No. 17, December 1998
'The time by the goodness of God will come, when the Catholic religion will again flourish in Scotland; and then, when posterity shall enquire, with a laudable curiosity, by what means any sparks of the true faith were preserved in these dismal times of darkness and error, Scalan and the other colleges will be mentioned with veneration, and all that can be learned concerning them will be recorded with care ... ' (Rev. John Geddes, Rector of Scalan 1762-65)
The Cltapel, and Residence of Bisltop Hayi in Blackfriars Wynd.
This year's Scalan Mass was as well attended as ever although the sky was overcast after rain. Bishop Conti kept one eye on the clouds and cut his homily short. Those who make the journey to Glenlivet in the cheerful, determined spirit of pilgrimage do not mind a bit of hardship, but it is nice when the sun shines. People linger then, and sometimes picnic, instead of beating a retreat to the warmth of cars and buses.
One man missing from what has become a fairly familiar line-up of concelebrating clergy was Canon Charles McGregor, still quite healthy then but preparing for a hospital visit. An obituary is included on p. 21. He was a colourful character in all ways, and never more so than when wearing the African stole given to him as Secretary of SCIAF. A first-time visitor to Scalan, representing that worldwide Catholicity, was Fr Grzegorz Wita from Poland. He came with Mrs Margaret Call who is Pastoral Assistant in residence at Aberdeen's Holy Family Church. As Fr Briody emphasised in his 1997 homily, Scalan is about vocations. The fact that these now take new forms was underlined by the presence of two of the Aberdeen Diocese's seven married Deacons, Bill Joss of the Cathedral and Paul Lippock from Tain.
The Diocesan Youth Officer, newly appointed and living at Inverness, is Marie Cook. A group of young people were with her at the St Michael Centre, Tomintoul, and some acted as Readers at Scalan and brought up the Offertory. Afterwards they toured the building and responded eagerly to Mgr Copland's stories of seminary days. There is now talk of them coming back next year to repair the track from Eskemulloch. A plan to walk over from the Well of the Lecht with the piper was abandoned this year due to lack of proper footwear, but we will try again - perhaps even mark out the track so that it can be tramped back into place by young feet.
The next phase of the restoration project is described in the report which follows. Plain, clean and (as far as possible) authentic decoration is what the architect Marion Donald has in mind. Once the work which she proposes is complete the former uses of different rooms will be made clear, perhaps with some of the Monsignor's stories as well. A member asks on p. 9 how much the final phase will cost and how that relates to the funds available: 'Much more than we have in the bank' is the short answer, and at the last Committee Meeting the feeling was that the work would have to be paid for in stages, starting with the ground floor.
The contents of this issue are on the one hand closely focused on Scalan and the Association and on the other quite wide-ranging. West coast 'Scalans' come into the picture as previously, but there is also a new southern dimension including England. Why stop at that if it's relevant - or even just interesting? Perhaps some members would like to make comparisons with twentieth century seminary life in Poland. The picture opposite shows the Edinburgh end of the Scottish Mission where the third bishop lived. It is one of the few illustrations which are not the work of Ann Dean. Anson-like, she has surpassed herself with more drawings than ever.
Internal Refurbishment at the Scalan
The Castlegate Design GroupOverview points from the Report submitted on 2 June 1998 with details on parts of the ground floor: more in the next issue.
Generally, the intention should be to conserve the interior of the Scalan as it exists. The history of this building should be allowed to 'speak for itself', indicating where changes from the seminary period have occurred and ensuring that fragments from that time are carefully conserved. What evidence is left of eighteenth or early nineteenth century wallpaper should be carefully protected and left on view. Similarly, an area of the round post and woven wood partition could be exposed, protected with a translucent material. Also, evidence of any inappropriate twentieth century work such as the pointing work carried out during the 1980s should be removed. The preferred method would be to pick out and repoint with lime mortar; however, lime plastering on the hard would be an acceptable alternative. This work would have to be carried out by specialist contractors.
In the course of the remedial works to the external walls and the stiffening of the first floor, some damage was caused to the internal fabric of the building. All damaged lath and plaster work should be re-instated. To facilitate his works, the contractor removed the Entrance Hall/Library partition which formed the side wall to a former box bed. This should be reinstated.
During the course of the first phase remedial work carried out to the ground floor at rear, a damp proof membrane was laid on blinding under a concrete subfloor with the intention of future reinstatement of the paved finish with secondhand paving stones to match the existing ground floor.
It is recommended that works be carried out as follows:
The first floor exposed joists and underside of the original flooring which form the 'ceiling' to the principal ground floor rooms should be left in their present state and untreated,
Nineteenth century woodwork should be painted: colours to match existing
Twentieth century woodwork should be waxed whilst new wood should be cleaned and varnished.
New windows should be cleaned and waxed on all internal faces.
cmboards should be provided where indicated - all to match detail at front window cill in Dining Room.
All lath and plaster work to be reinstated with larch laths and lime plaster.
Finishes to be distemper: colour white the intention being to restore/ conserve what we know to have been there. Use white to set this off.
First floor finish throughout to be secondhand flooring to match original with ex 50 by 100mm Douglas Fir nosings as per original.
GROUND FLOOR PLAN
Door to stair to be refurbished - stripped and waxed.
Area of walling to be repaired / patched rubbed down and finished with white distemper and provided with a skirting board.
Front and rear elevations in the original report, along with photos.
Cillboard to be provided to window.
Strip and paint door and frame: specifications to be provided.
Partition should be re-instated to form Library box bed. Timber stud with timber lath and lime plaster finished with distemper.
Stonework to be picked out and repainted with lime mortar.
Dooks to be left and wall unfinished to show original construction method.
Stonework to be picked out and repainted with lime mortar.
Ceiling: joists and underside original floor boards to be left untouched.
