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The Scots Lodge No. 2319

The Scots Lodge No. 2319


Trevor I. Harris

The Scots are famous for their travelling. Indeed, very few peoples throughout history have travelled more widely. Their country is very beautiful, but many Scots still enjoy settling abroad. In spite of this they are extremely patriotic, and take a corner of Scotland with them wherever they settle.

London, like many large cities round the world, had a large contingent of Scots, and in the late 1880's a Master Mason of Scottish descent, Bro. Vero K. Shaw, a journalist, felt that the idea of a predominantly Scottish lodge would prove popular among London’s Scottish community.

The Scots Lodge Founders Jewel

His first step was to contact The Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Warrant, and here fortune was to smile on him, for less than two weeks later he was sent to Glasgow to cover a trade conference. He sent a letter to the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland requesting a meeting to discuss the proposed lodge.

However, he received a shock when he was informed that any new lodge formed in England , even if the membership was predominantly Scottish, would have to be Warranted under the United Grand Lodge of England. In spite of this, the Scottish Grand Secretary promised every assistance, and even suggested that “The Scots Lodge” would be a suitable name for the new lodge.

When he returned to London, Vero Shaw began to contact his many Scottish friends and acquaintances whom he knew were Masons. They greeted his proposal with enthusiasm, and he soon had enough support to petition for the new lodge.

On the evening of the 27th May 1889 at the Scottish Corporation Hall in Fleet Street at 6 o’clock exactly, under the chairmanship of W. Bro. John Whitehead PM, ten prospective Founder Members including Bro. Vero Shaw held a preliminary meeting. They resolved to apply to The Grand Lodge of England for permission to form a new lodge, to be called The Scots Lodge.

The application was subsequently prepared, however the new lodge had to be sponsored by an existing lodge. Fortunately Bro. James Thomson, one of the younger petitioners, was a member of Regents Park Lodge No. 2202 who were delighted to assist.

On the 1st June 1889, sixteen brethren signed the petition as Founder Members, which was then forwarded to Colonel Shadwell Clerk, the Grand Secretary of The United Grand Lodge of England.

The Grand Master of Scotland is known as The Grand Master Mason, and The Most Worshipful Bro. Sir Michael Robert Shaw-Stewart 7th Bart, Past Grand Master Mason of Scotland, from Lodge Grennock Kilwinning No. 12, Renfrewshire, became Worshipful Master Designate, with Bro. Vero Shaw as Senior Warden and W. Bro. John Whitehead as Junior Warden. However, Bro. Vero Shaw was now going to receive his second shock.

It is written in the Book of Constitutions under Rule 105 that a new Worshipful Master had to have served the office of Warden in an English lodge for one full year, and even though several petitioners might have held this office in Scottish lodges and were therefore Past Masters, none had done so in an English lodge, not even their respected Master Designate.

To solve the problem, the Grand Secretary suggested that one of his associates, The R.W. Bro. The Earl of Euston, Provincial Grand Master of Northampton and Huntingdon, occupy the Master’s Chair for the first year. As this seemed to be the only way out of their quandary, the suggestion was accepted, and Lord Euston duly added his name to the petition as the 17th Founder.

Sir Michael Shaw-Stewart was extremely disappointed, but took the news gracefully. He had served the Grand Lodge of Scotland in its highest office as The Most Worshipful The Grand Master Mason for nine years, but sadly was destined never to take the chair as Master of The Scots Lodge.

On the 27th June 1889, HRH The Grand Master, the Prince of Wales and future King Edward V11, granted the Warrant for the consecration, and a month later to the day, on the 27th July 1889, the Scots Lodge No. 2319 was founded at the Scottish Corporation Hall, Crane Court, Fleet Street, with the Grand Secretary himself conducting the consecration. “The Freemason” reported the consecration banquet to be “a very grand affair, held in true Scottish custom against a background of pipe music, tartan and banners”.

