This week I have had the opportunity to visit Gilwell, often described as the spiritual home of Scouting. Despite my love of Scouting this is the first time I have been and had the pleasure of being shown around by Caroline Pantling, Archives and Heritage Manager. I probably had a very similar experience to many other Scouts in visiting Gilwell in that it felt very familiar – its symbolism, icons and stories run deep in our history.
I have not written on this blog before about the quiet Scot who made all this happen – but even after all this time his generosity remains impressive.
image courtesy of the Scout Association
William de Bois Maclaren (17 November 1856 – 3 June 1921) did his Scouting in Rosneath in Dumbartonshire where he was Commissioner, and made his wealth through publishing and other business interests in London, particularly publishing and the rubber industry. Gifts amounting to £10,000 saw the 109 acre estate purchased and the White House put in order for use. Gilwell became the place where Scouters were trained to “play the game”, and they came from across the world.
On opening, BP presented Maclaren with the silver wolf but the most lasting tribute came from the staff wearing his tartan as neckerchiefs. This developed over time to the patch on the Gilwell knock we know today. It was interesting to discover that MacLaren was buried in the same place as Major FM Crum who I have written lots about on this blog – Rosneath. Not sure if they are in the same graveyard but I feel a road trip coming on…
postscript – indeed they are – remarkable !