Front/ west wall: Cupboard doors and frames and facings to be stripped, waxed and re-hung, and shelving to be reinstated.
North wall: Where temporary patching has been carried out this should be removed and re-plastered with white distemper. Doors to be stripped and waxed. Repair floor cill nosing.
South wall: The fireplace sway is to be retained. It should be taken down, wire-brush cleaned, treated with zinc primer, 2 packs epoxy-based paint, two top coats polyester - or gloss paint.
The rest of the ground floor recommendations, along with those for the first floor and attic, will appear in the June issue.
In conclusion, it is recommended that the remedial works identified in the preceding pages be carried out under contract with a recognised and reputable specialist conservation contractor. The nature of these works is such that it is likely that the contractors invited to tender would only be prepared to do so on a 'day works' basis. It is therefore further recommended that on this phase of the work, in order that the contractor's claims can best be monitored, measured and quantified, the Scalan Association give serious consideration to engaging a Quantity Surveyor to work alongside the Architects.
'The Shop' in 1726
The following extract is taken from a letter written in December1726 by the founder of Scalan, Bishop James Gordon, to Thomas Innes at the Scots College in Paris. 'Independent companies', of which the best known became the Black Watch regiment, were paid by the Hanoverian government. 'M. Fife' is a cipher name for Bishop Cordon: the whole passage gives an idea of the need for secrecy in case letters were opened.
A good number of the Indepdt compYs were sent up& down in several countrys [districts], & wander'd through them for about a fortnight together. A party went by orders to S .... n, & threatn'd to lodge thereabout all winter & to send some of their number every other day; & as the storm had been foreseen all who used to stay there had scatter'd. After some weeks M. Fife made the prentS [apprentices, or students] return, & sometimes the shopkeeper [superior] was with them.
They are still threatn'd, but especially he [Alexander Grant];& there is never quiet because of the restless and unrelenting malice of the p s [preachers], who clamour without end & make the CaptS, in spite of them [selves] in a manner, strive to do mischief. I know M. Fife by M. Burtons [Duke of Cordon] means has such credit that he hopes to keep the shop up still; tho it will be necessary to use many shifts, & especially to make the shopkeeper live there and thereabout as much incog[nito] as possible. And I believe that if no other body could stay there to help prentS, he could do it more safely himself than any other because of the greater regard would be had to him by those chiefly who could do hurt.
Early Days in the Scalan Association
As most readers will know, the Scalan Association came into being more than half a century ago mainly through the efforts of three clergymen: Mgr Sandy MacWilliam (parish priest at Chapeltown); Mgr David McRoberts (who lectured to Church students at St Peter's Bearsden); and Canon Peter Bonnyman (parish priest at St Mary's Abercrombie Street in Glasgow). What else is known about the early days? From documents held in the Scottish Catholic Archives in Edinburgh one fact to emerge is that the Scalan Association was formally constituted on 10 November 1948 in the Diocesan Centre at 14 Newton Place, Glasgow. The Association is now - officially - fifty years old.
The Association's history began through the friendship of three men. Peter Bonnyman was the oldest by some way but he was close to the McWilliam family in Buckie. Press cuttings have survived from May 1946 with headings like 'Scots Catholics to Buy Pioneer Seminary' and 'Farmhouse Seminary to be Pilgrimage Centre'. Reporters made basic errors like 1713 for the date when 'Scalin' was founded. One even confused it with Clochan, perhaps because the 'tall, genial' Peter Bonnyman was born there.
Another report used a drawing by Peter Anson, who had attracted attention to the state of the building when he came to Glenlivet in 1934 as a 'Caravan Pilgrim'. In the summer of 1946 he went back there to make a series of drawings: 'Owing to almost incessant rain the morning I was on this job I could only measure up the interior.' He was consulted about a leaflet produced by John S. Burns Ltd. in Glasgow, and replied to Fr McRoberts in typically frank terms: 'The Scalan Association leaflet reads very well. Fr Sandy MacWilliam had already sent me the original MS and asked for suggestions. I had none to make. It is a pity that Burns has messed up the printing. The Gothic fount used for "A Scalan Association" is silly: there is nothing medieval about Scalan!'
Anson had other criticisms to make about the look of what was sent out urging people to join' an association of priests and interested layfolks'. 135 returned tear-off slips have been preserved. Although the leaflet said that Crown Estates were willing to sell Scalan to 'the Scottish Clergy'( unordained men and women also joined including Josephine Small of Glasgow who had spent holidays with her grand aunt at Wester Scalan: 'Alas! the little house on the top of the hill is now a ruin and I would not like to think the other Scalan would follow suit.'
The leaflet contained lyrical passages. Scalan, 'on holy ground', was described as 'the keystone of Catholicism in Scotland during the disastrous eighteenth century'. After quoting the words which regularly appear on the front of Scalan News, Fr MacWilliam went on: 'By the goodness of God the time foreseenby Bishop Geddes has come, the Catholic Religion again flourishes in Scotland, and it would ill become us to allow this precious monument of penal times to fall into ruin and disappear. A little exertion and financial effort will ensure its preservation as a memorial of the courageous past and as an inspiration for the future.'
Fr McRoberts was made responsible, as interim Treasurer, for the money which came in for the 'purchase, restoration and preservation' of Scalan. Subscribers were offered the choice of becoming Benefactors, for gifts of £10 or more, Life Members at £5, or Ordinary Members on the basis of smaller, unspecified sums. No mention of a regular subscription appeared in the leaflet, but an annual 5/ - was agreed at the 1948 meeting.
