May 24 On this date in 1901, Sir Winston Churchill received his 1st degree in Studholme Lodge #1591, London.
Churchill was a very public figure, But Yasha Beresiner has discovered the very private Freemason
Freemasons take pride in having men of stature as members of the fraternity. But have Masons at times attributed too much significance to the Masonic association of these great men? Maybe more than the famous people themselves have done? Winston Churchill was the greatest British statesman in recent history. In 1901 he became a Freemason. What induced him to join the fraternity? How active was he as a Freemason? What part did Freemasonry play in his life?
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on 30 November 1874 and educated at Harrow. At the time of his initiation into Studholme Lodge 1591 on 24 May 1901, Freemasonry was a fashionable social pursuit.
The election of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII) as Grand Master in 1875 gave a huge impetus to Freemasonry. As the Prince of Wales, he had been an exceedingly popular Royal and Grand Master, and brought with him a host of other Royals and aristocrats who gladly joined the Craft.
It was not by accident that the promising young Winston was introduced to Studholme Lodge in London.
John Studholme Brownrigg, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey, whose prominent family gave its name to the new Lodge, consecrated the Lodge on 31 January 1876.
In 1881 the Lodge moved from Surbiton, in Surrey, to London, and the summonses read like a Who’s Who of the aristocracy and social elite.
The guest list for the Lodge’s 21st Installation Banquet in 1897 includes 17 Members of Parliament, including the Lord Chancellor, and numerous Lords, Earls, Knights and high-ranking members of the armed forces dispersed throughout the dining room.
The Lodge records give the date of Churchill’s initiation as 24 May 1901 with his address as 105 Mount Street, his age as 26, and his occupation as a Member of Parliament.
Charles Clive Bigham, Viscount Mersey, whose entry in the Studholme Lodge register, next to that of Churchill, has caused some confusion about his taking his third degree in Rosemary Lodge, gives an insight into the scene on the day.
In his autobiography, published by John Murray in London in 1941, A Picture of Life 1872-1940, he states on page 188:
… that month I was initiated as a free mason at Studholme Lodge (1591). While waiting for the ceremony I walked round and round Golden Square with Winston Churchill, another candidate …
Within two months, on 19 July, Winston was passed to the second degree, and on 5 March 1902 he became a Master Mason, all three ceremonies being conducted in Studholme Lodge.
An unfortunate communication in 1955 by the then librarian of Grand Lodge, W I Grantham, to his counterpart in Iowa, USA, has led to the erroneous reports that Churchill was raised in Rosemary Lodge No. 2851.
This occurred because the Studholme Lodge register has the name Geoffrey C Glyn above, and Charles Clive Bigham below that of Churchill.
Further along the line against both these names is the entry ‘Raised in No 2851, 11th Nov 1901’. This entry was also wrongly attributed to Churchill.
His raising was by special dispensation applied for by the Lodge secretary, Henry James Fitzroy, the Earl of Euston, Provincial Grand Master for Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire, and conducted by the Master, J C F Tower.
At the same meeting, Ferdinand John St john was initiated and the brethren dined at the Cafe Royal, as was customary for the lodge.
Studholme Lodge amalgamated in 1959 with United Lodge No. 1629 to form United Studholme Lodge, and amalgamated again in 1976 with Alliance Lodge No. 1827 to attain its present status as Studholme Alliance Lodge, retaining its original number 1591.