The first meeting of the Polytechnic Lodge No. 2847 took place on the 28th September 1901 at the Polytechnic Institute, 309 Regent Street, London W1, now The University of Westminster. Today we meet at in one of the delightful Temples at Mark Masons Hall in the fashionable district of St. James’s close to St. James’s Palace in London.
We are a small but friendly lodge meeting on certain Saturday afternoons four times a year. Our meetings always conclude with a delightful meal together taken in one of the dining rooms within Mark Masons Hall.
Our members are varied in age (from 21 to 89), varied in professions (from students to the retired) varied in race, religion, culture and upbringings. They became Freemasons for a variety of reasons. Some as a result of family tradition, others upon the introduction of a friend or out of curiosity to know what it is all about.
Those who have become active members of our lodge and have chosen to grow in Freemasonry have done so principally because they enjoy it. They enjoy the challenges and fellowship which Freemasonry offers.
The structure and working of the lodge and the sequence of ceremonial events offer our members a framework for companionship, teamwork, character development and enjoyment of shared experiences.
The first meeting and consecration ceremony for the Polytechnic Lodge took place on the 28th September 1901. The reason for its foundation began in the late 19th century when it was felt by Brethren of the teaching staff at the Polytechnic Institute that a Freemasons Lodge should be formed within the Institute at 309 Regent Street, London W1.
From the beginning, the fortunes of the Lodge have been inextricably linked with the teaching staff at the Polytechnic Institution (Now University of Westminster) It was felt there were sufficient justification and sources of membership to create a new lodge. Mr Quintin HOGG, Founder, and Mr John Edward KYNASTON-STUDD, President of the Institute were consulted and gave their approval.
A petition for the foundation of the new Lodge was sworn by 32 Masons, the majority coming from the Albion Lodge No. 9, Oak Lodge No. 190 and Concordia Lodge No. 2492. At the consecration ceremony, 28 members, 7 of whom were later to become Masters, together with 51 visitors, witnessed the Grand Secretary, Sir Edward Letchworth, acting as Installing Master, install Worshipful Brother Alexander George LEE as the first Worshipful Master. At the first meeting, Worshipful Brother Edward Rueben ALEXANDER, Printing Press Teacher at the Institute, was appointed Lodge Treasurer, a post he was to hold for the next 20 years.
As a mark of respect to the Polytechnic Harriers, who were internationally renowned athletes, the Lodge took the Harriers badge for its banner. For the first 28 years of its existence, the Worshipful Masters of the Polytechnic Lodge were installed by the Right Worshipful Brother J. STEPHENS, the then President of the Board of Benevolence until his death in 1929.
The workload for the Lodge during its first year was enormous with meetings sometimes held weekly. During the first year, there were 32 Initiates, 25 Brethren were passed and 16 raised. The record for the Lodge was at a meeting on 3rd January 1914 when 3 candidates were initiated, 4 were Passed and another 4 were Raised.
During its infancy, the Polytechnic Lodge was principally under the guidance of members or teachers at the Institute since the 1880’s. These Polytechnic Institute Brethren of our Lodge devoted many years of unfailing allegiance. The Polytechnic Lodge remains indebted to them for the tradition of loyalty and service they exemplified. In 1908, Brother Leonard HARRIS, from the Polytechnic Institute became the first person ever to hold London Rank (later changed to London Grand Rank), this honoured being conferred on him by the Most Worshipful Grand Master on 3rd December of that year. Brother HARRIS was also a member of the Polytechnic Institutes rowing eight from 1883 when he helped the Institute win the Oxford Grand Eights in 1891 and for the next five years.
One of the most remarkable Brethren of the Lodge was Brother (later the Right Worshipful Brother Sir.) John Edward KYNASTON-STUDD. Born in 1858, he was initiated into the Polytechnic Lodge on the 18th January 1902. He was promoted through the ranks and eventually became the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Cambridge. Whilst at Cambridge in 1882 he played cricket for the University against Australia, a match by the University won by 6 wickets. In the mid 1870’s he played in a match for Wiltshire against Hampshire, scoring 125 not out in one innings. He was Lord Mayor of London in 1928.
Brother KYNASTON-STUDD became the Master of the Polytechnic Lodge in 1919. Well over two hundred and twenty Brethren attended to witness the event. Although that sounds a tremendous number of Masons to attend a Lodge meeting, that number fades into insignificance when you learn that over 600 Brethren attended a meeting on the 17th September 1938 to honour his 80th birthday. He was also the only member of the Lodge to marry a Princess. In 1924 he married Princess Alexandra LIEVEN of the Imperial Court of Russia.
Another remarkable member of the Polytechnic Lodge was Robert MITCHELL. He joined the teaching staff at the Polytechnic Institute in 1879, teaching a wide range of subject between 7am and 8pm for 1 penny a day. He became the Lodges Master in 1914. At that time he organised the facilities at the Polytechnic Institute to train service personnel in radio and engineering skills. He was promoted to Major during the First World War and awarded the C.B.E. He was also made a Knight of the Order of St. John and a Knight of the Polar Star of Sweden, the latter a very rare distinction for a foreign national. A Masonic Lodge was named after him in, the Robert Mitchell Lodge No. 2956, which sadly closed in 2016
Many members of the Polytechnic Lodge were members of the teaching staff at the Polytechnic Institute and also involved in numerous sporting activities, running marathons from Windsor Park to Wembley Park, rowing clubs and of course the world famous Polytechnic Harriers. One of the Lodge & Institute members, Worshipful Brother Reg BUDD won the Amateur Boxing Association finals for his weight in 1924.
This short account has failed to do justice to the many worthy Brethren who have spent large parts of their lives keeping alive the time honoured traditions of Freemasonry and who in particular have kept the spirit and history of this very special Polytechnic Lodge No. 2847 in the register of the Grand Lodge of England.