Chaloner Lodge No. 2644
The History, Formation And Consecration of
Chaloner Lodge No. 2644 -
Compiled and Researched by :-
W.Bro. Gerald A.G. Webb P.M
W.Bro. Eric W.G. Meaden P.M. P.P. Asst. Sec
THE CHALONER LODGE NO. 2644 MELKSHAM
THE HISTORY OF THE FORMATION, AND
CONSECRATION OF THE LODGE
AND THE RECORD OF MEETINGS, UP TO AND
INCLUDING THE FIRST MEETING IN THE MASONIC HALL,
By W. Bro. Eric W.G. Meaden, P.M. P.P. Assistant Secretarv.
CHALONER LODGE NO. 2644
On the 12th February 1812, the warrant of Lodge No. 10 meeting at Norwich was transferred to certain Brethren at Westbury and renumbered 632 and called the Lodge of Rectitude. The Lodge met at the Crown Inn, Westbury. No records of numbers exist of the meetings of this Lodge at Westbury and after four years it was suspended by Grand Lodge. In 1817 it was transferred to Melksham and met at the Kings Arms for the first time on September 9th 1817. It subsequently moved to the Crown Hotel then to the Bear and back again to the Kings Arms. In 1829 it moved to Box as, and I quote, "The inhabitants of Melksham extended more than Common opposition to the good cause of Masonry." From Box it moved to Bath then to Monkton Farleigh and finally to Corsham in 1856, in the process of which it was renumbered several times and eventually to become No. 335 as it now is, and where it now meets in the months of May and June each year and is supported by joining members from Lodges of both this province and also Somerset.
Thus for almost seventy years until the formation of the Chaloner Lodge, Masonry has not been practised in Melksham. However, in 1874, John Parker who was Junior Warden of the Lodge of Fidelity, Devizes moved to Melksham to take up the appointment of Manager of the Wilts and Dorset Bank and remained in Melksham until his retirement and departure to Bath in 1902. During the years of his residence here, it appeared he became a joining member of the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity, Chippenham and eventually became Master of that Lodge. In the early years of his stay in Melksham he made the acquaintance of three elderly Brethren, residents in the town Bro. A. Cochrane, Henry Simpson and Job Flooks, to whom he expressed a yearning to form a Masonic Lodge in Melksham. Whilst they sympathised with his ideals they could not hold any hope of a Lodge being again formed in the Town.
Nothing daunted him and he persevered in his ideas and 1891 as a P.M. of the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity was summoned to the investiture of the Prov. Grand Master of Wiltshire, the Earl of Radnor at Salisbury. He received some encouragement from Members of Provincial Grand Lodge and in 1894 he put the question of the formation of a Lodge in Melksham to Wor.Bro.Capt. Chaloner M.P., who had come to live at Melksham House and who was a Past Master of the Lodge of Friendship and Sincerity No.473 of Shaftesbury in the province of Dorset. Wor.Bro.Capt.Chaloner readily and warmly supported the idea. Committee Meetings were held at his house and when all seemed ripe to begin, a serious illness to one of the Brethren intervened and put a stop to all proceedings. Another attempt was made in the Autumn of 1896 and the first minute book of the Chaloner Lodge records that "A meeting of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons residing in Melksham and District was convened, by circular sent by Bro. John Parker on the 21st November 1896, to be held at Bro.Capt.Chaloner's residence at Melksham House on Saturday 28th November 1896 at 8 p.m."
The following Brethren were present: Bro.Capt.Chaloner. Joseph Collett, John Parker, Robert John Parker, Edward Lowther, George Childe, William Gray, Frederick William Bascombe, Henry Sawtell, Charles Sawtell and Charles Saxty.
Brother John Parker read the circular convening the Meeting. The chair was taken by Bro. Capt. Chaloner M.P., and it was proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. Edward Lowther, "That steps be taken to form a Lodge for the Town of Melksham and that £100 be raised by guarantee to the Wilts and Dorset Bank Ltd., to provide for preliminary expenses." This was carried unanimously. Bro.Capt. Chaloner and Bro.Charles Sawtell consented to become guarantors to the Bank, and the remaining Brethren to indemnify them so guarantors pro rata against any loss to the extent of their shares, namely £80.
It was proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro.Frederick W.Bascombe that the Lodge should be called the Chaloner Lodge.
It was proposed by Bro.Joseph Collett and seconded by Bro. George Childe that Bro. Capt. Chaloner should be the first Worshipful Master of the new Lodge.
It was proposed by Bro.Capt.Chaloner and seconded by Bro. F.W.Bascombe that Bro.John Parker should succeed Bro.Chaloner as Worshipful Master subject to the approval of the Brethren.
It was proposed by Bro.John Parker and seconded by Bro Charles Sawtell that Bro.Charles Saxty should be the Senior Warden of the New Lodge
It was proposed by Bro. Charles Sawtell and seconded by Bro.F.W. Bascombe that Bro.Edward Lowther should be the Junior Warden of the New Lodge.
It was proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. Edward Lowther that Bro. John Parker be secretary of the New Lodge.
It was proposed by Capt. Chaloner and seconded by Bro. Henry Sawtell that the Meetings of the Lodge be held on the third Friday of every month.
It was proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. Charles Sawtell that a Committee of the Master, Wardens, Secretary and Bros. Henry Sawtell,
Charles Sawtell, Robert John Parker, be formed to consider and report as to the Buildings and room required for a Lodge Room and also the furnishings of the Lodge.
It was decided that the Worshipful Master be elected in March and installed in April.
It was further decided that Bro.John Parker see Mr. Angel, the Sexton of the Parish Church and confer with him as to his acceptance of the post of Tyler of the new Lodge
The suggested Bye Laws were then compiled with additions, corrections and alterations where necessary.
