Many of the City of London’s Livery Companies have Masonic Lodges attached to them. This is hardly surprising as there are great similarities in the institutions, both having their origins in the Medieval Trade Guilds.
In the immediate aftermath of the Great 1914/18 War, perhaps to preserve the comradeship of the trenches, perhaps as a reaction to the hate and suffering, there was a great surge in Masonic activity and in the five years after the War some 700 English Lodges were founded.
In 1919 certain members of the Worshipful Company of Butchers decided to form a new Lodge to be associated with their Livery. The United Smithfield Lodge founded in 1906 (many of whose members were actively involved in meat trading at Smithfield Market and were also liverymen of the Worshipful Company of Butchers), agreed to sponsor the application.
The new Lodge adopted the crest of the Company and its motto provided the name, “boves” being transmuted to the more virile Zodiacal equivalent, Taurus.
Thus on Monday 1st December 1919, Taurus Lodge, No 3981 on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England, was Consecrated in the “then” Butchers’ Hall. The Minutes of the evening indicate that it was a splendid occasion with a long guest list of Masonic and City dignitaries.
Of the seventeen Founders, all went on to be Master of the Lodge, and five went on the become Masters of the Company.
Taurus was the fourth Lodge to be connected with a City Livery Company, but the first to be consecrated in its own hall. As the number of such Lodges increased it became the custom for their Masters to be Honoured Guests at each other’s Lodges and the custom continues today with some 22 Lodges being involved. This “circuit” is a useful warm up for those who progress to become Master of the Livery and a marvelous experience of the traditions and hospitality of the City of London for those who may only be Worshipful Master of the Lodge.
In 1923 the dates of our Meetings were set at the fourth Tuesday in September, November, January and March, which remains the case.
At the start of the 1939/45 war, much Masonic activity was suspended but Taurus continued to meet in the Hall, albeit rather irregularly, until the Hall was bombed. Thereafter they met at the Grosvenor House, Park Lane, where the Silver Jubilee was held in December 1944. The menu provided looked good, by war-time standards, but a note attached to it states that any relation between the menu and the food actually provided was entirely coincidental.
After the war the Lodge met at the City Livery Club in Syon College, then Armourers’ Hall, before returning to the patched up Butchers’ Hall in 1953/4. When the Court decided to demolish and rebuild in 1958 the Lodge found refuge in Innholders’ Hall where they remained until the new Hall was opened in 1960. The first Meeting being on 27th September of that year.
When the basement which now houses the Taurus Suite Masonic Temple was excavated a previously unsuspected part of the River Fleet was exposed. The architect, Howard Kelly was so intrigued with the requirements laid down by United Grand Lodge for the construction of the Temple that he joined Taurus Lodge. After the rebuilding, Taurus Lodge undertook to provide and maintain the Masonic furnishings so that other Masonic lodges could meet at Butchers’ Hall and now some 24 other lodges and Masonic orders use the facilities.
The Golden Jubilee Meeting in 1969, the Sixtieth in 1979 and the Seventy-Fifth in 1994 were rather more lavish than their wartime Silver equivalent and on each occasion the banquet was exactly as that served at the Consecration in 1919. In 1969, the sole surviving Founder Michel Oppenheimer attended the Golden Jubilee and, being too infirm to attend the sixtieth, sent a recorded message of good will. He was then over 90 and when the recording was played back to him, he said that it was the first time that he had ever heard his own voice. He seemed much moved by the experience. He died the following May.
It is worth looking at the menu for each occasion:-
Since then Taurus has continued to grow and is now at its highest membership ever. The January Meeting now incorporates a Burns Night Feast in celebration of the poet Robert Burns who was himself a keen Freemason, as the regular Taurus meeting and Burns’ birthday fall on the same day or within days of each other. The event is now firmly established in the City Masonic calendar and invitations are in great demand.
In 2010, Taurus established a twinning relationship with Lodge St.John Kilwinning Kilmarnock No22 of the Scottish Constitution. Lodge St.John was founded more than 275 years ago and Robbie Burns was an honorary member. The brethren of the two lodges have undertaken fraternal visits and it was poignant that for the 2010 meeting Scottish brethren were in attendance and one brother from Lodge St John delivered the time honoured Address to haggis.
More recently, Taurus has initiated “Sassenachs Revenge” of traditional English fayre at its March meetings together with its own Taurus “Butchers’ Beer”.
Taurus Lodge is a founding lodge of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London which was founded in 2003 to bring together all Masonic lodges meeting in London which had not had an “over arching” organization until that time – unlike those Masonic lodges that meet in Provinces (counties) and Districts (outside the UK) under the banner of UGLE.
Like all Lodges, Taurus raises considerable sums for charitable purposes, both Masonic and non-Masonic and is committed to support and be involved with, every aspect of the Livery.
Copyright © 2008 The Taurus Lodge
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