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An excellent booklet of the first 25 years of the history of Woodstock Lodge has been produced by W. Bro. John White and presented to all members of the Lodge for the last 25 years. More copies are still available and will be given to initiates and joining members for some years to come. The purpose of this booklet is to supplement the Silver Jubilee edition and recall some notable events of the first 50 years of Woodstock Lodge.
Searching through the records the first meeting to discuss the formation of the Lodge took place on May 28th 1963. Several members of Ditton Lodge felt the need to form a new Lodge as at that time Ditton Lodge refused to do a double ceremony and initiates were forced to wait for over 5 years. Also it was felt that the new Lodge should meet later in the day. Originally it was decided that the new Lodge should be called Claremont Lodge but by the next meeting this was changed to Woodstock Lodge. There was already a Claremont Lodge No.1861 and this Lodge still exists today. The reason the name Woodstock was chosen is fully explained in John White’s book, but for completeness a very brief explanation is given here. As previously mentioned Ditton was to be the Mother Lodge and one of the main roads leading from Ditton is Woodstock Lane. In this lane is St. Mary’s Church and this was to be denoted in the Lodge Banner.
Following several meetings 18 Brethren finally petitioned Grand Lodge for authority to found a Lodge and the Consecration meeting was held on 30th. January 1964. The records show that 184 people dined after the meeting at a cost of 2 guineas each (£2 10p). The list of the Founders is given at the start of this booklet. Full details of this meeting are given in the 25th Anniversary booklet.
The Lodge was to meet 5 times a year at The New Bull Hotel in Leatherhead and it was agreed that the Lodge should not be tyled before 6.00 p.m. The furniture for the Lodge was to be hired from Leodride Lodge No. 3585 at a cost of 5 guineas per year.
It was further agreed that the ritual to be adopted would be the Emulation ritual but with 3 variations. a) The Officers would answer for themselves during the Openings, b) the Junior Warden would present the working tools in all the degrees, and c) the Senior Warden would deliver the charges from the North East, the South East and also the Traditional History. The joining fee was set at £20 and the initiation fee at £10.
Many gifts were made to the lodge and some of the more important are:-
The first initiate on March 10th 1964 was Mr. Dennis Charles Bunch and the first joining member on the same day was Bro. Robert Edward John Robinson, a Master Mason of Ditton Lodge.
On June 8th 1964 a meeting was held to consider the formation of a Lodge of Instruction. Following on from this the first Lodge of Instruction meeting was held on August 10th at The Fox and Hounds in Surbiton. There was a joining fee of five shillings (25p) and a subscription of 1 shilling (5p). These meetings were held twice a month and formal records are available until September 1986. The first Preceptor was W. Bro. John Alderson.
The Banner dedication Ceremony took place on 13th October 1964 when 84 Brethren attended. The dedication address is recorded in full in the Minute book. The explanation of the Banner has already been briefly explained. This along with the original photo used for the manufacture of the Banner is the first photo we are able to trace of the members of the Lodge.
Some other memorable dates in the history of the Lodge are given below.
As far as I am able to tell the first variation from the emulation ritual as adopted by the Lodge at its foundation took place in November 1972, W. Bro. F. Barker giving the extended version of the Tracing Board.
In March 1973 it is recorded that a letter was sent to Woodstock Lodge in California, as there had been an air crash in Alameda, to ask if all were well. Apparently the crash had occurred just five blocks away from the meeting room and a meeting was taking place at the time. Fortunately all however were well.
Mr. John Stanbury the son-in-law of W. Bro. Gordon Jones was initiated into the Lodge. At the time of the 50th anniversary meeting, excluding honorary membership, he is the senior member of the Lodge.
The Warrant of the Lodge was stolen after the meeting in November 1976 and a new Warrant was not issued until November 1977. In the meantime the Lodge met under a Letter of Authority from the United Grand Lodge.
In March 1977 Mr. Irving Johnson was initiated at a ceremony attended by his father and three uncles.
In July 1978 W. Bro. Tom Midwood the Primus Secretary passed to the Grand Lodge above. He was also Secretary of his Mother Lodge Ditton, Scribe Ezra of Ditton Chapter and Primus First Principal of Woodstock Chapter.
November 1980 saw the last meeting at The New Bull Leatherhead before moving to the South West Surrey Masonic Centre Guildford.
In March 1981 Mr. Ron Smith was initiated. He later went on to occupy the chair of King Solomon for both the Silver and Golden Jubilee meeting.
In June 1981 W. Bro. Gordon Jones was appointed Provincial Junior Grand Warden. Also in 1981 W. Bro. F. Barker had the honour of proposing The Most Worshipful Grand Master the Duke of Kent be Grand Master for the ensuing year.