It was finally decided that the Brethren form themselves into a Committee to carry out the first proposition namely "To form a Lodge and that Meetings be held for that purpose as often as required."
Thus was laid the foundations of our Lodge and it may be of some interest to learn a little more of the Brethren who became the founders.
Captain Richard Godolphin Walmesley Chaloner was a Member of Parliament and resided at Melksham House. He was a Past Master of the Lodge of Friendship and Sincerity 473, Shaftesbury and in 1895 Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Friendship and Unity No. 1271, BradfordonAvon and Prov. Senior Warden in 1896,
John Parker, the proposed Secretary, was Manager of Wilts and Dorset Bank Ltd. Melksham, being a Past Master of the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity No. 626 with the Provincial Rank of Past Grand Standard Bearer, the chair of which Lodge he occupied in 1890.
Charles Saxty, described as a Gentleman, resided at 1, Cottingham Villa, Melksham and was a member of the Lodge of Concord No. 632.
Edward Lowther was a Corn Merchant residing at Mayfield, Shurnhold. A member of Concord No. 632.
Charles Sawtell and Henry Sawtell are described as Feather Manufacturers and residing at Oakwood and The Chestnuts, Melksham respectively. Charles Sawtell was a member of the Lodge of Concord No. 632. Henry Sawtell, member of Friendship and Unity No. 1271.
Robert John Parker was an Auctioneer of the Market Place, Melksham Friendship and Unity No. 1271
Frederick William Bascombe resided at Whitley, Melksham, and is described as a House Steward. Member of Lansdowne Lodge of Unity No. 626.
George Childe was a member of the Lodge of Concord No. 632, having risen to the rank of Steward. He was the Master of the Union at Semington, and finally, Joseph Collier, an Auctioneer residing at Bowerhill, Melksham, was a member of Concord No.632.
No mention is found of Bro. William Gray, one of the Brethren called to the first meeting, in the first list of members returned to Provincial Grand Lodge in 1897, so we must assume that he did not become a Founder Member of the Lodge. He was a member of Friendship and Unity No. 1271, BradfordonAvon.
A further meeting of the Committee was held at Bro. Henry Sawtell's residence on the 2nd. December 1896, when the Brethren signed a petition to the Grand Lodge.
It was presented by Bros. Capt. Chaloner and John Parker to the Lodge of Friendship and Unity No,. 1271 on the 7th December 1896, where it was well and worthily received and recommended and signed by the Worshipful Master and Wardens of that Lodge.
Bro.John Parker attended the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity, Chippenham No. 626 on the following night the 8th December 1896, exhibited to the Rt.Wor.Provincial Grand Master the Earl of Radnor, who was present as the meeting was for the installation of the Master Elect of that Lodge.
It was then duly sent to the Provincial Grand Secretary, Wor.Bro.Harry Bevir at Wootten Bassett.
After necessary examination by Grand Lodge the prayer of the petitioners was granted and a warrant, dated 29th December 1896, signed by the Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, was presented to Bro.John Parker by the Provincial Secretary Wor.Bro.Bevir at a meeting at Swindon.
Subsequent meetings of the Committee were held on 30th January and 20th February 1897 to famalize the arrangements for the Dedication. Two dispensations were applied for to the Provincial Grand Secretary one for the using of the Free Hall for the Dedication Ceremony and the other for a procession in full Masonic Regalia to the Parish Church of St. Michaels on Saturday February 27th 1897. On the Saturday morning the Free Hall had been transformed into a Lodge room by Bros. Dean of Swindon, Bigwood of Bath, Barnes of Devizes, Salway of Chippenham, Moore of Bradford and Tryhorn of Salisbury, being Tylers of the Masonic Lodges in those towns.
A special Lodge, called for 2 p.m. was opened at 2.30p.m. by Wor.Bro.Bevir, Provincial Grand Secretary in the absence of the Provincial Grand Master, the Earl of Radnor who had failed to arrive. The Lodge was opened in the Three Degrees, by which time the Earl of Radnor had arrived and at 3.15p.m. he installed Capt.Richard Godolphin Walmesley Chaloner as Worshipful Master of the Chaloner Lodge.
The Lodge was then closed in the Third Degree and resumed in the Second and the Wor.Master proceeded to appoint and invest:
Bro.John Parker as Secretary and I.P.M.
Bro. Charles Saxty as Senior Warden.
Bro. Edward Lowther as Junior Warden.
Bro. Henry Sawtell as Senior Deacon.
Bro. Robert John Parker as Junior Deacon.
Bro. Charles Sawtell as Treasurer.
Bro. F.W. Bascombe as Inner Guard.
Bro. George Childe as Organist.
Bro. Joseph Collett as Steward.
The ancient charges were given by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Wor.Bro. C. Phipps.
The Lodge was closed in the Second Degree and resumed in the First and the following candidates were then proposed:
(1) William Howard Bell aged 48 of Holt, Gentleman.
(2) Charles Awdry, Shaw Hill House age 50, Barrister at Law.
(3) James Edward Bush age 35 of Melksham, Chemist.
(4) Joseph Arscott Coombe age 24 of Melksham, Mineral Water Manufacturer.
(5) Henry John White age 54 of Melksham, Draper.
(6) Arthur Herbert Manning age 34 of Melksham, Draper.
(7) William Henry Hunt age 36 of Semington, Farmer.
(8) Walter Henry Taylor age 28 of Bristol, Solicitor.
(9) William Ferris Taylor age 22 of Melksham, Miller.
(10) William Ferris Taylor age 22 of Melksham, Miller.
(11) Alfred William Jolliffe age 39 of Melksham, Bookseller.
(12) Alfred Murray Gray age 32 of Melksham, Surgeon.
(13) Arthur Augustus Angel age 46 of Melksham, Carriage Trimmer as Tyler.
The following were proposed and seconded as Joining members.
