Colonel Robert Townley Caldwell

Colonel Robert Townley Caldwell

1891 — 1914

Robert Townley Caldwell was our second Provincial GM to have been born overseas. His father was Lt. Colonel of the renowned 92nd (Gordon) Highlanders. In 1843 the Regiment was in St. Ann’s Barracks, Barbados, where Robert Townley was born. He remained a ‘true son of the Regiment1 in that he rose to command the 3rd Battalion of the Gordons himself from 1891 to 95 and retained a strong connection with Aberdeen¬shire, spending much time there at his house, Inneshewan. It was there in 1914 that, as he turned out from the avenue of Inneshewan House onto the highway, another car collided with his and he was flung from the car to the road. He suffered serious head injury and died the following day. He was 71 and much loved.

When he was Installed as our Provincial Grand Master at the Guildhall in 1891, he took over a Province consisting of six Lodges with an overall membership of three hundred and eighty-six. There would doubtless be some small overlap of dual membership and many of INUL’s 169 members would be ‘out-county’, but this was an agricultural area of sparse population and so the numbers do mark steady if unspectacular progress over the first century. Mind you, the misguided notion of Scientific, who voted in this year to restrict their membership numbers to the Lodge number, 88, would not have helped recruiting. Caldwell told them it would never work and indeed they abandoned the idea very soon. E.Comp. Caldwell was already Grand Superintendent over the four Chapters of Pythagoras, Euclid, Fidelity and Etheldreda. Provincial Grand Chapter had been an irregular event for a long time but was by this time settled to meeting every two years. It was Caldwell who introduced the system, in 1907, of holding it on the same day as Provincial Grand Lodge and the idea proved most successful, remaining in use ever since. The new Provincial Grand Master was a familiar and welcome figure to all his flock and when, in April 1901, the Cambridge Graphic published a photograph and a brief biographical sketch it concluded that ‘Colonel Caldwell is persona grata every¬where’! The establishment of St. Audrey, Caldwell and Cantabrigia Lodges, with the two Chapters, Caldwell and St. Wendreda, is tribute to the care with which he nurtured his Province and the steady growth of Freemasonry under his leadership. The contrast with his predecessor could not be sharper, for he never missed a recorded meeting of his Provincial Grand Lodge and was a most welcome and regular visitor in every Lodge of his Province, sharing their celebrations and their ordinary meetings alike.

Matriculating at Corpus Christi in 1861, Caldwell graduated as 10th Wrangler in 1865 and became a Fellow. He served as Bursar and Tutor and was finally appointed Master in 1906. He was Initiated in Isaac Newton University Lodge on May 31st 1869 and became its WM only four years later. He was called to the Bar in 1874 and was a distinguished Lawyer as well as an academic, a soldier and a Mason. He was a Deputy Lieutenant and a Justice of the Peace in both Cambridgeshire and Aberdeenshire, where the University awarded him an Honorary LL.D. in 1895. Cambridge University delayed their own recognition until 1911, when he received an Hon LL.D. from his home patch. He was also an Honorary Fellow of St. John’s College, Manitoba.

In 1892, before he had even settled comfortably to his new Masonic status, Caldwell had two important special meetings of Provincial Grand Lodge in February and May. At the first the Lodge met to mourn for and to agree a message of condolence on the sad death of the Duke of Clarence. The May meeting was a much happier occasion when, after Opening at 1.00pm, the Provincial Grand Lodge marched in procession from the Guildhall to the INUL site in Corn Exchange Street where the Pro Grand Master, the Earl of Lathom, laid the Foundation Stone of the Isaac Newton Masonic Hall in the North East corner of the building, after which the brethren marched back to the Guild¬hall to close the Provincial Grand Lodge. The stone, of pink granite, now stands at the entrance of Freemasons’ Hall in Bateman Street as a reminder of that auspicious day.

