(Compiled from the Minute Books and the historical accounts by Brigadier A.C.V.Gibson, OBE (1945), W. Bro. A. E. Padley-Smith (1965), W. Bro. Ivor Cooper, LGR (2005). With Special Thanks for the essential assistance to Bro. Peter Aitkenhead and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry)
A meeting assembled at the Freemason's Tavern, Great Queen Street, W.C., on Thursday, 10th May, 1905, to consider the formation of a new Freemasons' Lodge for the benefit of officers holding, or having held, His Majesty's commission in the Naval, Military,' or Auxiliary Forces of the Empire. Ten brethren were present, most of them being members of the Royal and Loyal Lodge No. 2952 a Lodge with similar objects—with whose policy they found themselves to be not in entire agreement.
It was decided that such a Lodge should be formed and named the "Royal Crown" Lodge. A petition asking for the approval of the Grand Master to the formation of the Lodge was duly signed by 27 petitioners, and recommended by the "London Scottish Rifles" Lodge, No. 2310.
The formation of the Lodge was approved by the Grand Master and the warrant of the Lodge was signed and sealed on the 1st November, 1905.
The Lodge was consecrated at the Imperial Restaurant, Regent Street, W., on 4th December, 1905, the ceremony being performed by Sir Edward Letchworth, the Grand Secretary.
The Lodge was extremely fortunate in its first Secretary, W. Bro. A. Orlton Cooper, who devoted himself to the wellbeing of the Lodge until his death in 1921. But for his interest and care the Lodge would probably have collapsed during that period.
The Lodge started with six candidates for initiation in its first year, but all did not run well owing to the lack of practical support and encouragement by the petitioners and founders of the Lodge. Four brethren who had signed the petition refused to take up membership, and five founders resigned in the first two years of the Lodge's existence, whilst others never attended after the Consecration Meeting.
There was, however, a regular flow of candidates and it was not until the meeting in October, 1912, that there was no work to be done.
In 1910 there were 36 members of the Lodge, and they met at a Lodge of Emergency to deplore the death of His Most Gracious Majesty King Edward VII, Protector of the Craft and Grand Master of the Order from 1875 to 1901.
Unfortunately, the majority of the candidates did not, or could not, attend after being raised, and there were many resignations, and placings on the "country list." The consequence was that often there were barely sufficient present to fill the offices and, occasionally, visitors had to be asked for assistance. It must be recorded that those members who were regular in attendance knew their work, and the ceremonies were well performed.
By 1914 the question of obtaining sufficient and suitable candidates for initiation came to a head, as the Lodge found that eligible candidates were being attracted to other "class" Lodges such as University, Old School, Regimental, and Professional, wherein the members had more interests in common. It was, therefore, decided to broaden the basis of the Lodge by permitting the admission of members' friends, who were not officers, as initiates.
This decision brought forward one candidate for initiation immediately.
The outbreak of the war in August, 1914, had a disastrous effect on the activities of the Lodge, since, within a month, 20 of the 26 members, including the Master, were on active service. Three meetings were held with very small attendances. and meetings were then suspended, until the termination of hostilities, save that a meeting was held in December, 1916, when three members attended, and the Lodge was formed by co-opting two brethren, one a waiter and one from another Lodge meeting in the building, in order to read a dispensation from the Grand Lodge authorising the Master to remain in office.
It was reported at this meeting that three members of the Lodge had been killed and one died on active service. There is no record of further casualties to members during the war.
Within a month of the termination of hostilities in November, 1918, the Lodge started regular meetings again, but with little work to do until 1921, and attendances continued sparse.
In May, 1921, W. Bro. A. Orlton Cooper died. Up to his last moments his thoughts were of the Lodge. On the day before his death he wrote to W. Bro. A. C. V. Gibson, then Treasurer, "My time is come. You must take over."
For the next few years the Lodge gradually increased in membership, and attendances grew.
It was arranged to establish a Benevolent Fund, and regular "Fees of Honour" from the officers, in order that better support could be given to the Masonic Charities.
