At the beginning of 2001 a group of Masons from the Grand Lodge of Utah, who also happened to be members of the El Kalah Shrine of Utah a unit of the Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine (AAONMS ) decided to come to the UK to celebrate Glen Cook becoming the Illustrious Potentate of El Kalah Shrine. All Shriners are Master Masons, so Glen contacted the London Lunchtimers to see if there was a Lodge meeting that they might attend while they were in the UK. As the visit was scheduled for May there were not too many Lodges to choose from but as luck would have it, a number of members of Thomas Ralling Lodge were members of London Lunchtimers and the Lodge was pleased to invite the American brethren to their meeting on 26th May. It helped that the Secretary, W Bro Ron Carr, and the Master of the Lodge, W Bro Chris Hicks, were both London Lunchtimers.
The invitation went out and once the formalities were completed with the respective Lodges, both Grand and Provincial, plans were put in place. A welcoming dinner was held at the Hilton Metropole Hotel in London’s Edgware Road on Friday 25th May and the next day, Saturday 26th May the Utah Masons visited their English Brethren to see an initiation at Loughton Masonic Hall. The Initiate, Hugh Hessing, had to be warned that the number of brothers there and the variety of regalia was not the norm!
The meeting was memorable for a number of reasons, it was very hot, the Lodge was full, the greeting given to MW Bro. Peter Doelfs was that of a Grand Master, not seen that often in a Masonic Centre like that at Loughton and the ritual was nearly perfect. To celebrate the ceremony the visiting brethren were presented with copies of the Emulation Ritual and the Lodge history and Grand Lodge of Utah lapel pins were exchanged for EssexProvince lapel pins.
In total there were 55 at the meeting, including 18 brethren from Utah one from Australia and one from Italy. In addition to the current Grand Master of Utah there were two Past Grand Masters.
Once the formal part was over the festive board started. This is almost unheard of in Utah and in most places in the USA, where ceremonies usually end with the closing of the Lodge and perhaps soft drinks and a snack. The guests were treated to the full Festive Board with Lodge members and other visiting brethren including the London Lunchtimers, for whom socialising and masonry not only go hand in hand but are the raison d’etre!
As Master it fell to W Bro Chris Hicks to suggest the menu and being a London Lunchtimer felt obliged to choose what can be described as the trademark dessert of the London Lunchtimers, “Spotted Dick” and Custard. It took a while to explain what “Spotted Dick” was to the visitors (and that penicillin was not necessary!) but they loved it. The Festive Board went swimmingly, in fact it all went so “swimmingly” that even with the fans going full force and jackets excused, it was still very hot.
The after dinner part of the Festive Board fascinated the visitors from Utah, particularly the “pointy thing”, the fire. The speeches were some of the best heard, with the Lodge, London Lunchtimers and Grand Lodge of Utah being well represented. It was a pity to break up the evening; everyone had such a great time.
In fact such a good time was had that on the flight back to Utah the brethren decided to found a Lodge in Utah that would work the Emulation Ritual and be a “European Concept Lodge” devoted to excellence of Ritual, elegance of dress and formal festive boards. That Lodge was called St Andrews Lodge No. 34, and was constituted in 2001 under the Grand Lodge of Utah.
The following photographs were taken at the meeting by W Bro Julian Smith a Founding member of the London Lunchtimers.