Beaumont College

Beaumont College was a Jesuit public school in Old Windsor, Berkshire, England. In 1967 the school closed. The property became a conference centre, and from 2008 an hotel.

History of the estate

The estate lies by the River Thames on the historic highway from Staines to Windsor, near Runnymede. It was originally known as Remenham, after Hugo de Remenham, who held the land at the end of the 14th century. The estate was then owned for a period by the Tyle family, and subsequently by John Morley, Francis Kibblewhite, William Christmas and Henry Frederick Thynne (clerk to the Privy Council under Charles II) in the 17th century.

In 1714 Thomas Thynne, 2nd Viscount Weymouth, inherited. In the mid-eighteenth century it was acquired by Sophia, Duchess of Kent. In 1751 the Duke of Roxburghe purchased the land for his eldest son, the Marquis of Beaumont (then a boy at Eton College), and renamed it Beaumont. In 1786 Warren Hastings, the first Governor-General of India, acquired Beaumont Lodge at the cost of £12,000. He lived at Beaumont for three years. In 1789 the estate was sold to Henry Griffith, an Anglo-Indian, who had Henry Emlyn rebuild the house in 1790 as a nine-bay mansion with a substantial portico.

History as a school

In 1805 the Beaumont property was bought for about £14,000 by Viscount Ashbrook, a friend of George IV. After his death in 1847, his widow continued to reside there until 1854, when she sold it to the Society of Jesus as a training college.

For seven years it housed Jesuit novices of the (then) English province and on 10 October 1861 became a Catholic boarding school for boys, with the title of St. Stanislaus College, Beaumont.

The 1901 census shows a John Lynch S.J. as headmaster. Resident at the date of the census were one other priest, three "clerks in minor orders" and a lay brother, 8 servants and 23 schoolboys including one American, one Canadian, one Mexican and two Spaniards; one of the latter was Luís Fernando de Orleans y Borbón, a Spanish royal prince.

Joseph M. Bampton S.J., rector 1901-1908, replaced the traditional Jesuit arrangement of close supervision of pupils by masters of discipline with the so-called "Captain" system, or government of boys by boys - perhaps inspired by the reforms of Thomas Arnold at Rugby in the 1830s. Bampton's Captain system was adopted also at Stonyhurst and at sister Jesuit schools in France and Spain, and in 1906 Beaumont was admitted to the Headmasters' Conference. Beaumont thus became, along with Stonyhurst College in Lancashire and St Aloysius' College, Glasgow, one of three public schools maintained by the British Province of the Jesuits.

Prominent men educated there included the architect Sir Giles Gilbert Scott OM FRIBA, the engineer Sir John Aspinall, and a number of members of the Spanish royal family. The Austrian monarchist intellectual Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn taught briefly at Beaumont in 1935-36, and from 1943 to 1946 A. H. Armstrong, later to become the world's leading authority on Plotinus, was a classics master at the college.

In 1937 the Papal Envoy, Mgr Giuseppe Pizzardo, visited the College. During the Second World War one of the first doodlebugs destroyed an inn (The Bells of Ouseley) close to the school.

In 1948 John Sinnott S.J. was one of only two public school headmasters who detected a hoax letter from Humphry Berkeley, then a Cambridge student, purporting to come from a fellow-head H. Rochester Sneath (invited to lead an exorcism, Sinnott requested a packet of salt "capable of being taken up in pinches"). The "lovable but vague" Sir Lewis Clifford S.J., a Jesuit holding a New Zealand baronetcy, was rector between 1950 and 1956, when he was replaced by John Coventry S.J.; and in the early 1950s Gerard W. Hughes S.J., now a prominent writer on spirituality, taught there. On 15 May 1961 Queen Elizabeth II visited Beaumont to mark its centenary.

In 1888, a preparatory school was opened on Priest's Hill above the main school, in the direction of Englefield Green; the buildings were designed by John Francis Bentley in Tudor style with a Perpendicular chapel, and it was named St. John's, in honour of St. John Berchmans. After an initial period of uncertainty following the closure of Beaumont, in 1970 the governors of Stonyhurst College accepted responsibility for St. John's, which still serves as a preparatory school for Stonyhurst.

