Durham Lodge of Istalled Mark Masters No.1492 held their regular May meeting in Birtley at which the lodge welcomed a very special guest in the person of Dr. Rod Taylor, Past Assistent Provincial Grand Master of West Yorkshire. He had been invited by the brethren of the lodge to give an illustrated lecture with the intriguing title ‘The first Royal Mark Mason’.
With the brethren present and eager to learn what was in store, the presentation commenced when Dr. Taylor took his place next to the lectern.
Prince Leopold, tonights subject of the talk, was born some 160 years ago and he was the eighth child and youngest son of Queen Victoria. His birth was also the first time when chloroform was used as an anaesthetic in childbirth, recently developed by Professor James Young Simpson.
Leopold’s early life was difficult and dangerous because he had inherited the disease haemophilia from his mother. He is also said to have suffered from mild epilepsy and so was a delicate child. Even at an early age it was evident that Leopold possessed intellectual abilities as shown by a very thoughtful mind, high aims and remarkable acquirements in languages, music and writing. However his health was a constant worry and he suffered many bleeds which left him in a lot of pain. His mother from the start was extremely protective of him and restricted Leopold in many ways throughout his early years.
Leopold entered Oxford University in 1872 and this was his happiest time away from his mothers strictures. He became president of the Oxford University Chess Club and attained an honorary doctorate in civil law. He travelled in Europe, Canada and the USA. Because of his haemophilia he was unable to pursue a military career and instead became a patron of the arts and literature and served as his mothers unofficial secretary. Leopold did however have an honorary association with the 72nd Regiment, Duke of Albany’s Own Highlanders.
Prince Leopold was an active Freemason, initiated in the Apollo University Lodge no.357, Oxford, whilst resident at Christ Church. His proposer was his brother Albert Edward, Prince of Wales who was the Worshipful Master at the time. Leopold became Master of the Lodge from 1876 - 1877, and he became the Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire till his death. Apollo University Lodge No 357 is a Masonic Lodge based at the University of Oxford aimed at past and present members of the university. It was consecrated in 1819, and its members have met continuously since then. Membership of the lodge is restricted to those who have matriculated as members of the University of Oxford. The Lodge (together with the parallel Isaac Newton University Lodge in Cambridge University) has traditionally enjoyed certain privileges, including the right to initiate matriculated members of the University regardless of their age (other Lodges in England and Wales are restricted to candidates aged 21 or older, except by special permission), and the right to initiate candidates in large groups (other lodges are restricted to a maximum of two candidates at a time, except by special permission). In 2005 the Universities Scheme was established, inspired by the long success of Apollo University Lodge and Isaac Newton University Lodge, and now brings similar privileges to more than seventy university masonic lodges in universities across England and Wales.
Dr. Rod Taylor after this wonderful presentation so richly illustrated and so brilliantly delivered which had completely captured the full attention of the brethren throughout, received a sincere thanks from the SW Master Elect, Stuard A.R.Ingram and this was acknowledged with warm applause from the brethren.
At the festive board the Worshipful Master presented Dr. Taylor with a check for £ 200 for the Mark Benevolent Fund of West Yorkshire, which was gratefully received by Dr. Taylor and he thanked the lodge for their wonderful generosity and kind attention they had given to his lecture.