The Visitor: Arena’s resident… non-resident, travelling London’s Lodges


By Bro Edward Compton 

My name is Edward Compton and I like to visit Lodges. In fact, I visit a lot of Lodges. Thought everything happens at Freemasons’ Hall?  Well, think again. It turns out there are Masonic Centres all over our great City – and I’m visiting all of them.

I am Bro Edward Compton and I am ‘The Visitor’. Part travelogue, part Through the Keyhole – I’ll be showing you Freemasonry across all of London.

In this edition, I visited Heronry Lodge No 4789 at Chingford Masonic Hall. The Hall is located a short walk from Chingford Staton, which is a direct route on the overground from Liverpool Street, taking approximately 30 minutes. There are parking facilities onsite for those driving.

They have two Lodge rooms, a nice bar with a great choice of single malts and various bitters and lagers, all great value for money. This is a compact building with everything close at hand and all on one level – ideal for Brethren who have difficulty with stairs, or if you’re a Dalek!

On the way to the Temple is a framed apron and Lodge Certificate of Sir Alf Ramsey, England’s 1966 World Cup winning manager. If you have an interest in football, you may wish to visit and have some photos taken.

Heronry Lodge is a lovely group of Brethren who made me feel very welcome on arrival, with their kind and generous Worshipful Master, W Bro Jeffrey Payton, buying me a drink before I even got my coat off.

Heronry was originally planning to conduct a  Third Degree Raising for Bro. Rodrigues Munwana, with the ceremony to he conducted by W. Bro Stewart Nardi. However, W. Bro. Nardi had been called away on urgent business, and so with only 8 days notice, Bro. Munwana stepped graciously aside for the Lodge to perform a Second Degree Passing. Step forward Entered Apprentice Bro Reece Smith, who filled the void by taking his second regular step in Freemasonry. In fact, Bro Reece himself had to leave immediately upon being Passed as he had to hot-foot it to the airport to go on holiday. With very little notice for the change of ceremony, the entire Lodge conducted themselves magnificently. The Worshipful Master, W Bro Payton, presided over the early part of the ceremony with innate charm and confidence, putting the questions to Bro Reece, before handing over to W Bro Headley O’Brien, who conducted the ceremony of Passing to the Second Degree superbly. Bro Reece was expertly conducted throughout the ceremony by acting Senior Deacon W Bro Olu Shonubi (the Lodge’s DC), who was quite brilliant in the role, again stepping in at late notice. A special mention also needs to go to W Bro Rob Hunt, Secretary of the Lodge, who had more hats than in a  Tommy Cooper ‘hat sketch’: not just Secretary but also filling in as Senior Warden and then expertly presenting the Second Degree Working Tools: he was everywhere and impeccably word perfect. It was also lovely to witness how the Lodge banded together and showed true brotherly love by having guests help with the ritual due to the last-minute change. It was seamless and near perfect. 

As he rushed out of the temple, I had visions of a high-speed Bro Reece at passport control, giving various signs, tokens and words to perplexed border staff. “What does this passport require?” Hold on, I know this one.

It was an excellent ceremony all round; even more incredible bearing in mind the short amount of time they had to prepare. And there was ample good humour throughout the Lodge room, which I always enjoy. In the absence of an organist, the Lodge were using a recording of the Odes and National Anthem, the latter played not quite at double speed, but fast enough to raise a smile, especially as it prompted their Worshipful Master to also perambulate the Temple rather smartly: he moved so fast I was beginning to suspect he had a plane to catch for sunny climes too (actually, it was the sombrero and sunglasses which gave it away – I jest, of course!).

In good news for the Lodge, they have a new joining member signed up, which made the Treasurer think that maybe he could go on holiday as well. In all seriousness though, he is joining a very warm and friendly Lodge, one I hope to visit again!
After the ceremony, I was at the bar with one of the permanently invited guests, W Bro Evan Grant, a lovely chap who also acted as Inner Guard. Interestingly, he was previously a member of  The Foundations, purveyors of hits including Build Me Up Buttercup and Now That I’ve Found You, which I must admit is a favourite of mine to sing in the shower (sorry for the mental image this may conjure up!). Little did I know on arrival, that my evening would encompass World Cup winning football managers and legendary musicians!

I enjoyed the Festive Board, which was excellent in terms of both company and food. The meal was provided by the Hall’s caterers, E4 Catering: the starter was mushroom soup with obligatory roll alongside. The main course was a cottage pie with vegetables, and dessert crumble with custard. In fact, I was given some extra fruit crumble. Perhaps they wanted to sweeten me up. Or, having lost a bit of weight recently, perhaps they were trying to build me up; and I’m sure the waitress called me buttercup (Is this even conceivably true? Ed). Anyway, we all received really generous helpings, and all for just £25 – that’s incredible value for money.

As a bonus, I managed to win a prize in the raffle (a lovely bottle of red, this time), which seems to be a habit on my visits! The Worshipful Master won some David Beckham toiletries. I think he wanted to swap, but I smell good enough already; so I kept the red wine. This was a very enjoyable evening, kept with great company, great food and plenty of laughs. Thank you, Heronry Lodge No 4789.

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 53 December 2023 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons – Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 53 here.