Tuesday, 25 February 2014

St. Mark's Masonic Lodge No. 102, Glasgow (6)

Post 6

At St. Mark's Masonic Lodge No. 102, on the 30th April, 1847, Thomas Dudgeon, b.1805, aged 42 years old, was formally registered as a member and Freemason (St. Mark's Masonic Lodge, List of Members, 1766-1906.)  The 1844-5 Post Office Directories and the Masonic Lodge records  both list Thomas's address as 12 Gordon Street, Glasgow.

By 1847, Thomas had left Bogle & Co. and was running his own Painting and Paper Hanging business but it was surely due to the Bogles' influence that Thomas was introduced to the Masonic Lodge. An historical list of members at the Lodge represented a Who's Who of Glasgow merchants and businessmen in the 18th century. For example, registered with the lodge were Michael Bogle (Hugh Bogle & Co.) on 11/10/1774, William Bogle on 3/1/1782, Nathaniel Ballantine on 24/12/1787, Charles Ballantine 14/1/1783, John Ballantine  on 27/1/1783, all of whom had descendant connections who were prominent in house painting and decorating.

Having established himself in the Glaswegian artistic scene Thomas would have been fully aware of the advantages with joining the Masons to further enhance his career. The Scottish newspapers frequently reported that Thomas was chosen to represent the Masons at various events by displaying his works of art.1851 was a very busy year for St. Marks Lodge No. 102 and Thomas Dudgeon.

The Grand Masonic Ball, February 1851:

The Grand Masonic Ball, under the auspices of the Lodge St. Mark, was held on the night of Friday 28th February, 1851. The Merchants' Hall was decorated with  masonic forms and devices and Thomas Dudgeon deserved a special mention in the newspapers for his work. "Along the front of the orchestra and around the walls were numerous emblems and insignia of masonry, painted in a beautiful style upon cloth by Mr. Dudgeon; while around the refreshment table, doors, &c., hung a profusion of drapery arranged by Mr. Ballardie, Argyll Street. Altogether the effect was perfectly beautiful." (Glasgow Herald, March 3, 1851.)

The St. Mark's Lodge men turned out to the Ball in great force in their regalia and  everyone including members of other lodges began to assemble in the Hall around nine o'clock. At half-past ten, Mr. Agnew's band struck up the spirit-stirring Masonic anthem, to accompany the entrance of his Grace the Duke of Atholl, the Grand Master Mason of Scotland, his brother Lord James A. Murray, and other dignitaries. Around 240  ladies and gentlemen attended. The decorations of the hall, the richness of the clothing and the sparkling insignia worn by the brethren, combined with "a perfect galaxy of female loveliness" inspired the social pages of the day to report the event as one of the most enchanting which has ever been witnessed in Glasgow. (G.H.March 3, 1851) I like to imagine Thomas, at the age of 46, at the Ball with "bells on", wearing his insignia, and looking very dignified and debonair.

Laying of the Foundation-stone, new Victoria Bridge, April 1851:

What a magnificent spectacle it would have been, the laying of the Foundation-stone of the new Victoria Bridge, Glasgow, on Wednesday, April 9th, 1851. It was reported in the Glasgow Herald, two days later, where the Masonic Lodges of Scotland were very involved in laying the foundations of Victoria Bridge. 3000 people marched from Glasgow Cathedral to the bridge carrying their flags, and marching to the music of many instrumental bands. A public holiday was unofficially declared, the banks were closed, the Union Jack was flying from all the public buildings, ships in the harbour were flying pendants from around the globe, and at around mid-day everyone was gaily gathered in their finery and jostling for the best view of the grand procession and ceremonial on the streets leading to the bridge. Many were also positioned in front of the Infirmary near the old Glasgow Cathedral and adjoining streets, to view the processional pageant as it re-appeared from the Cathedral after having all begun to assemble there at half-past eleven for the Church service. Presumably, Janet Dudgeon's alehouse was doing a roaring trade up until the procession started. When all was in readiness the procession started  at the Cathedral, moved on past No.3 Castle Street, down the High Street and on to the bridge.  One can envisage the Dudgeon family having a birds-eye view of the proceedings from the upstairs windows of No.3 trying to find Thomas and St Marks lodge members as they walked past.

