Beaufort Society Annual Meeting 2018
On Saturday October 13, St John’s celebrated its tenth annual Beaufort Society meeting, welcoming members back to College to celebrate.
As most already know, St John’s was founded as a result of a bequest from Lady Margaret Beaufort, and has gone from strength to strength over the years thanks to the forethought of many generous alumni and friends of the College, who have given in this capacity. Consequently, ten years ago the Beaufort Society was established to thank those who leave a legacy to St John’s in their will.
Every autumn the College hosts an afternoon to thank members of the Beaufort Society for their pledge and to highlight the impact legacies have had on St John’s.
Torrential rain fell on Saturday morning, but the Master’s infamous weather-wending powers chased the clouds away and the sun arrived in time to greet our first members for welcome drinks in the Old Divinity School.
The Master, the recently knighted Professor Sir Christopher Dobson, concluded our apéritifs with a few words of thanks to members, looking back at the generosity that has made so many Johnian highs of the past year possible. He in particular noted the kindness and sad passing of Hugh Stewart (1947), who was one of the founding members of the Beaufort Society along with his wife Margaret. St John’s was privileged to have Hugh remain a regular visitor over the years, and his legacy shall support a variety of worthwhile projects in the College, not least of all his beloved LMBC, of which he was a former cox.
Guests then strolled over to Hall to enjoy a delicious three-course lunch generously sponsored by Beaufort Society Vice President, Dr Tim Hunt (1973), and his wife Athene. Over coffee, guests heard from noted historian, former College President and Librarian to St John’s for almost twenty years, Dr Mark Nicholls.
We were regaled with Dr Nicholls’ memories of St John’s, including a few, possibly apocryphal, tales from before his time; such as the visitation of Geoffrey Shaw by the ghost of fellow Johnian John Naylor in the early eighteenth century, in which Naylor accurately predicts Shaw’s imminent death. Suffice it to say, Dr Nicholls’ account underlines that not only can you rely on your Johnian chums to tell you how it is, but they look out for you even after death, for love of the College is more than just a life-long bond.
This was followed by an enchanting performance from ‘Aquila’, the first all-female a-cappella group of St John’s. Almost a year since their founding, following support from the Annual Fund, Aquila provided the perfect closure to a sating lunch and graced our ears with a range of melodies, from timeless classics including La Vie en Rose, to original songs such as the Jane Austen-inspired prayer Give Us Grace.
In the wake of Aquila’s dulcet tones, guests diverged to enjoy some afternoon activities. Building on Dr Nicholls’ spooky tale of the auguring ghost, Dr Peter Linehan took a small group of guests around College to the sites of other alleged ghostly apparitions, including a murderous chamber pot near his set in First Court!
Another band of attendees made their way to the Arthur Quiller Couch Room in the Old Divinity School, where PhD student, Rashmi Singh (2015), examined the dual life of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, arguably the largest political party in the world. Rashmi walked guests through the tense relationship of the party with the Indian political system and the shift of party ideology, as well as the changing flavour of Indian politics towards more populist, majoritarian terms, echoing a trend across the globe.
The Main Lecture Theatre of the Old Divinity School also housed a lecture from alumnus Dr Richard Butler (2006) on ‘The History and Architecture of the Master’s Lodge’, which provided some compelling lore to take us into afternoon tea at the Lodge to close the day.
Discover more about the Beaufort Society and become a member.