Official Voice of the Scalan Association. May 2007 issue no. 34
Memorial and Memorial Chapel Braes of Enzie
Bishop Thomas Nicholson
In 1603 the last
pre-Reformation bishop, James Beaton, died in
Thomas Nicolson was born about 1645 at
Birkenbog of Protestant parents, Sir Thomas Nicolson of
In 1654, Propaganda Fide in
He first met with his
fellow missionaries at
In 1707, he asked for a
co-adjutor bishop, to share the work load throughout
Bishop Nicolson was a Jacobite, as were most Catholics, but had taken no active part in the 1715 rising. He saw the establishment of the first small seminary on Eilean Bán on Loch Morar, by Bishop Gordon, its closure after the failed Jacobite Rising of 1715, and the setting up of its successor at Scalan. As a Jacobite, he was arrested and imprisoned at Fochabers, and on his release he returned to Preshome. He died there in 1718, aged 76 and was buried in St Ninians Cemetery, Tynet.
By Ann Dean
Bishop James Gordon
James Gordon belonged to the
Letterfourie family and was born at Glastirum in the Enzie in
1665. He was educated at
College, Paris, and ordained there in
1692. He returned to work as a missionary priest in Banffshire and was also the procurator
In 1707, while Bishop
Nicolson made a tour of the lowlands, Bishop Gordon made his first Visitation of the
Both bishops shared the view that the most pressing
Bishop Gordon, although an active Jacobite, did not approve of the 1715 rising and its failure only resulted in an outburst of Protestant fanaticism and greater persecution. As a result he was forced to close the seminary on Loch Morar. In1716 he found a new and safer home for the seminary at Scalan, in a turf hut where John Gordon, priest of Glenlivet, was hiding. The priest was persuaded to move to Mortlach, Huntly and the boys from the west, Hugh Macdonald one of them and their Master George Innes moved in.
At the time of Bishop
Nicholsons death in 1718, Bishop Gordon was aged 54 and applied to
After another gruelling
visitation to the
Bishop Gordon was beset by many problems during his time as bishop, not only from the continual pressure he lived under trying to supply districts with priests he did not have and from lack of funds to pay his priests, but also from persecution, from Jacobite intrigues in which he was involved, and bitterest of all, from the in-fighting among his priests and their lack of loyalty to him, who accused him and many others on the Mission of being Jansenists.
Jansenism was a movement
among some very pious Catholics that placed a strong emphasis on personal unworthiness,
the importance of frequent use of the Sacrament of Penance and infrequent recourse of the
Sacrament of Holy Communion. It divided the clergy into roughly two parties, those
Between 1738 and 1746 Bishop Gordon continued to make visitations in the Lowland District. He arranged in 1738 to replace the original huts at Scalan with a decent house and bequeathed all his property for this purpose.
In 1745 he reached his 80th year. He was spared the knowledge of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden in 1746 and the destruction of Scalan. He died in April of that year and is buried at Thornhill in Perthshire.
By Ann Dean
The first master appointed at Scalan by Bishop Gordon was George Innes in November 1716
George Innes was born in 1683 into The Innes family of Balnacraig near Aboyne. The founder of the Innes family was James Innes of Drumgask in the parish of Aboyne, Aberdeenshire. His descendents acquired the properties of Balnacraig and Ballogie. The mansion house of Ballnacraig was built in 1735 by James Innes grandson of the above. The house still stands today, Jan 2007, and one can see his initials and those of his wife Catherine Gordon carved above the entrance door. Ten members of the Innes family, Thomas, Louis and nephew George, became priests and three where closely linked with the Scots College Paris. There was also a close relationship with the House of Stuart at St. Germains.
At the age of fifteen years George entered
the Scots College Paris inthe year1683. He was ordained in
1712 and returned to
George did not prove to be the ideal choice for a Scalan master. By nature he was quiet and retiring and liked nothing better than to study. He had no idea how to economise and Scalan was short of funds. He was a good teacher but lacked spiritual discretion. He must have found the winters horrendous having to cope with freezing conditions, endless snow and driving winds. His health was poor and how he must have longed for warmer parts.