The Cambridge News is sometimes accused of getting things wrong in its coverage of local events. Its predecessor the Cambridge Chronicle was no different. The brief report in the Chronicle of May 6th 1892 describes the Provincial Grand Master as ‘Col. Colville’; says that it was the first time the Guildhall had been used for Provincial Grand Lodge since the Duke of St. Albans had been admitted and goes on to quote the Procession order as follows:
‘. . . three Grand Officers bearing the Cornucopia and ewers of wine and oil, the Grand Secretary bearing a plate with the inscription for the Foundation Stone, the President of the Board of General Purposes with mallet, the Grand Registrar bearing the Great Seal, the Senior Grand Warden with the Level, the Junior Grand Warden with the Plumb Rule, the Deputy Grand Master with the Square, the Grand Sword Bearer, the Most Worshipful the Pro Grand Master, the Grand Wardens.

The procession actually closed with the Grand Deacons behind the Pro Grand Master, the Wardens having already passed bearing their ‘instruments of Architecture’. The items were all specially made for use in laying and trying the stone and were handed over) formally to the Architect, Bro. Fawcett, during the ceremony when he was enjoined by the Earl of Lathom to complete the work according to the plan. The brief newspaper item promised a fuller commentary the following week and indeed, the Chronicle of May 13th has not only a very full — and more accurate — report, but also a Leader article on the Craft and the occasion. The Editor says:
The Craft, we know, includes men of all ranks, but none recognise more clearly than the Masons that we must look to our great Universities to supply us with our leaders . . . The figures quoted by the Worshipful Master of the Isaac Newton Lodge when requesting the Pro Grand Master of England to lay the Foundation Stone were, to men unacquainted with life in University towns, startling and the Apollo Lodge in Oxford could, we believe, tell a similar tale.

The figures referred to are the number of Initiates brought into Freemasonry (983) and of Joining members (100 plus) since the forming of the Lodge thirty years before. The Leader also makes much of the happy relationship between Cambridge and Oxford, pointing out that the Grand Master, the Prince of Wales, was at Cambridge and the Pro Grand Master, the Earl of Lathom, at Oxford. Inside on page 8 there is a description of the planned building with dimensions, a detailed account of the ceremony and speeches and of the luncheon afterwards when 116 brethren sat down in the Corn Exchange.

From the reported speeches we discover that A.H. Moyes was so ill that his medical advisers had forbidden him to leave his house. Sadly, the account of the exciting day ends on a very sour note. The Rattee & Kett workmen, on resuming their labours the following morning, found that the top stone had been moved. The phial of coins and the plans which had been ceremoniously interred beneath the stone had been stolen. Remember, the average weekly rate for a farm labourer in our neighbourhood in 1900 was around 11-12 shillings! There was ‘ … no clue as to the perpetrators of the outrage‘ said the newspaper. The coins were replaced and reinterred; that second batch being recovered during the demolition and set in a small glazed frame, in which they are occasionally put out on the table at the Festive Board in INUL.

The following June was a very memorable occasion too – the University, having scored 290 in four hours, enforced the follow-on next day against the Australian Tourists! However, though more than one of the University’s stars, including Ranjitsinhji, were INUL men, it is the Consecration of the Temple, rather than the cricketing triumph, to which we must attend. Again the Cambridge Chronicle of 16th June 1893 gives far more detail than do the Provincial or Lodge Minutes, including an attendance list. On this occasion it was a domestic event, with the Provincial Grand Master and his Provincial team conducting affairs and with the luncheon (at the Lion) being prior to the meeting and the Consecration. Again there was a public procession. At the Consecration many of the Provincial Masons saw the new building for the first time and the effect was stunning. Although at Bateman Street we have those lovely photographs of the Uni¬versity Masonic Hall, they were taken in 1961 not long before its demolition, when its glory was sadly reduced. They cannot really convey the grandeur and particularly the colour and richness of that building at its opening. The great ‘thrones’ for the WM and his wardens and the six foot ebonised pillars, bearing candle holders, were not then in place. They were presented to the Lodge in 1894 by the officers at the next Installation and are now in use by all who use the main Temple at Bateman Street. As the plaudits and mutual congratulations proceeded, Bro.Fawcett formally delivered up the Working Tools which had been entrusted to him at the laying of the foundation stone and the work was declared completed. Unfortunately, I have been unable to trace the Square, level, plumb rule, trowel and maul that were used at the Laying. The Lodge has not managed to preserve them through the move and the demolition. They join the long list of items of Masonic interest, many of which were not just historically but also intrinsically valuable, which have gone astray over the years.

