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History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge

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The Consecration
The Consecration of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge took place at the Temple, Wilton Road, Bexhill-on-Sea on Saturday May 1st. at 3.15 p.m.
In view of the limited accommodation that was available in the Temple, admission was by ticket only and early application was advised. Dark morning dress or uniform was requested and Grand Officers appeared in full dress. There were 10 Consecrating Officers led by:
  1. The Very Reverend A.T.A. Naylor, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master who was accompanied and assisted by:
  2. W.Bro. F.W.A. Cushman. P. G. D. Dep. Pro. Grand Master.
  3. W.Bro. H. Wilfred Aldrich. P. A. G. Reg. Ass. Prov. Grand Master.
  4. W.Bro. H.T. Holliday. Prov. S. Grand Warden.
  5. W. Bro. E.M. West. Prov. J. Grand Warden.
  6. W.Bro. I.G. Teakle. M.A. P. Ass. G. Chaplain. Pro. Grand Chaplain.
  7. W.Bro. A.H. Edwards. P. A. G. D. C. Pro. G. D. C.
  8. W.Bro. A. Jolly. P. A. G. D. C. Pro. Grand Secretary.
  9. W.Bro. Dr. W. Norman Maple. Pro. Grand Organist.
  10. W.Bro. Middleburgh. P. P. G. D. C. Ass. Dep. G. D. C.
There were 22 Founders present and the Lodge was honoured by the presence of 132 visitors whose names, ranks, lodges and lodge numbers are all duly recorded in the signature book. Even to those of us who know the Wilton Road Temple well, it is difficult to imagine the subsequent total of 162 brethren seated in the lodge room.
At the end of the Consecration Ceremony, the Provincial Grand Master handed the gavel to W.Bro. F.W.A. Cushman, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master who took the Chair, resumed the lodge in the Second Degree and then proceeded with the Installation of the first Worshipful Master, W.Bro. Arthur James Thompson  L.G.R.
The Worshipful Master then invested the Wardens designate and continued with the appointment and investiture of the officers of the lodge. The Tyler was elected by a show of hands and following a proposition, it was agreed the Treasurer be appointed by the Worshipful Master.
The Early Years
In the early days of the lodge, by-Laws were drawn up. These were proposed, seconded and unanimously accepted by the brethren at the September meeting in 1948 and included such details as:-

"the Annual Subscription shall be Two Guineas"
"the Initiation Fee shall be Fifteen Guineas"
"and the Joining Fee shall be Four Guineas"

At the same meeting, the Secretary informed the brethren that the majority of the members of the lodge had voted in favour of using the Emulation Ritual and that a Lodge of Instruction would be held on Tuesday evenings.
The September meeting also saw the first candidate initiated into the lodge, Bro. Sydney Daley-Yates. The ceremony was performed by the Worshipful Master who also delivered the Charge.
At both the February and March meetings in 1949, Item Two on the agenda was to initiate two brethren, followed by Item Three which was to pass two brethren to the degree of a Fellowcraft. Both meetings began at 3.45.p.m. and dinner was served at the Devonshire Hotel at 6.3O.p.m. at a cost of eight shillings.
At the Election meeting in April 1949 the Secretary noted in his minutes the following decisions of the Lodge Committee which stated that:

"until a further decision to the contrary progression from the office of Inner Guard to Junior Deacon will be through the office of A.D.C., and that in accordance with No.4 of the Ancient Charges, all preferment will be grounded on real worth and personal merit only. No Master or Warden will be chosen by seniority but for his merit"
"at the Installation meeting Evening Dress would be worn"
"the lodge would hold a Ladies Festival in September"
"for the use of Initiates two sets of pyjamas will be purchased"

The Master Elect at this meeting was Bro. Frank Spooner and as the lodge was closed the brethren looked forward to his Installation in September 1949. There being no further business, the Lodge was then closed in due form with Solemn Prayer and in Perfect Harmony.
The Consecration Dinner that followed the meeting was held in the upstairs dining room of the Devonshire Hotel, Post Office Square, Bexhill-on-Sea. This was the home and place of work of the Worshipful Master, Arthur Thompson - 83 brethren paid a dining fee of 15 shillings each.
Lodge of Instruction
At the September meeting of 1948 the brethren were informed that a United Lodge of Instruction would be held together with the Hadrian and Bexhill Lodges on Tuesday evenings. This continued until February 1956 when the sanction of the Lodge was sought to hold a Lodge of Instruction working under the Warrant of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge. Sanction was unanimously granted providing that the proceedings were in accordance with the Antient Charges, Landmarks and Regulations of the Order and that the Emulation Ritual was taught. Booklets of the Sussex Masonic Charities, unearthed by W.Bro. Jack MacKenzie, confirm the calendar of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge of Instruction from February 1956 through to February 1969 and are a reminder that the distinguishing feature of a freemason's heart is Charity.
Bro. Spooner's Installation
17th September 1949, saw the Installation of W.Bro. Frank Felix Spooner as the second Worshipful Master of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge. 57 brethren attended the meeting including the Pro.J.W., W.Bro. J.F.W.Cooper, representing the R.W.Prov.Grand Master. On the second rising, a letter from the R.W.Prov.Grand Master was read as follows:

"I much regret that I cannot be present at the Installation of Bro. Spooner. Please give him and all the brethren my best wishes for a happy and successful year. It is good to learn that the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge is in such a healthy state. May 'the unity' of the spirit, which is the bond of peace' ever continue."

Also on the second rising, following a direction from the Pro. Grand Master, a letter was read dealing with the Master's Light dated 7th December 1839 and issued by Grand Lodge.
In the letter was confirmation of the decision of Grand Lodge that the Master's Light was never to be extinguished while the Lodge was open, nor was it by any means to be shaded or obscured and that no Lanthorn or other device was to be permitted as a substitute.
The reason given was that one of the lights represents the Master, who is always present while the Lodge is open, if not actually in his own person, then by a Bro. who represents him. Without the Master or his representative the Lodge cannot be open so his light cannot be extinguished until the lodge is closed; the two other lights figuratively represent luminaries which at periods are visible but at other times are not.

As the 1940's drew to a close, W.Bro. Frank Spooner completed the year with a double raising at the October meeting and at the ceremony in November passed two brethren followed by the initiation of two candidates.
Clearly an industrious start had been made in the early and formative years of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge and evidence exists up to and including the present day that confirms the continuance of the high standards laid down by our predecessors.

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex

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