The History and progress of the Lodge from its Founders
Lyceum Lodge of Research is dedicated to research into Free Masonry and the education of Free Masons and other interested parties.
In its chosen niche, Lyceum Lodge of Research is one of the most influential and prestigious lodges in the District of South Africa North and enjoys a fine reputation all over the country and overseas. The founders had high hopes and aspirations, high ideals and an intention to set high standards at all times. As a result some of the finest minds in the district joined them which enabled them to succeed in their ambitions.
This overview from the Founders of the Lodge, a number of whom are still active, will tell you how it all happened.
In 1974 some members of Goldfields Lodge 2478 obtained the script of an 18th century initiation in 1727 in St. Helier, Jersey. They decided to stage this production and brought in members of other lodges to make up the large cast. They appointed our long serving producer, Frank Stock, to undertake the production which involved many months of rehearsals. It was staged at the Temple Emmanuel, in full 18th century costume, to an audience of about 450 masons. The entrance fee was R 5-00 which included supper, wine and beer and a contribution to charity for which it raised R 1450-00 - a goodly sum in those days.
The cast having been together for some time were very well suited to one another and decided to form a research lodge. This was in accordance with the Commission of Enquiry into Freemasonry in the Transvaal which recommended that such a lodge should be formed.
A memorandum was prepared which, inter alia, set out the motivation for its establishment. It highlighted the general desire for Masonic knowledge, the need for the presentation of interesting, informative and authoritative lectures and productions. It acknowledged that some brethren were, either by talent or inclination, better suited to research or participation in plays. Both would find a home in Lyceum. The name, of course, is derived from the Lyceum in ancient Greece which was the principal temple of knowledge. Papers presented should, wherever possible, be based on original source material, whether historical or philosophical. The Festive Board would be regarded as important and music would have its rightful place there. It would have a decorous but lively conviviality.
It was, eventually, consecrated in 1975 under the direction of the District Grand Master, Leslie Hinett with Ted Ablett, Deputy District Grand Master, as Installing Officer and Manfred Hermer as Charter Master.
It has continued on these lines ever since and a number of very prominent masons from overseas have delivered papers of note. Our list of subjects presented demonstrates the Catholicism and variation of our presentations. We also have been privileged to host several Prestonian Lecturers. Amongst these were Colin Dyer, a past master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge (QC) and a renowned researcher who gave us several papers and Rev. Neville Barker Cryer also a PM of QC Lodge. W.Bro Will Read, another QC PM, presented twice, one a paper on the Roman Catholic Church and Freemasonry and a first for the Transvaal- a presentation of The Board of Installed Masters, Extended Working. RW Bro. Sir James Stubbs, Past Grand Secretary, presented a paper in the Formation and Operation of Grand Lodges.
The first time an official presentation of a Prestonian Lecture in the Transvaal ( only three are given each year) was presented by RW Bro. Sir Lionel Brett PDGM (Nigeria) also a PM of QC, who talked about "The Constitutions of United Grand Lodge of England". We also had a Prestonian lecturer, who gave us his paper on Freemasonry and Scouting, and another on Masonic recipients of the Victoria Cross.
We have also had a number of presentations from high-profile local researchers the most prominent being V.W.Bro Douglas Vieler, a PM of Lyceum, who became the first South African to take the chair of QC in London. His contribution was immense apart from his duties as Assistant District Grand Master and ME Grand Superintendent in the RA. In his honour we initiated the Biennial Vielerian Lecture when eminent speakers are invited to deliver a special paper. He himself had several papers published in QC Transactions. Another outstanding researcher was W.Bro. George Kendall, who also was published by QC, but unfortunately passed to the Grand Lodge Above prematurely. Rodney Grosskopff, who is still with us, has also produced some very interesting papers apart from writing plays and taking leading parts in some of our play productions. He recently was invited to tour Australasia on a three month lecture tour which was very well received. Another stalwart is W.Bro. Frank Stock who, besides producing our plays, has been involved in our educational projects and conducting quizzes around the district.
Our plays, on many varied subjects, have been delivered in Benoni, Boksburg, Krugersdorp, Middelburg (Transvaal), Germiston, Pretoria and even in Grahamstown where we re-enacted our original play production for a lodge there.
Many years ago we initiated educational discussions with Rodney Grosskopff and David Lewis organising seminars on "New-made Masons", designed for relatively junior masons, "Masters in the Making" for those about to go into the chair of their lodges, and "Prospective Masons" designed for potential candidates. This carried on for some years before it lapsed, but has now been re-instated with great success which has the full support of our District Grand Master.
We have had, and still do, many distinguished masons as members. We have had five Assistant District Grand Masters (EC) and one from the Grand Lodge of South Africa (GLSA). One was our Charter Master Manfred Hermer, who also delivered several papers and was very active especially in the early days of the lodge. Today we have an Assistant Grand Master of the GLSA and an Assistant District Grand Master of South Africa North as members. Apart from these we have many Grand Officers who make up our list of Stewards even if they don't often serve drinks!! We also have two members who have received the District Grand Master's Certificate of Service. Two new offices have been introduced by the District namely those of DG Mentor and DG Orator and we are honoured that both of these offices have been awarded to Lyceum members.
Our members have included a Judge of the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein and a Judge of the High Court of Kwa-Zulu Natal in Durban. In fact we have had a number of other legally qualified members. We also, quite appropriately, had four architects headed by Manfred Hermer amongst our members. We have, over the years, had members from all five constitutions working in our area, namely, English, Irish, Scottish, GLSA and Netherlandic. This provides us with a wealth of knowledge over and above our own constitution.
Hopefully all this will give a good idea of what makes Lyceum tick and tick it still does after 39 years!
"We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light." - Plato (Not A Freemason)