A Masonic Connection –
W Bro Stan Marut, News Editor for the Media Team looks at a masonic connection to the Dracula story and to Theatreland in Covent Garden.
In the latter half of the 19th and early 20th centuries there were two Freemasons who have left a legacy in different ways.
These were Bro Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, and W Bro Edward Terry who became a prominent Freemason and benefactor.
Both worked in Theatreland, the area of the Strand and Covent Garden, which before 1889 would have been known as Middlesex, albeit very much the hinterland of the City of London.
I have to own up that I tend to promote the notion of Middlesex as a substantial geographical entity of its time.
It cannot be denied that some areas of London, as we now know them, were in a different age very much Middlesex by name, that is, until 1889 when a huge portion was hived off to create the London County Council (LCC).
Our two subjects, Stoker and Terry, both had a Middlesex connection; Stoker was Initiated into the Buckingham and Chandos Lodge, No. 1150, which was formed by Officers and Sergeants of the 1st Middlesex Artillery Volunteers.
Edward Terry was Initiated in 1868 in Royal Union Lodge, No. 382, which at the time met at the Belmont Hall, Belmont Road, Uxbridge and he is entered on the records as “gentleman”.
His membership more or less coincided with his career debut as an actor in 1867.
I am unable to unravel where Terry lived at that time and what the connection was that brought him into Freemasonry in Middlesex.
Bram Stoker – The Brainy One –It was Bram Stoker’s relationship with his Brother Freemason and business colleague, Henry Irving, that may have led to the development of Dracula as an idea of fiction.
Of the two, i.e., Stoker and Terry, Bram was less prolific as a Freemason.
He was born in Dublin in 1847 and educated at Trinity College where he graduated in Science and later gained a Master’s Degree in Pure Maths.
He was noted as being striking in appearance and good at sports.
One of his interests was the theatre and in his spare time acted as an unpaid critic for a Dublin newspaper.
It was in this role that he met Henry Irving in Dublin and they became firm friends, an association which lasted twenty seven years.
In 1878 Irving and Stoker had become business partners; Irving having been Initiated into Freemasonry in 1877.
Henry Irving was good friends with Edward, Prince of Wales, who was Grand Master at that time, and was the first actor to be knighted.
Despite their working relationship and the companionship that developed between them it appears that there was not much congruence in their masonic activity in that they were not members of the same Lodges.
Indeed, Stoker is shown in Grand Lodge records as having joined only one Lodge: the Buckingham and Chandos Lodge, No. 1150.
Stoker gave his occupation as author and, although his work Dracula had not yet achieved the renown it would gain in later years, he did write other novels whilst continuing with his daytime job.
Initiated in February 1883, he was Passed in April of the same year and then Raised on the 20th June 1883.
He remained a mason for only six years according to records available and appears not to have taken office.
There seems not to be a record of his involvement in masonic charities.
The Legacy of Dracula –
Despite his close working relationship with his colleague and brother Freemason, Irving, the biographers intimate that Stoker held a secret and latent resentment against Irving which may have contributed to the development of the character Dracula, which was his Magnus Opum.
Undoubtedly Irving was a success story and Stoker may have seen himself very much a side act in the scheme of things.
In this way the possible harboured resentment had conjured an image of Irving as someone who “drained the creative life out of all those around him”, a suitable caricature of a blood feeding creature.
Not only was Irving a friend of Princes and Prime Ministers, he may have had his amours especially as he was estranged from his wife.
In some respects Stoker may have seemed unequal to Irving given his popularity.
As a possible result of this enmity, Stoker has left a remarkable legacy as the creator of Dracula, although there had been other “vampire” creations before him.
The Dracula name may have had its origins in the Gaelic phrase “dhroch fhola”, pronounced “druck ulla” meaning of bad blood.
Equally, it may have its stem in the historical name from South Eastern Europe of Vlad Dracul.
Adding the letter “a” to Dracul gives it the meaning “son of”, thus Dracula.
So, Bram Stoker, who may not have been a prolific Mason, certainly left a literary legacy.
Hopefully. there be a redress of his masonic anonymity and respect him for having been a brother mason who perhaps by way of the pressing emergencies of his public and private avocations meant that he was unable to pursue a fuller role in freemasonry.
W Bro Edward Terry was altogether a different prospect and became a prolific Freemason and benefactor, even having a Lodge Consecrated in his name.
He and Stoker’s employee, Henry Irving, were both members of the same Lodge.
Undoubtedly, Stoker and Terry would have known each other either through freemasonry, but certainly by working together in Theatreland.
