Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Beaumont Union

Beaumont College was closed by the Jesuits forty years ago yet never can
a society of old pupils from any school have thrived for so long after
the school's demise.

The HCPT about which this blog is strewn with posts, even has a
London Beaumont Region, 7 groups from which are still run by Old
Beaumont boys (including yours truly) or their friends or families.
The BU annual dinner is usually a crowded rombustious affair
and many BU members are hugely successful or influential
in their personal or professional lives.

My "passing of an old friend" blog post in May 2007, recorded with sadness
the death of a much loved and respected BU contempory, fellow HCPT pilgrim
and close friend. Last night another old BU friend and his wife
together with mrs maytrees and yrs truly, went out for supper
at SW19's Lighthouse restaurant, with his widow. A lovely evening
then ensued,
of fond remembrance, of catching up with news, gossip and laughter
all of which arose out of old Beaumont childhood.

A moment of feigned discord arose out of the other BU couple learning
of the existence of this blog. "Naff" "absurd" and other derisory
quips and comments were their reactions.
Yet I am not so sure that
a blog even one whose reader numbers barely reach double figures,
is fairly so described.

Reading though some of the previous posts at random, is at least as
interesting for me as their author as say occasionally going through
an old photograph album. Blog posting itself is anyway much more creative
than say slumping down in front of a TV.

Collecting one's thoughts on a topic matter of moment or even trivia
and writing them down in a medium
which might (though usually isn't) just be read by friends or
strangers is I think also good self discipline.

I'm Blogging on naff or no.


  1. Reference Number a1889/22/3 Beaumont College

    Dear Property owner/occupant,

    As an Architectural Historian, I am writing to you to let you know that I have some details of your property, a picture of which may be attached . You might be interested to know that I have come across details of the architect: YES : photos : 4/5 A3 size, notes :YES , of how your property was originally designed by its architect. The charges of providing you with these records would be between £6 & £18 depending on whether you required the photocopies or originals and they would make a wonderful framed feature to enhance your property. Photo[s] may be attached.
    In the case of your property, you may not be aware too, that it has been featured in a publication of the period and obviously does indicate a property of special significance.

    I would be pleased to send you further details of what I could supply you with or discuss any further matter related to these the records if you can either give me a ring:- (One minute on tel will provide 5x as much information as 1 min typing!), drop me a line, or send me an e-mail (advising tel' no for much easier elaboration, quoting the Reference No above. I

    Thank you for taking time to read this letter and trusting that this unique heirloom(s) may be of interest to you. If not, perhaps you could display it, in case your staff are interested, or it would even make a highly original gift.

    Yours faithfully

    John Lewin. CHIPPENHAM 01249 464818

    P.S. For your information I am a retired Principal of a school in Southport, and architectural research is a hobby of mine. Records have been supplied to, among others, the House of Lords, several eminent public figures, cathedrals / churches, a major national estate agent, local authorities, museums/archivists, a casino, architects, a foreign embassy, the National Trust, and an internationally known playwright. If in doubt of my authenticity, please check my 100% feedback rating on ebay =

  2. My first cousin, once removed, Carlos Brown was an American student at Beaumont at the outbreak of WWII. He became an RAF pilot of a Lancaster and with his crew was shot down over Germany in Dec. 1943. I have recently been informed by the military that at long last the crash site has been found. There will be an excavation and service the weekend of 3/20-21 at the site. I thought this might be of interest to the editors of the Beaumont Union.

  3. Greetings anonymous

    Many thanks for your interesting comment. I do hope that the memorial service goes well for all the friends family and relatives of Carlos Brown.

    I have copied and pasted your comment just now on to an email to the Hon Sec of the Beaumont Union and he might respond to you direct.
    Best regards

  4. I would very much like to contact the Hon Sec of the Beaumont Union. My email address is:
    Many thanks in anticipation.

  5. Hello Ken,

    I have passed a copy of your comment on to the BU hon. sec.

  6. My father has been ranting and raving for years about the positive experiences he had at Beaumont, whether it be in the classroom or on the cricket pitch. However, due to some unforeseen difficulties back home in the States, he left without a proper goodbye. When you have a moment, I was hoping you would could forward my e-mail,, to the Beaumont Union's Secretary. Hopefully, this will allow my father the opportunity to finally reconnect with his former classmates after 40+years.

  7. Greetings anon.
    Thank you for your post which I have forwarded to the BU Hon Sec as requested. As my final year at Beaumont was the School's last year as well, possibly your father and I were there at the same time though I opted for rowing rather than cricket which from your comment I assume was his option.

  8. Thank you for forwarding my note.

    My father likes to say that Beaumont was one of the premier schools in England during his day. (He is turning 67) Is there a reason why the school shut down, besides the one given on Wikipedia? It feels like Beaumont has a distingushed list of Alumni, so I find it quite surprising that noone came in and helped it from a financial stand point.