Character of the school

The buildings were laid out attractively, the main drive curving round an open field to a rendered 18th-century mansion known as the White House, and most of the ancillary buildings being concealed by trees. The science laboratories were a single-storey 1930s block to the left of the main house. Other outbuildings ran backward from there, including the ambulacrum and tuck shop, but without obtruding unduly on the agreeable garden dominated by two specimen cedar trees and a war memorial by Sir Edwin Lutyens.

Behind the war memorial, woodland ran down the edge of the estate, where there was a path leading to Windsor Great Park, much used by the pupils for walks and cross-country runs. In the angle between the woodland and the garden was the cricket pitch. A boathouse lay on the Thames just outside the gates, and playing fields for rugby football were a little further down river on Runnymede. Beyond the cricket pitch was a home farm which supplied the school with milk and other products, and beyond that St John's.

As in other public schools, sport was important; indeed, an annual cricket match was played at Lord's against the Oratory until 1965. Moreover, Beaumont held a number of sporting and similar distinctions. Only two public schools, Eton and Beaumont, came to send both their First Eleven to Lord's and their First Eight to Henley; and the first black player at Lord's was a Beaumont boy. When Pierre de Coubertin visited England in the course of researching the basis of his new Olympic movement, the four schools he looked at were Eton, Harrow, Rugby and Beaumont.

The Beaumont school Combined Cadet Force was the only one in the country to be affiliated to the Household Division - and had a Garter Star in the cap badge awarded by King George VI in recognition of the school’s role in the Crown Land Battalion during WW2. The first motorist in England was the Hon Evelyn Ellis, who in 1885 drove a car from his home to Beaumont.Coco Chanel's nephew was a pupil, and the school blazer is said to have been the inspiration for the 1924 Chanel suit.

Beaumont was easy of access from London, and, being where it was, rapidly developed an awareness of being the "Catholic Eton": a tag at the school was "Beaumont is what Eton was: a school for the sons of Catholic gentlemen" (similar claims have been made for the Oratory, Stonyhurst and Ampleforth). Although all the boys at Beaumont were boarders, the school's nearness to London meant that, unlike at Stonyhurst or Ampleforth, many parents could fetch boys away for weekends during term; the number of such "exeats" was limited.

Prior to and during World War II, there were sufficient pupils to divide students into three separate Houses, Heathcote, Eccles and O'Hare, named after three previous Rectors. The respective 'House Colours' were brown, light blue and dark blue. However, Beaumont did not continue to be organised in such “Houses” as many British boarding schools are (cf Winchester, Harrow, or the fictional Hogwarts), but in various other ways: in this respect it resembled the other English Jesuit public school, Stonyhurst, but not St Aloysius'. The main grouping was by year-class, the names of the classes being reminiscent of the medieval trivium: Rudiments, Grammar, Syntax, Poetry, and Rhetoric. There was also a broader age-division between the “Higher Line” and “Lower Line” (the cut-off being around the beginning of the sixth-form). Finally, all boys were on admission assigned either to be “Romans” or “Carthaginians”: these two groups earned points during each term on the basis of the academic progress and behaviour of their members, and at the end of term there was a day’s holiday at which the winning group earned a special tea (this last tradition lost force over the years and by the 1960s attracted little enthusiasm from the boys).

Inevitably the school had its own song, put together in the late Victorian period in rather poor Latin:

The school had its own arms, with the motto Æterna non Caduca (The eternal, not the earthly).

End of the school

After the Second World War, the English Province of the Jesuits (which also had responsibilities in Rhodesia and British Guiana) suffered from an increasing shortage of priests. The financial viability of a school of only 280 pupils became more and more precarious. Moreover, by the 1960s the atmosphere of the Second Vatican Council was also lending weight to a feeling that the Order ought not to devote so large a part of its resources to the education of the better-off of the First World.

A decision was therefore made in 1965 to close the school. It finally shut in 1967, amid a storm of protest from parents and old boys who had been contributing to an appeal to fund an extension of the laboratories. After the closure, most of the current pupils transferred to Stonyhurst.