Among the Benefactors was the Hon. Laura Fraser, Viscountess Encombe of Horsey Hall, Great Yarmouth, who wrote: 'Father Colin Grant - later for a very short period Bishop of Aberdeen - was my family's chaplain at Beaufort Castle [near Beauly] for many, many years. He came from Glenlivet [actually Glengairn] and we were brought up on stories about Scanlan. I feared from what I heard 2 or 3 years ago that everything was going to rack and ruin.'
A Series of Delays
The November 1948 meeting which set up the Association was announced in the Scottish Catholic Observer with reference made to 'a series of delays, due to unforeseen circumstances.' The most recent of these was the death of Canon Bonnyman in August. He had been named as Chairman of the Interim Committee and was to have chaired the meeting - Canon George Stuart took his place. Fr MacWilliam's departure from Glenlivet to Aberdeen as Secretary to the newly-consecrated Bishop Matheson also delayed things. Meanwhile Fr McRoberts had moved with staff and students from Bearsden, after a fire there in May 1946, to Darleith and then Coia's Cardross on the Firt~ of Clyde.
Pull it Down and Build Afresh
Funds available after expenses∑ at 4 August 1946 had been £74615s 5d. The building and land immediately round it were soon purchased for the very reasonable price of £50, but restoration and preservation were always liable to cost a great deal more. On 8 July 1949 the builder Alexander Hall of Midstocket Road in Aberdeen made a site inspection and reported to the Association's architect lan Lindsey:
'I am doubtful if it is worth spending any money at all on the building. As you say, the south gable is cracked from top to bottom and will require to be rebuilt. The north gable has got a bad crack in it, as has the mutual wall on both sides of the fireplace. The walls do not appear to have a foundation and have no damp course ... The harling has nearly all gone, allowing the weather to get into the lime of the walls, and the damp has come through throwing off the plaster from the inside. The whole building is deteriorating ... It would cost about £250 to rebuild the south gable ... but further expenditure would be required after a few years ... Unless the building has very strong historic interests, it certainly would be more economical to pull it down and build afresh.'
Lindsey (who lived at Uphall, West Lothian) copied this letter to Fr McRoberts, on vacation nearby at Longriggend in Lanarkshire, adding: 'Hall is not very hopeful about the place, 1 am afraid, but 1 am doubtful if 1. he realises the great historical importance, and 2. the fact that you do not wish it done up as a modern house with all conveniences, more as a camping place in as much of its original condition as possible. After 1 have had a talk with him 1 .
may have a bit more to report. 1 may say that I am by no means convinced that it is in as bad a state as all that!' The architect's advice was preferred, and the building made safe for another forty years or so by means of fresh harling, cement applied to the cracked south gable, and concrete buttresses to support the front wall.
At this time a fair number of people were still living around Scalan. Robbie Lamb, who farmed nearby at Fuerandearg and was the 'voice' of the Braes in the local press, took a keen interest. On the basis of a letter sent to him on 28 September 1950, it appears that local suspicions had been aroused. A protest sent to Fr McWilliam in Aberdeen was passed on (like a hot potato!) to his successor as Secretary. Fr McRoberts chose his words with care: 'I am not aware that anyone had applied to the Scalan Association for any permission whatsoever to occupy or use in any way the buildings at Scalan: certainly no permission has been given by the committee to any person to occupy or use the house ...
'I sincerely regret if the impression has been given that the committee do not properly appreciate your surveillance of the property. If we show apparent lack of concern and do not report projects and "schemes", it is unfortunately because we have not been able to do much since we took over (apart from repairing the gable and putting the roof and harling in order, about all of which Father MacWilliam notified you). The truth is that the removal of Father MacWilliam from the Braes to Aberdeen upset our plans, and now we are again held up until the See of Aberdeen is filled. [Bishop Matheson died in July 1950. Born at Tomintoul, he was related to the Mathesons of Scalan.l Once a new bishop is appointed we will be able to move forward again and you will be kept informed of all developments.'
(To be continued)
The following poem was passed to the editor by Bill Grant of Nether Clashnoir, who is on the Scalan Committee and who represented the area for a number of years on Grampian Regional Council. It serves as a reminder that the 'Whisky Roadie' went past Scalan.
Glenlivet it has castles three,
Drumin, Blairfindy and Deskie,
And also one Distillery
More famous than the castles three.
Glenlivet it has peaty hills
And rushing burns and sparkling rills,
Where scores of wee unlicensed stills
Were busy filling kegs and gills.
Glenlivet it has raised its name
To shine upon the brow of fame,
And neighbours near and distant claim
A right to profit by the same.
Glenlivet has a Gallowhill,
Where on the hangman plied his skill,
But though the name suggests it still,
No culprit does the gallows fill.
Writing to Scalan News certainly produces results. I'm delighted to report that since I last wrote I'm now the proud owner of three books by Peter F. Anson, A Caravan Pilgrim, Fisher Folk Lore, and A Monastery in Moray. This has come about thanks to another reader, Dr D. F. McNamee of Elgin, who kindly gifted these books to me.
Although Caravan Pilgrim doesn't contain any drawings of Scalan his description is interesting, commenting on the first ordinations in 1725 and Bishop Hay's episcopal consecration in 1769. He goes on to say, 'It is sad to find this venerable sanctuary in such a neglected state. For over a century it has been used as a farm, and its present condition is a reproach to its owners. It is a pity that Scalan cannot be purchased by the Scottish bishops and put to a better use.' I think we can assume that Peter Anson would be very pleased with Scalan today.
Kathy Moar, Mosstodloch.
Readers may recall Kathy Moar asking for information on books by Peter Anson in the last issue. At the Scalan Mass in July Fr Eddy McGhee spoke about the responsibility he had been given a number of years ago of taking a collection0 f Anson books to the Abbey of Nunraw near Haddington.
