Fort Augustus Abbey School
Old Boys Association
www.corbie.com

Abbey Chronology

1818  Fort's outer defences dismantled & ordinance to Fort George.

1867  Fort sold to 14th Lord Lovat who uses it as a shooting lodge and to house tenants.

1876  15th Lord Lovat, Simon, presents Fort to the English Congregation of Benedictines. Prior Fr. Jerome Vaughan, related to Lovat's wife as was Fr.Adrian Weld-Blundel.

1878  Oct.16th High Mass for opening. Architect Peter Paul Pugin  present, having harled the porous whinstone of the old Fort and converted Guest house. Joseph Hanson later removes harling as letting water in. Sum equivalent to rent of Borlum for 19 years promised by Lord Lovat, his entire gift worth over £8,000.

Community = 5 priests,  4 juniors + 4 lay brothers. 3 Ampleforth monks + 1 from Ramsgate.15 boys, school Syllabus = languages, astronomy, geology, natural & mental philosophy, agriculture, chemistry. domestic architecture, political economy, general law of contracts & property.

1878-80  Gales & prolonged frosts. No heating or front doors in Monastery or College. Skating on ice & Summer boating on Sabbath incences Free Kirk.

1879  14th Centenary of the birth of St. Benedict celebrated Aug. 24-26 by procession of relics and blessing of statues, attended by 100 clergy & 300 lay-people. Gale that destroys Tay Bridge demolishes unroofed gable-end of new calefactory.

1881  Census shows 6 monks, 6 divinity students + 1 lay brother. 38 scholars in new College (8 from Ireland, 3 from France + 1Uruguay & 1Brazil). New boys recall arrival Inverness Railway Station where met by Lord Lovat's factor Mr.Macdonald who takes them to Macrae & Dick's horse brake thence to Muirtown steamer with red funnel the Glengarry or Gondolier and up Loch Ness to F. A. No bank in F.A. so Fridays Prior rides horse back from Caledonian Bank Glengarry with silver in saddlebags for masons.

1882  St. Benedict's Priory constituted by Pope as "Abbey", (England's first post Reformation Abbey) but Jan.7th 1883 Community separates from English Congregation -- banning of claret for dinner, longer hoods, belt of leather instead of cloth, "corona" instead of tonsure. Inviolable "enclosure" - no women !

1887  Death of Lord Lovat on Moy grouse moor - is 58 years old. "3rd Chief is a pupil, created Captain of School following year.

1888  1st Abbot consecrated July 15th Fr.Leo Linse (remaining till 1909).

1891  Census 16 priests (12 English 2 Scottish), 13 students of theology/humanities, + 4 shoemakers, 2 tailors, miller, carpenter, print compositor, wheelwright. 36 pupils ( 13 Eng, 8 Sc, 5 Irish,4 Argentinean, 2 Tasmanian + 1Australian, French & Italian). Total of 230 pupils up to closure of school 1894.

Annual boat race: In farm carts to Kytra, 1.00pm start , finishing F.A. top lock.

1894  Bryceson's " kist of whistles" (manufactured1875) from Battersea sent to Inverness by special train, by lorry procession through Inverness, by steamer to F.A., where organ parts fill largest room (calefactory) for next 20 years.

St.Benedict's College closes at Christmas, thereafter a junior seminary, to train monks

1899  Fr. Luke Cary-Elwes who had played violin with Elgar in village school, joins community & paints the Catacomb Chapel at the Abbey.

1908 Fr. Odo Blundell dives on Cherry Island (Aug). His research establishes a further 50 crannogs to those already known.

1910  Abbey rejoins Eng. Congregation.

1911  2 subarines "weird, wicked-looking brown things" arrive Mar. 15. Officers dine in the refectory.

1912  Sir David Oswald Hunter Blair becomes second Abbot. "a flamboyant Oxford-educated Scottish aristocrat".

1912 -14  Fr.Odo Blundell holds Mass in Firth Of Clyde Fleet, -- opposed by Louis of Battenberg but upheld by Jellicoe as Chaplain.

1914-18  Abbey & nearby Convent continue. Many monks become Chaplains -- e.g. Fr Lane Fox MC who joined London Irish charge at Loos after previously losing right hand and right eye in grenade explosion. College building used as military hospital for Belgian wounded. Blundell serves on HMS Collingwood with future King GeorgeVI at battle of Jutland.

1919  Abbot Hunter Blair resigns 1917. Fr Andrew Joseph Mc Donald elected Aug. He starts New School 10/09/1920 under Headmaster Fr.Anselm Parker (ex Oxon). New colours are scarlet & white (as Corpus Christi College). Chocolate out.

 1924  Jan. 59 names on roll. HM. Fr. Ninian Macdonald + staff Ambrose Geoghan (Brass Band & Choir), Cyril Dieckhof, Luke Cary-Elwes (Orchestra), John Lane Fox (Prefect of Studies), Victor Le Jeune, Francis Blackwell, Basil Wedge, Aelrid White, Ronald Alexander.

Lay Staff : Commander Farie (Prefect of Discipline), asst by T.Byrne Esq, J. McNally Esq, Miss Tyler (matron). P.T. Staff Sgt. Hobban -- Army Featherweight boxing champ.

1925  Abbot elected onto Parish Council  & HM re-elected Pres. Mactavish Shinty Assoc.

1926  First parade of Scout Corps - Armistice Day.

1927 Gale in Jan. damages many trees.

1928  Heavy rains and a rapid thaw brings surface of Loch " several inches above the boathouse pier". " Much damage was done to the Tarff bridge by uprooted trees which were swept down & became wedged between the concrete pillars. The water eddying around the bases quickly ate into the bed of the river and caused such a displacement of the pillars that traffic had to be suspended for several days".

