Scandal at Downside!

Four monks in Somerset have been investigated over alleged sexual incidents.

One has been arrested, but no charges have been brought.

The four are monks at Downside Abbey, Stratton-on-the-Fosse. The allegations in some cases involve former pupils at Downside School, which the abbey runs.


Dom Antony Sutch has resigned as a contributor to Radio 4’s Thought For The Day and withdrawn from his parish after a complaint about his conduct while he was the headmaster of a top Catholic independent school.

The Benedictine monk, who was a spiritual mentor to the late Princess Diana and who preached at the marriage of the daughter of the Duchess of Cornwall, is now said to have returned to his community next to Downside School in Somerset.

According to Avon and Somerset police sources, an investigation was launched over allegations that he had indecently touched a young person aged over 16. The incident is said to have happened 14 years ago when he was head of the school, which charges boarders more than £25,000 a year.

Clearly, I cannot talk for all who went through the same schoool I did. But equally clearly, if that sort of sexual molestation is going on one would, with 5 years in the place, get some inkling of it. Even if it\’s only \”don\’t let that monk do the one on one tutoring\”.

A couple of us who were at the place, for example myself and Peter Briffa of blog fame, swapped emails when the news broke of the kiddy fiddling at Ampleforth (that story where Laurence Dallaglio indicated he had been a victim). No, we didn\’t recall anything like that going on at all. The culture at Ampleforth must have been significantly different from that of Downside (at A they were talking about groping on the junior dorms: no, that is something which we would all have known about).

Now I do indeed remember sexual scandals while I was there: there was the school prefect found to be shagging one of the housemaids: but that\’s heterosexual and adult on adult. Or the monk who set up house with the Maths teacher\’s wife: but she\’d had , what, 10 kids by then? Mutual prayer might be a relief at that point. And there was always great gossip about the monk who had been, before he was a monk, engaged to Joanna Lumley.

Anthony Sutch was there when I was….as a monk when I was a pupil, given our age differences.

But kiddies? Monks on boys? Can\’t say I ever saw it, heard about it or even in the vaguest sense thought it was happening.

BTW, perhaps we could really get the Daily Mail interested: Emma Rees Mogg (yes, daughter of, sister of Jacob who was sent to Eton as the first son) was Assistant to the Head Boy the same year I was the other assistant to the head boy….that head boy having gone on to be a pillar of Lloyd\’s.

Can we get a month or two\’s mortgage payments out of this story?

39 thoughts on “Scandal at Downside!”

  1. I’m with Tim. I know public schools are meant to be hotbeds of pederasty and buggery but in all my time there I never saw it. I suppose statistically at least some of my classmates must have been gay, but they were very successfully closeted if so.

  2. I went to the robustly heterosexual Ratcliffe College – another catholic school. Nothing like this happened there either, at least in my time, except the Upper 6th captain of cricket being expelled with a girl called Jane with whom I was hopelessly in love (she was four years older, it was sadly unrequited) for shagging on the pitch. (Not during a game.)

    We had a slightly dodgy Latin master and an oddbod brother at prep school, but by and large I tend to regard 20 year old allegations of abuse by catholic clergy as at best iffy.

  3. Of course allegations of sex abuse by Roman Catholic supposed celibates are so vulgar don’t cha know.No cases ever proved.They’ll be saying all public schools are weird next.

  4. So Much For Subtlety

    One British State school had three teachers convicted of sexually assaulting a range of students – mostly male teachers with female students – just last year.

    The fact remains that your children are safer with the Catholic Church than with the State. Which is why the prisoners are full of people who have been in Care and the Benches that send them there are full of former students of various Catholic orders.

  5. SMFS:

    “The fact remains that your children are safer with the Catholic Church than with the State.”

    Perhaps, but that isn’t claiming very much!

  6. It does, however, expose the Church practice of punishing an accused simply on the basis of a mere accusation. So much for “innocent until proven guilty”!

