruskin and William Morris. These individuals have also informed the work and methods of Ruskin Mill Trust.


Rudolf Steiner (1861 – 1925)

Rudolf Steiner was a philosopher and social reformer who was interested in the relationship between science and spirituality as well as arts, movement, architecture, and agriculture. Rudolf Steiner applies Goethe’s integrative insights into education, biodynamics and health – the core of Ruskin Mill Trust’s foundation for its method.

Rudolf Steiner

John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)

John Ruskin was a social thinker and philanthropist. He had a strong interest in the natural world, art and architecture. He also wrote essays about the political economy and expressed his views on the impact of the industrial revolution on communities and the environment. Ruskin’s views on environment, sustainability and craft are still highly valued today. Ruskin wanted to celebrate individual effort and creativity and wanted to find a way of maintaining the beauty of the world despite the increase in industrialisation.

John Ruskin

William Morris (1834 – 1896)

William Morris was the founder of the post industrial arts and crafts movement. For forty years he attempted to realise John Ruskin’s vision of a citizen-artist. His vision was that utilitarian objects could also be works of art; “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”. He hoped, through the arts and crafts movement, to help transform the impact of the industrial revolution by converting demotivated labourers into inspired craftspeople.

In addition, he believed the craft aesthetic would re-introduce morals and values into society, and the arts and crafts celebrated the braided strength of art, work and virtue.

William Morris

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749 – 1832)

Goethe’s engaged and participatory way of knowing the world and the self was fundamental for framing Steiner’s own path of knowledge that he was to subsequently elaborate, in particular through contemplative practice. Goethean scientific practice and in particular, Goethean observation; looking into rather than looking at, informs the work of Ruskin Mill Trust through the choice of learning environments, immersing students in the natural world; farms, woodlands, and gardens, as well as in our relationships with students. The Goethean method of research and observation develops a deeply empathetic relationship to place and to other.

Find out more about Goethean Science training courses available through the Field Centre.