Bro. Herbert Munday. Auctioneer of Trowbridge, Lodge of Concord 632
Bro. Oliver Leak. Solicitor of Trowbridge. Ass. Secretary of Lodge of Concord 632. Bro.Laurence Cary Roger Gauntlet, Machine Maker of Trowbridge. Member of Lodge Concord 632.
Bro.Ernest Williams. Chartered Accountant of Trowbridge. Member of Lodge of Concord 632.
Bro.Douglas John Kinnear MacDonald of Salisbury. Solicitor. Member of Elias De Derham Lodge 586.
Bro. William Cory Howard Bell of Holt. Lieutenant of the Royal Artillery.
Bro. Alfred Lawrance of Chippenham. Army Sergt. Major Member of Lansdowne Lodge of Unity 626.
Greetings were accorded the Worshipful Master by every Lodge in the province. There were 139 visitors.
The Lodge was then closed in due form.
The procession was then formed and headed by the Melksham Town Band under their Band Master Mr.Henry Chivers. The Chaloner Lodge Bo. 2644 came first, marshalled by Bro. Joseph Collett as Steward, followed by Bro. Barnes acting Tyler (he being Tyler of the Lansdowne Lodge of Unity) with drawn sword. Bro. F.W.Bascombe, Inner Guard, carried the Lodge Banner on which was displayed the Chaloner Arms, skillfully executed by Bro. H.T.Lamb of St. Johns Square, Clerkenwell, London.
The order of the procession was, Two Tylers with drawn swords, visiting Brethren of Lodges according to Lodge numbers the junior first namely Chaloner 2644.
The White Horse Lodge 2227.
The Lodge of Loyalty 1533.
The Longleat Lodge 1478.
The Gooch Lodge 1295.
The Lodge of Friendship and Unity 1271.
The Wiltshire Lodge of Fidelity 663.
The Lodge of Concord 632. The Lansdowne Lodge of Unity 626.
The Elias De Derham Lodge 586.
The Royal Sussex Lodge of Emulation 355
The Lodge of Rectitude 335.
Then followed members of Provincial Grand Lodge present and past, Junior first.
The Senior, and Junior Warden of Provincial Grand Lodge,
Two Provincial Deacons.
The Provincial Grand Chaplain bearing the Volume of the Sacred Law,
The Very Worshipful Bro.F.W.MacDonald, Past Grand Chaplain of England,
Members of the Grand Lodge,
The Very Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master,
The Provincial Standard Bearer with the Standard of the Provincial Grand Master,
The Provincial Sword Bearer,
The Rt. Worshipful Provincial Grand Master,
The Two Provincial Deacons,
Two Stewards and the Provincial Tyler.
On arriving at the Church, the Brethren halted and filed out left and right to permit the Rt. Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Earl Radnor, and his officers to enter the Church. The procession was inverted on its return to the Lodge.
There were special Hymns, Chants, Responses and an Anthem under the musical direction of Bro.H.Millington of the Lodge of Concord 632, P.G.Organist. The Anthem "Behold how good and joyful" was rendered by St.Michaels choir in the chorus parts the bass solo "It was like the precious ointment" was taken by Bro.Frankham of Frome and a duet was sang by Bro.Frankham bass and Bro.W.H.Brinkworth, tenor of Chippenham.
The special lesson and prayers were read by the Vicar (the Rev.E.G.Wyld.M.A.) in a very impressive manner and the sermon was preached by Very Worshipful Bro.F.W. MacDonald of Wishford, Past Grand Chaplain of England. His text was taken from the 20th Chapter of Proverbs Verses 11. "Even a child is known by his doings, whether his work be pure and whether it is right." The principles of Freemasonry were amply illustrated and tended to show how deeply brotherly love pervaded the whole of the society this being practiced by extending relief to the sick and suffering, alleviating pain by supporting hospitals, caring for the orphans, 4,000 having been clothed, fed and educated and started in life during the present century, and the help and assistance afforded to the aged and infirm, thereby enabling many an otherwise destitute and helpless Brother to end his days in peace and comfort, the whole being summed up in the universal Brotherhood, following out the divine command "Whatsoever ye would men should do unto you do ye even so to them."
The Church was filled with a very attentive congregation. The offertory which was donated to Masonic Charities amounted to £816d.
A banquet followed at the Town Hall, presided over by W. Bro.Capt.Chaloner M.P. Worshipful Master of the new Lodge. About 100 sat down and the usual Loyal and Masonic toasts were drunk. The comfort of every guest was well attended to by Mr.James Larcombe of the Kings Arms Hotel, who undertook the catering and the Lodge Stewards, Bro.E.Lowther, Henry Sawtell and Robert Parker rendered valuable help and discharged their duties to the entire satisfaction of the Brethren.
The Church bells rang merry peals during the day. It was most noticeable how willing everyone was to make the days proceedings a success including the Church Wardens for the use of the Church, Messrs A & G Stratton for the loan of the Free Hall for Lodge purposes and the schoolroom for use of a cloakroom. It is further reported that the last Masonic procession, in Melksham prior to this one, was held on St. John's Day 24th June 1825.
The First Regular Lodge.
A regular meeting was held at the Town Hall, Melksham, on Friday 19th March 1897 at 4p.m. convened by summons by Command of the Worshipful Master.
Bro. Charles Sawtell was unanimously elected Treasurer of the Lodge by Ballot and Brother Arthur Augustus Angel was elected Tyler of the Lodge by a show of hands. Bro.John Parker was elected Almoner for the ensuing year. It would seem from the foregoing that the Brethren in those days certainly did things in not too an orthodox way, insofar that Arthur Angel was elected Tyler and had not, as yet, been initiated into the Order.
Bro.Herbert Munday, Oliver Leak, Samuel Gauntlet, Douglas MacDonald, Ernest Williams, William Cory Heward Bell and Alfred Lawrance were balloted for and elected joining members.
