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Cheyne Lodge No. 4443

Cheyne Lodge No. 4443

By

Trevor I. Harris PM

In 1921, several members of the Stanley Ward Club in Chelsea, all Freemasons, decided that they would like to form their own Masonic lodge, and they held an official meeting of 21 potential founders on the 16th March 1922, at the Six Bells Hotel, Kings Road, Chelsea, where arrangements could be made.

They intended to hold their lodge meetings at the club, but it was thought imprudent as the club had political connections.

They also needed a name. Many names were suggested, including Stanley Ward, after both the club and the landlord, The Paultons after a square, and Manressa, a road, both in Chelsea.

However, and after further discussion, the name Cheyne Lodge, after Cheyne Walk, Chelsea, was proposed, and this met with general agreement.

These 21 erstwhile brethren, who included W. Bro. Walter Hitch, London Rank, Cheyne’s first Master, belonged to many different lodges, but eight of them were members of Chelsea Lodge No. 3098, it was agreed to ask Chelsea Lodge if they would be prepared to sponsor them.

As a result, a petition was sent to The Most Worshipful The Grand Master, The Duke of Connaught, asking for a new lodge to be formed, named Cheyne Lodge. A letter was sent with the petition saying that one of the reasons that they wished to form a new lodge was that five of the petitioners were members of Earls Court Lodge No. 2765, which now had 112 members.

Earls Court Lodge was refusing to accept any more initiates until its membership fell to under 100, to which number the lodge would be limited, and that the Petitioners had many personal friends who wished to become Freemasons but were precluded from doing so for the above mentioned reason.

Another reason given was that many petitioners lived or worked in Chelsea, and that it would be extremely convenient to belong to a lodge which met locally, with the additional benefit of avoiding the high expenses incurred at West End Restaurants, thereby allowing more money to be donated to Charitable causes. The letter was signed W. Doughty LR, Hon Sec. Pro Tem.

Grand Lodge acceded to the petition, and on the 29th May 1922 the Warrant was duly granted. A second meeting of the Founders took place on the 15th June 1922, when it was decided that they would use Logic ritual, and that the design of the Lodge Badge should be left to the Worshipful Master, Treasurer and Secretary designate.

They decided to incorporate the Coat of Arms of the Sloan-Stanley family into the badge, with the permission of Major Roger Cyril Hans Sloan-Stanley, who, with Mr. R. N. Lyon, were to become joint first initiates.

The third and final Founder’s meeting was held on the 19th October 1922, when a committee was formed to draft the bye-laws. On the 23rd November the lodge was finally consecrated at a special meeting held by special dispensation at the Criterion restaurant, Piccadilly. The dinner consisted of seven separate courses, and the evening was concluded with music and song. All six consecrating officers were elected honorary members, and each presented with a special lodge jewel.

There were a total of 23 Founding Members, and the sixty visitors present represented no less than 46 different lodges. During the Risings, the names of two prospective joining members and fifteen candidates for initiation were read out.

The Cheyne Lodge Past Master’s jewel

During that hectic first year, no less than five emergency meetings were held to initiate the backlog of candidates, and a further four the following year. However, Chelsea Town Hall was not a suitable venue, and in March 1924 it was decided that the lodge would move to Hotel Rembrandt, Thurloe Place, where the lodge would remain until 1969.

The outbreak of World War Two meant that the Installation meeting of 29th September 1939, for which the summonses had been printed, was cancelled by direct order of the Grand Secretary.

But when the anticipated hostilities at least initially failed to materialise, things slowly got back to normal, and the September installation meeting was eventually held in November.

The regular meetings of January, March and May 1940 also took place, but the Battle of Britain, which commenced at the beginning of September 1940, meant that it was much too dangerous to hold the September 1940 Installation meeting, which was duly cancelled, and on the advice of the Grand Master the next three regular meetings were also abandoned.

The lodge next met in May 1941. However, the Master Elect said that because of the prevailing circumstances, he did not feel justified to continue. In order to regularise proceedings, the work for the day was to elect and install a Master for 1940-1, invest the officers, and then elect a master for 1941-2.

W. Bro. M. P. Levene, the Master for 1939, was duly re-elected Master for 1940, and as no other Brother wished to take the chair, W. Bro. Levene was also elected Master for 1941-2, for which special dispensation was obtained.

The necessities of war meant that their Lodge room needed to be converted into an air raid shelter, and with the regular night-time bombing, meetings were re-scheduled for the summer months only, between May and September, with the installation meeting being held in July.

Although Cheyne Lodge’s 21st Anniversary meeting, held on the 22nd July 1943, took place at the height of the war, it was attended by no less than 51 invited guests.

Everyone present was given the gift of a printed history of the lodge, which, taking wartime shortages into account, was no mean feat. Due to the uncertainties caused by rationing, the only item printed on the page marked menu was a large question mark.

In May 1945 hostilities ceased, the war was won, and Cheyne Lodge could revert to its usual routine. During 5½ years of war, 22 meetings were held, with six Installations, six Initiations, five Passings, and five Raisings. Life went on.

A total of 41 Members of Cheyne Lodge had served King and Country, and two, Bro. K. Lloyd, our 100th initiate, torpedoed on escort duty in the North Atlantic, and Bro. F. G. Jelf, on fire duty on the streets of London, lost their lives.

The lodge celebrated its Silver Jubilee in November 1947, with W. Bro. F. R. Hook as Master. Three Past Master’s jewels were presented to the brethren who had taken the chair during the latter years of the war.

In November 1950, Emundo Ros the famous bandleader was initiated into Cheyne Lodge. The lodge was thriving, and it would have taken Emundo almost fifteen years to reach the Master’s chair.

The problem was solved in 1954 by the consecration of Lodge of Ascension, which would speed up Bro. Emondo’s passage to the Master’s chair. Chelsea Lodge was selected to be its Mother Lodge, and thus Cheyne had a new sister lodge.

The early 1960’s saw demands on hotels in London increase, and in September 1969 the lodge moved to the National Liberal Club, Whitehall place.

The 1960’s also saw the formation of Cheyne Lodge’s own Chapter, and it is ironic that during the 1990’s and up till today, the Chapter became stronger than the Craft lodge to which it was attached, and we still have two subscribing Founder Members, E. Comp. David Gerrard, and E. Comp. Stanley Newman, and if you are present please stand up.

Cheyne Lodge’s Ladies Festivals proved very popular, and by the 1960’s 150 guests was not unusual. The lodge was also flourishing, but unfortunately the 60 or 80 Brethren regularly attending lodge meetings during the 1960’s was not to last.

By the 1990’s, the worsening financial situation in the Country, the unfavourable press given to Freemasonry, one or two Militaristic preceptors, and with members moving away or sadly passing to the Grand Lodge above, the membership diminished until Cheyne Lodge could no longer be viable as a separate entity.

The solution was for Cheyne Lodge to amalgamate with Lodge of Ascension No. 7358, and the favour given to Lodge of Ascension by Cheyne nearly 50 years ago was repaid. Lodge of Ascension did not have its own Royal Arch Chapter, and so has taken Cheyne Chapter, now renamed Cheyne Chapter of Ascension, under its wing.