Glasgow officials decided that there should be a Masonic demonstration, and his Grace the Duke of Atholl, the Grand Master Mason for Scotland, consented to perform the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone. At the bridge, large platforms have been erected on the east of the foundation stone to accommodate the Lord Provost, Magistrates, Councillors, Bridge Trustees and other public officials and to the west of the stone, the Masons.  65 Masonic Lodges were present, including St. Mark's Glasgow, the Lodge of Thomas Dudgeon. We know he was there, as he contributed to the Masonic decorations for the event. It was the place to be for a Freemason. “Upon no previous occasion have the brethren of the mystic tie turned out in greater numbers, or exhibited so respectable an appearance, as upon this.” (Glasgow Herald, April 11, 1851.) There was a “ladies’ gallery”, covered in pink cloth, where the attractive and well bred ladies of the Western Metropolis and adjacent districts were assembled, however it was reported that they were dressed somewhat sombrely, supposedly because of the inclement weather.

A  grand arch was erected at the bottom of Stockwell Street, covered with evergreen foliage, emblazoned with the symbols of the Masonic craft, above which was a shield of the city’s arms designed by Thomas Dudgeon. The sun, crescent, and stars, the All-seeing eye, and the symbolic plummet, square, and compasses all decorated in gold and silver were set among the greenery. “Above the arch, facing the river was a beautiful allegorical device by Dudgeon. It represented a shield bearing the city arms, supported on one side by Commerce, and on the other side by Old Father Clyde.” (G.H., April 11, 1851.) The involvement of the Masonic Lodge was intrinsic to the success of the whole occasion. During the Church service, Rev. Mr. Leckie, the officiating clergyman, referred to the society of Freemasons, “whose bond of union was love”. The Masons kept a high profile at all public events in those days, and it is a credit to Thomas Dudgeon that he was the artist to be given the privilege of  “exhibiting” for such a prestigious occasion.

I wonder if the Alehouse opposite the Glasgow Cathedral, and owned by Thomas’s mother, was open during the whole day which would have been a profitable occasion to say the least, and if his oil painting of the Battle o’ the Brae, was also proudly exhibiting on the front of the Provand’s Lordship.

Hundredth Birthday of Robert Burns, 16th May 1859

Hugh Bogle & Co. was the agent for James Ballantine (1807/8-1877), a notable poet and prominent Freemason, who started his career as a house painter and decorator, and became more importantly a stained glass artist, establishing his own company in 1837. He served an apprenticeship with David Roberts while working as an Edinburgh house decorator and theatrical scenic artist. His notable successes in this area were the design of a  number of stained glass windows in the House of Lords in 1843, a set of armorial windows for the Scott monument, Edinburgh in 1847, based on the designs of David Roberts, and an extensive scheme for St. Johns Episcopal Church,  Edinburgh in the 1850s. He produced many works for the Masonic and Ecclesiastical fraternity. (Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol.3, p.580). Although he isn't listed in the St. Mark's Masonic Lodge No.102 registry there is reference to him as the Grand Bard for the Grand Lodge of  Scotland.  http://www.electricscotland.com/history/kt5_files/logierait.htm

James Ballantine respected Thomas as a talented artist  and refers to him in his Chronicle of The Hundredth Birthday of Robert Burns on 16th May, 1859, "In accordance with the evening's joyful proceedings, the masonic body excelled all others, in giving lustre and effect to the scene by illuminating the front windows of their hall with three beautiful transparencies, executed in oil colours on canvas, by the hand of a well-known and distinguished artist, Mr. Dudgeon, of Glasgow, and which throughout the evening, called forth numerous on-lookers outside, who stared with admiration and delight." (1859, p.272)

The Royal Wedding, March 1863

On March 10th 1863, The Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Edward (Bertie), son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert,  married Princess Alexandra of Denmark, heir to the Danish throne, at St. George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. The royal family and the public saw this as a love match. Following the death of Prince Albert ( Bertie's father) in December 1861, and the Queen's seclusion afterwards, this event  increased the monarchy's popularity once more. The fervour created by the Royal marriage reached Scotland, and the illumination of the City of Glasgow was brilliantly undertaken by everyone, sometimes on an unprecedented grand scale to celebrate the royal event.

