Giles Shilson, Freemasonry & Democratic Transparency at the City of London Council

While it seems unlikely freemasons conspiratorially direct day-to-day policy at the City of London council, the fact that since the founding of the Guildhall Lodge 3116 more than 50% of the Lord Mayors of London have been members of this minuscule masonic grouping is disconcerting.* The Guildhall Lodge appears to have undue influence on council appointments and to play at least some role in maintaining the glass ceiling that sees top post within this local authority being disproportionately handed out to white men from highly privileged backgrounds. Likewise City of London residents who are familiar with recent discussions of freemasonry by our council’s so called Standards Committee are by and large flabbergasted by the chutzpah of the masons who dominate it. Needless to say, the City of London doesn’t care about residents’ views because undemocratic business votes control eighty percent of council seats.

We have previously addressed the opacity of a couple of council register of interest entries. Here we will deal with the same issue as regards Giles Shilson, a councillor for Bread Street ward. Despite the fact that he would appear to be a high flying freemason, Shilson failed to make an appearance in a recent Barbican Talk discussion that among other things attempted to work out the percentage of councilors who are masons – we suspect the figure mooted there is an underestimation. That Shilson is a freemason was not apparent to the City residents involved in this discussion because the way this is indicated on his register of interests is not transparent to many of those who do not belong to The Brotherhood, and will be seen by some as disingenuous. Before we look further at Shilson’s register of interests and status as a high ranking mason, we will deal with a social media Tweet that brought this councillor to the attention of the national press earlier in the summer. Shilson Tweets using the handle Giler, seemingly a moniker he picked up during his private education:

The chairman of the Barbican in London has apologised after comparing the Welsh language to being dyslexic.

Dr Giles Shilson, who is chair of the performing arts centre in the City of London, posted a picture of a (Welsh language) train departure board with the caption: “This must be what it feels like to be dyslexic…”.


The tweet has since been deleted and Dr Shilson has apologised… But for some the damage had already been done.

Leanne Wood, leader of Plaid Cymru, said: “As the chair of the Barbican centre in London, why would you show such ignorance, spite and lack of culture as you have displayed in this tweet? If it was meant to be a joke, it just isn’t funny. An apology would be good. ”

Others on social media agreed. One user wrote: “It’s insulting to Welsh speakers and those with dyslexia. Ignorance is never funny.” Ynyr Jones said: “If he’d aimed that kind of insult towards any other language it would be all over the press and he’d be labelled a racist and discriminatory of dyslexia. Why do we accept it?”

Charles Wilson said: “I am on a focus group of people with disabilities and other protected characteristics. Being a speaker of a minority language was not on the list of protected characteristics, so I am on it, officially, for being on spectrum and being gay. “But I was keen to point out what we have to deal with on a regular basis as linguistic minorities. It is ignorant to make erroneous comparisons between neurodiversity & linguistic diversity in a mocking way: ableist and xenophobic. I receive more discrimination for speaking Welsh and Gaelic than being gay.”…

Dr Shilson said: “I am deeply sorry for the offence that I have caused by my tweet about dyslexia and the Welsh language. “I have undoubtedly upset and angered many people and although some Twitter users have accepted my subsequent apology, I fully appreciate that I should not have sent the tweet in the first place.”

Dr Shilson was educated at St Paul’s School and Balliol College, Oxford. He practiced as a barrister until 2005 before heading into business. He sits on various bodies of the City of London Corporation, including the policy and resources, culture heritage and libraries, markets and City Bridge Trust committees. A past chairman of the board of governors of the City of London School, he is currently chairman of both the Barbican Centre and the Gresham Committee.

Chair of Barbican apologises for tweet comparing Welsh to being dyslexic by Jessica Walford, Wales Online, 19 July 2018.

