Kingsfield: a country house in Dartford, Kent

Image of the original Kingdfield house

The original Kingsfield house

Late in 1895, Martina Bergman-Österberg purchased a large country house named ‘Kingsfield’ on a 14-acre estate in Dartford, Kent. She converted the ballroom to a gymnasium and the lookout tower to servants’ quarters, before opening the new college in the September.

At its new campus, the school became known as the Bergman-Österberg Physical Training College. She taught anatomy, animal physiology, chemistry, physics, hygiene, theory of movement, dancing, deportment and Swedish gymnastics. English team sports were also taught at the college and she appreciated the English potential to teach: “…an appreciation of space and time, discipline, reason, quickness and unselfishness.”

Martina Bergman-Österberg’s ideas on women’s emancipation were centred on contemporary social Darwinism, gearing her young students for motherhood, or establishing them to train other young women for such a role: “I try to train my girls to help raise their own sex, and so to accelerate the progress of the race; for unless the women are strong, healthy, pure and true, how can the race progress?”

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