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Chaloner Lodge No. 2644

Short History of

Chaloner Lodge No. 2644

This lodge was consecrated on the 27th of February 1897 and the Warrant dated December 1896.

The Worshipful Master is installed in March.

History of the Chaloner Lodge No 2644

There had been a Lodge in Melksham before Chaloner, as the Lodge of Rectitude had met there after leaving Westbury but they did not stay too long as they fell out with various landlords and the people of Melksham did not take to them. In 1874 John Parker, who was Junior Warden of the Lodge of Fidelity, Devizes moved to Melksham. Whilst there he became a joining member of Lansdown Lodge of Unity, Chippenham, and went through the chair. When he was W M of Lansdown he attended the Provincial Grand Lodge when The Earl of Radnor was invested as P G M at Salisbury. He received some encouragement from members of P G L and in 1894 he approached W Bro. Captain Chaloner M.P., then living in Melksham, and who was a past master of the Lodge of Friendship and Sincerity at Shaftesbury. This brother supported the idea and committee meetings were held at his house. After one or two set backs a meeting held on 28th November 1896, resulted in a resolution that "steps be taken to form a lodge for the Town of Melksham and that £100 be raised by guarantee to the Wilts & Dorset Bank Ltd., to provide for preliminary expenses." It was also agreed that the Lodge be called the Chaloner Lodge. and that Captain Chaloner be the first Master, subject to the approval of the brethren. He resided at Melksham House. He had also been W.M. of Friendship & Unity, 1271, Bradford on Avon. That Lodge acted as proposers for the new Lodge.

There were 10 Founding members who signed the petition. and the Lodge was Dedicated on Feb. 27th 1897. The meeting held at the Free Hall, the Lodge room had been set up as a Temple by six Tyler's of different Lodges in Swindon, Bath, Devizes, Chippenham, Bradford and Salisbury.

The Ceremony was started by the Provincial Cr. Secretary, Bro. Bevir, as the PGM had not arrived, but he came soon after and Installed the W.M. who then installed his officers. The ancient charge was given by the DPGM W.Bro.C.Phipps. (It is presumed that this was the address to the Master).

Later at the meeting 13 candidates were proposed and seven joining members. The Lodge was then closed and a procession was formed, headed by the Melksham Town Band, which proceeded to the Parish Church of St. Michael. Full Regalia being worn, with Banners etc. and a banquet followed at the Town Hall. "The Church Bells rang "merry peals" throughout the day."
At the first meeting the thirteen brethren, previously proposed, were initiated!!! They were put through in groups of three. He was born Richard Godolphin Walmesbury Long but changed his name by Royal Warrant to that of his Uncle Admiral Thomas Chaloner C.B. and inherited the Gisborough Estate, Cleveland. He was created first Baron Gisborough in 1917.

He decided that at the next meeting that he would pass the thirteen candidates and initiate one new one. However the date chosen was a Good Friday so this could not be done. The only free day he had was the day before, a Thursday, but this meant that the requisite number of days between ceremonies had not been met and the Provincial Grand Secretary was adamant that it would have to be put off. So the ceremony was just the one Initiation! A site in Church Street was now purchased for £50 and eventually was agreed to build new premises. Firstly the Lodge room, Tyler's and lavatory and then additions as and when possible. The meeting in the new premises was held on Friday 15th November 1897. Since then the Lodge has progressed, the building improved, the original expenditure of £50 must have been well worth while.