The illuminations in Glasgow were reported in great detail by the newspapers, and it is remarkable that Thomas Dudgeon featured in the narration of events. At Duncan McArthur, Ice Cream Manufacturer, Saltmarket, there was a "Transparency, painted by Dudgeon, 19 feet by 8 feet 6 inches, decorated frame with portraits of the Prince and Princess, ornamented with designs of the Royal Arms, the Goddess of Fame and Britannia, with a view of Edinburgh Castle, and an illumination at sea; the frame surrounded with hundreds of brilliant rosettes and festooned with ever greens." (Glasgow Herald,  March 11, 1863) By this time, the new Victoria Bridge mentioned above had been completed, and it was lit up with numerous blazing lamps which reflected onto the river and  illuminated the colourful banners decorating the bridge. Whilst it was an enchanting scene, it would have been even more spectacular had there been a high tide at the height of the celebrations. The papers reported that it was challenging to acquire the necessary supply of lamps, devices and other materials needed for the illuminations, so that telegrams were dispatched from one end of the kingdom to the other, sometimes to no avail.

The Glasgow Masonic Lodges participated in the celebrations and  illumination of the city by displaying characteristic emblems. St. Mark's Lodge (No.102) and Thomas Dudgeon received an additional special mention. A large painting, ten feet by four, of St. Mark holding the Bible, and a compass and square, proudly adorned the internal walls of the Lodge building, while by his side stood the winged lion, painted by Thomas Dudgeon, and illuminated by padelle lights. On the day of the wedding, The Lodge "Royal Order" met at half-past one at St. Mark's Lodge, and over cake and wine they toasted the health and happiness of the Prince and Princess with true Masonic enthusiasm. (G.H., March 11, 1863) There were a number of ladies present to compliment the event. The Prince of Wales was also hereditary Grand Master of the "Royal Order",  adding to the exuberance of the wedding celebrations by the Masons. Was this an event that Thomas attended? Given the hype of the Royal Wedding, and the significance of the illuminations to which he contributed  at the Lodge, I doubt he would have missed it for quids. It would have been the highlight of the social calendar  in March 1863.

Marriages of the Prince of Wales have been fairly rare events in English history. The Prince of Wales, Prince Albert Edward (Bertie), went on to become King Edward VII, and was the great-great-grandfather of the current Prince of Wales, Prince Charles. Prince Charles is only the 6th Prince of Wales to be married since the creation of the title.

It is obvious that St. Mark's 102 was one of the most prestigious Freemasonry Lodges to belong to, and that they embedded themselves in both local and national occasions on a grand scale. Always relishing the opportunity to display the symbols of their craft, and support their members, they lived by the motto, "whose bond of union was love".

"Some of these organizations, such as the Scottish Rites of Freemasonry, used scenery extensively in their rituals. Initiation ceremonies in particular required elaborate allegorical presentations, which required very elaborate scenery and costuming. Masonic temples spread across the country much like theatres, and nearly every city had at least one temple or lodge". (Rosenfeld, 1981, p409)


  1. St. Marks Masonic Lodge No. 102, 133 Whitehall Street, Glasgow, G31 2LS. List of Members, 1766-1906. Also includes Rules and Regulations, 1766 and Revised Bye-Laws, 1845.
  2. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Vol. 3. Edited by H.C.G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. Lond., O.U.P., 2004.
  3. Chronicle of the Hundredth Birthday of Robert Burns, collected and edited by James Ballantine. Edinburgh and London, A. Fullarton & Co., 1859.
  4. Glasgow Herald, (Glasgow Scotland), Monday, March 3, 1851, Issue 5018.
  5. Glasgow Herald, (Glasgow Scotland), Friday, April 11, 1851, Issue 5029.
  6.  Glasgow Herald, (Glasgow Scotland), Wednesday, March 11, 1863, Issue 7228.
  7. Rosenfeld, 1981, The Romantic Theatre and the Modern Theatre: 1800 to the present, (in) Crabtree, Susan and Beudert, Peter, Scenic Art for the Theatre: history, tools, and techniques. 2nd ed. Oxford, Focus Press/Elsevier, c.2005.
This article is Copyright (c) 2014 by Hope Pauline McNee, All rights Reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment