Caledonian History

The history of the Caledonian Lodge is both fascinating and tantalising. Caledonian Imagery

We also have beautiful, unique and highly prized artefacts. Some of the detail – particularly that concerning the Lodge’s special charity, the Royal Masonic School for Girls, which the Lodge helped to found and sustain, gives revealing insight into the truly hands-on nature of this support in its early years.

In contrast to this wealth of intriguing detail, the destruction of some of the crucial records and artefacts of the lodge due to fire, seizure by bailiffs and even bombing during the Second World War means that we will probably never be able to answer with confidence some of the most interesting questions about the development of the Lodge.

Fire at the George and Vulture
The first setback to the endeavours of any historian of the Lodge was the destruction of its early records in a fire at the George & Vulture, Cornhill, where it met between 1831 and 1845. Surviving minute books only go back as far as 1814 – missing out probably the most interesting but most turbulent period in the relationship between the Grand Lodge of England and the Premier Grand Lodge (the Antients and the Moderns) and their eventual unification.

Nevertheless, the lodge and some of its members were prominent and in the public eye so we are fortunate to be able to obtain some of the missing detail from Grand Lodge records; from contemporary biographies and records; and from other material.

The Caledonian 134 Timeline


Petition to the Grand Lodge of Scotland

It is well documented that in 1762 some Scottish Brethren from Edinburgh petitioned the Grand Lodge of Scotland on the 8th. February 1763 for a warrant to open a Lodge in London.

This was refused “lest by complying they might interfere with the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge” and instead the Brethren were recommended to the “Grand Lodge of England”, more familiarly” known as the ‘Antients’, with whom the Scottish Grand Lodge was in amicable correspondence.

Antient Grand Lodge Dispensation to ‘make masons’

The rivalry between the ‘Antients’ and the ‘Moderns’, as the Premier English Grand Lodge were styled, was exceptionally keen and it is a reasonable supposition that the former were prompt to take advantage of this opportunity of adding to their strength.

On 2nd March 1763 The Antient Grand Lodge granted Bro. Robert Lockhead a dispensation for a period of thirty days to make masons at the sign of the White Hart in the Strand. The lodge was then duly constituted as Atholl 111 by the Officers of the Antient Grand Lodge on 20 April 1763 at the White Hart.

Some twenty-nine Brethren were registered while the Lodge was working under the Antient’s Constitution.

William Preston – Second Initiate/Petition to the Premier or Modern Grand Lodge

The second initiate under the dispensation at the White Hart was William Preston, the famous author of “Illustrations of Masonry”.

Shortly after his initiation the warrant was allowed to lapse or was abandoned by mutual consent and Preston, together with other members of the former Atholl Lodge acquiesced with the desire of the Brethren, petitioned the Premier or Modern Grand Lodge for a constitution with the following result in Preston’s own words:-

“Lord Blayney, at that time Grand Master, readily acquiesced with the desire of the Brethren (to join the Moderns) and the Lodge was soon after constituted a second time in ample form by the name of the Caledonian Lodge, the ceremonies observed, and the numerous assembly of respectable Brethren who attended the Grand Officers on this occasion must be long remembered to the honour of the Lodge”.


The term “constituted for a second time” could well have special significance but it is worth noting that William Preston was an activist (later forming his own Grand Lodge!!) and was skilled with words and was known to present a very personal slant in some of his writings!

William Preston had, at this time, already 3 Seal of the “Antients” Grand Lodge or “The Grand Lodge of the Most Ancient and Honourable Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons”, also informally called the “Atholl Grand Lodge”, Founded 1751 Seal of the “Moderns” Grand Lodge or “The Premier Grand Lodge of England”, Founded 1717 4 joined another Lodge under the Moderns and he may well have been keen to emphasise that the Caledonian was not a new Lodge but that this was, in effect, a renaming and switching of allegiance of Atholl 111 from the Ancient Grand Lodge (the Antients) to the Premier Grand Lodge of England (the Moderns).

This is a period for which the minutes of Atholl 111 and of the subsequent Caledonian Lodge might have been so valuable to the understanding of exactly what did take place and how many members were involved in the decision and eventual transition to Caledonian Lodge.

The reconstitution took place on 15 November 1764 and the Lodge was, at that time, given the number 325. In subsequent years Lodges on the register of Grand Lodge were renumbered some five times, the Caledonian being successively 263, 180, 218, 156 and in 1863 being given its present number 134.

Revision of the Date of Constitution

Following the (re-)Constitution of the Caledonian Lodge, the members seemed content to consider its foundation to have been in 1764 as the Lodge celebrated its Centenary in 1864 and its Bi-Centenary in 1964. It was only in the early 1990’s that the Lodge Historian, W Bro Alan Trotter, queried this interpretation with V W Bro John Hamill, the United Grand Lodge historical authority.

