Conan Doyle knew my father
I was particularly interested in the account of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's career (MQ, Issue No. 6).
My late father, who was a schoolboy in Portsmouth in the 1880s, recounted an incident of Conan Doyle operating on his father's eyes on the kitchen table at their home.
I am glad to learn from the article that Doyle was an eye specialist, which lends authority to my father's anecdote - a long and tenuous thread to an event of over 100 years ago.
My father initiated me, prior to my leaving for India, into the Loyd Lindsay Lodge No. 3058 in summer 1942. I have now been a Freemason for over 60 years.
David Barnard, Kidlington, Oxford
A welcome in France
I am now retired and living in Lot and Garonne in south-west France. A member of Broadstone Lodge No. 8641 in Dorset, I have recently joined R. L. Charity No. 1384 a l'Orient d'Agen based in Agen.
This Lodge was consecrated last November and works in English using the Emulation Lodge of Improvement ritual.
Its membership is 75% French and 25% British. Visitors are warmly welcomed and may find the traditional French Masonic greeting of three kisses on the cheeks, in addition to the token, a bit unusual. The festive board is not to be missed.
Charles Dean, 3 Rue des Hannetons, Montayral, Lot et Garonne, 47500 Fumel, France. Tel: (33) 05 53 36 89 31.
Memories of Coburn
I was interested in the article in MQ Issue No. 6 of the work of the photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn, who was Most Wise Sovereign of my Rose Croix Chapter, Rhyl 291, in 1935.
Later he became the Very Illustrious Inspector General of the Ancient and Accepted Rite for North Wales District and was present at my own Perfection ceremony in April 1959.
That night he delivered the Accolade, communicated the signs and words and gave an explanation of the jewel and collar.
Thank you for reviving my personal memories of a most dedicated and sincere Freemason who was held in such high esteem by all with whom he came into contact.
F C Davies, Huntington, Cheshire
Those were the days
I have come across a copy of the menu for my grandfather's installation when he went into the chair of Brixton Lodge No. 1949 on 3rd February 1894 at the Horns Hotel, Kennington Park, London.
Brian Dowell Haywards Heath, Sussex
Clear Ox Tail Mock Turtle
Boiled Salmon and
Stewed Pigeon Mushrooms
Boiled Fowl with Celery Sauce
Roast Pheasant and
Plum Pudding Mince Pies
Orange Jelly Blancmange
The Knibb clock
I was interested in Diane Clements' discussion with CM 'Col' Wren in 'Time on his Hands' in MQ Issue No. 6.
There is, however, one matter which puzzles me. Joseph Knibb was one of the great clock makers of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, and his brother John, of Oxford, was also well-known.
However, I cannot find any James Knibb recorded later in the 18th century. The late 18th century dial reproduced on page 32 appears to be signed 'Gibson Kighley' - again I cannot find this maker recorded, and I just wonder who the clock is reproduced by, and what relationship this James Knib has with his famous namesake, Joseph.
Anthony du Boulay, Sydling St Nicholas, Dorchester
The editor writes: James Knibb should read Joseph, and the illustrated clock face is not for the Knibb clock, but one of the long case clocks in the Library & Museum collection. The name on the face - Gibson Kighley - is believed to be the retailer rather than the maker.
Not a 'doom-monger'
I must take exception to Donald Davinson's accusation in his letter (MQ Issue No. 6) that I am a 'gloomy doom-monger' in my observation that, as a general rule, a Chapter cannot be well served by relying on only one Lodge for the supply of exaltees.
Two is good, three even better. As a London Freemason I was naturally referring to London's difficulties, having no experience of Yorkshire Masonry.
I am far from 'gloomy' or 'doom-laden.' My own London Chapter has two successful Lodges providing candidates for Exaltation, consequently we have a constant flow of applications and 50-60 Companions dine together on most occasions.
As such, the Brethren who have not yet gained a good grounding in the Craft degrees may find the Royal Arch less attractive than Lodge, and so should not be pushed in the direction of a Chapter, however desperate it is for an exaltee until, like their entry into the Craft, by a new Masonic maturity, are properly prepared.
Geoffrey Belson, Ealing, London
I read with interest the letter in MQ Issue No. 6 about the MV Victoria cruise ship and Masonic cocktail parties.
I have been on several P&O cruises where such events were held, including the Oriana and Arcadia. Details of those present and a record of the event were entered in the Masonic Minute Book.
On both occasions a notice had previously been placed in the ship's newspaper inviting interested Masons to meet informally in one of the quiet rooms.
The Captain, Purser and other representatives were invited to attend the cocktail party along with Masonic widows aboard.
A plaque near the reception area on the Oriana acknowledges sums donated over the years to those charities.
H Smith, Morecambe, Lancashire