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History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge

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The Founders
W.Bro. Poulton set about collecting the names of those brethren who wished to be founders. This entailed the applicants completing a form giving their name, masonic history, residence and trade or profession and paying a founders fee of 5 guineas. The list that follows was closed with a total of 24 names, many of which are well remembered in the history of Bexhill masonry.
  1. Richard Allerton-Austin 2593, Osteopath, The Marina, Bexhill.
  2. John James Borthwick P.P.G.W. Surrey, 1661, 2096, 5888, retired technical brewer, Chestnut Walk, Little Common.
  3. Matthias Walter Catt 2434, 5059, retired bank official, Pebsham Farm, Bexhill.
  4. Leonard Frederick Chandler 2483, Master Printer, London Road, Bexhill.
  5. Basil Newport Dunster 3736, Chartered Electrical Engineer, London Road, Bexhill.
  6. William Francis L.G.R., 5379, 4076, Furrier, Marina Court, Bexhill.
  7. Frederick Stanley Gibbs 398, Manager of the Wheatsheaf Inn, Little Common.
  8. Ronald Harry Gilliam 1380, Accountant, Pear Tree Lane, Little Common.
  9. William Samuel Harris 2841, 3345, 2483, retired Farmer, Cantelupe Road, Bexhill.
  10. Alexander Henney, O.B.E. 1208, Master Mariner, Glenleigh Park Road, Bexhill.
  11. Harold Hildred 889, 2048, 382, 2483, retired Assurance Manager, Church Lane, Hooe.
  12. Norman Frank Hill 3923, 2483, Schoolmaster, London Road, Bexhill.
  13. John McIntosh 4315, 2483, French Polisher and Dance Band Leader, Dalehurst Road, Bexhill.
  14. James Thomas Herbert Mason P.P.G.D. Surrey 3968, 5688, 5888, 2483, retired Bank Manager, Maple Walk, Little Common.
  15. Albert Edward Mears 874, Postmaster-Librarian, Barnhorn Road, Little Common.
  16. Herbert Morris 4808, 4326, Company Director, Collington Avenue, Bexhill.
  17. Peter Drummond Muirhead 16, 353, 2483, retired, De La Warr Road Bexhill.
  18. David Perry 2483, Secretary for East Sussex Hospital Scheme, Eastwood Road, Bexhill.
  19. Harry J. Saywood 3190, Wine and Spirit Merchant, Buckhurst Place, Bexhill.
  20. Sidney Bailey Selmes 2483, 5273, 40, Trade Organisation Secretary, Boscobel Road North, St.Leonards-on-Sea.
  21. William Dougherty Smith P.P.G.D., 2483, Building Industry Clerk, Station Road, Bexhill.
  22. Frank Felix Spooner 2918, 2483, Motor Engineer, Woodville Road, Bexhill.
  23. Norman Tuckett Spry 2483, Builder and Decorator, Havelock Road, Bexhill.
  24. Arthur James Thompson L.G.R., 3910, 5379, Hotelier and retired Purser, Devonshire Hotel, Bexhill.
Sadly, Harry Saywood passed away only a few weeks before the consecration of the Lodge and this then left 23 founders.

An Early Photograph of the Founders

Back row - left to right
Captain Freddie Cross, retired Captain of the Mauretania. Frank Walter, an early initiate. Peter Evershed, an early initiate. Bobbie McClean, a professional golfer. George Collins, an early initiate. Richard Allerton-Austin, steward and a Founder. Tony Mottram, a farmer. Thomas Webb, an early joining member.
Our Founding Fathers
Middle row - left to right
Les Cook, an early joining member. Dick Frake, an early initiate. John Mclntosh, the first Inner Guard and a Founder. Norman Hill, the first Junior Deacon and a Founder. Norman Spry, the first Senior Deacon and a Founder. Len Chandler, a Founder. Ted Mears, the first A.D.C.and a Founder. Basil Dunster, steward and a Founder. Stan Gibbs, steward and a Founder. David Perry a Founder. Peter Muirhead a Founder. Richard Turner, the first Tyler.
Front row - left to right.
Walter Catt, the first Assistant Secretary and a Founder. John Borthwick, the first Treasurer and a Founder. William Harris, the first Chaplain and a Founder. Frank Spooner, the first Senior Warden and a Founder. Arthur Thompson, the first Master and a Founder. Sydney Selmes, the first Junior Warden and a Founder. Jimmy Mason, the first Secretary and a Founder. Bill Francis, the first D.C.and a Founder. Harold Hildred, a Founder.