I have just read 'The Golden Ocean', Patrick O'Brian's first sea novel which has recently been reissued in paperback. It describes Commodore (as he then was) George Anson's circumnavigation of the globe in the 1740s. Since many of Peter Anson's books and illustrations are connected with the sea, I found myself wondering if he was descended from Admiral Lord Anson.
John Dinwoodie, Edinburgh.
The short answer is yes. In his 'Harbour Head: Maritime Memories' Anson denied that he came from a 'great naval family', but seems to have meant by this that his father who navigated the royal yacht under the future George V and became the Admiral in charge of Chatham dockyard was not a hero. Anson was closer to his artistic Scots mother who died when he was fourteen. The Commodore had no children but was succeeded by a nephew who took his name, and Peter Anson was descended from him.
Can you tell me how much it will cost to complete the renovation work at Scalan? Are the Association's funds sufficient for this purpose? If not how much more will be required?
I have been told by the Scottish Charities Office that the Association is not registered as a charity. Has the Association considered the advantage of being so registered, and of having a life membership which would be paid in one of the ways approved by the tax regulations specifically to benefit charities.
Malachi F. B. Mulligan, Aberdeen.
The Castlegate Design Group report partly summarised in this issue goes some way to answer the first question. The suggestion of a life membership has been passed on to our Treasurer Jane McEwan. Ann Dean's letter about Gift Aid in the December 1996 issue makes it clear that the Scalan Association is a registered charity.
I have compiled a family tree of my forebears the Grants of Corrunich, and hope that readers may have additional information. Before moving to the Braes of Glenlivet Duncan Grant (17681838) and his brother Alexander (17821861) were in the Braes of Abernethy. Duncan, my g-g-grandfather, married Mary White (1769-1850) of Corrunich and Alexander married her sister Margaret. Next to a Grant stone in the cemetery at Chapeltown is one which commemorates Duncan and Mary White. Duncan and Mary Grant had a son Alexander (1804-86), who in due course married Ann (surname unknown, 1820-1902). They had twelve children, all born at Corrunich.
Their oldest child Robert, b. 1845, died in Aberdeen aged about thirty. In the next generation a John Grant (18891961) emigrated to Canada in 1909 and, as a carpenter, helped to build St Edmund's Church in Vancouver. His sister married a Peter Comey and one of their sons, a priest, has been to Glenlivet more than once recently in search of his roots.
I am descended from the tenth child of that large family at Corrunich. My grandfather Peter Grant (1862-1920) married Isabella Rattary (1870-1932) at Kirkmichael in Strathavon. They had seven children between 1898 and 1916, the oldest born at Towie, Strathdon, before the couple moved to the farm of Wester Clova near Kildrummy. The family went north to Kinkell Castle, Conan Bridge, about 1910, and my father James Grant was born there.
James Grant, Nuneaton.
More information about this generation in particular (including Annie and Jessie Grant, who ran hotels at Forres and Forth Street, Edinburgh) is available at the Ogilvie Centre in Aberdeen - full address for editorial correspondence inside back cover.
Members of the Scalan Association may be interested to hear about the Friends of Padley. In the Peak District between the villages of Hathersage and Grindleford there is an old chapel which goes under the name of Padley Manor Gatehouse and Martyrs' Shrine. In 1588, the year of the Spanish Armada, two priests Nicholas Garlick and Robert Ludlam were arrested there. They had been sheltered by John Fitzherbert, who was taken first to Derby and then to the Fleet Prison in London, where he died of gaol fever. His brother Sir Thomas spent many years in prison before dying in the Tower of London. The priests were hanged drawn and quartered at S t Mary's Bridge, Derby.
The Chapel is open on Wednesday and Sunday afternoons from Easter to the end of September, and there is an annual pilgrimage to Padley - this year on 12 July. As it says in the brochure, 'No-one can come here and depart uninspired by the place, so full of the atmosphere of English men and women who looked upon the Catholic Faith as a pearl of great price for which they were prepared to pay all.'
One day I hope to come to Scalan. I am both Secretary and Treasurer (like Jane McEwan) if anyone would like to join the Friends of Padley. I know there are quite a number of 'Scalanites' living in England.
Mrs B. M. Smith, Sunnyside, Joan Lane, Bamford, Hope Valley, Derbyshire S33 OAW.
As with the Scalan Association the minimum annual subscription is £5, but life membership is available for £50. 'Padley Chapel Account' on cheques.
Can anyone help me find out more about my great-grand-uncle Donald Carmichael who lived in Tomintoul around 1845? He was a carpenter, married to the daughter of a ploughman John Gordon of Scalan, and their nine children were baptised by a namesake Fr Donald Carmichael who built the present church (my g-g-uncle was bursar) over the shambles of the previous 40-year-old crumbling edifice.
Before being moving to Tomintoul at the age of 26 he worked in the Braes district round Scalan. Then when Fr Carmichael was appointed Procurator of Blairs College he took my g-g-uncle and family with him. At least three of the children (two of whom became priests) were born in the porter's lodge on the main road to Aberdeen. I myself was at Blairs College for a period before becoming a Brother of the Redemptorist Congregation, but was never aware that I passed a Carmichael threshold.
I'm intrigued by this joker in the pack, and wonder if there is any connection between the Tomintoul parish priest and my family which originated in Angus. On a bus tour one time I took advantage of visiting the church, and saw in the main street a carpenter's building with a date etched in the stone which was later than when my relations left for Blairs. Was there an older carpenter's shop on the site?
Brother Pius CSsR, Kinnoull.
Can this carpenter have worked on St Michael's 'over the shambles of the previous 40-year-old crumbling edifice '? Fr Carmichael the fund-raiser appears vividly enough in ScN 13 ('Of Moles and Men') but his first chapel was at Cults 'at the lower end of the village still called the priest's house'.