Aside from coverage in Welsh media, we also spotted this story in The Times, The Daily Mail and The Evening Standard. While Shilson deserves credit for making an apology that did not attempt to excuse his poor judgement, the entire incident serves to further undermine the patently absurd claim on his campaign website for City of London elections: “Giles combines a wealth of experience in law, governance and senior administration with sound judgment, intellectual rigour and complete political impartiality.” The entire City of London council set up ranging from its undemocratic business vote system to the pretence that the overwhelming majority of its councillors are politically ‘independent’ is a sham. The neo-liberal orientation of this local authority is evident to any objective observer who takes a look at its lobbying activities around the world on behalf of tax havens and what is euphemistically called ‘market liberalisation’ (and which in practice means political policies that divert wealth to a tiny elite at the expense of the overwhelming bulk of humanity).


Looking at Shilson’s register of interests the first thing that caught our attention was the listing of Grand Charity among his non-pecuniary items. This blog had previously asked for clarity over whether the listing of Grand Charity on Sir Michael Bear’s register of interests was actually the Freemasons’ Grand Charity; neither the City of London nor Bear himself bothered to provide us with an answer, we’d still like one despite the fact Bear subsequently retired. In Shilson’s case he also lists himself as a trustee of another masonic charity The Letchworth Memorial Fund AKA United Grand Lodge of England Letchworth Memorial Fund. According to data accessed via a searchable version of the Charity Commission Register of Charities for England and Wales:

The Letchworth Memorial Fund provides assistance to Freemasons, and dependants of Freemasons, who cannot be helped by the various existing Masonic benevolent funds, but who stand in need of prompt aid.

While the freemasons make a big issue of their charitable work much of it is simply aid to fellow masons, so their United Grand Lodge and associated charities are more akin to a mutual aid/self-help association than a charitable organization. Likewise the money the City of London puts into charities and the arts operates mostly on the level self-justification and artwashing; while it funds a handful of London academy schools the City of London Corporation invests far more in private education because this peculiar and completely undemocratic local authority sees its mission as servicing the interests of an elite rather than serving its actual residents and the broader population of London.


On his register of interests Shilson lists himself as a director of Ten Duke Street Limited; web searches for the names of all the directors of this organisation found on the Companies House website bring results for high ranking freemansons. The address the organization takes its name from appears to be one that accommodates a variety of businesses but it is also very much associated with freemanonry. Exactly what Shilson means when he lists himself as ‘Chief Executive, A & A Rite, Duke Street St James’s, London, SW1’ is opaque. We were unable to find this operation listed at Companies House or any information on it from web searches. We suspect A & A Rite is short for Ancient and Accepted Rite, sometimes known as the Scottish Rite or 33rd Degree Masonry. It appears that what Shilson lists as A & A Rite might more properly be described as the ‘Supreme Council 33° at the headquarters of the Ancient and Accepted Rite for England and Wales’. The Supreme Council 33°’s website gives its address as: 10 Duke Street, St James’s, London SW1Y 6BS. There is material online that suggests Shilson is involved with the Ancient & Accepted Rite:

Dominic (De Candia) and I took advantage of a brief stay in London to attend different meetings of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite, at Duke Street, St James, the home of the Rite in the United Kingdom…. Dominic visited his counterpart in Duke Street, Dr. Giles Shilson, and had the opportunity to attend two of their Higher Degree Ceremonies, a 30th and 31st Degree; both were conducted by the nine Members of the Supreme Council for England and Wales. The Refectory was well attended; the first toast of the evening was given to the visitor from “down under” where 120 members of the Rite took wine with Dominic.

Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite – XIX World Conference Lisbon, Portugal (May 2015) by Ian Tilbury, Sovereign Grand Commander, Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite for Australia.

Likewise The Berkshire Masonic Year Book 2015-2016 – which is available as a pdf online – provides a 2015-2016 list of Grand Officers of the Supreme Grand Chapter of England, and this features someone with Shilson’s name who is probably Shilson. Curiously someone with the same name as Oliver Lodge who ran with Shilson on a slate for election in the Bread Street ward also appears on this Supreme Grand Chapter officer list. So despite being ‘independents’ these two councilors could end up viewed by some as secretly representing a neo-liberal Conservative Masonic Party – or possibly an Invisible College given Shilson’s involvement with Gresham College, which while still existing was also a precursor to the Royal Society. It was Oliver Lodge with his fellow freemason Edward Lord who presided over the ridiculous and unsatisfactory recent Standards Committee discussions of masonry. Lodge lists the Guildhall Lodge and the United Grand Lodge of England among his non-pecuniary interests; there is no mention of the Supreme Grand Chapter of England, which we assume would be covered by Oliver Lodge’s United Grand Lodge affiliation assuming there isn’t another high flying freemason with his name. According to a report in The Daily Telegraph, 10 Duke Street not only houses the masonic Supreme Council of which Lodge and Shilson appear to be members, but also the Sine Favore Lodge 9856:

