Special events: the full 'Monty' at Grand Lodge
Freemasons' Hall continues to attract major commercial events, as Karen Haigh explains
Among recent star events that have taken place at Freemasons’ Hall (FMH) is Spamalot – the musical production of Monty Python’s famous Holy Grail and the Alternative Hair Show, the biggest show at Grand Lodge since opening its doors to events last year.
After being approached by Laughalot, the production company for Spamalot in May 2006 it was with a sense of optimism that we entered into the planning of the event with the organisers.
We knew from the beginning that the event was going to be fun, but we had no idea how wonderfully the building was going to be transformed for the West End hit musical, and how much the building would allow the parts of the show to come to life within its various areas assigned for the party.
Its creator, Eric Idle, one of the original Monty Python team, visited the building and was very impressed and from his suggested ideas for the party great detail went into the event, even down to what menus were used by caterers ‘Create’ on the night.
As the media interest began to build up for the opening night, there was great excitement that the Monty Python team would be re-united. On the night of the event many stars of the stage and TV came to Freemasons’ Hall, but the most memorable part of the evening was seeing the Monty Python team laughing and talking together within Grand Lodge.
The Alternative Hair Show is an annual event to raise money for sufferers of leukaemia. Organiser Tony Rizzo decided to utilise his expertise in the hairdressing world after the death of his son, Valentino, from leukaemia and the Show was born at Camden Palace in 1983.
In previous years the event has been held at the Royal Albert Hall and for the organisers to move the event to FMH was quite a challenge. It had taken months of preparation from them and FMH staff to make sure the event was a success.
It took from the Friday until the Sunday to transform the Grand Temple for this 90-minute theatrical show. Behind the scenes there were 19 teams from all over the world who were performing, and many areas within the building became dressing and make-up rooms.
During the Sunday evening there were three performances with an audience of 1,400 per show, and the final gala performance culminated with the appearance of Vidal Sassoon, who was heralded by a fanfare of trumpeters.
The event raised £162,000 for Leukaemia Research.
Freemasonry is now receiving much better media coverage, as John Hamill reveals
In 1985, when Freemasonry seemed to be constantly under attack in the media, the writer and journalist Bernard Levin wrote two very supportive pieces on Freemasonry in his regular column in The Times. As he was not a Freemason he was invited to have lunch with a small group of senior Freemasons at Freemasons’ Hall. It proved a most valuable occasion.
He saw our problem as being that Freemasonry had been taken out of the public consciousness in the post-World War II period, resulting in the public not knowing what Freemasonry was.
As he put it – it is part of human nature to be suspicious of things we have no knowledge of, and suggested that the best way of altering public suspicion was a return to the openness of the pre-war period, to work with the media and to bring Freemasonry to the public’s notice – in a positive way – on a regular basis.
Grand Lodge took the advice to heart, but quickly realised that the centre could not deal with all the media. In the late 1980s, Provincial Grand Masters were invited to appoint Information Officers, who would have much better local knowledge than the centre, and could establish personal links with their local media.
As a result we now have a network of volunteer Information Officers who, with support from the centre and a great deal of hard work, have had an effect. In many Provinces, Freemasonry is now reported in the local press as interesting local social and charitable news.
The national media is a different game. National newspapers are only interested in stories with a 'that day news' content, which will give them an edge over their competitors. The Grand Lodge Communications Team regularly meets with journalists and have found that the Craft’s belief that there is a strong anti-Masonic element in the media is untrue.
Most journalists, like the public, have little knowledge of Freemasonry. Many of those we have met have become fascinated and keen to write, but hit the problem of their editor wanting a 'that day' news angle on which to hang the piece.
In that, Freemasonry is in a similar position to the many other voluntary organisations, such as Rotary, Round Table, Women’s Institute, Guides, Scouts etc, whose activities are rarely noticed in the national media.
That said, there have been references to Freemasonry in the national media over the last three years showing it in a positive light. As examples: The Guardian interviewed Anne Kent in the Grand Secretary’s office for their series 'Women in a man’s world'; The Independent did a two-page spread on Freemasons’ Hall as a gem of Art Deco architecture; The Times produced a half page on Freemasons’ Hall as a film location; The Daily Telegraph carries brief notices of the meetings of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter; obituaries of major figures now include reference to their Masonic activities.
Activities with the national and local media all fulfil Bernard Levin’s advice of keeping Freemasonry in the public consciousness, but a more direct way of influencing public attitudes is by inviting them into, and to use for non-Masonic purposes, our Masonic buildings.
In the last few issues of MQ we have reported on various non-Masonic events at Freemasons’ Hall. In addition to bringing income to Grand Lodge, these events are a major opportunity to let the public see our buildings and have an opportunity of asking questions.
Filming for television or feature films involves a lot of standing around for the actors and technicians. They get curious about the building, we are on hand to answer their questions and usually pass on to them the square booklets and copies of MQ Magazine.
When next somebody says anything to them about Freemasonry, they will have something positive to say about it. Some of the film shoots have even produced candidates.
