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Annual Gathering 2014
Thursday September 11th - Sunday September 14th

Twenty-two members attended the 2014 Annual gathering which was centered in Inverurie at the Strathburn Hotel.

The small town of Inverurie, a short distance from Aberdeen, was the selected location for the Annual Gathering of The 1745 Association from Thursday 11th September until Sunday 14th September 2014. The Strathburn Hotel provided members with a most comfortable environment and, together with high class cuisine, wonderfully friendly and accommodating staff, made our stay a very memorable experience. The 1745 Association conveys thanks to all those who assisted in our comfort and welfare.The Strathburn Hotel, Inverurie

Unfortunately, the attendance was again rather low, with just 22 members plus a few guests present. This was partly due to the change of dates as usually the first weekend in September is chosen. Several regular attendees were unable to be there owing to prior commitments. However, those who did attend enjoyed renewing old friendships and making new ones. One of the main advantages of being a member of The 1745 Association is its ability to offer members access to buildings, artefacts and people not often available to the general public.

Our Gathering was organised by our previous Chairman, The Very Reverend Dr. Emsley Nimmo with valuable assistance from F. Peter Lole and Glen MacDonald. We thank them all for the success of the event. The central theme was the influence of religion during the Rising of 1745/46, a subject dear to Emsley’s heart.

Evening (Thursday 11th September)

Table floral arrangementDinner was followed by a talk by Dr. Nimmo, on the contribution of Scottish Episcopalians to the Jacobite Risings. I have asked Emsley to write a piece for The Jacobite, in relation to his talk. He has kindly consented to this request.

Day One. (Friday 12th September))

In the district known as Glenlivet, isolated from the world by a circle of barren hills, lies the little house of Scalan. This small building housed a company of priests and students, hoping for ordination into the Catholic priesthood, for over eighty years (1717-1799). During the 18th century, bigotry and persecution against many Catholic and Episcopal clergy was widespread, and secluded places such as ScalanScalan were instrumental in keeping the smouldering embers of their differing denominations alive and as such help keep Jacobitism, to the forefront of the local and national psyche. The flame was kept alive at Scalan!

Scalan was to be the first visit of the day and while the journey was long and sometimes arduous, the arrival at this beautiful location was well worth the effort. The weather was sublime, and it would have been very easy to forget the difficulties endured by these hardy and resourceful men when winter brought howling gales and snow blizzards.

Scalan Living RoomThe original turf building was replaced circa 1738, with a sturdy stone and lime structure. This was added to from time to time, and was much improved from ”The hovels of one room were built of stones and turf, without mortar, the holes in the walls stuffed with straw, or moss, or heather, to keep out the blasts.“*

In the eighty–two years of the college’s existence, one hundred priests received their training at Scalan Seminary.

Following the defeat of the Jacobite army at Culloden in April 1746, the month of May saw a party of Cumberland’s soldiers find their way into Glenlivet, and left Scalan a smoking ruin. Fortunately, this raid had been foreseen; the boys sent to their homes, books, chalices and furniture which were safely hidden away.

The buildings today comprise of a main house of two stories renovated by the Scalan Association with the assistance of Major Mike Tait of Oyne in 1993. To the left of the front elevation of the building is what now remains of the chapel. This was used in the 19th century as a cobbler’s workshop. Standing in the centre within the chapel walls, which only come up to approximately waist height, one gets the sense of a spirituality seldom experienced. The sky and the surrounding hills form the perfect back-drop to these ancient stones.

Following mid-morning tea and homemade cakes, we boarded the bus and headed off for a good lunch provided by the ladies of Lonach Hall, Strathdon.

Glenbuchat CastleThe ruins of Glenbuchat castle were next on our itinerary. John Gordon of Glenbuchat is a hero of mine and I am grateful to council member, Glen MacDonald, who has compiled an excellent piece on both the castle and John Gordon himself, this can be read on Page ?

Druminnor CastleNext was visit to Druminnor Castle and our introduction to Alexander Forbes whose home it is, was a particular delight. Alexander is a descendent of another Alexander Forbes, the 4th Lord Pitsligo, who formed a small cavalry regiment for Charles Edward Stuart in 1745. He famously led his men out of Aberdeen with the words, “we know our cause is just, gentlemen march!” Meeting the current Alexander was such a welcoming experience, that by the end of the visit we felt we had been friends for longer than the hour or so we spent there. He regaled us with the history of the Forbes family over the centuries, particularly the feuds between the Forbes and the Gordons, and such was his enthusiasm for the subject, he had to apologise several times for going off on a tangent!

Druminnor Great HallThe current castle, constructed between 1440-1470, is the third structure to be built on the site. It is of L-plan design, with a modern door at the central north front. The basements are vaulted and the great hall is on the first floor. The south side is four stories high, because of the slope of the ground. It is designated as a category A listed building.

My own abiding memory of this wonderful visit, was discussing with Alexander, the Strange case of Robert , who hid under the skirts of his wife, Isabella Lumsden, following his escape from Culloden, but that is another story entirely!

Our dinner, following our return to the Strathburn Hotel, was again of extremely high standard. Once dinner had been concluded, one of the most important AGMs of recent years commenced. The future structure of The 1745 Association, and the threat to Jacobite heritage sites at Culloden, Prestonpans, and Clifton, near Penrith in Cumbria, were discussed. Andrew MacKenzie from National Trust for Scotland gave a most enlightening address regarding the current situation at Culloden. For further information, please see the minutes of the AGM on page ? and the Editorial at the beginning of The Jacobite.

Day Two (Saturday 13th September))

The mist and low cloud, that greeted us prior to the excursion into Aberdeen, quickly cleared and another fine day ensued. Following problems with the rear suspension of our coach the previous day, our driver assured us that the necessary repairs had been carried out and all was now in order. This, indeed, proved to be the case.