New members of the so-called Brotherhood are blindfolded, a hangman’s noose placed around their necks and they are warned their throat will be slit and their tongue torn out if they break their oath. Critics argue this could put them at odds with discharging their duty to serve the public (in the case of public servants such as members of the police force, armed services and local councils)…

The new “Sine Favore” lodge, is named after the Latin motto of the Police Federation, “Without Fear, Without Favour”…

Lodge number 9856 was officially opened by a senior Masonic official, Russell Race. He is the Metropolitan Grand Master, head of the Grand Lodge of London, a corporate financier and chairman of a construction firm behind the huge Westfield shopping centre in west London and The Pinnacle office development, which, when complete, will be the tallest building in the City of London.

The lodge is based at 10 Duke Street in central London, which is also the headquarters of the Supreme Council of the 33rd Degree, one of the most important and mysterious bodies in international Masonic circles, which has an elite membership of only 75 people.

The building, known as Grand East by Masons, contains the “Black Room”, the “Red Room” and a “Chamber of Death”, used for Masonic rituals.

Freemasons in the police leading the attack on David Cameron’s riot response by Jason Lewis, Daily Telegraph, 20 August 2011

There seems to be little reason to doubt that Shilson is a high ranking freemason, so why can’t he be more frank in the way he lists this involvement on his register of interests as a councillor? The way some of Shilson’s required register of interest entries are recorded might be seen as an attempt to hide cosplay involvements from non-masons in as far as this is possible without actually breaking the rules governing such disclosures. Given the disproportionate number of Lord Mayors who have been members of The Guildhall Lodge and the recent highly unsatisfactory Standards Committee discussions of freemasonry, the way Shilson has publicly recorded his interests may serve to further undermine public perceptions of probity at the City of London council. And this is a local authority in urgent need of democratic reform due to the continued existence of business votes and a tiny electorate, among other things.

Pippa Henslowe.

Giles Robert Evelyn Shilson.


*Paviors Lodge 5646 on the Guildhall Lodge and how many Lord Mayors have belonged to it at Internet Archive:

Chair of Barbican apologises for tweet comparing Welsh to being dyslexic by Jessica Walford:

Giles Shilson’s Twitter account:


Giles Shilson page on the election website he shared with Oliver Lodge (they ran together on a slate) at Internet Archive: Note: confusingly this website can be found at two different addresses one as Ward of Bread Street WordPress and one as Bread Street Dot Org. The former appears to be a free WordPress site and the latter a paid for WordPress site. According to an online pdf giving the history of the Bread Street Ward Club (updated in June 2017), there are approximately 430 voters in the ward. These will mostly be business votes and this means there is an absurd ratio of approximately one councillor for every 143 voters, although the ratio will be much closer to one to one in terms of residential voters. This is indicative of why the City of London as a local authority is in urgent need of democratic reform.

Giles Robert Evelyn Shilson’s register of interests as a City of London councillor at Internet Archive:

Online data about The Letchworth Memorial Fund accessed using Olly Benson’s searchable version of the Charity Commission Register of Charities for England and Wales:


At the Charity Commission’s site the data for the financial year ending 31 December 2016 has this to say as regards other trusteeships for Dr Giles Robert Evelyn Shilson on its entry about The Letchworth Memorial Fund: “None on record”. This despite the fact that at Companies House Shilson is listed as a charity manager for Gresham College appointed on 7 March 2014:

Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite – XIX World Conference Lisbon, Portugal (May 2015) by Ian Tilbury:

Like Jamie Ingham Clark, a member of the Ancient and Accepted Rite and also a City of London Councillior, Giles Shilson is a cosplay enthusiast who likes to don the garb of monastic military orders – his register of interests includes entries for Priory Esquire at Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of St John of Jerusalem in addition to Order of St John London Priory Group.

