The London Scottish Rifles Sword
After leaving the Chair in the sixties and acting as ADC then DC of the Lodge, Norman Rowe, Secretary of 5730 for many years, regularly gave a lift home to one of our founders, Harold Brandon. On Norman’s appointment to AstProvGSwdB Harold insisted on giving him a sword from his collection and a postcard depicting a member of his family with the sword on a ceremonial March in Scotland.
After about thirty years in safekeeping, Norman asked Ron Saunders to see if he could restore it. Ron, in an address to the Middlesex Grand Officers’ and Provincial Grand Officers’ Club said:
On closer inspection, I noticed historic, royal, military and masonic engraving on the blade, so I looked for the Regiment on the internet and found the Website for the ‘London Scottish Rifles’ which showed their military history dating from 1859. The sword was in a terrible state, so after taking photographs, making notes and reference marks, I then began to dismantle it, cleaning its sharkskin handle, red hide/suede knuckle glove and crimson tassel which took me about three days.
The steel of this blade is of the highest quality as would have been used for battles in the nineteenth century for both faces contain blood grooves. It would have had no engraving, only the maker’s hallmark, also after any ceremonial display, the cage guard would have been removed and a cruciform re-fitted for use in battle. The polishing of the rusty metal scabbard and effecting electro nickel silver plate to the cage guard and pommel was done by a specialist company at Isleworth and may I say that they were overwhelmed by this beautiful creation.
When collecting it, I asked how best to preserve its finish and was surprised when they said “Just apply plain wax polish regularly to the metal and nothing else”!
Ron then looked for a suitable home for the sword, eventually contacting the London Scottish Rifles Regimental HQ and Museum in St. James’s. He continued:
I then contacted the London Scottish Rifles’ Regimental H.Q. & Museum in St James’s and spoke to their Secretary Major Stuart Young, thus obtaining its historical provenance; and confirming its possible Masonic origins. He inquired if I wished to sell it but I said that I would get back to him as it did not belong to me.
In the UGLE year book, I found that there was a Lodge attached to the London Scottish Rifles – number 2310. I phoned their secretary and gave him Norman Rowe’s details as he was the owner of the sword. After which it was finally decided by Norman that when the sword was fully refurbished we could present it back into the military lodge’s care. The lodge hold their LOI at the Regimental HQ and their lodge meets at Clerkenwell.
It is 101 years since these volunteers were formed into a regiment, prior to being under the command of King Edward V11; and it is frustrating for Norman that he remembers that there was a photograph given with the sword depicting it in a famous procession of 1908 to celebrating this occasion, but unfortunately it has gone astray.
The sword before restoration
On Thursday 28th January 2010 a delegation of members of Old Hamptonian visited London Scottish Lodge at their Burns Night meeting in Clerkenwell, where the sword was presented to them with much ceremony.
Photographs courtesy of Ron Saunders.