He finally left Scalan in May 1722 being replaced by Alexander Grant, a priest of only three years.
George Innes returned to his parents home in Balnacraig where he continued training boys for the priesthood. He is recorded as educating one boy for the Scots College Paris and helping at least two others.
Shortly before Christmas
1726 Alexander Grant was called to
In1727 the post of Prefect of Studies fell vacant at the Scots College Paris. George Innes was offered the post and readily accepted. He must have been relieved to be able to return to the congenial surroundings of the Scots College Paris. He took up the post in 1727 and continued as Prefect of Studies until 1735, he was appointed Procurator until 1738 when he was made Principal, a post he held until his death in 1752 Quite an impressive list of appointments for a man who felt he had let his Uncle Thomas down over his handling of Scalan.
George Innes steered the College through one of its most turbulent times. He, like most of the staff were sympathetic to the Jacobite cause Many felt it would benefit Scottish Catholics to have a Stuart on the throne. This was not likely to happen so no one would know if it would have helped. There are still some who look back with nostalgia at the 1715 and 1745 rebellions; today it is thought of as a romantic period in Scottish history. The College played an active part in offering help and refuge to those with a price on their heads. It was certainly recorded that Bishop Hugh Macdonald stayed within its walls and there is strong evidence that Prince Charles found refuge on more than one occasion.
The next period in the
College was anything but romantic, it was the Jansenist controversy. It spread to all
those who listened causing bitter accusations effecting the guilty and the innocent. It
spread from the
Cornelius Otto Jansen
1585-1638 was a Dutch Roman Catholic theologian the founder of the reform movement known
as Jansenism. He published a lengthy work in 1640 Augustinus which sort to prove that the
By permission of the owners
In 1713 Pope Clement xii issued a Bull, Unigenitus Dei Filius,
like previous Bulls it caused controversy which spread from the
George Innes was
fourteen years as Principal and steered the College through very troubled times. Only two
boys were ordained but it is hardly surprising, funds were low mainly due to the support
of the Jacobite cause. Morale was low due to the controversy of Jansenism. Some parents
could have been reluctant to send their boys to
George Innes kept the College going but did not have that special something to make the College shine when times were hard.
In depth reading about Jansenist controversy. The Scots College Paris 1603-1792 Chapter 7 by Brian M. Halloran published by John Donald Publishers LTD, Edinburgh.
Student to Bishop
The first two students recorded as residing at Scalan in 1716 lived in a turf hut on the west side of the Crombie; they were Hugh Macdonald and George J. Gordon.
Hugh Macdonald was born
in 1699, the son of the Laird of Morar, often classified as a branch of the Clanranald.
Bishop Gordon had established a seminary on Eilean Bán, Morar and one of the first
students enrolled was Hugh Macdonald aged 15. By1714 the Seminary closed owing to
Hanovarian troop movements and the pupils re-located Hugh to Scalan two years later. He
spent nine years at the seminary alongside George J. Gordon Both were
ordained on Ember Sunday 1725 by Bishop Gordon. These two students were the first to
receive their complete training in
Hugh Macdonald went to
abandoned their vocations and returned home. To try to rectify this situation he advocated setting up a Highland Seminary. The place chosen was once again Eilean Bán where he had been a student. From1732 to1738 the seminary remained there, but in 1738, it moved to Guidal near Arisaig. In 1746 Guidal was abandoned after the defeat of the Jacobite rising and for the next 24 years there was no Highland Seminary.
At the start of the 1745
rising, Bishop Macdonald blessed the Royal Standard at Glenfinnan. In 1746 his home on
Eilean Bán was destroyed by the Hanovarian Troops. As an active Jacobite he had to escape
Scalan was closed in l799 when students and staff moved to the purpose built seminary at Aquhorties, Aberdeenshire. The Rev James Sharp, who had been in charge at Scalan until the move, remained there until l808, ministering to the population of the Braes and celebrating Mass in the former chapel. Sharp left in 1808 to teach at Aquhorties, and from then on the chapel was closed. The tenancy of Scalan (from the Duke of Gordon) was given up in l823, after which it was actively farmed by local tenants.
