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 Sepia photograph of unknown group at Emmanual College Cambridge



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Old Photographs - Mystery Masonic Photographs

The masonic photos below will be sent as a donation to the Library and Museum at United Grand Lodge, Great Queen Street or to the individual Lodges from which they originate. Any information about the images would be most helpful and will ensure the proper disposal and cataloguing of the photograph. Do you recognise any of the photos, or know others who might?

First is a 6 x 4 in photograph on buff mount of the Master of a Lodge. The mount has an impressed mark from Ernest Battey, Art Studio. According to Brett Payne's site on Derbyshire photographers, Ernest Battey operated at 8 Norfolk Street Glossop in 1912 and 109 Station Road Hadfield 1908 - 1913. These will be the dates Battey appeared in local directories so are approximate. The portrait is excellent - soft focused, well lit and artistic in appearance. Likely date possibly around the start of WW1. The Master concerned is of youthful appearance, perhaps in his late 20s. He has an apron which was clearly a master mason's apron which has been altered to reflect his elevation to Master of the Lodge. Clearly the apron had significance for the owner, and taken together with his age suggests he may be a Lewis, proud to continue to wearing his father's (or other ancestor's) apron. The ornate Master's collar and collar jewel suggest perhaps a relatively mature and well appointed Lodge. Taking the location of the photographer into account this could possibly be the Master of Devonshire Lodge No 625, or possibly Lodge of Hadfield 3584, or possibly another older but now defunct Derbyshire Lodge. There is no past master's jewel in evidence, suggesting this photograph may have been taken at the Installation of the Master.

Master of a Derbyshire Lodge

Derbyshire Lodge Master - detail of collar jewel Impressed photographer's mark - Derbyshire Master's photograph

Detail of collar and collar jewel, and photographer's impressed mark from the above photograph.

Second is a portrait, 13.5 x 8.5 cm, purchased from Greece, of a Royal Arch Mason, wearing the robe and collar of a 1st Principal. He is wearing a past master's jewel from the Craft and a Chapter Principal's jewel. So this appears to be of an installed First Principal in office. The photograph appears to be from the 1930s. There is a post card printed reverse with the name of the photographer, Bray and Son of Holmfirth, Yorkshire. In pencil on the reverse is written "? Bert Brinsley or Bainsley". From the photographer's details this may suggest the photo could be of a Principal from the Chapter of Industry No 652, which still meets at the Masonic Hall in Holmfirth. Grand Lodge Records list a Master Mason called George William Brinsley, a railway chief clerk, initiated in 1921 into Holme Valley Craft Lodge No 652 which also meets at Holmfirth.

Portrait of Royan cArch 1st Principal, Holmfirth, Yorkshire

This third photograph, black and white, 6in x 4.5in is mounted on a cream card mount spotted with age. There is no photographers name on the image or mount. The image is of four Master Masons each wearing a Lodge Steward's collar, onto each of which is affixed a Royal Arch jewel. Two have high shirt collars, one has distinctly rounded shirt collar. It is difficult to tell whether they are wearing morning suits or lounge suits - the trousers appear a little lighter than the jackets, but this may just be a trick of the light. Lounge suits are more probable.

Four Stewards


Cast iron door knocker
Cast iron door knocker


Glass in door of Lodge premises

Glazing in porch

The group are very well posed and look immaculate. They stand outside some premises, presumably where a Lodge meeting is about to or has just taken place. The careful posing and inclusion of the doorway of the premises suggest one of two things: either the stewards were lined up adjacent to the lodge entrance ready to receive someone and were photographed in situ, or the photographer only had a small space to work in outside the front door - so the Lodge premises had a small front garden area.

The front of the Lodge building had some sort of ornate square porch. The front doorway of the Lodge premises had double half glazed entry doors, one of which was fitted with a large leaf and scroll type of cast iron door knocker. The glazed section of the porch had etched panes with geometric hexagonal designs at the top and bottom.

In terms of overall date, the photo feels like it is from the 1920s/1930s. The card mount is of good quality and overall this feels more like the work of a professional than amateur photographer. The photograph was purchased at a car boot sale in Exeter, so may be from the West Country.

Any suggestions as to location and occasion would be very much appreciated.

This fourth image, 6 x 4 in is a portrait of a Past Master of King Edward VII Lodge No 2892 in Northumberland. It has the look and feel of a 1930s photo and was taken by Jas Bacon and Sons 81 Northumberland St, Newcastle. Can anyone suggest the identity of Freemason?

Past Master of King Edward VII Lodge No 2892

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www.FadingImages.uk is a non-commercial web site for local and family historians, listing photographers in Cambridgeshire 1840-2000
This page was last modified: 05 November 2016, 12:41

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