May I appeal to any of your readers who may have any information about Cardinal Heard, whose visit to Scalan with Bishop Scanlan of Motherwell and the Rector of Blairs was so amusingly described by John Gallacher in the June 1995 issue of Scalan News? I am compiling a biographical essay about him.
William Theodore Heard was the Scottish-born son of an ordained Anglican clergyman who was headmaster of Tony Blair's old school, Fettes College in Edinburgh. He went to Oxford, took part in the 1907 Boat Race, became a Catholic and sought ordination before going on to obtain a triple doctorate DD, DCI and Ph.D. - each summa cum laude and all done within three years of his ordination. He served as Dean of the Sacred Roman Congregation before being named cardinal, taking an active part in the Second Vatican Council.
Hugh McLoughlin, 24 Russell Street, Mossend, Bellshill, ML4 105.
A Scalan Altarpiece and its Donor
The end cover of Scalan News 9 (1994) did not carry a map, for once. Instead it was used to publicise an article by Ann Dean and Michael Taitt entitled 'Scalan Reconstructed'. A page from the article was reproduced on the cover, and it referred to a painting which Bishop George Hay asked his coadjutor bishop John Geddes to send up from the Blackfriars Wynd chapel off Edinburgh's High Street (see the frontispiece to this issue): 'I am at a loss for a good altar piece to our new Chappel at Scalan; & could think of none so stricking & proper as an Ecce Homo I got a present of from Lady Chalmers,& which I had upon the altar in the little closet of the back chapel in the old house.'
The new Scalan chapel, created in 1788 out of what had been the kitchen, was not the upstairs chapel where Bishop Hay had been consecrated in 1769, but the extension which became a ruin about fifty years ago. The walls have recently been made safe on behalf of the Scalan Association by Hugh Drysdale, a dyker from Dumfriesshire. After Scalan closed the chapel building was home first to Bishop Cameron's sister and finally to a shoemaker's family, the last member of which moved out when the heather-thatched roof began to collapse at the College end. This Henrietta or Rita McHardy was an elegant lady in old age, according to Isobel Grant, and was known as 'the Duchess' at Nazareth House in Aberdeen.
What is an Ecce Homo altarpiece?
When Christ was brought back to Pilate after being scourged and crowned with thorns, the Roman Governor showed him to the supporters of Caiaphas, hoping to touch their hearts. Pilate said 'Behold the man!' (or 'Ecce homo' in Latin) and offered to release him, but the reply came back: 'Not this man but Barabbas. Crucify him!' Geddes agreed to send up the painting, though he regretted parting with it.
It was with his back to the Ecce Homo altarpiece (and a large wooden tabernacle almost five feet high) that Bishop Geddes, vested and ready for Mass at Michaelmas 1793, told his Braes congregation that they would have to go to the public chapel at Kanakyle near Tombae. His body had finally yielded to the strain of epic walking tours to serve the scattered Catholics of Scotland, the last of them 600 miles to Orkney and back, and Geddes was experiencing an attack of the crippling paralysis which never left him until his death, six years later, in Aberdeen's Castlegate chapel house. As people took in his announcement, some may have compared their old friend (who had come from Shenval across the Ladder Hills to build the first stone and-lime college almost thirty years before) to the suffering Christ and thought, 'Look at the poor man!'
Ecce Homo for Sale
A painting offered for sale at Fort Augustus Abbey on 18 September 1998 was described in the catalogue as 'Italian School, 18th/19th Century, Oil on panel, "Ecce Homo - Christ Crowned with Thorns", 36.8 ems. by 29.2 ems.' Could it have been the one which Geddes reluctantly agreed to send up? There is a considerable gap between the closure of Scalan and 1870, when Fr Anselm Robertson, the last Benedictine monk of Ratisbon in Bavaria, helped to found the new community of Fort Augustus. The Abbey acquired religious art from members of the aristocracy who sent their sons to school there.
It is rather unlikely that a painting which should have gone to Aquhorties with the Scalan students in 1799 would have ended up at Fort Augustus, but Ann Dean's article in the last issue highlighted the friendship between George Hay and the Leslies whom he visited at Fetternear, and who leased Aquhorties to the Church. This might have led to the Seal an Ecce Homo being hung in Fetternear House, perhaps in the domestic chapel. Even so, the destination of Leslie paintings, vestments and other religious objects has generally been Blairs College. For the Ecce Homo put up for sale to have been the one in question it would be necessary to show that the Leslies were also benefactors of Fort Augustus Abbey. Still, the illustration gives an idea of what the painting might have been like, and it sent me off in search of the donor.
In the Scottish Catholic Archives there are only three letters written by Lady Chalmers, all sent from York in 1783 to Bishop Geddes at Dickson's Close in Edinburgh. She explained to him that her husband was now in Portsmouth, but she was unable to join him because of the cost of setting up a household. Sir George asked her to say that he was much in need of being remembered in the daily intentions of Geddes and Hay, since he was often unable to cross the bay to Gosport for 'Prayers', i.e., Mass. His fortunes were in decline, apparently, and the couple had just given up their home in Hull.
Lady Chalmers went directly from there to visit herI dear little girle' in York, before spending two months with 'good Mr Constable and Lady W.' at Everingham, a mansion thirteen miles south-east of the city. In March 1934 Peter Anson's caravan was wending its way through the East Riding of Yorkshire. He sketched at Houghton Hall, where Langdales kept the faith, before being impressed by still greater ecclesiastical glory: 'An even more magnificent chapel is to be found at Everingham, the seat of the Constable family. It is almost impossible to convey in a small drawing the rich and costly decorations of the interior of this chapel, with its fluted Corinthian columns of marble, elaborate brass work and sculpture.' Three months later Anson was at Scalan.
