Arthur, Duke of Connaught ( Youngest Son of Queen Victoria ) Grand Master of The United Grand Lodge of England 1901 -1939, spent some time on how Freemasonry should commemorate, those of its membership who were killed, or declared missing in The Great War. On the 27th June 1919, he organised a conference in The Albert Hall, and invited representatives from Ireland, Scotland and other Grand Lodges throughout the Commonwealth to attend in London and consider how best to commemorate those, of their membership, who died for King and Country. All those in attendance were presented with a Peace Medal, to commemorate their individual contributions, to the discussions of the day.
One outcome of the 1919 conference was the decision to begin fund raising by opening a fund that was known as The Masonic Million Memorial Fund, which came into being in January 1920. It had been decided that all donations would be used to construct a suitable memorial. Individual Masons who contributed 10 guineas would be presented with a commemorative silver medal and those who contributed 100 guineas would be presented with a commemorative gold medal. Lodges, who presented 10 guineas per member, for all their registered Members would be presented with a Hall Stone jewel, to be worn in perpetuity, by each incoming Worshipful Master, on his collarette, during his term of Office.
Arthur Duke of Connaught, decided to get an update on fund raising in 1925, when he held a Grand Festival in Olympia. Again, a special jewel was struck to mark the occasion, and Arthur was able to present the first of the Hall Stone jewels to the Master’s of qualifying Lodges. Each jewel has the Lodge number on the reverse and a register of Lodges, who received the jewel was commenced.
It was decided that the Memorial to all ( 3,225 ) three thousand two hundred and twenty five Brethren who died on active service in The Great War, should be incorporated into a new headquarters building, to be located in Great Queen Street, where the previous Grand Lodge building had been located. H.V.Ashley F.R.I.B.A., P.G.D. and Winton Newman F.R.I.B.A., P.A.G. Supt Works, were appointed to be architects on the project and were supported in their works by some twenty one members of the Building and Administration sub-committee. As fund raising continued, plans were approved, and building works got underway.
Inside a magnificent bronze altar a commemorative scroll was installed, complete with all 3,225 names of our Brethren, who gave their all. Behind the altar, was a magnificent stained glass window on the theme of the attainment of peace through sacrifice. In the center is the figure of The Angel of Peace, carrying a model of the Tower of the Building.
Works were finally completed in the Spring of 1933, and arrangements were put in hand for the Dedication Ceremony. The day was selected and official invitations were dispatched around the globe. Field Marshal H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught and Stratharn K.G. Most Wor Grand Master was intimately involved with all aspects of the Dedication Ceremonies. Grand Lodge delegations were in attendance from South America, Australasia, Canada, Europe, United States of America, Scotland and Ireland. In the case of Ireland, our delegation was led by the Rt Hon the Earl of Donoughmore K.P., P.C.,
Grand Master of Ireland accompanied by his Deputy, Rt Wor Bro Raymond F. Brooke, Lt Col Rt Hon Lord Farnham, D.S.O., Prov GM of Meath, Col Rt Hon R.S.Sharman-Crawford, C.B.E., D.L., Prov Grand Master of Down, Rt Wor Bro Cecil J. Sibbett Prov Grand Master Southern Cape Province, Sir William J Smyly M.D., F.R.C.P., S.G.W. Ireland and Rt Wor Bro H.C.Shellard. Grand Secretary of Ireland. Interestingly there are a number of other well known names found amongst the Officers of The United Grand Lodge of England. These include a number of senior Royals including H.R.H The Prince of Wales, H.R.H. The Duke of York, H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught, H.R.H. Prince George, Also found on the lists are Sir Percy Greenaway Lord Mayor of London and Rt Hon the Lord Cornwallis C.B.E. Deputy Grand Master.
You may be interested to learn that the listing contains 1321 Hall – Stone Lodges and some 53,244 individual awards.