It is believed with the best information available, that this photograph was taken in April 1950, in the upstairs dining room of the Devonshire Hotel, Devonshire Square, Bexhill-on-Sea.
A Founders' Jewel at last!
When the lodge was founded in 1948, Founders' Jewels were not purchased. However, in the Summer of 1992, a Garden Party was organised by W.Bro. Reg Keys, specifically to raise funds for the purchase of Past Masters Jewels and it was the wish of the brethren that at the same time a Founders' Jewel be acquired and presented to W.Bro. Frank Spooner. At the Installation Meeting in October 1993, when W.Bro. Bill Clements was Installed, a presentation of the one and only Founders' Jewel of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge was made to W.Bro. Frank Spooner, a Lodge Founder and our lodge's first Senior Warden.
In 1993 the lodge was also delighted to join W.Bro. Frank Spooner as he celebrated 50 years in Freemasonry. A happy milestone aspired to by many, but achieved by so few.
Working closely with W.Bro. Poulton during these early days was W.Bro. Jimmy Mason, and it was he who, following the completion of this list, arranged a meeting for the Founders at the Temple, Wilton Road on Friday 12th December 1947 at 8.00 pm. It was at this meeting that important issues were to be decided by the Founders. These included the appointment of a first and Founding Master, Secretary, Treasurer and the Wardens, the name of the lodge, the day of the meeting and whether the new lodge was to be dining, or non-dining.
The officers designate were noted as:

  1. Master designate - W.Bro. A.J. Thompson.L.G.R.
  2. S.W. designate - Bro. F.F. Spooner.
  3. J.W. designate - Bro. S.B. Selmes.
  4. Treasurer designate - W.Bro. J.J. Borthwick.P.P.G.W. Surrey.
  5. Secretary designate - W.Bro. J.T.H. Mason.P.P.G.D.Surrey.
Naming the Lodge
It was particularly important to name the Master and Wardens designate, as under Rule 96 of the Book of Constitutions, the form of petition for warrant must include these three named officers in addition to the signatures of all the regularly registered master masons wishing to become founders. A look at our warrant will reveal the names of W.Bro. Arthur Thompson and Brothers Frank Spooner and Sidney Selmes.
A name or title, as well as a number must distinguish every lodge. Once that name or title is decided and recorded it cannot be changed without the approval of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge. It is not surprising then, that when this item was discussed on the 12th December it generated a great deal of discussion.
One strong suggestion was that the name of the new lodge be connected with the Earl of De La Warr's family but after much discussion this idea was discarded. Brother Frank Spooner then suggested that the lodge take its name from the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel which guarded the dangerous shoals 9 miles off the Bexhill coast and was in clear view to residents and visitors alike. Amongst the founders were both working and retired Master Mariners and it was thought that the name was particularly appropriate. This was unanimously accepted and so the new lodge was named.
The choice of day for the regular meetings also caused much discussion, but as we had 9 founders out of the 24 who worked in London and commuted on a daily basis, it was decided to meet on a Saturday and in addition to be a dining Lodge. At that time the Hadrian and Bexhill Lodges were non-dining. (i.e. dining fees were paid separately to the annual lodge subscription). It was also agreed that the lodge would meet on the third Saturday in the months of February, March, April, September, October and November at such hour as the Master may determine. The Installation meeting was set as the regular meeting in September. A little different from the present calendar.
With regard to the ritual to be used by the new Lodge, the founders agreed that the first Worshipful Master and first Senior Warden would use the London Ritual, Universal, West End or Taylor's working. Thereafter the lodge would work the Nigerian version of Emulation working, but as the brethren will know, it is the Revised Emulation Ritual of 1986 that is currently worked.
As a date for consecration was awaited, W.Bro. Jimmy Mason wrote to Trinity House in London informing them that a new Lodge was to be consecrated in the coastal resort of Bexhill-on-Sea and would be named the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge. They were most helpful and gave us permission to use their crest on our communications and included an enlarged copy whilst at the same time sending full details of the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel. This initial contact between Trinity House and the lodge began an association which continues to the present day.

Trinity Crest

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex

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