Every Old Boy of the Tottenham Grammar School is aware that the ancient Boys` School was re-endowed in the 17th Century by Sarah, Duchess of Somerset. Her benefaction was inspired by her husband, the second Lord Coleraine, who lived in Bruce Castle, situated in the parkland bordered by what is now Lordship Lane, Tottenham. His grandson and successor, Henry Hare, the third Lord Coleraine, who also lived in the Castle, was Lord of the Manor and a Governor of the School.
He became an eminent Freemason and was installed as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of England on December 29th 1727. The number of all the regular Lodges in the year 1730 attached to the Grand Lodge’s second book of minutes was 25, headed by the name of the Rt Hon the Lord Coleraine. It is recorded in Masonic annals that he was a member of a Lodge which first met in 1725 at the `Blue Posts`, Devereux Court, a turning off the Strand. The Lodge transferred in 1727 to the `Swan` at Tottenham High Cross in Ware Road (now Tottenham High Road).
It is probable that the petition for this Lodge was signed in the early days of January 1725. The necessary procedure for the formation of the Lodge would have taken about a fortnight, and the Lodge was duly constituted on January 22nd. However, no number or name was then assigned to it, and it does not appear in the Engraved List for that year. Before 1750, few Lodges possessed distinguishing names but were usually known under the names of the Inns where they met. It first appears on the Engraved List of 1728 as Lodge No. 73 but was renumbered in 1729 to 38 following an order of Grand Lodge that all Lodges should be entered in order of Constitution. Lord Coleraine was Worshipful Master of this Lodge in 1731, but unfortunately, the names of the Wardens are not mentioned.
This Lodge still exists and is now known as Castle Lodge of Harmony No. 26 and meets at the Café Royal. Thinking back some 275 years, we can picture His Lordship leaving his Castle, walking down the lane to Ware Road, turning right, up the hill, passing the old Grammar School, of which he was a Governor, and attending his Lodge at the `Swan` at High Cross just across the road.
1949 – 1999
With this background, it is appropriate that Freemasonry should flourish in connection with our old School. Many schools have Lodges associated with them, going back more than a century with Cholmeley Lodge No. 1731 (the Lodge for Highgate School) founded in 1877, being the first, but it was not until 1948 that HG S (Godfrey) Groves, then Worshipful Master of Becontree Lodge, No. 1228, proposed at an Old Boys` Committee Meeting that the formation of an Old Boys` Lodge should be considered.
Following this suggestion, the Secretary of the Old Boys` Association (OBA), L J Wastell (Woggle), a Freemason himself, called a meeting at the School on May 19th 1948 of those Brethren known to be interested, and at this meeting, it was agreed that a Lodge should be formed and the Haberdashers Old Boys` Lodge No. 3362 (now called Haberdashers` Aske`s Lodge) should be asked to act as sponsor.
Further meetings took place and a number of Brethren (18 in all) agreed to become Founders of the Lodge. It was also agreed that W. Bro. Leslie Gale MC, who was a Past Master of Lodge No. 5, should be the first Master and that Taylor`s Working should be used. There was much discussion about a name for the Lodge.
Tottenham Old Grammarians and Foy Pour Devoir were considered, but finally, Lodge of Faith for Duty (suggested by Godfrey Groves) was adopted. It was also agreed that the Founders should be listed according to their length of service in Freemasonry. These meetings were very happy ones, and in their process, many new friendships were formed, which resulted in a sound basis for the new Lodge.
It was also agreed that the Founders who had been through the Chair, with the exception of the first Master and Wardens, should stand down, except in the case of an emergency. It was decided that the Lodge would meet at the Piccadilly Hotel, London, on the third Tuesdays in September, November, February and March (Installation). The Initiation Fee was set at £10, the Joining Fee, £5.5.0, and the Annual Subscription £7.7.0. These Fees remained unchanged for 19 years until 1968.
