The History of our Lodge

How did it all start?

Universal Lodge was founded as the result of two Freemasons meeting frequently on the West Kent and London Masonic circuit. They were Ivor Fairall and Roy Croft.

"We first met at a meeting of St.John and St.Paul Lodge 615, at Sidcup Masonic Hall in 1964. I had just become a joining member of 615, having returned that year to the UK from service in Her Majesty's Overseas Civil Service in Kenya, where I had been initiated into Mt. Kenya Lodge No. 5638. Roy Croft was Junior Warden in his mother Lodge (New Composite No. 4076). We both enjoyed our masonic outings, but we found it difficult to get away for the times of the meetings we attended, that is to say starting at 2.45pm or 3.00pm, and going on to 10pm. I also knew that as a joining member of 615 I would not go through the regular offices to the 'chair' of the Lodge.

Our thoughts on the difficulties we encountered and our desire to do something about it led us to decide that we would try to form a lodge that would:

  • meet at a later hour than was then customary
  • confine itself to one ceremony per meeting
  • cater for the younger professional/businessman

We were fortunate, through the good offices of Walter Croft, Roy's father, to be put in touch with Sydney Ward, a Grand Officer of Walter's acquaintance, who was willing to be the Primus Master of the embryo Lodge. Sydney Ward's immense knowledge of The Craft, his numerous contacts, and the esteem in which he was held by all those who knew him was, without doubt, the foundation upon which Universal Lodge was based. We all honour his memory - he guided us well.

A series of meetings were held in Roy's flat in Marylebone or my house in Sidcup during which, by personal contact, a group was formed who became the founders of the Lodge.

During these meetings we laid down the 'founding principles' for the future:

  • That membership should not be restricted to one group or profession, but should be open to all professionals and businessmen.
  • That once there were sufficient numbers of members to make the Lodge viable there would be only one ceremony per meeting and only one candidate per ceremony.
  • That charity should be practised in deed as well as in word. 

The Founders were drawn from Lodges in the (then) Province of Kent, and London Lodges. For reasons of cost and suitable temple space the Founders opted to seek consecration in the Province of Kent and were delighted when their petition was accepted. We fitted naturally into the West Kent part when the Province later split into East and West. We feel very fortunate in our choice." 

The story of the first 35 years of Universal Lodge is recorded below.

Why Universal?

"Being from a variety of Lodges and backgrounds the Founders did not have a ready-made name for the new lodge. However, finding a name was not deemed to be something that would be difficult, in the end it was not at all easy.

Both Roy and I favoured something that expressed the global aspects of Freemasonry from the fact that three of the intended Founders had been initiated overseas. We also wanted to get away from a title that would be too indicative of one particular trade or profession. Suggestions for the name were invited from the Founders and after a couple of Committee meetings two names emerged to be put to Province, they were SALUS POPULI (Service to the People); and BRONLEI (the Domesday name for Bromley) where we were to meet. INVICTA had been a popular choice but had been discounted when it was discovered that a Lodge of that name already existed.

Neither of the first two names was acceptable to PGL so the name of Universal Lodge was submitted, which to several of the Founders was a very acceptable compromise, and Province agreed!

A happy corollary to the acceptance of this name was that it became logical to opt for the Universal ritual and thus to unite the Founders on that choice. Up to that time they had been almost equally divided between Taylors and Emulation working. St. John and St. Paul Lodge 615.

No history of Universal Lodge would be complete without mention of '615'. Apart from being our sponsoring Lodge, 615 was also the Lodge at which many of the founders first met each other. Furthermore the support received from 615 in the early days was tremendous. Our eternal thanks are due to, inter alia, the late W.Bro. Don Hind, a Grand Officer and a dedicated Freemason, the late W.Bro. George Pine, a Senior Past Provincial Grand Officer in Kent (before the split), who was gifted not only as a ritualist but also with wit, the late W.Bro. Frank Hubbard, another Provincial Grand Officer in Kent, and W. Bro. Dick Harvey, Secretary of 615 for many years, a true friend and brother and a man whose advice and assistance to a fledgling secretary was utterly indispensable. There are and were many others who by, their attendance at Universal's meetings showed their support and affection for the new Lodge.

They are, in a limited piece like this, too many to name. It can, however, be safely said that we had the wholehearted support of our 'mother lodge' and that this support was in no small way due to the esteem in which W.Bro. John Rich, a founder during his year as Master of 615, was held by the brethren of 615. Not only did W.Bro Frank Hubbard support us with encouragement from his vast experience, but also in 1970 he presented the Lodge with a most beautifully preserved Volume of the Sacred Law dating back to 1848, which is used to this day."

The Consecration

"Our petition to form Universal Lodge was successful and with the backing of the Province of Kent (this was before the Province was divided into East and West) we were consecrated as, UNIVERSAL LODGE 8219, on 17th July 1968, at the Masonic Hall, Cromwell Avenue, Bromley.

The Consecration was performed in magnificent style by the Rt. Worshipful Provincial Grand Master (Kent) The Lord Cornwallis, attended by the Deputy PGM, W. Bro. Sydney Ernest Day, JP, PGD, 3 Assistant Provincial Grand Masters and 10 other Provincial Grand Officers including the legendary Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies W. Bro. J. C. Hickman Twallin.

The consecrating officers were invited to become Honorary Members of Universal Lodge, which they graciously accepted.

