MEETING PLACES FROM 1924
The first meeting place, the Muristan, was situated about four hundred and ninety yards west of the site of the Holy of Holies in the Temple of Solomon. In Solomon's days only two of the four hills, later included in the City of Jerusalem, were built upon, i.e. the eastern and the western. The north and north western hills were outside the enclosing wall. The Temple was built on the higher part of the eastern hill. Between the eastern and western hills was the deep central valley, which was later, called the Tyropean by Flavius Josephus. Where the north wall of the city crossed this central valley, was the Fish Gate which is mentioned in II Chronicles XXXIII 14, Nehemiah III 3, and XII 39. At this point another valley, known as the north western, just to the north of the city wall, branched off westwards. In this valley, three hundred and eighty yards west of the old Fishgate was our meeting place. It was by way of this valley, and through the Fishgate, that David, leading the procession accompanied the Holy Ark on its return from exile: through the central valley and ascending the western slopes of the eastern hill and depositing the Holy Ark in its temporary resting place on Zion until such time as his illustrious son would build the Temple for it.
Along the Tyropean Valley, through the Fishgate into the central valley, and up the western slopes of Mount Moriah, to the site of the Temple, Solomon's workmen hauled the timber. This had been cut by King Hiram's labourers out of Lebanon and brought by his sailors from Tyre on floats to Joppa.
Departing from the Temple by the southern entrance, down the western slopes of Mount Moriah, and leaving Jerusalem by the Fishgate, the third Fellow-craft's Lodge would have turned westwards to proceed on its sad journey in the direction of Joppa to seek its respected Master.
About thirteen hundred years later, this part of Jerusalem gained great importance in Christian history, for in 323 AD, Macanus, the Bishop of Jerusalem, fixed the place of the Crucifixion . Golgotha. This spot is about one hundred and twenty yards to the north-west of the site occupied today by the Lutheran Church and its apartment buildings. Our first meeting place was in the upper hall of the apartment buildings.
The Lutheran Church is erected on the foundations of the old Church of St. Mary Latina which was built about 800 AD by' the Emperor Charlemagne to accommodate Latin speaking pilgrims.
On a site adjacent to the Church of St. Mary Latina was the Hospital of St. John, founded in 1048 by the rich merchants of Amalfi in Italy, for the reception of pilgrims and to care for the sick. The hospice was at first dedicated to St. John Eleemon the Merciful patriarch in Egypt in the early part of the seventh century This dedication was later changed to the name of St. John the Baptist, but the original Church connected with it exists today It forms the crypt of the building now known as the Greek Church of St. John the Baptist. In this Hospital of St. John, the Crusader Order of that name was founded at about 1100 AD.
The locality has for centuries been known as the "Muristan", a Persian word meaning a hospital for the insane. In 1187 AD, Saladin captured Jerusalem, and its occupation by the Crusaders came to an end. The property of the Hospitallers of the Order of St. John was endowed to the Mosque of Omar. The real Mosque of that name is situated near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
After this period, the Crusader buildings fell into ruin, and in this state the site formerly occupied by the Hospitallers was presented in 1869 to the King of Prussia. His son, afterwards the Emperor Frederick, took possession of it. Archaeological excavations carried out at this date revealed remains of the Church of St. Mary Latina. Kaiser William, Frederick's son, had a new Church built on the site, along the lines of the old Church of St. Mary Latina. The new Church, under the name of the "Erloser Kirche", or Church of the Redeemer, was consecrated by Kaiser William on the occasion of his visit to Jerusalem in 1898, as a place of worship for the German Protestants. It is held in the custody of the Evangeliche Jerusalem Verein.
On 11th December, 1937, acting on the advice of the Police authorities, the Lodge was forced to move to Baddour Buildings, Julian Way. It was considered inadvisable at that time, to meet in the Old City, Jerusalem. Because of the prevailing situation, the Grand Secretary had written to the Secretary of the lodge to inform him that any change of date and/or meeting place would be left to the Lodge to decide. Any Dispensations that would be required, being granted retrospectively, when such changes were reported. The Baddour Building was occupied by The Holy City Lodge, No. 1372 (Scottish Constitution), who kindly permitted our Lodge to meet there until 14th September, 1940.
On 12th October 1940, the lodge returned to the Masonic Rooms, Muristan, Jerusalem.
Because of restrictions imposed by the authorities on the movement of residents outside certain defined areas and on the advice of the Police, the W.Master, W.Bro. L. T Colbourn, was forced to cancel the Meeting arranged for Saturday, 8th February, 1947.
