Celebrating 300 years
Friday, 05 December 2014 00:00

Brotherly love during the First World War

The welfare of others

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes believes that we should recall the brotherly love shown between Freemasons during the First World War 

At the Quarterly Communication held on 2 September 1914, one hundred years ago, the First World War had been under way for just under a month. Your predecessors would have known that, even in such a short time, the German Army had already defeated the Russian forces at the Battle of Tannenberg and the French and British armies were in fierce contact with the German advance in the south of Belgium. That Quarterly Communication was presided over by Sir Frederick Halsey as Deputy Grand Master, as the then Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, were away serving their country. 

Sir Frederick proposed the motion that ‘Grand Lodge expresses the deep appreciation of the loyal and devoted service now being rendered to our country by HRH the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master, and very many other brethren of all ranks in the Craft, and its earnest prayer for their continued well-being’. He went on to say – among other things – that it was a time of great anxiety and that every Grand Officer would carry out his work without panic and alarm and show that calmness and confidence which animates the breast of every Englishman and mason.

Sir Frederick added: ‘Our hearts go out to our friends and relations, to our dear ones, both in the Craft and outside it, who are now serving their country at the call of duty; our prayers follow them, and we trust that before long, in the mercy of the Great Architect of the Universe, they may emerge from this present struggle safe and sound.’

Sadly, more than 3,300 masons, serving in the four fighting services – Army, Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Flying Corps – never made it home. Freemasons’ Hall was created as a peace memorial dedicated to them and its magnificent commemorative window has recently been restored thanks to the generosity of London lodges and chapters, as well as individuals coordinated by Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Chapter. Below the window is the bronze shrine containing the Roll of Honour parchment scroll honouring those who gave their lives in service of their country. We should not forget that numerous sons and grandsons of members were killed – many of whom would have been potential members.

Brotherly love remains as important today as it was in those dark days of the Great War. To exercise kindness, tolerance and charitable support – and to be interested in the welfare of others – is a source of the greatest happiness and satisfaction in every situation in life. 

It is, I believe, of the utmost importance today to ensure our long-term survival, but I am concerned that we are not always seen internally as a caring organisation, with junior members too often marginalised and unsupported. This must change and it is the responsibility of every member to help to retain those of integrity within their lodges by making them feel cared for. By so doing we will ensure that they will gain the same fulfilment and satisfaction from their masonry that we have all been lucky enough to enjoy.

‘Sadly, more than 3,300 masons, serving in the four fighting services, never made it home. Freemasons’ Hall was dedicated to them.’

Published in Features

Local heroes

Masonic records are providing unique insights into the people who fought in the Great War

Lodge and chapter records are a rich source of information for Freemasonry and social history, and the period of World War I is no exception. 

John Horace Marsden, a local brewer, had been installed as Master of Scarsdale Lodge, No. 681, in Chesterfield in January 1913. The lodge minutes for October 1914 record that he, and another member of the lodge, attended for the last time prior to leaving the town with their regiment. Marsden never returned. Described as a man of ‘indomitable pluck’, he was killed on the Western Front in April 1917.

Saint Augustine’s Lodge, No. 1941, in Staffordshire was just one of many lodges that found itself welcoming new members from local army camps. In many cases, these new members were from overseas. In October 1917 the installation of Canadian businessman and philanthropist William Perkins Bull as Master of Elstree Lodge, No. 3092, in Hertfordshire, was attended by a great gathering of ‘Canadian officers in khaki’. 

While many lodges have records of members’ war service, several have contacted the Library and Museum to check details of any casualties in their lodge. The key source for this is the Roll of Honour published in 1921, which details the brethren who fell in the service of their King and country during World War I. It lists all the names alphabetically and also under each lodge. There are several copies available in the Library and Museum. 

The membership registers give, in many cases, a date of death. With this information it is possible to check the records of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission online and ascertain where the man is buried or remembered. This can give an idea of where he fought, even without pursuing detailed military records. 

Published in More News

Free talk at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry

Sir Alfred Robbins: Prime Minister of Freemasonry and the First World War

Thursday 2nd October 2014 
6–7.30pm 
Freemasons’ Hall, London

Dr Paul Calderwood will talk about Sir Alfred Robbins and his role in Grand Lodge from 1913 to his death, looking in particular at the impact of the First World War. 

