Barbro Noel-Baker

An Isle of Greece

The Noels in Euboea

This is the story of Edward Noel, a young cousin of Lady Byron, his family and his home at Achmetaga, an estate on the Greek island of Euboea (Evia), which he bought from the Turks in 1832.

Edward Noel had been educated at the agricultural school of Hofwyl near Bern in Switzerland which had been founded by Emanuel von Fellenberg, a leading educationalist in Europe. Much influenced by the violence and horror of the French Revolution, von Fellenberg had developed an educational system whose aim was to bring, through agriculture, rich and poor people closer together. Inspired by these ideas, and in the wake of the great wave of philhellenism that had passed through Europe following the 1821 Greek War of Independence against the Ottoman occupiers of Greece, Edward Noel together with von Fellenberg’s youngest son, Fredrick, traveled to Greece in 1832 with the hope of contributing to the betterment of the lot of impoverished Greek peasants by creating an agricultural school in Greece along the lines of Hofwyl. The acquiring of the estate on Euboea, where they envisioned establishing the school, was bedeviled by the then Greek Government’s policy concerning privately-owned land; both Edward and Fredrick fell ill from malaria which was endemic in northern Euboea, and Frederick died. But then in partnership with another school fellow from Hofwyl, Karl von Maller, and with the support of Lady Byron and others, the resuscitation and working of the Achmetaga estate eventually went ahead.

The book subsequently records life at Achmetaga and the family’s achievements and difficulties, the good times and the hard times, in all its many facets and phases, until the year 2000.

In the writing of this history Barbro Noel-Baker drew extensively on letters that were discovered in the air raid shelter of her father-in-law’s home in London, after his death in 1982, which had been put there for safety by Edward Noel’s great granddaughter, Irene. These letters, together with the many photographs that illustrate the text, contribute greatly to the vivid and revealing picture of post-revolutionary and twentieth century Greece, seen in the main (but by no means exclusively) from a contemporary European cultural outlook.


  • 357 pages, 24.0 x 17.0 cm, sewn pages, privately published, 2000

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