Welcome to the homepage of the Lodge of King Solomon's Temple. The lodge was consecrated at 3.00 pm on the 19th October 1910 at freemasons' Hall, Hunter Street, Chester by the Right W. Bro. the Right Hon. Lord Egerton of Tatton, PGW, Right Worshipfull Provincial Grand Master of Cheshire.
This website chronicles the fascinating history of the lodge from its conception, consecration and on through its centenary celebration to present day. Also detailed are a number of the more notable past members of the lodge from kings and presidents through to ventriloquists and female impersonators.
The information within this site is largely extracted from the centenary celebration history compiled by
WBr John Clewlow, PProvGSuptWks
There is a certain irony in the fact that a Lodge which so caught the imagination of Freemasons from around the world because of its unique concept should, through circumstances present at the time, be consecrated in the city of Chester, the bedrock of Speculative Masonry in Great Britain.
The list of Founder Members, Honorary Members and Joining Members in its early days is legendary and is arguably the most impressive array of eminent Masons assembled under one ‘Masonic Roof’. It included three Kings (all Grand Masters), seven other Grand Masters and one Deputy Grand Master, five District Grand Masters, five Provincial Grand Masters, three Deputy Provincial Grand Masters, a Grand Secretary and a Grand Treasurer, Princes, Dukes, Lords, Earls, two Marquesses, a Count, three Viscounts, two Field Marshals, two Bishops, a General, numerous Knights of the Realm and two Presidents of the United States of America. The Lodge boasted Members from all Continents and most Provinces in Great Britain and Ireland were represented. Four of the Founder Members of the Lodge had lodges named after them i.e. R.F. Gould, A.E. Coveney, A.J. Thompson and W.H. Lever (later Lord Leverhulme). One Founder Member, Horace Goldin (the famous illusionist) gave his address as the Savoy Hotel, London! To date, the Lodge has had over 600 Members of which only 25 have been Initiates.
It has become a tradition to invite the Provincial Grand Master of Cheshire and his Deputy to become Honorary Members of the Lodge. Some Honorary Members later became Joining Members and vice versa. The Earl of Derby was a subscribing member of the Lodge from 1912 until his death in 1948.
From 1922 onwards the Lodge held regular lectures on a myriad of masonic topics and was twice the host of the prestigious Prestonian Lecture.
During the early years of the Lodge there were over forty Music Hall and Variety Artistes amongst its membership which included comedians, singers, actors, an actor/manager, jugglers, musicians, dramatists/playwrights, 2 illusionists, circus performers, theatrical proprietors, two ventriloquists, a theatrical painter and a ‘strong man’, not to mention Jack Sterzelly featuring his ‘human dog “Lucky” in feats of canine cleverness’! However, one of the Founder Members was A.T. Wright, a cinematographer! This was an indication that the days of Variety and the Music Hall were nearing their end as the cinema took over as the main entertainment for the masses and in 1923 Mark Mott-Cowen, a cinema director, became a Joining Member. About 18 Members of the Lodge were Joining Members from Chelsea Lodge (3098), undoubtedly the premier ‘theatrical’ Lodge in the country. Not only did many of the ‘artistes’ have stage names, but so did some of the theatre proprietors and impresarios as well! The dramatic aspects of Freemasonry obviously appealed to these theatrical characters, many being brilliant ritualists; they could visit lodges all round the country or even round the world.
Six Members of the Lodge were amongst the first recording artists in the country i.e. Charles Whittle, Arthur Aiston, Fred Kitchen, Harry Claff, J.P. Ling and Ed. E. Ford; both Charles Whittle and Fred Kitchen recording as early as 1911. The author of this history has been able to source copies of recordings by all these artists and has had a compilation disc produced which is now in the Lodge archives. The first Royal Variety Performance (then referred to as the Command Performance) took place at the Palace Theatre, Shaftsbury Avenue, on 1 July 1912 in front of their Majesties King George V and Queen Mary and the following seven Members of the Lodge appeared in it, namely Albert Le Fre, Harry Claff, Charles Whittle, Ed. E. Ford, Fred Kitchen, Tom Edwards and Marriott Edgar. This first staging was a lavish occasion, and the theatre was said to be decorated with 3 million roses draped around the auditorium and over the boxes.
Over the years the general make-up of the Lodge comprised the usual mix of professions and trades – there was certainly a butcher, a baker – but no candlestick maker as such, although the cabinetmaker may have made a few candlesticks in his time! Many members, especially in the early years, were designated as a ‘gentleman’ – presumably ‘men with private means’ or perhaps in some cases, just retired. Unfortunately, Joining Members’ occupations were not always recorded in the Minutes or on the summonses. There were physicians, surgeons, dental surgeons, opticians, a medical officer of health and even one veterinary surgeon! Legal men were well represented by solicitors, barristers, a recorder and a number of registrars. Engineers (mining, motor, civil, electric and electronic) rubbed shoulders with garage proprietors, motor body builders, a mine owner (Ernest A. Bruce a Founder from Canada), a steamship manager, the Secretary of the Sailors’ Mission, a stevedore, fish and game dealer, boat builder, hosier & hatter, antique dealer, photographer, master plumber, confectioner, grocer, lumber merchant, paint manufacturer, journalists, coal merchants and building contractors. The teaching professions were included with headmasters, schoolmasters, lecturers and professors whilst from the financial world were accountants, bank managers, shipping agents, clerks and the obligatory H.M. Inspector of Taxes! A number of pilots were Members of the Lodge (these worked on ships bringing large vessels into port – presumably Liverpool). There were quite a few Army Officers, clerks in holy orders, a Fire Officer, a police sergeant and a Chief Constable as well as a clothing manufacturer, cotton agent and a textile painter. The list, which could go on for ever, also contained an architect, surveyor, estate agent, merchant tailor, carriage proprietor, billiard hall proprietor, hotel proprietors, restaurant proprietors, victuallers, a brewer and even a metallurgist! A Cheshire Lodge would not be complete without a few farmers, a cheese factor and corn merchant. In the early years the Lodge had a Senior Steward, a Junior Steward and 14 Assistant Stewards and the Lodge was certainly ‘well blessed’ with Chaplains – in some years having up to six!
The Founders and early Joining Members of the Lodge were subscribing to a concept or ideal rather than a traditional Masonic Lodge – it was, if you like, the ‘Internet Lodge’ of its day. It appealed to artistic and romantic souls and when it became apparent that a transfer to Jerusalem was no longer an option the Lodge lost much of its universal mysticism.
It would seem appropriate to follow this introduction to the Lodge of King Solomon's Temple by repeating the final paragraph from the hand-written introduction to the Lodge Photograph Album which was compiled soon after the Consecration one hundred years ago:
‘We thank all the brethren who have assisted so well to make the Lodge a success, and we send down the years of time our Fraternal Greetings to those untold brethren yet to be, whom the future still hold, and who may read these lines long years after we have passed to the Great Beyond and we ask them to accept our sincere good wishes in the same cordial manner as though we had met them face to face.’