The dispensations granted for the initiation of the 12 candidates and the serving Bro. were read.
As a point of interest the Bye Laws state that the fee for initiation should be 7 guineas and the Annual Subscription £150d. payable in January of every year.
The minutes record that the above named candidates having signed the usual declaration, were prepared and having satisfied the Treasurer were duly initiated.
It was proposed that a vote of thanks should be sent to those who had made the Ceremony of Founding and Consecration of the new Lodge so smooth and efficient.
To Worshipful Bro.Sparks, Secretary of 1271 BradfordonAvon for instruction and exhaustive letters on the procedure of forming new Lodges.
To the Vicar, The Rev. E.G.Wyld and Church Wardens. Thos. Merriman and Dr. Rumbold for the use of the Church and the bells and to Messrs. Stratton for assistance rendered at the opening ceremony.
It was then proposed by Worshipful Master and seconded by Bro. Saxty that William Spackman a Farmer of Broughton Gifford, age 35, should be a candidate for initiation.
Bro. Lowther, Junior Warden, proposed and Bro. Robert Parker, Junior Deacon, seconded Bro. Robert Henry Gowing, Commerial Traveller, Junior Warden of Concord Lodge, Trowbridge, as a joining member.
Letters from Bros. Davies and Tritton applying for the post of Tyler of the Lodge were ordered to lay on the table as the appointment had already been made.
The duties of the Secretary of the Lodge must have been very arduous in getting the Lodge off the ground. The Worshipful Master, W. Bro. Chaloner was an M.P., and as such, the majority of his time was spent at his London House at 56 St.Georges Square. It can, therefore, be appreciated that considerable correspondence passed between the Worshipful Master and the Secretary, especially during the time between consecration of the Lodge and the first Meeting. To initiate thirteen Brethren in one evening was no mean feat and certainly required some method in its accomplishment. Of the correspondence from Capt. Chaloner to the Secretary I record some of interest and amusement. You will remember the Lodge was consecrated on the 27th February 1897. On the 28th Capt. Chaloner writing from London says, and I quote.
"I take it our first Lodge will be held on Friday March 19th. This is a very inconvenient day for me as I have to be at Melton Mowbray the next morning to ride in the House of Commons Point to Point Steeplechase. Would it do to have a Lodge of emergency on the Friday before that, on March 12th. In any case you must apply for a dispensation to initiate all the candidates the same night, which according to Rule 192 Book of Con., can be done. If all the candidates are able to turn up, which is doubtful, we could commence early, say at 6 p.m. and put then through in 4 lots, the first lot told to be there at 6 p.m. sharp, the next at quarter to Seven and the next quarter to Eight, the next quarter to Nine. We could then give them all the charge together at the end, or else how would it be to have a Lodge of Emergency the night following the regular Lodge and take half each night Friday and Saturday."
From the minutes just read of the first Lodge Meeting the Worshipful Master did initiate thirteen candidates on the one evening.
In a letter of the 4th March he settled the order in which the candidates were to be initiated. Mr. W.Heward Bell to be first as he was a Lewis and Mr.Charles Awdry second on account of his age. An instruction also to the Secretary to put on the Agenda to consider the proposed Bye Laws. "These having been considered by the committee and it will hasten matters considerably." In a postscript he writes, "Have we got any slippers and flannel trousers with waist girdles and no metal buttons. We ought to have three pairs. If we get a dispensation we must borrow enough things from other Lodges to enable three to go through at a time Cable Tow etc."
In a letter dated 22nd March amongst other communication, he writes, "I was very done up on Saturday morning (the day after the Lodge Meeting on the 19th) did not get to London till well after 4 a.m. in bed at 6 a.m., called at 7 a.m. to catch the special train to Melton Mowbray and as a consequence was so beat I could not hold my horse for the first two miles and fell heavily twice, or I think I would have won. As it was, I made up a tremendous lot of ground at the end, and was only 50 yards behind the winner, although each fall made me lose about 200 yards or more. Very disappointing."
In a letter of the 23rd March he discusses the question of putting all the initiates through the second degree and follow with the initiation of Mr. Spackman, saying "If we start at 4 p.m. we can do the lot comfortably." He then goes on "I think the Lodge was too cramped last time especially with so many candidates. I am all for a big airy space in the centre and lots of room for the perambulations. Should like the chairs put right back to the wall all round. If possible there should be a covered box the same height as the dais on which the Master's chair stands for the Master's Pedestal. My chair is rather high and my feet dangle unpleasantly. If the Pedestal is the same height as the chair I can then rest my feet on the sloping board placed there for that purpose at the bottom of the Pedestal."
A plain wooden kneeling stool covered with baize or red flannel and stuffed with hay, amply wide enough for at least five candidates, which could permanently stand at the end of the hall in front of the Senior Warden's Pedestal, would not cost much, would look well and certainly better than five different sized hassocks. The Worshipful Master, Capt. Chaloner, had thus decided to pass all those Brethren initiated at the first meeting, at the April Meeting and also initiate Mr.Spackman. However, the Secretary had to point out to the Worshipful Master that Friday 16th 1897 was Good Friday and that according to the Book of Constitution no Lodge could be held. The W. Master replied to the Secretary in rather terse terms that as far as he was concerned it was rather late to point this fact out and that Thursday 15th April, the day before Good Friday, was the only day suitable to him as his diary was now full. The Meeting was accordingly called for Thursday 15th April and the agenda for that Meeting, Item No.4 says, To pass the thirteen Candidates initiated in March. Further complications arose as a result of the date of Meeting have been brought forward insofar as the Secretary was in some doubt as to whether the necessary time had elapsed between the initiation of the Thirteen members and the date of the proposed passing. Correspondence between Bro. Parker and Bro. Bevir the Provincial Grand Secretary resulted in the following entry in the minutes of the Meeting held on April 15th.
