September 2020 saw the launch of a new book outlining the history of the College’s “summer house” in Boecillo, a small village on the banks of the river Duero. The house – known also as the “Casa Grande” (the “Big House”) – was built in the late 1790s as a place the students could go to in the summer months, to escape the heat and dust of the city in Valladolid, at a time when travel was difficult and expensive, and travel home only happened at the end of one’s studies, after ordination. Although travel would become easier over time, the custom of spending time at Boecillo remained a feature of the College’s life right up through the 1970s and 1980s, in fact until the College left Valladolid itself. It was sold for development in the early 2000s.
In order both to tell its story and to share some memories of relationships between the Scots and the village which hosted them each year for so many years, Séamus Mannion, a student of the College in the early 1970s and a regular visitor to the village to visit friends he had maintained over the years, published in the summer of 2020 a new book, “La Casa Grande: Historia de los Escoceses en Boecillo” (“A History of the Scots in Boecillo”) telling the story in both Spanish and English of the place, its people and the Scots whom they welcomed to their village every year. His writings drew on historical records, including archive material from the College itself, and from personal recollections and materials from former students and staff, including Bishop Maurice Taylor, who had been Séamus’s own rector when he was a student at the College.
An event, hosted by the local historical and cultural association (“Buezillo”), was held in the Civic Centre in Boecillo itself in September 2020 to formally launch Séamus’s new book. Séamus himself – who was unable to travel to Spain for the event because of the Covid-19 pandemic – joined proceedings via videolink, sharing his reasons for writing, his passion and affection for the village and fond recollections of his time as a student in Valladolid. In addition, professor of history at the University of Valladolid and archivist/historian of the English College, don Javier Burrieza Sánchez gave a sense of the historical context of the Colleges and the period in which the Casa Grande was first built, together with some of the major events of its history, such as its “requisitioning” by the Duke of Wellington during the Peninsular War in 1812. Fr Tom Kilbride, the current College Rector, spoke to the importance of the book for maintaining relations between the College and Boecillo as well as its importance as a contribution to the history and collective memory of the College for former students and others.
Some paper copies are still available and a Kindle version of the book La Casa Grande: History of the Scots in Boecillo 1795-2001 is available on Amazon.co.uk priced (approx.) £5