Earl of Leicester Lodge No. 2237

earl of leicester logo

Meeting Place: (Temporary during re-build of Wells Maltings)

  • The Masonic Centre
  • Hayes Lane
  • Fakenham
  • Norfolk
  • NR21 9ER

Meetings held: 2nd Monday October – April

W.M: Christopher S. Shilling, 1a Wensum Way, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 8NZ
Tel: c/o The Secretary
E-mail: c/o The Secretary

Secretary: Daniel T. Gilson, Pennyroyal, Low Road, Walpole Cross Keys, King’s Lynn, Norfolk, PE34 4HA
Tel: 01553 828801 Home) 07773 344386 (Mobile)
E-mail: dtgil@btinternet.com

Almoner: Graham M. Thomas, Crowlea, Butchers Lane, Fakenham, Norfolk, NR21 9EJ
Tel: 01328 864680
Email: grahamthomas766@hotmail.co.uk

Next Master: John M. Bradley, 12 Penny Croft, Wicken Green Village, Fakenham, NR21 7QS
Tel: 01485 528227
E-mail: pennycroft.bradley@sky.com



Written by W. Bro. Winston Stimpson, PGStB

11th March 1985
On the 12th August 1887, the Worshipful Master and seven Brethren from Joppa Lodge, who met in Fakenham, Norfolk, presented a petition to the Grand Master, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, for the establishment of a Lodge in Wells-next-the-Sea. The Warrant was granted on December the 9th, 1887 and the Lodge was duly formed and Consecrated in the New Hall, Wells, on Monday 5th March, 1888, at High Twelve. The Lodge met once a month until 1890, when it was decided to meet in the months October to May. In 1928, the by-laws were amended to omit the May meeting.

The Consecrating Ceremony was performed by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Major Penrice, Past Grand Deacon, assisted by officers of Provincial Grand Lodge, at the conclusion of which, W. Bro. G.V. Grummett, a Past Master of Joppa Lodge, was installed as the first Master. After the appointment and investiture of the Officers, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master gave the oration.

A feature of the lunch which followed at the Crown Hotel was that no intoxicating liquors were consumed. It was proposed that, when the Brethren partook of refreshment after labour, the same rule should be observed, it being a strong feeling of the Founders, none of whom were total abstainers, that much discredit was brought upon the Craft by an inordinate amount of drinking. However, this council of perfection was not long maintained and was tacitly allowed to drop after two years, without further mention of it being made in the Minutes.
The eight Founder members advanced £7 each to buy furniture and to pay the fees and it was an understanding that this money would be refunded as and when finances of the Lodge permitted. In this respect, each Founder was issued with seven £1 certificates which would be handed back and cancelled as each certificate was repaid.

At the meeting of the 8th December 1888, the Masonic Regalia of Thomas William Coke, first Earl of Leicester and Provincial Grand Master from 1818 to 1842, was presented to the Lodge by the second Earl through the instrumentality of W. Bro. Goddard. A letter entered in the first Minute book of Provincial Grand Lodge shows that the Regalia belonged to Sir Jacob Astley, who preceded Mr. Coke as Provincial Grand Master, but died before his Installation. The Regalia, which differs considerably from that in use at present, has been enclosed in a glass case and forms an interesting ornament of the Lodge.

It was in July 1837 that Thomas William Coke was created the 1st Earl of Leicester and it is interesting to note that some 112 years later, the 5th Earl was initiated into the Lodge, the ceremony being performed by the Provincial Grand Master, Bishop Herbert. But, unlike his ancestor, he became disenchanted with Masonry and, although he remained a subscribing member of the Lodge until shortly before his death in 1976, his only recorded attendance after attaining his Third Degree was for the installation of his chauffeur, the late W. Bro. Maurice Smith.