Blair's churchKnown as ”Doors Open Day“, in the city we anticipated being a group among many of the good citizens of Aberdeen. Initially, we visited St Mary’s College, commonly known as Blairs, which was from 1829 to 1986, a junior seminary for young men studying for the Roman Catholic priesthood. It was closed due to the dwindling numbers of students and economic circumstances. For 157 years it was home to a magnificent collection of paintings, church textiles, selected silver, and Jacobite memorabilia. When the college was closed an independent trust was created, overseen by the Scottish Catholic Heritage Commission. The present display preserves this very important collection of religious heritage. Members were greatly impressed, while perusing these artefacts, many of which stimulated interesting debate.

It Is interesting to note that the New Chapel is designated a category A listed building and is a magnificent edifice. Members were given a very informative address detailing the history and daily running of the seminary within this building, but such was the grandeur of the architecture, the oration was secondary at times.

Robert Gordon's CollegeA relatively short distance from Blairs is situated the renowned independent school, Robert Gordon’s College. It was here that part of the Hanoverian army was billeted.

The first impression of the college, as you enter via a narrow archway, is how vast the complex appears, with the buildings surrounding a large quadrangle. Originally created to be a school (known as hospitals in the 18th century) for boys from the poor families in the area, based around a building known as ”The Auld Hoose.“ This building was standing empty due to lack of funds at the time of the Rising and 200 Hanoverians consequently were billeted there for five weeks between March/April 1746. The Duke of Cumberland, of course, had his own quarters at Skene House, known today as Provost Skene’s House. The hospital was converted into a temporary fort surrounded by a ditch and palisade. Garden walls were demolished and a well dug in the grounds. This well is now under the floor of one of the lecture theatres and I stood over it during the visit. The soldiery caused considerable damage to the interior of the building, indeed, the Governors made a claim for reparation to King George II which was finally forthcoming in October 1747. Cumberland eventually led his troops from Aberdeen on April 8th 1746 bound for a place that will remain forever in the memory…CULLODEN!

There are many fine buildings in Aberdeen and some not so fine, gold fish bowls and greenhouses spring to mind. However, St. Andrews Cathedral, situated on King Street is very much of the former. It is of particular interest because of the Jacobite heraldic ceiling. Emsley Nimmo related an anecdote to members prior to our entry. Princess Anne visited some time ago, and made the comment that she was surprised that she was the first member of the Royal Family to enter the cathedral. Emsley quipped back to her, “Once you have seen the ceiling Ma’am, you’ll understand why!”

While there are many interesting features in the building, as Jacobites we were most interested to view the “Jacobite Aisle Ceiling.” Jacobite and Episcopal supporters in Aberdeen and N.E. Scotland were many and their estates were a great stronghold of the Episcopal cause. The family escutcheons are to be seen on the ceiling to the right of the main aisle. On the opposite ceiling, most unusually, are the crests of States of the U.S.A., emphasizing the links between the United States and Episcopalism. Lunch was taken here, soup and sandwiches, enjoyed by all.

Following luncheon our original plan was to visit Castlegate and view the new plaque sponsored by The 1745 Association, and Aberdeen City Council, on the wall of the Portals public house. This was to commemorate Aberdeen and North East Scotland’s involvement in the Rising. Unfortunately, owing to many complications the plaque was not yet erected. However, following discussions between Emsley and an official later that afternoon, we were given the welcome news at the Annual Dinner, that the plaque would be in situ very soon.

The Mercat Cross, built in 1686 by one John Montgomery, a local mason, is a very impressive structure, comprising of a large hexagonal base, for a vertical post topped unicorn. It is from this spot that Lord Pitsligo led his cavalry regiment from Aberdeen to join Prince Charles Edward Stuart. While it is currently rather shabby from centuries of dirt and grime, monies have been set aside to clean it up. This will enable the medallions, illustrating ten Stuart monarchs to be seen much more clearly than is currently possible.

Old TolboothOur next visit was to the Old Tolbooth, one of the best preserved 17th century gaols in Scotland. This is where many Jacobite prisoners were incarcerated. Being “Doors Open Day”, many people wished to view this historic building, now a museum. With so many visiting it was somewhat difficult to see everything clearly, but it gave us some indication of what being a prisoner in this cramped environment would have been like. Four “re-enactors” dressed as characters from the 18th century. and speaking “Doric,” although much toned down, regaled us with tales of prison life, as it may have been.

King's CollegeAs with all Gatherings, time is of the essence and it is not always possible to keep strictly to the timetable. It was regrettable therefore, that our visit to King’s College Chapel was cut short, particularly as the guide was Jane Geddes, whose expert knowledge of the building is second to none. The crown tower is one of the most historic and beautiful icons of Aberdeen University, the Chapel sanctuary is also place of splendour. The building contains five very rare decorations, made of wood and canvas, dating from the 16th and 17th centuries, which we did manage to see, before returning to Inverurie.

Arriving back at the Strathburn Hotel, we thanked our driver for taking us to some distant locations and negotiating some very difficult terrain on occasion. We then prepared for the formal Annual Dinner. With our Gentleman Piper, Archie McIntyre, being unable to attend this year, we had a piper from the Braemar Pipe Band to entertain us following an excellent dinner. The after dinner speaker was Darren Layne, Doctoral Research student from the University of St. Andrews. I have requested that Darren send his text to me, so that members may obtain a copy by contacting me if they so wish.

Jacobite songs in the bar and lounge concluded the proceedings in the early hours of the morning.

Members departed for various locations in the U.K. on Sunday morning, having been part of another successful Gathering.

 *Social Life of Scotland in the Eighteenth Century by Henry Grey Graham.

Thanks are due to Brian Whiting for the report and Steve Lord for the pictures.