At the regular November meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge that year the expect. Resignation of Moyes, who was desperately ill, was formally received and the Province Grand Master appointed the Revd J.H. Gray, of Queens’ and INUL, as his new Deputy. Caldwell and Gray, who worked together over twenty years until Caldwell’s death, made a powerful team and set themselves to build and develop Freemasonry ir the Province. At that same meeting Col. Caldwell had pointed out ‘eligible districts n Cambridge where new Lodges might be established’. He repeated his urgings at succes¬sive Provincial Meetings and the Deputy took it up. At the festive board in 18% J.H. Gray was very direct, pointing out that the weak areas were Ely, March an; Chatteris. He said he hoped that Bro. Bellars (who was then Mayor of Wisbec and others ‘would lay the foundations of future Lodges’. Caldwell had already said thx he could not believe a Lodge at March would be any detriment to Freemasonry in Wisbech.

Ely was the first to feel the benefit. On 12th August 1898 the brethren of 88 held an emergency meeting and all present signed a petition for the establishing of a new Lodgr at Ely. It was the culmination of several years of urgings from the top, but was in the end a local initiative by four brethren of Ely writing to some twenty-eight knowr Masons of the area. To advise, Oliver Papworth attended the meeting called as a resur of that letter. He was a power in the land, having been Secretary of the Masonic Char. Association since its inception and serving the Province as Provincial Grand Secret, from 1892 until W. Spalding took over in 1904. His work on the benevolent side wad legendary. At the Provincial Lodge of 1895 he was reported as having ‘topped the poll’ in the elections to the Board of Management of the RM Institution for Boys. At did meeting the following year a special resolution was passed unanimously and entered the Minutes saying that the Province expresses warm thanks for the ‘ . . . arduous services he has rendered to the Masonic Charity Association of the Province since its establishment in 1883 and especially congratulates him upon his remarkable success in procuring the election of each and every candidate for the several Masonic Charities who have from time to time been approved and supported by our Masonic Charity Association‘.

W.Bro. Papworth pledged the support of Scientific Lodge which, as the August petiti shows, was duly delivered.

Col. Caldwell drew out the full Provincial team for the Consecration in November the ‘Masonic Rooms’ at Ely. The Masonic Rooms appear to have been a large room and a small ‘waiting room’ at Ely Dispensary, St. Mary’s Street, where the Lodge hired the space at 5gns per year. Following the meeting and an excellent feast which receiv high praise, Madam Ada Kempton ‘electrified the brethren‘ (only by singing, it seems, and Bro. Potts provided ‘much amusement with his phonograph‘. Whatever did th. get up to? At the Provincial meeting of November 1898 (held in mourning for death of the Earl of Lathom) St. Audrey, though it was but six days old, was form represented, apart from the fact that the Prov.G.Sec. was himself the DC of the new Lodge. The Provincial Minutes make no mention of welcome or congratulation, but the new Lodge Secretary, Brother A. Burton, was appointed Prov.G.Pursuivant. At dinner, of course, there was considerable reference to the newcomer both by the Pro¬vincial Grand Master and his Deputy. Revd Gray made much of the ‘Now we are Seven’ aspect but once again pointed out the needs of March and Chatteris. He also quoted the text, in reference to the absence of the Provincial Chaplain, Revd Finch, that ‘he had married a wife and therefore could not come’ so beating Canon Barker to the line by nearly a hundred years! At only its sixth regular meeting St. Audrey Initiated one of the great figures of Victorian Freemasonry in W.W. Covey-Crump, who was cooly and expertly delivering the lecture on the First Tracing Board before he had been two years a Mason and eventually became the historian of much of the Province. The Lodge re-enacted his Initiation, in period dress, in February of 1989 and gave the Province a glimpse of what Masonry had been like for our predecessors.

