A Short History
Taken from the Centenary Summons 1970
1870 - 1970
On this memorable occasion in the life of De Warren Lodge No. 1302, it is perhaps fitting, that our distinguished guests, as well as the brethren of this Lodge should know something of its inception, early history and development. Conceived by eight members of St James's Lodge No. 448 who encountered considerable difficulties during the six months before the Lodge was consecrated on Saturday June 11th, 1870 at the White Swan Hotel, Halifax, by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Bentley Shaw.
In its life to date, the Lodge has existed through six reigns and three wars, spanning a period of transition from gaslight to nuclear power, from phaeton to moon rocket, seeing the invention of the telephone, electric light, radio, television and the family car. Yet still we meet, unchanged in a changing world, to hear the same words, witness identical ceremonies as did our brethren one hundred years ago. Masonry stands as the symbolism of that which is, which was and which is to come.
It is right and proper that, on this occasion, we should venerate our Founders, read of their early struggles and triumphs, remembering the four hundred fifty brethren who have been initiated into this Lodge during its first century.
From the very first record the minutes are neat, clear and beautifully written. The first secretary, Bro W. Cooke, recorded the minutes of thirteen meetings, starting December 18th, 1869. These dealt with the rental of St Johns Place. The committee of Management there stipulated a rental of £50, the deputation was authorised to offer £36 but when negotiations broke down alternative accommodation was arranged at the White Swan Hotel, where a doorway was specially made from the Napoleon Room to the Dining Room and the rent fixed at £20 per annum! This also necessitated a change of the Planned Lodge meetings from the third Wednesday to the first Monday in every Calendar Month.
The name of the lodge is that of the ancient Lord of the manor, Earl De Warren, who about the year 1100 was the most distinguished personality in the county of York. The family crest of De Warren, from which the check base of Halifax Coat of Arms is derived, was adopted as the Lodge crest. On November 7th 1870 Bro David Whitaker presented the lodge with a beautifully painted banner, Staff and Stand.
In 1872 the Lodge removed to the De Warren Rooms in Horton Street and in the following year to the Talbot Hotel, but returned to its former Whitehall Room at the White Swan in 1874. By 1880 the lodge membership was 28 and increased to 38 by the turn of the century. In March 1899 a Complimentary Dinner was held to recognise the services of W. Bro Seed and W. Bro Asquith. The former presented to the Lodge, at its consecration, a unique edition of the Bible, dated 1610 known as the Breeches Bible, which will always remain one of our valued treasures.
During the thirty-first year of the Lodge the brethren began to feel that accommodation at an hotel was not providing for the fullest development of freemasonry, so the St Johns Lodge was approached to accept De Warren Lodge as joint owners of the Masonic Hall, Blackwall the first meeting took place there on July 8th, 1901. The wisdom of joining at premises, where social intercourse had ample scope, was fully justified by events. In November of the same year sanction was received for the formation of Heatherstone (the original name of the building) Royal Arch Chapter, which very soon became one of the largest Chapters. Steady growth and constant development raised membership to 54 in 1910, when enlargements to the building were made, but it was not until 1918 that De Warren Lodge found itself in the happy position of being clear of debt.
Twelve of the brethren and twenty six members sons took part in the Great War and in April 1919 seven of the demobilised service members occupied the seven principle offices in the Lodge on the occasion of the initiation of a demobbed candidate. By June all members had returned from War Service and about a hundred brethren attended a Complimentary Supper, when the ex-service brethren were each presented with a pair of engraved gold sleeve links.
With a membership of 131 the urgent need to form a first daughter lodge was achieved in our Jubilee year 1920 when Beacon Lodge was consecrated just one week prior to the Jubilee Celebration. Of the twenty subscribing Past Masters of De Warren Lodge, ten were founding members of our daughter lodge, and the selected and oldest attending Past Master, W Bro A. Alderson, to be the first master of Beacon Lodge No. 4066. Of him the historians say his delightful personality, his mastery of Masonic ritual and his constant attendance and helpfulness have endeared him to all his brethren. It may be truly said of him that he possesses the Masonic mind. The consecration ceremonial of great beauty, conducted in delightful earnestness by R.W. Bro Sir William Raynor Provincial Grand Master, was attended by all the regular officers and members of the lodge.
With W. Bro A.C Tipple in the chair, our Jubilee Celebration took place on Friday June 11th, 1920 at the Freemasons Hall Halifax, when the Deputy P.G.M., W. Bro. R. Gill, as a chief guest, congratulated the Lodge and invested W. Bro. H. Turner, Charity Member, with the past rank of Provincial Senior Grand Deacon, a distinction most warmly received by the brethren. Bro. J. Hayes was present, as the only surviving founder of De Warren lodge, and spoke informally on Freemasonry in Australia. It is regrettable that no brethren attending the Jubilee Celebration will be present at our Centenary.