The evening will include a private view of the new Library and Museum exhibition on Freemasonry and the First World War which opens in September 2014. 

Wine will be served.

Free but please reserve your place by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Published in More News
Wednesday, 10 September 2014 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - September 2014

Quarterly Communication

10 September 2014 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, at the Quarterly Communication held on the second of September 1914, one hundred years ago, the First World War had been underway for just under a month. Thinking back to that time, your predecessors would have known that, even in that short time, the German Army had already defeated the Russian forces at the Battle of Tannenberg and the French and British armies were in fierce contact with the German advance in the South of Belgium.

That Quarterly Communication was presided over by Sir Frederick Halsey as Deputy Grand Master as the then Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Connaught and the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill were away serving their country. 

Sir Frederick, in proposing the motion that ‘Grand Lodge expresses the deep appreciation of the loyal and devoted service now being rendered to our country by HRH the MW Grand Master, the MW Pro Grand Master, and very many other Brethren of all ranks in the Craft, and its earnest prayer for their continued well-being’, went on to say – amongst other things – that it was a time of great anxiety and that every Grand Officer would carry out their work without panic and alarm and show that calmness and confidence which animates the breast of every Englishman and mason.

He added, ‘our hearts go out to our friends and relations, to our dear ones, both in the Craft and outside it, who are now serving their country at the call of duty; our prayers follow them, and we trust that before long, in the mercy of the Great Architect of the Universe, they may emerge from this present struggle safe and sound’.

Sadly over 3,300 masons, serving in the four fighting services Army, Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Flying Corps never made it home. This fine building was created as a peace memorial dedicated to them and I trust you will have all seen the magnificent memorial window at the end of the vestibules beyond those doors and which have been recently restored thanks to the generosity of London Lodges and Chapters as well as individuals coordinated by Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Chapter, and below it, the bronze shrine containing the Roll of Honour parchment scroll honouring those who made the ultimate sacrifice by giving their lives in the service of their country. We should not forget that many sons and grandsons of members were killed – many of whom would have been potential members.

The Library and Museum at Freemasons’ Hall has an exhibition entitled, ‘English Freemasonry and the First world War’ starting next week and which will go on until the beginning of March next year. This major exhibition tells the story of the organisation and members during the First World War and, for example, it explores how lodges coped with members being called up to fight. 

Brethren, brotherly love remains as important in today’s world as it did in those dark days of great anxiety in the First World War. To exercise kindness, tolerance and charitable support – and to feel deeply interested in the welfare of others – is a source of the greatest happiness and satisfaction in every situation in life. It is, I believe, of the utmost importance today to ensure our long term survival but I am concerned that we are, surprisingly, not always seen internally as a caring organisation with junior members too often marginalised and unsupported. This must change and it is the responsibility of every member to help to retain those of integrity within their Lodges by making them feel included and cared for. By so doing we will ensure that they will gain the same fulfilment and satisfaction from their masonry that we have all been lucky enough to enjoy.

Published in Speeches

Fraught with fate

Diane Clements, Director of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, considers the impact of the outbreak of World War I on the Craft in England

Britain entered World War I on 4 August 1914. When the Grand Lodge held its regular Quarterly Communications less than a month later on 2 September, French and British armies had delayed the German advance in the south of Belgium, but their success at the first Battle of the Marne was still uncertain. Alfred Robbins, the President of the Board of General Purposes, later described the atmosphere at that meeting as being fraught with fate. ‘Not only for the British Empire and her Allies, but for all that English masons held dear,’ he wrote. ‘Darkness was descending on many a soul.’ 

Disrupted meetings

Calls for lodges to stop meeting were dismissed by the Grand Lodge, but two of them with the closest German links, Pilgrim Lodge, No. 238, and Deutschland Lodge, No. 3315, both ceased to meet for the duration of the war. Members of both lodges had been faced with the provisions of wartime legislation that had given ‘enemy aliens’ a matter of days to leave the country and forced all those remaining to register with the police. The activities of other lodges were disrupted as members, including the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, went to fight or became involved in the conflict. 

