Introduction and Forward
Sir Henry Bulwer
Sir Henry Bulwer, later William Henry Lytton Earle Bulwer, Baron Dalling & Bulwer, was born in London on 13th February 1801. Following his education at Harrow and Downing College, Oxford, he joined the British Diplomatic Service. In 1824, he was sent to Morea, the southern most part of the Greek mainland, by the Greek community in London to finance their War of Independence.
After diplomatic experience in Berlin, Vienna and Brussels, he became Secretary of the embassy in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1837 and Charge d'Affaires in Paris in 1839. He was appointed Ambassador to Madrid from 1843 to 1848.
In 1849, Bulwer was chosen as Ambassador to Washington, where he concluded the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. This Treaty, also signed by John Clayton, Secretary of State of the U.S.A., provided a basis for what is now known as the Panama Canal to be built. It set out that neither power should have exclusive control over the canal, nor colonise any part of Central America but both would guarantee the protection and neutrality of the canal.
Following appointments to Florence and the Danubian Principalities, he became Ambassador to Constantinople in 1858 and District Grand Master for Turkey, where he remained until his retirement in 1865, the year that Bulwer Lodge of Cairo was Consecrated by him and named in his honour.
He died in Naples on 23rd May 1872 and the title died with him.
No history of Bulwer Lodge of Cairo can ever be complete.
We know that the original Warrant was dated 7th June 1865. According to Grand Lodge records, our first meeting was Monday, 8th February 1865 - some four months earlier, for which no reason is recorded.
On 16th October 1895, a major fire broke out in the Lodge premises, destroying all the records and the Warrant of the Lodge. Most of the nearly-new furniture was also destroyed. It appears to be at this time, with the issue of the Warrant of Confirmation, that the "of Cairo" was inadvertently dropped from the name by the United Grand Lodge of England.
Further records were lost in 1956 when the Brethren were forced to leave Egypt during the Suez crisis. Many members had to flee for their lives. All of the Lodge furniture and most of its records, which were kept at the Temple, were sequestered by the Egyptian government and have, to this day, not been recovered.
We are fortunate, however, that a number of items did survive. We have minutes going back to 1949, a signature book going back to 1943 and a membership book (still in use) with the first entry dated 1886. It is possible, of course, that this last item does not actually date from before the fire but was compiled shortly afterwards from information provided by the Brethren. We also have a declaration book starting in 1923 and a copy of the original Bye-Laws of the Lodge dated September 1873. These are reproduced in full in the text. A very few letters from the 1870s also survive.
Several Brethren are known to have taken great personal risks to retrieve as much property as possible. The three ivory gavels, inscribed with the square, level and plumb rule and the Lodge number, were rescued in their presentation box. Sadly, the Junior Warden's gavel and the box have disappeared since the move to Slough.
A number of inscribed jewels have also survived, both Craft and Chapter, presumably since they were in the possession of individuals at the time. Details of these are given next to the appropriate name in the text. Also, the current Warrant is the actual Warrant of Confirmation issued after the fire on 27th November 1895. It is becoming faded and torn and is in need of preservation. These surviving artefacts must be preserved and it is for this reason, and to ensure that the information contained therein can be disseminated as widely as possible, that I have committed much of it to computer and thence to paper.
I have made every effort to record only proven facts. For example, when compiling the lists of Officers for the early years, I have not assumed that because a Brother was, say, Junior Deacon in a given year that he automatically became Senior Deacon the following year. Only where a specific Officer is recorded is he included. On the one or two occasions where I have felt that speculation is of interest, I have indicated it as such.
The Lodge is a living thing, ever changing, and I shall continue to update this information for as long as I am able and I hope that another Brother will continue this work in the future.
A comprehensive history of Freemasonry in Egypt was written by W. Bro. F. D. Stevenson Drane, Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies, Past Assistant District Grand Master (Egypt & the Sudan) in Ars Quatuor Coronatorum Volumes 81 and 82, 1969 and 1970. This includes much information about Bulwer Lodge of Cairo and its daughter Lodges.
W. Bro. Stevenson Drane was elected an Honorary Member of Bulwer Lodge of Cairo in 1951 on his appointment as Assistant District Grand Master and joined the Lodge in his own right on 8th January 1959 following its move to London. He
was also a Past Master of Ionic Lodge, No. 3997 and Grecia Lodge, No. 1106.
Much of his information was compiled from notes left behind by the late W. Bro. N. M. Mishellany, Past District Grand Warden (Egypt & the Sudan), Worshipful Master of Bulwer Lodge of Cairo in 1920 and a Past Master of Ionic Lodge, No. 3997. W. Bro. Mishellany was Syrian by birth and an expert Arabic scholar. From these notes, he delivered many interesting lectures
to the Cairo Lodges and only his death in 1947 prevented their publication in book form.
W. Bro. Stevenson Drane also collated information from the Memorial of the Dedication of the Masonic Temple in Cairo on 23rd October 1913, a copy of which is in the possession of the Lodge, and from the minutes of the meeting of District Grand Lodge of Turkey held at Smyrna on 15th December 1865, a typescript copy of which is in the library at Freemasons' Hall.
A history of Bulwer Lodge of Cairo requires some information about the history of Freemasonry in Egypt, of which it formed such an important part, and a brief history of the other Lodges with which it worked in close association, to which the first part of this publication is dedicated.
Sadly, of all the Lodges which once worked in Egypt, only the Bulwer Lodge of Cairo and its daughter Lodge, Grecia, survived the upheaval in Egypt during the Suez crisis to become established in London.
The Royal Arch Chapter attached to the Bulwer Lodge of Cairo also survived but the Bulwer Chapter became attached to Grecia Lodge on the move to Buckinghamshire. Now known as Grecia Chapter, it is the accepted Chapter for both Lodges. Indeed, Grecia Chapter continues to use Bulwer Chapter jewels.
Whilst Freemasonry was banned in Egypt in 1956 and in Sudan in 1970, and will remain so for the foreseeable future, we should all be proud of the work done by our past Brethren in creating Bulwer Lodge of Cairo and preserving it, often through considerable difficulties and personal danger, for us to enjoy today.
Bulwer Lodge of Cairo has always been renowned for the excellence of its ritual and its generous and innovative approach to charitable and other Masonic work. We must preserve this heritage so that it can continue to be in the forefront of Freemasonry and welcome many more Brethren into - and beyond - the 21st century.