History of Basing Lodge

We can trace our heritage back to 1761 when our grand mother lodge - Lodge of Economy No 76, was founded. Basing Lodge was formed as a result of the growing membership of Oakley Lodge  No 694, warranted in 1857 and the only lodge in the Basingstoke area at the time. As Freemasons lodges only meet 5-10 times a year, waiting times to join became over 1 year. 20 Freemasons - 13 of which were from Oakley Lodge, felt a new lodge serving Old Basing and the Basingstoke area would be beneficial to Freemasonry in North Hampshire. Basing Lodge was founded!

Consecration and Early Years

W. Webber - 1st Master of Basing Lodge

The Consecration of Basing Lodge was carried out on 10th December 1934, by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. The Earl of Malmsbury. The first Master, W.Bro. W.W. Webber (image on right shaking hands with motorcyclist) was installed by the Deputy Provincial Master, W. Bro. Commander H.G. Giles, R.N. The dinner, which followed was held in the Town Hall (our dining hall had not yet been built) and a dispensation had been granted for the Brethren to wear their regalia. 

At the first meeting of the Lodge held on the 21st January 1935, M.O. Jones became the first Initiate. There were two Joining Members, W. Evans, who was immediately appointed Organist, an office in which he served for the next 33 years, and the Rev. A.W. Badger, who was appointed Chaplain and remained so until 1960, with a break during the War years and in 1948, when he occupied the Master’s Chair.

The 20 Founders had each paid £3.50 to establish the Lodge and the Annual Subscription was £3.00. This proved more than adequate, for at the end of the first year the Treasurer was able to announce a balance of £69.00. In the early days the Lodge met on the third Monday of the month, but with the declaration of war this was altered, the date of the next meeting being agreed by resolution in the Lodge, and usually Thursday was the day chosen (and remains so today). The maintenance donation paid to Oakley Lodge in 1934 was £21.00 for the year. By comparison, in 2009 the contribution paid to the Masonic Centre Management Committee was £2296.00

The last surviving Founder, the 9th Earl of Portsmouth (Viscount Lymington) died in 1984.

1939 - 1960

At the commencement of World War 2 in 1939 it was decreed by Province that Warrants, Minute Books and documents belonging to Hampshire Lodges should be sent for safe keeping. This was partly due to keeping the records centrally but also protecting Freemasons identities in case of invasion. Freemasons were being persecuted in mainland Europe by the Nazis and the threat of invasion was high. Unfortunately the place chosen – said to be a vault in Winchester Cathedral – proved damp and unsuitable, the result was considerable deterioration which left the first Minute Book very frail and the Warrant discoloured.

Also at the outbreak of war, a letter from Grand Lodge suspended all Masonic meetings so that there was no regular meeting in October 1939. The suspension was subsequently withdrawn and the November meeting held. The advent of war led to a general relaxation in the control exercised by the Province. The date of meetings could be altered more easily, though the Secretary was directed to print notice of the nearest air raid shelter - The Cattle Market Inn (now the Bounty Pub). Some meetings were held at 3pm due to blackout restrictions and the practice of wearing evening dress ceased although service uniforms were now allowed. The new dining hall had been completed by January 1940, in time for the Installation that year of W.Bro GF Bird MC, but its use during the wartime was restricted.

Fortunately, no members of Basing Lodge lost their lives during active service in the war. The wearing of service uniform which came into effect at the start of the war, remained as a dress option on lodge summonses until 1981.

Membership and Charities

By virtue of having two ceremonies at the early meetings, the membership had increased to 27 at the end of the first year, and it continued to grow steadily, reaching 59 by the end of the war. Basing Lodge members passed the 100 mark in 1968, reaching a peak of 108 in 1971. Since then numbers have declined in Freemasonry in general and we now have around 55 in our lodge. 50 seems to be the average in Freemasons lodges nowadays.

Basing Lodge formed a Charity Association in 1937, when it was agreed that the members should pay a subscription of £1.1.0, from which 5/- should be donated to each of the three Masonic Charities. By 1953, under the guidance of the Treasurer, the position was regularised by the creation of a Benevolent Fund established under a Trust deed drawn up by a member of the Lodge, R.C. Brooks, the other Trustee being E.L. Longley.

The current Benevolent Fund continues to support both Masonic and non- Masonic Charities. Many are local and some of these are detailed in the charity section of the website. Basing Lodge also contributed just over £10,000 to the 1994 Festival and our then Charity Steward, Bro J.B. Schulze (in office 15 years) reported with justifiable pride a contribution of £32,000 to the 2005 Festival. The lodge is currently contributing to the 2016 Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) Festival and in 2014 the Charity Steward W.Bro P. Busby confirmed over £35,000 being raised so far with 2 years to go.

Family connections in the Lodge

John Hunt DFC 1.jpg (thumbnail)

The founders of Basing Lodge provided a firm foundation on which the Lodge grew and prospered, and at the 100th regular meeting on the 23rd January 1947, the W.M congratulated TC Chesterfield and EL Longley on having attended every meeting of the Lodge since its consecration. There have been three cases of father and son occupying the Chair of the Lodge - WW Webber in 1935 and CW Webber in 1942, WL Carter in 1950 and LJ Carter in 1956 and BE Mercer in 2004 and DWJ Mercer in 2005.