    “Resign”? Codswallop! In its zealotry, the Church is telling these accused to resign or face the consequences of its witch hunt! Picture the Gestapo calling in the accused, giving them a pistol, and encouraging them to do the “right thing”.

    Now we read that the police have absolved Fr. Antony. Fine. That does not obscure the fact that his life and career are over. Thus, the Church loses one of its most devout and devoted advocates whose influence the Church will miss greatly.

    And I am not a Catholic. Just an American Anglican-Catholic friend!

  7. Lynda Edwards - mother of former Downside scholar

    Judge as thou wilt be judged. Third party allegations do no indicate guilt though we all know there is no smoke without fire. Father Antony was such FUN as a Head Master. He made his job look easy and made every penny of the hard-earned school fees we paid feel worthwhile contributing to this amazing school. Our son had many choices of school, some with scholarships and including the offer of a place at Eton College. No regrets. I await the outcome of investigations before making further comment on what went on in the past. In the meantime there is no reflection on the first class education offered to fortunate sons and daughters of Roman Catholic and Christian families under the care of the capable Dom Leo Maidment. I speak from experiences from without and within many English public schools both Roman Catholic and otherwise. I would say how any organisation copes at extremely stressful times such as this is how one judges it. I was once teaching at a school where a student died in an accident related to alcohol. Staff were told to go back to their lessons and teach without so much of a prayer. I would say the school that prays together stays together. This spiritual institution is second to none. I pray with you Downside and I watch from the side-lines with interest.
    Mrs Lynda Edwards MA (Management of Schools)

  8. I am closer than most to Downside. I knew the allegations had been made November last year. It is important to remember that whilst allegations have been made, the monks have withdrawn from public service for their own protection. There has been much catholic bashing in recent times.

    We should remember them in our prayers and always remember we must forgive!

  9. David Fraser-Luckie

    This is absolute nonsense.
    I was at Downside from 1981 until 1987 and knew Father Antony well. He was one of the most, if not the most, brilliant and kind monks at Downside. Amongst pupils we always thought some teachers were a “bit queer” but certainly not Dom Anthony. I can‘t find words to express my outrage for the pain this good person must be enduring because of these surely false accusations. God bless Father Antony.

  10. Some British media can be relied upon to never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

    The tragedy is that stories such as these regardless of their truth have profound implications not only for the individuals involved but also for the organisation they represent.

    Like others I was not aware of any indecent incident and believe that unless there any substantive allegations we should not believe rumour.

  11. Christopher McKeating

    Absolute nonsense. Although still a tad hung over from my days at Downside in the 1980s, I must say what tosh this all is. 1980s Downside was run by the boys and, as such, there were no secrets. As said above, it would indeed be nice to see the Abbot stand the huge resources of the Abbey and the Old Boys by Dom Anthony.

  12. It is typical of the cynical nature of the media that a simple search on the web shows the huge space given to the allegations, but a minimal amount to the fact that Fr Anthony has been absolved.

    I agree with the vast majority of the sentiments above – I only dispute the view that Fr Anthony’s ‘life and career are over’ – I back him to come back stronger from this and set an even more valuable example, of overcoming adversity, whilst staying true to his principles.

  13. I attended Downside as a pupil for 5 years. 1990-95. During that time I know that many atrocities and abuses occurred, I still remember the death runs, and being forced to do yellow on the inside of a ping pong ball. Having to attend mass on Sunday, with a hangover was cruel enough, and at times the food was sadistic, having to do quads was also wretched

    There was admittedly a culture of bullying and it was endemic throughout the school, this was mainly perpetrated by the year above on the year below, this was probably caused by two years, having to share a dormitory, an absolutely insane concept.

    Despite this I enjoyed my time at Downside immensely, and would not change it for all the wine in the mythical monk’s cellar. (Myself and some others went looking for it once under the Abbey, but that is a story not for telling).

    During my time at Downside I spent many hours in the company of Father Anthony, he was very kind to me, he was never inappropriate, and to my recollection treated all people with the utmost courtesy.

