Victoria Rifles Lodge
Lodge No 822
The Queen Victoria Rifles, having a distinguished history as a rifle volunteer unit and being incorporated into the Territorial Army upon its inception, was always the source of members for the Victoria Rifles Lodge. Several Commanding Officers had been members.
After the Second World War the regiment was amalgamated into the King’s Royal Rifle Corps (KRRC) and lost its cap badge. The Lodge was therefore deprived of its only source of members, although it soldiered on with several WWII veterans in its ranks for many years.
By 2006 the Lodge had fewer than ten subscribing members and was on the point of surrendering its warrant. This fact was drawn to the attention of a number of Masons with military connections who determined to preserve the Lodge for posterity in view of its regiment’s unique history (it was the first Territorial unit to whom a Victoria Cross was awarded, inter alia) and the distinguished history of the Lodge and its members over very many years.
Thirty Masons with military service joined the Lodge in September 2006, all of whom were, or were entitled to have been or become, Past Masters of or in Military Lodges. There being a ‘Circuit of Service Lodges’ in existence, comprising some 16 working Lodges to which the majority were affiliated, it was agreed that the Victoria Rifles Lodge, having no ability to initiate men from its original source and thereby having lost its original purpose, should thenceforth become a Lodge for the benefit of brethren who are, or are entitled to have been or become, Past Masters of or in Military Lodges, as well as to have regard to the well-being of the few military Lodges who remain or which may,in the future, come into existence. The Lodge joined the Circuit of Service Lodges in 2007.
It is thus that the Lodge, whilst maintaining its customs and traditions, is henceforth intended to work for the benefit of the Circuit of Service Lodges as its Installed Masters’ Lodge, being able to conduct ceremonies for member Lodges upon request and facilitate a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge for all its members and those of its affiliated Lodges.
There are two Lodge histories in the Library at Freemasons’ Hall the first of which was written by W Bro Lt-Col CACG Keeson OBE, MC, TD, LGR who had commanded the regiment 1934-1938 and was already a holder of the MC when initiated into the Lodge, aged 21, by his father in October 1919. His son, W Bro WGC Keeson PAGDC, PGStwd, was an Initiate of Jerusalem Lodge No. 197 and served for some years until his death as Secretary of the FitzRoy Lodge No. 569 (Honourable Artillery Company), one of the three originators of the Circuit of Service Lodges, the others being Ubique No. 1789 (Royal Regiment of Artillery) and Certo Cito No. 8925 (Royal Corps of Signals).