THe Lodge St Michael No 233 EC
The Lodge St Michael No 2933 EC is England's second oldest Research Lodge and one of, if not the earliest, masonic research lodges in Asia. It was consecrated on 29 September 1902, being the feast day of St Michael.
The work of Lodge St Michael is based on that of Lodge Quatuor Coronati, which is the world’s premier research lodge. Established in 1884 and consecrated in 1886,
The three main objectives of The Lodge St Michael are;
- Library and Web Site – to assist in the development and management of a Masonic Library in Singapore and to maintain the Lodge web site
- Records – to ensure that historical records of masonry in Singapore are properly kept and preserved
- Research and Education – to promote research on interesting Masonic subjects and Masonic Education To this end to organize the presentation of papers, educational seminars and talks to Lodges.
The Lodge St Michael holds meetings, incorporating lectures four times a year, at Freemasons’ Hall at 23A Coleman Street, Singapore 179806.
The lectures and other research papers are generally published on our web site and some are available in the Masonic library.
Membership is open to any Master Mason. The numbers of members are limited as since the day of its formation there has been no intention to encroach on other lodges by forming intitiations or other masonic workings.
The Lodge meets on the 29th day of January, April, July (Election) and September (Installation) except in cases of emergencies, prohibited days and public holidays.
Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren
It is believed that the formation of St Michael, as a Lodge of Research, was the idea of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren, the District Grand Master of the Eastern Archipelago from 1891- 1895.
He had done a lot of work on the actual site of King Solomon’s Temple and was a recognised authority of Masonic history. He was the General Officer Commanding the military forces in Singapore and that he had several claims to fame, as a soldier and administrator in South Africa, explorer in Palestine, and reorganizer of the Metropolitan Police Force in London. He was the London Metropolitan Police Commissioner at the time of the Jack the Ripper serial killings and he was unfairly accused of cover-up. He resigned as Commissioner in disagreement with the Home Secretary. He was initiated in the Royal Lodge of Friendship No 278 in Gibraltar in 1859, and was its Master in 1863. In 1887, he became Founder Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, the premier Lodge of Research in the English Constitution.
He joined the Lodge The Lodge of St George and Zetland Lodge in 1891.
The inspiration for the journal, the 'Pentagram", which was the record of activities in the District and published papers at that time, mostly from St Michael. He established the committee, which afterwards became the 'District Library Committee' with responsibility of looking after the library and publications
Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles Bullen Mitchell was Sir Charles Warren’s successor and our District Grand Master from 1895-99. He had arrived in Singapore in 1893 as the Governor of the Straits Settlements, and High Commissioner for the Federated Malay Straits. Mitchell died at his post on 7 December 1899 and the Brethren had a long wait for Mitchell’s successor. The Lodge St Michael was formed during this interregnum between the death of Sir Charles Mitchell in 1899 and the appointment of W Bro Walter Napier in 1903.
Petition and consecration
The sequence of the formation and consecration of Lodge St Michael is as follows.
- 25 June 1902 - W Bro J P Joachim signed the Petition for the formation of The Lodge St Michael favourably. He ruled the District after the death of Sir Charles Mitchell until his own death on 1 July 1902.
- 1 July 1902 - W Bro Arthur Knight, the senior Past Deputy District Grand Master a Founder Member of Lodge St Michael, ruled the District.
- 22 July 1902 - Warrant of Constitution obtained. Lodge Number 2933 was allocated
No records remains of the ceremony but the 1923 Pentagram confirms that W Bro Arthur Knight was the consecrating officer.
The total cost of setting up the Lodge was Seven Pounds Nineteen Shillings, the major cost being the Warrant at Five Guineas.
The Lodge St Michael was, and still is, the sixth oldest surviving Lodge in this District, after Zetland 1845, St George 1867, Royal Prince of Wales 1885, Perak Jubilee 1888 and Read 1889.