The Berkshire Masonic Year Book 2015-2016 which appears to include Shilson and his fellow Bread Street ward councillor Oliver Lodge in its list of Grand Officers of the Supreme Grand Chapter of England:

Various Rose Croix regional groups list G. R. E. Shilson as Grand Secretary General of the Supreme Council of the 33° – see for example Cheshire West:

Freemasons in the police leading the attack on David Cameron’s riot response by Jason Lewis:


FAQ page for Shilson & Lodge campaign site at Internet Archive:

Oliver Lodge Grand Director of Ceremonies and Edward Windsor Grand Gardener of England attending the Freemasons VC Memorial Unveiling Event.

Oliver Lodge page on Shilson & Lodge campaign site at Internet Archive:

Manifesto page on Shilson & Lodge campaign site at Internet Archive:

Giles Shilson with two men suspected of being his siblings: possibly the tartan trousers are an indication that all three ‘brothers’ are devotees of cosplay performed within the parameters of the ‘Scottish rite”…

Home page on Shilson & Lodge campaign site at Internet Archive:

Shilson & Lodge campaign blog at Internet Archive: This post in particular is revealing: “17 February, 2017 by Giles. It’s official… I am delighted to announce that Oliver and I have just submitted our nomination forms for the forthcoming Bread Street election. These were accepted and we are now officially candidates. I am very grateful to my nominees: Sir Roger Gifford, UK Head of SEB; Geoff Pienaar of the London Stock Exchange; Simon Larter-Evans, Headmaster of St Paul’s Cathedral School; Craig Andrews of the Takeover Panel; and Nick Bensted-Smith of Sarasin & Partners. Oliver’s nominees were Trelawny Williams of Fidelity; Graham Lacdao of St Paul’s Cathedral, Chantal Ackerman of CME Group; Gail Murray of Jeeves of Belgravia; and Julie Butler of Reiss. Our sincere thanks to them all.”

Giles Shilson on the right.

Old version off Shilson & Lodge’s election blog at Internet Archive:

Old version of Shilson & Lodge’s campaign website home page at Internet Archive: It includes this observation: “In the 2005 Common Council elections, only six wards were contested: there were 107 candidates for 100 seats. This means that in 19 wards there was no vote held at all, and those who stood for election gained their places on the council without a fight. The ward of Bread Street has rarely been contested…”

Oliver Lodge elected to the City of London Council in 2017 with 126 votes, that’s the total number of votes he received – clearly ward boundaries need redrawing and democratic reforms introduced as there are only about 430 business voters and virtually no residents electing the three councillors in the Bread Street ward Lodge represents.

Giles Shilson’s thesis, Behavioural, electrophysiological and connectionist studies in inflectional morphology can be downloaded here:

Giles Shilson with ‘Sir’ Roger Gifford, a freemason and former Lord Mayor of London who was one of Shilson’s nominees in the 2017 City of London common council election.

Giles Shilson isn’t the only person with his surname active in the City of London, Wikipedia has an entry for Stuart James Shilson who is currently a director of McKinsey in London, a liveryman of the Drapers’ Company and like the Bread Street councillor has worked as a barrister and is a member of the Most Venerable Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem. They also both went to St Paul’s & Balliol, Oxford. Stuart Shilson was born in 1963 and Giles Shilson on 19 May 1973, so it is possible they are brothers. See:

A Surrey Live court report about convicted paedophile David Richards provides further information about Stuart Shilson and his family: “Character witnesses at the trial included Stuart Shilson, who was assistant private secretary to the Queen from 2001 until 2004. Mr Shilson, from Godalming, said he was happy for his own children to be with Richards. His mother, Gillian Shilson, a writer, who has been Richards’ girlfriend after meeting him while they were students at the University for the Creative Arts in Farnham, also said she had never any suspicions about the defendant. ‘I have huge love and respect for this dear man,’ she said.” Bagshot nudist jailed for indecent assault on young girl: David Richards, 67, received a three-and-a-half year jail term for the assaults in 1992 by Agency Staff, Surrey Live, 27 April 2016:

