ISSUE 16, January 2006
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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He was Colonel of the Berkshire Rifle Volunteers. At the request of its Captain-General, the Prince of Wales, Loyd-Lindsay commanded the Honourable Artillery Company from 1866 to 1881 and attempted, largely unsuccessfully, to modernise it. He encouraged closer relationships between regulars and volunteers.
    Loyd-Lindsay was a good shot, an enthusiast for rifle shooting and a prominent member of the National Rifle Association (which was closely associated with the volunteers). He presided over the Association’s move from Wimbledon to Bisley in 1890.
    Retaining his interest in military matters, Loyd-Lindsay spoke on the subject as an MP. He was appointed Financial Secretary to the War Office by Disraeli in 1877 and worked on preparations for a possible war with Russia. In 1891 he was appointed chairman of a committee reviewing terms and conditions of service in the army. The report of this Wantage Committee recommended improved pay and conditions for soldiers, but the government failed to introduce most of its recommendations.
    Having himself experienced the appalling lack of medical treatment in the Crimea, where he had escaped cholera but nearly died of dysentery, Loyd-Lindsay was interested in establishing a scheme of voluntary aid for the relief of sick and wounded soldiers.
    A fellow volunteer, John Furley, was an early advocate of a new organisation, the Red Cross, promoted by the Swiss businessman, Henri Dunant. When the Franco-Prussian War began in 1870, Furley approached Loyd-Lindsay to help raise public awareness of this idea.
    Loyd-Lindsay wrote to The Times and provided initial funds for the National Society for Aid to the Sick and Wounded, which later became the British Red Cross Society. His involvement was critical in gaining royal patronage, with Queen Victoria becoming Patron and the Prince of Wales its President.
    Loyd-Lindsay was created KCB in 1881 for services to the volunteer movement and was raised to the peerage in 1885, taking the title Baron Wantage of Lockinge.
    Amongst Loyd-Lindsay’s many interests was science and astronomy. He was a fellow of the Royal Society and at one stage President of the Astronomical Society.
    Loyd-Lindsay had become a Freemason in Malta on his journey to the Crimea and was initiated, passed and raised in the Union of Malta Lodge No. 588 (now No. 407), in March-April 1854. In England, he joined Windsor Castle Lodge No. 771 in 1860 and Abbey Lodge No. 945 in Abingdon in 1863.
    He remained a member of this latter Lodge until his death, serving as Master in 1899. In 1891 he was appointed Senior Grand Warden of the United Grand Lodge of England and served as Provincial Grand Master of Berkshire from 1898 until his death in 1901. A meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge was held at Lockinge in July 1900 and his portrait in regalia hangs in the Masonic hall at Wantage.
    Shortly after the institution of the Victoria Cross, the artist Louis William Desanges (1822-1887) decided to produce a series of paintings (56 in all) to illustrate the military actions in which the winners had been involved. The series was financed by the artist himself, apparently in a desire for recognition as a painter of important national subjects.
    The Prince of Wales took an interest and Loyd-Lindsay’s picture was begun whilst he was equerry to him. According to the artist, he “painted each scene from the description given by the gallant sitters themselves, assisted by the friends and companions-inarms, many of them eye witnesses of the actions depicted”.
    Desanges was initiated in November 1863 in Globe Lodge No 23 in London, and remained a member until 1865. On 16 January 1874 he joined the Lodge of Friendship No. 6, was Junior Warden in 1879 and Senior Warden in 1880 but never became Master. He was nominated as the Lodge’s Grand Steward in 1880 and regularly attended Lodge meetings until 1885. His son was initiated in the lodge in March 1883 and remained a member until his death in 1892.
    In 1877, Desanges painted a portrait of the Prince of Wales in his Masonic regalia for the Lodge and this was presented, on behalf of the Lodge, to Grand Lodge. The original painting was destroyed in a fire at Freemasons’ Hall in 1883, but Desanges was commissioned to paint a copy of it, together with copies of the portraits of the Duke of Manchester and the Earl of Zetland, and this copy is currently on display in the Grand Officers’ Robing Room.
    Desanges’ Victoria Cross paintings were exhibited first at the Egyptian Hall in Piccadilly and then, for many years after 1862, at the Crystal Palace in Sydenham, south east London, one of the most popular leisure attractions of the Victorian period.
    Eventually they were put up for sale. Loyd-Lindsay purchased, for about Ł1,000, 46 of the paintings shortly before his death in 1901.

An 1876 lithograph of Lord Wantage by ‘Spy’ – Sir Leslie Ward

        One, of the first Canadian-born VC, Alexander Dunn, was bought by the Government of Ontario, and it is believed that the remainder were bought by families of the recipients. He presented them to the town of Wantage, where they were exhibited in a room in the Corn Exchange known as the Victoria Cross Gallery. The paintings remained on display until 1941, when the building was requisitioned as a cooking depot for the war effort.
    The paintings had to be removed, but it was difficult to find adequate alternative storage for them due to their large size. By the early 1950s both the paintings (still in store) and the Gallery needed restoration.
    Despite an appeal by John Betjeman at a public meeting in 1952 for the pictures to be retained, the costs were considered too high for the local ratepayers to bear and the collection was dispersed.
    Four paintings were destroyed as their condition following storage put them beyond restoration. Loyd-Lindsay’s picture was retained by the Town Council, others were passed to military museums and other military authorities but the current location of a significant number of others is now unknown.
    In his biography, written by his wife, Loyd-Lindsay’s belief in duty is summarised in his words “I must do something to justify my existence”. He was tall and handsome and much admired by contemporaries, including Julia Margaret Cameron, who took his photograph and claimed that he was nearest to her ideal of King Arthur, Florence Nightingale who wrote of him “All are better than if he had not lived” and the Masonic Illustrated which described him in its obituary as “a man of mark”. The biography includes a poem by Lady Wantage entitled “VC” from which the title of this exhibition has been drawn.

Diane Clements is Director of the Library & Museum of Freemasonry at Grand Lodge

Thanks to Granville Angell (Prestonian Lecturer for 2006), Robin White, Librarian and Curator of the Berkshire Library and Museum of Freemasonry and Irene Hancock (especially her booklet on the Victoria Cross Gallery).

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