Old Olavians Lodge No. 5758

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A Brief History of the Lodge

Formation

The Lodge was formed in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London.   Several Old Boys from the school, who had become Freemasons, having joined via other Lodges, felt that it would be a good idea to have a Lodge specifically for Old Olavians.

The first or “Primus” Master was A.H.P. (Bert) Holyoak, after whom the “Holyoak Room” at the School is named.   Among the Founders were two Masters from the School, Dr. George Dyson and Mr. George Chubb. All the other Founders were former pupils.

The Lodge of Instruction (meetings to rehearse the various masonic ceremonies and enable the Brethren to meet socially) was held weekly in the geography room at the old School which was then in Tooley Street, Bermondsey.

The war years (1939-1945)

A number of members served their country with great distinction during World War II, including Squadron Leader Frank Baker, and Flight Lieutenant Andy Padbury to name but a few.

The lodge continued to meet during the war, and the minutes record how at one meeting, in May 1943, a German air raid on London started during the middle of the meeting. The Master continued the meeting regardless, to the sound of bombs whistling their way down and exploding!   These background sound effects were doubtless a change from the usual musical accompaniment by the organist.

Prominent members

Two of the most distinguished Founders of the Lodge were Joe Polley and Harold Cashman who served as Secretary and Treasurer respectively for many years.   Over the years, the Lodge has had many members who distinguished themselves in a variety of activities.   A typical example was Fred Burroughs , a highly respected banker, well-known cricketer, Surrey Rotarian and server at Southwark Cathedral, who also led the Old Boy’s annual cricket tours.   There were also well-known academics like botanist Professor Sam Loring, and top professionals exemplified by the Lodge’s second Master, Barrister William Skinner.

Two well loved masters from the School, historian Harold Cole and rugby playing economist Geoff Chapman, were both regular visitors to the Lodge.   Geoff, famous for his school field expeditions to Boxhill, died in December 2000 at his home in Devon.

Changing membership

Initially, membership of the Lodge was restricted to former pupils and masters of the School.   Over the years this requirement has been relaxed:  first, by the admission of relations of members and then also their friends.   However, the School is still at the forefront of Lodge’s activities, and most of the members are Old Olavians.   At every dinner, after meetings of the Lodge, a toast is given to the School, and the School Song is sung (albeit to varying versions of the same tune).

The present day

In 1969, the School moved from Tooley Street in Bermondsey, to Goddington Lane in Orpington - some 15 miles away.   The Lodge, though, continues to meet in London, since after leaving school many old boys have settled around various parts of the country, and it's easier to get everyone together in central London than in Orpington.

However, the Lodge of Instruction has moved with the School, and now meets on Tuesday evenings, in the 6th form common room, in the weeks preceding each formal Lodge meeting at Freemasons' Hall in London.

 

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