On the eve of the First War the Lodge held, as generally had been the custom, its Commemoration Ball – destined to be the last. It had welcomed the appointment of Lord Valentia, who was not, however, installed until May 1915, as Provincial Grand Master in succession to Lord Jersey. Then the curtain fell on the normal activities of the Lodge. Early on a telegram was received from Buckingham Palace requesting a subscription from the Lodge to the Prince of Wales’ Fund for the relief of war distress. The Lodge gave twenty one guineas. The City Lodges lost their home in the High Street where the Masonic premises were used with the Examination Schools as a war hospital. They were accorded all facilities by Apollo to carry on their labours in the Frewin Court building at a charge of two guineas a night for Lodge meetings and one guinea for the Royal Arch and Rose Croix Chapter meetings.
During the war years, no candidates came forward for Initiation, though the Lodge met regularly for formal business and dined afterwards in the Senior Common Rooms of different Colleges. The only Master of the Lodge to have died in office was W.Bro. Mackworth who passed away suddenly in December, 1917. In 1918 Colville Smith had been appointed Grand Secretary and was presented by the Lodge with a piece of plate and a cheque for £55. In the same year the Revd. T.T. Blockley was presented with his full dress regalia on his promotion as Grand Chaplain.
A year after the end of the war – on Thursday November 13th 1919 – V.W. Bro. Colville Smith was installed as Master at the Centenary Meeting of the Lodge held by dispensation in the Town Hall. W.Bro. Dr Proudfoot, subsequently Grand Superintendent of the Province, was in the chair, the Earl of Jersey was Senior Warden and Bro. A.D. Burnett Brown, Junior Warden. After the Lodge was opened, the Pro. Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, accompanied by R.E. Baynes, who had been Master in 1856, Deputy Pro. Grand Master entered in due form and were saluted. Lord Ampthill assumed the chair and installed Bro. Colville Smith as Master.
Later that month the first three of the post war Initiates were introduced to the Lodge. In January 1920 one of four Initiates was John Molesworth St. Aubyn, a collateral descendant of one of the Founders. The Lodge was entering on a period of rapid growth, presumably because of the large influx of ex-service men. In 1920 no less than 57 members of the University were initiated and in 1921 the number was 51. These were indeed peak years. Thereafter except in 1922 and 1925 when 36 initiates saw the Masonic Light in 357, the numbers were generally well under 20, but in the period between the two wars 509 initiations took place – an average of around 26 a year.
There is little to report in this period. 150 guineas were sent to the Million Memorial Fund in 1922. By the Festival in 1925, £750 had been sent up by members of the Lodge, an average of nearly £3 a head. The Provincial Grand Master had expressed a wish that the Province would respond to the extent of £2 a head.
In 1925 congratulations were offered by the Worshipful Master to Bro. Colville Smith on his Knighthood. In that year a crisis in the Lodge arose as the Trust Houses Ltd., the owners of the Clarendon Hotel, gave notice that they would not renew the lease to the Lodge of the Frewin Court Premises. On 20 February 1926 the last meeting there was held when the Secretary reported that over 2000 masons had been initiated there since February 1865. For the next two meeting the Assembly Room in the Town Hall was engaged. But the Lodge settled down in the Masonic Temple in the High Street, owned jointly by the Alfred and Bertie Lodges. Dinners were held, as they had been for some time, in the Randolph Hotel.
The Lodge mourned the passing of one of its most distinguished and active Brethren in the person of Sir Frederick Halsey P.C., Past Deputy Grand Master in 1927 and in March the following year of a recent Past Master, Bro. Murray Wrong, of Magdalen. In 1936 the Lodge learnt with great regret that its beloved Secretary, Bro. Colville Smith, who the previous year had again been Master to celebrate his jubilee, was in the Royal Masonic Hospital where he underwent a major operation. He never really recovered and the following year he was no more. And so had passed away a remarkable character who had been the life and soul of the Lodge for over fifty years. Although a very active Grand Secretary he kept rooms in High Street and was in effective control of all the University masonic bodies. Many still alive will remember with gratitude his entire devotion to the Lodge, his immense masonic knowledge and the great kindliness and refreshing brusqueness of his personality.
