The Square - June 2012
P.G.Wodehouse widow and orphan and then shout “April fool!” and snatch them away again. These facts are well known to students of the Industry’. Note ‘the widow and orphan’. In fact the sale does go through, but one is left wondering which ‘TV Mogul’ caused Plum to write of ‘hellhounds, ghouls and sadists’. Someone had surely rattled his cage. Plum’s autobiographical works Performing Flea (1953), Bring on the girls (1953) - written with coauthor Guy Bolton - and Over Seventy (1957) make no direct reference to his Masonic flirtation, but in the last mentioned the experience may still be in the mind. In a very funny passage concerning the modes of addressing letters to a newspaper Editor he tells us how he graduated to the highest eminence of the genre. Gradually, by assiduous study, he worked his way through the ranks of the ordinary ‘Sir, I heard a cuckoo yesterday’ to the more flowery ‘Sir, The cuckoo is with us again’, finally arriving at the top of the letters-to-the-Editor tree when he felt qualified to write ‘Sir, My attention has been drawn to …’. He tells us how it happened: ‘There was, as I recollect it, no formal promotion from the ranks, no ceremony of initiation or anything like that. One just sensed when the time was ripe, like a barrister who takes silk’. The puzzle remains. Why did such an apparently unsocial being as PGW become drawn into Masonry? The answer probably lies in his habitual amiability to all creatures human and animal. PGW was drawn into many activities through an inability to say the word ‘No’ to an old buddy. His Proposer into Jerusalem Lodge was John Hay Beith (1878-1952), a fellow writer and occasional collaborator in PGW’s theatrical excursions under the pen name Ian Hay. His most successful works were The first hundred thousand (1915), a lighthearted look at the raising of Kitchener’s New Army and Tilly of Bloomsbury (1919). Beith was a sometime schoolmaster (Durham School and Fettes College), First World War decorated Army Officer and Second World War Director of Public Relations at the War Office with the rank of Major-General. Hay and PGW were collaborating in the adaptation of Plum’s novel Damsel in Distress for the stage at Hunstanton Hall in Norfolk which the Wodehouses’ had rented for the summer of 1928. Is it not feasible that Hay, one evening after a good dinner, suggested that Plum should be initiated into the Lodge where he was shortly to become Master?
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10 The Square June 2012
Banner Lodges: their rise and their fall
Gordon Davie was initiated in 1964 and was the Prestonian Lecturer in 2005. He is currently the Secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076.
The first mention of a banner in a lodge occurs in the minutes of a Scottish lodge; ‘the Falkirk Lodge’ when the Wardens of that Lodge were instructed to provide a standard for the Lodge. It was to have, as the minutes of the Lodge record, ‘…the ground to be a perfect square, of dimensions they justify proper, of white coloured stuff having the following devices up it. The Masons arms in the centre, the St Andrews Cross above and the motto below it of The Lodge of Falkirk with a bunch of fringes or narrow ribands at the end of the pole and at each corner one of the jules (sic), Compass, Square, Plum (sic) Rule and Leavell (sic)’. Banners are not mentioned in the Book of Constitutions and have no official standing in Freemasonry, but they became fashionable between 1820 and 1830 and by the end of the century they had become a vital part of lodge furniture as we find recorded in the minutes of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Norfolk (1896) when the Provincial Grand Secretary said he would be visiting every lodge in the Province and asked each Worshipful Master to ensure that each lodge had its banner. This edict was not in accordance with the Book of Constitutions, I am sure. Some Masonic Provinces prefer that lodges have banners, and when the Provincial Grand Lodge has a meeting other than the Investiture it is held under the banner of the host Lodge in that town. When a special meeting of Grand Lodge was held at the Assembly Rooms in the City of Norwich, the following banners and standards were processed into Grand Lodge: Standards of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Norfolk; The Duke of Sussex, and The Provincial Grand Master of Norfolk; The Banner of the United Grand Lodge of England; and the Standard of the Prince Regent, Grand Patron. But this is not the subject of this article: the intention is to write about Banner Lodges. The term Banner Lodge in this context is not a lodge with a single banner, but rather a lodge that has been presented with a number of banners by individual members to commemorate some office or occasion and represents either the armorial bearings of its giver or else is a manufactured coat of arms which does not have the acceptance of the Colleges of Arms and is individual to the brother presenting it. The earliest mention of an individual banner occurs in the Old Union Lodge No. 46 Minutes of 14 November 1827, that the ‘following items belonging to former members, evincing the antiquity and regularity of the Lodge had been very handsomely presented to the Lodge…’, then follows a list of items which had been purchased from a member of the Lodge by Bro Burra. The Lodge also reported the gift of a beautifully emblazoned
A later pattern banner with the donor’s coat of arms but no lodge name
The first banner presented to the Lodge in addition to the coat of Arms of Bro Denton it also has the name of the Lodge
Includes PGStwd in its design
Coat of Arms plus Provincial and Grand Rank
Change of pattern coat of arms plus Lodge name banner of the Craft from Bro Buckingham and recommended that every Master should present his banner on his Installation - a custom observed for over 100 years from 1827 until 1956. At the same meeting in 1827 it was agreed that a banner of the Lodge be agreed on and procured. The design of the banner was approved by the Norfolk Herald, a Bro Woods, whose family would have a long association with the Old Union Lodge. It was emblazoned and presented to the Lodge by a Bro Mawley. On 12 December 1827 the Lodge received the Lodge banner which was brought in and elevated on the left hand of the Master and the banners of the Master (Bro H C Wharton) and Master Elect, Bro James Burra, were also brought in and placed in position alongside that of Bro Buckingham. Another banner presented to the Old Union Lodge belonged to Sir Albert Woods KCMG, Garter King at Arms, Past Grand Warden, Grand Director of Ceremonies from 1860 until 1904. I am reliably informed that the banners presented by the Masters to the Lodge were authentic, in that they had been approved by the College of Heralds, and were not ones made up at the whim of the donor. This I think is born out by Bylaw VII which states that ‘Every Master should present his banner to the Lodge of such form and the ornaments thereafter as approved by the Past Masters’ and as the Lodge had Past Masters who were officials of the College of Arms I think it is fair to assume that the banners were indeed approved as correct. The last banner presented to the Lodge, in accordance with Bylaw VII, was given on 24 January 1956; the previous banner had been donated in 1941 by Bro F Pritchard. The practice of presenting a banner had fallen into disuse during the Second World War because of rationing and the difficulty of obtaining material to manufacture them. However it was in 1956, as
June 2012 The Square 11