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History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge

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Page 1 - The Life and History of our Lodge

A lodge history goes way beyond the day that it was founded. It builds upon masonry within its local area, or province, and involves many brethren that sadly are no longer with us. Researching and documenting any lodge history is indeed a mammoth task and it is thanks to the efforts of  W. Bro. Roy Sydney that the history of The Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630 is so well documented.

The History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge runs to 9 pages so we trust you will find the content both enlightening and of interest.

The Founding of our Lodge
Our lodge Temple was born from a desire by the members of the Hadrian Lodge No. 2483 to have its own dedicated building in which to hold its meetings, that had for many years taken place at the Devonshire Hotel. Hadrian Lodge was founded in 1893 and stems from the Anderida Lodge No. 2434.
Prior to the laying of the foundation stone by R.W.Bro. Major R.L.Thornton.,CBE.,DL.,Prov.G.Master, on 1st May 1931, the members of the lodge formed a procession through the town in full regalia. It must have been an impressive sight to behold as this public parade of freemasons was one of the very rare occasions in the history of the town, or of local freemasonry. Records tell of the members dressed in frock coats and silk hats.
The ceremony itself was well documented by the local "Bexhill Observer" as having a strong religious element. The vessels containing corn, wine and oil, having been conveniently placed, together with the mallet, the Worshipful Master of the Hadrian Lodge asked the Prov.G. Master to lay the stone.
After an appropriate address and a prayer, a box containing coinage and records was deposited in a cavity, which would be sealed upon the lowering of the stone. The architect then presented the Prov.G. Master with a beautifully engraved silver trowel to spread the cement, and the stone was lowered in three distinct stages while the hymn "O God our help in ages past" was sung. Having proved the stone with the plumb rule, the level and the square, it was declared "duly prepared, truly laid and the craftsmen have worked well".
From the Cornucopia, the Prov.G. Master scattered corn - the emblem of plenty and abundance - from the ewers he poured wine - the emblem of joy and cheerfulness - and oil - the emblem of peace and unanimity.
W.Bro. J.E.Du Merton

Before the Light
To begin to appreciate the founding and the development of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge, it is helpful, if not essential, to know at least a little about Sussex Lodges in general and the important parts that particular lodges have played in its history.
There can be no better place to start the research needed to supply this requirement than the excellent publication by W.Bro. H.R.Dixon, P.A.G.D.C., P.P.S.G.W., "The History of Freemasonry in Sussex". This was published in 1974 in connection with the bicentenary of the appointment of the first Provincial Grand Master for Sussex. It is without doubt essential reading and has proved to be invaluable to me as I have traced the route of development which led to the founding of our own Lodge. In my humble opinion it ought to be on the compulsory study list of every Sussex Mason. Much of what appears in this first chapter is taken directly or indirectly from this publication.
 

At the time of the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1814, the lodges in Sussex were:-

  1. Howard Lodge of Brotherly Love No. 56 warranted in 1736 - meeting at Littlehampton, but originally in Arundel.
  2. Royal Clarence Lodge No. 271 warranted in 1789 - meeting in Brighton.
  3. South Saxon Lodge No. 311 warranted in 1796 - meeting in Lewes.
  4. Royal York. Lodge No. 315 warranted in 1797 - meeting now at Brighton but at Seaford up to 1824 as the Royal Cinque Port Lodge.
  5. Lodge of Harmony warranted in 1799 and combined with the Derwent Lodge No. 40 in 1817 - meeting at Hastings.
  6. Lodge of Friendship warranted in 1811 combined with the Lodge of Harmony (Atholl Lodge) in 1828 as the Lodge of Union, No. 38 - meeting in Chichester.
  7. Lodge of Harmony (Atholl Lodge) warranted in 1812 combined with the Lodge of Friendship in 1828 as the Lodge of Union, No. 38 - meeting in Chichester.
  8. Derwent Lodge No. 40 warranted in 1813 - combined with the Lodge of Harmony in 1817.
Gavel
To these should be added the lodge for which the period between the Petition and the issue of the warrant, bridged the Union. That is, the
Wellington Lodge No. 341 warranted in 1814, which met in Rye.