The fashion shows, film premiere parties and other events have not only introduced a lot of people to Freemasons’ Hall who would not otherwise have visited, but have also generated press coverage.
The recent Julien Macdonald fashion show, which always gets heavy media attention, not only got Freemasons’ Hall mentioned on all the major television news channels, but also in all the reports in the next morning’s papers and in the fashion and gossip magazines.
The coverage by Sky and GMTV included stunning visuals of Freemasons’ Hall all clearly identified. Nothing was said about Freemasonry, but coverage like this gradually gets it over to the public that there is another side to what they have previously been told.
Bernard Levin warned that destroying myths and changing public opinion was a long term job. He was certainly right. But a lot of hard work has been done by a lot of people over the last 20 years and the signs are there that attitudes have changed.
The best example of that is in the local media where, on occasion, the Information Officer has not had to act when someone (usually a local politician) has had a go at Freemasonry in the local press because a local non-Mason (often one who has attended an open day) has written in to challenge what the detractor had said. That certainly is a change!
John Hamill is Director of Communications at the United Grand Lodge of England
A favourite location
Charlotte Clark, a director of Inca Productions, which staged the Julien Macdonald fashion event at Freemasons’ Hall, speaks about her love for the building as a spectacular venue:
Inca Productions has a very long history with Freemasons’ Hall. I first came through the doors to the Grand Temple in 1999 and apparently was the second woman through the doors after Princess Diana. I was instantly seduced, smitten and star struck by the space. Having worked in events for over 15 years now, it is very rare to be rendered speechless by a location, I was instantly star-struck.
The Grand Temple had the same effect on Julien Macdonald when we showed him the space for the first time. As creative director of Givenchy, he has had the opportunity to show his collections in some of the most beautiful venues in the world – he was the first designer to show in the Grand Palais after its refurbishment – in his opinion the Grand Temple is his favourite location to date.
Working in Freemasons’ Hall is a joy from beginning to end. From an event producer’s point of view it does not get much better. The space is never ending, your events team are a joy and nothing appears to be too much trouble. We were even allowed to use a glitter bomb that sent showers of gold into the air and tumbling down onto a sea of supermodels.
One of my favourite memories of Julien’s show was walking out of the Grand temple doors with Paris Hilton after the event. She climbed into her limo, rolled down the window and pointed to the building, smiled and drawled, ‘that’s hot.’ Freemasons’ Hall is now officially London’s hottest venue.
Development of Freemasons' Hall
Exciting new developments at Freemasons’ Hall have been announced by the Board of General Purposes.
Since its formation in 1814, the Board of General Purposes has been responsible for the management of the finances and real property of Grand Lodge. Freemasons’ Hall is the major physical asset of the Craft and is an enormous responsibility, made the more difficult by its Grade 2* listing internally and externally.
The Board has been reviewing both the use of space in the building and the costs of running it. Discussions have been held with the four national Masonic Charities and a plan has been agreed in principle for them to move their offices into Freemasons’ Hall during 2006.
Few visitors to Freemasons’ Hall realise how much space is available outside the Lodge Rooms and public areas. The lower ground floor area has been used mainly as storage. Sensitive plans have been developed by the Board of General Purposes to open up the space, which is surrounded by a light well with natural daylight, to provide modern offices giving a good working environment.
Both Grand Lodge and the Charities will benefit from the changes. Costs of the development will be shared and, once in the building, the Charities will contribute to the running and maintenance costs of Freemasons’ Hall. The move will free-up the accommodation currently occupied by the Charities on the North side of Great Queen Street, which will be upgraded for commercial letting, bringing in additional income for Grand Lodge and the Charities, who own the properties.
Whilst that is going on, the office space on the ground floor occupied by the Grand Lodge staff, which is much as it was designed in the 1920s, will be reorganised and upgraded to accommodate both the Grand Lodge staff and the offices of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London.
Anthony Wilson, President of the Board, commented: “2006 is going to be an exciting and challenging year for the staffs of both Grand Lodge and the Masonic Charities.
“Once the work is complete they will have a much better standard of accommodation, better use will be made of the space available in Freemasons’ Hall and the other properties in Great Queen Street, and the changes will be to the financial benefit of all.
“Charity is an integral part of Freemasonry. The Charities now work closely together and have a common purpose with the Craft. It seems eminently sensible that the various administrations should all be housed under one roof, where they can work together for the good of Freemasonry in general.”
A message from the President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Anthony Wilson, PJGW
As a result of Grand Lodge in March agreeing a substantial increase in Grand Lodge dues next year, the Grand Secretary has received many letters of concern.
It is clear from many of the points raised that the reasons given at the Quarterly Communication in March were not always fully understood. I would therefore like to take this opportunity to reiterate the key reasons and then explain the costs that Grand Lodge has to cover from its dues and, therefore, what our money is spent on.
One of the major reasons is the cost of maintaining Freemasons’ Hall, which was built by the Craft as a memorial to those who died in the Great War. It is not only a monument to them but is the flagship of Freemasonry in England and Wales and our headquarters. It belongs to all our members and we have a duty both morally and legally (it is a Grade 2* listed building) to keep it in good repair. Unfortunately it is now over seventy-five years old and becoming increasingly expensive to maintain.
