This is one of the more exclusive societies listed in Ms Strachan’s book. According to the entry it was founded by ‘ two writers in the occult field during the course of a cream tea at the Daquise Restaurant, South Kensington, and its object is to commemorate the memory of S .L. Macgregor Mathers, Comte de Glenstrae’.
Apparently, the Society was a dining club whose exclusive male membership was limited to ‘twelve English members and four honorary corresponding members’. It had neither Constitution nor rules except ‘insofar as the Founders invent ( and then forget) them as the occasion demands’. Several important dates are listed on which the members met to dine. These included Mathers’ birthday ( January 8th), his wedding day ( June 21st) and the anniversary of his ‘ famous ‘ manifesto to the R.R. et A.C. ( October 29th).These dinners only took place two or three times a year. It goes without saying that membership of the Society was by invitation only.
So who was MacGregor Mathers? It turns out that this celebrated occultist ( full name Samuel Liddell MacGregor Mathers) was born in Hackney in 1854, and after working as a clerk in Bournemouth, became a Freemason and a Rosicrucian in London and was head of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn for years before he was drummed out in 1900 for financial irregularities. He married the lovely Mina Bergson, sister of Henri Bergson, the philosopher, became a vegetarian (and possibly a vegan) at a time when such people were thin on the ground, and had among his enemies Aleister Crowley. A polyglot, whose languages included French, Latin, Greek, Hebrew, Gaelic and Coptic, he was well placed to translate various mystical and occult texts.
Ms Strachan doesn’t reveal what the letters R.R. stood for ( A.C was presumably Aleister Crowley), who the two founders of the Society devoted to the memory of Mr Mathers were, why they thought so highly of him, or why they were consuming a cream tea in a restaurant specialising in Polish food. Never mind. The elitist nature of the Society doesn’t make it an attractive proposition. In fact, it no longer exists. Luckily, the Daquise Restaurant is still there, looking as it might have done fifty years ago, though it no longer serves cream teas.
The Lamplighter Movement.
According to their entry, this movement originated in ‘the heart of England’ in 1964 as a sequel to the Big Ben Minute’:
‘When the striking of Big Ben at 9.00 p.m. was abandoned by the BBC, an indication was received from a higher spiritual force by W. Tudor Pole, the originator of the earlier movement, that Light should replace Sound in the lighting of permanently burning lamps. This was to be seen as an outer symbol of inner intent. It is a gesture towards the reality of the spiritual world in a time of great human need’
Apparently, the idea caught on with the result that lamps burned ‘ in several countries’ and Lamplighters felt that an ever burning light brought ‘an atmosphere of peace and healing into the house’. Sir George Trevelyan, the warden of Attingham Park, a pioneering adult education college near Shrewsbury, was the man to ask if you wished to become a Lamplighter.
Actually, the two men mentioned were rather significant people in the spiritual movement in England at that time. Major Wellesley Tudor-Pole (1884- 1968) found himself in Istanbul in 1910 at the same time as Abdul Baha, the leader of the Bahai movement. Intrigued by its teachings, he interviewed him over a period of 9 days in November and was so impressed that he became an avid follower over the next several decades, writing books and articles on the movement. In 1940, in collaboration with Winston Churchill he instigated ‘The Silent Minute’, which at a time of great upheaval, united the British people at the chiming of Big Ben on the radio. When the BBC abolished the 9 o’clock radio chime Tudor- Pole invented the Lamplighter Movement in 1964 along with his friend Sir George Trevelyan (1906 – 96), himself a founding father of the New Age movement.
The Lamplighter movement still flourishes. A lo-energy lamp, which costs just a £1 a year to run, can be bought online from an address in Northampton for £25 plus carriage. Incidentally, Eddie Tudor-Pole, lead singer of the punk band, Tenpole Tudor, which signed to Stiff Records along with the brilliant, multi-talented Queen of Punk, Lene Lovich, is Major Tudor Pole’s grandson. [RR]