1870 - 1914
During the whole of this period the Lodge continued to meet in its Frewin Court premises, the fourteen year lease from the Clarendon Hotel at £100 a year being renewed periodically. Money was spent from time to time on redecoration and heating. Twice in 1882 and 1896 consideration was given to the installation of electricity but postponed. The organ seems to have given trouble: an offer of a harp organ was made by a Brother in 1874. Four years later a sum of money was set aside to purchase new instrument and finally in 1893 at the instigation of Dr Varley Roberts, the organist of the Lodge and of Magdalen, a second hand organ was purchased - £65 being provided by the Ball Committee for this purpose. When the organ was inaugurated by Dr Roberts in October the minute notes that it gave “great satisfaction.” The Lodge provided its own cellar: an outstanding bill for wine was settled in 1872 for £65. A committee was set up in 1895 to consider improvements in dining arrangements. This resulted in agreement for the provision of wine at banquets. In 1877 it was decided that cold suppers with hot soup would be served in the summer term and a new sherry and a new champagne were to be ordered. At the end of the century a committee considered, with similar committees of the Alfred, Churchill and other Lodges, the provision of a permanent Masonic Hall in Oxford. The project however came to nothing on grounds of finance.
Throughout the whole period the Lodge subscribed to the three Masonic charities – grants were also made for other purposes, as in 1875, to Past Master Dawson, distressed and afflicted – in 1880 the Alms were devoted one evening to a “distressed Brother”. In 1887 ten guineas was voted to the Truro Cathedral Fund. £40 from the profits of the Fete and Ball in 1899 were given for the widows and families of soldiers and sailors in the South African war. But in 1897 a proposal to make a grant of £5 from the Charity Box to the Indian Famine Fund was withdrawn. Every year one or more Brethren agreed in Lodge to act as stewards for one or other of the Festivals.
At its regular meeting in November 1872 “the Secretary read the names of the Brethren who were eligible for the office of W.M. and the ballot was then taken and H.R.H. the Prince of Wales was unanimously elected.” He had been elected an Honorary member that spring. He was however never installed, nor is his presence in the Lodge recorded. On March 13th 1873 however, at an adjourned meeting, the fifty fourth Anniversary Festival was held, when the chair was taken in the Second Degree by Bro. Aeneas J. MacIntyre, Grand Registrar in charge of the Province, when the Immediate Past Master, Bro. Reginald Bird, was duly installed as Worshipful Deputy Master by a board of eight installed masters.
A more active member of the Royal House, Prince Leopold, of Christ Church, was proposed for initiation in April 1874 on behalf of the Prince of Wales, Past Grand Master. With R.H. Collins, the prince was initiated that May. Robert Hawthorne Collins, born in 1841, had matriculated from Balliol in 1859, became a scholar of Lincoln in 1860, and was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1866. He was Prince Leopold’s tutor, comptroller of his Household 1874-84 and to the Duchess from 1884 when he was created K.C.B.
In November 1874, the necessary officers, by permission of the Acting Provincial Grand Master at the special request of H.R.H. Prince Leopold, adjourned to Wykeham House where the Prince and Bro. Collins were passed to the degree of Fellow Craft. They were both Raised in the Lodge on 17th April 1875 when Prince Leopold was invested as Senior Warden, and Bro. Collins as Steward. On 8th June 1875 the Lodge was honoured by the presence of the Duke of Connaught, who offered to the W.M. and Brethren the hearty good wishes of the Prince of Wales’ Lodge No. 259 and by Bro. Major Pickard V.C., who tendered those of the Friends in Council No. 1383.
Prince Leopold as Senior Warden was Secretary of the Ball and Fete Committees in 1875 and was able to report that both events had proved a great success. The Ball was attended by 218 ladies and 219 gentlemen. Expenses amounted to £513 and receipts to £551. The Fete was held in New College gardens where the company was regaled with the Orpheus Glee Union and the band of the Coldstream Guards. The profit came to £60 of which £17 was spent on Lodge decorations and £10 sent to the Radcliffe Infirmary.
There was an especially magnificent occasion in 1883 when the Ball was held in the new Examination Schools and was graced by the presence of Prince Leopold, the new Provincial Grand Master – now the Duke of Albany - and his Duchess. 249 gentleman and 243 ladies were then present. The tickets cost 12s 6d each.
Generally the Ball made a small profit but apparently it suffered from the emergence of College Balls. Thus in 1899 no Ball took place “owing to the many College Balls”. As well as the Fete – or Garden Party continued to be held on the Wednesday in Commemoration Week – in various College gardens – St John’s, New College, Wadham. The attendances varied from about 1600 to 2000 persons and often profits came to over £100, but that in 1894 was a disaster as rain poured down all day. Today the Vice-Chancellor’s Encaenia Garden Party has taken the place of this pleasing social function in the University from the Apollo University Lodge.
On 22nd February 1876, Prince Leopold was installed as Worshipful Master in the presence of a large company including many distinguished former members of the Lodge: Lord de Tabley Provincial Grand Master Cheshire, Lord Shrewsbury, P.G.M. Staffs., Lord Methuen P.G.M. Wilts., Col. Burdett, P.G.M. Middlesex, and Colonel Campbell, P.G.M. of East Renfrew. The following day Prince Leopold was installed as Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire in the Sheldonian Theatre by Lord Skelmersdale, Deputy Grand Master, who, when up at Christ Church, had been initiated in the Apollo University Lodge in May 1856. The Lodge voted 25 guineas as its share of the expenses on that occasion. The Prince had attended Lodge with great regularity when Senior Warden 1875/6. He now, on 19th June 1876, initiated Mr Pollexfen Copleston Colmore Radcliffe “this being the first occasion of His Royal Highness performing a ceremony as Master of the Apollo Lodge”. In 1880 the Prince presided over the Girls’ Festival and the Lodge subscribed £10. He was congratulated on his engagement the following year – but to the great sorrow of the Lodge he died as a young man in 1884.
