Let Them Eat Burnt Cakes

The late E. Comp. John Culling, 2nd Provincial Grand Principal together with E. Comp Morris Freeman. The late E. Comp. John Culling, 2nd Provincial Grand Principal together with E. Comp Morris Freeman.

King Alfred Chapter No 2945 and a Saxon Legend.

Every child at school will have at some time heard the story of King Alfred and the burning of the cakes he was asked to tend to and being scolded subsequently. Maybe this is stuff of legend, but there is no doubt that King Alfred was a competent King who did his best to maintain the integrity of his Kingdom and won a significant battle against the Danes. At that time Britain was divided and Alfred was King Of Wessex and the Danes controlled the eastern half of England known as the Danelaw.

However, what has this got to do with the Chapter and Lodge named after him? The nearest we can place Alfred to Southgate Masonic Centre was near Waltham Cross where it seems he rode up the River Lea to see where the river could be obstructed in order to block the Viking ships in. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles record that the river was indeed obstructed and that Alfred started to build a fortification on either side of the river. The Vikings abandoned their ships because they realised that they were being trapped and fled overland all the way to Bridgnorth (or possibly nearby Quatford) on the River Severn in what is now Shropshire. We do not know whether the ships were being physically hemmed in or whether they were being immobilised because of some sort of drainage of the river. Nevertheless, a good story. At least we can link Alfred to an area near Southgate, at a distance of about 8 miles.

A Latter-Day King Alfred.

The Chapter would have assumed its name from King Alfred Lodge No 2945. The book Middlesex Matters written by Allan Beaver and published in 1995 has an alternative possible explanation to the name. It seems that when the Lodge was founded there was a local personality where the first Lodge met in Enfield. Sir Alfred Somerset who was a JP, Chairman of the Gas Company, President of the Musical Society, a member of the Enfield Chase Stag Hunt and all-round good bloke, not to mention an Irish Freemason. He was well liked and jocularly referred to as Alfred the Great. A direct male-line descendant of King Edward III of England, Sir Alfred served as both Deputy Lieutenant of Middlesex and Justice of the Peace for Middlesex. He married Adelaide Harriet Brooke-Pechell on 24 September 1857. They had one daughter, Gwendolin.

The Lodge had originally intended to be called the Edward Letchworth Lodge after the Grand Secretary at that time. This was turned down by Grand Lodge. The name King Alfred then was approved. Grand Lodge would not have known that there may have been subtle reference to the local “hero” as well as to the King of the Anglo Saxons.

Chapter Today

Like many masonic units around the country the finger must always be on the pulse of the Chapter and there is always a “look out” for aspiring members. King Alfred Chapter which was consecrated in 1930 is only seven years short of its centenary and what better present could there be than to help them achieve that aim. The Chapter Scribe Ezra has supplied the following information about the current status of the Chapter:

At our last meeting in May we exalted a new Member together with a rejoining Member. We now have a total of 14 active Members of which four are from the King Alfred Lodge. We meet at Southgate Masonic Centre, and at this point I must say that amongst our distinguished Companions we are blessed with is Ex. Comp. Morris Freeman who is now 98 years young (see photo above) and last year he was made an Honorary Member, and although restricted by his age and mobility he nevertheless attends when he can. Morris was asked to join the Chapter when it appeared to be failing and through his being Scribe E he showed an enthusiasm which reverberated through to the Companions and he encouraged them not only to attend regularly but introduce new Members. I have been a Mason for fifty odd years and in 2001 decided I wanted something extra in Masonic experience and inspected the yearbook to select a Chapter that needed strengthening. We would be delighted to welcome new and joining members and the rest will be continuing history.”

Ed: So, if you are in easy reach of Southgate, it would be a wonderful gesture to assist King Alfred Chapter to reach that centenary by becoming a Joining member or, if not already a Royal Arch Mason, to be exalted. Southgate is a Middlesex Centre and we should endeavour to ensure that the eastern regions of our County of Middlesex are supported by Middlesex Freemasonry.

King Alfred's statue at Wantage                King Alfred’s statue at Wantage Sir Edward Letchworth Grand Secretary Sir Edward Letchworth Grand Secretary

See also: https://king-alfred.com/wp/2019/10/16/river-lea/

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