The booklet produced for the Centenary meeting of the Ancholme Lodge on 25th October 1969 contained “A History of the Ancholme Lodge No 1282” compiled from the minutes of the Lodge by various Brethren. More recently, W Bro Adrian Joyce has brought the story up to date from the minutes of 1969 – 2016. What follows here is a miscellany extracted from these previous works.
The first Lodge in Brigg was Urania No 510 formed in 1792 at a time when George III was on the throne and William Pitt the Younger Prime Minister. These were uncertain times and the Lodge did not flourish; its Warrant was transferred to St. James Lodge at Louth in 1803.
The Warrant of Ancholme Lodge No 785 was dated 31st March 1847 but the Lodge survived only till 1859.
The present Ancholme Lodge was established by Warrant dated 7th September 1869 to meet at the Town Hall, Brigg and dedicated on 25th October of that year.
On 7th January 1875, notice to quit the Town Hall was received and the Brethren were expected to remove the Lodge property the following morning. An agreement was quickly made to hold future meetings at the Forresters’ Hall (more recently, Whelptons Garage). This presumably remained the position until 1880 when, on 5 October, the RWPGM attended to dedicate the new Lodge rooms in Cary Lane. These must have been rented because the freehold was eventually purchased by a conveyance of 31st December 1923 for £250. Within 5years substantial renovation was required to the tune of around £500, leading to a substantial deficit in the building fund which in turn meant that in 1929 the annual subscription was increased from £2.10 to £4.20. Indeed the debt incurred as a consequence of acquiring the building was not cleared until shortly before the commencement of World War II.
Over the years, substantial sums have been expended on the building. Electric lighting was first installed in 1934 to replace gas. In 1949 there were alterations to the ground floor which must have been impressive as the then RWPGM, Lord Heneage, attended the Lodge to view them. A ceiling collapsed unexpectedly in 1983 requiring repairs to the roof and the rest of the building. At that time, a new kitchen and stair carpet were donated, but funds were tight as it was resolved that each Brother should donate £10.
In 1964 there was perceived to be a threat that redevelopment of the area would lead to the compulsory demolition of the Lodge. With a view to building a new Lodge at some point, a plot of land off Barnard Avenue was purchased for £1121. For some reason it was sold undeveloped in 1977 for £5500.
The heating system has given problems over the years and is now fired by gas rather than coke, making the boiler room redundant and forlorn. Interestingly, the writer’s late father in law, Bro Stan Creek, was elected as a Serving Brother to light the boiler and occupy the office of Tyler. At one point in the 1990s there was a suggestion that the boiler room be converted to a shop for letting, but the project proved too expensive.
On 6th February 1874, Bro. W. Pigott presented a “very handsome and elegant” Banner to the Lodge. This was refurbished in time for the Centenary Meeting where it was re-dedicated by the then RWPGM JGT Eccles who was a member of the Lodge. It was intended to refurbish it again in readiness for the Sesquicentenary Meeting, but it was found to be very delicate and in need of careful preservation, so a decision was taken to commission as exact a replica as possible bearing in mind the materials and colours now available.
The original three Tracing Boards dated back to 1870 and remained in use until around 2001 when they were replaced with the aid of a donation in memory of the late Bro Ken Holmes.
On closure of the first Ancholme Lodge a portion of the furniture and jewels were left in the possession of a Bro. Nichloson (there were two such) and in 1874 these were donated to the present Lodge. On December 8th 1881, W Bro J R Dudding, the WM, presented three chairs to the Lodge on behalf of the “Bachelors of the Lodge”. They were still in use in 1969 and are presumably those occupied by the WM, SW and JW. In 1970, they were re-upholstered to mark the hundred years of meetings in Cary Lane.
By the mid 1880s the Lodge was so well endowed with furniture that it was able to give surplus duplicates to the new Scunthorpe Lodge, St Lawrence. It is understood there is no reference to this in the St Lawrence minutes.