From these are descended all the lodges in Sussex except Selsey Lodge No. 3571, which was sponsored by Robert Mitchell Lodge No. 2050, London, primarily for a group of business men working in London and living in or frequently visiting Selsey. The early roots of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge begin with the Royal Clarence Lodge No. 271, Brighton which has sponsored only three Lodges, but from two of these, namely South Saxon Lodge No. 311 and Worthing Lodge of Friendship No.851, are descended directly or indirectly, all the Lodges in Brighton, Worthing and Central Sussex. The South Saxon Lodge No. 311, Lewes, has sponsored nine daughter Lodges, of which the earliest is Royal York No. 315, Brighton, from which are descended most of the Brighton Lodges and, most important for us, the Hartington Lodge No. 916, Eastbourne from which is descended a different group. On the l9th.March 1862, the South Saxon Lodge sponsored a petition for a new Lodge in Eastbourne and a warrant was issued on the 26th.May 1862 for the Hartington Lodge No. 916 which was consecrated at the Diplocks Hotel Eastbourne on July 6th 1862. On the 2Oth.June 1866 the P.G.M. consecrated the Tyrian Lodge No. 1110 at the Lamb Hotel, Eastbourne whose founders included members of South Saxon Lodge and the sponsoring lodge, Hartington. The Tyrian Lodge No.1110 in turn has sponsored seven daughter lodges through which are descended six more at Eastbourne, Bexhill and Herstmonceux. Of these, one is the Hadrian Lodge No. 2483, the sponsor of both the Bexhill Lodge No. 4898 and the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630.

In 1953 W.Bro. Ivor Grantham prepared a chart showing the descent of all the lodges in Sussex up to that date. There were then 107 lodges in the province with a total roll of 7835.
When the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge was consecrated in May 1948 there were 92 lodges with a total roll of 6531 and when W.Bro. H.R.Dixon was about to publish his work in 1974 there were 148. As this paper is prepared (1993) there are 171 lodges with a total roll of 8611 representing an average number of 50 members per lodge. These figures are very different from those that showed that in 1854 when Provincial Grand Lodge was revived there were just 8 lodges in the province with a total roll of 199.
On the l6th.of October 1947, the M.W.Grand Master, His Grace the Duke of Devonshire installed the V.Rev. Alfred Thomas Arthur Naylor, D.S.O., O.B.E., M.A., Dean of Battle as the new Provincial Grand Master for Sussex. He succeeded Major Robert Thornton, C.B.E., D.L., who had died on the 19th March 1947 and it was the new Provincial Grand Master who on May 1st 1948 consecrated the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630.at the Wilton Road Temple, Bexhill-on-Sea.
We now need to look at the circumstances that lead to the decision to form a new lodge in the town and to help with that area of research we must turn to the old minute books and early correspondence.

In the Beginning

It is clear from early correspondence that the first steps towards the formation of a third lodge in Bexhill were taken before the start of the Second World War and that W.Bro. F.E.Poulton, P.G.P., P.P.G.R., the then Secretary of the Hadrian Lodge No. 2483 was very active in this respect.
A letter from W.Bro. Poulton was received by the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Robert Lawrence Thornton on the 28th August 1936, informing him of the good position of the Wilton Road Temple and enclosing a copy of the Hadrian Lodge accounts. In his reply dated  l7th September 1936, the Provincial Grand Master expressed his concern that the formation of the Bexhill Lodge had not relieved the Hadrian Lodge to any appreciable extent and that in his humble opinion there was room for a third lodge in Bexhill. He was sure that a third lodge would reduce No. 2483 a little, encourage the numbers of candidates coming forward and increase the chances of young masons reaching the chair.
The Second World War became a reality and it is not until  5th June 1947, three months after the death of R.W.Bro. Robert Lawrence Thornton that W.Bro. Poulton wrote to the Provincial Grand Secretary. This was following a meeting of the standing committee of the Hadrian Lodge and a request for the necessary forms and instructions for an application for a new lodge to be made to the Provincial Grand Master. By this time the number of members of the Hadrian Lodge had topped 100 and there was a continuing influx of candidates into Freemasonry so a third lodge for Bexhill was as much necessary as it was desirable.
A positive reply was typed on 10th June 1947, and the request was put before the Deputy Provincial Grand Master in Charge. Following consultation with the Provincial Grand Master Designate, permission was granted to go ahead and the requisite form of Petition and instructions were received on 19th  November 1947.
Now began the task of collecting together the names of those brethren who wished to be founders of the new lodge and it was W.Bro. Poulton who took up this challenge.
Gloves

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