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Pre-War Years

The Pre War Years (1933-1939)


It was obviously the intention of the Founders to continue as far as practicable, the traditions established over so many years by Canynges Lodge, and in which they themselves had been schooled. This included the giving of the Charges after all three Degrees, and the Addresses to the Master, Wardens and Brethren, following the Installation Ceremony.


It was inevitable, with such a small initial membership, that there would be many Brethren unqualified to undertake the amount of work involved in the correct presentation of the ceremonies. However, the close interest taken by the Mother Lodge ensured a steady flow of visitors with the knowledge and willingness to stand in, and deputise for absentee Officers.


Fraternal visits between Canynges and Chatterton Lodges were held at regular intervals and these added materially to the close and happy relationship between the two Lodges.


This year, (1933), also saw a dispensation from Provincial Grand Lodge to the effect that, at the discretion of the Worshipful Master, it would now be permissible for Brethren to wear dark morning dress as an alternative to evening dress at Masonic meetings. It should be noted that the Lodge decided not to avail itself of this relaxation in the rules.


Sunday, 22nd. October, 1933, marked the first occasion when members of the Lodge joined in a Provincial Service of corporate worship; this was held at Temple Church, Bristol, and full Masonic Regalia was worn.


The Lodge accepted an invitation from the Chatterton Society to join with them in a pilgrimage at St. Mary Redcliffe Church on Monday, 20th. November, 1933, to place a wreath on the memorial of Thomas Chatterton, this being the anniversary of his birth. The pilgrimage was repeated in 1934, but there is no record of it taking place again.


The Hymn tunes that had been specially composed for the Lodge were not meeting with unqualified approval. (Having recently heard them resurrected for a Lodge meeting I can understand this. Ed.)

A note in December, 1933 states that “it is hoped Brethren would put more heart into their singing” and at a later date a small sub-committee of ‘musical members’ was appointed to look into ‘the desire expressed by a number of Brethren, that the tunes be changed’.

The music referred to was, in fact, lost with most of the Lodge property during the War, and subsequently the original tunes did not reappear until 1961.


There was apparently a strong feeling that the Lodge should not be allowed to grow to such a size that the personal association might be lost. It was therefore resolved (January 1934), that the membership of the Lodge be limited to 60. Bearing in mind that today, (March 2008) we are struggling to increase our membership above 30, this was indeed a luxury.


On the 3rd. May, 1934, W.Bro. W.T.Syng, Secretary, presented the Lodge with a Record Book in which it was intended that all important events in connection with the Lodge should be recorded, and Bro. C.R.H.Lord was given the task of ‘writing up’ this information. The book was fitted with a lock, one key, which was handed to Bro. Lord and the other to the Worshipful Master. Sadly this possible mine of interesting information was lost during the War.


In 1934, it is reported that the Provincial Grand Master in his Annual Honours List, had bestowed a Provincial Grand Steward’s Collar upon the Lodge. Apparently in those days, it was the prerogative of the Worshipful Master, possibly advised by the Lodge Committee, to decide the actual Brother to receive the Honour, and in this instance it was given to Bro. J.Morton Evans (Sr.) one of the founders of the Lodge.


In the same year (1934), following a holiday abroad, which included a visit to the Holy Land, Bro. I.J.Spencer (J.W), presented the Lodge with a gavel made of stone from the quarries at Jerusalem, which he said he hoped would be used by the Worshipful Master. Again this was one of those items lost during the blitz on the night of 24th November 1940


The Lodge opened earlier than usual on 6th. December 1934, in order that two Brethren could be Passed and two other Brethren Raised on the same evening! At that meeting it is interesting to note that it was proposed that a Lodge of instruction should be formed as soon as possible.


A most unusual ceremony took place at the November 1935 meeting. Three candidates were Passed to the Second Degree. It is noted that a special dispensation had to be obtained from Provincial Grand Lodge for this to be done, but unfortunately there is no indication as to how the floor work was organised!


It is on record that on four occasions during this pre-war period, the Lodge  Committee was approached while in session, by itinerant Brethren seeking financial assistance. Two of the Brethren hailed from Scotland, one from Canada, and the fourth’s origin is not recorded.


On 5th. November 1936, a letter from the M.W.Grand Master was read out in open Lodge stating that a further £50,000 was still needed to complete the refurbishing of the Masonic Peace Memorial (Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London), which had been dedicated in 1933.


His wish was that the splendid edifice should be handed over free from all debt, and he appealed to all Brethren for their further generous assistance to achieve this goal.


Being a young Lodge, it was to be expected that advancement would be fairly rapid and it may not be surprising therefore, that at the end of 1936, we find our first Candidate, Bro.O.J.Eveleigh (initiated 2nd February 1933), by then a Steward, being entrusted with the Charge after Raising, which he also gave on a number of occasions subsequently.