Meanwhile the Lodge was gradually gaining a reputation for its brotherly feeling and the happiness of its after-meeting proceedings and the number of guests constantly grew.
At the Installation meeting in 1924, which was held at the Imperial Restaurant, 18 members and 23 guests were present. At the same meeting the Lodge passed a resolution that it would do its best to qualify as a Hall Stone Lodge under the Masonic Million Memorial Scheme. It duly achieved this object by the payment of 220 guineas, and the Hall Stone Jewel was presented in Grand Lodge to the Master (W. Bro. G. B. Barnett) in 1931.
At the Installation meeting in 1925 a silver flask bearing the Lodge crest and engraved "C.D.N. 1905-1925" was presented to W. Bro. C. D. Neal to mark the Lodge's appreciation of his services as Tyler, throughout the twenty years of its existence, and as a token of the personal regard felt for him by the brethren of the Lodge.
In 1926 the Royal Crown R.A. Chapter was consecrated. The closest relationship between the Lodge and Chapter has continued ever since.
The Installation Meeting in 1929 was the first occasion when the attendance had exceeded 50, there being 25 members and 34 guests present.
In 1933 a past master of the Lodge was suddenly stricken with illness, which prevented him from further practice in his profession. An enquiry into his financial position showed that he was badly placed and the Lodge undertook to try to raise funds to keep this unfortunate brother in a home. Up to the time of his death in 1944, the sum of £1,514 and 19 shillings had been collected and disbursed for his benefit.
To the meeting in April, 1936, the Lodge invited members of sister Naval and Military Lodges in London, thereby accentuating the original character of the Lodge. Nine such Lodges were represented.
At the Installation Meeting in 1936 a sum of thirty guineas was voted to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund in response to a special appeal by the Grand Master, making a total payment of £262 and 19 shillings to this Fund.
The Lodge found many difficulties in carrying on during the Second World War, owing to the cuts in public transport, black-out, and the desire of brethren to reach home before dark or shortly after, but it was found possible to hold two or three meetings each year, which were well attended.
Only one Brother was killed on active service in the war.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 13th April, 1942, record the death of the Most Worshipful Bro. H. R. H. The Duke of Connaught & Strathearn, K.C., P.G.M., whilst those of the 12th October, 1942 record the death on active service of the Grand Master M.W.Bro. Air Commodore H.R.H. The Duke of Kent, K.C.
The 1942 Master, although a Serving Officer in the R.A.F., must have had a very indulgent Commanding Officer. He was able to be present at all Meetings during his year of office, and not only did he have full attendance of Officers and Brethren, but also, at the meeting held on the 12th April, 1943 he had the support of three visiting Masons from the Royal Australian Air Force, three from the Royal Canadian Air Force, one from the South African Air Force, and six from the United States Army, all of whom were guests of the Lodge. A lecture on Masonic History, with special reference to the origin of the United Grand Lodge of England, and the descent therefrom of the Grand Lodges throughout the English-speaking world, was given by W. Bro. Lewis Edwards, P.A.G. Regr., the Prestonian Lecturer.
It is believed that this was the first occasion on which such a meeting was held, and that other "class" Lodges quickly copied the example, thus, without doubt, helping to bind the Nations of the World together.
The strength of the Lodge was well maintained and there were 38 members at the conclusion of hostilities in 1945.
After the war membership continued to increase, and at the December Meeting, 1946, there were 30 Members and 64 visitors present.
In May 1947 the death of the R.W.Bro. The Earl of Harwood, K.C., the Grand Master, was announced.
Also in 1947 the Secretary of the London Scottish Rifles Lodge No. 2310 informed the Secretary of the Royal Crown Lodge that "it was resolved that the Masters of the Royal Crown Lodge and the Secretary should in future be honoured guests at our Installation Meetings to cement the relationship between the two Lodges."
At the Installation Meeting held on December 13th, 1948, an ivory gavel, formerly the property of the M.W.Bro. H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, Grand Master, was presented to the Lodge by W. Bro. John D. Marks.
