Croydon Freemason Cyril Spackman was a man of many talents, including winning the design competition for the Hall Stone Jewel, as Alan Chard explains
At a special meeting of Grand Lodge in June 1919, the Grand Master, the Duke of Connaught, expressed a wish that a memorial be established to commemorate those brethren who had made the supreme sacrifice in the 1914-1918 war.
It was agreed that this memorial should be a building of a central home for Freemasonry on a site to be selected in London.
The Masonic Million Memorial Fund was then launched in September that year and brethren both at home and overseas were invited to contribute to raise the £1m needed to finance the work.
The contributions from individuals and Lodges were to be recognised by the award of a commemorative jewel.
For the jewel design it was decided to hold an open competition with a £75 prize for the winner, and at the Grand Lodge meeting in June 1921 it was announced that the design selected was that submitted by Cyril Saunders Spackman.
He was initiated into Panmure Lodge No. 720 on 21 January 1918 when 30 years old. The Lodge was to become a Hall Stone Jewel Lodge, although Spackman resigned in February 1923.
But in 1937 he thought there was a need for a new Surrey Lodge to be formed to cater for professions such as engineers, architects, surveyors etc. This led to the founding of Beaux Arts Lodge No. 5707, consecrated at Sutton Masonic Hall on 28 January 1938. Spackman and Sadler, his father-in-law, were both founder members, Spackman being the first secretary, and Sadler the first Master.
With the coming of war, Surrey County Council requisitioned the Hall for use as a rest centre, but Spackman came to the rescue and offered the Lodge the use of his studio for its meetings.
As a result, the Lodge met there regularly from 1939 to 1948. Spackman became Master in January 1940, and had the unique distinction of being installed in a ceremony conducted in his own home.
He remained secretary right up to his death, and even during his year in the chair, he continued to deal with Lodge affairs, although another Brother was secretary by name.
He was a man of many talents – architect, painter, sculptor, teacher, writer, Freemason. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio on 15 August 1887, the only son of a Welsh Methodist minister the Rev. John and Adele Saunders Spackman.
Educated in schools on both sides of the Atlantic, in 1922 he was commissioned to paint the portrait of a prominent Croydon Freemason, Richard Joseph Sadler.
Mr Sadler had a daughter, Ada Victoria, and romance blossomed, and later that year they were married. The Croydon Times (19 August 1958), in an interview with Spackman, reported:
A high-ranking Surrey Freemason, he recalled that it was Freemasonry that led to his marriage with Miss Queenie Sadler, the well-known Croydon violinist in 1922, and to his coming to live in Croydon. He first met her when he was asked to paint the portrait of her father, who was then a prominent Freemason. “And it was a real Masonic wedding, in St Matthew’s, George Street” Mr Spackman remembered.
They had one daughter, who became a writer, and a son who became an RAF pilot, and who then flew with British Overseas Airways Corporation. Then he became a designer and test pilot with Miles Beagle Aircraft. Tragically he was killed during a flight at the age of 35.
At their home in East Croydon, Cyril Spackman had a splendid studio built to his own design in which he could exhibit his own works and hold meetings.
Hall Stone Jewel
The Masonic Million Memorial Fund Commemorative Jewel, issued to individual subscribers. The design was described at the time as follows:
“The jewel is in the form of a cross, symbolising Sacrifice, with a perfect square at the four ends, on the left and right squares being the dates 1914-1918, the years in which the supreme sacrifice was made. Between these is a winged figure of Peace presenting the representation of a Temple with special Masonic allusion in the Pillars, Porch and Steps. The medal is suspended by the Square and Compasses, attached to a ribband, the whole thus symbolising the Craft’s gift of a Temple in memory of those brethren who gave all for King and Country, Peace and Victory, Liberty and Brotherhood.”
In 1930 he was elected a Licentiate of the Royal Institute of British Architects. Although he trained as an architect he had always wanted to be a painter, and in 1913 he exhibited for the first time at the Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition at the age of 26.
The work accepted was Westminster Abbey – the West Front. In 1916 another work was accepted – Crickhowell Bridge, Wales and the following year The Edge of the Coppice was approved.
One commission he must have enjoyed was for Queen Mary’s Doll’s House. Queen Mary had always been an enthusiastic collector of antiques, especially miniatures, and the Doll’s House was intended to be not just a gift, but also to promote the work of leading British artists, designers and craftsmen.
Built on the scale of 1:12 it was completed in time to appear at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924. After the exhibition closed it was taken to Windsor Castle for permanent exhibition, where it has remained to this day.
The architect of the house was Sir Edward Lutyens – one of the three assessors for the design competition in 1924-1926 to select an architect for the new Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London.
More than 1,500 craftsmen and artists were invited by him to participate in the construction of the house and its furnishings, including Spackman, who contributed Fir Trees against a Sunset Sky.
Honours now came to Cyril Spackman, and in 1916 he was elected a member of the Royal Miniature Society and the Royal Society of British Artists (RSBA).
