A Tribute to Lyda Bräunlich, Founder of South African Waldorf Schools


Early in September of 1958, the decision was made to open a Waldorf school in Pinelands. Negotiations were held with Garden Cities of Pinelands with regard to the erection of a suitable building, however this proved too costly at such an early stage, and the decision was taken to find a suitable private room and convert it for the purpose of the school. This turned out to be in the Bräunlich’s well established garden and spacious garage with Mrs Lyda Bräunlich as the teacher.

“On January 20th, 1959, we were able to open this Nursery School with 12 children, at number 12 Poplar Way, Pinelands. Approximately 40 children and 50 adults came to the opening ceremony at which we gave a little Eurythmy performance as well as a Red Riding Hood play which was performed  for the children”, Lyda explained.

Pupil and teacher numbers grew quickly and soon the time arrived for a Waldorf Primary School to be founded. A generous donation of a lovely large, Victorian house at 26 Park Road, Rondebosch was given and the school of 35 pupils moved in. Waldorf education up to Class 6 was offered.

By 1965 the rapidly growing school needed to move again. A 16 acre farm land was purchased and with financial assistance a three story building was built. In June of 1967 320 pupils started their new term in a spacious 13 classroom building now known as the Constantia Waldorf School. This all transpired in the time frame of 6 years!

In the early sixties both Michael Oak and Michael Mount in Johannesburg were founded, and in the ensuing years fifteen other Waldorf Schools were established in South Africa.

Lyda attended the Constantia Waldorf’s 50 Year Celebration in 2009, and spoke of the rich history of the school. Soon after this, due to illness, she was unable to leave her home, yet remained completely lucid to the very end.

We are all deeply grateful for Lyda’s tremendous life work in founding the Waldorf School movement here in our country, and for holding the work of the Anthroposophical Society within the Western Cape.

 “May our caring thoughts serve you on your journey onwards and may you too continue to care for us.”

Contribution by Nannette Snyckers, Grapevine Editor and Belinda Fellion, Class 4 teacher