In the Beginning ……………….
Whenever a new Lodge is formed it needs to be sponsored, the sponsors act under the authority of an existing Lodge. This sponsoring Lodge was of course itself sponsored, and so on, back to one of the earliest Lodges existing. Thus each Lodge can trace its ‘family’ back through its ancestors, and forward through its descendants. The Thomas Ralling Lodge appears in a ‘family tree’ of Essex lodges which shows that it is descended from Middlesex Lodge No 143, via St Peter Westminster No. 1537, which in turn produced Orpheus No.l706, some of whose members were the founders of Thomas RaIling. Orpheus was a lodge with a strong musical tradition; many of its members were professional musicians, and this carried through to Thomas Ralling, particularly in the early years.
Why the Lodge was founded
One of the questions which must of course spring to mind when considering the early history of any Lodge is why was it founded? We cannot see into the minds of those founding members, we can only interpret from the written records and reports which survive. From the report of the second Installation meeting published in the Essex Freemason of 27 April 1895 we can glean a little, for in his reply to the toast to the W M, Bro. Charles Lewis said that the members of the Lodge were mainly members of a large London Lodge that met in the winter (i.e. Orpheus) who wanted to get out into the country on a leisure day of the week in the summer. This also explains why the Lodge meets on Saturday afternoons.
The choice of the Lodge name
It is also apparent that the petitioners, in choosing a name for their new Lodge, had an eye to the success of their petition, for in the report of the consecration meeting in ‘The Freemason’ of 5 May 1894 occurs the following. “Bro Ralling … is one of the best known masons in England … and his influence in carrying an Essex candidate is always felt. It was considered desirable that such a name should be perpetuated in the form of being given to a Lodge, and assisted by many brethren of the musical lodge, the Orpheus, No 1706, not much difficulty was found in obtaining the recommendation of the Earl of Warwick, the Provincial Grand Master of Essex, to the petition which was presented to the Grand Master for a Warrant.”
The Consecration Meeting
Apart from the actual minutes of the meeting two newspaper reports are available, together with a copy of the Summons. Combining these, a picture of the event emerges. The meeting was held on Tuesday May 1st 1894 at 4:30pm. The Earl of Warwick, Provincial Grand Master of Essex, who was to have performed the Consecration Ceremony was unavoidably absent (having had to go urgently to America) and his place was taken by W. Bro. Frederick Philbrick QC, Grand Registrar and Deputy Provincial Grand Master assisted by W Bros B Hoddinott PSGW, J Salter PPJGW, Rev. T. Varney PGChap, R Ives PPGAsstSec, A Lucking PGP, and J Lewin PPGSuptW. The consecration, dedication and constitution took place, followed by the installation by Albert Lucking of Thomas John Ralling as first Master. The first holders of all the other offices were appointed, including W. Bro. Frederick Bevan, Worshipful Master of Orpheus Lodge, as first IPM. All eleven founding members, together with the consecrating and installing officers, were presented with Founder’s Jewels, of which at least one has survived. The seven members of the consecrating team were elected honorary members of the Lodge, and W. Bro. Hoddinott remained on the Register of Members until 1941! Seventy three brethren attended, including four of Thomas Ralling’s brothers. (He had seven brothers, all masons, and initiated six of them himself!) The inaugural banquet took place at the Victoria Hall, and the cost of dinner, including wine from the Lodge’s own cellar, was 15/ – (which was more than a week’s wages for many people).
Warrant granted 1st April 1894
Lodge Consecrated on Tuesday 1st May 1894 at the Victoria Tavern, Chingford
|Worshipful Master||W Bro||Thomas J||Ralling||PAGDC||Prov G Sec|
|Junior Warden||Bro||Richard J||Hennings|
|Senior Deacon||Bro||Walter J||Tull|
|Junior Deacon||Bro||Charles H||Kempling|
|IPM||W Bro||Frederick C||Bevan||PM|