Royal Jubilee Lodge No. 72, consecrated to commemorate the golden jubilee of King George III, is one of the oldest lodges with proud traditions dating back to at least 1810 when it received it’s current warrant. Originally a London lodge, today it meets four times a year at Twickenham Masonic Centre in Middlesex.
Our members are a varied group of young and old from all walks of life and professions. Although most of us live relatively close to Twickenham, a number feel the lodge special enough to travel from much further afield such as Penzance, Taunton and Southampton.
The Early Years
Little is known about the first few years of the lodge’s existence although there is a strong suggestion it actually existed earlier than 1810, even as early as 1759. However, there is no continuity of evidence to support that theory, hence 1810 is accepted as the year the lodge was consecrated. Our Minute Books survive from 1828 and these provide some interesting reading, even though they are not always very legible!
Consecrated on the 15h October 1810, and meeting at the Golden Lion Public House, Lemon Street, London, our founding members were:
- George Bettesworth – Worshipful Master (from Lodge 305)
- Andrew Dowden – Senior Warden (234)
- Abraham Porter Crofts – Junior Warden (63)
- John Gregory (63)
- Richard Jones (63)
- William Greening (63)
- David Lawrence (63)
- Robert Harrison (250)
- George Beswick (234)
At the next meeting of the lodge in December 1810, the following brethren joined the lodge.
- William Oliver* (31)
- James Pratt (31)
- William Dorr (234)
- John Brook (234)
- William Tippin(g) (63)
* Following the merger of the Premier Grand Lodge and the Antient Grand lodge to create the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, William Oliver was one of 9 Brethren nominated by the Duke of Kent, Grand Master of the Antients Grand Lodge, to represent the Antient Grand Lodge, at the Lodge of Reconciliation, the lodge being comprised of 9 brethren from each Grand Lodge, together with the Grand Secretary of each Grand Lodge.
Our First Initiates
Our first initiates joined the lodge at the December 1810 meeting. They were:
- Thomas Cook – a Gentleman living at Spencer Street, Bethnel Green.
- Thomas Marsh
Initially given the Warrant Number 77 by the Antient Grand Lodge, it went through a number of iterations following the merger of the Athol or ‘Ancient’ Grand Lodge and the Premier or ‘Modern’ Grand Lodge in 1813. This, together with the decision to eliminate lapsed or closed lodges from the numbering system led in 1863 to the Number 72 being assigned to the lodge on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England.
For the first 180 years the lodge was a City of London lodge, meeting north of the Thames, except for one year at Southwark in 1911. Up until 1852 it led a nomadic existence meeting at a succession of different Taverns and Ale Houses. In 1852 it settled upon the Anderton Hotel, 164 Fleet Street, London EC where it remained for almost 60 years until the move to the Holborn Restaurant in 1911 and subsequently to Freemasons’ Hall in 1924.
The final move occurred in 1990 when it was decided to move out of London to Twickenham District Masonic Centre in the Province of Middlesex. This was due to the fact that few of the members were still working in London and a majority lived south or south east of London.
Our first meeting in Middlesex was held on Thursday 20th December 1990 and was attended by the Right Worshipful Brother Gordon L. Bourne, Pro Provincial Grand Master. He was accompanied by V.W. Bro. Rev Peter Hemingway, Past Grand Chaplain, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Kelvin Cowan, PAGDC, Provincial Grand Secretary and W. Bro. Lt. Col. John Chambers, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. There were a total of 45 members and guests including the Provincial deputation.
Regularity of Meetings
Our Warrant shows we originally met on the first and third Monday of every month, installation of the new Master being on St. John’s Day, December 27th. In 1905 installation was altered to March, owing to the absence of the Master Elect, and has remained in that month ever since.
The lodge met regularly at monthly intervals throughout the years 1828 to 1837, when a summer adjournment was arranged for three months. The following years have shown a further reduction of the regularity of meetings.
Today, the lodge meets 4 times a year in the months of October, December March and June, thereby retaining the summer recess.
