Milner's Kindergarten is an informal reference to a group of Britons who served in the South African Civil Service under High Commissioner Alfred, Lord Milner, between the Second Boer War and the founding of the Union of South Africa. They were in favour of the South African union and, ultimately, an imperial federation of the British Empire itself. On Milner's retirement, most continued in the service under William Waldegrave Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne, who was Milner's successor. Many of these men themselves attained public prominence after their South African experience, hence the 'kindergarten' tag. The group would often meet at Stonehouse, Sir Herbert Baker's private residence in Parktown.
Other key members were:
- Sir Patrick Duncan - Governor General of South Africa, 1937–1943
- Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian - British Ambassador to the United States of America, 1939–1940
- Robert Henry Brand, 1st Baron Brand - managing director of Lazard Brothers till 1944 - according to Carroll Quigley, the leader from 1955 to 1963.
- Lionel Curtis - Royal Institute of International Affairs founder
- Richard "Dick" Feetham - lawyer, later chairman of the Irish Boundary Commission and eventually Judge of Appeal in South Africa.
- George Geoffrey Dawson - editor of The Times, 1912–1917
- John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir - novelist and Governor General of Canada, 1935–1940
- Sir Dougal Orme Malcolm (1877 - 1955), colonial administrator and company director
- William Lionel Hichens (1874-1940), public servant and industrialist
- John Dove (1872-1934), journalist, editor of The Round Table
- Arthur Frederick Basil Williams
- Lord Basil Temple Blackwood
- Hugh A. Wyndham
- Sir George V. Fiddes
- Sir John Hanbury-Williams
- Main Swete Osmond Walrond (1870-1927), Milner's private secretary
- Sir Fabian Ware
- William Flavelle Monypenny
Many of these men continued to associate formally after their South African service through their founding of The Round Table Journal, which was established to promote Imperial Federation. Patrick Duncan's obituary in the journal's September 1943 edition, may best describe their ethos:
Duncan became the doyen of the band of brothers, Milner's young men, who were nicknamed ... The Kindergarten, then in the first flush of youthful enthusiasm. It is a fast aging and dwindling band now; but it has played a part in the Union of South Africa colonies, and it is responsible for the foundation and conduct of The Round Table. For forty years and more, so far as the vicissitudes of life have allowed, it has kept together; and always, while looking up to Lord Milner and to his successor in South Africa, the late Lord Selborne, as its political Chief, has revered Patrick Duncan as the Captain of the band.
- Saul Dubow, "Colonial nationalism, the Milner kindergarten and the rise of'South Africanism', 1902-10." History workshop journal. No. 43. 1997. in JSTOR
- The Anglo-American Establishment, Carroll Quigley, 1949
- Round Table Movement - Past and Future, 1913
- Alexander May: The Round Table, 1910-66, DPhil, Oxford University, UK, 1995
- Curtis, Lionel: Papers relating to the application of the principle of dyarchy to the government of India, 1920