His Grace The Duke of Devonshire, K.G., the Grand Master, died in 1950. He was succeeded by The Rt. Hon. Earl of Scarborough, K.G.
The 206th Regular Meeting held at the Piccadilly Hotel, London, W.1 on Monday, 5th December, 1955, marked the Golden Jubilee of the Lodge. There were present 34 Members and 61 visitors.
The Lodge was honoured by the presence of the Grand Secretary on Monday, April 21st, 1958.
W. Bro. Brigadier A. C. V. Gibson, O.B.E., P.Dep.G.Swd.B., who had served the Lodge faithfully for many years, as Master 1913 and Secretary from 1938 to 1954, died on 13th May, 1958.
By 1960 membership had risen to 60, and at the December Meeting in 1961, 96 Members and guests dined.
Our lodge was blessed by the number of loyal family connections joining it:
- There were the Burra Bros, in 1913, followed by the Hyman Bros — Masters in 1925 and 1928
- Captain Kisch and his brother Ellis in 1926 and 1931
- GD Woolf and Wing Commander G Woolf — Masters in 1933 and 1938
- A joining P.M W.H.Square who initiated his son.
- Sydney Adler - Master in 1949 who lost his brother 2nd Lieut Rifle Brigade in 1942
- Geoffrey Paiba — Master 1939 to 1941 who saw all his three sons initiated.
- His Honour Judge Dennis, Michael and Keith all duly becoming Masters of the Lodge.
- Major Arthur Padley-Smith London Scottish and his son, Captain Peter Padley-Smith in 1957 and 1966.
- Jimmy Fitzpatrick — Master 1960 and his son Alisdair following in the 70's.
- Chaplain Bro Barry Abrahams and his cousin Henry.
This is a great family record and one our Lodge can be justly proud of.
We also proudly recall some distinguished Past Masters:
- Alfred Sachs, Doctor Brigadier in charge of a field hospital in the First World War and for so many years father of the Lodge.
- Jack Lewis Lloyd, Squadron Leader in the Legal Arm of the Royal Air Force
- Tony Sutherland a high ranking Diplomat and Civil Servant.
- Jack Marks, preceptor for many years.
- Judge Sebag Shaw - a man of great charm and wit.
All these Brethren and others gave enormous time and effort, not only to this Lodge but to Grand Lodge and Freemasonry generally.
To bring us more up to date — the late 70's, 80's and 90's were the economically difficult boom and bust years.
Young members found difficulty in balancing Masonic time and expense with the needs of their jobs and families.
Lodge of Instruction, held weekly, became monthly, then once before a Lodge meeting. Many joining members cut back to their mother Lodges and initiates were hard to attract.
Many possible solutions were discussed but found impractical and in 1998 it was sadly decided to hand in our warrant.
At the eleventh hour, however, The Royal Crown Chapter came to the rescue. Realising they would also lose their name Royal Crown, 14 companions joined the Royal Crown Lodge on 8th November 1999 adding to the rump of just 7 members who opted to stay on.
Nothing could give greater pleasure than to witness such a remarkable revival!
Royal Crown Lodge celebrated its Centenary on 7th December 2005 with 30 active members and a distinguished array of guests…
Amongst those companions who saved the lodge in 1999 was also the late great Dan Leno, a man much loved by everyone who had a pleasure of knowing him, a busy and dedicated freemason. Dan joined Royal Crown Chapter in 1988 and for 19 years kept the Chapter together as Scribe Ezra. For many years he also most loyally served Royal Crown Lodge as its Secretary and Almoner. In 2008 Dan was installed as its Worshipful Master. His sudden death on 12th April 2013 was a serious blow to the lodge but his spirit and belief in its future and the Craft gave us strength to overcome it.
A lot has changed since, we had more ups and downs, but we always remained proud of being ‘a pedigree Lodge’ with more than 100 years of interesting history and our strict maintenance of the principles and tenets of the Craft, in spirit and in word, throughout all these years…