History of the Gathering

The Menzies Clan Society 1894

A Clan Society for the Menzies name was first set-up on 6 October 1892 at Weem Hotel. The members joined with the local clansmen of the Castle area in 1894 to help celebrate the Jubilee of Chief, Sir Robert Menzies. At the age of 77, he was the seventh chief of Clan Menzies to have led the clan for 50 years. This event was celebrated on his birthday, 26 September 1894 and Sir Robert was presented with an illuminated address. He had requested that the donations gathered should not be gifted to him but he would like the Society to set-up a charitable fund to commemorate the event.

This was called the “Sir Robert Menzies Benevolent Charitable Fund”. All subscriptions received were to be invested and the interest earned used to help distressed clanspeople. The Society continued and Sir Robert was succeeded by his son, Sir Neil in 1903. As Sir Neil had no heirs on his death in 1910, his sister Miss Egidia Menzies of Menzies, was acknowledged as head of the Clan Society in August 1911 at a meeting in Glasgow. She held this position until her death in 1918. However in 1912 the Menzies estates and the castle were all split up and sold by auction. The lack of their home ground did not deter the Society.

Clan Society Annual Meeting 1918

At the Clan Society annual meeting 1918, in Aberfeldy, Mr W G Steuart Menzies of Culdares was elected Chief of the Society in place of Miss Egidia. It was also recorded that his only son Ronald Steuart Menzies had just come home from war service in the Scots Guards. The Society continued on until the Second World War put a stop to its activities.

Revival of The Menzies Clan Society 1957

In 1957 Lyon Court acknowledged Ronald Steuart Menzies, the hereditary chieftain of the Culdares line as the Chief of Clan Menzies. He was the first Menzies Clan Chief since the death of Sir Neil in 1910. This event also marked the revival of The Menzies Clan Society and the acquisition of the old castle which had become very neglected. From 1957 until today a Gathering has been held annually. The first meeting of the present Menzies Clan Society took place on the first weekend of September in 1957. There had been an older Society first formed in 1892 in Glasgow in the time of Chief, Sir Robert Menzies, Bart and so this was the traditional Gathering time.

The first meeting was held in a barn behind the Weem Hotel, then meetings were held in Aberfeldy with visits to the castle whilst it was not fit to use. Eventually clan members could use the old dining room in the z-tower for meetings. Much later in 1995, they were able to enjoy the restored Ballroom in the Victorian Wing of the Castle which has been named the Dewar Room in honour of the work done on the whole castle by Dr A D (Bill) and Ann Dewar.

An Account of the First Meeting

'In those early years the Gathering consisted of only an Annual General Meeting held in Aberbfeldy Town Hall on the Saturday afternoon, followed by afternoon tea provided by the generosity of the Chief. In the first year this was in a barn which was then at the back of the Weem Hotel and in the following years in the Palace Hotel in Aberfeldy. Members visited the castle before or after the meeting, at their own risk. Probably Health & Safety would now have denied them that pleasure! Amazingly, interest was sustained over those early years.

The invitation card to meet in Aberfeldy Town Hall and also view the castle came from Chief Ronald Steuart Menzies of Menzies (formerly Ronald Steuart Menzies of Caldares), father of our present Chief. Lord Lyon King of Arms had granted his petition to be recognised as Chief on 8 May 1956.

Travelling to Aberfeldy was not so easy then but it still had a railway station so perhaps that helped as around 100 people attended. The castle had been offered for sale in 1955 and if the group decided in favour of setting up the Society again, the castle could still be purchased on the same terms. It was to be used as a Clan Centre. Not everyone was in favour as it was quite a daunting task with the building being in a poor condition.  However enough people did vote in favour, despite the fact an architect/surveyor who had been invited to talk about the building did not recommend it, and so the Menzies Clan Society was resurrected.

Recalled by Audrey Paton (President 2007-2011)