The first five years were undoubtedly a period of consolidation and the respective Masters during that time were obviously gluttons for work, for the records show that, at one Lodge, three Gentlemen were balloted for and then initiated separately. But the record must surely be held by the December meeting of 1891, when the Lodge was opened in the Second Degree and Bro. H. E. Loynes and Bro. H. A. Beesley were duly passed to the Second Degree, the Lodge was then called from Labour to Refreshment. After a brief interval the Lodge was resumed in the Second Degree and Bro. Thomas Platten was made a Fellowcraft. Bro. James Smith, coming in opportunely, was also passed to the Second Degree. The Charge after Passing and the Second Degree Tracing Board were ably given by W. Bro. Ambrose Goddard. Bro. William Temple, having replied to the questions satisfactorily, retired to be properly prepared. The Lodge was opened in the Third Degree and Bro. Temple was re-admitted and Raised to the sublime degree of a Master Mason. Unfortunately, it was not recorded at what time the Lodge met, or at what time it finished, but it must certainly have been some session.

In those early days it, apparently, was not unusual for the Master of another Lodge to preside, as there are several instances recorded where the Masters of Joppa, Sondes, Doric and Cabbell have taken the Chair and conducted the meeting. Perhaps, at this point, I might relate how fortunate this Lodge is in having a complete record of its transactions since it was founded: every Minute and Attendance Book has been carefully preserved.

At the Installation Meeting of 1899, W. Bro. the Reverend John Player presented the Lodge with a Banner, which, until 1954, always stood immediately behind the Master’s Chair. Owing to its age and the fact that it had been kept rolled when not in use, it became somewhat dilapidated, but through the generosity of the late W. Bros. Sidney Wright and Charles Lown, it was expertly repaired and placed in its present position.

In recent years, we have heard it said that Masonry should be more outward looking, but it would appear that this is nothing new and I find it of special interest to note that the Minutes of the Meeting dated 9th October 1907 refer to a letter received from the Lord Mayor of London, W. Bro. W. Trebor, asking for a donation towards endowing a cot in the Home for Crippled Children of England. It was agreed that the Lodge should contribute the sum of half a guinea towards this worthy cause.

The Sword which the Tyler carries at the opening and closing was presented to the Lodge by W. Bro. Colonel Fielden. In presenting it in open Lodge, he said it was the sword he had worn for over thirty years and he was very glad to find it so useful an office for the future. If any Brother is interested, he will find that the case has been suitably inscribed.

During its lifetime, the Lodge has had four different homes. Forty-eight years were spent at the New Hall. Then we got notice to leave. Our next home was the Assembly Rooms, where we spent the next nine years, then to the Church Rooms, where we spent eight years and in 1954 we arrived at our present location (The Congregational Church Hall).

In 1948, Blakeney Lodge was born. At the request of the members of the Earl of Leicester Lodge, a petition was presented in 1947 and the Warrant was granted in May 1948. The Lodge was Consecrated in Bishop Bowers Temple at St Giles, Norwich, in June 1948, when W. Bro. J. H. Woodgett became its first Master.

Since the Earl of Leicester Lodge came into being, 254 Brethren have been initiated: there are records where nine fathers have introduced sons into the Lodge – one case of a father and two sons, the youngest still being a subscribing member – and there are two occasions where three generations of one family are shown and those of you who were present at our January 1985 Meeting will recall that the Worshipful Master drew our attention to the fact that it was exactly 40 years ago that W. Bro. John Oliver was Initiated into the Lodge, his grandfather having been Initiated in 1906 and his father in 1942. The year 1982 saw history being made in the Lodge, but also in the Province, when the Worshipful Master became the third generation family member to have been Installed in the Chair of the same Lodge.
During its long life, there are many Brethren who have made varying contributions towards the well-being of the Lodge and it is, perhaps, invidious to single out one particular Brother for special mention, but in closing this paper, I feel justified in making reference to the late W. Bro. Frederic Raven, who was Initiated into the Lodge on 3rd December 1900; he became Master in 1906 and Secretary in 1907. At Provincial Grand Lodge, which was held in Wells in 1912, he was appointed Provincial Grand Registrar and in 1946, he was honoured by Grand Lodge, when he received the rank of Past Assistant Grand Standard Bearer.

Here, indeed, was a pillar of the Lodge and, undoubtedly, a guiding influence in laying the foundations on which we build today. He was still Secretary when he died in February 1953, having held office for 46 years. The record of merit in his profession and tribute to his kindness of heart, manliness of spirit and honesty of purpose is borne testimony to by many to whom his memory is justly dear.