John Hamill determined that the founders of the Caledonian Lodge were all members of Atholl Lodge No. 111, meeting at the Horn Tavern in Fleet Street, which had previously been warranted by the rival Antients Grand Lodge on 20th April 1763. He therefore decided that the lodge had basically switched allegiances from one Grand Lodge to another, so it was fair to say that they were originally warranted in 1763 and he confirmed that the tercentenary could be celebrated in 2063.

As indicated earlier, much of the early history of the Lodge is lost because of the destruction of minute books referred to. However, a few ‘incidents’ are well recorded!

Revision of the Date of Constitution

Following the (re-)Constitution of the Caledonian Lodge, the members seemed content to consider its foundation to have been in 1764 as the Lodge celebrated its Centenary in 1864 and its Bi-Centenary in 1964.

It was only in the early 1990’s that the Lodge Historian, W Bro Alan Trotter, queried this interpretation with V W Bro John Hamill, the United Grand Lodge historical authority. 5 John Hamill determined that the founders of the Caledonian Lodge were all members of Atholl Lodge No. 111, meeting at the Horn Tavern in Fleet Street, which had previously been warranted by the rival Antients Grand Lodge on 20th April 1763.

He therefore decided that the lodge had basically switched allegiances from one Grand Lodge to another, so it was fair to say that they were originally warranted in 1763 and he confirmed that the tercentenary could be celebrated in 2063.

As indicated earlier, much of the early history of the Lodge is lost because of the destruction of minute books referred to. However, a few ‘incidents’ are well recorded!

Caledonian Lodge rebels against Incorporation of the Society

In 1768 the Grand Master, Duke of Beaufort, resolved to have the Society incorporated, which was objected to by a number of Lodges including the Caledonian Lodge which went further and entered a caveat against Grand Lodge at the office of the Attorney General.

This action invited an angry response from Grand Lodge and the threat of erasure – but the Lodge was forgiven ~ and the threatened erasure was avoided only after an apology and withdrawal of the caveat.

Hot Water

In 1770, the Lodge was again in hot water. Brother Muller was ordered to retire from the committee of charity, which he attended as Master of the Caledonian Lodge, because the Lodge had not contributed to the general charity for 12 months.

He reappeared wearing the jewel of Master of the Stewards Lodge, and claiming admission as Master of the Stewards Lodge and was forcibly ejected and Bro. A. Ten Broeke, the actual Master of the Stewards Lodge, was refused readmission because he had lent his jewel to Muller who was subsequently expelled from the Society.
1771 - 1777

Brother Ten Broeke expelled

The letter was passed to Grand Lodge by the Provincial Grand Master with the result that on the 26th April 1771 Brother Ten Broeke, P.M., together with the two Wardens and the Secretary were expelled the Society “for having in a most illiberal and unjust manner traduced the Grand Lodge in a letter signed by them which reflected upon the proceedings of Grand Lodge in the grossest terms and tended to render its authority contemptible and ineffectual”.

Anthony Ten Broeke and John Vestenburg, the Senior Warden, subsequently made apologies and were re-instated in 1777.

Letter from Caledonian Lodge to Grand Master of the Austrian Netherlands

Three years later the Lodge renewed its protest over the threatened incorporation - this time by way of a letter to the Provincial Grand Master of the Austrian Netherlands asking his disapproval of the plan of incorporation. It can only be assumed from the great number of Dutch sounding names among the early membership of the Lodge that ties existed with the Netherlands which would explain this round-about approach to Grand Lodge.
1780 - 1785

Brother Ten Broeke and Shakespear Lodge

After Bro. Ten Broeke’s reinstatement, his interest in the Craft continued, and even increased, with an interest in other Lodges and masonic charity, as the following particulars of his career from Bro. Ebblewhites “History of the Shakespear Lodge” show:

“Ten Broeke, Anthony , Esq., New Caledonian Lodge, No. 134, Grand Steward for another Lodge, 1765, joined Shakespear Lodge 25th Oct., 1780, Master, 1783 & 1784. Resigned Jan. 12, 1785.

A member of the Committee of the·R.M.I. Girls, 179I. As Governor of that Charity he was present at Freemasons’ Hall in I801.”

Anthony Ten Broeke – One of the Founders of what became Royal Masonic School for Girls 1788

In fact, Anthony Ten Broeke’s association with what was later to become the Royal Masonic School for Girls commenced somewhat earlier.

He was a Founder member of the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School in 1788, and his earlier membership of the Shakespear Lodge may have contributed to this interest and involvement because two of the Lodges which appear to have contributed most to the establishment and support of the school in its early years were the Caledonian and the Shakespear Lodges; and the two individuals, who appear to have contributed most in time and commitment to the new school were Anthony Ten Broeke and William Forssteen (apart from Chevalier Ruspini, himself).