    1. Not sure it was a question of money - the Jesuits had to resume their missionary activities and there were not enough to go overseas and educate us at the same time

    2. My Beaumont educated father and grandfatherwere particularly shocked at what they considered to be the Jesuits dishonesty in closing a school which although, let's face it, somewhat run down and seedy, was still, just, a leading public school and one for which their sons' names had been put down at birth.(I was at school there at the time the closure was announced and was immediately my great joy). Had my parents wished me to have gone to Stonyhurst, into which Beaumont was to be assimilated, that is where they would have sent me in the first place.
      They were furious and, in my father's case the scales fell from his eyes after a lifetime of trust in the Jesuits. Particularly shocking was the extensive fundraising that had been underway, almost to the point of the closure announcement, for a new wing and other sundries(I recently saw an old Beaumont altar in a leading Auction House Catgalogue and couldn't help wondering if this was still the Jesuits enriching themselves or if it had long since passed into other hands). Other parents who donated in good faith for the benefit of their sons' education were,I imagine, similarly angered by this aspect of the matter.
      As I child I saw only as a child and now as a man, as I learn through evidence and anecdote of the Machiavellian nature of this devious order of priests, I can only wonder how, in such recent times, they were deemed to be suitable 'educators' of young and vulnerable people. I look forward to the day when religious orders are completely proscribed from having any influence at all on childrens' education...least of all in a boarding school environment.
      Despite the act of closure being one of great dishonesty, the consequence was to the huge advantage of many generations of boys spared the theological and educational tyranny of these, collectively, malevolent men. An unintended but rather fine example of ends justifying means.L.D.S.

    3. Hi anonymous TX for your post which I have just read in Seattle - I sympathise but disagree with much of what you say but will post again on return to the UK

    4. Well I was there during that "somewhat run down and seedy" period", and the years 1965-67 truly were quite depressing. I remember seeing about the place the Canadian Jesuit who we were told was the architect of the plan to 'merge' Beaumont and Stonyhurst - he was rumoured to be one of those management types that Americans had, but that we had not yet developed - the horns and tail were implied.

      I take an entirely different view from that of anonymous above about the motivation of the Jays in taking the decision to close Beaumont. The furious accusations at the time, and by anonymous reflecting his father's feelings, are an entirely understandable emotional response because the decision was taken quickly and was not explained well. These days an expensive PR firm would no doubt have been brought in handle this better, and we may have had a clearer explanation than at the time for the rationale behind it.

      Having said that, young as I was, I thought the decision was wrong at the time, and with hindsight it seems worse. How many schools do the Jesuits run in the UK now? Most of the rump have a 'Jesuit ethos' while being run by lay teachers, and Beaumont, with a bit more imagination could perhaps have been the first of these. It was a civilised place, close to London, with great potential for expansion. For this failure of imagination I do blame the senior people in the Jesuit Province at the time.

      Anonymous - your last two paragraphs are complete bollocks.

    5. Well as these interesting posts are dated Friday 26th October 2012 and as it is still Thursday 25th October here in Seattle at the moment, I will post a response after returning to the UK and re-entering British time. Probably though I will post at the end of these posts rather than here in the middle of the post line.

  9. Hello again anonymous
    Being aged 61, my first year at Beaumont may have coincided with your father's last year but there is another OB blogger who I will refer to your comments here in case he has any direct knowledge.
    Meanwhile yr observations on the Beaumont's closure are interesting. The main reason I think was the reducing number of men joining the Society of Jesus as the fewer Jesuits the fewer schools etc they could run.

    Personally despite or maybe because of, having parents from London's East End I had a terrific and privileged time there though whether my older brother who might have been a contemporary of your own father would agree, is another matter.

    But the Catholic Church has imho moved on. The maytrees' sons both attended the local Catholic Jesuit Comprehensive school Wimbledon College, which did them v. well (so far). Even if Beaumont was open today I think they would still have attended Wimbledon College. Boarding was necessary for many service families like mine after WWII but no longer.

    Diversity in the UK extends or perhaps should do, to peoples of different incomes which schools like Beaumont are probably less likely to provide. I accept though that those who attend school like Beaumont might have a head start in careers etc as you only have to look at the current crop of UK cabinet ministers and MPs to see. Thus the Jesuit argument to the effect that having educated privileged people who end up in influential positions in society might mean that society will be more likely to be influenced for the good seems great in theory yet whether this applies in practice is difficult to discern.

  10. In the midst of an idle surf, I chanced upon this blog, and saw that names were sometimes forwarded to the BU Hon Sec. Perhaps you would add mine to the list. I was at Beaumont 1953-57, my brother Stephen with and after me (he also a St Johns boy) I am currently Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Professor of Early Christian Studies at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC: so, a long history between now and 1957! Email:

  11. Greetings anonymous

    Thankyou for your post. You probably left Beaumont a few years before I started.

    I have passed your comment onto the BU HonSec

  12. Greetings

    I had the privilege of being educated at Beaumont, somewhat unsuccessfully, from 1955 to 1960. I left the UK in 1963.