In 1897 Lord Valentia, Deputy Provincial Grand Master installed the Master elect. In 1904 the Grand Secretary, Sir E. Letchworth, installed Bro. A.C. Carter. On 11th March that year the Rt. Hon. Bro. T.F. Halsey M.P., Deputy Grand Master of England and R.W. Bro. the Earl of Jersey, Provincial Grand Master were present when Bro. Halsey initiated his son, Gavin George of Magdalen and four other candidates. He had previously initiated his elder son, Walter. Bro. Halsey said that he had ruled over Hertfordshire for thirty years and was the first commoner to be made Deputy Grand Master since the Union. Three generations of his family had been initiated into Apollo. Halsey was again present on 14th February 1911 on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his initiation. Lord Ampthill the Pro. Grand Master, another old Apollo man, also honoured the lodge. Halsey gave the charge to the Initiates. At the Banquet at the Randolph at which 95 sat down, he was presented with a silver cup, a replica of one of the old Oxford cups, suitably engraved. Bro. Halsey, in reply to his toast, alluded to the fact that his father had been initiated in the Lodge and that he had also had 4 sons initiated there, two of whom were present that evening.
On one occasion there was a curious and seemingly unpleasant incident. Philip Colville Smith, who was to become Grand Secretary, had been Master in 1891 and 1893. He was appointed Secretary in 1895. He was again elected as W.M. for 1896. At the Festival Meeting on 11th February, after the Minutes were read, P.M. Pickard proposed the omission of the paragraph relating to the election of Bro. Colville Smith as W.M. for the ensuing year. Bro. Pickard, a Student of Christ Church until 1868, had become an Inspector of Schools in 1864. His motion was seconded by Bro. le Strange. A long discussion ensued, the Lodge being addressed by Bros Pigott, J.D. Davies, P.M. Morrell, Bro. Stride, and P.M. Pope. Bro. Pickard replied and asked leave to withdraw his motion. This was agreed to by the Seconder. Bro. Colville Smith was duly installed.
At the next Lodge meeting Bro. Pope proposed “that the Brethren of the Lodge desire to express their full confidence in the W.M. and to assure him of the loyal and hearty satisfaction with which they view his occupation of the chair.” This was seconded by the Senior Warden “on behalf of himself and the junior brethren.” This was put by P.M. Pope and carried by acclamation. The W.M. expressed his thanks to the Brethren.
But the following April a letter was read from Bro. le Strange of Exeter College resigning his membership of the Lodge and stating his reasons. Any ill feeling, however, seems to have been of short duration for in October that year W.Bro. Colville Smith proposed and S.W. seconded the election of Bro. Austen Le Strange of Exeter College and the Philanthropic Lodge No. 107 as a rejoining member.
We know little of the ritual side of the Lodge’s work. But a Lodge of Instruction was formed in October 1874 and at its meeting the following April we read that “the ceremony of the Initiation of Bro. Crosse, which had been interrupted at the last regular lodge by his having been found in possession of m…s… [that is, his preparation for Initiation had been incomplete ] at the usual time for testing the same, had been so far repeated and afterwards duly completed”. Two Brethren failed to satisfy the W.M. before Raising in 1875 and were subsequently privately examined.
In April 1902 a letter was read from a Brother Silberauer stating that he had, on behalf of the Apollo Lodge, placed a wreath on the bier of Bro. Cecil John Rhodes. Rhodes had been Initiated into the Apollo University Lodge in 1877 and was elected an Honorary Member ten years later. Subsequently this brother presented to the Lodge the masonic apron which had been deposited on the bier.
Throughout this period of 46 years no less than 1,271 gentlemen were initiated, giving an average of 28 a year. They included the Earl of Onslow (1871), the Earl of Antrim (1872), Oscar Wilde (1875), the Hon. Hugh Carteris (1877), Lord Walter Charles Gordon Lennox (1885), L.E. Sackville-West (1886), Oliver Arthur Villiers, Lord Ampthill, the Hon. Montague Charles Eliot (1890), George Robert Child, Viscount Helmsby and the Earl of Antrim (1899), Viscount Maidstone and Lord Eliot (1905), Lord Congelton (1920), the Hon. George Harris and Lord Rodney (1911). A number of Indian members of the University were from time to time initiated. The earliest were two Balliol men in 1883.
These great numbers inevitably led to many exclusions. On going down a number of Brethren failed to continue their subscriptions. Drastic steps were taken in October 1880 when arrears due to the Lodge amounted to £1,046. 197 circulars were sent out. 34 Brethren sent £110. Six were returned through the Dead Letter Office. Some promised to pay later, but five refused to pay including the Earl of Onslow. No less than 128 did not answer. In consequence the five were excluded the following year. In 1882 a further 27 were excluded including the Earl of Antrim. In 1888, 79 exclusions were made and nine in 1891 and 13 in 1893. On later occasions, too, the number of exclusions has been large. In this, as in other respects, perhaps the nature of undergraduates changes little.