The History of the Lodge would be incomplete without a review of some of the interesting items in the possession of the Lodge. Until 1911, the Office-Bearers wore cellarette adorned by the symbols of their offices. However, in that year, it was agreed to purchase chains and stars attached to them. The total cost of these new items of regalia was £18-10-0.
The most distinctive feature of all of the regalia is without question the Master’s Chain. It has throughout the years aroused comment, interest and admiration in many Lodges. Consequently, it is thought fit to devote a considerable part of this chapter to it.
The Master’s Chain was informally presented by James D. McEwan in 1901. At the regular meeting on 26th September, 1901, the I.P.M. Bro. McBurney proposed a vote of thanks ‘to our beloved R.W.M. for the magnificent gift of a Jewelled and Golden Collar or Chain of Office’. The Chain was designed by Bro. McEwan and a very detailed description of the Chain as it looked in 1901 appears in the minutes. Such is the peculiar and beautiful nature of it that it is worthwhile to include the extract:
‘The beautiful Jewel consists of a series of 25 alternate stars and oval medallions. The stars number 12, each of 5 rays, fully an inch and a quarter from point to point, studded in the centre with a topaz. There are 13 oviform plain surface medallions, with a little ball projecting from each of their four sides, clasped in the centre by another medallion, a little larger than the others, emblazoned with the armorial bearings of the Burgh of Partick, in enamel, and ornamented by a spray of Scotch thistles, the whole held together by double chain of small links. Suspended by two small chains of 7 links is a magnificent intaglis of Saint John, cut or engraved upon a fine translucent onyx of paled hue, 23/4 inches in diameter, framed in a pale gold frame, also with a spray of Scotch thistles at the top and side scrolls. On the frame is engraved the terms of the presentation viz. ‘Presented by Bro. James McEwan R.W.M. of St. John’s Lodge Whiteinch No. 683 July 1901.’ Suspended from the engraved gem, by another small double chain of 14 links, are the Square and Compasses and segment of a circle, clasped in the centre by a large topaz in the form of sun of 16 rays. The plain medallions are intended to be used as memorials of all the Past Masters of the Lodge by having their names and the years of their rule engraved thereon, after vacating their office.’
In reply to Bro. McBurney’s vote of thanks, Bro. McEwan said that ‘in giving this Jewel he had given it to the Lodge from his heart’. The Jewel now bears in gold the initials of all the P.M.s of the Lodge until 1926, the last name being James Blain. A second row of initials would have to have been added at this stage. A decision was made not to do this. A second row would have detracted from the beauty of the Chain. The Chain is more than a symbol of office. It is a continual reminder of our predecessors and their attempts to keep the Lodge alive.
The Lodge is indeed very fortunate to possess such fine furniture and artefacts. These were generously donated by Brethren many years ago. Items of interest are recorded below:
- A model of the Inner Chamber of the Temple. (H. Burke 22.9.1910)
- Two cabinets, one to contain the Tripod, the other to contain the model of the Inner Chamber. An antique Japanese dagger, two swords and five bayonets, the latter being relics from the field of the Battle of Waterloo. (S. Meechan 22.9.1910)
- Working Tools (D. Gow October 1904)
- A Tripod, winch, rough and smooth Ashlars with Lewis in position. (H. Burke 27.5.1909)
- Mark Tools and Stones. (13.2.1890 Bros. Nelson, Oswald and Orr)
- Lodge Furniture: Chairs, Desks for Master, Wardens and Secretary, Wardens’ Columns and altar. (26.10.1911 S. Meechan)
- Lodge Bible. (19.12.1916 N. McTavish)
- Large Mallet. Made from a piece of timer taken from the old Freemasons’ Hall, Edinburgh. The mallet is suitably inscribed and was presented in order to commemorate the success of the Lodge in having for the first time won the Pearce Cup. (17.11.1910 D. D. Gow, P.M. of 683 and Chairman of the Provincial Grand Lodge Bowling Committee.)