Only Scottish Widows (also formed in 1815) can match the Braemar Royal Highland Society (then the ‘Braemar Wright Society’) in terms of longevity as a Friendly Society — and its enduring legacy is in the charitable work of the Braemar Royal Highland Charity (BRHC) and the annual Braemar Gathering.
The ‘Wrights’ (or ‘Vrichts’) had been assembling for many years prior to this to hold a late summer procession, headed by a piper, to Castleton, where they would engage in ‘jollifications’ — which included Highland competitions of strength and skill, along with other festivities. This timeline gives an overview of the history of the Society and its notable milestones along the way.
Braemar Wright Society Holds Inaugural Meeting
The meeting was held in July 1815, and the Society was later constituted in January 1816 — 6 months to the day after the Battle of Waterloo. The Braemar Wright Society was registered as a Friendly Society in 1817 with the Clerk of Peace, Reg. No.F.S. 1 (Scot).
Named Changed to Braemar Highland Society
This was at the suggestion of the Deputy Master (Vice-President) Charles Cumming, Earl Fife’s Factor on Mar Estate. Fife was at that time President of the Society, and it seems likely that the idea of change originated with him. At this time, ‘Wrights’ (both wheel wrights and square wrights, or joiners) were very active in Braemar, and they had given their name to the annual procession culminating in what is now the Braemar Gathering.
Highland Society Began Awarding Prizes at the Gathering
From that time on, the Highland Society organised the Braemar Gathering, which became its major undertaking.
1832 - 1836
The Local McHardy Family Win a Total of 170 Prizes at the Gathering
Queen Victoria Attends the Gathering at Invercauld House
Famous Athlete Donald Dinnie Joins the Society
Queen Victoria Grants the Society Royal Status
First Gathering Held in Princess Royal Park
This also marked the first year there was an admission charge for spectators. The area of the park had been donated by the Mar Estate, reportedly to save the Fifes having to travel to Invercauld or Balmoral, and the land required a great deal of work before it could be used.
First Book of the Gathering Produced
Covered Stand Built by John Ewan
This year also saw the gate pillars built and gates hung.
Private Enclosure Built
Braemar Gathering Charitable Trust Established
Under this covenant, all money due to be paid in entertainment tax must be paid into Charitable Trust. Deed of Covenant and Deed of Trust both June 1953.
Park Name Changed to Princess Royal & Duke of Fife Memorial Park
At the request of Princess Arthur.