Sir George Chalmers and his wife had earlier belonged to the community which worshipped at Blackfriars Wynd. The first Keeper of the Scottish Catholic Archives, Fr William James Anderson, found out that on 4 July 1768 Sir George Chalmers married Isabella daughter of John Anderson, Esq., 'historical and portrait painter' in Edinburgh. Sir George was himself an 'eminent painter'. It is thus quite possible that the Ecce Homo altarpiece was painted by the husband or father of Lady Chalmers. Sir George was a native of Edinburgh although his baronetcy derived from a Chalmers of Cults on Deeside, near Aberdeen, who was knighted soon after the Restoration of Charles 11. The couple had only one child, a daughter christened lsabella Agnes Mary in 1771, who was enrolled as a pupil, aged six, at the Bar Convent school in York. Fr Anderson ended his survey of the evidence by noting that Sir George claimed to be ' a landless baronet, the story being that the land had been lost through Jacobitism,' in other words support for the royal Stuarts in exile.
The White Cockade
The 'Lady W.' of the letter quoted above was Lady Winifrede Maxwell Constable, the daughter and heir of Lord William Maxwell who grew up in the family home of Terregles near Dumfries. The family was steeped in the history of the Stuarts, and the treasures at Everingham Park included 'the Beads with relic of the Holy Cross', a present from Mary Queen of Scots after the defeat of her forces at Langside in 1568. Before crossing into England Mary also left with the Maxwells a set of embroidered reins which she had made for the future James VI whom she last saw (ever) as a babe in arms.
Lady Winifrede also inherited a portrait of her grandfather the fifth Earl of Nithsdale, who was rescued from the Tower of London on the eve of execution by his wife (Lady W's grandmother) whose portrait is also at Everingham. When coaches could take her no further south than York, in December 1715, Lady Nithsdale continued on horseback through deep snow with two servants, eventually rescuing her husband from the Tower in woman's clothing. Despite having £2,000 placed on her own head, she returned to Scotland, transferring the property deeds to her sister-in-law at Traquair so as to make their son's inheritance safe. She survived a miscarriage while crossing the Channel and was nursed back to health at Bruges in the Convent of the English Augustinians, where her sister Lady Lucy Herbert was prioress. The English Convent has always accepted sisters from Scotland, including Rose Mary Forbes of Rothiemay (Sister Mary Bede - see Mary Harding's article in ScNI5.)
Lady Winifrede brought the Maxwell estates to her marriage with William Constable of Everingham in 1758. He was very tall, and little 'Lady Winny' was at first 'much startled at the prodigious size of her suitor.' This giant had even closer connections with the Jacobite movement than his wife, if Henrietta Tayler is correct in identifying him with a man who was prominent in the aftermath of the 'Forty-five. The chaplain to the Paris house of English Augustinian Sisters (next door to the Scots College which received students from Scalan) sent news of the Prince's safe arrival from Scotland to a colleague in Ghent. The graphic account of his six weeks in the heather after Culloden, as unfolded to the French Court at Fontainbleau, reached the chaplain 'imediately from Mr Cunstable's own mouth, and he imediately from ye Prince.'
There is no space here to follow up family relationships and Jacobite connections on both sides of the Border, all more or less to do with Lady Chalmers. However Alasdair Roberts' article on Mortlach and his follow-up comment on Gibston [ScN 15,16] justify mentioning one particular link between Y orkshire and north-east Scotland. In the final years of the Scalan seminary, especially when a move to the Lowlands was being planned, Gibston on the other side of the Binn Hill from Mortlach became a regular meetingplace for the bishops and senior clergy - partly because Seal an was becoming too crowded.
Earlier, when the Rev. Charles Maxwell was attempting to build himself a house at Boghead of Gibston near Huntly, where he served the Robieston chapel[see back cover], he was advised by Bishop Hay to apply for money to Mr Constable. 'Squire' Constable (as he appears in Hay's financial records) had been supporting the Scottish Mission with charitable grants since Hay first approached him in the year of his consecration at Scalan. Charles Maxwell was related to him through marriage and both had a link with Terregles, so it may be presumed that Everingham money helped to pay for the house which is now a roofless ruin west of Huntly. Since finance dominated the agenda of these annual meetings it is appropriate that Charles Maxwell should have become Procurator (or Treasurer) of the Mission when he moved in 1798 from Gibston to Blackfriars Wynd.
Postscript: 'Our Dear Girle'
Miss Mary Innes of Balnacraig on Deeside, a cousin of Lady Chalmers, entered the Bar Convent as a pupil in 1768 and went on to become 'a professed Nun' near Paris. Lady Chalmers, who as it turned out did not have long to live, went on: 'I am much mortified that from the misfortunes Sir Georges has met with of late years, I am deprived of the Prospect of sending our dear girle abroad to finish her Education, wch from the time I became a mother I particularly wished for.' In February 1789 Isabella Chalmers wrote to Bishop Hay in a copperplate hand which did the Sisters credit. She made reference to her 'late' mother, and to the fact that she had lost touch with her' dear Father for whom I feel such anxiety, and the more so from not knowing what situation he may be in.' Isabella never left the Convent, apart from occasional visits to neighbouring country houses such as Everingham. At her death in 1830, aged fifty-nine, she was Reverend Mother Austin.
At a recent meeting of the Scottish Catholic Heritage Commission atGillis College in Edinburgh, the Mother Superior of the Institute of the Blessed Virgin Mary explained the financial difficulties which had been experienced by the Bar Convent since it became a heritage centre. This was welcomed as useful advice in relation to a possible Scottish Catholic Heritage Trail, and to the future of Blairs as a museum.
Three years after Bishop Hay was consecrated at Scalan in 1769, he put together an account of funds available to the Scottish Mission. His predecessor in charge of the Lowland District, Alexander Smith, had died 'leaving his affairs in great confusion.' Much later Fr William O'Shaughnessy, a St Aloysius old boy who was priest at Girvan in 1890, put together a book out of Hay's shrewd analysis of money matters, being convinced that, in his day, 'the Scottish Church fritters away wastefully so many hundreds of pounds every . year' by giving every priest the same.
