A medal featuring Kitchener as a Field Marshal
© Library and Museum of Freemasonry
A chalk and wash cartoon of Kitchener by George Roland Halkett
© National Portrait Gallery, London
His initiation coincided with the increasing unrest in
the Sudan and in 1895 the British government authorised
Kitchener to launch a campaign to reconquer the territory. |
It is quite extraordinary that during this period of tension
and military activity Kitchener found time to develop
his Masonic career.
In 1885 he joined the most senior Lodge in Egypt, Bulwer
Lodge No. 1068. There are a number of questions raised
about his membership, in 1886, regarding the first English
Lodge with which he is associated. His name, as mentioned
above, appears as a petitioner for the Drury Lane Lodge,
consecrated on 25 January 1886. There is no evidence,
however, of his presence in England at this time.
His name is clearly not in his own handwriting and the
letters N/R (not registered) appear after the entry. The
column headed `Initiated in Lodge No.' has the entry 1355,
the number of the Star of the East Lodge, also not in his
writing. This error may have been the source for the confusion in the Grand Officers' listing.
Kitchener became a joining member of the Star of the East
Chapter in 1892 (which, founded in 1891, was only erased in
1966). Finally, at a meeting of the Lodge in 1898, the Master,
Gerald Maxwell, welcomes Lord Kitchener as `The Victor
of Omdurman'. Kitchener replies: `It gives me the greatest
pleasure to meet the Brethren of the Lodge, which is the
first one I have joined in England'.
All this evidence, in addition to the political unrest in
Egypt at the time, points to his participation at the consecration of the Drury Lane Lodge in absentia. The Lodge
also boasted the initiation of Capt. Robert Falcon Scott
(of the Antarctic).
On 2 September 1898, General Kitchener led the British
and Egyptian troops to victory over Sudanese tribesmen in
the decisive battle of Omdurman, reoccupying Khartoum
and establishing British control over the Sudan. It is here
that he acquired the title of `Kitchener of Khartoum'.
Meanwhile, Kitchener continued with his vigorous
Masonic activities. In 1890 he joined the Greek-speaking
Hellas Lodge No. 1105, later named Grecia Lodge, and was
instrumental in its revival when it began to work in English.
He was Master in 1892.
It was also at this time that his interest in the Orders
beyond the Craft began. His standing as a national hero,
and his enthusiasm for the Craft, ensured his rapid rise
through the Masonic ranks in all the Orders. In 1895 he
was appointed Past District Senior Grand Warden for Egypt
and the Sudan, and in this capacity he was instrumental in
the Foundation of the Fatieh Lodge under the National
Grand Lodge of Egypt and was made Honorary Master.