Friday, 27 September 2019

I Think We Both Know Why I Am Here!

Not unfortunately the poor guest who was under the impression he was visiting Prinknash Abbey with a view to becoming a chaste monk and not to end up being chased by the Abbot!

Oh how well I remember Cuthbert joking about the Mark Hargreaves scandal and saying 'I think we both know why I am here' because that is what he was supposed to have said to the guest.

November 13th 1993: The Benedictine Abbot of Prinknash abbey in Gloucester has resigned after allegations of sexual misconduct by a man who was visiting the monastery with a view to becoming a monk. The Abbot did not deny the allegations. 'Abbot Hargreaves has now gone away from the monastery in order to cause as little disruption as possible ... and is already receiving attention at therapy centre for clergy. The police said that they were 'not aware of any complaint about the abbot'. [Western Daily Press] & [D. Telegraph]

I imagine the therapy that Abbot Hargreaves received was further studies of The Eleventh Commandment...


And the sub clause

"You Scrub My Back And I'll Scrub Yours!"

What makes what I am about to relate so heartbreaking is that a vulnerable person, Matthew Benedict Newton, trusted Dom Mark, the Prinknash Community and Hugh Gilbert, Bishop Of Aberdeen when he was at his lowest and what did they do?


Painful though it is, we are very grateful to have obtained a photo of this and information that there was a note written in a casual manner accompanying the email print out which indicated a date posted several months later than the email and giving it no importance. It also indicated that it was from the Abbot Visitor...


Who was that then?

Why it's the lovely Abbot Anselm Atkinson, Abbot Of Pluscarden, who wrote to me so nicely and passed the buck to the deathly silent Abbot President in our earlier blog post "De Uno Anno"

Abbot Anselm Atkinson

Abbot President Guillermo.

So we have an email print out and who did Matthew say he was snail mail posting to?


Hugh Gilbert, Bishop Of Aberdeen, whose own track record with regard to abuse is notable for it's deficiencies!
As The Scottish Child Abuse Enqiry have discovered!

Bishop Hugh Gilbert

So perhaps the most likely probability is that Gilbert sent it to Atkinson who sent it to Abbot David Cuthbert Brogan and begs the question, "Did Prinknash and Dom Mark know?

Perhaps I should remove their reference but there again, perhaps I wont, after all, what did they do about it?
Let them take it up with Gilbert and Atkinson or better still, with higher church authority and get the terrible regime at Farnborough Abbey removed once and for all!

Abbot Cuthbert Brogan

Abbot Cameron - Brown, who died in 2018 along with a few stories I shouldn't wonder!

All this stuff about Farnborough is very sad as it shows how ineffective Catholic religious congregations are when dealing with someone like Cuthbert. In the late 90s three monks ran away, allegedly because of the abusive situation and an enquiry was held by Abbot O'Keeffe and Abbot Aldhelm Cameron Brown.

Unfortunately all indications are that new abusive stories are continually being created and what happens when they are reported?

Monday, 29 July 2019

Pure And Simple, Thank You For The Days

I certainly don't follow the pop charts much these days but up until my mid twenties I did, with a two year break, you can guess when!

Thanks to the magic of radio and a lot of motoring in the late summer of 89, I quickly became re - aquainted. The songs above and below bring tears to my eyes, now, as I write this, some thirty years on from that summer when I left Farnborough Abbey. 

Actually while we're thinking about the late great Kirsty MacColl there's a song she wrote that seems highly appropriate for The Charade Behind The Facade!

There's A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He's Elvis
Oh darling, why'd you talk so fast?
Another evening just flew past tonight
And now the daybreak's coming in
And I can't win and it ain't right
You tell me all you've done and seen
And all the places you have been without me
Well, I don't really want to know
But I'll stay quiet and then I'll go
And you won't have no cause to think about me
There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
Just like you swore to me that you'd be true
There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
But he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
Oh darling, you're so popular
You were the best thing new in Hicksville
With your mohair suits and foreign shoes
News is you changed your pick-up for a Seville
And now I'm lying here alone
'Cause you're out there on the phone
To some star in New York
I can hear you laughing now
And I can't help feeling that somehow
You don't mean anything you say at all
There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
Just like you swore to me that you'd be true
There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
But he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
Just like you swore to me that you'd be true
There's a guy works down the chip shop swears he's Elvis
But he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
I said he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
I said he's a liar and I'm not sure about you
He's a liar and I'm not sure about you

As I was saying earlier, I spent many hours in the driving seat traversing the highways and byways of Great Britain as Cuthbert and I had planned such a holiday together before the brown smelly stuff late encounter with a pressure ventilating device! Still intent on my holiday I set off solo staying with friends old and new, the new being friends of Cuthbert in Tyne & Wear and touring places I'd been wishing to visit, including other monastic ruins Kirkstall and Fountains.



