THE KENSINGTON BATTALION LODGE No. 3624
HISTORY OF THE LODGE
YEAR 2012 was the Centenary year of our Lodge, and it is fitting that the occasion should be marked by the publication of a short account of the Lodge during the past one hundred years for the information of its members both present and, what is more important, future. It cannot be of more than passing interest to anyone outside the Lodge but to those who are of the Lodge it may prove informative and interesting as family chronicles always are.
Kensington Battalion Lodge was for many years a" family” affair, each member
owing a dual allegiance to Freemasonry in general and the Regiment in
particular. From the outset membership of the Lodge was restricted
Officers, WO's and Sergeants, who were serving or had served in the 13th London
Regiment, Kensington Battalion, now known as Princess Louise's Squadron 41
Signals Regiment, Royal Corps of Signals. However, between the two wars this
restriction was removed and six other ranks passed through the Chair, one of
whom gained Grand Rank. Such a regulation was by no means uncommon among
military Lodges, but the Kensington’s had no difficulty in adhering strictly to
it until the late 1960’s when the Lodge had to move from its location at the TA
and open its arms to non military personnel.
There still remains an existing loyalty to the Regiment even though fewer members have been in military service the Regimental Marching Song is still sung with terrific fervour towards the end of the evening which in no way diminishes the true Masonic spirit but rather enriches it.
The history of the Lodge contains no stirring events, but is a record of faithful promulgation of the genuine principles and tenets of the Craft, despite the very real difficulties occasioned by the tremendous impact of two great wars. In such a history it would be invidious to single out all those who have rendered particularly meritorious service to the Lodge; such names will be found in the mention of special incidents with which they were associated, and which follow in their appointed place, but three were so outstanding that no account of the Lodge would be complete without their special mention.
For devotion to Masonry in general and the Kensington Battalion Lodge in particular there is little doubt that the names of WBro. W. R. J .McLean, W .Bro. A. W. Foxwell and his son WBro Bryn Foxwell would secure a unanimous vote. As Founder and first WM of the Lodge, W.Bro McLean launched the Lodge on its long and honourable career, and his unflagging zeal and determination ensured its success from the start.
WBro A W Foxwell (W.M. 1916) served the Lodge as Secretary from 1919 until his death in 1947. In 1948 the Brethren subscribed to purchase a pedestal cloth and banner to commemorate his twenty-eight years as Secretary. His son, Bryn followed in his father’s footsteps and became Secretary in 1969 and remained as Secretary or Treasurer for the next 19 years bringing the lodge forward towards the latter half of the 20th Century.
The Lodge had been fortunate in being able to remain loyal to one address throughout its first fifty years. The Clarendon Restaurant, Hammersmith Broadway, provided its Masonic, banqueting and Festival requirements with warm hospitality, so that "The Clarendon" become very much "home" to the Lodge.
The Kensington Battalion Lodge was consecrated on the 22nd October 1912. Eight years later on 19th January 1920, the Kensington Battalion Chapter were consecrated, six of its Founder members being also Founder members of the Lodge.
The Lodge has a not undistinguished record in support of the Masonic Charities, with many donations by the Lodge and individual members to various Masonic and non Masonic charities. The Lodge became a Hall Stone Lodge by contributing £760 to the Million Memorial Fund. This Fund was raised to build the Grand Temple and Headquarters for English Freemasonry in memory of those Masons who lost their lives in the 1914-1918 War. This effort is commemorated in the Lodge by the Hall Stone Jewel, which every Master wears when attending a lodge meeting during his year of office.
It also became a Founding Lodge of the Royal Masonic Hospital, endowing a bed in perpetuity. Brethren will perhaps realise what worthy work they are assisting by supporting the Charity Lists which Masters take up annually.
The Lodge celebrated its Golden Jubilee with a Meeting on Wednesday 7th November 1962 at the Clarendon Restaurant, Hammersmith where 66 Officers and members plus 57 visitors were present. The cost of the meal was 5s 6d (or in today’s terms 0.52p)
Members of the Lodge contributed a total of £80 to the 250th Anniversary of Grand Lodge appeal to assist surgical work through the Royal College of Surgeons in 1967.
February 1969 saw the death of WBro W J D Slatcher MSM LGR who had been in Freemasonry for over 50 years and Secretary since 1954. WBro Bryn Foxwell became Secretary of the Lodge following in his late fathers footsteps.
WBro Sidney W Cottrell became Worshipful Master of the Lodge on 5th November 1969, his son Roy is still an active member of the Lodge.
1st October 1970 WBro Stan Beyer paid his first visit to the Lodge; he went on to become a regular visitor and eventually Hon Organist until his death in September 2005. He was made an Honorary Member of the Lodge in November 1994.
In February 1974 WBro A E S (Bryn) Foxwell TD acting as executor of his Mother, Mrs Alice Foxwell widow of WBro A W Foxwell presented a silver salver to be held in the custody on behalf of the Lodge by the reigning Secretary. The salver lists the names of all those who have served as Secretary since the consecration of the Lodge.
Lodge membership in September 1977 stood at 58 members including WBro Lieut W S Garrett PGStB who was admitted to the Lodge on 6th February 1918 and Master of the Lodge in 1929.
Dispensation was granted in October 1978 to move to the Angus Steak House in Regent Street, London W1 for their meeting. September 1979 saw the Lodge move again but this to a more permanent location at the London Masonic Centre, Clerkenwell Green.
WBro A B Van Der Vord celebrated his 60 years in Freemasonry in March 1987 having been admitted to KBL in March 1926. Unfortunately he passed to the Grand Lodge above only 3 months later.
Dispensation was again granted in 1987 for a change of meeting venue, but just to hold the 75 Anniversary Celebration meeting in Freemason Hall, Great Queen Street. The 75th celebration meeting was a great success with over 120 members and guests attending. Subscriptions were £50 pa and membership was now 32.