    In my years at Downside the boys there were smart enough to know right from wrong, and very few of the boys would have been vulnerable to predatorial advances. If you were vulnerable you would not have survived in that kind of environment. This particular story reeks of bullshit. If he was predatorial the word would have been spread very quickly, and as a group of pupils we were very militant, and would not have tolerated it.

    We were all aware of the dangers of being “given 20p and a mars bar”. I think the biggest fear was that if something were to happen your friends would find out and you would then get the nickname from hell such as “Bendover Bill” “50p Pete” “Marathon Mike” etc. Kids are very cruel and a nickname like that is hard to explain 20 years later. I remember being given sex education at the age of thirteen which included the above sentence (composed slightly differently)

    I spent time with Father Anthony Sutch because my house master was known as “winnit” or sometimes a slightly more profane name as this was the cuss word he used when some boys locked him in a wardrobe, we had a mutual dislike of each other, and Father Anthony would provide me with a sympathetic ear, sanctuary and quiet often a cheese toasty.

    My thoughts are with Father Anthony at this time when a kind and brilliant man who always treated me with complete altruistic kindness, has had his good name besmirched and which will undoubtedly create doubt in the minds of many.

    Tim adds: “(Myself and some others went looking for it once under the Abbey, but that is a story not for telling).”

    Someone in every year does this. Some years, some of them, even find the booze.

  14. I was there also during the time Father Anthony Sutch was headmaster and he was great friends with my father before I went to Downside.
    However I do know two boys that were touched up and it only came out after – one being in major therapy still.
    Also I was in Barlow and after Father James left a very weird guy took over. – he was arrested a year after I left due too indecent images on his computer.

    Basically just because you didn’t ‘see’ it – doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

    Tim adds: I was there rather earlier: Raphael and then Jebb’s first year as HM. Although, as with you, my father had been great friends with them both that generation before…..

  15. I was at Downside from 1980-1985. Father Antony Sutch was an assistant in Junior House to Dom Daniel Rees, when we were all 13 years of age. He was then Brother Antony in those days. He was one of the nicest monks I ever knew there and never once, as a minor back then, did ever heard of any inappropriate behaviour taking place or see anything either.
    These allegations are coming from someone living in a fantasy world or with an axe to grind against Father Antony, I hope that they realise that his career will now be in ruins as a result of this, but a side to me will hopefully see him coming out far stronger as a result of these false allegations.
    Good luck Father Antony

  16. I was at the School in the 80s too. Whilst I never actually witnessed or suffered incidents, with the benefit of hindsight and a bit more world experience there were definately monks who were ‘odd’. Dom Antony was not one of them. But I recall a monk in Junior House who ran the place for a while who was rather odd who disappeared abruptly to some far flung parish. I always wondered and there were some rumours that he was removed from service because of indiscretions with boys which were the subject of parent complaints. There were 1 or 2 others but I cannot remember names. ANybody know the names of the other 3 in this case?

  17. stephen via friends account

    Well are we not all being a bit silly here. I was also at Downside and know for a fact that things did occur. Father Brendan had boys dress him, Dom Nicholas was caught fiddling sent to Fort Augustus brought back, put into Junior House and caught again. As far as I am aware he is back at Downside and lets all hear it dfor Dom Antony and the love letters he wrote to another Monk whom he helped to throw out of the School. This is not a case of Catholic bashing it is a case of the events catching up with the guilty. Ther was fiddling going on. I am not saying it was condoned but it was not stopped.

    A former pupil

  18. Although I’ve only known Dom Anthony Sutch for a few months I find it impossible to believe the allegations made against him.He is a genuine,kind,big-hearted,thoughtful,and moral man…lest we forget.

  19. I was at Downside School and I left in 1986.

    One can never truly know the validity of such allegations as those discussed in this forum. It is left to legal process should said allegations carry sufficient weight. The outcome it seems, is that these allegations did not carry much weight and the investigation was dropped.

    I can only convey my personal impression of Dom Anthony Sutch having experience his close supervision and teaching over period of 5 years. For some of my close friends over those years he was daily a supervisor, mentor, carer and moral guide. Each of these roles was performed with a delightful, ever present humour combined immediate understanding of his charges and a cunning intelligence.

