The Visitor attends Poulters Lodge at Wax Chandlers’ Hall

Think everything happens at Freemasons’ Hall? Well, think again. There are Masonic Centres all over our great city and I’m visiting them all: Masonic Centres, the old public houses where our predecessors met and places with a bit of Masonic history. I am Bro Edward Compton and I am ‘The Visitor’.


By Bro Edward Compton


For this edition, I visited the majestic Wax Chandlers’ Hall, a beautiful building in Gresham Street in the heart of the City. The building itself is magnificent. It’s actually the sixth design of the Hall, with previous versions being lost to the Great Fire of 1666, town planning and general disrepair. The latest iteration is a beautiful brick and granite building adorned by stained glass – well worth a visit, Brethren! Wax Chandlers’ is an ancient Livery Company originally built on the beeswax trade. Today it still has links with both the modern wax industry and the beekeeping profession. Coincidentally, I once waxed my chandlers – never again – couldn’t walk properly for a whole month. My personal grooming habits aside, I had been invited by my good friend, W Bro Lionel Correya, to a meeting of Poulters Lodge No 6876, consecrated on 1st July 1949, and a founding member of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London.

Upon arrival, tea and coffee had been laid on downstairs. Very nice ahead of a busy meeting featuring an Initiation and a Passing.

The Temple upstairs is a beautiful room adorned with portraits of Freemasons of yesteryear and some proper gorgeous chandeliers. Regular readers will know: I do like a nice chandelier.

The meeting itself was excellent and the Brethren welcoming, warm-hearted and friendly. I must here salute one of Freemasonry’s unsung heroes: the humble but irreplaceable organist. Perched above the room in his own little alcove and peering over us like the Phantom of the Opera, he added not only the musical accompaniment to the day’s proceedings but also elements of unexpected humour. When the Worshipful Master, the excellent W Bro Ade Oladele-Ajose, went to open the Lodge without first singing the Opening Ode, the organist immediately struck the keys to grab his attention. The WM looked up at the Phantom’s box, from where a disembodied voice noted, “You might as well sing it, you’re paying for it!” which was met with laughter and immediately relaxed the room. Our nimble-fingered maestro also had a good line in musical choices, with the Deacons putting their best foot forward to On the Street Where You Live, and With Love from Me to You (Is there anything that you want? ….) for the delayed investiture of Michael Jones as Steward. It reminded me just how important music can be in our meetings. Organists everywhere, we salute you!

Today’s Entered Apprentice to be Passed to the Fellowcraft was the son of the Secretary, Stanley Liu, and, as such, the WM handed over the ceremony to W Bro Stanley, saying, ‘I will now vacate the Chair for W Bro Dad’, which received a unanimous laugh. Stanley’s son James was accompanied superbly on his journey by Stanley’s other son, Stephen, as Senior Deacon. A special mention to acting Inner Guard, Bro Lawrence Stirton (son of Treasurer Michael Stirton), who performed the Second Degree Working Tools brilliantly and also to Bro Stephen Liu who did a fantastic rendition of the Second Degree Tracing Board. Two excellent young Freemasons. When Stanley relinquished the Chair, saying he was ‘very proud to partake in the ceremony and, in particular, very proud of Bro Stephen’, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I’m sure even the Phantom upstairs blew his nose.

Next up was an Initiation. The candidate, Gerry Lotsu, was in good hands with the acting Junior Deacon, W Bro Tosin Oladele-Ajose, who was word perfect throughout. Incidentally, Tosin is the WM’s son (fathers and sons being a common theme in this Lodge). The WM himself presided over the ceremony perfectly and W Bro Ian Drury was also excellent in presenting the apron (“reasons to be cheerful” – sorry, I can’t help it). Likewise, my good friend Lionel was excellent presenting the Working Tools (you owe me £20 for this line, Lionel).

Downstairs after the meeting, we were greeted by the stewards serving us a very generous selection of spirits and mixers. After a few doubles (or trebles!) we were ushered back upstairs to the Festive Board, which before had been the Temple. I was blown away by the transformation – I didn’t realise I was in the same room until I noticed all the pictures were the same! The setting was very atmospheric, with candelabras on the tables and only candlelight lighting the room: truly the pictures do not do the room justice (I get paid exactly the same for the photographs as the writing – nothing.)

Dinner was excellent too. Parma ham, burrata and figs to start, followed by roast breast of guinea fowl on crushed potatoes (yeah, guinea fowl – not chicken and chips here, mate) and, for dessert, treacle and apple tart with cinnamon crumb, caramel sauce and clotted cream. I had to undo my belt under the table (due to the intake of food – in case that needed explanation).

Stanley did a fantastic job presenting the raffle – it was like the conveyor belt on the Generation Game – it even featured a Fortnum and Mason hamper. I won a George Foreman Grill, which I rather regretted because I had to carry it home. The only good thing was I could put some poultry on it when I got in! (No more poultry jokes – I’ll get my coat.) A highlight was Junior Warden, W Bro Trevor Marsh’s speech to the Visitors. With no time to prepare, he had used AI; requesting a ‘short hip speech’ to welcome the visitors. This resulted in ‘Shout out to the visiting crew, we are pumped to see you!’ Getting down with kids, innit.

Changing tone, I also witnessed a very moving speech to the Initiate by W Bro Howard Beber, who had proposed Bro Gerry. They had met working in Africa several decades ago and been best friends ever since. You could see the genuine love and affection the two men had for one another. In return, Gerry gave a very moving tribute to his best friend, Howard. Out came the Kleenex again. Both speeches received warm applause from all present.

My Lodge has a father and two sons, but this Lodge has six fathers and sons, which is unusual – it’s also heartwarming to know that the future of Dad jokes is secure. Such as: ‘What do you call a chicken who’s crossing the road? … Poultry in motion!…’

Summing up, this was a glorious meeting of fathers and sons: this Lodge is single-handedly repopulating Metropolitan Grand Lodge! Well, perhaps not single-handedly (poor choice of words) – they had help at home. I did study GCSE Biology – I know how it happens. This was a great night in great company. The Lodge will celebrate its 75th anniversary in July and I’m sure it will be a great occasion. If you get a chance to visit Wax Chandlers’ Hall, please go – it’s very much worth a visit!

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 54 April 2024 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 54 here.