Another reason is that for a number of years Grand Lodge dues have been subsidised by investment income. If investment income is removed from the accounts, Grand Lodge has been operating on a deficit between operating income and expenditure. Using investment income to bridge that gap has meant that we have not been able to build-up any significant contingency or sinking fund for major expenditure on the structure of Freemasons’ Hall.
Therefore, when faced with the substantial cost of paying for the removal of asbestos we had insufficient funds set aside.
Raising the dues in 2006 by £9 (including VAT) will enable us to meet operating expenditure out of income, build up sufficient reserves for undoubted future major structural repairs and spread the recovery of the asbestos costs over a three-year period, rather than by a one-off charge in one year. In percentage terms the rise in Grand Lodge dues seems enormous but in real cash terms it is about twenty pence per week. The Board is responsible for the finances of Grand Lodge and believes, after lengthy discussion, that this is the best way forward to ensure Grand Lodge’s financial future.
In 2004 we received three windfalls: from the sale of a non-Masonic painting, the sale of a property in Great Queen Street and an unexpected legacy. Whilst these have given us the cash flow to pay for the asbestos removal, without selling our investment portfolio, to have used them permanently would have been like selling the family silver. These windfalls are capital assets which are, and should remain, part of our endowment.
It has been suggested that the proceeds from the sale of the painting should have been used to defray the asbestos costs. The painting was part of the heritage of the Craft. It is only proper that the proceeds should be used to endow the Library and Museum of Freemasonry and be put back into acquiring additions to and maintaining the Masonic collections housed in the Library and Museum.
Turning to the annual costs of Grand Lodge, these fall into two main areas: the costs of administering the Craft and the costs of maintaining Freemasons’ Hall.
The administration of the Craft is carried out by the Grand Secretary’s office, which has five main divisions: the Grand Secretary’s private office, Communications, Finance, Operations and Secretariat and Registration. Their work includes the processing of annual and installations returns for the Craft and Royal Arch; the printing and distribution of business papers and Minutes for Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter; amendments to and new editions of the Book of Constitutions and Masonic Year Book; organisation of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter meetings; servicing the Board and Committee of General Purposes, and The Grand Master’s Council; dealing with matters relating to the Constitutions, procedure and protocol; publication and distribution of MQ magazine; general printing; public relations and information; promoting a positive image of Freemasonry; developing and maintaining the new Adelphi registration system; maintaining contact with recognised Grand Lodges overseas and facilitating intervisitation by members; running and maintaining Freemasons’ Hall; managing the complex finances of a major membership association; and dealing with a myriad of Masonic questions from both home and abroad which arrive by post, telephone and email.
Each of the departments works to an agreed budget, which is reviewed on a monthly basis. New financial systems were introduced five years ago which enable us to monitor and review progress and to track areas where savings can and have been made.
The costs of Freemasons’ Hall include the standard costs of council tax, water, gas, electricity, insurance and, increasingly, security. They also include general maintenance and repair costs, but not major refurbishment or structural operations which, in an aging, listed building, have to be costed and budgeted for separately.
Whilst over the last few years Grand Lodge dues have risen in line with inflation, in absolute terms there has been only a slight increase in income as a result of falling membership. In contrast, rents at Freemasons’ Hall have risen by more than inflation and now represent 14% of income. This reflects both rises in room rents, so that users pay a fair share of costs, and the success of allowing outsiders to use parts of the Hall. The Board is currently reviewing accommodation at Freemasons’ Hall, and how it can be used further, without detriment to the purposes for which it was built, to maximise the income it can generate.
I can assure you that the decision to raise Grand Lodge dues was, therefore, not taken lightly and only after much thought and debate. The Board is aware that it could have an effect on membership, but in real terms the new level of dues is the equivalent to less than 40 pence per week, which is a very modest amount to belong to such a “club”.
The Board and I are very aware of two particular areas of concern – firstly the effect on those on fixed incomes and on those with multiple memberships. However, any outcome has to avoid relieving one section of our membership by disproportionately increasing the burden of the rest. Whilst we acknowledge the problem of fixed incomes, unfortunately the age profile of our membership, which shows approximately 35% of the membership is over 65, means that giving any reduction would put a disproportionate burden on the younger members, upon whom we depend for the future of our organisation. We are, nevertheless, planning to relieve some of the burden of multiple memberships by giving relief to those who belong to an Installed Masters Lodge as well as another Lodge. A proposal to do so will be laid before Grand Lodge in September.
I hope that the above explanation will increase the Craft’s understanding of why the rise in Grand Lodge dues is necessary. The Board takes its responsibilities very seriously and would be failing in its duty to the Craft if it did not take what it regards as essential steps to safeguard the future financial stability of the Craft, to ensure that the administration can continue efficiently to service the Craft, and that we can maintain and hand on to our successors our flagship building so that it remains a fitting and working memorial to those whom it commemorates.
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.