The banquet had a very Scottish menu, with a choice of over 25 different dishes, including Cock-a-leekie and Hotch-Potch soups, Spey Trout, followed by White Puddings, Black Puddings, Haggis, Sheep’s Head and Trotters, Aberdeen Beef, and to drink Rehoboams and Magnums of the finest Champagnes, and of course Scotch Whiskey, with the quote on the menu “Whiskey and Freedom gang th’gither. Tak’ off your dram”.

One of the official toasts was to The Grand Lodge of Scotland after, of course, The Queen and the Craft, although then the toast was to Queen Victoria.

The first regular meeting was held on the 29th August 1889, with a double initiation, one of whom was a journalist not surprisingly proposed by Bro. Vero Shaw, and no less than ten joining members. A Past Master’s jewel was presented to W. Bro. C. F. Matier “as a slight recognition of services rendered to the lodge.”

The next meeting, on October 24th 1889, had a very interesting proposition, “that steps be taken to carry out the original intention of the Founders of purchasing the requisite supply of plate, cutlery, glass, china and other accessories to enable the Brethren to hold their banquets and entertain their guests under their own roof.” which would of course considerably lower their dining costs.

However, the first year was to end in disarray, as in a very short period of time the lodge lost its Senior Warden, Secretary and Tyler due to domestic problems. However, a junior member, James Thomson, stood in as Secretary and managed to keep things going.

Burns Night was an annual celebration at the January meeting, with members dining in Tartan to the sound of bagpipes, but the lodge also celebrated St. Georges Day in April, St. Johns Day in June, Halloween in October, and St. Andrews Day in November.

"Lodges of Emergency" were frequent events, to undertake work which could not be accommodated at regular meetings. One, held in November 1891, only three days before a regular lodge meeting, was to initiate Dr. Irvine Reid just prior to his sailing to Georgetown, British Guiana, to take up his post as the Government Medical Officer.

One very special Lodge of Emergency, in June 1892, was for the visit of the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, The MW The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Haddington and his entourage of eleven Grand Lodge officers.

The festive board had traditional Scottish fare, including Brawen Grilse wi’ Dutch Salss, forbye New Tatties, an’ Quecummer and Crumlie-braidit caller watter Gravies baith ordinar’ an’ deevilt, Mealie puddins, Bluidy puddins and of course Haggis, with Aberdeen Beef with Fore-spaul o’ Lammermuir Hogrels as the main course.

The lodge had many precious possessions, including a ballot-box was made from timbers from the old wooden Blackfriars Bridge, and in 1907 was presented with a handsome Claymore which had belonged to a member of the Black Watch who had been slain in the Boer War.

On a Memorable Burns Night at the end of the 19th Century, an Apron and Maul which had belonged to Robert Burns himself, on loan from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, were put on display. The lodge was expanding rapidly, changing its dining venue to the Holborn Restaurant, and at the Halloween meeting of 1900 no less than five brethren were initiated in one meeting, which we certainly wouldn’t see today.

In 1905 the lodge forged strong links with Cannongate Kilwinning Lodge No. 2, Edinburgh, an old lodge dating back to 1677, links which are retained to this day. In the same year there was a return visit from the new Grand Master Mason of Scotland, this time accompanied by the Grand Secretary of England and the Lord Provost of Edinburgh.

A most spectacular meeting was held in 1907, the installation of W. Bro. Joseph Inglis, a Past Master of Cannongate Kilwinning Lodge No. 2, when he was put into the Master’s Chair of The Scots Lodge at Mark Masons Hall, Great Queen Street.

The Daily Telegraph reported it to be the most impressive and resplendent ever seen in a private lodge in London, with no less that 279 Brethren present, a good proportion of whom were senior Grand Officers and members of the aristocracy. In that same year the lodge’s Royal Arch Chapter was formed.

The lodge continued to meet throughout the First World War, but sadly many members would never return from active service. 1919 saw the installation as 31st Master of The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Stair, who five years later was to become the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, with W. Bro. Joseph Inglis as his Substitute Grand Master.

In 1925 the lodge was presented with its Hall Stone Jewel, its 133 members having donated no less than £1248.00 towards the construction of the new Grand Lodge in Great Queen Street, a sizeable sum even by todays standards, and that same year saw the consecration of a daughter lodge, Freedom and Courtesy No. 4762.

