Partner Mary Gladstone

Queer Places:
Knights Farm Barn, Halstead Rd, Colne Engaine, Colchester CO6 2JG, UK
St Andrew’s Church, 25 Church St, Colne Engaine, Colchester CO6 2EY

Katherine Mina Courtauld (July 13, 1856 - June 5, 1935) was a British farmer and suffragist. She was an advocate for providing training about agriculture for women. Self-employed farmer, renowned fruit grower, and advocate of women in agriculture, she began to manage the 243 acres of Knights Farm in Colne Engaine, Essex in 1878, which was purchased for her by father; in addition to raising poultry, cattle, sheep and pigs, she developed an orchard and expanded the farm to 2,000 acres. She taught women pupils; to train women in agriculture, she created the Small Holding Colony on 98 acres near Lingfield, Surrey, with Louisa Jebb Wilkins in 1920. She lived at Knights Farm with her partner, Mary Gladstone for over 50 years. Reginald Bell's 1935 Sower and Reaper window, also used at Ellingham in Norfolk, depicts the sower and the reaping angel in front of Colne Engaine church. It remembers Katherine Courtauld, a gift from her devoted partner Mary Gladstone. As Gladstone's memorial across the church reminds us, Mary and Katherine were in a relationship all their adult lives, and lived together at Knights Farm.

She became council member in 1900 and chair in 1907 of Women's Farming and Gardening Union (WFGU); she donated Courtauld House, near Gower Street, London, for WFGU's headquarters in 1932.

Courtauld was born 13 July 1856 at High Garrett, Bocking, Essex.[1] Her parents, George Courtauld (1830–1920) and Mina Bromley (1832–1859) were part of the wealthy Courtauld family.[2] She was the eldest child. She was a boarder at a private girl's school in Hampstead, London. She later sought and obtained training in practical and theoretical aspects of farming on her father's farms and through farm visits since, being a woman, she was unable to attend agricultural college. There were some lectures provided by Essex County Council that she was able to attend.[1] Courtauld was a supporter of women's suffrage. In the 1911 census she spoiled her return by writing at the bottom of the form ‘As a householder and ratepayer I deeply resent being denied the privilege of a citizen in the exercise of the parliamentary franchise’.[1][3] She participated in country sports and sailing in her own yacht, the Petrona.[1] She died, of cancer, at home on 5 June 1935.[1]

When Courtauld was 21 her father bought her the 243 acre Knights Farm in Colne Engaine, Essex where she lived for the rest of her life.[1] It was a mixed farm with a range of grain and fodder crops as well as dairy, beef, sheep, pigs and poultry. There was also a fruit orchard and its produce, especially apples, won prizes in agricultural competitions. By the 1900s she was well-known and featured in the agricultural press. She had women trainees on the farm and as well as running her own farm with its workforce of 15, also managed additional family estate land and other farms totalling 2,000 acres.[1][2]

Courtauld was very active in public life both locally and nationally. She was deeply involved with the Women’s Farm and Garden Association from its inception in 1899 and a member of its founding council. She was its chair in 1907. Her financial support was a major factor that allowed the organisation to buy land near Lingfield, Surrey in 1920 to be let to women smallholders as an experiment in women's farming co-operation that lasted until the early 1930s.[2] She also gave the organisation the freehold of Courtauld House in central London as its headquarters.[1]

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