On 30 June 1990 the then Secretary WBro A J E Rowe LGR issued a warning statement to say that the intake of potential officers remains critical as Past Masters cannot be expected to continue to “Fill in”; more active members are required!
At the Lodge meeting in November 1992 visitors outnumbered Lodge members subsequently a meeting of the GP committee was called to discuss the future of the Lodge. Also of concern was the spiralling cost of residing at the London Masonic Centre. During the meeting 2 of the younger members pleaded with the GP committee not to hand in the Lodge Warrant but allow them time to turn the fortunes of the Lodge around. As the saying goes, the rest is History.
30th November 1993 a Ballot to amend Bye-Law No 1 was held to move permanently to Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street and change Meeting date to those which we have now. Membership of the Lodge stood at 29 members with WBro Gerald Rowbottom as Master of the Lodge.
September 1995 WBro Gerald Rowbottom inducted as Worshipful Master for a second year. WBro A E Foxwell was appointed Honorary Member for his outstanding service to the Lodge.
April 1997 The Lodge was presented with a Bronze Jewel for achieving Grand Patron status in the New Masonic Samaritans Fund. The Jewel is worn on the Charity Stewards Collar of Office.
April 2000 Telegrams were exchanged between the Lodge and HM The Queen Mother to congratulate her on her 100th Birthday. Lodge membership now stood at 34 members and 4 honorary members.
2003 the Lodge became a founding member of the Metropolitan Grad Lodge of London.
In May 2008 W Bro Gerald Rowbottom was appointed to PAGDC to become only the second member of Kensington Battalion to be awarded Grand Rank in 96 years of the Lodge existence.
In 2009 W Bro Neal Dean was appointed to Active Metropolitan Grand Deacon being the first Active member for many years and the first to be appointed to the new Metropolitan Grand Lodge.
W Bro Bill Henderson was appointed Active Metropolitan Grand Pursuivant in March 2010.
The Worshipful Master and members of the Lodge congratulated W Bro Bill Henderson LGR on his award of the Royal Victorian Medal in HM The Queens’s Birthday Honours list published on the occasion of her official Birthday in June 2011.
WBro Gerald Rowbottom, PAGDC was installed as the 100th Worshipful Master of the Kensington Battalion Lodge No 3624 on 30th September, 2012 his 3rd time as Worshipful Master. Lodge membership now stands at 44 full members and 5 honorary members.
At the November 2012 Lodge meeting the Worshipful Master presented WBro Douglas Frost, SLGR with a Lodge Certificate in recognition of his 40 years of service to the Lodge. WBro Douglas Frost, SLGR was initiated on 1st November, 1972 and was the first initiate who had no previous connection with the Kensington Battalion, Regiment or Lodge; thus ending the period of a Closed Lodge. He was active in recruitment and can actually be credited with being the member who started to reverse the failing fortunes of the Lodge.
28th January, 2013 the Lodge went into mourning for the late but much lamented WBro Jack Bonham, TD SLGR who passed to the Grand Lodge above. Bro Jack was the last member of the Lodge to have been Initiated who had served in the Kensington Battalion; thus severing the links that have existed for 100 years.
WBro Greg Smith was invested as Metropolitan Grand Steward at the AGM in March 2013, making him the first member of the Lodge to be so honoured.
The Lodge continued to grow in strength with a number of Double Ceremonies taking place on a regular basis including, with dispensation form the Right Worshipful Metropolitan Grand Master, for us to hold a Quadruple Raising for four Brethren, however even with such an organisation we again started to lose members but remained in a very healthy position for a number of years.
W Bro Jonathan Cordell joined his Old School Lodge was appointed to Worshipful Master in 2013 whilst still progressing through the various positions in his Mother Lodge before finally becoming Master of the Kensington Battalion Lodge also in 2013. During the following year W Bro Jonathan received the same honour as W Bro Greg Smith of active Metropolitan Grand Steward after having been nominated by Phoenix Lodge in recognition of his outstanding achievement for all his hard work and devotion to the Craft, Kensington Battalion Lodge and two other Lodges in particular.
2013 continued to be a busy year with W Bro Gerald Rowbottom was Promoted Past Senior Grand Deacon on being appointed Assistant Provincial Grand Master in the Province of South Wales.
April 2014 saw the Lodge carry out, with dispensation, another triple initiation.
W Bro Ian Glading was inducted into the Chair of Kensington Battalion Lode with dispensation as he was currently Worshipful Maser of Portsdown Lodge No 4356 in the Province of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.
During November 2014 W Bro Gerald Rowbottom PSGD was appointed Provincial Grand Secretary in the Province of South Wales.
The membership of the Lodge as at 30th May 2015 stood at 46 full members and 9 Honorary Members with W Bro’s Gerald Rowbottom PSGD, Dougie Frost, SLGR and Roy Cottrell SLGR all accepting Honorary membership of the Lodge in recognition of the unstinting devotion and hard work they have given to the Lodge over a great number of years.
On Saturday 9th January, 2016 W Bro Jonathan Isaby called an Emergency Meeting to Ballot for a change of meeting dates; this was carried by a majority of members present resulting in a change to By-Law No 1 with meeting dates now being:
2nd Saturday in January,
1st Saturday in March
1st Friday in June and
1st Saturday in September continuing to be the Installation Meeting
Much, too, is owed to the Members' Ladies, whose silent but powerful support is annually acknowledged by the always brilliant and unfailing successful Ladies Festival which continues today. These Ladies Festivals continued unbroken during the Second World War years, when the ladies made light of dining and dancing to the accompaniment of shell bursts and falling bombs. Such is the support of our Ladies.