During its formative years the Lodge seemed often to struggle for numbers. As a result of low attendance, there was a commensurate drop in the Lodges financial resources. In fact it is on record that on one occasion the Treasurer had to be threatened with civil action to recover monies due by him to the Lodge.
On another occasion the Worshipful Master had to subsidise the House Bill, although in today’s terms the amounts were relatively trivial. On one occasion in 1828 the Brethren voted to advance the dues from one shilling and six pence to two shillings. “The extra sixpence to be attributed for Bread and Cheese instead of a Meat Supper”.
One lovely note in the minutes for 1846, absolutely contrary to the religion and politics convention, states that “the Tories, finding themselves beat, several Brethren sent in their resignations”.
In 1829 the Brethren decided to subscribe one penny or more each meeting to go towards the support of the Boys School and in the same year a Petition submitted by a former member of the Lodge was relived to the tune of seven shillings from the Brethren.
From around 1850 donations to Masonic Charities became a more regular feature of Lodge life. Royal Jubilee Lodge during its long life has a proud charitable record, providing support for all the Masonic Charities as well as many Charities and good causes of a non-Masonic nature. The Lodge played its part to the full in contributing to the ‘Million Memorial Fund’ to honour those who gave their lives in the Great War in the service of their King and their Country. The Lodge contributed in excess of £1,000 towards the appeal which at the time was a very great deal of money.
The following reflects a little of the Lodges’ other Masonic Charitable giving:
- Hall Stone Lodge
- Founding Lodge and Patron of the Royal Masonic Hospital
- Patron – Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys
- Patron – Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution
- Patron – Middlesex 1998 Festival in support of the Grand Charity
- Patron Middlesex 2009 Festival
The Centenary Meeting
Our centenary meeting was held on Monday 7th November 1910 at the Anderton Hotel, 164 Fleet Street, London when some 99 members and guests assembled, including 9 brethren of Grand Rank. Among those present was W. Bro. Mason PGStdB, Vice President of the Board of General Purposes, who said that he had been a member of the Craft for thirty years and had only once attended a centenary celebration.
Full reports of the meeting appeared in “The Freemason’s Chronicle” and “The Freemason”, both popular periodicals at the time. (Copies of both journals are held in the Library and Museum at Grand Lodge.)
To coincide with our centenary, W. Bro. Augustus Darch, Lodge Secretary from 1884 -1915, produced the first comprehensive history of the lodge and his research has formed the basis of all subsequent histories produced by lodge members.
The Bicentenary Meeting
Our bicentenary meeting was held on Thursday 17thDecember 2010 at Twickenham District Masonic Centre, presided over by our bi-centenary Worshipful Master, W. Bro. Keith Waters PDepGSuptWks, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
The lodge was honoured by the presence of 90 members and guests, including R. W. Bro. Roger Croome QPM, Pro. Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex, R. W. Bro. Air Marshall Sir Ronald Stuart-Paul KBE, Junior Grand Warden representing the Grand Master, V. W. Bro. Graham Redman PGSwdB, Assistant Grand Secretary who gave the Oration to the lodge, V. W. Bro. Russell Gotham PGSuptWks, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex, W. Bro. Alastair Mason PSGD, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Michael Dean PAGDC, Provincial Grand Secretary and W. Bro. Frank Ward PAGChap, Provincial Deputy Grand Chaplain who gave the Patriarchal Benediction.
During the course of the meeting a letter from HRH Prince Michael of Kent, Provincial Grand Master, in which he congratulated the Lodge on reaching its bicentenary, was read out.
Also a visitor and past member of the lodge, W. Bro. Ivan Biddle, presented the Worshipful Master with a Centenary Breast Jewel (1910). It was decided that a bicentenary bar would be added and that the jewel would be worn in future by the Immediate Past Master of the Lodge.
Some Notable Facts
On 2nd May 1887, the Master W.Bro. Charles Richard Williams presented the Lodge with a Banner to mark the Jubilee year of Her Most Gracious Majesty Queen Victoria. Sadly the Banner has long since fallen into decay, but there are plans for a new one to be commissioned.
