There are many examples of actors and playwrights as
Freemasons, including David Garrick in the 18th century
and Douglas Jerrold in the 1830s and 1840s.
But it is not until 1870 that the first Lodge was formed primarily
for members of the musical and theatrical professions.
This was Lodge of Asaph No. 1319, which was consecrated
on 7 November 1870 at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen
The Lodge petition showed why such a Lodge was needed:
“many Masons belonging to the Musical, and Theatrical professions,
are unable to attend a Lodge, in consequence of professional duties
requiring their services at the time Masonic meeting are usually held…”.
The formation of this Lodge also reflected the tremendous
growth in the numbers employed in these professions as urban
populations supported an increasing number of theatres and
One of the most distinguished members of Lodge of Asaph
was Edward O’Connor Terry. Born in 1844, Terry began as
a comedian at the Strand Theatre and later owned a theatre
in the Strand (now demolished). He was a prominent
Freemason, being initiated on 20 January 1868 into Royal
Union Lodge No. 382, which met in Uxbridge.
He then joined Lodge of Asaph No. 1319 in 1871 and
became its Master in 1877. He was a founder of Edward Terry
Lodge No. 2722, named in his honour, and Bohemian Lodge
No. 3294, which met in Birkenhead (of which Harry Lauder
was also a member). He was Grand Treasurer in 1889.
William Sydney Penley, another member of Lodge of
Asaph, was best known for his role as ‘Charley’s Aunt’ in the
famous comedy of the same name. He also became a theatre
owner and rebuilt the old Novelty Theatre, reopening it as
the Great Queen Street Theatre, in 1900. (This building was
destroyed in the 1939-1945 war)
A very active Freemason, Penley was a member and
founder of many Lodges including Yorick, Green Room
and Lyric, all were formed by members of the theatrical
profession. He was also Grand Treasurer (in 1903).
Silk playbill for a special performance by the Liverpool Dramatic Lodge No. 1609
Bucks jewel: spectacular membership jewel for the 18th century Noble Order of the Bucks who supported benefit performances
Unusual wigwam-shaped Lodge summons for Savage Club No. 2190