Nearly 20 years after the end of World War II, there were still about 26,000 American military personnel in France. Many Masons were amongst them, but only a very few affiliated with local lodges, due to language or ritual differences. Some American military lodges were created under the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF), but until 1964 the nearest American lodge to the Paris the authority of the worshipful master: the gavel area was located at Evreux, over 100 km. from Paris. Therefore, the foundation of Chevalier Ramsay Lodge was a response to the Masonic needs of American military personnel in and around Paris at that time.
In fact, there were 24 Founding Members, and all were American Masons assigned to a U.S. military base, to NATO or to SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. The original Lodge by-Laws, as well as the Lodge's original Texas Ritual, were both borrowed from Normandy Lodge No. 63, another U.S. military Lodge in France and it was decided that the new Chevalier Ramsay lodge would meet in St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris. The name 'Chevalier Ramsay' was in memory of a distinguished Scottish Freemason, who happened to be buried locally in St. Germain-en-Laye.
Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 85
Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 85, under the auspices of the GLNF, was consecrated on the 19th September, 1964. The regalia worn, which we still wear today, included the typical French tri-colour rosettes, as used by the GLNF. The first Worshipful Master, W. Bro. G:. S. C:., had already been the Worshipful Master of Normandy Lodge No. 63 at Evreux Air Base in France. In those days, our lodge met on the first and third Tuesdays of the month. However, after only about 18 months of existence, due to a decision taken by General De Gaulle, NATO and SHAPE moved to Belgium; NATO to Brussels and SHAPE to Mons.
The last meeting of the Lodge in St.Germain-en-Laye was on thre 11th March, 1967. In the 60 meetings held, 55 Brethren were enrolled in the Lodge. The Lodge had a difficult time for the next year or so, until it moved to Maubeuge, France, a small town near the Belgian border, which allowed the Lodge to retain its status under the GLNF, and still be accessible to Brethren who now lived in Brussels and Mons. The first meeting in Maubeuge took place on the 6th September, 1968, and the Lodge met on the first Friday monthly at the Hotel de France. The Worshipful Master, William E. Parker came to Chevalier Ramsay Lodge from Stability/Concorde Lodge No. 29/42 in Paris, and, basically, as Bill was familiar with the California Ritual, and not the Texas, Chevalier Ramsay changed its ritual mostly to accommodate him!
Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 85 continued to meet in Maubeuge, France, until December, 1970. In all, 31 meetings were held there and 40 new Brethren were initiated or affiliated. Most were American military personnel belonging to NATO and SHAPE. On the 6th June, 1970, and after considerable discussion between the GLNF and the Grand Lodge of Belgium, Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 85 was solemnly re-consecrated in Brussels as Lodge No. 29 on the roll of the Grande Loge de Belgique. In attendance that day were M.W.Bro. E:. V:. H:., Grand Master, GLNF, and C:. N. B:., who was then the GLNF's Assistant Grand Secretary, as well as 70 other distinguished guests. The move, however, was very costly to the lodge. Out of 40, only five members re-joined, and six others affiliated with another English-speaking Lodge, King Leopold I, in Mons.
Grande Loge de Belgique
The early years under the Grande Loge de Belgique (GLB) were rife with problems of Irregularity. Although the GLB had stated it would observe the ancient landmarks, inter-visitation incidents with the Grand Orient of Belgium (who were not regular and with whom there had been a split in 1961) occurred as early as 1971, and the degree to which a belief in a Supreme Being was required in the GLB became in question. Coincidentally, at this time, Chevalier Ramsay Lodge lost its image of being an American lodge. The British were the first to join, and soon other military and civilian staff from NATO countries became members.
In 1972, Worshipful Brother G:. G:., a Brit, became Worshipful Master. He was followed by G:. D:. S:., a Belgian, who, in 1978, was followed by a Turkish Brother, Worshipful Brother N:. S:.
In 1978, our Lodge moved from Brussels to a newly-opened Masonic temple in Waterloo, Belgium. The past eight years had not been easy for the lodge or its Masters.
It all culminated in January 1979 when one of our Past Masters, Worshipful Brother G:. G:. wrote to the sitting Worshipful Master proposing that Chevalier Ramsay Lodge withdraw from the GLB. Four alternatives were open to the lodge:
- 1. return to the GLNF;
- 2. seek a Charter from the G.L. of California;
- 3. merge with Lodge Allegiance, an English-speaking Lodge meeting in Brussels, under the Grand Lodge of Scotland or
- 4. join a new Regular Grand Lodge which was to be formed in Belgium.
Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 4
All options were examined and on the 14th June, 1979, Chevalier Ramsay Lodge resigned from the GLB and the next day became a founding member of the Regular Grand Lodge of Belgium (RGLB). Since that time, under the RGLB, Chevalier Ramsay Lodge No. 4 has enjoyed a period of peace and tranquility, and we have a wide degree of acceptance and respect within our Grand Lodge. Several of our Past Masters have been raised to Grand Lodge rank in the RGLB and other Grand Lodges.
Back to Brussels
In 1989, at the request of the RGLB, the lodge moved back to Brussels. Chevalier Ramsay is an international lodge, having completely lost any semblance of being a military or American lodge. Lodge members now come from many walks of life. As a mark of reverence to the various religious faiths of the lodge members, three Volumes of the Sacred Law are on the lodge's altar: the Torah, the Christian Bible and the Koran. Although the lodge works in the English language, the membership list includes Brethren from many different countries. Today, these include: Armenia, Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, The Netherlands, Ireland, Nigeria, Poland, Scotland, Sri Lanka, Turkey, USA, and Zimbabwe.