Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Part Seven | 1971-1975

Anthony Chenevix-Trench took over as Headmaster of Fettes College in September 1971. Ronald Selby-Wright had this to say in 'Another Home' (AH), his autobiography:

'My visits to Fettes were made all the more pleasant when Anthony Chenevix-Trench was appointed Head Master in 1971. When he was Head Master of Eton I had twice stayed with him and Elizabeth when preaching there, and got to know them and their delightful family well. He was one of the great Head Masters of our time... even those he had to punish were among the first to regard him with affection and respect... I was always invited to join the family for Christmas dinner...'

In contrast, Mark Peel's later biography of the man - 'The Land of Lost Content' - supplies a less securely propagandistic account of the time:

'As time drew nigh for Tony's descent on Fettes, opinions differed as to his coming. The illustrious war record and the Eton pedigree, undoubted attractions for many, were offset by those who knew of his Private Eye notoriety...' 

Tony Blair finished at Fettes at the same time as the previous Headmaster who had ruled over him; but, it is also of note - according to Anthony Seldon - that:

'Ronald Selby Wright had.. helped to arrange - with Jack Mackenzie-Stuart - for Blair to spend the week after his 'A' Levels at a boys' camp.'

The A' Levels, which Tony Blair got, were in English, History and French.

Ronald Selby Wright:

'A special afternoon tea reception was arranged in October 1971 for my friends Anthony and Elizabeth Chenevix-Trench, when he came from being Head Master of Eton to being Head Master of Fettes College, and I invited almost everyone I could think of to meet them.' [AH]

Daily Express, October 20th 1971:

New Moderator

The Church of Scotland's next Moderator will be the former wartime "radio padre" the Rev. Dr. Ronald Selby Wright. He was the unanimous choice of the nominating committee yesterday.

Church Times, November 5th 1971:


DR. RONALD SELBY WRIGHT, Minister of the Canongate Kirk, Edinburgh, has been nominated Moderator-Designate of the 1972 General Assembly of the Church of Scotland. His nomination was formally presented to the Commission of Assembly in Edinburgh on Thursday of last week.

1972 seems to have been as busy a year as any other for RSW - now in the Moderator of the Church of Scotland role - including with regard to his contacts with leading figures in 'The Establishment'. In early-June, he flew to London for the funeral of the Duke of Windsor, at the special request of the Queen: 

'..the Queen had.. asked that the Moderator should be invited to take part at this service along with the two Archbishops..' [AH]

In November, he was taken ' nearly every corner of Caithness..' meeting many people and having tea at the Queen Mother's Castle of May, which was '..a delightful experience...'

Later in that month, he took part in the events around '..the 25th Wedding Anniversary of H.M. The Queen and Prince Philip..'

One day in the diary of his London visit has this:

'..Visited the speaker - Selwyn Lloyd - very nice talk about Fettes. Lunch at Lancaster House presided over by.. the Secretary of State for Scotland... Then to House of Commons to Distinguished Strangers' Gallery to hear Question Time, etc. Received by Lord Chancellor (Lord Hailsham) in his room and he spoke, very friendly, for some time about Holyrood, etc. Went from him to 10 Downing Street for a cup of tea and talk with Ted Heath, the Prime Minister - he was very friendly and interesting and saw me to the door - couldn't have been nicer. We met in the Cabinet Room. Then to the House of Lords...' [AH]

Ronald Selby Wright also visited Balmoral that year:

'I was the Queen's guest at Balmoral on three occasions.. The second occasion was in 1972 when I was Moderator and on the first evening we had a film show and the second (day) we had a picnic in Queen Victoria's Cottage beside the Loch where Prince Philip, Prince Charles and Princess Anne did the cooking; the Queen set the table and the singing round the fire was led by the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret...' [AH]

After a year off in London, Tony Blair started a Law Course at St.John's College, Oxford, in 1972.

In the spring of 1974, he was confirmed in the Church of England by the College Chaplain.

Meanwhile, back in Edinburgh:

'By 1974 for practical and economic reasons we gave up Panmure House to the Town for a different kind of youth work and retained the Hall, adding later a small annexe which we called "The Stag's Head"...' [AH]

Tony Blair graduated from Oxford and moved to Earl's Court, London, where he joined the Chelsea Labour Party.

In October, he embarked on a one year Bar course at Lincoln's Inn. This next period in his 'journey' was referred to by Clarissa Dickson Wright in an article published about 32 years later:

'..Long before I left school I decided I wanted to go into law... with the assistance of friends I was able to study for the Bar at Gray's Inn, one of the Inns of Court, and do an external law degree at University College, London.

I worked hard and took part in the full round of student activities, from organising rugby fixtures to protesting over the Vietnam War.

There were several members of the future Labour Cabinet in my circle, including Tony Blair himself. We called him Miranda, not least because of his long hair and girlish looks. He was regarded as a poor, sad thing and considered something of a fantasist...

Then there was Cherie Booth, clever, hungry for success, for love, desperately needy; the product of another dysfunctional home. In those days she was very close to her head of chambers, Derry Irvine...' [Mail Online, August 18th 2007] 


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