The Old Pauline Lodge, Number 3969
by Alastair MacKenzie
The idea of founding an Old Pauline Lodge was first put forward by Bro. Neil Martin-Kaye in a letter to ‘The Pauline’ magazine in November 1917. This led to a number of Old Pauline freemasons meeting at 10 Duke Street, St. James on 6th February 1919. A resolution was passed approving an attempt to found a Lodge and a committee was formed to further the proposal. Some eighteen months later this committee reported to a meeting of prospective founders and it was formally resolved to present a petition to the M.W. the Grand Master for permission to found an Old Pauline Lodge. Supported by the Old Wykehamist Lodge, a warrant was granted, dated 26th May 1919, and the number 3969 was assigned to the Lodge.
Those of an arithmetical or symbolic turn of mind may observe that this should be a very auspicious number indeed, since it is the product of 49 and 81, which are the squares of 7 and 9 which itself is the square of 3; 3,7 and 9 all being ‘lucky’ numbers.
On 15th July of the same year the Lodge was consecrated, the ceremony being performed by the Grand Secretary, R.W.Bro. P.Colville-Smith, a former WM of the old Cliftonian Lodge. W.Bro. Leslie O.Wilson (later Colonel the Rt.Hon. Sir Leslie) was installed as WM Among the names admitted as candidates at that meeting was the Rev. A.E.Hillard, the High Master, who was duly initiated at the next meeting.
The early meetings of the Lodge were held at 10 Duke Street, St.James with one visit to Freemasons’ Hall. In 1921 the venue was moved to Cordwainers’ Hall in Cannon Street, in1924 to the Grand Hotel in Trafalgar Square, in 1927 to the Hotel Metropole in Northumberland Avenue and finally in 1934 to Freemasons’ Hall. On 4th October of that year the Lodge qualified as a Hall Stone Lodge.
The first meeting to be held at the School, then at West Kensington, was in June 1930 when the Lodge hosted the Public Schools Lodges Festival. The WM was W.Bro. John Bell, the High Master; his predecessor, Dr. Hillard, was the Lodge Chaplain.
From 1930, until the evacuation in 1939, one meeting a year was held at the School. During the war regular meetings were held at Freemasons’ Hall, usually at midday rather than in the evening. At the November 1940 meeting the WM announced that ‘in the event of an air-raid taking place he proposed to continue the work of the Lodge but that he would give any brother who desired it an opportunity of seeking a safer shelter.’
After the war the annual School meetings were resumed. In 1947 W.Bro. R.L.James became the third High Master to be a member of the Lodge.
In 1966 when R.W.Bro. Sir Lionel Denny, who nearly forty years earlier had been the first initiate to reach the chair of the Lodge, was Lord Mayor of London he invited the Lodge to hold its January meeting at the Mansion House. Three years later the Lodge was also able to hold its Golden Jubilee meeting in this splendid building with R.W.Bro. Sir Lionel once again installed in the Master’s chair, in the presence of the R.W.Assistant Grand Master, Major-General Sir Alan Adair.
In 1970 the April meeting was held for the first time in the Assembly Hall of Colet Court, the St.Paul’s Preparatory School, at the new site in Barnes. From 1975 the summer meetings too were held there; we now meet in the Senior School, by dispensation, and since 1990 the Old Pauline Lodge has been one of the very few school lodges fortunate enough to have all their meetings at the school. We are very grateful for this facility and the Lodge makes regular donations to the School Benevolent and Bursary Funds.
Distinguished members of the Lodge have included R.W.Bro. Lord Pearson, the Lord of Appeal who settled two of the most formidable strikes of the age, the Dockers’ and the Seamen’s in the days before ACAS; R.W.Bro. Lord Nathan, W.Bro. Sir Geoffrey Whiskard K.C.B., K.C.M.G., W.Bro. Sir William Peat, W.Bro. Sir K.G. Mitchell K.C.I.E. and W.Bro. Sir Charles Wheeler. R.W.Bro. Sir James Stubbs, for many years an outstanding Grand Secretary, had been a teacher at the School during the 1930s and his wife, Lady Richenda was the Catering Manageress for twenty years during and after the war. He was elected an Honorary member of the Lodge in 1953 and was for many years a regular attender. His last visit was in 1998, not long before his death, when he spoke most entertainingly about his memories of the school and the Lodge.
In June 2002, the Lodge hosted the Public Schools Lodges Council Festival with R.W.Bro. David Cons, Pro Provincial Grand Master for Middlesex, as Worshipful Master.