Around this time the Lodge started meeting earlier at 5.00 and even sometimes at 4.30. The reason for this is unclear.
In April 1983 Bro. Irving Johnson was installed into the chair of King Solomon and this meeting is memorable as the only time in the history of the Lodge that the broken column collection reached £100. In January 1984 the only Past Masters meeting was held.
The 25th Anniversary meeting was held in March 1989 and was attended by 54 Brethren. At this meeting the Lodge was honoured by the presence of W. Bro. Terry Doyle PSGD Asst. Prov. Grand Master escorted by W. Bro. Ken Twitchen PAGDC ProvGDC. The Master at this meeting was W. Bro. Ron Smith who would again be in the chair for the 50th Anniversary meeting. At this meeting W. Bro. Gordon Jones delivered a talk on the formation of the Lodge and an anniversary booklet was presented to all present.
In 1993 W. Bro. Arthur Ventham stood down as Secretary after 16 years in the office. This was followed in the next year by W. Bro. Cyril Darling who stood down from the office of Almoner after 16years.
Also in 1994 the annual subscription was separated from the dining fee and was set at £50.00.
Around this time the numbers attending the meetings started to decline and in September 1994 at the 155th meeting the Lodge held its first meeting without a ‘live’ candidate. Sadly these low numbers were to remain for about a decade. In December 1995 as there was no work to do the Ladies were invited to the Festive Board for the first time.
In 1996 only 10 Brethren attended our September meeting and so in May 1997 a vote was carried to change the dates of the meetings and to reduce the number of meetings from five to four.
In October 2000 the Lodge considered changing its venue to Bisley Camp but the proposition was later dropped.
On February 6th 2003 W. Bro. Arthur Ventham the last remaining Founder of the Lodge passed to the Grand Lodge Above.
December 2003 was a memorable meeting for all concerned. The Ladies were invited to the Festive Board but the dessert tasted awful. It was later discovered that the Caterers had purchased this from a wholesaler who had suffered a fire and the food had been exposed to the fumes! Needless to say a refund was given and it was decided to donate this to charity.
March 2004 saw the smallest meeting of the Lodge when only 8 masons were present. Fortunately the Lodge then started to grow in strength and 2006 saw 5 successive meetings (excluding the Installation) at which new Brethren were initiated. At the meeting in October 2006 the Mode of Preparation was given for the first time to the initiate Bro. James Hill. This has now almost become an accepted part of the ritual for Woodstock and was given at the following meeting by James Hill himself, the newest member of the Lodge.
In October 2007 due to the pressure of work the Lodge held its first double ceremony, a double second.
In March 2008 W. Bro. Gordon Jones was elected an Honorary Member.
2009 saw a memorable event when W. Bro. Ron Smith became the first initiate into Woodstock to receive Grand Rank when he was appointed to the rank of Past Assistant Grand Sword Bearer.
In 2010 the Lodge invited the residents of Shannon Court to their December meeting and 5 residents attended an enjoyable meeting.
In 2011 W. Bro Ron Smith resigned as Secretary after 21 years of loyal service to the Lodge.
In May 2012 W. Bro. Lynn Samuel was appointed as the Lodge’s first Mentor following the adoption of the office by Grand Lodge.
This year also saw the formation of the Woodstock Lodge website (www.woodstocklodge.org.uk) by Bro. Gordon Hamilton. This is now expanding to give information about future meetings both of a Masonic and social nature.
In May 2013 W. Bro. Ron Smith was inducted into the chair of King Solomon for the Lodge’s 50th anniversary. This was particularly pleasing as he had been Master at the 25th anniversary. Also during this year new by-laws were adopted and the dates of the meetings were changed. Furthermore it was now decided that due to the pressure of work and the number of potential candidates, the Lodge should return to holding 5 meetings per year.
To commemorate the Golden Jubilee this booklet has been produced and paid for by W. Bro. I. Johnson. W. Bro. P. Mandeville has most generously purchased 50 firing glasses engraved with the Lodge logo and finally W. Bro. D. Stallwood has manufactured and donated a new set of gavels.
There is no doubt that Woodstock Lodge is now in a process of rebuilding and increasing in strength with many new younger members who are keen to progress through the various offices.
I can think of no better way to conclude this history of Woodstock Lodge than to repeat the same words as were used in W. Bro. John White’s Silver Jubilee booklet.
Thus one comes to the end of the first Fifty Years of Woodstock Lodge. Like the flooring in the Lodge which symbolises the joys and sorrows of man’s existence, so these years have had their joys and sorrows. May the years to come be blessed with peace, and may the Woodstock Lodge prosper, and steadfastly maintain the principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.
Thank you very much to W. Bro. I. Johnson for this fantastic history. This can be downloaded as a booklet together with the images and associated information here.