Those few years around the turn of the century saw historic occasions both gay and tragic. The special Royal Diamond Jubilee meeting at the Albert Hall was attended by five brethren from each Lodge for an occasion not one of them ever forgot. One need not suppose that the breach with the Grand Lodge of Peru (because it saw fit to replace the VSL with the Peruvian Book of Constitutions in its Lodges) affected many of our members in 1898, though most minutes record the letter from Grand Lodge on the subject. Equally over our Cambridgeshire heads would be the re-approval of the same Grand Lodge of Peru when it reversed its decision the following year. However, the collections for or donations to the South African War Fund, made in most Lodges in 1899-90, remind us that many of our brethren were involved in that tragic episode. Then in February 1901 there came the death of the Queen. Grand Lodge held a special meeting to express condolences but individual Lodges were expressly asked not to do so, though the minutes of more than one of our Lodges describe the brethren standing silently in their sorrow. At the Provincial Grand Lodge of 1901 Caldwell pointedly remarked that, for the very first time that any one present could remember, the Toast would be ‘The King and the Craft’. It was drunk with a mixture of gratitude that our Grand Master had assumed the throne so peacefully and remained our Patron and deep sadness and regret for the passing of the old Queen and the old days.

Provincial Meetings continued to be held around the Province; Wisbech in 1899, Corn Exchange Street Masonic Hall in 1900 and 1901, Ely in 1902, back to the Masonic Hall in 1903. INUL that year had held what was practically an additional ‘Provincial’ Lodge by issuing a general invitation to brethren to attend the visit of the Duke of Connaught, when he graciously accepted Honorary membership of the Lodge and presented a portrait of himself. It was very well attended and the Year Book says many brethren were grateful for the opportunity to be present to salute their Grand Master. ‘Provincial’ was at Newmarket in 1904, when the Junior Warden designate sent his apologies for non-attendance. Caldwell announced that he was ready to accept the apologies, know¬ing that the sender was attending the funeral of a brother in Sheffield and he was pleased to invest another member of St. Audrey with the JW’s collar as ‘proxy’ on his behalf.

That does not seem to have become common practice. Although not mentioned in Minutes for that Provincial Meeting, much was made at the Festive board of the event of 1904, the 150th Anniversary of Scientific Lodge.

The Cambridge Daily News of April 16th carried a long and detailed account of the celebrations. The article is headed by a brief history of Freemasonry, contributed Arthur R. Hill, which is filled with those grand old myths which modern schola has been forced to abandon. For example, the article says that:
Experts agree that the Order probably originated in the Greek, Hebrew and Egyptian Mysteries which, no doubt, were derived from similar institutions in still older and forgotten nations. These ‘mysteries’ were introduced into the Roman building guilds and so passed into this country. . .The first Grand Lodge is reported to have been formed at York under Prince Edwin in 287. . .

and so on! The article goes on to give a brief history of Scientific and a sketch of Cambridgeshire Province, enumerating its Lodges and giving brief details of th formations and meeting places. He concludes that
‘It is not possible in an article appearing in a general newspaper to refer to the true inwardness of Freemasonry. An old Masonic Song declares that “The World is in pain, Our secrets to gain”. Whether the world is so curious as this eighteenth century song affirms is open to reasonable doubt, but in any case the world is not likely to gain the secrets of Masonry, whatever knowledge it may obtain, without the true Masonic spirit the extension of which will make for the betterment of mankind and the realisation of the underlying principles of universal religion.’

