A coin showing Kitchener|
as a Field Marshal
I refer to remarks from the top level
of the Craft (MQ Issue No. 12) which
suggest: “English Freemasonry is
comparatively cheap nowadays
compared to what it cost only 20
or so years ago.”
There are a number of factors which
have impacted on the real cost of
Freemasonry, which the above assertion
may not have taken into account.
Whether dues and/or charitable
donations have kept pace with inflation
is arguable, but other incidental costs
have advanced substantially.
For members of London Lodges and
Chapters who travel from the outer
suburbs, Home Counties or further,
fares on public transport continue to
escalate. Those who choose to drive are
confronted with the Congestion Charge,
recently increased, plus parking costs.
Then there are the significant
number of Masons who subscribe to
several Lodges and Chapters. Further
increases in costs could lead to some
of them cutting back on multimembership,
struggling units towards closure.
There are instances where, to keep
dues down artificially, wine is not
included in the dining charge, but there
is still an increase in the cost for those
who prefer to drink the toasts in the
traditional manner. Bar prices in
general continue to rise, while the
going rate for supporting a Ladies’
Festival has rocketed.
On benevolence, both the Lodge and
Chapter of which I am a member, plus
most of those I visit, now include a raffle
during the Festive Board to raise
funds for charity, in addition to the
I note from the comments under
reference, that attempts would be
made to “limit the impact of any
increases on those who can least
afford it”, but I wonder whether this
implies the indignity of means-testing.
In this connection, it should be borne
in mind that many of our members are
retired and living on fixed incomes.
Despite the pressures this places upon
them, they form a vital resource for
our Institution, routinely accepting
offices and responsibilities which
younger members may not have
the time or experience to handle.
If it is indisputable that the Institution
is no longer viable without a major
injection of subscription and charitable
income, surely there is an alternative
strategy that would not test excessively
the loyalty and dedication of existing
Memories of Kitchener
I was interested to read the history of Lord
Kitchener’s Masonic activities (MQ Issue No. 12). Shortly after India’s independence,
I visited the Lord Kitchener Lodge at the
Masonic Hall in Janpath Road, Delhi.
When I arrived, I found four Brethren
sitting at the foot of the staircase sharing a
bottle of whisky, waiting for a fifth to turn
up so they could open the Lodge.
On arrival, they showed me a typical
Summons, printed during Kitchener’s time.
What a splendid, not to mention expensive,
piece of coloured printing in gold, red and
blue, on vellum. It had clearly been not
only a large and mainly military Lodge,
but a very busy and prosperous one.
Sadly, now on the verge of collapse, my
presence was most welcome and I was asked
to join the opening in the three Degrees and
then closing again – there was no other work.
During the ceremony I would attend to
the tracing boards. These were mounted on
a remarkable piece of machinery – designed
by one of Kitchener’s military engineers,
I was told.
The three boards were mounted in such
a way that, by turning a handle at the side,
they were moved vertically up and down
by pulleys and chains to change the display
for each Degree. It had not been oiled for
years and made loud squeaking noises.
There was no festive board, simply
because the hall steward had warned that any
one eating there was likely to suffer extreme
stomach conditions. Everyone therefore
departed into the warm evening to eat at
our respective residences, in my case a hotel.
I believe that the Lodge now thrives,
with a strong membership of Indian
Rex Johnson, Sevenoaks, Kent
Seven Kitchener Lodges
Regarding Lodges named after Kitchener,
I can confirm, thanks to details provided by
Neil Wynes Morse of Canberra, Australia,
that seven Lodges were named after
Kitchener, the last two no longer being
extant, as follows:
Lord Kitchener of Khartoum Lodge No.
2767, London; Kitchener Lodge No. 2998,
New Delhi, East Punjab; Lord Kitchener
Lodge No. 3402, Dhekelia, Cyprus,
formerly Cairo; Lord Kitchener Lodge No.
3788, Bolton, Lancashire. Lodge Kitchener
No. 240 of the United Grand Lodge of
Victoria, Australia. There was a Lodge
Earl Kitchener No. 308 in the Constitution
of New South Wales, Australia and also an
Earl Kitchener Mark Lodge No. 43 under
the Constitution of the Grand Mark Lodge
of Victoria, Australia.
Bruce B. Hogg, Middlesbrough
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