On 1st. March 1909 a jewelled Masters Collar was presented to the lodge by the Master W.Bro. Joseph Ransted. The collar had a Silver Chain with linked plaques on which were to be engraved each Masters name. A second row was added later to accommodate additional names. The fabric collar has been replaced but the silver links are all original.
Hall Stone Lodge
At the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge held on 2nd March 1927, W.Bro. Henry Darch received the Hall Stone Collarette from the Pro Grand Master, the Earl of Ampthill. The Lodge contributed £981 15s, a quite remarkable sum for those days.
Royal Jubilee Chapter No. 72
In 1867 the Lodge sponsored the Royal Jubilee Chapter No.72. There were ten Companions named in the Charter, with Companion G. Oxford (Master of the Lodge in 1867) as MEZ, W.H. Webb (Master of the Lodge in 1866) as Haggai and E.J. Page as Joshua. The Chapter has met three times yearly since its consecration and in 2017 will celebrate its 150th Anniversary.
In recent years the Chapter has drawn its members from a number of Lodges, but predominantly from Royal Jubilee Lodge No. 72 and its daughter lodge, New Jubilee No. 7056. In common with the Lodge, the Chapter has met at a variety of venues in its long history. Since 1964 the Chapter has met at Freemasons Hall and dines at the Kenilworth Hotel a venue it has used for dining since 1978.
New Jubilee Lodge No. 7056
On 20th. November 1950 the Royal Jubilee Lodge voted to sponsor a daughter Lodge. The Grand Secretary himself suggested a suitable name and performed the Consecration Ceremony on 8th. February 1951. There were many dignitaries present at the Consecration, including the Grand Master of Ireland with his Grand Secretary. The Grand Secretary of Scotland was present as was the President of the Board of General Purposes. Robert Salm was Installed first Master and interestingly he went on to write the Royal Jubilee Lodge history for its 150th anniversary in 1960.
New Jubilee Lodge continues to prosper and there is good communication between it and its Mother Lodge.
Until 1838 none of our Lodge Secretaries served for more than 7 years. We then encounter a remarkable record in which 4 Lodge Secretaries serve for no less than 103 years, and that includes a father and son, Augustus and Harold Darch who served for 57 years consecutively as Secretary of the Lodge. The four who achieved this remarkable record are:
J0hn Corfield 1838 – 1863
Joseph Nunn 1863 – 1884
Augustus Darch 1884 – 1915
Harold Darch 1915 – 1941
The lodge possesses two interesting antiques which were presented to the lodge by former Past Masters of the lodge.
On 10th January 1843 Charles Roads, Worshipful Master in 1838, presented a Chien Lung Punch Bowl, circa 1780, to the lodge.
On 19th. January 1948 the Worshipful Master, W. Bro. Stanley A Phillips, presented to the Lodge a Silver Gilt Loving Cup minted in the year 1810. The Gift was received with acclamation. The same Loving Cup is the Lodge’s most treasured possession and is displayed at every meeting of the Lodge. The Cup is insured for £35,000. As a point of interest, Bro. Phillips was a Court Jeweller and a member of Goldsmiths Company.
On 22nd. March 1928 W.Bro. Henry Darch, LR, Secretary of the Lodge since 1915, received promotion to Grand Rank, PGStB. The first such honour conferred on a member of the Lodge since its Consecration in 1810. In 1833 the same Brother was appoind to the rank of PAGDC in Supreme Grand Chapter. Since that time a number of brethren have achieved this milestone, the most senior being V.W.Bro. Andrew Manasseh who was appointed Grand Sword Bearer in 2018, the same year he was appointed Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master.
World War II
On 13th. January 1940 it was agreed that Brethren serving in the armed forces should be exempt from subscriptions during the period of their service and that a Brothers progress in office should be maintained in his absence.
Over the years we have had many members who have made significant contributions to freemasonry in general and Royal Jubilee Lodge in particular. Where information is available a short profile can be found about them via our Past Masters page.