Later in the year I found myself working in an office in Halstead, Essex. Shortly after arrival in the morning the ancient CofE church of St. Andrew clock would strike 9 and the sound brought back to mind processing into choir for the Sunday conventual Mass at Farnborough.

Day Trip To Bath

Didn't we have a lovely time
the day we went to bath
A beautiful day
Stonehenge on the way
But a long distance view trumped the cost and the queue 
And on the way back
The skies they turned black 
It became a little stormy
A portending pan
Soon the sh*t hit the fan
Still the wheels go round.

Friday, 31 May 2019


Hmm.... might be worth trying again?

from:Tom Wood,
Abate Primate <>,,,,,,,,,,
date:31 May 2019, 14:37
subject:Abbot Cuthbert Brogan O.S.B.

I became a postulant at St. Michael's Abbey, Farnborough, UK on 17/09/87. About a month later David Brogan joined.
He then began to subject me to a diatribe against various community members, most especially the Prior (Superior) David Higham, whilst at the same time developing an inappropriate  familiarity with the novice master Mario Sanderson such that I felt unable to seek his counsel when Brogan also began to fill my head with gay culture and irreverent jokes and then to mock my piety when I expressed shock and incredulity. 

Without a trusted avenue of support I quickly became enamored.

When our old family cat was dying I asked to briefly return home, which was denied and I accepted that and did not leave the monastery, however, the novice master decided to clothe David first, ahead of me and now making him my senior in community Dom Cuthbert Brogan. I was clothed soon after, becoming Dom Thomas Wood.

About 6 months after Brogan began "Conditioning" me (According to the police in 1987 / 88 in UK law, it was not possible to "Groom" an adult. I was 18 when it started.) I suddenly found myself experiencing an overwhelming sexual attraction towards him. I explained how I was feeling and after some equivocation where he gave and then revoked licence he maintained that our friendship should remain celibate. This news resulted in my becoming distraught and I was ushered into an empty room by the novice master who threatened to strike me as an attempt to stop my hysterical crying. I stopped crying and the details of our ensuing conversation escape me but I know it included re-assurance for my intrinsic worth and the way God made me and that I left the room feeling stronger and as the days passed became recommitted to my celibate monastic life whilst appreciating beauty and embracing self acceptance.

Soon afterward Cuthbert and I visited Wonersh Seminary. My father was friends with the late Brian Madeley from Horsham and his son Tim (Now Arundel Cathedral Dean, Canon Tim Madeley) was a seminarian there. After a pleasant visit Cuthbert and I were returning on the train from Guildford to Farnborough North when he (Cuthbert) suddenly placed his hand on my thigh. "Is that alright?" he said. I was very confused because as I've written, it was what I had wanted but since then had regained my holy purpose and was feeling assured within that. He then proceeded to undo the fly on my trousers. I think he continued to seek confirmation of my consent and I did not overtly object and as he fondled my genitals I became content with his actions. On returning to the abbey he entered my cell. The centre light was on and I prefer low lights so it was switched off and the low light from a desk lamp heightened the sensual atmosphere where, in private, he now proceeded, with my consent, to masturbate me. 

 This heralded an on / off sexual affair that would last until my departure from the Abbey and the O.S.B. in the summer of 1989. Most successive times I would initiate though I do recall being in his cell and in a seated position where he pulled my head towards his crotch indicating to me that he was seeking fellatio. I recall performing fellatio and that his personal hygiene was poor. We also had sexual contact on the beach at Ramsgate during our novitiate holiday in August 1988 staying at the benedictine abbey there that has now moved to Chilworth. Another repeat occasion for sex was in the swimming pool of Farnborough Hill girls school. We had to first collect the key from the nuns. This was on a number of Sunday afternoons.

I entered the monastery in good faith. On top of that I really loved the place and initially felt the happiest and most content in all my life. Realistically, there were ups and downs as in any life but I was feeling purposeful for perhaps the first time.

 When I left in 1989 I believed we were two contemporaries who had made a mistake and as he wanted to stay, I believed he should have my loyalty in preventing scandal so he could have a second chance. What became apparent over the ensuing 30 years alongside my growing depression and alcoholism is that I protected a highly unsuitable character where there is much public speculation online of further misdemeanour, both before he came to Farnborough, when he was with The Passionists in St. Helens, Liverpool and after his involvement with me, suspicions The Church has on occasion seen fit to look into, visitations etc as indicated by comment therein or to me privately.
 Names of those mooted as previously involved with Farnborough / David Cuthbert Brogan "Concerns" include:

 Abbot Gilbert Jones, former Abbot of Ramsgate and former Abbot President, Subiaco Congregation
Abbot Aldhelm Cameron-Brown, former Abbot of Prinknash
Abbot O'Keeffe (Laurence? former Abbot Of Ramsgate?) (Think he was either prior or novice master during Cuthbert and my novitiate holiday at Ramsgate during the early days of our affair)
Abbot Of Pluscarden 2002/3 (Hugh Gilbert?)

