Doyle did indeed visit the Rising Star Lodge, but the date was on 5th April 1900, following the British occupation of the town two days earlier. The Cape Argus reported the meeting on 18th April:
a communication was received from RW Bro Lord Kitchener ... expressing his regret at not being able to attend the meeting ... and a similar letter was read from Bro A Conan Doyle, both Brethren intimating that it was their intention to visit the lodge in the near future.
Lord Kitchener did attend a meeting of the Lodge on 23rd April 1900, and signed a document, still in possession of the Lodge, proposing that a Royal resolution be sent to the Prince of Wales. Lord Roberts and Conan Doyle are also signatories to this document.
There is no evidence, however, that either of them was present on that occasion, and the signatures appear to have been legitimately added to the document on a subsequent occasion.
That occasion may well have been the emergency Mourning meeting held on 31 January 1901, in memory of QueenVictoria, ten days after her death.
It is possible, even likely, that both Conan Doyle and Rudyard Kipling were present at this meeting, and it would have been an opportunity for Doyle to sign the document initiated by Lord Kitchener. On his return to England early in 1901, in a series of lectures given in Scotland, Doyle praised the activities of Freemasons during the Boer war. That year he was invited to propose the main toast to the Immortal Memory of Queen Victoria.
Lodge of Edinburgh (Mary's Chapel) No. 1, Scottish Constitution, made him an honorary member following his speech, in which he spoke on Masonry in South Africa.
In 1902 he was knighted by Edward VII. He rejoined his Lodge in 1909, but resigned for good in 1911. Freemasonry features in various forms in his writings, not all of them related to Sherlock Holmes. The Valley of Fear (1915), from the Professor Challenger stories, has references in America to the Ancient Order of Freemen (some editions state `Imminent Order' instead of 'Ancient'), locally referred to as The Scowers Lodge No. 341 in Vermissa Valley, USA. Furthermore, the statement is made that there is no town in the State without a Lodge, and that grips and passwords are useful.
Another story is The Lost World (1912), where mention is made of a Mr Hungerton 'bouncing off' to a Masonic meeting. Later Lord John Roxton says to Malone: 'between you and me close tiled'.
Web site created by Mark Griffin