He was succeeded as Secretary by Past Master Patrick Johnson, Fellow of Magdalen and Treasurer of the University Boat Club. Unfortunately the Second World War soon engrossed his attention and he was compelled to leave the direction of the affairs of the Lodge to the Assistant secretary, Bro. Clive Saxton.
At the outbreak of the Second World War at the request of the Government, who feared major disasters from bombing, the lodge meetings were suspended. The premises in the High Street were again requisitioned for hospital purposes. But in March 1940 a meeting was held in the Congregational Church School Room in the Cowley Road when an informal discussion took place on the affairs of the Lodge and the continuance of Lodge activities during the war. In May that year a meeting was held at which the Deputy Provincial Grand Master was present and a brother Passed to the Second Degree. The Lodge continued to meet there from time to time for the election and Installation of a Master until in January 1942 two gentlemen were Initiated. At the following meeting in February there were three Initiates. In October 1942 arrangements were made to meet in Magdalen College when two more Initiates were introduced. The new President of that College, Tizard, rejoined as a member of the Lodge which continued to meet there very happily until March 1946. During this period the lodge was honoured by a visit from the Grand Master, M.W. Bro. Lord Harewood, in October 1943. In May 1945 the Lodge voted two hundred guineas to the Boys’ Festival over which the Provincial Grand Master presided that year.
During the latter part of the 1946, the Lodge meet once again in the Congregational Church School and then at the Randolph Hotel. But from February 1947 it returned to the Masonic premises in the High Street. During the war period the Brethren had worn lounge suits for the Lodge meetings. Now however in 1947 a recent communication from Grand Lodge had suggested that Lodges might wish to resume the custom of wearing evening dress. This, Apollo forthwith did. But it was not until the Installation meeting of 1959, thanks to the kind offices of Worshipful Brother Lesser of Reading that the officers were equipped with knee breeches. In 1947 the Lodge once again received a visit from the Master and Officers of the Westminster and Keystone Lodge No. 10 with which for so many years it had retained close fraternal links. At the Festival that year the Lodge was honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master Rt. W. Bro. T.T. Blockey (who was soon to retire), the Deputy, Bro. Col. Wingfield, the Grand Secretary, Bro. Sidney White and the Grand Director of Ceremonies Colonel Bull. Rt. W. Bro Harry Crookshank P.C. was also present. The Grand Secretary installed the Master-Elect, Bro. Revd R.L.P. Milburn, Fellow of Worcester College.
In subsequent years the Lodge was frequently visited by the new Provincial Grand Master Col. G.D. Amery, another Past Master of the Lodge, whose foresight and enthusiasm was largely responsible for settling the Lodges of Oxford, including Apollo, in a new home in North Oxford. The Provincial Grand Secretary informed the Lodge of the project, and it was agreed to transfer the balance outstanding to the credit of the old Ball account, of £316 13s 9d, to a Building Fund. However the Secretary, W.Bro. Clive Saxton, disagreed with the policy being pursued and submitted a report on his resignation as the Loge Representative on the Board of Directors of the Oxford Masonic Hall Company on 7th July 1953. In consequence, the Lodge established a committee to consider the subject so that guidance could be given to the Brethren.
In February 1954 the Committee informed the Lodge that it had just completed its report, and the W.M., Bro. Leo Clark, gave notice that at the next meeting he would propose the adoption of its recommendations. The Secretary was of opinion that such notice was premature. After a long discussion, Bro. Milburn proposed the adoption of the Committee’s report, advocating that Apollo should join in the new building scheme. Bros .J.W. Stubbs and A.D. Burnett-Brown supported this action. Bro. R.L. Lowe, supported the Secretary who moved an amendment to the effect that the Lodge retain its Ball Committee funds and that individuals who had already subscribed be asked whether they preferred their gifts to be retained by the Lodge or given to the Masonic Hall Company. The Secretary’s amendment was lost by 19 votes to 15. The main resolution was then carried by 20 votes to 8. It was then agreed to hand over the Provincial Grand Treasurer the sum standing to the credit of the Lodge Building Fund and the old Ball Fund and that the Lodge appoint a brother as a director of the Company.
It was subsequently announced that all subscribers had agreed to pass their donations to the Provincial Building Fund except the Secretary, who withdrew his donation of 100 guineas, which he sent instead in equal parts to the R.M.I.B. and the Masonic Hospital. In November W.Bro. J.G. Griffith was elected as Representative Director of the Masonic Hall Company.
