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

     Though a warm and friendly personality, he was insistent on correctness and procedure.

Richard the lionheart

The fascinating background to Richard Eve, a former Grand Treasurer, is uncovered by Peter Ricketts.

The monument in the park is clear enough. One ornate panel dedicates it to “Richard Eve, born December 6 1831, died July 7 1900.” On another panel we learn that “Charity was ever his end and aim; devoted to the Masonic Craft, he was Grand Treasurer of England 1889 and for years Chairman of the Masonic Boys’ School.” A third panel tells us he was “Chivalrous by nature and fired with the enthusiasm of humanity” and that he “Resisted oppression and did Battle for the Right.” Behind the noble words is the story of a man born in humble circumstances who went on to rub shoulders with the then Prince of Wales (later Edward V.), the Duke of Connaught, and other great Freemasons of the time. The ..ft memorial to Richard Eve has stood majestically in Brinton Park in Kidderminster, Worcestershire, since 21 June 1902. It was raised, states yet another inscription, by “Admiring friends to keep his memory green in his native town which he ardently loved.” The monument is designed and decorated in the sort of intricate detail much beloved by the Victorians. It is faced with glazed Doulton tiles in rich hues of green, terracotta and bronze which, it was said at the time, made the whole edifice indestructible. Sadly, the local worthies were wrong there. The structure has a dilapidated look about it. Bits are tending to fall off and an ugly guard fence has been placed round it as a safety measure. The two drinking fountains incorporated in the design have long since failed to function.
So who was Richard Eve and why was he so honoured by Masons and non-Masons alike? He was born in a little house in Kidderminster, the son of John Eve, who had come down from Yorkshire to be foreman of a spinning department at one of the town’s many carpet factories. Young Richard did his schooling locally and in 1846 was articled to a firm of solicitors in Leamington Spa where, in 1861, at the age of 23, he was initiated into Guy’s Lodge No. 556 (now No. 395), of which he became Master in 1861. That same year, during a short residence in Brecon, Wales, he joined Brecknock Lodge No. 936 (now No. 651). Shortly afterwards, as a fully fledged solicitor, he set up a practice at Aldershot, where the British Army was busy establishing its massive military centre. As the headquarters grew, so did his stature and influence. Over the next 15 years he built up a large and wealthy practice and at the same time entered politics, becoming Lord of the Manor of Farnborough.
       He was a great orator and a defender of the poor and distressed in the area. As a radical, free-thinking Liberal, he stood unsuccessfully for Parliament three times, once contesting the Kidderminster constituency. Throughout his life he retained an abiding love and enthusiasm for Freemasonry and in 1863 joined Panmure Lodge No. 723 in Hampshire. It was the beginning of a remarkable record as a leading figure in the Lodge and he was Master in 1874, then treasurer for 28 years from 1872 until his death. His appetite for Freemasonry knew no bounds, and in 1884 he joined Grand Master’s Lodge No. 1 in London. Though a warm and friendly personality, he was insistent on correctness in conduct and procedure. A classic example is recorded in the Lodge’s history. In 1865 he moved that officers of Panmure Lodge be fined for nonattendance, although he was persuaded to withdraw it. Undeterred, he then suggested that every member be given a Book of Constitutions and a copy of the Lodge bylaws, a practice not then thought necessary. On another occasion he moved that the words “having given proof of proficiency” concerning a Third Degree ceremony, be removed from the Minutes! But it would be wrong to picture him as a crusty badtempered man. All his life he showed unfailing compassion and concern for the underdog and championed many causes on their behalf.
       People who knew him learned to love him, and he earned their respect for his unwavering pursuit of sometimes unpopular but worthy lines of action. One of his achievements was worthy of the Guinness Book of Records – he installed 16 Masters into the Chair at Panmure. As well as being Grand Treasurer in the Craft, he was prominent in other degrees too, being Provincial Grand Joshua in the Royal Arch in 1874 and Treasurer of Supreme Grand Chapter in 1887.


     Paramount in his Masonic work was the welfare in the two Masonic schools. All his life he showed unfailing compassion and concern for the underdog and championed many causes on their behalf.