The News goes on to describe the Lodge meeting (with full attendance list) and exhibition of treasures and Masonic curiosities. Interestingly the records ‘open inspection1 included the minutes of the Initiation of the Duke of Devonshire, as L Cavendish, in 1853 and Sir John Gorst in 1855. The Westminster Gazette carried a sh article under ‘Notes of the Day’ picking this up and pointing out that His Grace currently the Chancellor of the University and Sir John one of the University Mem of Parliament. The Gazette says
‘and old time politicians will not be the less interested in this celebration because “Honest Jack Althorp” of Reform bill fame, like the Duke of Devonshire, his special successor in public esteem for the same virtue today, was an initiate of “88”.’

The News also carries a long account of the service held in Great St. Mary’s — where even the officiating clergy wore their regalia over their surplices – printing the R W. Covey-Crump’s sermon apparently verbatim. The banquet held at the Lion is given equally detailed coverage, the menu being extensive though perhaps less extrav; than that of the Centenary dinner! 10/6d for members, lgn. for visitors. Unfortuna’ Col. Caldwell was unable to be present, having been forced to take his son to Mediterranean for health reasons. The enormous length and candour of the coverage the local newspaper of 1904 must make us think yet again about ‘the spirit of openn requested by our present Grand Master. The Grand Lodge Circular of April 22nd 1903 had been read in Lodge the previous October, heavily criticising some recent reporting of Masonic functions and forbidding any such publicity without permission, so Hill must have cleared his contributions with the authorities.

The career of the Provincial Grand Master reached a pinnacle in 1906 when he became Master of Corpus Christi College. His Province delighted in his advancement and made a handsome presentation to him in the form of an album, bound in antique parchment, on the frontispiece of which the ‘arms’ and title of Provincial Grand Lodge were embla¬zoned, supported by the arms of the University and the City. Inside, on two leaves of vellum, was an illuminated address signed by the current Provincial Officers and by the WM, Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary of all the Lodges of the Province. The whole was reputed to form a very fine example of the illuminator’s art but I have been unable to locate it either at Grand Lodge or at the college and it is probably a family treasure. The presentation was made at Brookside, Col. Caldwell’s home, by the Deputy, John Gray, with the Provincial Treasurer and Secretary and the Mayor of Cambridge, W.Bro. W. Durnford, PProvSGD, whose names and titles were fully recorded in the press coverage of the event.

Delighted as he was by that expression of regard from his Province, Col. Caldwell was that Autumn to be even better rewarded by the filling of one of those ‘eligible gaps’ in his Province that he and his Deputy had long been pointing out. In July a meeting of brethren in March decided to approach Lodge 809 for support in forming a Lodge. It seems that the actual driving force was a brother Edward Wells, son of the Rector of St. John’s in March who, to avoid his father’s determination that he should be a priest of the Church of England and being equally determined that he would not, had fled to Australia. Returning as a Mason around 1905 he was the instigator of that crucial meet¬ing. They wrote to 809 and a special meeting of PMs of that Lodge was held in August, attended by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Secretary. The direct result was the motion passed at the 270th regular meeting (October) of United Good Fellowship in support of the petition for a new Lodge at March to be known as the Caldwell Lodge. Can there be, for a Provincial Grand Master, any greater honour and pleasure than to consecrate a Lodge in his Province, in a place where he has long wished for a Lodge to be established and which is to carry his name? Col. Caldwell did this on 31st January 1907. Caldwell No. 3201 was the first of the five Lodges of Cambridgeshire Province to commemorate the name of a Provincial Grand Master, although the Royal Arch Chapter attached to St. Audrey in Ely had been Consecrated by and as ‘Caldwell’ in October, only three months earlier. A sure source of confusion to future generations of Provincial Masons! The variation in working that Caldwell Lodge prizes is said to have been introduced by the original Bro. Wells, who considered the Australian working with which he was familiar to be clearer and more readily appreciated by candidates. A rather unkind story was told to me concerning this brother. As Master Elect he announced that he wished to introduce the new working, to which the DC refused to agree. ‘Never, while I’m DC!’ he is reputed to have said. ‘Very well then.’

