On the evening of January 20th. 2014, the Feltmakers’ Masonic Lodge invited members of the Feltmakers Livery to join them at their new home, the historic Charterhouse on the north edge of Charterhouse Square, in Smithfield.
We were asked to arrive at 6.00 pm, entered through the gateway direct from the square and were led through the courtyard to the reception area and to a room where tea and coffee was provided, to wait while the Lodge meeting took place in the nearby Great Chamber.
Then we were summoned to join our Lodge colleagues to hear an interesting and entertaining short talk about Charterhouse from its current Master, Brigadier Charlie Hobson OBE (RM). The oldest part of the buildings dates from 1371 when a Carthusian monastery was founded on this site. Many changes and additions have been made since then, and indeed much damage was done during World War II, which has now been carefully repaired and restored. The buildings were the original home of Charterhouse school, but in 1872, this moved out of London to its present site in Surrey. We were divided into two parties and each led on a tour of the building, one group led by Brigadier Hobson and the other by Stephen Green.
We saw the Chapel with its ornate tomb of Thomas Sutton, whose fortune, on his death in 1611, endowed a hospital at Charterhouse, together with a school and chapel.
We also saw the remains of a Monk’s cell with an opening to the Cloister, through which the food was passed to the monks, but the opening had a bend in it, so that members of this silent order were not tempted to communicate through it.
Then we assembled in the old library for drinks followed by an excellent dinner.
The guests noted some variations to the procedures for a Livery dinner, such as the gavel banging near the Worshipful Master of the Lodge at the top table being echoed one after the other by each of the two Lodge members seated at the ends of the arms of the u-shaped dining table format. I asked why it was called a ‘White Table’ evening and was told that normally the tables would not be covered by white tablecloths for Lodge dining, but were always laid in this way when guests including ladies, were invited.
The Worshipful Master of the Lodge, Worshipful Brother Derek Woods, proposed toasts to the Queen and the Craft, to the Most Worshipful The Grand Master His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, and then he proposed a toast to the guests, to which Simon Bartley, Master of the Feltmakers responded.
A fascinating evening, not only as it provided the guests with a glimpse of the life of the Lodge, a taste of their excellent hospitality, but also an appreciation of their wonderful new home, The Charterhouse.