On arrival at his fatherâs house for a long weekend with his wife and children little did Bro. Oswald “Terry” Hall, the Junior Warden of Sidcup’s Royal Oak Mark Lodge No. 416, know of the Masonic discoveries that he was going to make.
On their first evening his father presented him with a Masonic briefcase that he thought belonged to Terry’s grandfather, which upon opening he found a Masonic bible, that did indeed belong to his grandfather, and was signed by all the brethren and guests at his raising in July 1950. Terry recognised three names on the list, one of his great uncles was in attendance, along with the husband of one of his great aunts. But the name that surprised him most was that of his great-grandfather, just two years prior to his death – Oswald T. Hall the first! The family tradition is that for the first born sons to be named Oswald T. and for them to use their middle names for everyday purposes. Terry is Oswald T. Hall the fourth and his son is the fifth.
Terry had always known that his grandfather was a mason but not his great-grandfather. Upon further investigation of the briefcase he discovered four Masonic jewels and it quickly became clear that these could not be his grandfatherâs purely from the dates on them. The discovery of a Craft founders jewel and a Mark jubilee jewel were very exciting finds but two immediate concerns sprang to his mind; whose were they? And did the lodges still exist?
“The wonders of the internet allowed me to discover that the Craft Lodge of St Andrew 4683 was still in existence and on their website was a photograph of the founders with my great-grandfather clearly identifiable.”
“By coincidence one of my Uncles came to see us the following day and had some old photo albums of my grandmother’s with him and lo and behold in the back of one album was a studio portrait of my great-grandfather in full craft regalia, another photograph showing all the founders at the consecration and an original press cutting showing the consecration.”
Terry is a great believer that Masonic memorabilia should end up with the Lodge where it commenced its life, should that particular Lodge so wish, rather than end up in auctions or locked in a draw or in a collection where it has no specific
meaning to the owner; after seeking permission from other family members he emailed the secretary of Lodge of St Andrew offering to donate back to them the founders jewel along with the photographs and press cutting which they were delighted to accept and very kindly invited him to attend one of their meetings so that he could personally present the jewel.
With regards to the two Mark jewels, Terry was very proud that he was able to wear his great-grandfather’s breast jewel at his own advancement into the Royal Oak Lodge and continues to do so. He also contacted the secretary of the Beverlac Lodge No. 281, which also still exists and meets in Beverley as part of the Provincial Grand Mark Lodge of North & East Yorkshire offering to donate the jubilee jewel to them, again they accepted the offer and invited him to attend one of their meetings so that he could present it too them in person.
As Terry says “The amount of our Masonic history that must be in garages, draws and attics (or worse still on auction sites or at car boot sales) must be huge. Perhaps it is time for all of us to have a look and see what family Masonic memorabilia we have hidden in our, and our families, houses.”