George Robey performed the Mayor of
Mudcumdyke, Charlie Whittle appeared in
Variety’s Garden Party and Harry Claff led
the singing of the National Anthem. Also
on the bill was Albert Le Fre.
George Robey - Prime Minister of Mirth
In 1905 a group of artistes and musicians
founded a Lodge which was destined
to become one of the best known in
Freemasonry – Chelsea Lodge No.3098 –
which celebrates its centenary at Freemasons’
Hall, London, on 20 May.
Descended in lineage from Lion and
Lamb Lodge No.192, it was consecrated in
1789 through five generations, and Chelsea
Lodge was consecrated on 19 May 1905.
Wolfe Lyon, Master of Earl’s Court
No.2765, realised many members of the
theatrical profession were enthusiastic
Freemasons, but their professional duties
prevented them taking an active part in
He therefore set about forming a new
Lodge for their particular benefit, timed
to meet in the afternoon so that the work
could be finished before evening duties
called them away.
Chelsea Palace were approached with
a view to using of their handsome board
rooms to hold Lodge meetings, and
permission being granted, a petition was
duly presented to the Duke of Connaught,
Grand Master, signed by 34 brethren.
These founders came from Earl’s Court
2765, Asaph 1319, Liverpool Dramatic 1609,
St Luke’s 144, Lodge Italia 2687, Orpheus
1706, Camden 704, Kennington 1381,
Brownrigg 1638, Cannon 1539, Emblematic
1321, Blackwater 1977, Becontree 1288,
Pimilico 1772, Lodge of Light 2721 and
The professions of the founders included
theatrical directors and managers, music
hall artistes, concert and music hall agents,
comedians, music directors, stage managers, a
cinematographer and a theatrical upholsterer.
Arguably the two most famous founders
were George Robey and George Mozart.
Robey, ‘The Prime Minister of Mirth’,
was one of the most phenomenally
successful of music hall comedians.
He received a knighthood in 1954
and lived to the age of 85.
George Mozart was one of the finest
character comedians and pantomime artistes,
topping bills at all major halls for nearly 30
years. The Times described him as ‘a short,
sturdy, dapper, monkey-faced little man,
bouncing with energy.’
Chelsea Lodge was consecrated by
Sir Edward Letchworth, Grand Secretary.
At the completion of the ceremony James
W. Mathews was installed as Chelsea’s
Over the last 100 years, Chelsea Lodge
has maintained its show business
membership. Some 1,200 brethren from
the world of entertainment have worked
in music hall, variety, circus, pantomime,
comedy, magic, ventriloquism, silent films
and ‘talkies’, cinema, radio and television.
Each year on television the Royal
Command Performance is transmitted
alternately by BBC and ITV. The first was
staged at the Palace Theatre, London on
1 July 1912 in front of King George V
and Queen Mary. Members of Chelsea
Lodge took part.
Over the years many members of Chelsea
Lodge have appeared in the Royal Variety
Performance, including Talbot O’Farrell,
Wee Georgie Wood, Bud Flanagan,
George Ganjou, Sandy Powell, Leslie
Sarony, Lupino Lane, Nat Jackley, Reg
Dixon, Peter Sellers, Arthur English, Alfred
Marks, Bernard Bresslaw, Edmundo Ros,
Joe Loss, Billy Dainty, Bob Monkhouse,
Roger De Courcey, Jim Davidson and
Don Smoothey, to name but a few.
The proceeds of Royal Variety
Performances are specially arranged in aid
of the Entertainment Artistes’ Benevolent
Fund, which maintains Brinsworth House,
opened in 1911 for retired performers of what
was then the variety and music hall profession.
Today, a number of Chelsea members
help to administer this fund including
Laurie Mansfield (President), Peter Prichard
(Chairman), Ray Donn (Treasurer and
100th Master of Chelsea 2004–2005) and
Peter Elliott, Executive Administrator
(Immediate Past Master).
Looking back over the life of the Lodge,
members must feel satisfied with what they
and their predecessors have achieved. If all
the founders had lived to see the meetings
today of the Lodge they started, they would
not have been disappointed.
It will be the present endeavour to ensure
that, when future generations look back,
they will also think well of those who are
now carrying on the work so well begun
by the founders 100 years ago.
That’s Entertainment, the story of Chelsea Lodge,
will be published on 20 May, with over 300 pages
of photographs and biographies. Cost: £15 plus
postage and packing. More details from the author
Keith Skues, MBE AE is a joining member of
Chelsea Lodge, PM Harringay 2763 and currently
Immediate Past Master of Sandringham 9751.
Web site created by Mark Griffin