Cholmeley Lodge 1731 – Founded in 1878

Cholmeley Lodge, is the oldest public school freemasons lodge, and was formed in 1878 by members of Highgate School staff and villagers from Highgate.

The Founders

Two notable founders were the Reverend JB Dyne, Headmaster from 1838 to 1874 and TC Tatham.

Its best-known member of recent years was Theodore Mallinson (TGM) a loyal member of the Lodge, master of the Lodge in 1981 and 1982. The Lodge currently has about 40 members and those who are eligible to join can either be past pupils of the school, members of staff, including the Head Master (of which there have been many from Highgate School), and the school’s Governors.

Why did Freemasonry become so popular in the 17th and 18th centuries?

My understanding is that men of wealth or standing had time on their hands and enough money to mean they didn’t have to work.

This allowed them time to think and ponder on the great questions that still perplex us today.

Why are we here?

What is the purpose of life and man in particular?

Does God have a plan?

How do I fit into it?

This time in history was known as the age of enlightenment and encompassed the end of the Renaissance, the French and American revolutions, the rise of the British Empire and the start of the industrial revolution.

Why stone masonry?

The systematic and methodical way stone masons ran their lodges was an attractive model for the orderly running of life or society and provided a good base for these thoughtful people to add philosophical stories.

Stone masonry became their context and provided their metaphors to create the model of becoming better citizens.

These stories or metaphors often came from the bible, which had only recently been available outside the church and only just published in English.

The resulting combination provided a focus for serious contemplation of the weighty matters of life and death, using a metaphorical 3 act play to map out an individual’s journey through life.

These were people who could be considered the leaders of society and the leaders in thought of their day.

Their objective:- how to help each other be more godly (good) and better members of society.

So if the larger context is self-improvement and improvement of society, the method is through the repetition of our moral plays, enacted in metaphorical terms with the use of symbols from both stone masonry and the bible.

And the goal is translating these values and beliefs into our ordinary world to improve our own behaviours.

Good people becoming better citizens.

The seriousness of the goal meant care was observed in recruitment and freemasonry was only open to the worthy.

Generally people understand life best when they are involved in doing something, rather than sitting around talking about it, or worst of all just listening.

The lessons, therefore, are learnt indirectly by action, using metaphors and symbols, rather than by direct instruction.

Every freemason has the task of understanding these values and making them coincide with their own, in their unique way.

The time this takes depends on each individual and can be accelerated by being more involved with the ritual and ceremony.