Immediately thereafter the building was borrowed for one academic year by the Loreto Sisters on account of delays to their new teacher training college. By the early 1970s, the building was owned and used for many years as a training centre by a British computer company (ICL, which was eventually absorbed into Fujitsu). In 2003 it was acquired by Hayley Conference Centres, which carried out much new building on the site and very extensive extensions and alterations, including the closure of the sweeping front drive. In 2008 Hayley tastefully restored the chapel as a function space. A memorial to the dead of the South African War also survives in the former Lower Line refectory.

The old boys’ association, known as the Beaumont Union, continues, largely through the efforts of Guy Bailey, a Beaumont old boy now resident in Monaco, with a bi-annual newsletter and an annual formal dinner at the East India Club in St. James' Square in London. The Beaumont Union also arranges an annual service each Remembrance Day at the Beaumont War Memorial. Members of the Beaumont Union and their families formed the London Beaumont Region of HCPT - The Pilgrimage Trust and are still involved with an annual pilgrimage to Lourdes, where the Beaumont crest hangs at the Le Cintra cafe in the rue Ste Marie.

Other notes

On 22 September 2007 cattle at Beaumont Farm were found with foot and mouth disease, in the course of the second outbreak following an escape of contamination from the Pirbright research establishment. The entire herd of 40 cattle was destroyed the same day.

