From Our Special Correspondent DURING Easter week-end, 400 old boys were guests of
Benedictines of Ampleforth, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the arrival of the monks from exile in France.
The Ampleforth Benedictines trace their origin back to Edward the Confessor's foundation of Westminster, At the Reformation, they went to Dieulouard. Driven thence by the French Revolution, after nine years of wandering they re-established both monastic community and school in 30 acres and a small Georgian house -still standing today at the centre of a vast system of buildings.
The school numbered 12 boys in 1811. Today there are 640. including those at the preparatory school at Gilling Castle. two miles away.
There are 3,000 acres of playing fields, estate and farm lands. The school has its own cinema and pack of beagles.
The last surviving monk of Westminster Abbey, Dom Sigehert Buckley, on November 21, 1607. received two young monks, Robert Sadler and Edward Maihew, as novices and successors of the Benedictine community of Westminster.
In his Easter sermon at Ampleforth, Mgr. Ronald Knox-who gave a retreat for the old boys-referred to " the little procession of gentlemen in tightly-buttoned frock coats returning to their native land from Dieulouard 150 years ago to settle in the remote depths of the Yorkshire wolds." They could not then, of course, wear the black Benedictine habit. And he praised the part they played in the resurgence of Benedictine life in this country. once covered with monasteries.
Abbot Matthews (1924-1939) was the first Benedictine monk since the Reformation to receive a degree at Oxford. Now there is a house at the university-St. Genet's Hall -where young monks read for their degrees before going back to teach in the
Ampleforth has lately rivalled all English public schools by gaining 54 scholarships at Oxford and Cambridge in the last four years.
Famous Amplefordians are to be found in all walks of life. The V.C. was awarded in the last war to Lt. Michael Allmand, son of a King's College, London. professor. Another old boy, is Lord Lovat, the Commando raid leader on Dieppe.
Politician son of Ampleforth is the lion. Hugh Fraser, M.P., Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Colonial Secretary. Mr. Harman Grisewood is Director of the B.B.C. Third Programmes
Ampleforth has produced five Bishops.