By mid-September 1914, Lord Charles Beresford Lodge, No. 2404, based in Chatham in Kent, had all its two hundred and fifty members serving while forty-three of the forty-five members of Alma Lodge, No. 3534, in Hounslow, whose members were drawn from the Royal Fusiliers, rejoined for war service. The lodge meeting scheduled for September 1914 didn’t take place and the lodge members weren’t to meet again until 1918.

Other lodges were forced to move out of their meeting places as buildings across the country were requisitioned. Several London lodges were forced to move from De Keyser’s Royal Hotel on the Victoria Embankment when it was requisitioned for the Military Aeronautics Directorate. The Lodge of Faith and Unanimity, No. 417, in Dorchester gave its hall to the Dorset County Hospital for use by wounded soldiers and met elsewhere. In May 1915, the lodge protested at their premises being used for ‘contagious and infectious diseases, or for enemy aliens’ and held the hospital accountable for ‘disinfecting, re-decorating, and rendering the lodge’, but it was able to return to its hall in January 1918.

An estimated 200,000 refugees arrived in Britain from Belgium, displaced by the war. The Grand Lodge made an immediate initial donation of £1,000, the equivalent of more than £40,000 today, to the Belgian Relief Fund. The returning refugees were dispersed across the country. Some were sent to Nottingham where they were housed in Chaucer Street properties that had been purchased shortly before the war for the site of a new masonic hall. Funds were regularly raised for them at Provincial meetings until they were repatriated in 1919.

A £1,000 donation was made to the British Red Cross Society, where Sir Arthur Stanley, Provincial Grand Master of Lancashire, Western Division, was chairman of the executive committee. 

A ladies committee is born

With many businesses closing down or reducing their activity at the outbreak of war, there were fewer employment opportunities for single women as servants and secretaries. When the Queen’s Work for Women Fund was established, the Grand Lodge requested that the wife of the Pro Grand Master, Lady Ampthill, form a Ladies Committee to raise contributions for the Fund from the wives and daughters of Freemasons. An impressive £2,001 was raised. This was presented to Queen Mary in March 1915, with the funds divided between several bodies providing training and support for women.

Women soon began to replace men in clerical and manufacturing roles as the war continued, especially after the introduction of conscription in 1916, and the need for the Fund was much reduced.

Many organisations and communities established Rolls of Honour in the early months of the war. These were originally intended to record the names of those who had volunteered, but they also quickly became a record of casualties. The idea of a Masonic Roll of Honour was first considered by the Grand Lodge at its meeting in December 1914, its second meeting after the outbreak of war. 

Documents sent by the Grand Lodge to lodge secretaries asked for the name, military rank and masonic rank of brethren known to have died. The first list appeared in the 1916 Masonic Year Book – it was thirty pages long with five hundred names. 

The Library and Museum has a new, free temporary exhibition called English Freemasonry and the First World War, which opens on Monday, 15 September 2014 and runs until Friday, 15 May 2015. A richly illustrated book to coincide with the exhibition has been published and is available from Letchworth’s Shop at Freemasons’ Hall, priced £15.

Published in Features

Faces  to names

The extensive photographic collection at the Library and Museum adds another perspective on the history of the Craft and its members

Whether in the form of paintings, engravings, prints or photographs, the Library and Museum has a wealth of images of people. Over recent years, these have been catalogued online, with captivating biographies of many individuals, including details of their masonic careers. 

The online catalogue now has details for over 2,700 images – including those in albums of photographs. Enquirers can request digital copies of images they are interested in and many are available for inclusion in lodge or chapter histories and presentations. The three images here all relate to the period of World War I. 

Sir Francis Lloyd, shown above, in his army uniform, was a career soldier. In World War I he commanded the Territorial Forces in the London District. He was also active in Freemasonry, serving as the Master of the City of London National Guard Lodge, No. 3757, in 1916. 

Ladislas Aurele de Malczovich was a Hungarian civil servant who became a member of the English research lodge, Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, and published articles in its Transactions. 

As one of many ‘alien enemy brethren’, he was excluded from membership of his English lodges during World War I. The back of his photograph is inscribed to his friend, Frederick Crowe – a noted masonic collector. 

In June 1919, an Especial Grand Lodge was held at the Royal Albert Hall to celebrate the end of the war. Among the audience of over 8,000 were many overseas representatives. The formal meeting was one of many hosted by London lodges, including a visit to the Houses of Parliament where the photograph, top right, was taken.

