ISSUE 9, April 2004

The Duke of Wellington: A Brother in arms
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Grand Master and Report of the Board of General Purposes
Life with the Stars: Masons and famous people
Hall Stone Jewel: Cyril Spackman, designer
Travel: Jamaica
Grand Charity: Annual Report and Accounts
Masonic stamps: Masonry on stamps
Library & Museum of Freemasonry: Antients and Moderns go on-line
Masonic education: Events for Freemasons
Masonic charities: The continuing work
Bowel cancer: How the Grand Charity is helping
Royal Arch: Russia and Eastern Europe
Richard Eve: A former Grand Treasurer
Book reviews

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Featured Masons

The Duke of Wellington
Neal Arden
Elias Ashmole
Richard Eve
John Pine
Cyril Spackman


In the Green Room Lodge one of the well-known brethren of my time was W. Bro. Peter Williams, for many years the secretary, an actor who had played the lead in the TV series Shadow Squad and who was also well known for his appearance in Bridge on the River Kwai with Jack Hawkins of the Savage Club Lodge, and W. Bro. John Boxer. In the late 1970s, Peter Williams and I both appeared in different episodes of the BBC Television series, I Claudius.
       The film director Norman Walker had earlier directed me in the Rank film of the life of Saint Paul, in which I played the name part through the ages of youth to his death in Rome at around 70 AD. One couldn’t do that today, but in the 1930s an actor was permitted to play parts of all ages, and for this one I was covered with whiskers.
       Later, when working in New York for United Nations Radio, one of the TV networks discovered this film and actually showed it. A member of the clergy interviewing me asked, “Did playing St Paul make you a better man?” I leave the answer to you.
       Other names I cannot omit are the late John Arnatt of the beautiful speaking voice, much neglected by producers during his later life, and Clifford Mollison, two older actor Freemasons whose names should not be forgotten by us.
       When I was initiated into Freemasonry I was working with the BBC in several shows, including the African Service on short wave from London, and a new series with the singer Anne Shelton which was produced by Alick Hayes.
       I had been asked to appear at Freemasons’ Hall, but understood, as was then the custom, that Masonry was something you did not discuss with non-Masons. So, on entering one of the anterooms at Freemasons’ Hall, I was amazed to find, relaxing in a chair, my radio producer, Alick Hayes!
       It turned out that he was proposed by no less a celebrity than the comedian Ronald Shiner, soon to become Master himself. Thus, while waiting to be initiated, we fell to discussing our next live show for the following Sunday – at the time nearly all radio was ‘live’ of course.
       In 1967 the Green Room Lodge was honoured by a visit from the then Assistant Grand Master, Sir Alan Adair. He was a marvellous visitor. He always created the right atmosphere in Lodge, and afterwards at the festive board. Indeed, it was from Sir Alan’s example that I personally learnt how to behave when later I became one of the new Visiting Grand Officers appointed for London.
       A Past Deputy Grand Chaplin, the Reverend Neville Barker Cryer was at one time also a Prestonian Lecturer. Like many clergymen today, he was often so fully engaged with his own work that he had sometimes to ask another Brother to deliver the lecture in his stead.
       Donald Wolfit did so, and twice when Donald was unavailable, I did it myself. I remember that these were very enjoyable occasions.
       Although the Green Room Lodge is still known as an actors’ Lodge, only three of us of that profession remain at the time of writing. The young actor of today simply hasn’t enough time to give to Freemasonry.
       He is either working in one or other of the outlets available for his talent or, sadly, if he’s not working – a state actors can find themselves in only too often – he cannot afford to belong to such an organisation. I deplore this, but it is, I fear, a fact of modern life.
Neal Arden (left) with Hollywood actress and singer Doris Day at the Dorchester Hotel, London in the 1950s