Belmont Abbey School Alderwasley and Llanarth

On the election of Fr. Anselm Lightbound as Abbot in 1948, Fr. Alphege Gleeson became prior and Dom Hugh Menken took over the Headmastership for two years. During this period a new and courageous enterprise was undertaken : the founding of a preparatory school.

It was felt that this was the best way of solving the problem of lack of accommodation at Belmont, and so in 1949 efforts were made to find a suitable property.Eventually, an existing school that was in the market was discovered and this was purchased as a going concern from its proprietor, Mr. James; the school was Alderwasley Hall, near Matlock in Derbyshire. Thus, to the twenty-six boys already at the preparatory school there were now added twenty-seven 'Ethelberts' from Belmont and eleven new boys from elsewhere, so that when the school officially reopened on September 22nd 1949, there were already sixty-four boys with four monks and a few lay staff to look after them.

 

 
 

In 1950, after only one year at Alderwasley, Fr. Alphege exchanged places with Fr. Hugh and returned to Belmont, where, in the meantime, the places left vacant by the departure of the smaller boys were soon filled up. The outstanding event of the following year was the celebration on March 28th, 1951, of the Silver Jubilee of the school which was attended by a large and distinguished gathering of visitors. In 1953 Dom Alphege Gleeson was elected Abbot and he recalled Fr. Christopher McNulty, who had now returned to Belmont, to resume his old position as Headmaster ; the latter's health was not strong enough and before long Abbot Alphege assumed both jobs. It was not an easy period for either man ; each was suffering from ill-health and the whole community was labouring under acute manpower shortage and financial strain.

Sadly but predictably the community at Alderwasley decided after twenty-five years of invaluable work that it would be in the best interest of Belmont to run only one preparatory school and Llanarth was more suitable to the need. Hence, in July 1974 Fr. Hugh and his monastic staff retired, handing the school over to new ownership.