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The Old Westminsters' Lodge No. 2233 meets at Westminster School (by kind permission of the Headmaster) and dines in College Hall (by kind permission of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey) four times a year.

Open to all Old Boys of the School

The Lodge Today

We meet four times a year in the splendour of the School hall and dine in the magnificent 14th Century building, which was the Abbot's Banqueting Hall.

Our meetings are well attended and bring together Old Westminsters from across 6 decades. We are always delighted to welcome visitors and pride ourselves on our hospitality.

A History of the Lodge PT. I

For several years a group of OW freemasons considered the possibility of founding a lodge ‘for the convenience of OWW who were educated at Westminster School. In 1887 the master and wardens of No. 10 Westminster and Keystone Lodge petitioned Grand Lodge for the foundation of the Old Westminsters’ Lodge No. 2233. The petition was signed by 19 OWW, including Bro. Mure, a member of No.10.
Charter or warrant granted 1887 to OWL. On 28th January 1888 the consecration took place at the Cafe Royal; Colonel SH Clarke, Grand Secretary, was consecrating officer. During the ceremony the consecrating officer emphasised that it was becoming customary for brethren who had a common tie in the outer world to associate themselves together and found a masonic lodge still further to cement that friendship. ...

Westminster, one of the great public schools, possessed a great number of old pupils who were prominent in the masonic world. [This clearly indicates that he had no objection to ‘Class Lodges’. vide infra]
The new lodge having been consecrated he called upon Bro Hugh D Sandememan PDGM(Bengal) to take the Master’s chair and install the master designate, Sir WEM Thompson MP. The WM then appointed and invested his officers: SW bro RJ Mure, JW Bro T Wakley jnr, Secy Bro H Hyde Clark, Chaplain Rev EM Tomlinson, Steward H Sutherland MD.

In its report of the consecration the Freemasons’ Gazette remarked that ‘Westminster School is to be congratulated on being the first of the public schools to possess a lodge composed of brethren who are indebted to it for their education.’ However, Sir Thomas White Lodge No 1820 was consecrated in 1879 with the intention that its membership should be confined to old boys of Merchant Taylors School, but due to the certain objections to ‘Class Lodges’ at the time it was not called OMT L. It was not an original member of the ‘Public Schools Lodges’ Council. Cholmeley Lodge No.1731 ( Highgate School ) was consecrated even earlier, in 1878, but did not at that time consist entirely of old boys; incidentally it is the oldest school masonic lodge in the world.

OWL originally met at the Cafe Royal and later at Frascati’s restaurant..

In 1903 the Old Carthusian Lodge Deo Dante Dedi No. 2885 was founded and the master and secretary were made honorary members of OWL . These two lodges with the Old Cheltonian Lodge No. 3223, the Old Shiburnian Lodge No. 3304 and the Old Cliftonian Lodge No.3340 founded the PSLC in 1909. Since then 33 lodges have joined the council, including Sir Thomas White’s and Cholmeley. The secretary and master of all the PSLC are considered honorary members of OWL. To qualify for the PSLC all members of a lodge must be old boys or members of the school staff.

In 1910 the OWL held what was in effect the first PSLC masonic festival. The meeting was held in Ashburnham drawing room. Afterwards, by kind permission of the Dean, the Rev. JA Robinson, a special service was held in the Abbey; the brethren then proceeded in procession through the cloisters in their full regalia. After this the brethren dined up School, i.e. in the great school room which was the monk’s dormitory till the Reformation. Shortly after that it was given to the school as the schoolroom where all the teaching took place. Much of the lower parts of the walls date back to the monastery building of Edward the Confessor, i.e. no earlier than 1065. The OWL now meets there; it is probably the oldest lodge room in the world. Nearly 400 people attended including representatives of Charterhouse, Cheltenham, Sherborne, Clifton and Wellington Lodges.

The Rev H Costley White DD Past Grand Chaplain became head master in 1919. Being a freemason, though not an Old Westminster, he joined the OWL. He was the last and I think only head master to do so, though from, time to time, assistant masters have joined. There are none at present in the Lodge.

A History of the Lodge PT. II

In 1907 the Lodge moved from the Cafe Royal to the Imperial Restaurant in Regent Street, where it remained until the outbreak of the Great War. The years 1914-18 presented many difficulties, with most of the younger members away at the front. The Lodge continued to meet, with officers holding office for two year spells.

The Rev H Costley White DD Past Grand Chaplain became head master in 1919. Being a freemason, though not an Old Westminster, he joined the OWL. He took the chair of King Solomon in 1927.He was the last and I think only head master to do so, though, from time to time, assistant masters have joined. There are none at present in the Lodge.

It was with his permission that the Lodge met at the School, in Ashburnham House Drawing Room and dined in College Hall. College Hall was built in 1369 by Henry of Yevele, the King’s Master Mason and Henry Harland, the King’s Master Carpenter, as Abbot Nicholas de Litlyngton State Dining Hall. These two craftsmen were responsible for the rebuilding of Westminster Hall a few years earlier. College survived the blitz and remains as it was built.