A letter from the Provincial Grand Secretary, Bro.Bevir, in reply to his communication with the Secretary of the Grand Lodge to defer passing the Brethren who had been initiated at the last Lodge, until another Regular Lodge was read as the 28 days required by Law 195 of the Book of Constitutions had not been fulfilled.
The letter reads:
Dear Sir and Brother, April 12th 1897
Reverting to your letter of the 12th inst., in which you refer to the passing to the Second Degree of a Candidate in the Chaloner Lodge before the expiration of 28 days from the initiation, you are quite correct in stating that Law 195 of the Book of Constitutions would be violated by the Ceremony being performed. That regulation is always strictly enforced and the Grand Master himself has no power to grant a dispensation to shorten the date. The passing must, therefore, be postponed until the next regular meeting or if urgent a Lodge of Emergency must be called for that purpose.
Signed E. Letchworth
So no Candidates were passed at this meeting.
It would appear never the less that a very full Meeting was held and the minutes record some very interesting information, and I quote, "It was decided that the Grand Lodge Warrant should be taken care of by the Secretary, produced at the Lodge Meetings and Framed when the new Lodge was in order to receive it."
A Ballot was taken for Mr.William Spackman of Broughton Gifford, a farmer aged 34, proposed by Wor.Bro.J.Parker and seconded by Bro.Edward Lowther as a candidate for initiation. The Ballot being unanimous, the candidate was initiated after having signed the usual declaration and satisfied the W. Master by the Treasurer that all dues had been paid.
The report of the Building Committee was read by Bro. J.Parker the Junior Deacon and after a discussion it was proposed by Bro. H.J.White and seconded by Bro. Henry Sawtell, Senior Deacon, and carried unanimously that "The site in Church Street, Melksham, be purchased for the sum offered, namely £50 that instruction be given to Mr. Awdry, Solicitor, of Melksham to proceed forthwith as to the Conveyancing of the same to the Master and Wardens in trust for the Chaloner Lodge, No. 2644 and steps taken to obtain possession of the land from the present tenant by paying him the sum he was willing to accept as named in the report of the Building Committee namely £3.
It was, after discussion, proposed by Bro.Charles Sawtell, the Treasurer, and seconded by Bro.Saxty the Senior Warden, that the kind and generous offer of Bro.Charles Awdry to lend the Lodge £750 at 4% interest per annum, repayable by instalments of £100 on the mortgage of the land and building of this proposed new premises on the plan of Bro. Randall before the Lodge be accepted and the architect be requested to get out quantities and Specifications provided the resolution was carried unanimously.
A vote by Ballot was taken and the W. Master reported that 19 Brethren were in favour and 1 Brother against. Consequently the resolution was not carried.
It was then proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. W.H. Hunt that a
redemption fund be formed to pay off the loan, by each Brother contributing £1 per
year to a fund for that purpose -
Thus the site of the Masonic Hall was settled.
Previous to this decision, the question of a Masonic Hall had engaged the attention
of the Building Committee. Various sites had been viewed and discussed, one in particular
was the Willow Coffee Tavern opposite the offices of the Avon Rubber Company. The
Building Committee had viewed this property and it was decided to make an offer for
the same. Accordingly a letter dated 5th March 1897 from Messrs. Wansborough, Robinson
and Tayler of Broad Street, Bristol reads as follows:-
Dear Mr. Parker,
I am in receipt of and thank you for your letter with reference to the Willow Coffee Tavern. I have tendered £560 as desired and have not the slightest doubt that this tender will be readily accepted.
Walter H. Tayler
On March 9th 1897 Mr. Parker received the following letter from John Tayler of the
Flour Mills, Melksham:-
The Coffee Tavern was sold for £580 to a person named Miller of Bristol. There were
three tenders -
On the 10th March 1897 from W.H.Tayler of the above Solicitors:
"Willow Coffee Tavern."
I heard this morning from Mr.Locke that the Directors have declined the offer of £560 for the above. I do not know if it would be possible to make any arrangement with the purchaser if the Masons are desirous of having the place.
Walter H. Tayler.
To which Bro. Parker replied on the 11th March as follows:
I am to inform you that a very liberal tender was made and as it was refused the matter is at an end and no further negotiations are permitted.
At a meeting of the Building Committee held on Thursday 22nd April 1897 attended by R. Chaloner W. Master, John Parker Secretary and I.P.M., Charles Saxty Senior Warden, Edward Lowther Junior Warden, Charles Sawtell Treasurer, Henry Sawtell Senior Deacon and Robert John Parker Junior Deacon, after consideration and discussion it was deemed advisable that the following resolution should be proposed at the next Lodge meeting by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by W.Bro.Capt.Chaloner.
"That before accepting Bro. Awdrys generous offer with reference to raising the money for Building purposes, the Brethren of the Lodge be invited to take up the necessary amount in £5 shares to be repaid by ballot at the rate of not less than 4 shares per annum, such shares not to bear interest," It was further decided before the resolution was put to the Lodge, that some approximate idea should be arrived at as to the amount of money that could be raised amongst the Brethren in accordance with the Resolution and as a means to this end, having due regard to the delicate feelings of every Brother, writing on a slip of paper without signature the amount of shares he is willing to take up to be repaid on the before mentioned terms of the said Resolution.
The size and cost of the proposed Hall still engaged the attentions of the Building Committee and some doubt had been expressed concerning the size and price estimated, namely £700.
In a letter dated 21st April 1897 from Bro. J.A.Randall M.S.A., Architect and Surveyor of Exchange Place, Devizes, he writes:
Dear Sir and Bro.,
I estimate the cost of the Hall as shown on the preliminary Drawing including the requested fittings, but exclusive of land will be covered by an outlay of £700 The Hall with the lobby and the Tyler's Room could be built first and the Supper Room and Kitchen be added at some future date, but it would cost more than building it at once and the Brethren I feel sure would very soon be longing for the second room for Social meetings which could not properly be held in the hall. I strongly recommend that you should meet the matter at once as we all know it is always unsatisfactory to arrange for a second raising of money. The Building will be worth all or nearly all the cost for many purposes.