Published in More News

Menin Gate remembrance

Oxfordshire’s Bill Butcher and Peter Smith of Jersey Lodge, No. 2334, visited Ypres during a World War I commemorative tour and laid a wreath at the Menin Gate on behalf of the lodge. 

Both are former police officers and they travelled to Belgium with the Thames Valley Police Social Club.

While there, they looked for memorials and graves of former police officers who had joined up, placing poppy crosses on them. 

Along with much of the country, the lights went out and Freemasons' Hall was plunged into darkness at 10pm last night to commemorate the moment that Great Britain declared war on Germany one hundred years ago

A single candle illuminated the Memorial Shrine, which commemorates the 3,225 brethren, who died on active service in the First World War and in whose memory the building was raised.

Behind the shrine is the stained glass memorial window whose theme is the attainment of Peace through Sacrifice, with the Angel of Peace carrying a model of the tower of the building.

The bronze memorial casket, which was designed by Walter Gilbert, contains the memorial roll, at the corners of which are gilt figures representing the fighting services.

Images courtesy of Colin Clay Photography

Letters to the editor - No. 26 Summer 2014

Men of honour

Sir,

My grandfather was initiated on 9 November 1908 into Royal Rose Lodge, No. 2565, a military lodge formed by officers from the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment). 

He appears on the masonic roll of honour.

Charles Arthur Murray was a volunteer soldier who fought in the Boer War for the Royal Fusiliers and subsequently in the Great War, where he was killed in 1915. Apart from his campaign medals, he was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal just before he was killed by shrapnel. This was awarded as a result of his actions in preventing the slaughter of German troops who had surrendered when his battalion engulfed a German trench.

As a result of an email discussion with my cousin (sharing the same grandfather), we visited his grave last June. As part of the tour we had a personal trip to his marked grave in Windy Corner, Cuinchy, the Guards Cemetery in Northern France and we laid a wreath. We think we were the first family members to do so. It was very moving, as you can imagine.

This trip to France stimulated me to make further enquiries and I contacted the very helpful Secretary of Royal Rose Lodge, Colin Woodcock. His records also produced my grandfather’s brother, Henry Murray, who I discovered had been initiated and passed on the same dates as his brother, and who became Master in 1922. Colin Woodcock invited me to attend Royal Rose, which I did on 13 November in the company of eight members of my lodge, Sunbury Lodge, No. 1733. 

What a special occasion that was – to make the link going back over ninety years. 

A wonderful welcome was given to all of us by Royal Rose, which subsequently granted me the great privilege of honorary membership. My request to give the visitor’s speech was granted, as I wanted the opportunity to record how Freemasonry benefited me.

As a result of my grandfather being a Freemason, his three sons were enrolled in the masonic school and received a good education. This enabled them to become professionals in their employment and, in turn, give their own sons a good start in life. 

I would not be in a good position today if it were not for that.

We at Sunbury hope to welcome brethren of Royal Rose to our April meeting, where they will be gladly received.

John Murray, Sunbury Lodge, No. 1733, Staines, Middlesex

Charles Arthur Murray 1915

Charles Arthur Murray, 1915

Published in UGLE
Friday, 16 September 2011 15:33

Great women at war

Ann Pilcher Dayton profiles two strong-willed women who challenged the social mores of the day in order to help others during World War I and honour the principles of Freemasonry

At the outbreak of World War I, the upper-class women of Britain were experts in supervising households and managing their husbands’ estates – invaluable in the provision of welfare to the troops. Several of these women were also Freemasons.

The Honourable Evelina Haverfield, daughter of the Third Baron Abinger, came from a family dedicated to public and military service. An energetic person, she had tremendous physical stamina, and was a keen and capable horsewoman. She was a member of Lodge Golden Rule, No. 21, of the Co-Masons (Le Droit Humain), founded in 1905 by Annie Besant. And its name reflects its aspirations: ‘do unto others as you would be done by’.

Haverfield already possessed the liberated lifestyle to which many women aspired in their struggle for the vote – she kept by deed poll the surname of her late husband on her remarriage. She was also a prominent suffragette and took part in many demonstrations, was arrested and subsequently imprisoned. She even used her equine experience to make police horses break ranks to cause the maximum disruption during protests. When war broke out, Haverfield was 47.

