Members are drawn from a variety of professions, including law, medicine, City finance, commerce, security, academia, technology, and accountancy. Most members live in the environs of London although we have members who reside in the USA, Budapest, The Hague, Hong Kong and Qatar. Whilst most are Old Chigwellians, we also have members who have worked at the School or have a child at Chigwell.
How was the lodge formed?
The idea of forming the Old Chigwellian Lodge was born after a chance meeting of Old Chigwellians during World War Two, whilst in Egypt. The Lodge was founded in 1948 by several Old Chigwellians including the Headmaster of the era, Dr. Robert James, CBE (1939-1946). Dr. James did a valiant job of keeping the School going during the Second World War and then moved to become the Headmaster of Harrow School in 1947. He was replaced by Headmaster Donald Thompson, who was much loved by the boys and staff.
Who were the first members?
Four people were proposed for Initiation at the Consecration meeting on 17th June 1948. Among them was Worshipful Brother Doug Dew, JP. He quickly moved forward to lead the Lodge as Worshipful Master in 1955 and celebrated the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge in 1998 when he provided a fascinating account of the early years to the assembled audience. He said that he had enjoyed 50 happy years in the Lodge. He revealed that, although his father had been a Freemason, he had not shown interest until he had met Worshipful Brother B.L. Oxley, in 1942, who suggested forming an Old Chigwellian Lodge.
Several founding members were enlisted to generate a critical mass, including several eminent Masons of the day. These included B.Oxley, PAGDC, W.Barker, PAGDC, P.Peskett, PAGDC (Essex) and Sir Herbert Hall Hall, KCMG. Sir Herbert was at Chigwell between 1892 and 1898. After Cambridge he became Vice Consul in Buenos Aires and married Lucy Kennedy from Montevideo, who was the granddaughter of the 5th Earl Viscount Bangor. He became Chairman of the Board of Governors at Chigwell, serving between 1939 and 1961 when he retired after a cycling accident. Sir Herbert’s portrait was displayed on the staircase of Mark Masons’ Hall for many years.
Many of Chigwell’s sons fell during the First and Second World Wars. These are commemorated in the School Chapel and every name is read aloud at a whole school service each November.
What was Chigwell like in the 1940s?
In 1945 the School had 250 boys, many of them boarders.
Masters were returning from active service and the pupil roll rose to 300 by 1950.
The war-time era Chigwellian magazines show the school ‘carrying on very well’. Of course, these were written on thick wood-pulp paper.
No-one had a car during the war, unless with special needs and Government permission. Therefore, local transport was by bicycle or on foot. Public transport was suspended because of the risk of bombing.
Speech Day 1947 mentions academic success and inter-school sporting success now that transport was possible again.
Maneuvers were under way to purchase the 18th Century Georgian property known as Grange Court as a permanent memorial of those who fell during the War. It was acquired at a ‘fair price’ because it was in a shabby condition, having been requisitioned by the Irish Fusiliers during the war.
The Lodge has frequently attracted members from the staff at Chigwell School including the late Barrie Sydenham who was the Deputy Head, and more recently The Reverend Michael Bradley who was a music master and Boys’ Boarding Housemaster based at Grange Court. Alan Brooker, JP, DL was a member of the Lodge for many years and he also Chaired the Board of Governors at Chigwell School. Although pre-dating the Lodge, Colonel Amelius Mark Lockwood, PC, GCVO, JP, DL who later became (1st Baron) Lord Lambourne, Chairman of the Chigwell School Governors from 1893 – 1922 was another eminent Freemason who became the Provincial Grand Master of Essex in 1902.
The Old Chigwellian Lodge is proud of its heritage and cherishes its close links to Chigwell School. Indeed, the Lodge meets once each year at the School and frequently holds rehearsal meetings at the Old Chigwellians’ Clubhouse. The dinner following the School meeting is normally attended by the Headmaster and his wife, the Chaplain, Bursar and the Chair of Governors.
When the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London was formed in October 2003 the Old Chigwellian Lodge number 6648 became a ‘Founding Member.’ The Old Chigwellian Lodge is also proud to hold the status of a Patron of the Masonic Samaritan Fund and to be a member of the Federation of School Lodges.
Many people consider ‘Old School Lodges’ to be special since there is such a strong shared ethos. Several schools such as Chigwell have Lodges associated with them. Local examples include Brentwood, Forest, Bancroft and Felsted Schools.
My thanks are due to the School Archivist, Mrs Marian Delfgou, who provided some interesting material for this short history.