ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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That's entertainment

George Robey - Prime Minister of Mirth
    In 1905 a group of artistes and musicians founded a Lodge which was destined to become one of the best known in Freemasonry – Chelsea Lodge No.3098 – which celebrates its centenary at Freemasons’ Hall, London, on 20 May.
    Descended in lineage from Lion and Lamb Lodge No.192, it was consecrated in 1789 through five generations, and Chelsea Lodge was consecrated on 19 May 1905.
    Wolfe Lyon, Master of Earl’s Court No.2765, realised many members of the theatrical profession were enthusiastic Freemasons, but their professional duties prevented them taking an active part in the work.
    He therefore set about forming a new Lodge for their particular benefit, timed to meet in the afternoon so that the work could be finished before evening duties called them away.
    Chelsea Palace were approached with a view to using of their handsome board rooms to hold Lodge meetings, and permission being granted, a petition was duly presented to the Duke of Connaught, Grand Master, signed by 34 brethren.
    These founders came from Earl’s Court 2765, Asaph 1319, Liverpool Dramatic 1609, St Luke’s 144, Lodge Italia 2687, Orpheus 1706, Camden 704, Kennington 1381, Brownrigg 1638, Cannon 1539, Emblematic 1321, Blackwater 1977, Becontree 1288, Pimilico 1772, Lodge of Light 2721 and Comrades 2740.
    The professions of the founders included theatrical directors and managers, music hall artistes, concert and music hall agents, comedians, music directors, stage managers, a cinematographer and a theatrical upholsterer.
    Arguably the two most famous founders were George Robey and George Mozart. Robey, ‘The Prime Minister of Mirth’, was one of the most phenomenally successful of music hall comedians. He received a knighthood in 1954 and lived to the age of 85.
    George Mozart was one of the finest character comedians and pantomime artistes, topping bills at all major halls for nearly 30 years. The Times described him as ‘a short, sturdy, dapper, monkey-faced little man, bouncing with energy.’
    Chelsea Lodge was consecrated by Sir Edward Letchworth, Grand Secretary. At the completion of the ceremony James W. Mathews was installed as Chelsea’s first Master.
    Over the last 100 years, Chelsea Lodge has maintained its show business membership. Some 1,200 brethren from the world of entertainment have worked in music hall, variety, circus, pantomime, comedy, magic, ventriloquism, silent films and ‘talkies’, cinema, radio and television.
    Each year on television the Royal Command Performance is transmitted alternately by BBC and ITV. The first was staged at the Palace Theatre, London on 1 July 1912 in front of King George V and Queen Mary. Members of Chelsea Lodge took part.
    George Robey performed the Mayor of Mudcumdyke, Charlie Whittle appeared in Variety’s Garden Party and Harry Claff led the singing of the National Anthem. Also on the bill was Albert Le Fre.
    Over the years many members of Chelsea Lodge have appeared in the Royal Variety Performance, including Talbot O’Farrell, Wee Georgie Wood, Bud Flanagan, George Ganjou, Sandy Powell, Leslie Sarony, Lupino Lane, Nat Jackley, Reg Dixon, Peter Sellers, Arthur English, Alfred Marks, Bernard Bresslaw, Edmundo Ros, Joe Loss, Billy Dainty, Bob Monkhouse, Roger De Courcey, Jim Davidson and Don Smoothey, to name but a few.
    The proceeds of Royal Variety Performances are specially arranged in aid of the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent Fund, which maintains Brinsworth House, opened in 1911 for retired performers of what was then the variety and music hall profession.
    Today, a number of Chelsea members help to administer this fund including Laurie Mansfield (President), Peter Prichard (Chairman), Ray Donn (Treasurer and 100th Master of Chelsea 2004–2005) and Peter Elliott, Executive Administrator (Immediate Past Master).
    Looking back over the life of the Lodge, members must feel satisfied with what they and their predecessors have achieved. If all the founders had lived to see the meetings today of the Lodge they started, they would not have been disappointed.
    It will be the present endeavour to ensure that, when future generations look back, they will also think well of those who are now carrying on the work so well begun by the founders 100 years ago.

That’s Entertainment, the story of Chelsea Lodge, will be published on 20 May, with over 300 pages of photographs and biographies. Cost: £15 plus postage and packing. More details from the author at:

Keith Skues, MBE AE is a joining member of Chelsea Lodge, PM Harringay 2763 and currently Immediate Past Master of Sandringham 9751.

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