W. Bro. A.J. Shelley-Thompson’s original concept of a lodge which met in the quarries from which the stone was extracted to build King Solomon’s Temple was never realised. The political instability of the area at the time followed by the outbreak of the 1914-18 War made the founding of such a lodge impossible. These problems were still further compounded after the War ended by various other diplomatic difficulties.
In 1917, when the British troops, under General Allenby, were approaching Jerusalem, the Masonic Brethren among them were excited by the idea of being privileged to see the sites and places mentioned in the Masonic ritual. On 10 December 1920, after the Palestine Government had been established, a small but extremely keen group of Masonic Brethren decided to affiliate to the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464) should it decide to transfer to Jerusalem. When this move proved impossible, they decided to petition for and found another Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem. In the 4 years running up to the Consecration of this new Lodge (4611), 7 Brethren joined our Lodge (3464) who later became Co-opted Founders of the new Lodge in Jerusalem.
At a Regular Meeting of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464) on 14 September 1923 the Secretary W. Bro. J.F. Swift gave details of:
‘… correspondence regarding a new lodge to be formed at Jerusalem, with a request that this Lodge would support and sanction the same.’
W. Bro. H.S. Hayco P.P.G.D. gave Notice of Motion;
‘That the sanction and support of this Lodge be given to a petition for the formation of a Lodge to be held at Jerusalem, to be called – The Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple, Jerusalem’.
This was unanimously carried at a Special Meeting on 23 November 1923. In his paper entitled ‘The Search for Lodge No. 1585’ W. Bro. Michael Stratton claims that there were 15 Co-opted Founders from the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464) but according to Potter, in The Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple No. 3464: 1910-1935 A Brief Record, 19 Members of Lodge (3464) were Founders of the new Lodge. However, only 18 names can be authenticated from records i.e. W. Bro. Sir William Hodgson, W. Bro. D.L. Hewitt, W. Bro. W.J. Kerr, W. Bro. H.T. Hayes, W. Bro. J. F. Swift, W. Bro. J.S. Warren, W. Bro. Swancott Morgan, W. Bro. Charles Wood, W. Bro. W.T. Bell, W. Bro. Evan Roberts Jnr.,
W. Bro. M. Mott-Cowen, Bro. C. Childs, Bro. Nicholas Spencer, Bro. A.J. Siddall, Bro. W.H. Denson, Bro. A.J.A. Lawson, R.W. Bro. Charles E. Keyser and Bro. L.H. Hardman.
The Founding First Master of the new Lodge was W. Bro. Major Clement Whitlock Cowell (Affectionately known as 'Daddy Cowell'), P.A.G.Supt.Works who was a Past Master of Volunteer Lodge (2905) Manchester and the useful assistance given by this Lodge contributed to the Consecration of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (4611). Both our Lodge (3464) and Volunteer Lodge (2905) were Sponsors for the new Lodge but, according to Grand Lodge, Volunteer Lodge (2905) is the Mother Lodge – presumably it is their name that is on the Petition because of the strong link with the first Master. The First Immediate Past Master of the Lodge was Sir Gilbert F. Clayton, K.B.E., C.B., C.M., P.D.G.W. (Egypt and the Sudan).
The Consecration Ceremony of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (4611) took place on Friday 28 March 1924 in the Upper Hall of the Hospice of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, in the Muristan quarter of Jerusalem and 137 Brethren were present. It was the first English Lodge to be founded in the Holy Land. The Hospice where the ceremony took place was about 400 yards from Mount Moriah, the site of the Temple of King Solomon. The building stood equidistant from the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mohammedan Dome of the Rock (Holy Mount Moriah) and the Ashkenazi and Shepherdess Synagogues, each a lode-star for the adherents of these three great religions and no more appropriate site for the founding and regular meeting of a Masonic Lodge could be found. It is quite probable that the Muristan has been the locality where Christian Pilgrims have been accommodated since the time of Constantine. The Lodge was consecrated by the Grand Secretary, Sir Colville Smith C.V.O., accompanied by several other distinguished English Brethren.
On 13 June 1924 W. Bro. Cowell visited the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464) at Hunter St. Chester and after addressing the Brethren presented Founders Jewels to 17 Lodge Members according to the Minutes recorded.
On Wednesday 13 August 1924 at an Emergency Meeting of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464) at Hunter St. Chester, Bro. Arthur Alexandra Wedderspoon, the first initiate of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (4611), who had left Jerusalem en route for America, was raised to the Third Degree. This was the first ceremony our Lodge had performed.