Following a record number of initiates (22) 1n 1917, a more manageable number of candidates was received in the twenties. It was in January 1921 that our oldest member, W. Bro. E. Moore, P.P.G.W., was initiated into De Warren Lodge. Serving as Secretary for fourteen years, Treasurer twelve years, and fourteen years as Treasurer of Rokeby Lodge, he was honoured by the Lodge in November 1964 by being elected our second honorary member, in token of loyal and faithful service. It will indeed be a pleasure to see him present at our Centenary Celebration. In between the wars, new members decreased to a steady three or four each year, but towards the end of the Second World War emergency Lodges became necessary once more, as there were eight initiates in 1944. Therefore in very similar circumstances to previous post war years a second daughter lodge heralded the peace.
In March 1946 W. Bro. G.H Stephenson, Master, proposed to receive, consider, and if approved, recommend the petition for the formation of a new lodge to be called Rokeby Lodge. In August 1946 one hundred guineas was donated to our new daughter lodge and permission granted to use the Masonic Hall for meetings. The ceremony of consecration was held at the Freemasons Hall Halifax, on Saturday August 31st, when the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro Sir Anthony Gadie, officiated, assisted by his Deputy W. Bro. H. Clifford Smith, and W. Bro. A. Kitchen was installed as the first master. Twenty one brethren of De Warren Lodge were founders together with W. Bro J.L Peel (No.4825), who was appointed as Director of Ceremonies.
The Lodge conferred honorary membership on W. Bro. A. Binns in September 1947, to mark his completion of fifty years in masonry. W. Bro. A. Ackroyd remarked that this matter was so important as to warrant more than the bare recording in the minutes. It constituted a precedent in the history of the Lodge being the first occasion on which this honour had been conferred on any member. A noteworthy fact being that W. Bro. Binns was the sole surviving member of the Lodge when it was held at the White Swan Hotel.
Many Past Masters of Halifax Lodges have appreciated Oram Night, usually held in September, when masters of all local lodges take their Senior Wardens to dinner at the Old Cock Hotel, so that they may be introduced to their opposite numbers in other lodges before the Installation Season. As the title discloses, this commendable institution was started by W. Bro. A. Oram when he was master in 1949.
First Grand Lodge honours to be conferred in this lodge were awarded to W. Bro. G. Normanton, grandson of his namesake, one of the founders, in May 1937 when the Master, W. Bro. E. Moore, presented Grand Lodge Regalia with the heartiest congratulations of the brethren. Unfortunately W. Bro. G. Normanton, only lived four months longer, but his regalia together with a collection of Masonic glass, in a Hepplewhite display cabinet, was returned to his mother lodge. Whilst acting as W.M. In June 1956 I can readily recall our second Grand Lodge honours, when W. Bro. A. Kitchen received his Grand Lodge regalia from W. Bro. E. Moore and W. Bro. E. Milner, the latter detailing the vast amount of hard work contributed by W. Bro. Kitchen before the formation of our daughter lodge Rokeby No. 6301. The new bar extension was presented and unveiled by W. Bro. Kitchen in 1958.
Minutes of Lodge meetings for the past fifty years are much more routine than those of the first fifty; they record the ordinary business of the Lodge with little indication of discussion or opposition to proposals; they are thus less intriguing. The only recorded visit of the Earl Of Harewood (Pro Grand Master) when he was Provincial Grand Master was on March 5th 1937, when he unveiled a tablet of the names of Installed Masters.
There have been many proud moments when a Lewis has been introduced into the lodge, but perhaps the most noteworthy falls during our centenary year when the Worshipful Master, W. Bro. A. Horner, the Masters brother, was Junior Warden. Another very touching moment occurred at the Installation in October 1959 when the Provincial Grand Master, R. W. Bro. H. Clifford Smith saw Bro. David Garside, invested into the junior Wardens chair by his father, W. Bro. J. Garside, and afterwards the P.G.M. conferred Past Provincial rank on W. Bro. J. Garside.
In considering this history, we must remember that active and faithful services rendered by those, who in their time, discharged the duties of their various offices, and eventually attained the mastership of the Lodge. These worthy brethren took a prominent part in shaping the character of the Lodge. Many reminiscences of sterling character and faithful service could be given in respect of each of our revered Past Masters, but would not be desirable. There is, however, one collective characteristic, which calls for special mention and that, is their constant desire, and unfailing help, in securing that the welfare and continued progress of true masonry in the Lodge shall never be impeded. The same spirit animates all their actions, and in this they have gained the highest respect and approval of the brethren, who recognise their wisdom in giving valued help when needed, but in never attempting to rule the destinies of the Lodge after handling over its mastership to their successors.
It is not possible in a short review to record the innumerable kindly acts of faithful service to the fraternity, nor the individual gifts to the Lodge, or in the cause of Charity. There are many names not written in this short history which will spring to the minds of many who peruse this account, but those kindly personalities and their enduring services are indelibly imprinted on the hearts of brethren in the craft; and those brethren would themselves desire no more fitting recognition than that of kindly memories in the hearts of the Masonic brethren of their time.
We must ensure that our Founders did not labour in vain; that we can look back with pride upon their skill and foresight; upon their influence to the community in general and on Freemasonry in Halifax and the Province in particular.
Their unselfish example should inspire all brethren of De Warren Lodge to face our second century with confidence.
W. Bro. J. Hopkinson, P.P.A.G.D.C.
De warren Lodge moved to the Southwood masonic Lodge Building in Birdcage Lane, Savile Park, Halifax on 1 October 2020.
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