    There was no time in those five years when I heard any indication that the respect he commanded from the boys, the strictest of jurors, was ever in doubt. Even when overseeing punishments that may have been unpopular Dom Anthony Sutch always commanded respect from the pupils as far as I can recall.

    My assesment of Downside School as an educational establishment during my years there are not positive. I can honestly say however, that on the basis of my close experience of this man, I would recommend Dom Anthony Sutch as an inspiration to young minds.

  20. As a school Downside bred some of the best comradrie I have ever seen amougst pupils…friends for life no matter where you are but as far as the monks go….one thinks that the da vinci code gets more credibilty by the tight ranks the monks took when thess incidents happened

  21. As far as Dom Anthony goes I remember him on my 18th birthday searching me for drugs and snapping the heel off my new pair of shoes to find the secret hiding spot…sadly there was not any secret hiding spot or drugs..and did he get my shoe repaired…no!!!!

  22. I was at Downside, leaving in 1981. My years there were amongst my happiest and these allegations against Dom Anthony are simply baffling. I knew Dom Anthony in the years after I left through the good work of the OMV (Order of the Malta Volunteers). He was charismatic, amusing, kind and very popular, not just with the boys and young men; but also among the young female volunteers.

    As for the school, I imagine it was much like any public school of its time though I don’t know many other schools with the same affection held by its alumni. I don’t recall any concerns among the boys re monks and their bad habits (excuse the pun). I see an earlier post referring to Father Brendan which made me chuckle because if anyone suffered from tomfoolery it was him – being mercilessly teased by the pupils! Whilst I was there, Downside was a very successful rugby playing school with a strong macho ethos. The last thing to have been accepted would have been sexual deviance by the monks on the boys, not least among the boys themselves. If there was even a hint of such things we would have all known and it would have been stamped out immediately. As another post referred to above, the boys very much self-policed themselves.

    It is quite simply disgraceful that a sophisticated, good man such as Dom Anthony has to through this. It will have been politically inspired by an unpleasant individual – or indeed group of individuals.

    May God bless Dom Anthony and goodness prevail over evil. Ora pro nobis.

  23. I was at Downside in the 80’s as well, in Smyth House, with Dom Martin as House Master. I went through some bullying ordeals by classmates but NEVER was approached or even heard of cases of misdemeanours during those years form the priests, although there were always the odd rumours regarding one or two priests due to their “soft” attitudes.

    However, I find it very difficult to believe that Dom Anthony would ever do anything immoral, totally on the contrary. I recall more than once when he got me out of trouble (with my House Master and some teachers) and even on more family issues, which I will be grateful for all my life. He thought me to be considerate to people, listen attentively, be empathic and for me he was a good example of a “good person”, someone to imitate, a role figure.

    I am only grateful to him for those years I spent at Downside and for the several occasions we met at OG dinners in Madrid. It annoys me tremendously that some people want to drag his name and career through the dirt, not thinking about the consequences. Can they sleep relaxed at night?

    God bless him and all my good classmates who taught me a great deal about friendship and dignity.

  24. Dom Anthony Sutch was my housemaster during the 5 years I spent as a pupil at Downside. We stayed in touch over the years (he presided over both my wedding & my father’s funeral), and I’m one of the many who can happily attest to knowing this brilliant man exceptionally well. The notion that he was ever capable of doing anything inappropriate in relation to his role as an educator is completely preposterous! I’m appalled at the way old grudges can be used against teachers in this way, effectively ruining their good standing purely by virtue of the “there’s no smoke without fire” adage. Yes, I commend the law for finally catching up with the likes of Fr. Nicholas and giving him his just deserts, but the collateral damage that’s been caused by what has turned out to be a veritable witch hunt is simply not fair. Downside is a remarkable school; much of its success being attributable to Dom Antony’s stint as its headmaster. Like many lucky enough to know him, I raise my glass to him & wish him the best.

