Old Palace Lodge No.7173

 

Regular Lodge & Jewel

The breast jewel is engraved with the words Pro Ecclesia Dei which is the school song of Old Palace school and means “For the Church of God”.
At the pre-consecration meeting at which the decision was made to name the new arrival “The Old Palace”, much thought was given to the composition of the Lodge Jewel. The design would be repeated on the Lodge Banner, a modern equivalent of the Roman Legion Eagle or a Knight’s heraldic shield.
The function of these devices was to act as a rallying point and to ensure that in the heat of battle, individual soldiers could identify friend from foe. The task of defending the ensign was entrusted to the hardiest fighters, but Masonic Lodges being generally much quieter in nature, the banner reverts to its function of identification and helps give the Lodge its individual character.
Having decided to adopt the name from the Old Palace building, and with the necessary permissions in place, one of our founder members, Cyril Spackman, agreed to design an appropriate emblem. Cyril was particularly suited to this task, being a well-known and highly respected artist and sculptor. Although born in America, Cyril regarded Croydon as his spiritual home and after training as an architect in London, he based himself in Edridge Road, married a very talented concert violinist and designed a large studio at the rear of his house. This studio soon became a regular haunt of local artists and musicians, as well as being the meeting place for the Croydon Camera Club for many years.
Combining his architectural instinct with his Masonic knowledge, Cyril realised the spiritual significance of the porchway or entrance to the great Banqueting Hall, now the entrance to the School building, regarding it as the route to learning and the well-being of future generations. The pillars support an heraldic arch, while from the left-hand side, the branches of an existing tree point towards the doorway, symbolising growth from the Tree of Knowledge, with a possible connection to the acacia-like leaf formation. The Archbishop’s mitre and shield underpin the design giving a physical and spiritual foundation to the whole, while compasses straddle a significant five pointed star. The cloud ceiling provokes thoughts of the great universal architect.
The design became a very attractive Master’s jewel when appended to the collar and until 1978 was engraved with his name and year of office. However, the rising costs of replacing these adornments annually gave rise to the practice of leaving the backs blank in order that the jewel could be re-issued to another Master, the Lodge collar no longer being worn when Provincial Rank was awarded.
The Masonic centre at Oakfield Road has an exhibition of many examples of Lodge Jewels, and there are several such collections in private hands in the Province.
Amongst his friends, Cyril Sprackman was regarded as a very generous and considerate colleague, serving as Almoner to Old Palace from its inception. He gave his customary report at the Lodge meeting in May 1963, and suddenly died just one week later to the distress of all who knew him. At that time, other examples of his work to be seen in the Croydon area included a relief of “St George & Dragon” at Ashburton Secondary Modern School and the Crucifix at All Saints, Selhurst. In the Old Palace Lodge Jewel his artistry is his own epitaph.
He was a man of many talents For Freemasons, his most important commission was the design in 1921 of the Hall Stone Jewel for the United Grand Lodge of England, which was exhibited at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in 1922.
He was very proud that the jewel is a main feature in the central panel of the stained glass window behind the shrine on the first floor vestibule at Freemasons Hall. However, there is one interesting change in the jewel in the panel. When he designed it in 1921 this was prior to the architectural competition for the new building.  When the window was designed several years later, the façade was now known, so the winged figure of Peace, instead of holding a model of a classic temple  as in the jewel itself is actually holding a model of the Tower façade for the building.
The Duke of Devonshire was Grand Master 1947-1950, and in 1950 Spackman exhibited at a Winter Exhibition of the RSBA a bust of the Duke, and in December that year he presented it to Grand Lodge. In 1944 he was admitted into the Worshipful Company of Masons, which had its origins in the operative guild formed to control the stone trade in London.
Spackman was generous with his time and talents and was a well-known and active figure in the local community. He was chairman of the Croydon University Extension Committee, the Committee of the Croydon Writers Circle, an Honorary Vice-President of the Croydon Symphony Orchestra and a Vice-President of the Croydon Camera Club.
 
Fir Trees with a Sunset, by Cyril spackman