And within the last two years I've only had response from Abbot Anselm Atkinson (Pluscarden) and Abbot Primate Gregory Polan pointing me toward Subiaco-Cassinese president Guillermo Leon Arboleda Tamayo who has completely ignored me! As have Vatican congregations / dicasteries. Portsmouth Diocese safeguarding, once advised there were no criminal proceedings and that it was not a matter for the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service, referred me to the French Benedictines, unfortunate as F'bro is Subiaco-Cassnese. They have also failed to remove Brogan from their safeguarding commission!

 Although we were both novices / contemporaries I believe I was vulnerable by virtue of deprivation of personal liberty, wanting to persevere in the religious life at St. Michael's. I believe I was in a position of relative powerlessness. Brogan appeared to me charismatic and with a compelling authority. He was two years older, had previous experience of religious life and also had a confident worldliness about things I was trying to leave behind but was being drawn back, becoming intrigued and quickly overcome as  having no one I felt able to confide in, nor soon wished to. The grooming or conditioning left me,I believe, also vulnerable by way of impaired mental faculties, depression / anxiety, low self esteem, emotional dependence.

 In light of Pope Francis Motu Proprio "Vos Estis Lux Mundi" I am hoping you will now investigate again and agree with me that Brogan should either be removed from his position and from the Abbey, including his dubiously "formed" community who might test their vocation elsewhere OR that the Abbey lose it's canonical status and it's clerics be laicised so that the innocent may be protected.  

 Yours Sincerely,

 Tom Wood. 

My Cell, Thursday 17/09/87 

My Cell (Window Open)

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Return To Chappel & Wakes Colne Please

"Is that British Rail?" Asked the ticket clerk at Farnborough Main station. Eventually, ticket in hand and dressed in DIY clericals (sewn down black collared shirt and a piece of white cardboard) approx 19 months since joining Farnborough Abbey, I paid my first visit home. It was the week leading up to the late spring bank holiday 1989.

 Alighting from the train I bumped into our Irish neighbour Chris, who was most impressed and assured me of a warm welcome by one and all were I to ever visit Ireland dressed like that. (Not sure 30 years on if that would still be the case?)

On the Sunday morning I wore my habit to Mass at our local Church donning a Surplus to join my Dad serving and in the Evening Mum came with me for Vespers in Colchester, except on this particular Sunday there was no public office of Vespers, so we were informed by a young Priest. Just at that moment a Church bell started ringing and we learnt it was the call to Evensong at St. James The Great on East Hill. (Middle / High Cof E) Much to the young Priest's surprise, it seemed, I said we'd go there. On entering I re-call clerical heads turning and I am sure had we stayed till the end that a conversation may have been struck, but a server appeared with a thurible and had there been Benediction my Mum would have been very uncomfortable, so we didn't wait to see.

 On the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon my father was driving a steam locomotive at the railway museum near our home and asked if I would like to take the trainee fireman turn. Concerned not to be pushing out a member that may have worked hard for their place on the roster, on being assured it was ok I gladly took the turn and enjoyed one of those really good father and son moments, the more special now, since my father's death in 2006.

I cannot remember for sure the exact day of my return to the abbey, only that there was a tube strike  and I had to walk from Liverpool St to Waterloo which, as it turned out, was not too difficult at all and in fact quite pleasant.

In hindsight I shouldn't have returned or at least not without bringing the whole Cuthbert thing out in the open but I was totally unresourced to be able to do that. My Farnborough Abbey experience, which started off as my liberation, was quickly becoming a prison. If I had self esteem at all it was by this stage solely in identifying as a gay man, but even here Cuthbert, who had taken me to the mountaintop and showed me this vista, would undermine me. "You're not gay! You've just got emotional problems!" (no wonder at it!!) and then again when I mooted leaving, "You wont survive! You'll be set on by every dirty old man!" 

So it was, like the profession, I was on a conveyer belt. The monastic routine would stabilise things for a short while longer but as I relate in this blogsite opener, things would breakdown terminally that coming summer and by the autumn the residential part would be over, the residential part that is but not the saga, that will not end until Abbot Cuthbert and his clones are removed or laicised.

Friday, 29 March 2019

If He Gets The Words Wrong, We Might End Up Married!

Thirty years ago on the Friday in Easter week 1989, Dom Cuthbert Brogan and I made our simple profession in a joint ceremony. Members of my family attended along with friends one of whom was a keen photographer who compiled this wonderful collection of photographic memories of the day.