  25. Terribly sad that this is happening but not surprising . It begs the question – how many others have had a grope hiding behind the dogcollar ? Happy New Year .

  26. I left Downside in 92, which appears to be slightly later than the majority of commenters here. I accept that none of you who were there earlier may have seen anything during your time at the school and perhaps because there was nothing to see, but I can guarantee that no pupil at my time was unaware of the fact that boys had been sexually abused by one monk, at least.

    Fr Nick was my Junior House master, and prior to his removal, none of us were in any doubt that he was deeply suspect. How many of you here believe it is perfectly normal for a monk to share showers with 13 year old boys? He was well known for prowling the shower room before bedtime and in the morning, instructing boys trying to dry themselves between the pipes (it was infinitely warmer in there) to “come out where I can see you”. We thought he was a bit of a pervert, little did most of us know at the time that it went much further than just looking or exposing himself. At least two unfortunate boys, of course, knew only too well. The rest of us found out the following year, he was removed to a parish, and that was that. But it happened more than once, and the most troubling aspect of all of this is the school’s treatment of the whole business.

    By now the OGs among you will have received D Aidan’s letter. I think this will persuade any doubters that extensive abuse has occurred and it is not limited to Fr Nick , in fact, seven monks were investigated and there have been various cautions and convictions. Aidan’s intention is to reassure but I think it does anything but. He glosses over the fact that it has taken over 20 years for Nick to be brought to account. During that time other incidents (none that we know of by Nick) have taken place, on which the school is only going public now. During that time the school and abbey has harboured a sex criminal in close proximity to the pupils, even allowing boys to stay over in the abbey, under the same roof. And let’s not forget that Nick’s second victim was only abused because Nick was given the opportunity to remain as Junior House master after the first instance of abuse. Even in 1987 that was plain wrong.

    The most recent Ofsted and ISI reports state that the school now meets minimum standards, but it has had to be dragged up to those standards and previous successive inspection reports stated that the school simply wasn’t doing enough to make pupils safe despite having the necessary measures spelled out for them. Go read them all, they’re on the school website. Funnily enough, Aidan didn’t mention them in his email. I don’t have much confidence in the current leadership, because Aidan has been in a position of authority within the Downside system throughout the last two decades, whether as headmaster, governor, prior or abbott. He is complicit in both the delay in justice for Fr Nick and in his harbouring so close to children. I don’t see any option but for him to stand down at least from any position of responsibility for the school and pupils. But I would go further and state that it is time for the running of the school to be removed from the control of the monks. They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

    I’m really angry. I recommend anyone else feeling similarly to read this blog: . It’s not mine, but written by someone whose son was at Ealing Abbey and who successfully campaigned for changes to the governance of the school following instances of abuse there. He is now taking a keen interest in Downside.

  27. Can I just update you Tim Sutch has been cleared it turns out it was a woman whos advances were spurned who decided to cause a bit of trouble for him no truth in it at all.

  28. Will is spot on here with regards to the fact that none of this is news. As I said in an earlier post – 1980s Downside was run by the boys and, as such, there were no secrets – the monsters were known and Dom Anthony was not one of them. He also did a pretty remarkable job in turning round the dire circumstances that his predecessor had left him. A shame he didn’t have the power to do more.

  29. Post-note: Downside School has been around since the Battle of Waterloo – the predations of the likes of Dom Nicholas and the failings of an appalling school hierarchy (that subsequently took senior positions in the abbey) must not be allowed to destroy the incalculable value of its past, present or future. Perhaps the OGs should step in and start running things. There are some capital chaps out there.

  30. In fact, Christopher, quite a lot of this most certainly is news.

    I was aware only that Nick had abused a boy in the year below me when I was a 4th former. Turns out he had a previous victim, who was abused in 86 or 87. The school was aware of this, the upshot being that when I joined the school as a 13 year old boy, away from home for the first time and surrounded by strangers, I was placed by the school authorities into the care of a known paedophile. That’s news to me.

    The long list of other offenders named (or not) in Aidan’s email? That’s news to me.