The consecration was a splendid occasion at Freemasons` Hall when 120 visitors were present, and some of the names should be mentioned here: D A Thomas and S E Frost, Masters of the School, (I need not here dilate upon their excellencies; doubtless they have often been felt by many of us); Ashe Lincoln, KC, Master of the Haberdashers Old Boys` Lodge: T V Phillips, Tubby Shallard and Old Boys of the School, Matthews (1892), Cooper PPGJD (Herts) (1894) and McLennan (1894) first Secretary of the OBA; H A T Simmonds, the Headmaster of the School, replied to the toast of Visiting Brethren.
The first new members of the Lodge were L E Knifton (joining), W R (Ubby) Ward, W H Gibson (joining), L J Atherton and J A Portway.
Masters of the School who have since become members of the Lodge are- S E Frost, C H Blake, who was extremely interested in the allegorical side of Freemasonry and had a booklet published under the title of `Some Basic Principles of Freemasonary`; L R Cooper, K J Dyos, who was awarded the OBE in 1982 for his services to Education, S Dindyal, S F Rising, R H Moss, R Keng, R Yarrow and J A Evans. Unfortunately, all the Founders of the Lodge have now died, but there are many happy memories of them. Leslie Gale MC, Chairman of the Governors for many years with his urbane manner and kindly sense of humour, was a great first Master of the Lodge.
Derry Storr, a happy and delightful personality, who acted as DC for many years in a way that made everyone feel welcome. Charles Locke, bluff but always helpful to everyone in the Lodge and to the Lodge itself and who donated the Working Tools. “Weg” Hale and Bob Moffatt, two stalwarts of the OBA, whose early passing was a great blow to the Lodge, the announcement of the latter’s death actually arrived during the Installation ceremony at which he was to have become JW. Dear old Gwilym Davies, whose working of the ritual did not seem to improve, in spite of his most regular attendance at the Club of Instruction.
George Davies (DC for the first year) with that great resonant voice which so well suited the office of Chaplain that he occupied for a number of years towards the end of his life and who donated the Working Tools and Furniture for the LOI. Will Stratton, the first SW of the Lodge, who donated the Warrant Case. Len Wastell, generous to a fault, who donated the Cushion, Minute Book and Signature Book, was instrumental in the later move from the Piccadilly Hotel to the Southgate Masonic Centre. Joe Elman, the last of the Founders to die, was in 1994 made an Honorary Assistant Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Israel. He lectured widely on many Masonic subjects, designed the Past Masters Jewel and, being a member of the Magic Circle, entertained and amused the Brethren whenever he was asked to propose or reply to a toast at the Festive Board. He was eventually persuaded to become Master of the Lodge in 1992. Finally, of course, Godfrey Groves, who was the Brother most instrumental in the formation of the Lodge and later the Chapter of Faith for Duty. He was Secretary of the Lodge for 19 years and Preceptor of the LOI, regularly making his offices and house available for Lodge Committee Meetings and who donated the Gauntlets. Godfrey died whilst on holiday in Malta in June 1978.
Nor must we forget Vincent Seaward, who donated the Charity Box; George Squire, the Ballot Box; Idris Pryce Davies, the Tyler`s Sword; Sidney Figg, the first Organist; Fred Stratton, the first Secretary; John Amey, the first Treasurer was awarded the MBE in 1981 for services to politics, and George Pettit, one of the first Stewards.
Soon after the consecration, a Club of Instruction was started, being held initially at Fred Stratton’s premises at 16 Bruce Grove, then moving to the basement at 13 Bruce Grove, which was, at that time, the OBA Club House. The Lodge of Instruction afterwards moved to the `Crown` at Southgate and later, when in 1956 permission was obtained from Grand Lodge to hold a Lodge of Instruction, to the `Stag` at Church Street, Enfield, where it remained for many years and where the help of the licensee, Mrs Annie Knight, was much appreciated. Later it was transferred to the School Library, with the assistance of the Caretaker, W Bro Dennis Fairbrother, who had joined the Lodge. After the School ceased to exist, it has been held either at the Southgate Masonic Centre or W Bro Rodney White`s , which he has always willingly made available for both these and Committee Meetings.