William Forssteen was a Master of Shakespear Lodge for a surprising total of 23 years and was Treasurer of the Girls’ School for many years. The Caledonian Lodge’s commitment to the Girls’ School was further confirmed in 1791 when the Lodge passed a resolution that, “In future all Masons made in this Lodge shall pay five shilling towards the aid and support of the Girls School, and that, in addition to the twenty guineas by this Lodge subscribed, an annual subscription will be paid”.

This practice was adopted by the craft in general which led to the finances of the Girls School being taken over by Grand Lodge, and this was in due course extended to the other institutions.

Anthony Ten Broeke Dies

Anthony Ten Broeke died in 1812 at the grand age of 78 after almost 50 years as a member of the Caledonian Lodge. Only months before this he had been sitting on one of the Committees of the Girls’ School! His three sons, James, John and William, were all members of the Caledonian Lodge.

He began a virtual Masonic dynasty, as there have been freemasons in every generation since – culminating in three direct descendants in the Lodge in the year of its 250th anniversary – Brian Watson (joining member 2004, WM 2009), Paul Tweedale (initiated 2009) and Graham Anthony Ten Broeke (joining Member 2010, WM in its Centenary Year).

Act of Union between Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges

On the 25th November 1813, probably the most significant event in the History of English Freemasonry took place – the ending of the bitter and protracted struggle between the Antient and Modern Grand Lodges by the signing of the Articles of Union by the Duke of Kent (Grand Master of the ‘Antients’) and his brother, the Duke of Sussex (Grand Master of the ‘Moderns’).

In order to smooth the process of merging between these two Grand Lodges, nine Master Masons or Past Masters were appointed from each Constitution with a warrant to hold a lodge under the title of the Lodge of Reconciliation.

It is recorded that the Caledonian Lodge had the honour to be represented, by Bro. T. Bell, his name appearing in the list of the nine Brethren appointed by the Duke of Sussex. So, through one of its members, the Caledonian Lodge, which had been born out of the rivalry and disputes between the “Antients” and the “Moderns”, was now able to make an important contribution to the reconciliation between these Grand Lodges.

Bailiffs remove Caledonian jewels and furniture

Following the earlier loss of minutes of the lodge, another calamity befell the lodge in 1854. The landlord of the ‘George and Vulture’ in Cornhill, in the City of London, where the Lodge held its meetings at the time, was the subject of a distress warrant for rent, and the bailiffs, executing the Order, swooped down on the premises and seized all the furniture and jewels belonging to the Caledonian and other Lodges.

The jewels were eventually recovered, on payment of £24 by the Lodge, but the furniture was never traced. This may have been when the original Warrant of the Lodge was lost – for in 1857 a Warrant of Confirmation was petitioned for, and granted to replace the missing Warrant.

Joshua Nunn initiated

In purely masonic terms, probably the most famous initiate of the Lodge was Joshua Nunn. He was initiated in 1857 and became WM in 1863 and he remained an active member of the Caledonian Lodge until his death – in addition to his many interests and associations with other Lodges.

He was the son of a grocer who became Vice-Consul General of the United States of America. His Masonic career was equally spectacular, being honoured with the highest ranks and positions in the many orders with which he was involved and having founded a huge number of Lodges, Chapters and other masonic units including the Joshua Nunn Lodge No. 2154 of which he was the first WM.

Interestingly, Joshua Nunn served as a Trustee and on the Audit Committee and on the House Committee for the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls – continuing the tradition handed down by Anthony Ten Broeke and his sons.

Centenary Celebrations

The centenary celebrations of the Lodge were held at the London Tavern on 15 November 1864. The festive board was sumptuous and the programme was meticulously developed with words and music written expressly for the occasion by Joshua Nunn and several others including the Provincial Grand Organist for Buckinghamshire and four masonic vocalists from St. Georges Chapel, Windsor, Westminster Abbey and the Chapel Royal!

(Sir) Edward Clarke initiated

In 1871, Edward Clarke was initiated into the Lodge. He became Sir Edward Clarke QC and gained national fame for his brilliant advocacy in notorious murder trials – as well as his representation of Oscar Wilde in his disastrous prosecution of the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. The Sir Edward Clarke Lodge No. 360 was founded in his name in 1912.

Although he resigned from Caledonian Lodge in 1881 on account of his legal and Parliamentary work, he was elected an honorary member in 1920 but infirmity prevented him from visiting the lodge.

