Downside Abbey

The Benedictine Monastic Community

Downside School

The Catholic School for pupils 11 - 18

Old Gregorians

The Community for old boys and girls

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Desmond Gregory Memorial Dinner

Many thanks to Robert Jenkins (B71) for organising this event which has hugely enjoyed by all. Those attending were:

Edward Bell (S56)
Anthony Berry (Ra68)
Harry Biggs-Davison (R73)
Timothy Bowles (S69)
Peter Collins (B69)
John Cotton (C59)
Nicholas Coulson (C71)
Michael Hackney (S68)
Walton Hornsby (R75)
William Hoskins (R73)
Edward Hutton (B70)
Dom Christopher Jamison (R69)
Paul Jenkins (B74)
Peter Jenkins (U67)
Robert Jenkins (B71)
Richard Lamb (R69)
Dominic Lieven (R69)
Simon Linnell (S73)
Patrick Magee (R71)
Nicholas Mander (S67)
James Pavry (C68)
Robert Prendergast (S59)
David Quinn (B55)
Nicholas Scott-Barrett (B67)
Simon Scott-Barrett (B70)
Peter Sedgwick (Ra62)
John Varley (S73)
Michael Walton (Ra61)
Joe Whitlock Blundell (B70)

with apologies from

Oliver Crosthwaite – Eyre (B81)
Archie Dunn (B70)
Edward Fitzgerald (B70)
Dermot Gleeson (U67)
Patrick Magee (R71)
Ian Mathieson (C70)
Jock Miller (R69)
Denis Murphy (R54)
Bill Nicholson (B66)
Donald Ogilvy Watson (B58)
Peter Palliser (C69)
Adrian Weisweiller (C73)
Adam Zamoyski (R66)

Speeches were given by Giles Denham (Desmond's nephew), Dominic Lieven, Nicholas Coulson and Robert Jenkins.

From Robert Jenkins speech

"A very warm welcome, in particular to Dom Leo, Downside’s headmaster, to our gathering in honour of Desmond Gregory, of Dizzles, one of Downside’s outstanding masters and a remarkable man.

Before Dom Christopher graces us with his much appreciated grace, a few words are fitting to set the scene. 

Those familiar with Alan Bennett’s The History Boys may feel some resonance with the figure of a teacher who inspires and stimulates the imaginations and intellects of those in their formative years.

The past may be another country, but if we cast back our minds, ourselves, to between some 35 and closer to 60 years ago, we may have vivid recollections of Dizzles’ Sligger Library Salon, of the incomparable and inimitable introduction he gave to modern history and to a long litany of great historians, from Namier to AJP Taylor, and so on.

From the Whig interpretation of English history, the enlightenment and enlightened despotism, to the era of revolutions, romanticism and nationalism, especially the Risorgimento and Italy’s history with which Dizzles was intimately acquainted, and culminating in his masterful survey of the 20th century, of international relations, of struggles for power and of ideologies in the realm of ideas and ideals.

But for unavoidable absence, our gathering would be more than 40 strong. A veritable Schindler’s List of Dizzles’ former history pupils!

In conversation and correspondence with them, many expressed deep gratitude to and great affection for Dizzles as a person who took a genuine benevolent interest in his pupils, and for whom he was to a significant extent a life transforming agent of opportunity, both for their further university education and later life as well as communicating and creating a life long love of history.

We knew Dizzles in his prime, which spanned some 22 years at Downside, but what of the other 70 years of his full and long life?

We are fortunate and grateful to have with us Desmond’s nephew, Giles Denham, who can tell us more about the man, the intellectual convert Catholic and the soldier with his distinguished war record and much merited MBE.

Following Chai Lieven’s touching appreciation of Dizzles in The Raven, Chai will share with us his insights about Dizzles as history master and subsequent prolific author and historian.

Indeed, everyone is welcome throughout our evening to share reflections and reminiscences. This may not leave the time for mutual erudite entertainment in a lengthy history quiz, so I have devised one with a single apt question, and with a prize, not unsurprisingly, of a history book written by one of Dizzles’ former pupils and a riveting read!

And to conclude our evening, Dizzles’ godson, Nicholas Coulson, himself an accomplished historian and a man of many talents, will kindly propose a toast to him"

 Robert Jenkins – 5 May 2011

From the archives.