There were twenty-one founder members and a further twenty-seven joining members between 1902 and 1906. There were frequent resignations so that the recorded total number of members did not exceed thirty-five over the period. Zetland and St George supported the founding of the Lodge almost equally, but most of the joining members were from St George
St Michael is a curious supernatural name for a lodge of research but many of the earlier papers and book reviews in the early Pentagrams displayed a curiosity, or even a passion for the mysterious or supernatural themes of Freemasonry. ‘CMG’ was a common British honour in this period and stands for ‘Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George. This coupling might have occurred to our Founding Brethren, all of whom were English and many were from the Lodge of St George.
A Brief Summary of the History of
THE LODGE ST. MICHAEL
No. 2933 E.C.
THE LODGE ST. MICHAEL NO. 2933
The Lodge St. Michael No. 2933, founded in 1902, is the sixth oldest surviving Lodge in our District and is among the oldest research Lodges in the world. The Lodge was formed during this interregnum between the death of Sir Charles Mitchell, the District Grand Master, in 1899 and the appointment of W. Bro. Walter Napier as his successor in 1903.
W. Bro. J. P. Joachim, the acting District Grand Master signed the Petition authorising the formation of The Lodge St. Michael on 25 June 1902. The Warrant of Constitution was obtained on 22 July 1902 and The Lodge St. Michael was consecrated on the feast day of St. Michael on 29 September 1902.
No record remains of the ceremony but the 1923 Pentagram confirms that W. Bro. Arthur Knight was the consecrating officer. At that time, W. Bro. Knight, the senior Past Deputy District Grand Master, was ruling the Lodge following the death of W. Bro. Joachim on 1 July 1902.
There were twenty-one founder members and a further twenty-seven joining members between 1902 and 1906. There were frequent resignations so that the recorded total number of members did not exceed thirty-five over the period. The Zetland in the East Lodge and The Lodge of St. George supported the founding of the Lodge almost equally, but most of the joining members were from the latter Lodge. The total cost of setting up the Lodge was seven pounds nineteen shillings, the major cost being the Warrant at five guineas.
W. Bro. Walter Makepeace, the District Grand Master from 1919, believed the formation of St. Michael, as a Lodge of Research, was the idea of Lieutenant-General Sir Charles Warren, the District Grand Master from 1891 to 1895.
"I think the inspiration for the Pentagram came originally from the R. W. Bro. Sir Charles Warren, District Grand Master. He had done a lot of work on the actual site of King Solomon's Temple and was a recognised authority of Masonic history. Anyhow, he called together a small committee which afterwards became the Library Committee and responsible for the Pentagram.
There were three major influences in the formation of The Lodge St. Michael:
1. Masonic Research, a passion of Sir Charles Warren;
2. Historical Reconstruction to replace records destroyed by fire;
3. Keeping and preserving proper records of the District and the Lodge
The District records prior to the 1870s were presumed destroyed by fire. In 'Some Notes on Early Meetings of District Grand Lodge', a paper by W. Bro. William Craig given to Lodge St. Michael on 20 January 1909, W. Bro. Alexander Duff is alleged to have been taken records to his office where they were destroyed by fire.' Craig said:
"As most of you may be aware, the minute books in official custody date only from the seventies (1870s). Records of previous date have somehow disappeared. Rumour has it that they were destroyed when The Straits Times was burnt out in 1869 or thereabouts, and the fact that W. Bro. Duff, who was Provincial Grand Secretary' at that time was connected to The Straits Times lends the story some degree of plausibility."'
It was The Lodge St. Michael's task to repair W. Bro. Duff s loss as part of its research, but in addition, it was charged with the responsibility of preserving District and Lodge records. Makepeace establishes this third major task for Lodge St. Michael in a paper The function of Lodge St. Michael as record keeper for the District Grand Lodge of the Eastern Archipelago'. Makepeace confirms that this purpose was set forth at its foundation'. They implemented the central storage system at Coleman Street.