When the matter is decided on I will prepare the complete drawings and specifications and will embody any suggestions you may wish.
I presume you wish the tenders advertised for openly and will wish to have them in as soon as practicable.
John A. Randall.
This letter apparently did not meet with the approval of the Building Committee for a further letter from Bro. Randall dated May 19th 1897 reads
Dear Bro. Parker,
I send you a reduced plan for the Hall and the former one. The reduced works out at 27,000 feet cube and cannot be done under 4d per cubic i.e £450. This is as low a price as can be calculated on. If a further reduction is wished for it can only be done by lessening the length, width and height of the Building which is undesirable.
Yours faithfully and fraternally,
John A. Randall.
The original details of the proposed building at a price of £700 excluding the land, were as follows: Lodge Room 37'0" x 25'0", Cloak Room 8'0" x 8'0", Tylers Room 14' 6" x 8' 0", Club Room 25' 0" x 14' 6", Kitchen 9' 0" x 8' 0", Lavatory 11' 0" x 8' 0", Coal House 8' 0" x 3' 6", The Building to be constructed of Atworth Stone with Bath Stone Dressings and Roofed with Bridgwater Tiles, and the whole to be surrounded by ornamental railings.
The next regular Lodge meeting held at the Town Hall on Friday 21 st May 1897 was a very important one and in view of the decisions made, other than the ordinary business, which was, Bro.E.Nash of Salem Lodge No.62 and Bro.Andrew Bushell Land Steward at Atworth, member of Friendship and Unity 1271, were ballotted for as joining members. Bros.Bell, Awdry, Bush, Coomby and Angel were examined and passed to the Second Degree.
It was proposed by Capt.Chaloner and seconded by Bro.Charles Awdry that the Rev. Edwin George Wyld. B.A., of Melksham Vicarage be ballotted for at the next regular meeting and initiated if the Ballot is successful, The minutes then go on,
"The suggestion of the Building Committee being an addition to their former report, namely that before accepting Bro. Charles Awdry's generous offer with reference to raising the money for Building purposes the Brethren of the Lodge be invited to take up the necessary amount in £5 shares to be repaid by Ballot at the rate of not less than Four £5 shares per annum, such shares not to bear interest. A Ballot was then taken and carried and the W. Master declared the result to be 37 shares of £5 each subscribed by the Brethren amounted to £185.
Bro. C.Awdry in a truly Masonic spirit then kindly offered to lend the Lodge any sum they may wish to complete either the large or small plan as produced by Bro. J.A.Randall without interest and to be repaid in the same way as the other Brethren. The W. Master heartily thanked Bro,. Awdry for himself and the Lodge, for his generosity in lending the sum of £450. It was then proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell, Senior Deacon, and seconded by Bro, Charles Saxty, Senior Warden, "that the sum of £400 be spent in Building a Lodge with Tylers Room, Cloak Room and Lavatory, according to the smaller plan before the Lodge, and that Bro. Randall the Architect be instructed to advertise for tenders and get out quantities and specifications at once. The Building Committee to have absolute power to see the work completed."
This was carried unanimously.
Bro. Secretary reported £450 was the price quoted by the Architect for the smaller plan, a rider was added that the Building Committee reduce the cost of Building, the Tylers Room and Offices where they think necessary.
No time was lost in putting these resolutions into practice for on the 18th June 1897, the following agreement was signed.
"We George Davis & Son and William Carpenter of Melksham in the County of Wiltshire, Builders and Contractors hereby undertake, contract and agree to and with the members of Chaloner Lodge No. 2644, Melksham, aforesaid to execute, perform, complete and finish all and every, the necessary and other services and works severally set forth described and enumerated the accompanying drawings and specification prepared by Mr. John Ashley Randall M.S.A., of Devizes in the aforesaid County for work in the erection of a Masonic Hall at Melksham and according to the annexed conditions for the sum of £450 pounds, Fourteen Shillings and we agree to abide by and fulfil all and every of the terms, conditions and provisions of the Contract contained in the said specifications numbered pages 1 to 19 respectively and bearing my initials on each page."
As witness this 23rd day of June 1897, George Davis and William Carpenter.
"We the undersigned on behalf of the Members of the Chaloner Lodge No. 2644 Melksham in the County of Wiltshire hereby agree to pay the said George Davis & Son in the manner provided the said sum of Four Hundred and FiftyPounds. Fourteen Shillings, for work in the erection of a Masonic Hall at Melksham aforesaid according to the said drawings, specifications and conditions."
As witness our hands this 18th day of June 1897, Richard Chaloner Worshipful Master, Charles Saxty, Henry Sawtell.
The Building of the premises started forthwith and the Lodge minutes record that the first meeting of the Lodge in the New Masonic Hall took place on Friday 19th November 1897 some 5 months after the signing of the contract, but more of this later.
Meetings continued to be held during the summer months of 1897 to enable the Lodge to consolidate itself.
At the Lodge meeting held on 18th June 1897 the Rev. E.G. Wyld the Vicar of Melksham was ballotted for and initiated into the Lodge. He was thereupon immediately appointed and invested as Chaplain of the Lodge. The minutes record that Bro. Henry Sawtell proposed and seconded by Bro. Edward Lowther that a committee be formed to consist of the founders of the Lodge for the purpose of receiving the name or names of any candidates about to be proposed for initiation, passing or raising. Such committees to remain in office 4 years until a Board of Past Masters be elected for that purpose.