On 29th January 1955, Most Worshipful Brother Lord Scarborough honoured the Lodge with his presence on the occasion of the Initiation of his heir, Lord Lumley. Later that year the Lodge was in mourning for the death of the Provincial Grand Master, Col. Amery who was succeeded by another Apollo member, Lord Rathcreedan.
In 1956, the Lodge was again host to the W.M. and Brethren of No. 10 and to the Master elect and Brethren of the Isaac Newton University Lodge.
The Lodge gave £25 to Magdalen College on the occasion of their quincentenary as a token of appreciation for the hospitality of the Lodge during the war years.
In 1958 Bro. Clive Saxton ceased to be Secretary. Bro. Bownas, Worshipful Master, paid a graceful tribute to Bro. Saxton who was prevented by illness from being present. The Lodge, he said, owed much to his untiring energy and the high efficiency with which he had carried out the duties of Secretary for the last 21 years. The Provincial Grand Master wrote in similar terms expressing the appreciation of the Province for his undoubted zeal and loyalty to Apollo.
In 1959 plans for a building a new Temple at 333 Banbury Road were available for inspection. It was completed at the end of 1961 when the Installation Meeting of the Lodge was held for the first time in the new Oxford Freemasons’ Hall. At this time, too, a Lodge Committee, which had been in abeyance, was reconstituted. It consisted of the W.M., the I.P.M., Treasurer, Secretary, the two Wardens, the two Deacons and two Past Masters, of whom one was to be non resident. In due course this new By-law received approval of the Provincial Grand Master and of the Grand Master.
In 1960 the financial affairs of the Lodge were explained by the Treasurer. Owing to the exceptional circumstances, the relevant information had only just been received. The accounts for the two years, 1958 and 1959 were then accepted. It was decided in future to have both an income and expenditure account and a balance sheet. The dining and general accounts were to be merged as had been customary until a few years back. By June 1960 the Lodge had subscribed £3,500 to the Building Fund. In 1961 the Lodge was the grateful recipient of two welcome gifts. W.Bro. Sir George Cooper P.G.D. left two Dresden Porcelain figures of masonic interest to the Lodge, and £2000 was gratefully received from the executors of W.Bro. Dr Cartwright, P.G.D. Subsequently, a cabinet to hold the Lodge’s objects was purchased for £40.
The new form of obligation recently sanctioned by Grand Lodge was used first in January 1965. At the end of the year, Lord Rathcreedon, Provincial Grand Master, attended to mark the 10th year of his reign and the 40th of his Initiation into the Lodge, as well as his 60th birthday. During 1966, the Lodge was busily engaged in collecting covenants and stewardships for the 1967 Festival of the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls. Eventually, over £3000 was realised. Lord Donoughmore, the Most Worshipful Grand Master of Ireland, and Most Worshipful Brother Sir Malcolm Barclay Harvey, Past Grand Master Mason of Scotland were elected Honorary Members as had been Bro. Major R.L. Loyd and Lord Scarborough all of whom had been Initiated into Apollo. In May, 1968, the Lodge was honoured with a visit from the Grand Master of Ireland accompanied by his Deputy, Bro. J.A. Wallace and his Secretary, Bro. J. Harte. Besides the Provincial Grand Master of Gloucestershire, Bro. Bathurst, of Buckinghamshire, Bro. Howard Potts, two Past Grand Wardens, Lt.-Gen. Williams and Major-General Hone, the Grand Secretary, and twelve other Grand officers. Copies of the Oxford Ritual were presented to our Irish visitors.
The Lodge mourned the death of one of its distinguished initiates in 1969 – Most Worshipful Brother Lord Scarborough, Past Grand Master and Pro. Grand Master. At the close of that year was held the 150th Anniversary Festival when V.W. Brother Dr Costin was installed by R.W. Bro. Stubbs, Grand Secretary, as Master for the fifth time in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, Lord Rathcreedon, the Provincial Grand Master for Somerset, R.W. Bro. Sir Lionel Brett, Past District Grand Master for Nigeria, and fourteen other Grand Officers. On this occasion it was announced that in May, the Lodge would hold a special meeting to commemorate its continuing existence for 150 years.