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. Continue reading