It was proposed by Bro. R.H. Gowing, Director of Ceremonies and seconded by Bro. Herbert Taylor, supported by Bro. Charles Awdry, that the tender of Messrs. George Davis & Son and William Carpenter for £450140d. be accepted and the necessary details be carried out by, the Building Committee for the Building of the Lodge Room, Tylers Room, Cloak Room and Lavatory. as exhibited on plan before the Lodge.
It was proposed by the Wor. Master and seconded by Bro. Charles Sawtell, that the cost of refreshments to be provided by the Junior Warden for the Brethren shall not exceed the sum of Eight Shillings for each Lodge Meeting from Lodge Funds.
In the minutes of the next Lodge Meeting, held on Friday July 16th 1897, there appears the following. It was proposed by Bro.. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. Alfred Lawrance and carried unanimously, that Bro. Secretary communicate with the Grand Secretary Bro. E. Letchworth and Bro. H. Bevir the Provincial Grand Secretary and ascertain if the foundation stone can be laid on the 20th July of the new Lodge in a private manner, i.e. without Masonic Ceremonies and inform the Brethren the reply received. In accordance with the above resolution applications were made and replies received, "that it could not be done unless carried out in a Masonic Manner, but it was not necessary to lay a Foundation Stone at all." The results of the above enquiries were sent to the Brethren who decided not to lay a foundation stone.
It was proposed by Bro. H. Sawtell Senior Deacon and seconded by Bro. Parker Junior Deacon, that Bro. Bush's kind offer to photograph the Founders of the Lodge in their regalia and place them in a frame to be exhibited in the new Lodge Room, be accepted. The Founders meet at Bro. Henry Sawtells at 6 p.m. on the next Lodge meeting night failing any notice from Bro. Sawtell not to do so.
Meeting Friday August 20th 1897
Robert Watts, Templar Lodge No. 203, New York City, America signed the register and produced his certificate, but was not admitted, not having been properly introduced and without Masonic Clothing.
A plan was produced and a letter written by the Architect, Bro. Randall, as to the Building of a Hall at the rear of the Tylers Room. A discussion ensued and it was decided to refer the matter to the Building Committee and asked them to send in their reports at the next Lodge Meeting.
One entry of interest: Bro. J.W. Bascombe I.G., proposed and Bro. Henry John White seconded Mr. Edwin John Lee a Grocer, as a candidate for initiation. Bro. E.J. Lee subsequently served the Lodge as Secretary for many years and was succeeded by Wor. Bro. E.D. Aust in 1939.
Bro. Henry Sawtell gave notice of Motion that instruction be given to Bro. Walter Henry Taylor Solicitor, to consult with the officers of the Lodge and prepare a document to act as Security for the Contributories to the Building Fund securing each contributory his share or contribution pro rata.
Meeting Friday September 19th 1897
Instruction given to Bro. Walter Henry Taylor to prepare the document mentioned before, and the minutes record that steps were ordered to be taken for another application made to the Provincial Grand Secretary for copies of the Bye Laws of the Lodge.
Bro. Edward Lowther, Junior Warden, gave notice that at the next Lodge he would propose that an assistant Secretary be appointed for the Lodge.
Meeting Friday October 15th 1897
This was a very important meeting and the last regular Lodge held at the Town Hall.
Bro, Lowther then brought forward his notice of motion "That an assistant Secretary should be appointed for the Lodge and after explanation that the post was only an
honorary one to be created for the purpose of assisting the Secretary and attending the Lodge during his absence. It was proposed by the W. Master and seconded by Bro. Lowther and carried unanimously that an Assistant Secretary be appointed. The Wor. Master then appointed Bro. R.J. Parker the Junior Deacon to act in that office for the remainder of the Wor. Master's year of office.
Bro. Edward Lowther, the Secretary of the Building Committee desired the W. Master and Brethren to discuss the following and instruct him as to:
(1) The seating in the new Lodge.
(2) The purchase of an Organ.
(3) The Masonic Flooring of the Lodge.
(4) The getting of an Architect to supply a drawing for a canopy for the W. Master.
(5) The Framing of the Lodge Warrant.
The results of the discussion were as follows:
(1) It was proposed by the Treasurer, C. Sawtell seconded by the Senior Warden, Bro. Saxty, that 4 Doz. chairs be purchased as agreed by the Building Committee. (42 @ 4/ each, 6 @ 11/6)
(2) It was proposed by Bro. C. Awdry and seconded by Bro. Henry Sawtell that Bro. Lowther and Bro. Childe, the Organist, should act as a deputation and proceed to Bristol and inspect an order named by Bro. Lowther, collect all necessary information as to cost of purchase, including renovating and present their report at the next Lodge Meeting.
It was proposed and carried that items 3, 4, and 5 be left to the Building Committee.
In accordance with Rule 167, Book of Constitutions the following notice of motion was given.
To W. Bro. Capt. R.G.W. Chaloner, M.P., Wor. Master.
Dear Sir and Bro.
We the undersigned beg to ask you to summon a Special Lodge to consider the question of removing our Meetings from the Town Hall to the Lodge Room in Church Street, Melksham.
Signed: Charles Saxty, John Parker, Edward Lowther, Charles Sawtell, Henry Sawtell, Robert John Parker and Joseph Collett.
The W. Master received the same and ordered an Emergency Meeting to be held on the following Friday 29th October to commence at 7 p.m. with the following business to be on the Agenda.
(1) To Ballot for as a joining member Bro. Robert Henry Collins of Gihon Lodge No. 49 London, a manufacturer of Craven Park Road, Harlesdon, proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. Charles Sawtell.
(2) To pass Bro. James Charles Margetson.
(3) To consider and formally decide as to the removal of the Lodge from the Town Hall to the New Lodge Room in Church Street, subject to the sanction to the Grand Lodge and alterations.
(4) To be proposed by Bro. Henry Sawtell and seconded by Bro. Edward Lowther that the Lodge gives its sanction to hold Lodges of Instruction and fix times and places of meetings.
