The Story of its foundation.
The initiative in bringing about the formation of a Masonic Lodge closely linked with the School was taken by Bro. D.J. Walters, at that time Headmaster of the School, in the summer of 1937, when he summoned to a meeting in the School Library a few old Bromsgrovians and members of the Staff whom he knew to be in favour of such a project. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed that steps should immediately be taken to found such a Lodge and all pledged their support as Founders. It was also agreed that the Lodge should be constituted after the pattern of the School Lodges already established in some of the leading Public Schools: that membership should be restricted to Old Bromsgrovians, to present and past members of the School Staff, and to members of the Governing Body of the School; and that its meeting should be held at the School where accommodation would be provided for any members who desired to spend the night at the School. It would certainly provide for its members yet another link with their old School and give them regular opportunities for reviving old associations and renewing friendships formed in their School days.
The details were elaborated at subsequent meetings with the help and guidance of Provincial Officers and, in particular, of the Master of the Bromsgrove Lodge, W.Bro. R.R. Mason. By the Spring of 1938 all had been settled and a Petition for the founding of the Lodge presented to the Provincial Grand Master on behalf of the eleven Founders and approved and sponsored by the Worshipful Master, Wardens and Brethren of the Bromsgrove Lodge No. 5414. On the 4th May 1938 formal intimation was received that the Petition had been granted.
The Consecration of the Lodge took place on Saturday, 8th October 1938 at the Masonic Hall, Kings Heath, in an impressive ceremony conducted "In pure and ancient form" by the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Worcestershire The Right Worshipful Brother General Sir Francis J. Davies, KCB, KCMG, KCVO, VL, Deputy Grand Master assisted by his Provincial Officers.
By the unanimous wish of the Founders, the senior Past Master, W.Bro. E.G. Bentley, a Past Provincial Grand Registrar of the Province of Middlesex, was given the honour of being the Lodge's first Master. Accordingly, after the Lodge had been consecrated, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master (W.Bro. Alfred Allen, PGD) installed him in the Chair of King Solomon: and he, in his turn, invested the first Officers of the Lodge, with Bro. D.J. Walters and W.Bro. J.E.V. Toney as his Wardens.
The First Year
So, at last, in the autumn of 1938 the Old Bromsgrovian Lodge had come into being and had held its first meeting. Unfortunately it was found impracticable at first to hold its meetings in the School. Once again the Bromsgrove Lodge came to our help by granting us the use of their rooms at De Grey's Cafe. In the remaining three regular meetings of the Lodge's first year we were able to Initiate, Pass, and Raise Bro.H.C. Human, a Master of the School and in every respect a worthy and most acceptable first Initiate. It is sad to recall that he died within a few years while on active service in India.
But there were serious difficulties ahead. Early in September 1939 England found herself, once again, at war with Germany: the Second World War had begun. Within a few days the Government requisitioned the School buildings and the School, in order to survive, was forced hastily to improvise a temporary home elsewhere – at Llanwrtyd Wells in Breconshire. These unexpected circumstances put the life of the young Lodge in grave jeopardy. Little work could be attempted beyond holding occasional meetings to keep the Lodge in being. In the period of the School's exile four meetings were held: at each of these there was an Installation of one of our Past Masters and an Initiation or some other Ceremony. Two of
these meetings took place in Birmingham and the others at Builth Wells under the auspices of the Master and Brethren of the Loyal Wye Lodge, who welcomed us so generously as to create a bond of friendship and gratitude which it is hoped to perpetuate by the honorary membership of the Lodge conferred on the Master and Wardens of the Loyal Wye Lodge.
The Old Chapel
When the School returned to Bromsgrove in the autumn of 1943 the prospects of the Lodge greatly improved, and in March 1944 it held its first meeting in the School, using the Masters' Common Room with Masonic Furniture borrowed from the Bromsgrove Lodge. In 1945 it was able to resume the four meetings required by its By-Laws. From the very beginning the Founders had set their hearts on obtaining permission to use the Old Chapel for their assemblies - as is implied by the front page of the Lodge Summons. This building had not been used since the Dedication of the Memorial Chapel in 1931. In the meantime it had fallen into disrepair and many influential people were urging that it should be demolished. The Society of the Friends of Bromsgrove School, under their active Chairman, Bro. Chaytor Pepper, was eager to prevent this and put forward plans for the renovation of the building and its transformation into a Sixth Form Library. The Founders of the Lodge supported these proposals with a donation of £780 towards the cost, while the Friends agreed to find the remainder. The Governors accepted these proposals and recorded in their minutes that, in recognition of the generous contribution of the Founders, they granted the Lodge the right in perpetuity to use the restored building for their Masonic purposes.