    The fact that there are two monks against whom allegations are ‘founded’ but no criminal action is being taken, and are still living in the monastery? That’s news to me.

    The fact that the school repeatedly failed to come up to minimum child safeguarding standards during successive inspections, even after all these events had taken place and you might therefore have thought someone in authority would have thought it a good idea to clean the place up? That’s news to me.

    The fact that, although legally sufficient, the school’s current (and this is after they have been forced to update it) child protection policy /still/ does not conform to best practice? That’s news to me.

    The monk referred to by Aidan who left the country many years ago and recently accepted a caution for abusing a pupil in the 60s is Brother Anselm (he has been named in the Times and elsewhere), who is currently at Glenstal Abbey in Ireland. Downside did not pass on the information they had regarding the 60’s abuse to Glenstal and he was only removed from running the chess club for pupils at the school which adjoins Glenstal Abbey following the recent caution. Yup, that’s news to me, too.

    Two things need to come out of this mess: genuine accountability for what has gone before, and most importantly, to put in place systems to ensure the /best possible/ safeguarding of all current and future pupils. Neither of those objectives have been achieved as yet, and I have very little confidence in the current management of the school and abbey to do so. Minimum standards only will not suffice. Knowing what I do now, I wouldn’t send my children there currently.

    Christopher is right in saying that OGs have some power to effect change, particularly if they have children who are current pupils or whom they are intending to send there soon. I think it may be time to start lobbying.

  31. Hello Will,

    I will rephrase:

    Will is spot on here with regards to the fact that many of the boys knew about incidents of abuse by individuals at the school during the 1980s. As I said in an earlier post – 1980s Downside was run by the boys and, as such, there were few secrets – the monsters were known and Dom Anthony was not one of them. He also did a pretty remarkable job in turning round the dire circumstances that his predecessor had left him. A shame he didn’t have the power to do more.

    Re: your latest – That ‘OGs have some power to effect change’, I would go further: The OGs have enormous power to effect change and I would be surprised were it not to happen.

  32. Post-note: Your idea to start lobbying is superlative! After just a few minutes on the net, I found several OG Captains of industry, a couple of OG entrepreneurs, a senior ranking OG Naval Officer, three top OG journalists and, most valuably, the names of several hundred OGs with children of their own. A team put together from this lot would sort out the place in a week. It would also retain what makes the school such an incredible place and be a fitting end to what has been, at the end of the day, nothing less than a tragedy.

  33. Will and Christopher,

    You are in for a long battle. This is a complex subject which motivates (very) few and preparation is vital. You need a detailed understanding of the objective, and this is not acquired quickly. Carlile’s report on St Benedict’s subcontracted ‘safeguarding’ to others including the ISI. A ludicrous position when one understands the limited remit of that inspectorate. As a result the ‘safeguarding’ target was missed and Carlile knows it. He did not want to get involved – too messy for him because it is like trying to nail jelly to a wall.

    National minimum standards for safeguarding sound wonderful but deliver almost nothing. The DfE has removed itself from the child protection coalface, the ISI is not independent and comprises educationalists but has no experience in social care and welfare (safeguarding), despite now being responsible (January 2012) for inspecting ISC boarding schools. In any case it only inspects to ‘national minimum standards’ and as the 09 inspection of St Benedict’s demonstrated – the inspectorate is incapable of recognising a useless policy unaided. An inspector for the ISI is the current Headmaster of St Benedict’s who signed off the useless policy.

    Independent schools are private businesses. If you buy into their terms and conditions (most on a schools website) by placing you child in a school which mostly provide very poor safeguarding, you’ve got yourself to blame if things go wrong. Few parents understand this and fewer ever read the safeguarding policy for schools because they somehow believe that if a school is operating then everything must be fine!


    I wish you and others who may join you well.