For Freemasons, his most important commission was the design in 1921 of the Hall Stone Jewel for the United Grand Lodge of England, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1922.
He was very proud that the jewel is a main feature in the central panel of the stained glass window behind the shrine on the first floor vestibule at Freemasons’ Hall.
However, there is one interesting change in the jewel in the panel. When he designed it in 1921 this was prior to the architectural competition for the new building.
When the window was designed several years later, the façade was now known, so the winged figure of Peace, instead of holding a model of a classic temple – as in the jewel itself – is actually holding a model of the Tower façade for the building.
The Duke of Devonshire was Grand Master 1947-1950, and in 1950 Spackman exhibited at a Winter Exhibition of the RSBA a bust of the Duke, and in December that year he presented it to Grand Lodge.
In 1944 he was admitted into the Worshipful Company of Masons, which had its origins in the operative guild formed to control the stone trade in London.
Spackman was generous with his time and talents and was a well-known and active figure in the local community. He was chairman of the Croydon University Extension Committee, the Committee of the Croydon Writers Circle, an Honorary Vice-President of the Croydon Symphony Orchestra and a Vice-President of the Croydon Camera Club.
Not only were Lodge meetings held at his home, but he let it out to local cultural groups, and in the studio he took private lessons and held classes in architecture, painting, sculpture and drawing.
He had an international reputation, and his works were widely exhibited from the Walker Art Gallery in Liverpool to the Cleveland Museum of Art in the United States. As a writer his one major publication appears to have been Colour Prints of a Dream Garden and Old World Garden, a collection of prints taken from original drawings, some of which had been exhibited at the Royal Academy.
Some of his work has been left to posterity. There are prints in the British Museum, drawings in the permanent art collections in some City Art Galleries, and works in private collections in the UK, USA, France, Holland and Sweden – and, of course, the Hall Stone Jewel.
Cyril Spackman died of a heart attack on 16 May 1963 at the age of 76.
Acknowledgements: The author wishes to thank the National Art Library, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of British Artists, the Royal Society of Arts Commerce and Manufacture, the Royal Institute of British Architects, Croydon Local History and Archives, Westminster Central Reference Library and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry. Particular thanks are due to Dr Susan Owens (Royal Collection Trust), Peter Clark (Worshipful Company of Masons), Stephen Freeth and Juliet Barnes (Corporation of London), Stephen Briney (Panmure Lodge No. 720), Douglas Burford (Beaux Arts Lodge) and James Nye (Remigium Lodge No. 7343).
Henry Sadler was a great Victorian Mason to whom Masonic researchers owe a great deal, says David Peabody
Masonic historians are familiar with the name of Henry Sadler, but many brethren of today are unaware of the debt of gratitude that all Freemasons owe him.
Henry Sadler was born on 19th October 1840 in the Village of Shalford, Essex, just north of Braintree. Little is known of his early life, but he became a merchant mariner at the age of 15, and by 1862 he was in London, where he spent two years as a commercial traveller.
It was at this time that Sadler's connection with Freemasonry began, when he was initiated in the Lodge of Justice No. 147. In 1865 Freemasons' Hall was greatly expanded, and Sadler was employed by the Grand Secretary's office as assistant to Charles Bryant Payne, the Grand Tyler, where he assisted in the arrangements for the quarterly meetings of United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter.
Sadler's other duties at Freemasons' Hall included that of housekeeper, for which living accommodation was provided. He would arrange the letting and the booking of rooms, and maintain the Hall in general.
The census for 1881 confirms there were 12 people listed as residents in the Hall - Sadler, his wife Elizabeth, their six children, Elizabeth's older sister Ann, a servant, Eliza, the Irish door porter Nan Stanton, and Caleb Last, the house porter.
In 1879 Sadler became Grand Tyler and Grand Janitor, in which positions he assisted in many consecrations of Lodges and Chapters, thus becoming a well-know figure in London Masonry.
About this time, Sadler began his interest in the 'doings' of our Masonic predecessors, as he referred to it. As Grand Tyler and housekeeper, he had the ideal opportunity to look through all the old bookcases and cupboards and familiarise himself with their contents. At the same time, he started to catalogue the archives and collections that he came across.
He also began to make regular contributions to the Masonic press such as The Freemason and The Freemason's Chronicle.
This enabled him to share the information that he had found, and brought him into contact with the likes of leading Masonic figures such as R.F. Gould, G.W. Speth and John Lane, thus Sadler's reputation began to grow.
However, in 1883 a calamity affected Freemasons' Hall. In early May of that year a fire broke out in the main Temple, completely gutting the roof, with the loss of the magnificent portraits of the Rulers of the Craft.
The statue of the Duke of Sussex that stood at the back of the dais was recovered and repaired. Fortunately, it had only been affected by smoke and water. A report in The Daily Telegraph and reprinted in The Freemason dated 13th May 1883, read: 'It should be added that the regalia of Grand Lodge have escaped destruction as well as the throne used on special occasions when the Prince of Wales presides.