    My name is John Towsey, I have lived in Africa over the intervening years. Email is

    I rather lost touch but would much appreciate my name being forwarded to The BU Hon Sec, in like manner to others.

  13. Greetings John,

    Thank you for your comment which I have forwarded to the BU Hon Sec. I omitted to cc you into the forwarded message at first but hope that you have now received the copy
    with his email address.

  14. Sadly just posted on this blog's guestbook from the USA:
    carrol DuBoulay
    Date 2011-10-09
    Message Denis H C DuBoulay April 30 1932 - October 3 2011 Student of Beaumont Will be sadly missed

  15. Hello - I've been looking for a BU website, but considering the years that have passed since the closure of the school, perhaps it's appropriate that it's elusive --.

    I was a pupil from 1957 to 1963. Prompted to look up details by coming across pictures of a 1961 sailing trip with Rupert Lescher, Andrew Dearing, Tony Russell and Francis Beckett.
    Can you give me contact details for the BU?

    Nigel Harman -

  16. Greetings Nigel,

    Thank you for your comment. A private email with the email address of the Hon Sec of the BU is on its way to you.

  17. Just noticed the following in this blog's guestbook and copy and paste here for wider interest:

    Marcus Wigan
    Date 2012-01-27
    Message Just posted a note.. was at St Johns and beaumont 1949 or so to 1957. marc wigan

    www dot mwigan dot com

  18. The following is copied and pasted from the blog's guest book:

    "Greetings. I am researching my late father-in-law Ronald William Blake who taught for a while at Beaumont around the end of WW2. I am not sure if he was at the college or the prep school. His specialty was English Literature. He had been planning to become a priest, but was having doubts. He then met Nadine Altvatter who was also at the school, possibly as a nurse, and they married in 1944. I would be most grateful to hear from anyone who remembers anything about them.
    Barrie Lees"

    Barrie your late father in law's time at Beaumont was a little before mine but I will forward your message to the BU Hon Sec
    in case he or other OBs can assist.

  19. Another post from this blog's guest book reads:

    "Sergio Osmena
    Date 2012-06-17
    Message Hello old chaps,

    I would like to get in touch with former school mates.

    Charlie Cate, Thierry de Galard, Michael Hamilton,
    Colin McCarthy, Michael Parker, Michael Lazar,
    William Gammell, Michael Wolff and many others.

  20. Another comment left just now in this blog's guestbook reads:

    "Lesley Dedman
    Date 2012-07-02
    Message My grandfather was a pupil, but well before the first world war. I have a picture of him with his class, although I am not sure which year this was taken. Any information about the school at that time would be interesting."

  21. Hi there. I am after some information on my great Grandfather, Albert LANGTON, who I am told attended the Beaumont Officer Training Corp prior to WWI. All we have is his name, and a photograph of him in uniform from which it's been identified that his cap badge is that of Beaumont College OTC. He never married my great grandmother and it is a mystery to what happened to him. I would dearly love to know who I can contact to find out more.

  22. Greetings Lin

    I'll forward your message to the BU Hon Sec but he may need some way of contacting you. His email address is:
    Or mine is

  23. Posting here to respond to posts from HigherLine and anonymous above of October 2012:

    HigherLine - you and I probably were at Beaumont at the same time as my final year ended with the closure of the school so do email me if you wish to catch up.

    The closure of the Beaumont was I think very badly handled at the time though 'bad handling' is always an easy criticism to make with the benefit of handsight, after the event.

    Looking back, particularly having regard to the (almost) London address of Beaumont the Js and more importantly us students, might imho have been better served by favouring Beaumont over one of their more northern schools as regards closure.

    The way in which the closure was handled though is history now and expressions of bitterness etc in C21 seem pointless.

    Beaumont was in my humble opinion a privileged place for boys to be educated and even at the time a fun though far from easy place to learn and grow up in up to 1967.

    I am glad however that in C21 my own children were able to attend local Catholic schools mainly in the State sector and that the boys' school was and is still SJ run.

  24. From this blog's guestbook:

    "Name Christopher Shelmerdine
    Date 2013-01-02
    Message I would like to contact the Hon Sec of the Beaumont Union to get onto the membership list, and to learn who else is still around from my years 1951-1956."

    If anyone has contact details for Christopher perhaps they could let the Hon Sec know.

  25. Well, Jerry, your post certainly stirred up the proverbial hornet's nest! I have never managed to excite as many comments!

  26. The final year of boys at Beaumont left the College some 50 years ago when the College closed.
    One of those boys is organising a 50th anniversary reunion and dinner at the old place now an hotel.
    His requests for those members of the BU concerned to attend, is meeting with resounding success as I gather that so far 50 or so old boys have responded positively.
    Given that the total in the year group probably numbered around 65 boys and given that some have sadly died in the intervening years, including one who died in the 9/11 New York bombing and another in a tragic motor cycle accident as well as of course other sad deaths, the number of possible attendees so far, signifies the impact the old school may have made on our lives.

    If any who read this was in our year and would like to attend please leave me a message.



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