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Cleveland mason Teodoro Lopez finds his Spanish roots

Sunday, 01 April 2007

The Spanish hero: How a mason of Spanish descent discovered his father's extraordinary masonic roots is revealed by Tom Forsyth

When retired Keswick hotelier Teodoro Lopez, a Spaniard by birth, applied to become a Mason in Derwentwater Lodge No. 6375 in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, he was anxious to follow in the footsteps of his late father, Teodoro Lopez Serrano, who had been a Freemason in Spain. 

He knew nothing about his father’s Masonic career, but was anxious for the Lodge to help him trace any background that would help enlighten him, given that Spanish Freemasonry was banned during the dictatorship of General Franco. 

The story that was to unfold was remarkable and terrifying, as it transpired that Teo’s father was no ordinary Mason. Indeed, following research in England and Spain, it was revealed that his father had been none other than the Grand Secretary of the Grand Orient of Spain. 

Moreover, his father had been sentenced to 18 years imprisonment for his Masonic beliefs, and served seven years of this sentence, being released in 1948. During this difficult time the needs of the family had been assisted by persons unknown to Teo. 

His father, undaunted by his years in prison for his Masonic beliefs, had been proactive in the reintroduction of Freemasonry into Spain, joining the reincarnated Lodge la Matritense No. 7 of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Castille, which meets in Madrid. 

This Lodge itself has a most distinguished history, having been consecrated as Lodge No. 1 in Spain in 1728, but following turbulent times in Spanish Freemasonry, has twice been reorganised. As the current Grand Lodge of Spain is recognised as regular by the United Grand Lodge of England, it seemed appropriate that Teo and other members of Derwentwater Lodge should visit his father’s old Lodge in Madrid. 

Contact was made with Manuel Calvo, then Master of Lodge la Matritense No. 7, and 14 brethren and three wives flew out to Spain for a meeting last September. A lecture was given at the meeting for the benefit of the visitors, who also included a Mason from Cuba and one from Chile. 

At the meeting Teo presented the new Master, Primitivo Mendoza, with a wall clock manufactured from Lakeland slate and suitably inscribed with Masonic symbolism and a presentation plaque, a fitting and lasting tribute to his father. The Master broke with tradition and embraced Teo in open Lodge and presented him with his father’s application form to Lodgela Matritense No. 7 and a Lodge tie. 

The toast to Absent Brethren included Lionel Nutley of Derwentwater Lodge who, at 100 years of age, thought the trip would be too much for him. Then the visiting Masons rounded off the evening with a rendition of the Absent Brethren song. For the two Lodges, regular communication now takes place, and Derwentwater Lodge has added Spain to its list of overseas countries it has visited for Masonic gatherings such as Canada, the United States, Thailand and Australia, underlining Masonry worldwide. 

The trip was a great success, due largely to the arrangements made the Master and the Immediate Past Master, Manuel Calvo, and one Brother has discovered the courage and tenacity of his father. 

Tom Forsyth is secretary of Derwentwater Lodge No. 6375