There is human interest in connection with 'Mr Dauley' - George Hay who was ordained Bishop of Daulisin partibus infidelium. By 1770 he had been able to raise £1573 12s 6d from English Catholic sources. After £900 of this had been assigned directly to clergy £300 was retained by Hay and by Bishop Alexander MacDonald of the Highland District. 'Of the remaining £73 12s 6d, the sum of £49 Is 9d was spent on M r Dauley's journey to Grisey [Scots College Paris] in Spring 1772, for the common concerns of the whole body, and the rest was spent in buying [vestments] and in providing some necessary medicines for Mr Dauley's headache.' His clergy sometimes found Bishop Hay irritable, but he (having studied medicine in youth) earned money for Scalan in maturity from Hay's Patent Pills.
Lewis Innes was in charge of the Scots College Paris for many years and sought to make up for his easy life there, and at the Stuart Court, by leaving money to the Scottish Mission. After ensuring that the souls of his parents would be permanently prayed for at Drumgesk (Deeside Rent) he assigned the remainder of his bequest to the Scalan Rent. The finance is complicated, but what emerges dearly is that there was not one Scalan but two: 'The same Mr Louis Innes, by his testament, left the yearly rent of 124 liv. 18 sols to help to maintain the Masters of Scalan. By this time each Vicar Apostolic had got his Scalan, and Mr Louis expressly orders this sum to be equally divided between the two Scalans. [When Bishop Hay wrote this the West Highland seminary was at Bourblach, looking across to the White Sands of Morar.] Hitherto, however, it had always been applied to East Scalan as, till the extract of Mr Louis's testament was sent home, nobody at present amongst us knew how the case stood.'
£. s. d.
Robbie Lamb and the Jacobites of Glenlivet
James Cameron Stuart
I was interested in Stuart Mitchell's article in the June issue of Scalan News relating to the men from Glenlivet who fought in the 1745 uprising. I recall sitting with Robbie Lamb in his house, Fuerandearg at Larryvarry, when he gave me a list of men he believed went from the Braes of Glenlivet area to Drummossie Muir to fight for Bonny Prince Charlie. As older local people will recall, Robbie was a great patriot and a highly intelligent man who wrote regularly for the press drawing attention to the depopulation of upland areas like his own.
A reading of the list, which is typed and dated 22.8.62, confirms several names mentioned in the June issue. I am glad to see that at least five Stuarts took to the field on that sad day for our Church and, ultimately, for the Highland way of life with its language and culture. The list is headed THE MEN WHO WENT FROM GLENLIVAT TO DRUMOSSIE MUlR (CULLODEN) TO FIGHT FOR PRINCE CHARLES EDW ARD STUART - 1746. The names and places follow:
Rev. Father John Tyrie, Bochel
John Allanoch, Merchant,
Clachmore James Bowie, Sovie [Suie], Glenlivat
Donald Fleming, Mill of Achdrignie (wounded)
Robert Fleming, Mill of Achdrignie
John Gauld, Achnasgra, Braes of Glenlivat
Thomas Gibenich, Scalan, Braes of Glenlivat
Alexander Gordon, Backside of Clachmore
Robert Gordon, Nether Clachmore
Alexander Grant, Calier
Alexander Grant, Backside of Clachmore
John Roy Grant, Demichmore
ColI MacDonald, Badivochal
James MacDonald, Badivochal
John MacKay, Merchant, Balno
Robert MacKay Nether Clachmore
George MacLaughlan, Calier
John MacLaughlan, Badivochal (labouring man - 69 years)
William MacLea, Sovie
Colin Moir, Badivochal
John Ross (Servant), Scalan Seminary
George Stuart, Badivochal
Peter Stuart, Badivochal
William Stuart, Clachmore
Williain Stuart, West Achavaich
. John Rattray, Balno
Robert Ross, Tomnalinan, Glenlivat
John Gordon (Ensign), Backside, Clachmore
by Robbie Lamb. Uandhu.
'Wha for Scotland's pride and law, Freedom's Sword would strongly draw'
West Scalan News
Since the name 'West Scalan' was used for Highland seminaries such as Eilean Ban and Bourblach, both in Morar, the title is right for a report from the West Highlands. This year's Annual Mass (following the previous one to Eilean Ban - ScN 14) was to have taken place in June at Romasaig near the head of Loch Morar, where the ruins of a TighPhobuill or people's Mass-house can still be seen.
The planned date was less than a week after five local fishermen were drowned, so the event was postponed to a Saturday in August when several boats (the only way of reaching this remote spot) sailed west up the loch.
Another voyage was described by Wendy Mackinnon in the monthly magazine WestWard: 'On Sunday 9th August the "Western Isles" set out on a memorable pilgrimage. The occasion, led by Father Michael Hutson of the Morar and Mallaig parish, marked the return of His Grace Archbishop Keith O'Brien, who had particularly enjoyed his visit to Canna last year. The purpose of the pilgrimage was to join the people of Canna at Mass in their House of Prayer and to participate in fund-raising for urgently needed repairs to its fabric. The journey out from Mallaig was thoroughly enjoyed by all - the rain stayed off, David MacDonald piped splendidly, and Father Michael conducted a choir practice on board.
A traditional cloutie dumpling, one of his culinary specialities, was passed round for its weight to be guessed. This particular dumpling was a joint effort since Archbishop O'Brien had assisted in mixing it.