The Lodge never met again at the Muristan.
The next Regular Meeting was held at the "Villa Rosemary", German Colony, Jerusalem, on Saturday, 8th March, 1947 where the Lodge met until Saturday, 14th February, 1948.
On Saturday, 28th February, 1948, a Special Meeting was held at the YM.C.A. building, Jerusalem. At this meeting the Motion for the removal of the Lodge from Jerusalem to the United Kingdom was unanimously agreed.
THE LAST MEETING OF OUR LODGE IN JERUSALEM
Saturday, 13th March, 1948, saw the last Regular Meeting of our Lodge to be held in the Holy Land at the Villa Rosemary building. At this final meeting, Bro. Thomas George Blount was Passed to the degree of a Fellow Craft by W.Bro. M. Tomlinson, P.M., who worked the ceremony.
As the Mandate was coming to an end, the members had voted to remove the Lodge from Jerusalem to London the removal of a Lodge from one Country to another is a matter of grave concern to its members, especially a move from Jerusalem around which sacred City our Masonic Legend is based. No other place will have quite the same atmosphere. No other meeting place will compare to the Muristan Temple. But wherever located we must be animated to continue our efforts.
To quote W. Bro. B. (Tom) Chaikin, "all we can do is to enhance the respect already achieved by the Lodge for English Freemasonry, by devotion to our Masonic Duties and by the correct and intelligent rendering of the ceremonies, and to pray that the Great Architect of His unbounded wisdom and goodness will strengthen and uphold the Lodge with his right hand."
The lighter furniture was crated, shipped and sent to the U.K. R.W.Bro. G.L.C.Colenso Jones P.J.G.W. managed in these difficult times to arrange for shipping, and it is doubtful that without his help the Lodge would have been able meet on the proscribed date.
The last Regular Meeting in Jerusalem was held at the Y.M.C.A. building, on Saturday, 13th March, 1948. About 20 members attended and W.Bro. B. 0. Denham, 0.G.R. was in the Masters Chair.
Bro. Denham was the only member present, who had also been present at the first meeting, the Consecration, in Jerusalem. He was a Founder of the Lodge and our first Junior Deacon. It is sad to relate that W.Bro. B. 0. Denham, on the 26th April, 1948, was murdered by Terrorists.
THE FIRST MEETING OF OUR LODGE IN LONDON
The first Regular Meeting to be held away from Jerusalem was at the Charing Cross Hotel, Strand, London W.C.2. on Monday, 28th June, 1948. There were 34 members and 3 guests present. The last Master in Jerusalem, W.Bro. S.G. White became the first Master in London. W.Bro. C.W. Cowell resumed as Secretary of the Lodge, an office he was to hold until his death on 22nd April, 1962. Also present at this meeting was Bro. A. Wedderspoon, who had been the first joint initiate in Jerusalem.
As a point of interest, it was his first attendance since 1924, when he left Palestine enroute to America. While in the U.K. and at the request of the Lodge, he was Raised to the Third Degree at an emergency meeting of the Lodge of King Solomon's Temple, No. 3464, Chester, on 13th August, 1924. This occasion was unique to the Chester Lodge, being its only ceremony performed to date. The roll of the Lodge being wholly comprised of Joining Members.
Our Lodge was ready for the further dispatch of Masonic Business. The Byelaws were altered to change the category of the members. There were 24 ordinary members, 26 country members (residing 50 miles or more from Charing Cross), and 40 overseas members.
In 1953, the move was to the Dominion Hotel, Lancaster Gate, London (now known as the Park Court Hotel) and remained there until 1970, when the Hotel ceased to hold Masonic functions.
In 1970 the Lodge moved to the Duke of York's Headquarters, Kings Road, Chelsea, and became one of the founder Lodges of the new Masonic Rooms. Unable to continue the meetings on a Friday, the Lodge returned to Lancaster Gate, now the Park Court Hotel in 1971
1979 saw us move to the new Mark Mason's Hall, St. James's Street where we stayed until 1980, then to the London Masonic Centre, Clerkenwell Green, London Neither of these moves being successful, the Lodge returned to the Park Court Hotel in 1981,
2002 we were on the move again because of a change in the management at what had become the Thistle Hotel, Lancaster Gate. The style of the new business and the change in pricing policy at The Thistle was not conducive to our Masonic ways and the Lodge had been made to feel unwelcome. The location of a more suitable meeting venue was not difficult but a great deal of discussion and research to find an appropriate dining venue was undertaken by a small group of Lodge members and with a change of meeting dates we finally moved to Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street in time for the Installation Meeting in February 2002.