The Dedication of the Lodge Banner
This restoration was completed in 1952. In the meantime the Lodge had acquired its own furniture, most of it constructed to the design of Bro. E.G. Robinson, W.Bro. R.H. Mosse, and W.Bro. H.M. Keeble. All was in place in the Old Chapel for the Installation Meeting on September 1952 when the Lodge met for the first time in the building equipped now as its own Temple. On this historic occasion the Lodge was honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master (The Right Worshipful Brother Ben Marsh), The Deputy Provincial Grand Master (W.Bro. Dr. E.L. Bunting) and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master (W.Bro. H.E. Clive, OBE) with their respective Officers. On taking the Chair the Provincial Grand Master expressed the feelings of all when he congratulated the Master of the Lodge on the beauty of the newly established Temple, "It will be", he said "an inspiration to you all". After the Installation, there followed the ceremony of Dedicating the Lodge Banner, the gift of W.Bro. W.B. Pritchett and W.Bro. G.P. Price, two of the Founders of the Lodge, Bro. E.G. Robinson (who had already given the wands, gavels and bases and an ingenious ballot box all of his own making) then presented- to the newly installed Master (Bro. D.J. Walters) a beautiful Alms Dish of bronze and silver, of his own design and craftsmanship. It was indeed a memorable day: the day in which the Old Bromsgrovian Lodge attained its full stature after many vicissitudes: the day on which the conception of the Founders was at last fully realised. The Old Bromsgrovian Lodge No. 5743, strong and secure in its own Temple with a roll of members now grown to 38 and proud of being the first Public School Lodge to be founded in the Province of Worcestershire faced the future with confidence.
The Next Thirty Years
The Lodge progressed with harmony for the next thirty years. Three other members of the School Staff were soon initiated and eventually installed as Masters of the Lodge - Bros. P. O'Cory, G. Landrock, and T. Boyer. Patrick Cory retired as master in charge of music, Landrock as Director of the J.T.C. Band. W.Bros. Cory & Landrock both became Lodge Organists and W.Bro. Landrock Provincial Grand Organist. Cory was a brilliant musician but hated the organ, and it was due to his influence that the Lodge adopted its Closing Ode from the Masonic Music composed by Mozart for his own Lodge in Vienna.
Until about 1990, the Lodge Organ was a piano but was then replaced by a Hammond organ presented by a Past Master, W.Bro. J.A. Hall. Permission to wear the School Tie in Lodge – refused previously - was granted by the PGM, Lt.Col. O.W.D. Smith, JP, DL, PGD in the early 1960's. This gave great pleasure and no doubt helped to build up the special appeal of the Lodge to the Brethren.
The meetings were in the Old Chapel but the Festive Board was held at various establishments, De Grey's Cafe, The Golden Cross, The Raven Hotel in Droitwich, The Golden Cross at Marlbrook, Perry Hall Hotel, and The Tardebigge
until in 1965 we moved to the Bromsgrove Lodge Rooms in Churchfields.
The Founder Treasurer, W.Bro. W.B. Pritchett, continued in office until he 'died, closely approaching 50 years in the post. The original members of the Staff of the School, who formed the backbone of the Lodge in the 1950's (seven in all), retired from teaching and, regretfully, were not replaced by new serving members of the staff and the close connection the Lodge had enjoyed with the School lessened. The Lodge continued its support for the School, however, providing bookcases for the Old Chapel, then a sixth form library, in 1971 and, later, the spiral staircase, organised by W.Bro. John Foster,. in 1981, and supporting various appeals. Service to the School was also given by members on the Trustees and the Governing Body, W.Bro. Chaytor
Pepper, W.Bro. Geoffrey Piddock, W.Bro. John Baron, W.Bro. John Hall, W.Bro. John Hughes (who represented the County Council), W.Bro. Prof. Brian Haley (who represented Birmingham University and then served as a Trustee), and later, W.Bro. David Cariss. But the connection with the School was less and, except for the Installation Meeting, dining was, with the kind permission of the Masonic Buildings Company, at the Bromsgrove Lodge Rooms until 1989.
The arrangements were greatly facilitated by Bro. H.W. Adams (Bert), our Tyler, who loyally served the Lodge until his death in 1997. Bert was most supportive and proud of his connection with the Lodge, a connection enshrined in the presentation of a Lodge Tie to him, which he greatly appreciated.
A Memorial Service to Bert was held in the School Chapel, with the kind permission of the Headmaster, organised by the Lodges he served as Tyler. During this period a photograph of W.Bro. David Walters and his Grand Lodge Certificate were framed and displayed at Meetings. Lodge Ensigns were presented by W.Bro. M.L. Clements and displayed on a stand made and given by W.Bro. F.E.S. Rhodes. W.Bro. Robbins presented a portrait of the Queen for display at the Festive Board.