There have been three generations of one family in the Lodge TA Pullen, JH Pullen and EJH Pullen and members of two generation families not previously mentioned include EL Longley and LJ Longley, World War 1 fighter ace, FJ Hunt DFC (pictured right) and FJ Hunt, TC Chesterfield and TR Chesterfield, DG Caswell and JD Caswell, LH Pember and CHE Pember, NC Hargraves and KN Hargraves, PRN Gibbons and NP Gibbons, WJ Rose and his two sons, RN Rose and WJ Rose and DG Locke (our Almoner for 11 years) and his son SG Locke. Finally, Bro's D Cox and his son A Cox, are both members today.

1960 - 1990

Freemasonry in Basingstoke became extremely popular around this time due to the growth and development of the town and surrounding area. 2 new lodges were consecrated to cope with the growing numbers of men who wanted to join Freemasonry. Vyne Lodge - 1958 and Loddon Lodge - 1968. The numbers at Basing Lodge also swelled, passing the 100 mark in 1968 and peaking at 108 in 1973.

During the early 1960's, Basing Lodge started sharing an annual carol service with Oakley Lodge which was usually held in St Michael's Church in the town centre. In 1967-68, Basing Lodge moved this service to St John's Church at Northington near Alresford and from 1969-71 at St Peter's Church at Brown Candover, near Basingstoke. The services resumed at St Michaels in 1973 until 1990 when they moved to All Saints Church in Victoria Street, near to the Basingstoke Masonic Centre. Annual carol services are held at All Saints every December to the present day when families and friends attend.

   1990 - present day

Lodge officers 1993

LP Botting MBE (thumbnail) A special mention should be made of W.Bro LP Botting MBE, (WM  in  1949, pictured left).  He passed away in 1994 after 55 years in Freemasonry, much of that dedicated to the  benefit of Basing Lodge and its Lodge of Instruction. A Director of Ceremonies baton  and  three wands for the Assistant D of C, and the two Deacons were purchased in his  memory.

 In December 1994, the Provincial Grand Master - R.W Bro Alan D.Chun MBE visited to celebrate our 60th anniversary. During the evening a dedication of the Basing Lodge banner presented by W.Bro LG Stubbings (WM in 1970) to W.Bro Douglas Revell during 1974 was rededicated as a fitting tribute to the sixtieth anniversary of the Lodge. The banner can be seen in the 2002 image below in the centre.

Basing Lodge Officers and Visiting Officers taken in 2002

Basing Lodge 2002

 

Derek Brown 60th year certificate  W.Bro Derek Brown, (WM in 1966 and again in 2001), was      presented with a Certificate for 60 years service to Freemasonry in    2009, much of that devoted to Basing Lodge. Derek (centre in picture flanked   by W.Bro D.Bolton & Visiting Officer) passed away in 2014 with 64 years    service to his name and still with an active rank of Chaplain.

 

 

 

75th Anniversary

In December 2009, Basing Lodge saw its 75th anniversary.  The occasion was marked by a visit from the Deputy provincial Grand Master VW Bro Michael Wilks, accompanied by W.Bro Noel Voice.

Lodge 75th anniversary 2009.jpg

The evening was also a past Master's night. W.Bro David Bolton and his Wardens vacated their respective chairs and the lodge offices for the evening were occupied by

Worshipful Master W.Bro. Alan A. McCarthy, PPAGDC
Senior Warden W.Bro. Brian E. Mercer, PPJGD (Surrey), LGR
Junior Warden W.Bro. David W.J. Mercer, PPAGStB (Surrey)
Senior Deacon W.Bro. Peter R. Busby, PPAGReg
Junior Deacon W.Bro. Ian Hooper, ProvGStB (Berks)                                                                                       Director of Ceremonies W.Bro Norman Barber, LGR 
Asst Director of Ceremonies W.Bro. Raymond S. Hammond
Guest Organist W.Bro. Bram Corm, PPJGD                                                                                                       Inner Guard W.Bro. Raymond Jones, PPDepGReg

Welsh slate coasters marking the 75th anniversary were commissioned for the occasion and given to all members and visitors who attended the evening.

 Basing Lodge Officers and Visiting Officer taken in 2014

Basing Lodge officers 2014

Since 2010, the number of members kept around the 50-55 mark. Most new members are of working age and have settled with family in the Basingstoke vicinity, with a large portion being skilled manual workers and tradesman from the local area. Sometimes existing Freemasons move to the area and join. For instance, our WM during 2015 – W.Bro Paul Reavley joined Basing Lodge in 2009 after moving from London to the area to retire.

During 2014, Basing Lodge launched their website and opened a Twitter social media feed to raise a greater awareness about the Lodge and its core values. Although this had been discussed at meetings over previous years in conjunction with the other Basingstoke Lodges, a final decision was taken to implement a Basing Lodge website during the February Standing Committee meeting. This co-incided with a drive by Grand Lodge, backed up by Province to encourage Freemasons to be more open about what they and their Lodges stood for in the community.

Also in December 2014 Basing Lodge received an officialDec OV.jpg visit by the APGM W.Bro Noel Voice. The visit co-incided with the 80th anniversary of the Lodge and 3 of its members celebrating 40 years in Freemasonry. W.Bro’s Ray Jones, David Bolton and Norman Barber were the recipients (pictured bottom row l-r).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the foundation so securely built and maintained, long may the Lodge continue.

 

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