The Rt. Hon. The Earl of Stair, Grand Master Mason of Scotland, returned the following year to see the installation of W. Bro. Major-General J. D. McLachlan as 38th Master. The ceremony was performed by The Rt. Hon. Lord Ampthill The Most Worshipful The Pro Grand Master. The meeting was held by special dispensation in the Grand Temple at Great Queen Street. At the time of the death of its penultimate Founding Member in 1934, the lodge discontinued its June meeting, and moved its installation meeting to October.

In April 1939 the lodge held its 50th Anniversary meeting, which was attended by the M.W. The Grand Master Mason of Scotland Brigadier-General Sir N. A. Orr-Ewing 4th Bart..The M.W. Pro Grand Master Lord Harewood honoured the lodge by taking the chair. However storm clouds were on the horizon with the approach of World War Two.

During the Second World War, few meetings were missed, but rationing frequently meant that Festive Boards were sparse affairs. The Blitz in London led to the cancellation of the 1940 installation meeting, and W. Bro. Thomas Tait, Grand Bible Bearer of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, was to remain in the chair for a year longer than planned.

Four years later saw the lodge’s last Founder Member, W. Bro. James Thompson P.G.Std.B, pass to the Grand Lodge above at the age of 91, in March 1944, and after another two years, W. Bro. Percy G. Mallory PGD, the “Father” of the lodge, who had been initiated in 1896, also passed away.

It was the end of an era, and at the Burns meeting dedicated to his memory in 1947, with rationing still in force, the Food Officer restricted the meeting to 100 guests. However, after many appeals he eventually relented and 175 Brethren were able to attend the memorial meeting.

In 1948 the lodge became a Patron of the Royal Masonic Hospital, and a silver Quaich was presented to the lodge by Bro. Archie Lang for use by the Piper. Traditions were maintained, and in 1950 The Grand Master of Scotland, MW Bro. Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey visited the lodge. Also in attendance was RW Bro. Sir Alexander Fleming PGW, the discoverer of penicillin and an honorary member of The Scots Lodge.

1954 saw the lodge move from the Holborn Restaurant, where it had met for the last 65 years. to the Criterion Restaurant at Piccadilly Circus Three years later, the ninth visit to the lodge from The Grand Lodge of Scotland took place, headed by The MW The Rt. Hon. Lord McDonald, with the RW The Assistant Grand Master of England Major-General Sir Allan Adair, Bart., also attending.

The lodge celebrated its 75th Anniversary in October 1963, and in 1965 there was yet another visit from the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, The MW The Rt. Hon Andrew Lord Bruce, who was soon to stand down in favour of yet another member of the Scots Lodge, Major Sir Ronald Orr-Ewing, 5th Bart.

Families have always been well represented in the lodge, and in 1975 a candidate was initiated in the company of his Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle and Great Uncle. Later on in that year, the lodge received a visit from yet another deputation from The Grand Lodge of Scotland, the English contingent being headed by The Provincial Grand Master of Essex, and The Earl of Eglington and Winton PSGW.

The 1980’s saw the passing of The Lodge Piper, W. Bro. John Brown LGR, and in May 1981, the lodge moved to Mark Masons’ Hall, St. James. Many reciprocal visits to Scotland took place during that decade, until finally the great day of the lodge’s Centenary arrived, celebrated on the 5th October 1989.

After the Installation ceremony, The Grand Master Mason of Scotland, Bro. Brigadier Sir Gregor MacGregor of MacGregor, entered the lodge room with his retinue from the Grand Lodge of Scotland, after which The R.W. Assistant Grand Master of England, Lord Farnham, was himself escorted into the lodge room accompanied by his own retinue of Grand Lodge Officers,

Both a Centenary Warrant and a Centenary Banner were presented to the lodge, and cheques were presented to both Grand Charity and Scottish Masonic Homes. A superb festive board was followed by the singing of Auld Lang Syne. The Scots Lodge still meets at Mark Masons Hall, and to this day proudly follows its Scottish Masonic Traditions.