A search for information about Gillian Shilson provides further circumstantial evidence for – but does not prove – a family link between her, Giles Shilson and Stuart Shilson. An examination of Giler’s tweets indicate he is one of three brothers and his mother was born and grew up in Saint Kitts and Nevis. Gillian Shilson’s winning entry in the Hampshire Writers’ Society competition for a sample letter to a literary agent suggests she is the mother of three boys and that she grew up in the West Indies:

Dear Caroline Powerful,

I am seeking representation for a first novel, The Girl in the House with Green Doors, 114,000 words (romance/psychological thriller cross, women’s commercial fiction) and would be very grateful if you could take a look.

Three Line Synopsis: Vacationing in a woodland hideaway, romantic, book-loving Ethan squares up against devilish antagonist George to absolve himself of guilt over the death of a child and to win the heart of mystical Abby whom George lusts after and seeks to possess.

This is the story of three people whose lives become entangled following a tragic accident. It is also a love story with some spiritual elements. I think it might appeal to the same readership as The Lovely Bones or The Secret Life of Bees.

I was born in the West Indies and ran barefoot about the tropics until condemned to hard shoes and boarding-school in England at the age of thirteen. I started writing seriously in my twenties and was agented (near misses, but no luck) by Pollingers.

I brought up three boys, divorced, took a degree in fine art and cared for my demented mother until her death, working as a painter but always writing in my spare time.

I have several other novels almost completed. Writing is my absolute passion, the thing that makes it worthwhile getting up (early!) for. I live alone in a cottage by a lake with a study, a desk and a pen. I love walking while thinking about the current novel, constantly rejoicing in my freedom to write again.

I still hate wearing shoes.

I heard you speak at this year’s Winchester Writer’s Conference and would dearly love to be represented by you. I hope very much that you enjoy my chapters, which I attach with a one-page synopsis.

Kind regards, Gillian Shilson.

Hampshire Writers’ Society at The University of Winchester: November 2016 Competition Results judged by Becky Bagnell:


A Just Giving fundraiser for David Shilson (19/03/1938- 01/11/2014, lived in Claygate, Surrey) on a ‘Giler Shilson’ page provides circumstantial evidence for the Bread Street councillor’s father being called David and one of his brothers Hugh (it is of course possible this is a different Giles/Giler Shilson):

Our father (in Aidan’s case, grandfather) died of prostate cancer on 1st November 2014. In his memory, we’re growing moustaches for the month of November. Now, we haven’t signed up for a month of humiliation for the sheer hell of it, so please donate and make it all worthwhile! The aim is a) to raise awareness of the need to have regular tests for prostate cancer (seriously, it’s okay if you catch it early, and if you don’t, it’s unbelievably horrid – get checked) and b) to raise money for the wonderful Princess Alice Hospice, who looked after Dad in his last weeks. Please get giving! Hugh, Giles and Aidan.


Having made a comparison of their Twitter posts and compared these to other sources we view it as probable that Giles Shilson’s wife/partner is Dot Newman who tweets from this address:

Dr Giles A Shilson is listed as Master of Ceremonies at Grand Stewards’ Lodge – note the middle initials of the councillor we’ve been looking at are R. E., so this may be be a relative – there is also the rather more remote possibility the initial given here is an error. Note this Shilson’s lodge number is given as IV, an early and now in terms of masonic cosplay ‘exclusive’ lodge. Viz, four London lodges came together on 24 June 1717 to found the United Grand Lodge of England. Three of those four lodges still meet today: Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2; Royal Somerset House & Inverness Lodge, No. iv; and Lodge of Fortitude & Old Cumberland, No. 12. Referred to as ‘time immemorial’, these lodges operate without a warrant and have a band of dark blue in their lodge officers’ collars. To mark the tercentenary of this date the Grand Gardener of England, Edward Windsor, was proclaimed master of all three lodges.


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