Notable old boys
  • Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, OM, FRIBA; British architect
  • Fr Charles Sidney Beauclerk SJ (1855–1934), Parish Priest of Holywell, North Wales, from 1890 to 1898
  • Dr Noel Browne, Irish politician and Minister for Health
  • Sir Henry Burke (1859–1930), KCVO, CB, Garter King of Arms; grandson of the founder of Burke's Peerage
  • Sir John Knill, Bt; Lord Mayor of London in 1909 (first Roman Catholic to hold the office since the Reformation)
  • Sir John Aspinall, British engineer
  • Bernard Capes, novelist
  • Prince Reginald de Croy, diplomat active in the Belgian Resistance in the First World War (see Henriette Moriamé)
  • Jaime de Borbón y de Borbón-Parma, called Duke of Madrid and known in France as Jacques de Bourbon, Duke of Anjou (27 June 1870–2 October 1931), the Carlist claimant to the throne of Spain under the name Jaime I and the Legitimist claimant to the throne of France under the name Jacques I
  • General Cuthbert Fuller, DSO, CMG
  • Chevalier Philippe de Schoutheete, Belgian diplomat
  • Gilbert Pownall, British architect responsible for the mosaics in the Lady Chapel at Westminster Cathedral
  • Sir Francis Rose Bt.; British artist and aesthete
  • Peeter de Vleeschauwer, Belgian diplomat
  • Raffaele Altwegg, cellist
  • Bernard Arthur William Patrick Hastings Forbes, 8th Earl of Granard, KP, GCVO, PC (17 September 1874–10 September 1948), known as Viscount Forbes from 1874–89; Anglo-Irish soldier and Liberal politician, and Master of the Horse
  • Lt-Col. Edward Lisle Strutt, CBE, DSO; British soldier and mountaineer
  • John Bede Dalley (1876–1935), Australian journalist and writer.
  • Carlos Aramayo, Bolivian diplomat and winner of the Maria Moors Cabot prize for journalism
  • Prince Jean de Bourbon, Duc de Berri, Claimant to the French Throne, MI5 security suspect
  • Edward Topham, Owner Aintree racecourse, Grand National Handicapper and Clerk of the Course
  • Sir Patrick John Rushton Sergeant KBE; British journalist
  • Sir Hilary Synnott, KCMG; British diplomat and author
  • Colonel Sir Mark Sykes Bt. (1879–1919); soldier, author of the Sykes/Picot Agreement
  • Malcolm Hay (1881–1962; the last Laird of Seaton in Aberdeenshire); Director of Military Intelligence 1B in World War I; fund-raiser for the relief of prisoners of war in Germany and Italy; historian and author (The Roots of Christian Anti-Semitism)
  • Bernard Howell Leach, CH (1887–1979); world renowned potter based in St Ives, Cornwall
  • Alfonso de Orleans y Borbón, the Infante of Spain, and his younger brother Luís Fernando were sent to England to be educated at Beaumont, where they remained from 1899 until 1904
  • Sonnie Hale, British actor
  • Prince Michael Andreevich of Russia (1920–2008), eldest grandson of HIH Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich; Grand Prior and Imperial Protector of The Sovereign Order of the Orthodox Knights Hospitaller of St. John of Jerusalem.
  • Michael Burgess, Coroner to the Royal Household
  • Freddie Wolff, CBE, TD; Olympic gold medallist (1936)
  • Charles Laughton (1899–1962), British-born naturalized American citizen; U.S. film actor/director
  • Kynaston Reeves, British actor
  • Nicholas Danby, British/U.S. organist
  • Luis Federico Leloir, Argentine doctor and biochemist who received the 1970 Nobel Prize in Chemistry
  • Professor Sir Anthony Leggett KBE, FRS; won Nobel Prize for Physics (2003)
  • Ralph Bates, British actor
  • Hugh Burden, British actor
  • Sir Christopher William Kelly, KCB; former British Permanent Secretary, currently Chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life and Chairman of the NSPCC
  • Anthony Darnborough, British film director and producer
  • Sir Reginald Secondé, KCMG, CVO; HM British Ambassador to Chile, Roumania and Venezuela
  • Christopher Hewett (1922–2001), British/U.S. actor
  • Peter Drummond-Murray of Mastrick, Slains Pursuivant of Arms
  • George More O'Ferrall, film/television director
  • William F. Buckley Jr. (1925–2008), founder of the modern American conservative movement which laid the groundwork for the presidential candidacies of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan
  • Peter Holman, Director, The Parley of Instruments
  • Sergio Osmeña III, Filipino politician
  • Peter Hammill, a founding member of the progressive rock band Van der Graaf Generator
  • Desmond Knox-Leet (1923–1993), co-founded Diptyque (Paris)
  • Terence O'Brien, New Zealand diplomat
  • Sir George Ogilvie-Forbes, KCMG; British diplomat
  • Edward Molyneux, French dress designer
  • Jean Prouvost, French Government minister, founder of Paris Match
  • Brigadier-General Edmund William Costello, VC
  • General Sir Basil Eugster, KCB, KCVO, CBE, DSO, MC; Colonel of the Irish Guards
  • General Sir George MacDonogh, GMB, KCB, KCMG; Head of Military Intelligence in WW1
  • Pierre de Vomécourt, founder of the first SOE network in occupied France during WWII
  • George Hennessy, 1st Baron Windlesham, Conservative politician
  • Frank Russell, 2nd Lord Russell of Killowen, PC; Lord Justice of Appeal
  • Charles Ritchie Russell, 3rd Lord Russell of Killowen; Lord Justice of Appeal
  • Sixtus de Bourbon Parme French legitimist prince and Carlist claimant to the Spanish throne
  • Percy O'Reilly, Olympic Silver medallist for polo
  • Sir Edward Jackson, KBE, KCMG; Lt-Governor of Malta during World War II and Nuremberg War Trials Board Member
  • Stephen Fitzsimons, co-founded the fashion business "Biba" with wife Barbara Hulanicki
  • Admiral Sir Gerald Dickens, KCVO, CB, CMG; Director of Naval Intelligence between WWI and WWII
  • Henry Morriss, "Shanghai" Morriss winner of the 1925 Derby with Manna
  • Charles Heidsieck, vintner (House of Heidsieck)
  • Edmund de Ayala, vintner (House of Ayala)
  • Carlos Gonzales, vintner
  • Peter Levi, FSA, FRSC; Oxford Professor of Poetry, author and critic
  • Boy Capel, CBE; British polo player
  • Sir Philip de Zulueta, Private Secretary to the Prime Minister Harold MacMillan
  • Count Quentin de la Bedoyere, writer, speaker and artist
  • Ely Calil, international businessman
  • Prince Michael Obolensky of Russia, grandson of Tsar Alexander
  • Monsignor Alfred Newman Gilbey, writer and chaplain
  • Francis Beckett, British writer/author