You won’t be.’ was the response. And, come Installation, he wasn’t. At the Provincial meeting at the end of the year, where Caldwell Lodge first appeared in the Roll of Lodges, the Provincial Grand Master was presented with an album containing what are described as ‘permanent’ photographs of the Charters or Warrants of all his eight Lodges. Frederick Margetson Rushmore, then WM of Isaac Newton, made the presentation on behalf of the Province. Caldwell seemed delighted with the gift.

The year 1907 was the year Quatuor Coronati Lodge visited Ely as part of their annual summer outing. Several Lodges had the habit of taking a summer outing in those days. It seems it was the preferred alternative to the modern Ladies’ Night. 441 in particular had a regular and often complex outing, sometimes booking special trains. In 1907 however QC Lodge, eighty odd strong, visited Bury St. Edmunds for the Pageant and on their second day had a trip to Ely, where they toured the cathedral and were entertained by the brethren of St. Audrey. The minutes of 2727 record the cost of the entertainment! Two years later Cambridge itself was the venue. The members were met at Cambridge Station by a distinguished committee including the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and ProvGSecretary and spent a wonderful four days. From Cambridge, on July 1st, they went by railway to Wisbech where they were received by the WM of 809, Bro. Tidnam, who provided conveyances to tour the town. At the parish church, after the vicar had shown them round, they were presented with an illuminated address of welcome from the Wisbech brethren followed by a fine lunch at the Rose and Crown. The afternoon was spent in visiting the three great churches built along the Roman flood protection wall, at Walsoken, West Walton and Walpole St. Peter (where Canon Barker was to serve so happily in the late 1970s and early eighties). They toured Cambridge the next day (tea at Queens’ College with the Deputy) and attended the Masonic Hall in the evening where, according to the report in the Transactions:
the Isaac Newton University Lodge No. 859 had, at much personal inconvenience to Officers and members (it being then the vacation) summoned an Emergency Meeting, the business being to ballot for the Duke of Devonshire, Provincial Grand Master of Derbyshire and formerly of the Lodge, as an Honorary Member and to work the Third degree with two candidates. As is customary, members wore knee breeches and stockings, the Officers adding a garter of light blue and the ritual was given with a near approach to perfection which is perhaps only possible under the exceptional conditions of a University Lodge
The writer expressed his amusement that ‘time immemorial’ working should be associ¬ated with a Lodge that was consecrated only so recently as 1861! They were dined splendidly in Downing College. On the evening of July 4th, after a last tour as indi¬viduals with the friends they had acquired during the visit, the visitors left Cambridge having enjoyed a most successful holiday.

The month after the Consecration of Caldwell Lodge, our Provincial Grand Master had another special experience when his son, Keith Farquahar Townley Caldwell, was Initiated in INUL. The Provincial Grand Master took the chair of his own Lodge to Initiate his son and the principal guest was the Deputy Grand Master. Six months afterwards the Masonic Hall was the venue for an informal meeting of Freemasonsattending the International Esperanto Conference which was being held in the tov Much speechifying, it appears, in both English and Esperanto. Conferences then, now, were not unusual in this city and our brethren would often extend hospitality visiting members of the fraternity. In 1899 at the end of the Century, the Natio Union of Teachers held its annual Easter Conference here. I happen to have a copy that Conference souvenir booklet because my own grandmother was, I believe, delegate from Lancashire. Although as ardently feminist as a Victorian Lady mi decently be she did not, of course, attend the meeting of 441 when the brethren of Lodge offered a general invitation to delegate Freemasons to attend their regular me ing on April 3rd. A ‘Masonic Banquet’ appears under that date openly as an item the Conference Calendar. The formality of the minutes cannot quite conceal the fr surprise of the Brethren of 441 at the success of the invitation! Sixty-two delegates r up the offer to attend the Lodge and 105 brethren sat down to dine together. At Jubilee Church Congress in 1910, Freemasonry went one better and Caldwell held special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge at Trinity Hall on September 28th. Masonic Service was planned at King’s and a grand procession was organised betw Trinity Hall and King’s Chapel. The Lodges processed in order behind their respec banners, headed by 2727 and the rear brought up by 88, with the Provincial Offic following and Caldwell with his Deacons at the tail of the long procession. A number distinguished clergy took part, the first lesson being read by the Bishop of Thetford the sermon given by the Dean of Hereford, Provincial Grand Master of Herefordsl At dinner that evening Col. Caldwell was formally thanked by the visitors for arran a Masonic service for the benefit of the Church Congress.