Together with Decima Moore, formerly a singer and actress with the D’Oyly Carte Company, as well as members of the Actresses’ Franchise League, she formed the Women’s Emergency Corps – the first of the women’s uniformed organisations. Their response to the crisis was to organise a role for women. Many upper- and middle-class women joined the Corps. These members became involved in several ventures, including a uniformed group called the Lady Instructors Signals Company, who trained Aldershot army recruits in signalling. They were the first to feed the Belgian refugees in England, collecting London’s surplus food from Smithfield and Covent Garden. Interpreters were also provided with lists of hotels, lodgings and free rooms, met the continental trains in London, and taught elementary French and German to training soldiers.

NATIONAL HEROINE

Haverfield’s next venture was forming the Women’s Volunteer Reserve (WVR) in August 1914. She became Honorary Colonel of the WVR, with battalions, officers and non-commissioned officers and other ranks. Members wore khaki uniforms, aligning the group with men in defending British values and as a model for women’s services. The aim was to train a body of fit and disciplined women who could undertake a range of tasks, including signalling, first aid, crowd control, driving and delivering messages. One particular responsibility was to ensure the removal to safety of the elderly and unfit in the event of a sudden attack.

In 1915, Haverfield joined the Scottish Women’s Hospitals Unit as an administrator. Two fully equipped field hospitals staffed entirely by women and led by Edinburgh surgeon Dr Elsie Inglis were sent out to Serbia to support the soldiers. Haverfield spent two years in Serbia and Romania as commander of the Motor Transport Section, which consisted of eighteen American Ford ambulances, British-built lorries and kitchen cars, all serviced and driven by women. Vehicles had to be hand-cranked to start them and in these war-torn rural areas of Eastern Europe all spares had to be carried on route. Finding petrol and digging the vehicles out of the mud while under shellfire was nightmarish as they shuttled the wounded to field hospitals.

In 1917, Haverfield was back in England where she set up relief organisations – the Serbian Soldiers Comforts Fund and the Fund for Disabled Serbian Soldiers. Following the Armistice in 1918, she returned to Serbia to supervise the distribution of food, clothing and medical supplies for the Red Cross. While the rural economy of Serbia would in time recover, many of the children were orphaned by the war, and so in 1919, she and a group of former colleagues returned to set up an orphanage on the Bosnian/Serbian border. She died there from pneumonia in 1920 aged fifty-two and was hailed by the Serbs as a national heroine.

FORCE TO BE RECKONED WITH

Haverfield’s passion for helping others was also evident in Major General Dame Florence Burleigh Leach. Initiated into the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Masonry in 1910, she was described by one of her wartime contemporaries as ‘beautiful, elegant and charming’. She was also renowned for her organisational ability and her independence of spirit.

Being an army wife, Leach saw it as her duty to assist in the war effort as the dangers of an inadequately fed army were recognised. In April 1915, Leach was one of the founders of the Women’s Legion, whose objectives were to release men for active service, improve cooking and prevent waste.

In February 1917, Leach was appointed Controller of Cooks, and later brought all 7,000 Women’s Legion cooks and waitresses into the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps (WAAC). The role of women in the army expanded at home and on active service in France, replacing men in many traditionally male roles including clerks, tailors, librarians, storemen, photographers, drivers, grooms and policewomen.

In February 1918, Leach became Chief Controller of the WAAC, and five months later was promoted to Controller-in-Chief, becoming the senior officer of 57,000 women serving at home and overseas. Although members wore uniforms, the Corps was organised on civilian lines – no one was given military titles or held commissions. Honoured by Queen Mary, the name changed to Queen Mary’s Army Auxiliary Corps, and Leach became President.

Leach was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919, and put forward her best officers for initiation into the Honourable Fraternity of Ancient Freemasons so it ‘might offer a valuable link to cement comradeship’. Blanche Ireland, MBE, was Grand Treasurer, Dorothy Taylor was Deputy Grand Master for twenty years, and Florence Leveridge served as Grand Secretary for fifteen years.

Haverfield and Leach were exceptional women but it can be no coincidence that, at various times in their lives, they espoused the tenets of Freemasonry. Love, relief and truth had no greater expression than through the work of these ‘strong-willed women’.

Published in Features
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