After disembarking the party proceeded round the picturesque bay, passing the little Church of Scotland with its distinctive cylindrical tower and Mrs Campbell's house behind its high hedges of escallonia and hebe, cottage gardens bright with flowers and fields of oats thriving on Canna's fertile soil.[Mrs Campbell is the widow of the scholar John Lome Campbell and author of two marvellous books in her own right. The house contains the biggest Gaelic library in the Isles.] Others had crossed from Elgol in Skye to gather in the tiny House of Prayer. The charming little . church was packed, and the service conducted by the Archbishop particularly moving in the intimate atmosphere.
Afterwards there was a brilliant barbecue in a nearby barn, with a sumptuous buffet, a bar, a home-baking stall also selling lobsters and dressed crabs, raffles, a tombola, and a wheel of fortune which proved very popular. Once the raffle had been called, the cloutie dumpling won, and words said by Father Michael, Archbishop O'Brien and Neil MacKinnon, there was a walk up through the fields to see an ancient Celtic cross, and here the Archbishop referred to the secret island to which St Columba would retreat from Iona, and how this is often surmised to be Canna.'
Earlier in the year a photograph in Scotland on Sunday showed Fr Michael in St Cumin's Morar with his back untypically - to the congregation in order to show a blue chasuble decorated with pink and white flowers. According to the caption, it was 'said to have belonged to the French priest who accompanied the Bonnie Prince on his return to Scotland. The date 1745 is stitched into the helm and the people of Morar are battling to keep the elaborate relic where it is.' The Eight Men of Moidart who landed at Loch nan U amh did not include a clergyman, although the Prince is thought to have worn the uniform of the Scots College Paris (by another version that of a French abbe) and the 'battling' was an invention of the reporter who wrote:
'The elaborate silk robes may be a little threadbare now but that is hardly surprising for they were left behind after Culloden. They have been used since 1745, on occasion, with the local priest Fr Hutson wearing them for outdoor masses. "They have spedal place in the hearts of people living here," he says. Now that the well kept local secret is out, there is an obvious interest from a number of quarters. Deacon John Wood side, curator of the Catholic Church's Blairs Museum, is keen to see them become part of a religious heritage trail round the north west coast and east side of Scotland. A lock of Bonnie Prince Charlie's hair is already kept at Blairs Museum. "It's amazing how these priceless things get lost in the mists of time only to resurface later," says the Deacon.
Lost? Maybe. Or perhaps just well guarded by locals. And who can blame them? For now conservationists are also keen to get their hands on them, a suggestion as popular locally as a Hanoverian redcoat. "The vestments have been here since 1745," said local hotelier Alistair MacLeod, "And they belong in Morar. How would the people of Glasgow or Edinburgh or Aberdeen like it if we took all their things and brought them here?" It would be unfair to force the issue, and probably rather unwise too. Any attempt to steal the robes would be seen as stealing a piece of Highland heritage. And as history proves, that's enough to spark rebellion.'
In September 1946 Peter Anson reported on a sketching visit to Scalan: 'The outdoor plans were done in a hurry between showers. The plans are only approximately correct. .. I suggest that it might be worth while to have a set of postcards published. You could present them to all generous subscribers to the Fund, and have them on sale.'
Scalan Cards are now available for sale at £5 for six. A painting has been reproduced in attractive shades of brown which folds over and has an envelope. On the back is written 'THE OLD COLLEGE AT SCALAN (17171799). Watercolour by an unknown artist (initials J.K.) 1793'. Write to:
Mrs Jane McEwan,
Glenlivet, BALLINDALLOCH AB3 9DL.
Charlie McGregor RIP
Canon Charles McGregor, who was based at Banchory on Deeside,. died unexpectedly this summer. He was a member of the Scalan Association from early in his priesthood. Even lay people called him Charlie, but this personal testimony from a fellow priest is special.
When I first started coming to Aberdeen Fr Charles ('Charlie') McGregor was, to me, a friendly priest in a diocese that was much more personal than the colossal London dioceses I had been working in. Charlie was my Area Dean when I Was parish priest in Torry. Be ran the Deanery well and was a good judge of what was achievable when clergy met to discuss business. Be contributed to, if he did not actually create, a priestly camaraderie among persons guaranteed able to agree on almost nothing but the essentials. Of all the Deanery meetings down the years that I've had to attend, his were the ones I most looked forward to. Later I was sent to Shetland, and Fr McGregor as Cathedral Administrator was one of my lifelines with the mainland. A night or two at the Cathedral house was always a welcome preparation or finish to the twelve-hour overnight sail (often with my friend Captain Cowie in charge) to the islands.
After ten years at the Cathedral Charlie was appointed pp at Banchory and took up residence at Corsee Cottage, which is the presbytery. I was born there, and baptised by Mgr Sandy MacWilliam under whose guidance at Chapeltown the Seal an Association was founded. At Banchory Charlie got to know Violet, a staunch Presbyterian who long before that, as a teenager, had helped my mother, and who still lives nearby. By that time I had left the. Diocese to work in England again, but whenever I could I called on Charlie. He exuded pastoral care to the end, although he was becoming tired and his health was not good. It was always a delight and encouragement to hear the various plans he had for helping his people. May he rest in peace.
Rev. Gerald FitzGibbon SJ, Liverpool.
Fr FitzGibbon is known to several congregations in the north of Scotland. He has developed a historian's interest in missionary priests who did on footIV hat he does by car, and his 'Robert Munro, secular priest in the Highlands (16451704)' was in the autumn 1997 issue of The Innes Review.
For Readers Who Write
All contributions are welcome, from brief letters to long articles on topics of religious heritage and history. They do not have to be about Scalan or even on a Roman Catholic theme, so long as there is some connection with the Seal an idea of struggle linked to faith. Less religious stories about people and places of the area are also welcomed by
Alasdair Roberts, Ogilvie Centre,
16 HuntIy Street, ABERDEEN ABIO ISH.