The Neleus Royal Arch Chapter was conceived in the winter of 1914, from members and friends of the Neleus Lodge who were also Royal Arch Freemasons.
The Neleus Lodge itself had been formed in the year 1904, from a small group of Freemasons who were part of a “London Set” social rowing club.
However to trace the origins of the Neleus Lodge, one must go back still further in time to the year 1850, when a Mr. John Alfred Rorke and a few friends who were connected to the Royal Polytechnic Institution, located in London’s Regents Street, formed the “Neleus Rowing Club”, who’s first home was at Searles Boat Yard, Bishop’s Walk, Lambeth. Searles Boat Yard, was shared with a number of rowing clubs including the now famous Henley based Leander Club.
As the year 1904 approached a number of the Members of the Neleus Rowing Club who were also members of Masonic Lodges concurred in the idea to celebrate the rowing clubs first fifty years by forming a new Masonic Lodge from the Rowing Club’s members to coincide with the club’s fiftieth jubilee, which would add to the enjoyment of their rowing activities with meetings to be held in the summer months at the river resort of Datchet. The Captain of the Rowing Club (1904) was Bro. Reginald Graham Margetson who was the first S.W. The Treasurer of the Rowing Club, Bro. Harry Alexander Campbell was the first J.W. and the Secretary of the Club, Bro. Herbert Edward Langridge the first Secretary of the Neleus Lodge and in 1915 became the prime mover and founding Scribe E of the Neleus Chapter.
The consecration of the Chapter in July 1915 was in the very centre of London, the First World War eleven month old however the confidence in the outcome of the war that Great Britain Ireland and the Empire would triumph was strong. There was little mention of the war in minutes of the meetings throughout the period.
Today there is plenty of information on the history of the Chapter with the reading of the Consecration minutes you have just heard and the Chapter History books, which we will be giving out later, what I want to give you is a flavour of the pleasure and joy of the occasion of the Consecration which was held in the Imperial Restaurant in London’s Regent Street on Saturday, July 3rd 1915, at the Festive Board there were nine courses and six entertainers with eleven acts.
I want to bring that time and pleasure to our celebration today by reciting one of those acts as given by one of our founders Comp. John Valentine Hill in 1915.
by Arthur Conan Doyle.
( Bendigo, the well-known Nottingham prize fighter, became converted to religion, and preached at revival meetings throughout the country.)
You didn’t know of Bendigo! Well, that knocks me out! Who’s your board school teacher? What’s he been about? Chock-a-block with fairy-tales full of useless cram, And never heard o’ Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham!
Bendy’s short for Bendigo. You should see him peel! Half of him was whalebone, half of him
was steel, Fightin’ weight eleven ten, five foot nine in height, Always ready to oblige if you want a fight.
I could talk of Bendigo from here to king-dom come, I guess before I ended you would wish your dad was dumb. I’d tell you how he fought Ben Caunt, and how the deaf ‘un fell, But the game is done, and the men are gone and maybe it’s as well.
Bendy he turned Methodist—he said he felt a call, He stumped the country preachin’ and you bet he filled the hall, If you seed him in the pulpit, a-bleatin’ like a lamb, You’d never know bold Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham.
His hat was like a funeral, he’d got a waiter’s coat, With a hallelujah collar and a choker round his throat, His pals would laugh and say in chaff that Bendigo was right, In takin’ on the devil, since he’d no one else to fight.
But he was very earnest, improvin’ day by day, A-workin’ and a-preachin’ just as his duty lay, But the devil he was waitin’, and in the final bout, He hit him hard below his guard and knocked poor Bendy out.
Now I’ll tell you how it happened. He was preachin’ down at Brum, He was billed just like a circus, you should see the people come, The chapel it was crowded, and in the fore-most row, There was half a dozen bruisers who’d a grudge at Bendigo.
There was Tommy Piatt of Bradford, Solly Jones of Perry Bar, Long Connor from the Bull Ring, the same wot drew with Carr, Jack Ball the fightin gunsmith, Joe Mur-phy from the Mews,And Iky Moss, the bettin’ boss, the Champion of the Jews. A very pretty handful a-sittin’ in a string, Full of beer and impudence, ripe for any-thing, Sittin’ in a string there, right under Bendy’s nose, If his message was for sinners, he could make a start on those.
Soon he heard them chaflin’; “Hi, Bendy! Here’s a go!” “How much are you coppin’ by this Jump to Glory show?” “Stow it, Bendy! Left the ring! Mighty spry of you! Didn’t everybody know the ring was leavin’ you.” Bendy fairly sweated as he stood above and prayed, “Look down, O Lord, and grip me with a strangle hold!” he said. “Fix me with a strangle hold! Put a stop on me! I’m slippin’, Lord, I’m slippin’ and I’m clingin’ hard to Thee!”
But the roughs they kept on chaffin’ and the uproar it was such That the preacher in the pulpit might be talkin’ double Dutch, Till a workin’ man he shouted out, a-jumpin’ to his feet, “Give us a lead, your reverence, and heave ’em in the street.”
Then Bendy said, “Good Lord, since first I left my sinful ways, Thou knowest that to Thee alone I’ve given up my days, But now, dear Lord”—and here he laid his Bible on the shelf— “I’ll take, with your permission, just five minutes for myself.”
He vaulted from the pulpit like a tiger from a den, They say it was a lovely sight to see him floor his men; Right and left, and left and right, straight and true and hard, Till the Ebenezer Chapel looked more like a knacker’s yard. Platt was standin’ on his back and lookup at his toes, Solly Jones of Perry Bar was feelin’ for his nose, Connor of the Bull Ring had all that he could do Rakin’ for his ivories that lay about the pew.
Jack Ball the fightin’ gunsmith was in a peaceful sleep, Joe Murphy lay across him, all tied up in a heap, Five of them was twisted in a tangle on the floor, And Iky Moss, the bettin’ boss, had sprinted for the door.
Five repentant fightin’ men, sitting in a row, Listenin’ to words of grace from Mister Bendigo, Listenin’ to his reverence all as good as gold, Pretty little baa-lambs, gathered to the fold. So that’s the way that Bendy ran his mission in the slum, And preached the Holy Gospel to the fightin’ men of Brum, “The Lord,” said he, “has given me His message from on high, And if you interrupt Him, I will know the reason why.” But to think of all your schooling clean wasted, thrown away, Darned if I can make out what you’re learnin’ all the day,
Grubbin’ up old fairy-tales, fillin’ up with cram, And didn’t know of Bendigo, the pride of Nottingham.