Abbé Paul MacPherson,
Abbé Macpherson personally financed the new Braes chapel, accommodation
for the priest and later the school (now Mont Abbe) at
Chapeltown. Correspondence reveals that the architect of the church was William Robertson
Robertson was born in
the parish of Lonmay, near Fraserburgh
in June 1786. Where he undertook his
professional training is not known, but probably in
However, James Kyle was still at
Aquhorties when Robertson prepared his designs and estimates for the Braes chapel and
these had to be sent to Bishop Paterson in
turn your eyes to by far the greater part of the Congregation who in most stormy weather, would have to travel two or three miles to reach Scalan and sit down in a cold Chapel, however wet or cold they might be: or else frightened by the length of the way and badness of the weather, remain at home without satisfying a most essential duty. Your Lordship will see that this will be neither exemplary nor apostolic like
that in due course he would be making provision for a snug house for the
priest, which he did as well as financing the school. Robertson charge £5.5s for the
plans and estimate of the chapel which was completed around l829-30. His design was a simple rectangle with classical pedimented frontage surmounted by a cross. The building was lit by three lunettes
(semi-circular windows) in the long side walls while at the rear there was a heated vestry
(the chimney is revealed in the picture) which also provided accommodation for the priest
until a cottage was constructed. The 2-storey Chapel House came later. A similar design by
Robertson was used c1835 for the chapel at Pulteneytown, Wick, and
Braes Chapel 1840 by unknown artist
An (as yet) unknown artist has left what appears to be an accurate drawing of the Braes chapel and school as it was in 1840, which now hangs there. It shows the church buildings and also the school (now Mont Abbe) with children and school master. The school is fronted by what appears to be a garden enclosed by walls and to its left another walled enclosure which, though indistinct, appears to be the burial ground. Schoolmasters at this time were often provided with a garden in which they could grow potatoes and other vegetables.
The Braes chapel served
its congregation until about l895, when it was demolished, apparently because the building
proved damp. It was replaced by Our Lady of Perpetual Succour built to a design by the
By Elizabeth Beaton
Points of Interest
3. Scalan was cut off by snow at the end of January and on the 19th
to the 22nd March.
4. Two summers ago, I was asked by members of the Catholic Heritage Commission if I could help in any way with the interpretation and signage at Scalan so on the 7thJune 2005, the day of the annual Mass I made my way up to Scalan where I met with Cannon Brian Halloran, Mgr. John McIntyre and Fr. Jim Thomson. A note in my diary reminds me that it was the warmest day recorded that year and I felt really privileged to be there as two previous attempts to visit had been abandoned due to poor weather conditions.
readers would like to purchase a booklet please write to the Editor S. Toovey, Chapel
6 I am endeavouring to write a series of articles on anyone who was associated with Scalan Seminary from the day it opened to the day it closed. I am appealing for information on masters, students, housekeepers and farmers etc. In fact anything to help build up a picture of life at Scalan in the Seminary and surrounding area. No matter how small it will all help. If you do not want me to name names I will respect your wishes.
Very many thanks, Editor
Scalan Seminary to the Clash
I do hope you enjoyed your visit to Scalan, a peaceful place with its own unique atmosphere. Numerous visitors have commented on how welcoming the old college is.
If you wish to follow the track to the Clash it will take about thirty minutes each way. Up to about 80 years ago this area was inhabited and those wishing to attend Mass would probably have walked the same route as you will be taking. Abbé Paul McPhersons father farmed in the Scalan area and Paul was born in their croft in 1756. His uncle John McPherson farmed at the Clash.
Leave Scalan and turn left at the ruin. In the summer the tops of the walls are a mass of tiny yellow flowers with even smaller reddish scale-like leaves. These plants are members of the large Sedum family. Garden centres sell various Sedums as rock plants but none are as delicate as those growing at Scalan.