  34. I, like the other ‘Will’, also left in ’92. I was an outsider, on the inside – as I’m non Catholic. My mother was the art teacher at the school during the 80’s, and on a whim, sent me to Downside. I have very mixed feelings about the school. There were some good friends made, but there was also bullying, and definite abuse from several of the monks. Father Nick was a bender, I shared a shower with him once.. and I remember him peering eagerly out of his thick glasses at me and two of the other boys, his white whale’s body in full, disgusting view. Father Anthony Sutch was my housemaster, and I have to be honest about his behaviour. He could be a charming man, but his charm had serious limitations. He could snap into anger at the drop of a hat. I often found myself on the end of that ugly little temper, and on one occasion, he whacked me full in the face. The other aspects of his bullying nature emerged more subtly, as Anthony Sutch could be incredibly manipulative, and emotionally cold. Personally, I preferred Father James – ‘Fucker’ as he was affectionately known, as he always had a kind word, and an easy smile.. asking after my mother. With some people you know immediately whether or not your wellbeing is of importance to them. Father Anthony fell way short, and didn’t pass the acid test. No apologies from me, that’s just the way it was, from my experience of living in his ‘house’

  35. I knew Fr. Nicholas pretty well. He taught me history. I remember the day when Fr. Philip Jebb announced, in the auditorium , he (Fr. Nicholas) would become House Master of Junior house. The whole school gasped – obviously the boys did nt quite agreed with Jebb’s decision and made it clear. The monks were a strange bunch, but far more approachable then most masters and some pretty cruel bullying went on. Fr. Martin Salmon was a bit of a nutter! Shame to hear Fr. Jervais passed on recently.

  36. I was at Downside in the late 60’s and it remains one of the happiest times in my life. In my time, there was very little bullying. One of my contemporaries was a particularly nasty piece of work and he got thrown out. The point about boys preventing bullying is a good one: it was considered very bad form and I count one of the proudest moments in my life when, in my last year, I faced down two thugs from Caverel, both considerably larger than myself, who were bullying someone in my house (Ullathorne). I doubt that I was alone in handling bullying directly.
    As far as homosexuality was concerned, there were obviously some boys who were ‘pansies’ and there were incidents of older boys having a ‘crush’ on pretty younger boys. We regarded such things as laughable and I never reckoned that anything physical happened. Adolescent curiousity more like.
    I regarded Anselm, as a good friend. His history is more complicated than you would think. He was part of a small group of ‘dissident’ younger monks, which had problems with the way religion was taught and the way the Monastic Community responded to the ‘outside world’. Remember, this was the 60’s, tumultuous times for both The Church and British Society, everything was up for re-invention. This group was banished to a parish in Liverpool, where reports had it, they had a high old time. But I never thought Anselm was a homosexual or a paedophile, rather, if I’d been asked or even bothered to think about it, I would have thought that his problems with his vows of chastity lay in a different direction. Does anyone know what happened to Kevin Maguire, the leader of the group, another good friend of mine?
    Curiously, the legend of the Monastic Wine Cellars might have had its origins in my time. This dissident group brewed beer in a store-room underneath the new row of class rooms, which runs from the Science Block to the Main Hall. Being a jovial crew, they shared the fruits of their labour with a select group of boys of which I was happily one. Totally, against the rules, of course, but it was the 60’s – Tune in, Turn On, Drop Out.
    Shannon O’Hara

  37. I left Downside in 1993 – i thoroughly enjoyed and loved my time there. All my closest friends to this day, are OG’s, and, as a Barlow boy, i was lucky enough to have the wonderfully genuine and kind housemaster, Fr James.

    It was in my first year at Downside, having recently arrived from the psychological hell of my prep school, that Fr Nick was ousted, and quite rightly so. He wasn’t a particularly nice person, he had a bad reputation, and, as has been already posted, we all knew, full well, that he had an ‘agenda’. However, what i (we) didn’t know, was that Fr Nick would actually act out his sick fantasies.

    Downside today has moved on -and has done so admirably and successfully. The only thing that makes me a bit sad is that (understandably), Dowmside has lost its bohemian edge, which it was known for – i shall always miss walking off the bus to play an away rugby game , at a co-ed school, and all the girls wolf whistling us!

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