Caledonian Chapter founded

In 1872, the Caledonian Lodge embraced Royal Arch Masonry when the Caledonian Chapter was founded. The founders included Joshua Nunn who became its inaugural First Principal. It is interesting to note that Lodge meetings during the second century of the Lodge were generally speaking opulent, perhaps even extravagant! Full evening dress was worn at all meetings – followed by a banquet consisting of 11 courses with wines, coffee and cigars – for an inclusive price of twelve shillings and sixpence!!

Lodge Furniture destroyed by Enemy Action

Having lost its furniture to the bailiffs serving a distress warrant on their landlord in 1854, the Lodge was again afflicted by the loss of its furniture in 1941 due to enemy action when a bomb destroyed the London Tavern where the Lodge then met. By a stroke of luck, though, the Minute books and the invaluable Silver Collars worn by the Master, Wardens, Treasurer and Secretary were all saved – these having been stored elsewhere.

Visit of Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orient of the Netherlands

Following the end of the Second World War and in keeping with the Lodges’ early Dutch connection, W. Bro. W.B.I. Hofman, Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Orient of the Netherlands, visited the Lodge on the 13th February 1948.

W. Bro. Hofman related some of the cruel and harsh vicissitudes suffered by the general population and especially Freemasons who were hunted down under the Nazi occupation. Following W. Bro. Hofman’s visit, the Lodge presented a set of Jewels to his Lodge “Nos. Vinxit Libertas No.69 (Dutch Constitution)”, which were greatly appreciated.

W. Bro. Hofman wrote to say how touched he was by his visit, to use his words, “That Masonry ancient as it is, has lost nothing of its liveliness and strength and will prove again and again one of the mightiest barriers against barbarism, as it has done on several previous occasions”.

Bi-Centenary Celebrations

On 3rd December 1964, the Lodge celebrated its Bi-Centenary in a most opulent manner. In the afternoon, senior members of the Lodge were invited to take tea with the Lord Mayor of London, Sir James Miller (the only Lord Mayor of London who had previously served as Lord Provost of Edinburgh).

In the evening, the Lodge then celebrated its Bi-Centenary at the Guildhall. The Grand Master, the Earl of Scarborough, with a retinue of Acting Grand Lodge Officers attended the Lodge meeting held in the Crypt and the Banquet then followed in the Livery Hall.

Decline in Membership

At its bi-centenary, the Lodge had almost 60 members; somewhat exceeding the limit of 32 members which had been resolved in 1858!! In recent years, though, the membership had drifted in a downward direction, keeping company with many other Lodges, until in 1983 the membership was down to 15 and there were thoughts of becoming a more ‘elite’ Lodge attached to a City Livery Company.

Nothing came of this but by 2004, real thought was once again being given to handing in its warrant. At the time serious consideration was being given to merging the membership with the William Preston Lodge No. 766.

Although this might have seemed somewhat fitting, because William Preston had been an initiate of the Atholl 111/Caledonian Lodge, it would have been a sad conclusion to the history of a Lodge which had made such a huge contribution to freemasonry in general, as well as to the Royal Masonic School for Girls.
1964 - 2016


Fortunately, just in time, a recovery was brought about through the efforts of VW Bro Russell Gotham. The story is a bit complicated but, at the time, management of Metropolitan Masonry was devolved to 10 Group Chairman.

The Chairman of one of these Groups, VW Bro. Russell Gotham (Albert Group), felt so strongly that such an old and distinguished Lodge should not be allowed to reach the point of handing in its Warrant that, with the agreement of VWBro Keith Smith, the Chairman of the Kent Group (which included Caledonian), he devised a plan to prevent this.

Part of the Plan was to use the Caledonian Lodge as the ‘communication lodge’ for the Albert Group. To which end, Russell Gotham encouraged Grand Officers reporting to him to join the Lodge. At the same time, Metropolitan Grand Lodge was in the process of doing something similar and turning the Britannic Lodge No. 33 (an even older lodge) into the ‘Executive Lodge’ for Metropolitan Grand Lodge.

The consequence of this was that the previously existing members of Britannic Lodge were seeking a new home, which the Caledonian Lodge was only too happy to offer.

As a result of this, in April 2005, 11 joining members were welcomed into Caledonian Lodge, including at least 5 Grand Officers and, as it happened, the author, a descendant of Anthony Ten Broeke who had heard of the impending demise of the Lodge and was anxious to lend his support. With the influx of Britannic Lodge members, Caledonian Lodge had a total of 22 joining members in the years 2005/2006, including 8 Grand Officers – an impressive injection of members if not a record!

In the end other changes were taking place to the Group structure; the Albert Group ‘communication lodge’, as such, didn’t take off but, although some of the joining Grand Officers referred to have since left, this rapid boost to the Membership of the Lodge was enough to kick start its recovery. In its 250th year the Lodge now has 31 members including 4 young initiates who have not yet passed through the Chair. The future is looking promising.