Oct. Two " graceful" seaplanes by the Boathouse pier for boys to inspect.

1929  " Loch Uanagan provided an excellent sheet of ice, and the Shinty on its surface attracted a considerable number of players." 3rd Abbot elected Fr. Wulstan Knowles, who also takes the job as HM. Hockey becomes official game instead of shinty - under Commander Farie. ( " If you want to make a good school, burn all the books and get on with it").

1931  New lighting system throughout the school, including stage lights.

1932  Summer - Gypsy Moth aircraft lands on , & makes 3 flights from, field south of the Tarff, flown by Sq.Leader F.Noakes. Swimming in Canal & Loch Uanagan. Winter - Publication of Fr.Ninian Macdonald's "History of Shinty" & of Fr. Cyril Dieckhoff's "Gaelic Dictionary.

1933  Lord Lovat died Feb.18th funeral with choir of monks. Transport : Fiat replaced by 35 seater Albion. Two Summer sightings of Nessie by boys - "excellent view". Future Pope Paul IV stays two nights at the Abbey & visits Falls of Foyers.

1935  Swimming pool completed with diving platform & board. Villagers help fight fire that burns out Gym & Theatre - where boys had been smoking in the prop room. Immediate plans for improved buildings. King George celebrations - scouts light beacon on Ben Nevis + rockets.

Lovat Biography - uncomplimentary review in Sunday Times: "obscure upbringing and meagre education". Abbot Hunter Blair challenges article.

1936  Jan. - "arctic conditions" for three weeks - sledging and skating on Loch Tarff.

Summer - new tennis court constructed by boys & staff - filling bowling green with stones from the Tarff completed in 10 days. Oct.14th - discovery of 3 burial cists in Abbey vegetable garden - parts of a skull in one & of a skeleton in another. Publ. of Vol.3 of Hunter Blair's " A last medley of Memories" - illustrated.

1939  Heatwave. Trout weighing 50lbs caught by Fr. Bernard. Commander Farie posted to command "HMS Impregnable".

1940  30 cadets take flights in flying boats. Hamish Mac Donald wins steeplechase. July 24th the ATC visit Achnacarry to witness unarmed combat, firing etc.

1950   Snow from end of November to Chriustmas.

1951  Flu epidemic. Severe weather - toboggan run Glendoe Hill.

Abbey electricity plant to be switched off - an end to Br. Francis' labours in engine house & at lade. Village has electricity in many houses, tubular lighting in some shops. Br Placid catches 5 fish (18 - 21 lbs). Rowing & sculling under Cmmdr. Farie. Mar.6th Fire starts at back Grant's Garage. Abbey team respond to alarm in 5 mins."some villagers were quicker, they were found running tyres & carrying spare parts out of the garage at high speed." July 5th Inter-house Boat race. July 7th boat race with OBs to Freshwater Island.

 

1952  Election of 5th Abbot Fr Oswald Eaves - had run ATC during war. Jan.gales fell trees in the area, then 3-4 weeks snow & ice .GeorgeVI died Feb.6th.

1953  Coronation June 2nd. Construction of Abbey Church. Queen mother passes en route to open Commando Memorial. John Cobb dies on Loch Ness. Hamish MacDonald plays for Scotland at hockey. OB LT-Commander Willie MacDonald lands helicopter on rugby pitch. Radio Broadcast from Abbey.

1954  School war memorial of granite from Royal Balmoral, unveiled. May 30th Aberdeen Diocesian Rally brings 2,500 pilgrims to the cricket pitch. BBC TV feature shown of life of school & Abbey - but no TV set to watch it.

1955  15th Jan.temperature -19C. Skiing, tobogganing & skating on the Tarff. May 22nd BBC broadcast of service. Hot Summer - swimming in canal when pool out of commision. Church windows glazed & "inspected" by 30,000 visitors. Br.Malachy Hanson disappears Feb.13th.Searches by villagers & Altyre & Gordonstoun, Mt.Rescue squads + bloodhounds & walkie-talkies. Not found till July 10th 1957 on Corrieyairack in a ditch near the path, spectacles nearby.

1956  Canoes made by 2 boys paddled up river to Loch Oich & back on canal. Brigadier Prendergast talks to boys re command of "Popski's Private Army." Gale in December lifts Abbot's garage from its foundations & dumps it on the hen house Trees fly through the air etc.

1957  Spring was mild but another gale. Monster sightings in Feb.& March. Fire in gorse out of control till monks extinguish. Old Convent built 1842, had been parish church, convent for two different orders, Prep school, private house now converted to flats. Mr. Pimley retires there after 30 years teaching. Two displays of the Northern Lights. Refugee pupils arrive from Budapest. Asian Flu epidemic. Pupil roll 98 boys. Hamish MacDonald Joins Staff. A dungeon converted into archive room for Fr.Mark.

1958  Pupils over 100.Br.Adrian's poultry produces 8,000 eggs in Feb. Cold weather - one day coldest place in Scotland @ -26C. Sailing club established by Cmmdr.Farie. Survey of Old Fort prior to demolitionof NW. bastion. It was Blasted Oct.8th 9th & 10th along its length 4' from the ground but remained standing ! Death of Br.James Sherry : Born Govan 1889, shipyard blacksmith, driver of Abbey car, i/c beehives, steeplejack, constructed 70 washbowls "washing basement"& Village & Abbey electricity supply.

1959  Freeze up after partial thaw at end Jan. Skating Loch Unagan & Tarff.School "Hamlet" considered for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. Dec - Lord Lyon presented coat of arms to Abbey.

1960  OB.Lt Cmmdr W.D.MacDonald running Inchnacardoch Hotel. Fr.Celestine Haworth becomes 6th Abbot. Fr. Mark Dilworth headmaster.