Beware of the stinging nettles growing profusely in the rich soil. These are a particularly vicious variety waiting to sting those who venture too close. The caterpillars of the small tortoiseshell butterfly find them a tasty meal. These butterflies hibernate in nooks and crannies in old buildings and on warm sunny days in April wake up and head for the nettles to lay their eggs. These pretty little butterflies have followed this routine for generations, long before Scalan. The Red Admirals also use the nettles to lay their eggs and feed their caterpillars when they arrive from the continent.
Note the walled enclosure at the rear of the ruin, a pen for animals or a walled garden? Who knows? Pass between two posts and in the bend of the river are the remains of a building, croft or barn. Cross the Crombie by means of the two wooden sleepers, a Glenlivet Estate sign will point you to the track. It is a bit rough mainly because of the many little streams crossing it on their way to join the Crombie on your right
The ground on either side is high level moorland where red and black Grouse can be seen. When disturbed they take flight cackling and screeching, a unique sound. The track is gated to prevent vehicular access but there is an easy stile to the left, accessible to humans and dogs.
Look to your right and you will see a fenced and gated enclosure containing birch and eared willow (Salix Aurita). The latter is often found in upland areas where the ground tends to be wet and acidic. This area has been fenced to encourage regeneration. Looking towards Little Tom (hill) are the ruins of Wester Scalan crofts, one stands alone and close by are two crofts or one croft and one barn. To your left, (in line with the larger building) and back from the track are the remains of a sheep fank; a walled enclosure, and ahead you can see a group of windswept larches. You have reached The Clash. The stream crossing the track used to feed the concrete sheep dipper unused for about twenty years; it now houses fence posts and the occasional rabbit. The modern wooden building is used by the shooting tenant and his guests.
On your right are the remains of The Clash House also known locally as the Drovers. In the 19th century sheep and cattle would have passed here on their way to southern markets; the route would have been via The Ladder or the Lecht. A similar route was followed by the whisky smugglers. Illegally distilled whisky was carried in stone jars known as grey ladies (not grey in colour) slung from the saddles of sure-footed pack horses. The spirit was transported during the hours of darkness to evade the excise men
A short step down to the Crombie takes you to a stone bridge, look down into the water and you may see on the river bed a glint of gold fools gold. Turn left and follow the river, it narrows quite quickly and you can cross and re-cross.
Note the healthy juniper bushes which give shelter to rabbits, hares and roe deer. You can see brown hares all the year round but in the winter white hare are predominant ; these turn grey in summer and are hard to spot. Pass the ford and there is an old lime kiln which gives shelter for many ferns. Eventually you reach the remains of a building built into the right bank, this was a summer sheiling (a temporary structure built to provide shelter for those who grazed cattle in the summer). This is the last sign of habitation and a good place to turn back.
As you retrace your steps, give a thought to those hardy people who lived and worked in the harshest of conditions with no electric or running water. How they must have dreaded the onset of winter and prayed for the warmth of summer, when the walk to Mass at Scalan would have been a joy.
The ruined crofts are a memorial to those who endured so much to make a living from the land.
Very Rev. Canon Brian Halloran
James, 17, The Scores,
Tel. 01334 472856
Treasurer and Membership Secretary:
Mrs Jane McEwan
Ogilvie Cottage, Gallowhill, Glenlivet AB37 9DL
Tel 01807 590340
All correspondence regarding the Association should be directed to Mrs Jane McEwan
Rev. Michael Briody,
Tel. 01236 872537
Mrs Sylvia Toovey, Miss Ann Dean, Mrs Elizabeth Beaton.
This is your newsletter and the committee would welcome your ideas, views and news. Correspondence can be sent to Sylvia Toovey, Chapel House, Chapeltown of Glenlivet, Ballindalloch. AB37 9JS. Tel. 01807 590295 Emails. email@example.com
Those who put their trust in the Lord
That stands for ever
So the Lord surrounds his people
Both now and forever.
Psalm124 verses 1 & 2
Copies of photos used may be obtained from the editor with a donation to The Scalan Association. Please state size (up to A4)