The Lodge St. Michael is primarily a Research Lodge but the Lodge has initiated, passed and raised Candidates as recent as 1949.
From the Lodge's consecration to the present day, the Lodge has endeavoured to present papers of interest and research to the Brethren of the Lodge in particular and Freemasons in general especially those in the District of the Eastern Archipelago. All the papers for the consecration until 1908 were compiled into a book and presented to Grand Lodge. With the publication of the Pentagram in 1909 and thereafter the records of some of the more popular papers were presented and documented. The papers not printed in the Pentagram, and the Lodge minutes up until the surrender of the Imperial Japanese Forces in February are missing.
I Craig's paper appears in the 17 November 1909 edition of the Pentagram and occupies nineteen of its twenty-eight pages. It is the first Lodge St. Michael paper to be published in the Pentagram.
'The earliest document that W Bro. William Craig could locate where the word 'District' was used was 17 June 1867.
3The fire at the Straits Times occurred on 16 February 1869. In his History of the District, Pentagram 1959 p 11, W Bro. A W Frisby 'English Freemasonry in Malaya and Borneo 1765-1958', Pentagram for 1959 tells us Duff was the unofficial historian of the District at the time. 4Seale J L. 'Keeping of Records.' In this paper presented in 1977, W Bro. J L Seale quotes extensively from a paper first given by W Bro. Walter Makepeace on 29 January 1907. The paper was discovered in a bound volume of 'Transactions of Lodge St. Michael No 2933 for the years 1903 - 1908' kept in Queen Street, London. These 'Transactions' were the forerunner of the Pentagram, but the Pentagram had the much nobler purpose of acting as a gazette for establishing ties between Brethren in our far-flung District.
The Lodge was the first to meet after the surrender of the Japanese Forces in Singapore. All the Lodge's records and the original banner was lost or destroyed during the Second World War. In presenting a new banner to the Lodge on 29 April 1952, W. Bro. Charles Herbert Withers-Payne gave the best explanation for the name 'St Michael', as recorded in the Minute below:
"The Worshipful Master W. Bro. Charles Herbert Withers-Payne presented the Banner to the Lodge to replace the one lost during the Japanese occupation. In requesting W. Bro. Forrer to accept the Banner on behalf of the Lodge, the Worshipful Master said that the Banner was a reproduction of an old fifteenth century print. He reminded the Brethren that St. Michael was the Prince of Angels who trampled the King of Terrors beneath his feet and must not be confused with St. George and his dragon. W. Bro. Forrer stated that he was honoured to accept the Banner and hoped it would remain with the Lodge for so long as it existed. He thanked the Worshipful Master W. Bro. Charles Herbert Withers-Payne on behalf of the Lodge for his very generous donation. The Banner was then fixed in its proper place."
The Lodge's Masonic research is not restricted to Masonic history nor should they be confused with history lessons. The legends, symbolism, allegories and the many moral themes of the three Craft Degrees provide a wealth of inspiration for our research endeavours into Speculative Freemasonry.
Today, with more Brethren looking for a better understanding of Freemasonry which is not always immediately apparent, the Lodge has embarked on a series of Masonic education initiatives.
The Lodge comprises fifty four members (forty eight resident, four overseas, and two honorary members) including thirteen Master Masons.
The Lodge believes that Masonic research forms an important and integral part of Masonic education particularly for new Freemasons who are keen to understand what they have joined, how it has evolved and how it fits into society in general. The Lodge remains committed in fostering the intellectual development and understanding of the Craft here in Singapore particularly among younger and newer Freemasons
The Lodge St. Michael assists Brethren who are actively interested in developing a better understanding of the crucial aspects of Freemasonry. The Lodge is not only a research Lodge but also a Lodge of shared experiences, which seeks to be interactive and to explore some of the ways in which we function as Freemasons, how we conduct our ritual, what it means to us, and what the deeper meanings of the ritual are.
extracted from a compilation made by Darren Desker