Rank and Opulence – Edward O’Connor Terry – Middlesex Freemason –A native of “London” (he was born in Lambeth – strictly Surrey by definition at that time).
Terry, like Stoker, also worked in the theatre.
He was three years older than Stoker.
His legacy endures in the annals of Freemasonry as well as in the histories of Victorian theatre.
Regrettably, it appears that resources are limited in relation to an understanding of his theatrical career.
Either it enabled his participation in Freemasonry or hindered it.
Looking at his acting and masonic chronologies there seems no doubt that time for masonic pursuits was never a problem.
He became a Mason in 1868 as I have mentioned above having been Initiated in Royal Union Lodge, No. 382 where he is entered on the records as “gentleman”.
Very soon he moved from this Lodge and joined Lodge of Asaph, No. 1319 (a London Lodge) where he gave his occupations as drama.
Asaph Lodge particularly suited musicians and those employed in the acting profession allowing them an opportunity to participate in Freemasonry which had previously been impossible due to their working hours.
He became Worshipful Master in 1877.
In 1881 he joined St Alban’s Lodge, No. 29 and eventually became Master of the Lodge in 1886.
In 1887 he became the owner of Terry’s theatre in the Strand which had more than 800 seats.
By this time, he had been a mason for a substantial amount of time and it would have been highly likely that he met both Irving and Stoker in their professional and social capacities being near neighbours in that theatre district.
Indeed, both Terry and Irving were petitioners for the formation of the Savage Club Lodge, No. 2190 in 1887: Terry succeeding Irving as Lodge Treasurer the following year.
Even more likely is that Stoker and Terry would have met both being present at the Consecration, as the Masonic press of the time reported Stoker’s name as being one of those attending.
Terry reached the pinnacle of his masonic career in 1889 when he was elected Grand Treasurer at Quarterly Communications in March.
Amongst those who attended the Consecration of Savage Club Lodge was Edward Letchworth who was subsequently knighted and became Grand Secretary in 1891.
The Edward Terry Lodge was sadly erased in 2018 due to declining membership.
W Bro Terry was a prolific Mason and philanthropist.
He held Stewardships of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, the Masonic Schools for Girls and Boys as well Life Governorships.
He also served as church warden at Barnes Parish Church as well as devoting time to other charitable organisations.
Although the Province of Middlesex had not been formed when Terry was Initiated in Uxbridge, surely we can take credit for a Brother who embraced freemasonry as he did.
This article was not meant to demean any of its subjects but merely to illustrate how two men working in the theatre world of the late 19th century embraced freemasonry in their own way.
The biographers seem not to have considered this important part of their lives and if you were asked who you were more familiar with, your answer would no doubt lead you to the author of Dracula, unless you were an aficionado of the late Victorian theatre.
Both Terry and Stoker died in 1912.
Stoker had lived in Chelsea for more than thirty years but subsequently moved to a flat in St George’s Square, Pimlico where he died quietly on April 20th, the day of the start of the initial enquiries into the sinking of the Titanic.
His cause of death was given as Locomotor Ataxy and Granular Contracted Kidney Exhaustion.
His body was cremated at Golders Green.
Terry had died a few days earlier at his home in Barnes on April 2nd.
His cause of death had been noted as cancer and elsewhere as neuritis.
His remains were interred at Brompton Cemetery, Fulham Road in the Royal Borough of Kensington where his brother mason Sir Edward Letchworth, former Grand Secretary, would also be laid to rest in 1917.
Terry’s estate was valued at the time as £44,056/14s/6d which might be calculated as being on today’s terms as more than £3 million.
Stoker on the other hand left £5,269/12s/7d as near as equivalent value in today’s money of about £420,000 (www.moneysorter.co.uk).
No doubt if Stoker had been alive today the tables may have turned in his favour in terms of wealth and opulence with the Dracula brand and its associated rights.
Stoker: Bram Stoker – A Biography of the Author of Dracula, Barbara Belford, Phoenix Giant 1996. Sir Henry Irving- A Victorian Actor and His World, Jeffrey Richards, Hambledon Continuum, 2005. Abraham Stoker – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – www.oxforddnb.com, Lodge History Buckingham and Chandos Lodge, No. 1150.
Terry: Edward Terry – Oxford Dictionary of National Biography – www.oxforddnb.com, Lodge history available at the Freemasons’ Library at Great Queen Street – Lodge of Asaph No 1319. Other information on Terry’s Lodge memberships supplied by courtesy of the staff at the Freemasons’ Library from Grand Lodge records, The Freemason 1889.
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