So far as furniture and effects are concerned, little further seems to have happened from 1880s until 1936 when W. Bro Eminson and his wife presented a Bible cushion and Secretary’s table. In the same year, a scheme for the installation of upholstered blue-covered seating was authorized, the Brethren covering the cost.. The Dais dates from the same period. Two embroidered collection bags were donated to the Lodge in 1938. The present Temple carpet dates to 1980 and the Officers’ gauntlets to 1991.
Lodge minutes tend to be very formulaic. relating which Brethren took part in ceremonies but disclosing very little about the character and achievements of members. There are a few exceptions. On 5th January 1891 Bro.J Cawkwell was presented with “a handsome silver snuff box, suitably inscribed, in recognition of his 21 years faithful service as Tyler”. A member of Bro Cawkwell’s family, W Bro R Taylor, became a joining member of the Lodge and on 20th December 1976 presented that same snuff box to the Lodge. It is still in the Lodge’s possession. Bro Cawkwell was the Lodge’s first Tyler and he was succeeded by Bro H W Hales who remained in post until his death in 1954, which means that in its first 85 years Ancholme had only two Tylers. On the 50th anniversary of his appointment Bro Hales was presented with an inscribed teapot and two framed photographs, one of which was for the Lodge and that photograph hangs in the Tyler’s room to this day.
Wars left their mark on the Lodge as a number of Brethren lost family members. In October 1900, there was a “resolution of sympathy” in the loss of Bro Capt. Fred Gale in action on South Africa. Various charitable donations were sought and made in the two World Wars. In May 1940, the Warrant and Jewels of the Lodge were ordered to be put into safe-keeping in case of damage by German air raids “which were then prevalent”. In October of that year, the WM reported that the Warrant etc had been so placed and that the dining room had been occupied by the Military. W Bro Jack Moore received a letter in January 1990 asking for any available information concerning a report sent by 1282 to Grand Lodge at the end of World War II to the effect that a member, Bro Capt Ash, had shot down a German bomber over Saxby with a machine gun. Very Rev A W G Gifford (Master of Ancholme in 1902), Dean of Guernsey, wrote in September 1945 sending greetings to all and relating some of his experiences under German occupation.
The first Grand Lodge Officer in the history of the Lodge was W Bro H J Hubble invested in April 1943. Another recorded first is the Ladies’ Night in 1937.
The minutes record a number of legacies and gifts given by relatives in memory of late Brethren. Mrs Holt of Broughton Grange gave money to the building fund in 1927, W Bro A B Holt in his will gave a donation both to the Lodge and to charity in 1946. More recently, generous bequests were received from the estates of W Bros. Jack Moore, Jim Bocock and Stan Martin.
On 23rd July 1891, it was recorded that “the Lord Mayor of London, Bro Joseph Savory (SGW UGL), Bro Augustus Harris, Sheriff of London. Bro the Rt Hon Earl of Yarborough and other distinguished visitors attended the Lodge and received an address of welcome”.
Like all Lodges, Ancholme has been very generous over the years with its charitable giving. Some of the donees now seem rather strange but were no doubt entirely appropriate at the time. A Masonic Ball was held in the Exchange Rooms, Brigg in 1877 jointly with St Mathew Lodge No 1447, for the benefit of the Oliver Memorial Fund. In 1914, five guineas each were given to the Prince of Wales Fund for National Relief and the Belgian Relief Fund. This was followed in 1918 by a donation of £80 to the Freemasons’ War Hospital and £3.15 to St Dunstans Hospital for Blinded Soldiers. Members decided in 1940 to make a monthly collection for the Royal Masonic Military Hospital for the duration of the war and this was later followed by a resolution to grant an annual sum to the same recipient. £100 was invested in Warship week in 1942.
Very little is made of the actual ceremonies in the extracts of the minutes published previously. However, on 2nd June 1870, “four Initiations and three Passings were performed on this evening” followed on 7th July by “one Initiation, four Passings and two Raisings”. The mind boggles.
Ancholme Lodge has a long and distinguished history and we are fortunate indeed that we have a pretty near complete set of minutes to inform our successors.
With thanks to W Bro Mike Johnson PProvJGW