In 1925, five prominent Members of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464), i.e. W. Bros. F. Wooldridge, W.H. Denson, J. Cumming, E.S. Haighton and A.E. Hawthorn visited the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (4611) in Jerusalem and assisted in the Installation Ceremony of W. Bro. A.S. Mavrogordato (Chief of Police in Palestine). W. Bro. Cumming, who was the Mayor of Crewe at the time, was the Junior Warden of (3464), whereas the other 4 Brethren had each passed through the Chair of King Solomon in (3464). W. Bro. Haighton acted as Senior Warden, W. Bro. Denson as Junior Warden, W. Bro. Cumming presented the Working Tools in each Degree, W. Bro. Wooldridge gave the Address to the Master and W. Bro. Hawthorn gave the Address to the Wardens. In The Times of 7 April 1925 the following paragraph appeared:
MASONIC PILGRIMAGE TO JERUSALEM
'When the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple, No. 3464 was founded at Chester in 1910, the meeting-place was regarded as a temporary one, the intention being at some future date to transfer the headquarters to Jerusalem, though still retaining its English membership roll and affiliation to the United Grand Lodge of England. This idea was abandoned when, in 1923 [sic], a second Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple, No. 4611, was founded in the Old City at Jerusalem by British residents. It has now been decided to hold a joint meeting of the two Lodges at Jerusalem, and a large number of members of the Chester Lodge are on their way to Jerusalem for this purpose.’
Under the guidance of its First Master, W. Bro. C.W. Cowell and other devoted Masons, the Lodge prospered and, although not a military Lodge, its Members held among them, in the early years, the following honours: 7 M.B.E., 10 O.B.E., 2 C.B.E., 1 D.S.O. and 6 M.C. and no fewer than 25 Jubilee Medals were awarded to the Brethren. Among the Lodge’s Past Masters and Members were many distinguished servants of the Crown and because of its geographical position it attracted many visitors, especially naval brethren from the Mediterranean Fleet as well as tourists from the British Colonies and America.
When Bro. Rudyard Kipling and his wife visited Jerusalem, they wished to avoid staying at Government House and escape from autograph hunters and so they asked the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (4611) to show them the Old City and other sights. W. Bros. Cowell and Hudson had the privilege of taking them to the Temple area, the Wailing Wall, the Muristan and the Quarries. Apparently, whilst in the Quarries, Kipling frequently murmured bits of verse and presumably remembering My New-Cut Ashlar (see page 176), scratched his initials on a stone as thousands had done before. Apparently, Kipling said that his favourite Lodge, of which he was a Founder, was the Lodge of the Builders of the Silent Cities (4948), composed of brethren connected with the Imperial War Graves Cemeteries.
MY NEW-CUT ASHLAR
Bro. Rudyard Kipling
My new-cut ashlar takes the light
Where crimson-blank the windows flare
By my own work before the night,
Great Overseer, I make my prayer.
If there be good in that I wrought,
Thy Hand compelled it, Master, Thine –
Where I have failed to meet Thy Thought
I know, through Thee, the blame was mine.
One instant's toil to Thee denied
Stands all Eternity's offence.
Of that I did with Thee to Guide,
To Thee, through Thee, be excellence.
The depth and dream of my desire,
The bitter paths wherein I stray –
Thou knowest Who has made the Fire,
Thou knowest Who hast made the Clay.
Who, lest all thought of Eden fade,
Bring'st Eden to the craftsman's brain –
Godlike to muse o'er his own Trade
And manlike stand with God again!
One stone the more swings into place
In that dread Temple of Thy worth.
It is enough that, through Thy Grace,
I saw nought common on Thy Earth.
Take not that vision from my ken –
Oh whatsoe'er may spoil or speed.
Help me to need no aid from men
That I may help such men as need!
The landlords of the Muristan (the Lodge’s meeting place) gave notice that the lease would run out in 1937 and so in that year the Lodge moved to a temporary Masonic Hall at Bezalel St. Jerusalem followed by a move the same year to the Masonic Rooms, Baddow Building, Julian Way, Jerusalem. In 1940 the Lodge moved back to the Muristan but in 1947 due to civil unrest it moved to Villa Rosemary, German Colony, Jerusalem and in 1948 a Special Meeting was held at the Y.M.C.A. Building, Jerusalem at which it was decided that as the ‘Mandate’ was coming to an end the Lodge should be transferred to London.
The first Regular Meeting of the Lodge, outside Jerusalem, was at the Charing Cross Hotel, Strand, London on 28 June 1948 at which there were 34 Members and 3 guests. Bro. A. Wedderspoon, the first initiate of the Lodge, was present at this meeting – it was Bro. A. Wedderspoon who had been raised to the Third Degree at our Lodge.
In 1953 the Lodge moved to the Dominion Hotel, Lancaster Gate, London (now known as the Park Court Hotel) and remained there until 1970 in which year it moved to the Duke of York’s Headquarters, King’s Road, Chelsea, becoming one of the Founder Lodges of the new Masonic Rooms. Unfortunately it was unable to continue the meetings on a Friday and so the Lodge returned to Lancaster Gate, now the Park Court Hotel, in 1971.
Another move was necessary in 1979 to the new Mark Mason’s Hall, St. James’s Street where they stayed until 1980 followed by a spell at the London Masonic Centre, Clerkenwell Green. Neither of these locations proved successful and so the Lodge, once more, returned to the Park Court Hotel in 1981.
The Park Court Hotel became the Thistle Hotel, Lancaster Gate and this change in management stimulated yet another change of venue – this time to the Freemason’s Hall, Great Queen Street, just in time for the Installation Meeting in February 2002.
In 1994, a number of the Brethren from the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (3464) namely, Michael P. Gartland, Eddie Ash, Norman Bentley and Alan Clarke visited the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple (4611) to celebrate its 70th anniversary.