"As to the origin of the fire, there appears to be little doubt that it was owing to a high beam which ran through a flue communicating with the kitchen of the tavern, becoming ignited.
"It is due to Bro Henry Sadler, Grand Tyler, who resides on the premises, to say that but for his early discovery of the fire the whole of the buildings would in all probability have been destroyed."
On 6th February 1986, John Hamill, then Librarian, received a letter from a Miss Florence Watt, one of Sadler's granddaughters, informing him that she had been left some photographs of the fire by her mother.
She then made a visit to the Grand Lodge Library and Museum and donated three photographs, one of which was taken after the fire. Miss Watt then recalled a story of her mother remembering being carried down the main staircase by her father on the night of the fire.
In all probability this may have been young Florence, who would have been five at the time. In the last paragraph of the letter she states: "The Sadler family had a lucky escape when the fire broke out, which incidentally my grandfather was told was caused by the builders running a beam through the chimney of the boiler that heated the Temple, and it caught fire. The Temple almost backed on to the main building, and the family had to go down the staircase which was on that side of the building."
In 1887 Sadler was appointed sub-librarian of the United Grand Lodge of England in appreciation of all the work he had carried out in preserving the records and archives of Grand Lodge. In a 1904 publication, Sadler relates his story of the origins of the Library and Museum:
"As far back as the year 1837, the desirability of establishing a Library and Museum at the headquarters of the English Craft was enunciated by John Henderson, Grand Registrar and President of the Board of General Purposes, who at the Quarterly Communication on the 6th of September in that year, proposed 'That it is expedient to form a Masonic Library and Museum in connection with Grand Lodge.
"This motion, having been duly seconded, it was: 'Resolved that it be referred to the Board of General Purposes to consider and report on the mode of forming, preserving and regulating a Masonic Library and Museum.
"John Henderson may, therefore, be fairly designated the father of the valuable collection of books and relics of the past that form so attractive a feature of the buildings in Great Queen Street."
Sadler then informs us that it was Dr Robert Crucefix, vice-president of the Board of General Purposes, who made the first donation by presenting the Library with four volumes of The Freemasons' Quarterly Review, handsomely bound.
On 27th February 1838 the Board of General Purposes made the following statement: "That a room on the ground floor be set aside for the purposes of a Masonic Museum and Library. That a sum of money not exceeding £100.00 be placed at the disposal of the Board for the purpose of providing for the reception of books, manuscripts and objects of Masonic interest, and for commencing the formation of a Library and Museum. That for the present time it will be convenient to appoint the Grand Secretaries ex-official curators of the Library and Museum."
Dr George Oliver appears to have been the next contributor to the Library, when on 28th May 1838, he presented three volumes of his well-know works.
Sadler then tells us that on 5th September: "Brother George William Turner, Past Master of Lodges 53 and 87 had presented eighty volumes of books to the Library of Grand Lodge." The Lodges have now been renumbered Strong Man No. 45 and Mount Lebanon No. 73.
It was in 1887 that Sadler published his ground-breaking work on the origins of the Antients Grand Lodge. He had already rediscovered Morgans Register, the first register and minute book of the Antients, and the Charter of Compact.
However, it was in Masonic Fact and Fiction that he finally proved that there had been no schism with the Premier Grand Lodge, and that the Antients were mainly unattached Masons from Ireland. With the publishing of Masonic Fact and Fiction, Sadler's reputation grew, and by 1907 he had published six more books and many papers and other contributions.
On his retirement as Grand Tyler and Grand Janitor in 1910, an office he held for 31 years, he was appointed the first Librarian and Curator to Grand Lodge.
Sadler was a member of many Lodges and Chapters, and in 1903 he was elected a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research, for his achievements in Masonic research, becoming Master in 1911.
Unfortunately, Sadler died on 15th October that year, and was buried in the Great Northern Cemetery, New Southgate, London.
Of all the many eulogies and written obituaries on Henry Sadler, one in particular sums up the man, and was given on 8th November 1911 by Edmund Dring.
"It is difficult on this sad occasion for one so young in years, compared to our late Master. I remember well the occasion on which I first met Bro Sadler. It was now nineteen years ago, and the brusque manner in which he chided me for an unconscious indiscretion was distasteful to me, although it was deserved.
"When, soon afterwards, I got to know him more thoroughly, I wondered however I could have resented his fraternal caution, for I quickly found that beneath his epidermis brusqueness, there was a kindliness and paternal solicitude the extreme depth of which I never fathomed.
"His writings are already historical, his life and work will become historical, but future generations will unfortunately never be able to appreciate his deep modesty, to feel his affectionate regard, or realise that in all matters of vital and most questions of Masonic interest and antiquarianism, they have lost their expositor.
"His knowledge was so far-reaching and his extreme willingness to help real students at all times so well-known, that every Brother throughout the world who was interested in Masonic history must personally mourn his loss."
David Peabody is secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research.