On September 25th 1957, the Chapter of Faith for Duty was consecrated, with the main intake coming from the Brethren of the Lodge of faith for Duty and the Edengate Lodge No. 8181. The Lodge had the honour of sponsoring the Enfield Grammar School Lodge No. 7757, which was consecrated on April 19th 1961.
In 1967 a newly formed company called Southgate Masonic Centre Ltd was formed, with three of our Lodge members being directors, namely W Bro Len Wastell, who was Chairman for a time and has had one of the Temples named after him, W Bro Charles Locke and W Bro Godfrey Groves. After some discussion, it was decided to move the venue from the Piccadilly Hotel to the new Centre and thus on September 19th 1968 we became the very first Lodge to meet there. It is interesting to record that at Minchenden House on Southgate Green, only a hundred yards or so from the Centre, there once lived a James Brydges, third Duke of Chandos, Grand Master of England in 1751.
A Federation of School Lodges was founded in 1947. The Lodge of Faith for Duty joined in 1953, and Members of the Lodge attended the sixth meeting in October of that year. Not one meeting has since passed without the Lodge being represented by at least one Member. On September 3rd 1988, by special dispensation, the Lodge hosted the 41st meeting.
Unfortunately, the School was not a suitable venue at that time, so the meeting was held at the Masonic Girls` School at Rickmansworth. It was the biggest occasion for the Lodge since its Consecration and was attended by many high ranking Masons, including the PGM`s of both Hertfordshire and Somerset and the APGM of Herts. There were a further 319 visiting Brethren representing 72 Lodges. During the meeting, a very interesting talk was given by W Bro Joe Elman, entitled “Call them not your Sons, but your Builders”. In 1993 the Lodge was one of the Founding members of the Association of London School Lodges and hosted the second meeting at the Southgate Masonic Centre when there were 27 visiting Brethren.
The Lodge never lost sight of its connection with the School, and until the closure of the School, the Lodge contributed a prize each year for the pupil who had achieved the best result in the GCE `O` Level examinations. Originally the membership of the Lodge was restricted to OB`s and Masters of the School, but with the change in the School status to Comprehensive, it was obvious that it would become more difficult to obtain candidates, so in 1975 the intake was widened to include blood relatives of members and the first Initiate under this change was David King, the son of W Bro Norman King.
Subsequently, in 1983, the Lodge was opened to any suitable and acceptable applicant, the first being Alan Matthews. In 1972, Leslie Gale donated his Past Master`s Jewel (the first to be presented in the Lodge), to be attached to a collarette and thereafter named “The Leslie Gale Jewel”, for presentation to the new IPM at each Installation Meeting. Appropriately enough, the first wearer of the collarette was Godfrey Groves.
Although seven of the Founders of the Lodge were honoured with Grand Rank, this honour was received as a member of their respective Mother Lodges. However, the Lodge has had many members who have been honoured with the London Grand Rank, and following the introduction in 1978 of Senior London Grand Rank, four have been promoted to this rank, namely W Bro Vic Valentine, W Bro Reg Middleton, W Bro Eric Silvester and W Bro Rodney White.
In order not to lose touch with Old Boys of the School who were not Freemasons, it was decided that after the meeting on September 16th 1993, instead of the usual Festive Board, a `White Table` should be held, to which all the Old Boys with whom contact had been maintained were invited. This was an extremely successful occasion and some Old Boys liked what they saw so much that they have since been initiated into or joined the Lodge. Subsequently, a `White Table` has been held every year.
So, we have now completed 50 years of Freemasonry at the Lodge of Faith for Duty with the Lodge in good heart and a credit to those honoured Founders who had the vision and energy to form it. To celebrate this, we held a special Anniversary Meeting at the Southgate Masonic Centre on Saturday, June 26th 1999. The Ceremony consisted of a Service to dedicate a Lodge banner, which had been given to the Lodge by W Bro Vic Valentine, who took the Chair for that part of the business. The dedication of the banner was undertaken by The Right Worshipful Bro. The Reverend Peter Hemingway, PJGW and the Banner were presented to him for dedication by the Master for that year, W Bro Eric Silvester.