In 1938 the Lodge celebrated fifty years since its consecration. It met up school, id est, in the Great Schoolroom, which had been the monks’ dormitory and which had a superb hammer-beamed roof, second only to that in Westminster Hall. The lower courses of the walls are part of Edward the Confessors rebuilding of the Abbey and the monastic buildings. The walls were panelled and the panels were engraved with the names and dates of boys at the school. The meeting was attended by sixty Grand Officers led by the Assistant Grand Master, Brigadier General Darrell, and was followed by a service in the Abbey conducted by Dr. Costley White, who was then Dean of Gloucester Cathedral. He was assisted by many of the Abbey clergy and the choir. The brethren wore their regalia for the service. After the service the lucky one hundred and twenty brethren who had obtained tickets for the banquet, partook of aperitifs in the Jerusalem Chamber, in the Deanery. It was in the Jerusalem Chamber that Henry IV died in 1413 and the King James Bible was written in 1611. They then sat down to sumptuous meal following a grace sung by the Abbey Choir in the 16th Century minstrels’ gallery, following which the choir sang roundelays. At that time the brethren wore full evening dress for all meetings.

In the World War of 1939-45 the school was evacuated and the last meet. At the school was held in June 1939. In 1940 meetings resumed at Freemasons’ Hall in the afternoons to avoid the night-time bombing. These were followed by rushed ‘banquets’ of which the main course was usually pigeon, which was not rationed.

In May 1941 the Secretary’s office in Grays Inn was totally destroyed by a bomb and all the Lodge’s records were lost. The working tools were later recovered from the rubble. The school suffered severe damage from incendiary bombs; the roof of School was burnt out and all the panelling, with the adjacent Busby Library. College the early 18th Century dormitory for the Scholars was burnt out at the same time. All that was left of School and College were the massively thick walls rising undamaged.

After the war meetings were resumed at the School in Ashburnham House, either in the drawing room or the Scott Lecture Room. In 1960 school was restored, though it was not thought possible to return it to its original state.

The seventy-fifth anniversary of the Lodge was celebrated by holding the twenty-ninth Festival of the Public Schools Lodges’ Council at the School in June 1962. The Festival was honoured by the presence of the Assistant Grand Master, Sir Alan Adair and a large number of Grand Officers. During the masonic meeting JHM Dulley gave an impressive address. After the meeting the brethren processed through the Cloisters to College Hall for tea and then back up School for a masonic service which was conducted by the Lodge Chaplain Bishop Richard Stannard assisted by EA Stores Fox. After trips around the School, three hundred brethren sat down to dinner up School. It was then that in its existence so far the Lodge had been honoured by the promotion of thirty-three of its members to various Grand Ranks from Grand Steward upwards.

The Lodge hosted the Public School Lodges Festival in June 1987. Because of the numbers the meeting was held in Church House and lunch up School. They Pro Grand Master, Lord Farnham and Lady Farnham honoured the occasion and the Head Master, David Summerscale, and his wife joined us for the meal. There were three hundred male and female guests. Ladies were first invited to the Festival in 1972. The Lodge celebrated its centenary in February 1988.

Since then the Lodge has continued to meet at the School, usually up School, unless the room is required for some other purpose, which happens rarely, since the meetings are always held during the vacations or during the half-term exeats. Dinner is almost always in College Hall except on occasions it is taken in the medieval ground floor of Ashburnham House. Once a year, usually in June, ladies and non-masonic male guests are invited to the dinner. These “White Tables” are very enjoyable and well attended. In 2011, after the Lodge had finished masonic work, the guests were formally invited in to see the Lodge laid out as if for a masonic ceremony and the brethren in their regalia. Each officer of the Lodge spoke for a couple of minutes, describing his role in the Lodge.

The Lodge meets four times a year, in June, October, February and the Installation meeting at Easter, when a new master is placed in the Chair of King Solomon.

Distinguished members of the Lodge.

Sir Christopher Wren .

His 3rd son Christopher wrote an account of his father’s life in which he says that he was at Westminster School 1641-1646. There is some doubt about this but it is probable that he spent at least a short time at Westminster under Busby, before he went up to Oxford in1650. Wren’s father The Reverend Christopher Wren D.D. was rector of East Knowle; he was appointed Dean of Windsor 1635 and the family moved to Windsor. The family would undoubtedly have been royalists and would have had considerable contact with the royal family. They would have been in considerable difficulty under the This would be in keeping with Busby’s policy of supporting poverty-stricken royalists. Wren was not a speculative freemason, though he was probably Grand Master of the operative freemasons. He was not a Grand Master of the totally fictitious Priory of Zion.

Warren Hastings OW. Mason??

Sir George Boag.

Westminster1897-1903. Cambridge. 1908 went to India.Senior appointments in Madras Presidency 1920-1943.Acting Governor of Orissa August-December 1938 ; in that period had to deal with uprisings in the princely state of Dhenkanal and established refugee camps in the border towns. Appointed Diwan of Cochin 1943-44. Companion of the Indian Empire 1928; Companion of the Star of India 1936; Knight Commander of the Order of the Indian Empire 1941. Died 1969

Acknowledgements:

Bro. S. Vatcher OBE MD & Bro. R. Strange “A History of the Senior Public School Lodge” Parts I & II. ‘The Masonic Record’ March & May 1964
G.H. Russell Barker & Alan H. Stenning  “The Record of Old Westminsters, Volume II”
 J.B. Whitmore, G.R.Y.Radcliffe & D.C. Simpson ”The Record of Old Westminsters Volume III”
F.E.Pagan “Supplementary Volume to Record of Old Westminsters Volume III”
F.E.Pagan & H.E.Pagan “The Record of Old Westminsters Volume IV”

E.&O.E.

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