Wisbech was, in 1910, busy with its own Golden Jubilee. Again a Church service, a and a Reception formed the basis of the celebrations. The Provincial hierarchy attend while Frederick Foakes-Jackson, Grand Chaplain and Grand Scribe N in 1908, preac’ the sermon and the ‘brilliant Reception at the Town Hall after the meeting’ provided largely at the expense of the generous WM, Bro. Tidnam and his lady. Th daughters provided a ‘Concert Party’ entertainment. The Isaac Newton Jubilee celeb tions naturally followed close on their heels, with the Pro Grand Master, Lord Amp and the Deputy Grand Master visiting. A new Lodge was in the air however and debated for some considerable time before it was once again Scientific that submi the Petition. The Lodge was to be in Cambridge town and to be called Cantab-The Minutes of Scientific Lodge make no mention of any formal resolution to effect but on April 10th 1911, Oliver Papworth did report that the ‘proposed Lodge in Cambridge’ had asked permission to borrow the Lodge furnishings owned 88. The resolution was formally recorded and voted on at the next meeting when members agreed to lend their furnishings for a period of one year. Cantabrigia Lo with 36 Founders, became the ninth Lodge of the Province and at the Festive B Canon Gray made a strong appeal for Lodges to be developed in order to reduce time taken from Initiation to useful office within the Lodge and for the active involve¬ment of more brethren. His concern about interest being killed offby waiting is a theme often repeated in the Province over the succeeding years. Both Caldwell and Gray were left to continue harping on the Masonic wilderness at Chatteris. Caldwell did not see that particular ‘eligible gap’ filled.

On 8th September 1914, by command of the Provincial Grand Master, William Spalding prepared a letter of sober appeal to the WMs in the Province, headed ‘THE WAR’. In it he quotes the Resolution passed by Grand Lodge on September 2nd and goes on to say:
The R.W.P.G.M., knowing full well the generous and charitable disposition of the Fraternity in our little Province, makes no suggestion as to the amount of the contribution which should be made by each Lodge (an amount which will necessarily vary according to circumstances) but he does suggest that whatever is given should be paid in the name of the Lodge making the donation to the local Branch of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’ National Relief Fund.

Accompanying that message was a last minute addition. One can almost feel the cold shock represented by the simple black edged note, dated that same 8th September, which Bro Spalding was forced to prepare and to include with each copy of the appeal sent out. It read:
Dear W.M.,
I was just sending out the accompanying letter, by command of the R.W.P.G.M., when I received a telegram stating that Col. Caldwell died this morning as a result of injuries received in a motor accident yesterday.

Not only was the whole Province cast into genuine sorrow, but Royal Arch Chapters throughout England were ordered into mourning by Supreme Grand Chapter for, as well as finding time to be a most conscientious and responsible Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent, Robert Townley Caldwell had been appointed 3rd Grand Principal in 1909. Truly there were giants in the land.

Extract from “Cambridgeshire Encompassed” by kind permission of W.Bro. Jim Whitehead