Ceres Lodge No. 2879

The Assembly Rooms,
Market Place,
PE37 7QH

W.M: Robert P. King, 2 Methwold Road, Northwold, Thetford, Norfolk, IP26 5LJ
07940 174966

Secretary Alexander P. Preston, 8 Ash Meadow, Necton, Swaffham, Norfolk, PE37 8GB
Tel: 01760 725540
E-mail: alex.p.preston@gmail.com

Almoner: Peter T.A. De-Gol, 47, Station Street, Swaffham, PE37 7HP
Tel: 01760 722720
E-mail: peterdegol@hotmail.com

Next Master: M W Reeve 21 Sandringham Way, Swaffham, Norfolk, PE 37 8BS
Tel: 01760 336211
E-mail: mw_reeve@hotmail.com

Date of Warrant 4th Oct 1901
Centenary Warrant 26th Oct 2001
Consecrated 26th Nov 1901
Installation Meeting – Nov
Meets First Wednesday, Oct to May


The following is a short history of the Lodge prepared by the hard work of Worshipful Brother Mark Powell and his wife, who have spent many hours and months going through the books extracting items of interest. We thank them for their work.

The Great Lodge of Swaffham

The Great Lodge of Swaffham was consecrated in the Crown Inn, Swaffham, on the morning of the 17th December 1764, by the Right Worshipful Brother Benjamin Nuttall, deputy provincial Grand Master, Alderman of the Borough of Lynn Regis. A procession followed by a 7 gun salute and a band, passed by the church for a blessing followed by a dinner in the Assembly rooms. The evening saw “a brilliant assembly of the ladies” with the brethren in full regalia.

The membership came from the high society in the area, some of whom were:-

  • The Earl of Orford
  • Sir Clement Trafford
  • Lord Blaney
  • Sir John Tyrell
  • Sir Edward Astley, Knight of the shire for Nflk
  • Sir Henry Peyton
  • Thomas Walpole, the Member for Lynn
  • George Hobart, the Member for Beeralston
  • Martin Ffolkes, Riston
  • Patric Blake, the Member for Sudbury
  • General Francis Grant
  • Brigg Fountaine of Narford
  • Henry Dashwood of Swaffham.

One of the general resolutions of that lodge reads “That every Member who swears on oath in the Lodge shall pay a fine of one shilling and if he talks Politicks shall drink a half pint bumper of salt water. If he comes into the Lodge in liquor then he shall pay a gallon of claret for the use of the lodge and if he be riotous he shall be “SENT TO COVENTRY”

The Lodge had a turbulent career, rarely more than a dozen attending. Meetings were held monthly, then quarterly, and eventually just by arrangement. Absentees were fined 5 shillings per meeting. The Earl of Orford never attended his year as Master! Thomas Walpole was expelled from the Lodge and his Coat of Arms was taken down, broken into pieces and thrown on the fire. Some never got that far. Poor old William Woodbine, Attorney of Swaffham, was rejected with four white and NINE black balls!!

Miss F.E.Gardner, a descendant of Richard Gardner, the first Master of the Great Lodge, presented the Minute Book to Ceres Lodge in 1906. Another Lodge, I believe the Hole in the Wall Lodge, founded in Norwich, moved to Swaffham in 1807, being erased in 1827, Unfortunately no records survive.

Founding and Consecration of Ceres Lodge No 2879

The Lodge was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Master of Norfolk, the Right Worshipful Brother Hamon Le Strange on 26th November 1901. 16 founder members were present, and the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master headed a team of five Consecrating Officers. 56 visitors attended. After the Lodge had been dedicated, the Worshipful Master was installed, then the Officers. A committee was formed to draw up the bylaws. 10 proposals for joining were received. In the following year the Lodge needed thirteen meetings to keep up with the influx of new members. Thus were laid the substantial foundations on which Ceres Lodge 2879 rests. Ceres lodge is very lucky in that a copy of the original Consecration Summons has survived and is retained in the lodge records.

Ceres-the name

Ceres is the name the Romans gave to the Greek Goddess Demeter. Greek mythology tells us that Demeter was the daughter of a relationship between two of the Titans, Cronus and his sister Rhea. Demeter was the corn Goddess, wheat and barley were sacred to her, and she presided over the harvest and every agricultural labour. Worshiped all over the Greek and Roman empires her cult was surrounded by mysteries and accompanied by orgies!

Meeting Places

The Lodge was consecrated at the Assembly Rooms and continued to meet there until the rooms were commandeered by the Military at the start of the Great War in 1914, when they moved to the White Hart. 1918 saw it move back to the Assembly rooms and there it stayed for 21 years, until the Military again took over the rooms at the start of the Second World War, putting us back to the White Hart. After the war we went to the Baptist Lecture Hall in Station Street. In 1968 we returned to the Assembly Rooms for a thirty two year spell until the loss of the kitchen facilities forced us out to the Territorial Army Center in 2000. We remained there until 2006 when fortunately the assembly rooms were refurbished and we could once again take use of the building that is so closely linked in our history. We remain in the assembly rooms to this day.

Daughter Lodges

Ceres Lodge No 2879 is very proud to have been associated with the founding of three daughter Lodges in the Province. In 1908 Ceres supported the Consecration of Thet Lodge No.3334. In 1919 St Winnolds Lodge No. 3955 was consecrated, the start of a long and close relationship that lasts to this day. Ceres held its Golden Jubilee in 1951, and at the time of the celebrations, sponsored Watton Lodge No.7017 with founder and joining members.

The World Wars

Ceres Lodge suffered at the beginning of both World Wars, with the loss to the Military of it’s meeting place, the Assembly Rooms. Several of the younger members joined up in 1914. Nothing is recorded of their exploits in the Lodge minutes, but they were exempted from paying their subscriptions. A large number of military personnel visited our Lodge, as camps were set up at Narborough, Castle Acre, and other local sites. A lieutenant in the hussars stationed at Castle Acre was initiated, passed and raised in 1915-1916, and a lieutenant in the Norfolk Regiment was initiated in 1916, passed and by the time he was raised had been promoted to Captain. Two Lieutenants from the Royal Flying Corps stationed at Narborough, one of them American, are recorded as visitors in 1917. Only light refreshments were served in Lodge during this period, and prayers were said for Members on Active Service. Much more was recorded about the Second World War, with descriptions of Members’ contributions to the war effort. We still have these forms recording 62 names and what they were able to contribute; a précis follows this section. Lodges were encouraged to be flexible and candidates did all degrees in a matter of weeks. In 1945, one brother was initiated, passed and raised in only 34 days. “Put that light out” encouraged Swaffham to move its meetings to Saturday afternoons. Festive boards were abandoned, and tea or beer was substituted. Two members of the American Army Air Force were initiated, passed and raised at the request of Grand Lodge.

Masonic Charities

Ceres Lodge No. 2879 has always been a good supporter of Charities, within Masonry and outside. In recent years we have supported the “Swaffham & Litcham Home Hospice Support”, “John Chapman Day Center”, and many others, as well as being ranked fifth overall in the 2000 “Norfolk Festival” and raising over £42,000 towards the 2006 “Norfolk Festival”. [the “Norfolk Festival” is the Masons own internal fundraiser for Masonic Charities]