The following were invested and installed as Officers of the Lodge:

  • (Worshipful Master) W.Bro. Sydney Ernest Ward PAGDC, PPJGW
  • (Senior Warden) Bro. Roy Ivor Croft
  • (Junior Warden) Bro. Ivor Charles Fairall
  • (Chaplain) W.Bro. Leon Brady
  • (Treasurer) W.Bro. Walter Croft LGR
  • (Secretary) W.Bro. William. Albert George Smith PPJGD
  • (Director of Ceremonies) W.Bro. Ernest Henry Law LGR
  • (Senior Deacon) Bro. Harold William Porter
  • (Junior Deacon) Bro. Raymond Lewis Thompson
  • (Asst Director of Ceremonies) W.Bro. Albert Victor Barker
  • (Almoner) W.Bro Albert Edward Reeves
  • (Inner Guard) Bro. Edward Herbert Wells
  • (Stewards) W.Bro. John Robert Piper Bro. Herbert Stanley Watson Bro. Terence Maxwell Clayson
  • (Tyler) W.Bro. Alexander Erskine Eldridge PPAGDC

There were 127 guests at the luncheon which preceded the consecration, who with the founders and the Consecration team totalled 156. In addition to the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and the 3 Assistant Provincial Grand Masters there were the Provincial Senior and Junior Grand Wardens the Provincial Grand Secretary, the Provincial Grand Chaplain and his assistant, the Provincial Grand Pursuivant and his assistant and the Provincial Grand Tyler - simply putting these facts to paper does not do justice to the occasion.

The temple at Cromwell Avenue was something special and the combined talents of Lord Cornwallis and the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, W.Bro. J. C. Hickman Twallin (later Provincial Grand Master) were awesome. The sea of colour as the packed temple stood in reverence and awe of the occasion and the atmosphere as the eight thousand two hundred and nineteenth Lodge on the Register of the United Grand Lodge of England was brought into this world cannot be described adequately in this short piece. Suffice it to say that any Freemason who has not attended a consecration is duty bound to do so as soon as he can, so as to add the experience to those of his initiation, passing, raising, and, if he has been or is to be so privileged, installation, to make the circle of his 'Masonic Knowledge' truly complete.

I hope you have enjoyed reading this article as much as I have enjoyed writing it."

Yours sincerely and fraternally

Ivor Fairall

Founding Junior Warden

 

History of Freemasonry

The Origins of Freemasonry in England

Middle Ages

The questions of when, how, why and where Freemasonry originated are still the subject of intense speculation.

The general consensus amongst Masonic scholars is that it descends directly or indirectly from the organisation of operative stone masons who built the great cathedrals and castles of the middle ages.

1646

The first documented making of an English Freemason, Elias Ashmole, at Warrington in 1646.

1660

From the 1660s more evidence exists of gentlemen being made Masons in non-operative Lodges.

1717

On 24 June 1717 four London Lodges, which had existed for some time, came together at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St Paul's Churchyard, declared themselves a Grand Lodge and elected Anthony Sayer as their Grand Master. This was the first Grand Lodge in the world.

1723

By this time the new Grand Lodge had published its first rule book - The Book of Constitutions of Masonry - and was meeting quarterly and recording its meetings. It had extended its authority outside London.

1725

The Grand Lodge of Ireland was established.

1736

The Grand Lodge of Scotland was established.

The three Home Grand Lodges began to take Freemasonry overseas and the development of Freemasonry abroad mirrors the 18th and 19th century development of the British Empire.

1751

A rival Grand Lodge appeared in London. Its original members were Irish Masons who claimed that the original Grand Lodge had made innovations.

They dubbed the first Grand Lodge the Moderns and called themselves the Antients.

The two existed side by side - both at home and abroad - for nearly 63 years, neither recognising each other as regular.

1813

After four years of negotiation, the two Grand Lodges in England united on 27 December 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England.

This union led to a great deal of standardisation of ritual, procedures and regalia.

1814

Some 647 Lodges were in existence. The 19th century saw a great expansion of Freemasonry - both at home and abroad.

1900

2,800 Lodges had been established despite losses when independent Grand Lodges were formed in Canada and Australia in the later part of the century.

World Wars

The two World Wars both had a great effect on English Freemasonry.

In the three years after the First World War over 350 new Lodges were set up, and in the three years after the Second World War nearly 600 new Lodges came into being.

In many cases the founders were servicemen who wanted to continue the camaraderie they had built up during their war service, and were looking for a calm centre in a greatly changed and changing world.

1967

On 14 June 1967 the 250th anniversary of Grand Lodge was celebrated at the Royal Albert Hall. Centrepiece of the celebrations was the installation as Grand Master of HRH The Duke of Kent, who still holds that office today.

1968

On 17 July 1968 Universal Lodge No. 8219 was consecrated in the Province of Kent.

1992

On 10 June 1992 over 12,500 Freemasons and guests gathered at Earls Court in West London to celebrate the 275th anniversary of Grand Lodge.

For the first time press and television were present at a meeting of Grand Lodge and the event featured on television newscasts around the world.

2017

The Tercentenary (300 years) of Grand Lodge is celebrated in June 2017 at the Royal Albert Hall.

 

2018

The 50th Anniversary of Universal Lodge is celebrated on the 17th July 2018.

Universal Lodge hold their 250th meeting on the 10th December 2018.

2019

Several members of Universal Lodge receive Provincial recognition (active appointments) at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting held at Freemasons' Hall on the 7th May 2019.

 

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