(5) To receive further report of Building Committee and any papers connected therewith.
Accordingly an Emergency Meeting was held on Friday October 29th 1897 when Bro. Collins became a joining member and Bro. Margetson was passed to the second degree.
It was proposed and carried unanimously that the Lodge gives its sanction to the Brethren to hold Lodges of Instruction and fix time and places of Meetings as the W. Master thinks fit.
It was proposed and carried unanimously that the Lodge removes its place of meeting to the New Masonic Lodge Room in Church Street on Friday 19th November.
It was proposed and carried unanimously that the Draft prepared by Bro. W.H.Taylor as a security for the Guarantors to the Building Fund as read be now signed, which was accordingly done.
It was proposed by the W. Master and seconded by Bro. H.J. White, that the thanks of the Brethren be given to Bros. Henry and Charles Sawtell for the gift of a stove for the new Hall.
And so we have arrived at the first Meeting held in the Masonic Hall, Church Street and I think it would be as well if I quoted the minutes of that Meeting in full.
A Regular Meeting was held at the Masonic Hall, Melksham on Friday 19th November 1897 at 7 p.m. convened by summons of the W. Master, W. Bro. Capt. Chaloner M.P.
The Lodge was opened in due form with solemn prayer by the W. Master and the minutes of the last meeting together with those of the Emergency Meeting were read and confirmed.
Present were: Capt. R.G.W. Chaloner M.P., Wor. Master.
John Parker I.P.M.
Charles Saxty Senior Warden
Edward Lowther Junior Warden
Charles Sawtell Treasurer
John Parker Secretary
Henry Sawtell Senior Deacon
Robert J. Parker. Junior Deacon
George Childe Organist
Frederick W. Bascombe. Inner Guard
Joseph Collett Steward
Edwin G. Wyld. Chaplain
Arthur Angel Tyler
Members present: Henry John White, Andrew Bushell, Albert Edward Pettifer, A.Murray Gray, Walter Spackman, W. Heward Bell, Charles Awdry, J.A. Coombe, Edwin John Lee, William Cory Heward Bell, William Spackman, James Bush, Herbert W. Taylor, Arthur W. Jolliffe and Alf Lawrance.
Visitors present: W. Bro. H. Munday P.M., Bros. Longstreet and Newth from Concord 632, Trowbridge. W. Bros. A.H. Hancock I.P.M., C.W.B.Bryant P.M., W.E.Taylor P.M., Bro. G.W.Rose Junior Warden, William Gray Junior Deacon, all from 1271 Friendship
and Unity, BradfordonAvon. W. Bros. F.G. Billingham P.M., H,H. Baker W. Master, W.E. Bush P.M., J.A.Randall (the Architect) and Bros. A.J. Randall, H. Sudweeks and H.B. Coles of Lodge 663 the Lodge of Fidelity, Devizes.
Visitors present: Bro. Munday Lodge 626, Lansdowne Lodge of Unity, Chippenham, and the W. Bro. S.G. Derham P.M., of Lodge 1622, London.
A dispensation, having been received from the Provincial Grand Master the Earl of Radnor for transferring the Lodge meetings from the Town Hall to the Masonic Hall, was produced by the Secretary and handed to the W. Master.
The Lodge was then opened in the Second Degree.
Then Bros. Bell and Awdry (the two first initiates of Chaloner Lodge) and Bro. Angel the Tyler were examined by the W. Master and having given proofs of their proficiency in the Second Degree were entrusted with the P.G. and P.W. leading from the Second to the Third Degree. They then retired from the Lodge. The Lodge was then opened in the Third Degree and they were readmitted and were raised to the Sublime Degree of Master Masons by the W. Master. The Lecture was given by W. Bro. John Parker, Secretary. The Lodge was then closed in the Third Degree and resumed in the Second, closed in the Second and opened in the First Degree.
A Discussion then arose emanating from the Building Committee that the Workman engaged in the Building of the New Masonic Hall be invited to a supper. A resolution was proposed by Bro. Rev. E.G. Wyld, Chaplain, seconded by Bro. Edward Lowther, Junior Warden. "That according to ancient custom the Workmen engaged in Building the New Masonic Hall be invited to a supper, all details to be left to the Building Committee. Also that any Brother may attend on purchasing a Supper Ticket on giving notice to the Steward of the Lodge."
It was proposed by the Secretary and seconded by Bro. Henry Sawtell that thanks be given to Bro. Bush for presenting the Lodge with the photographs of the Founders of the Lodge, embellished and adorned with great taste by his assistant Mr. Westlake and also a letter be sent to Mr. Westlake conveying the thanks of the W. Master and Brethren, congratulating him on his work of art.
W. Bro. John Parker the Almoner, called the attention of the W. Master and Brethren to the increasing number of persons professing themselves to be Masons and respectively asked that any person soliciting relief as a Mason be referred to him to be proved and assisted from Lodge Funds, and on no account to be led to betray the trust reposed in them. A case of imposition having lately occurred.
Communications from the Provincial Grand Secretary were read that the Provincial Grand Master would be holding Provincial Grand Lodge at Westbury on Wednesday 1st December and a letter from Bro. H. Vernon Taylor, Secretary, relating to the Bicentenary of the reopening of St. Pauls Cathedral on Thursday 2nd December.
Hearty good wishes were then presented to the W. Master by Brethren from:
Fidelity 663, Concord 632, Lansdowne Lodge of Unity 626, Friendship and Unity 1271 and the Rose Lodge 1622.
All Masonic business being ended the Lodge was closed in due form, with solemn prayer and perfect harmony.
To consolidate the membership the W. Master, between the 19th November 1897 and 21st January 1898, held 2 Regular Meetings and 5 Emergency Meetings at which he initiated one, passed two and raised fourteen Candidates.