Interesting tales from the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge
UGLE Freemason Membership Registers, 1751 – 1921. Right: Bro George’s record in the Earl of Dartmouth records.
Lodge Membership Officer, W Bro Ian Graham narrates
In March 2011, Bro Phil Morgan was invited to become a joining member of the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge No 3279, having been initiated into an Essex Lodge some eight years previously. The primary reason for his joining was a long-standing friendship with Brethren from the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge through his local rugby club and a number of previously enjoyable visits as a guest. Other than that, Bro Phil had no links whatsoever to the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge.
Having visited a couple of times and enjoyed the company, he formalised his membership and very soon proposed his stepson, Ben Pryer, as the Lodge’s next initiate. Bro Ben was initiated in October 2012. W Bro Phil, having by now served as worshipful master in his Essex Lodge, was installed in the Chair of King Solomon in the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge in January 2018 and had the honour of Initiating his youngest son, Thomas Morgan, in October of that year.
Having an interest in family genealogy, W Bro Phil was researching his family tree using the Ancestry UK system and, when exploring his wife Kate’s side of the family, discovered her great-grandfather George Alexander Rose. Other than the fact that he was a baker/confectioner living and working in Charlton, south London, little was known of him or his family.
Whilst conducting the research, however, the system suggested there was a masonic record relating to someone of the same name. Further exploration identified that George Alexander Rose was, in fact, a Freemason, and so the online record of his membership was downloaded. Incredibly the record was his membership subscription from 1913 to the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge! Up until this point, there were no Masonic links or history known to the family.
The Lodge historian, W Bro Roy Thompson, undertook some further research and provided more detail demonstrating that, although now meeting at Freemasons Hall, the Lodge was originally consecrated and established in south-east London close to where Bro George lived and worked, further confirming the information on the system.
The records uncovered show that Bro George was initiated on 28th November 1908, Passed on 16th January 1909 and Raised on 20th March 1909.
It is, therefore a rather unexpected, unlikely, but most welcome family link to this one Lodge. For both Bro Ben and Bro Thomas, their great-great-grandfather having been a member of their Mother Lodge, provides a wonderful family history of Freemasonry in the Earl of Dartmouth Lodge, which only came to light by sheer luck and circumstance as a result of W Bro Phil becoming a joining member some years previously and undertaking the family history research.
Ceremony of the Keys
Earlier this year Earl of Dartmouth Lodge together with their partners and guests visited the Tower of London to witness the Ceremony of the Keys.
The Ceremony of the Keys is an ancient ritual, held every evening at the Tower of London, when locking the gates of the fortress. It is thought to be the oldest military ceremony in the world and is the best-known ceremonial tradition of the Tower.
Since 1826, at exactly seven minutes to ten at night, the Chief Yeoman Warder of the Tower emerges from the Byward Tower, wearing the traditional red watch coat and Tudor bonnet. In one hand, he carries a lantern, still lit to this day with a single candle. In the other he carries a set of keys, the King’s Keys!
He proceeds at a dignified pace to the archway of the Bloody Tower, where an escort is formed in readiness. This escort is made up of soldiers from the military garrison at the Tower. It comprises two sentries, a sergeant and another guard who represents the role of drummer (but who actually plays a bugle).
As the clock strikes ten… The Chief Yeoman Warder moves two paces forward, raises his Tudor bonnet high in the air and says: ‘God preserve King Charles’. The guard answers ‘Amen’, exactly as the clock chimes ten, the soldier representing the drummer then sounds ‘The Last Post’ on a bugle.
The ceremony has never been cancelled, and has been delayed only on a single occasion due to enemy action during the Second World War.
After the ceremony (in true Masonic fashion) we retired to The Keys, a very exclusive bar within the fortress, previously known as the Yeoman Warders Club.
This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 51 April 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.
Read more articles in the Arena Issue 51 here.