The Prestonian Lecture
The Fiftieth anniversary of the Consecration of the Lodge was marked in 1988 by the particular distinction of the appointment of the Lodge to hold one of the three official deliveries of the Prestonian Lecture for that year, "Music and Freemasonry" by W.Bro. Andrew Pearmain, FRCO, PGOrg.
The Jubilee Meeting was held on Saturday 2nd October 1988 and the programme for the day comprised:
12.00 Noon - A Service of Thanksgiving in the School Chapel where the Sermon was preached
by The Right Worshipful The Right Rev. Vernon S. Nichols, The Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire.
2.45 pm. - The Lodge Meeting was held in Routh Hall where the Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire, The Right Worshipful Edward F. Hanson attended supported by his Deputy and
three Assistant Grand Masters from Worcestershire and several other Provincial Grand Masters and other senior Masons totalling 21 members of the Lodge and 187 visiting Brethren.
The Headmaster and his wife attended the Service of Thanksgiving and the Buffet Lunch as guests of the Lodge and there was a formal Festive Board in the School Dining Hall following the Lecture. Members of Bromsgrove Court Leet attended in their formal dress.
On 17th March 1990 the Lodge again held a Special Meeting in Routh Hall, the visit of Lodge Glittering Star, No. 322 Irish Constitution, a travelling Lodge, who installed their Master Bro. Major Antony J. Darliston.
A sad period in the Lodge's history occurred in the early 1990's, when we were involved in a dispute with the Province of Worcestershire. This was resolved when the Lodge, following a petition submitted to Grand Lodge, received a letter from the Grand Secretary on 29th September 1993 stating: "You should know that the M.W. Pro. Grand Master and the other Rulers are grateful to the Brethren of the Old Bromsgrovian Lodge No. 5743 for drawing the problems to their notice". On 17" December 1993, at the regular meeting of the Lodge, the new Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. B.M. Cooper, JP, attended and invested four Brethren with Provincial honours, which had been denied to any member of the Lodge during the period of the dispute.
During this period, however, the Lodge regained its connection with the School with the initiation, in 1990, of Bro. J.A. Gunton and, a few months later, of Bro. T.R.M. Hayward both, at the time, serving on the staff of the School, an event which was to prove crucial to the Lodge. A string of excellent Candidates for initiation followed, mainly young Old Bromsgrovian's, providing much work for the Officers and a membership (in 1997) of 51 (2002 - 58) one of only three established Lodges in the Province increasing their membership between 1970 and 1997. All dining was again in the School and the Lodge faces the new Millennium with optimism and confidence.
The Consecration took place at the Masonic Hall, Kings Heath, on Saturday 8"October 1938, and was performed by: The Right Worshipful Brother General Sir Francis J. Davies, KCB, KCMG, KCVO, VL, Deputy Grand Master
W.Bro. ALFRED ALLEN, PGD, Deputy Provincial Grand Master.
W.Bro. RONALD LONG, ProvSGW as Senior Warden,
W.Bro. L.T. DALLOW, ProvJGW as Junior Warden,
Bra: Rev. B.H. Green, ProvGChap as Chaplain,
W.Bro. H.V. STANTON, PAGDC, ProvGSec as Secretary,
W.Bro. FRANK WILDE, ProvGDC as Director of Ceremonies,
W.Bro. C.A.F. HASTILOW, Prov Deputy GDC as Assistant DC,
W.Bro. F.R. SIMMONDS, ProvGOrg as Organist, and
Bro. O.L. BRAMLEY. ProvGPursuivant as Inner Guard
After the Consecration the Deputy Provincial Grand Master installed W.Bro. E.G. Bentley, PM 2548, PProvGReg (Middlesex), as the first Worshipful Master, and the first Officers of the Lodge were duly invested.
(with contemporary Masonic Ranks 1938)
W.Bro. E.G. Bentley, PM 2548, PProvGReg(Midd1esex)
W.Bro. C. Raymond, PM 1895, PProvGD(0xon)
Bro. D.J. Walters, MC, MA, 1265
W.Bro. J.E.V. Toney, WM 451
W.Bro. W.B. Pntchett, PM 468
Bro. G.P. Price, 468
Bro. H.M. Keeble, MA, 357
Bro. J.T. Mitchell, TD, MA, 3552
Bro. B.S. Collins, MA, 238
Bro. R.E. Daubeny, 4323
Bro. F. Wallace-Hadrill, BSc, 855
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