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History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge

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Our Lodge during the 1950's
As the Lodge moved into the new era of the 1950's, candidates for initiation and joining members continued to be welcomed into the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge and steadily the membership grew.
During 1951, W.Bro. Sidney Selmes' year, Emulation Working was printed on our summons and Provincial Grand Lodge wrote and said that the lodge could not do that. They arranged for the Provincial Grand Master, V. Rev. A.T.A. Naylor to come on his own to an ordinary meeting.
After opening the Lodge the P. G. M. asked the founders to join him in the anteroom. He agreed that Province could not make the lodge use the Sussex Working as no such undertaking had been given by the founders. In his view Sussex Working was carried out in a different manner wherever he had been and that for his part he was delighted to see that we had such a positive approach to ritual and he gave us his blessing to continue. The only point that he asked us to comply with was a change to the salutation in the Inner Working. It was agreed to drop the London Salutation that we had been using and adopt the one in use in Sussex.
W.Bro. Sidney Selmes was installed in September 1950 as the 3rd Master and on the first rising the secretary reported a communication from Grand Lodge which read:-

"Dark clothing, black tie and white collar should be worn, Masters of Lodges should by example and encouragement lead their members to a standard of dress compatible with the dignity of the Order, Black shoes should always be worn. From the 1st January 1952, it shall be left to the discretion of the Master to decide whether to request the wearing of white gloves. The interests of the members generally must be considered."

In April 1951, the Devonshire Hotel found it necessary, to increase the lodge dining fee from 8 shillings to 8 shillings and 6 pence.
Norman Spry became our 4th Worshipful Master on the 15th. Of September 1951 and at that meeting notice was given of the Royal Sovereign Light Ladies Festival which was to be held at the Sackville Hotel on the 27th of October.
At the November meeting, it was proposed by Brother Secretary and seconded by W.Bro Frank Spooner :

"that a Lodge Banner be purchased as soon as practicable and that a fund be opened for this purpose, to which the brethren will be asked to subscribe either by direct payment or by instalments spread over a period" - The proposition was carried unanimously.
The brethren supported the fund with great enthusiasm and enquiries were able to be made about the cost of a suitable banner without delay. What then had to be decided was what design would be used. W.Bro. L.F. Chandler and W.Bro. F.F. Spooner were charged with this task and appreciating the connection of the lodge with the sea, contacted Trinity House, the Authority responsible for the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel, to see if permission would be granted to incorporate their coat of arms in the banner design. Trinity House were most helpful and not only did they grant the permission requested but in addition sent a large and detailed drawing of the coat of arms.
Working tools
The Design of our Banner
The final design decided upon was a subtle blend of the masonic landmarks and maritime influences that reflected the ethos of the lodge in those early years. Close inspection of our banner will reveal that at its head is the name of our lodge inscribed in gold upon a scarlet ribbon. At its centre is a circular representation of one of the early Royal Sovereign Light Vessels, showing a bright and golden beam. Three sailing ships within a regal crown, a clear adaptation of the Trinity House coat of arms, surmount this. Attached to each side of the Light vessel is a dolphin, acknowledged to be the seas most intelligent creature. This centre piece is suspended above the Masonic square and compasses which themselves are centrally positioned beneath the all seeing eye. The whole of this rests upon a dark blue ribbon with the Lodge inscription, "The Predominant Wish" an inscription that is particularly fitting to our lodge.
The lower half of the banner is occupied by the masters pedestal inscribed with the date of consecration and to one side the jewel of the Senior Warden with the smooth ashlar and to the other the jewel of the Junior Warden complete with the rough ashlar. This is surrounded by light clouds and rests upon a golden plinth which itself supports two great pillars. These are surmounted by representations of the terrestrial and celestial globes pointing out masonry universal.
At the bottom edge is the number of the lodge, that being number 6630 in the register of the Grand Lodge of England. The complete design sits upon a light blue background and is fringed with dark blue and gold tassels.
This completed design was sent to Toye and Co. of London who accepted the commission for the sum of 70-5s-6d. A delivery date was arranged and plans then went ahead for a banner dedication ceremony.
Provincial Grand Lodge agreed to dedicate the banner at the regular meeting on October l8th 1952.

The original 1952 banner survived until March 1990, when the ravages of time dictated that it should be replaced. On this occasion an exact copy was made by Fabb and Co. of Maidenhead and this, our current banner, was dedicated on March 17th 1990. Unfortunately there had been a noticeable amount of inflation and this time the bill was approximately 1200.
Dedication Ceremony
The Banner Dedication Ceremony was held in the Wilton Road Temple on Saturday, l8th of October 1952. This was preceded by a double ceremony of passing beginning at 3.30 pm and was conducted by W.Bro. Norman Hill, our 5th Master. The candidates were Bros. Howard Stokes and Andrew Mowbray.
The Lodge was called off at 5.OOpm when tea was taken, and called on again at 5.30.p.m. The Banner Dedication Ceremony then began and this was presided over by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. F.W.A. Cushman, O.B.E., P. G. D., who was supported by 12 Dedicating Officers. The total attendance was 71 Brethren.
On the first rising, Grand Lodge expressed their strong objection to the practice of 'Chain Prayers' and declared it both a threat and un-masonic. They urged that all such documents received by the brethren should immediately be destroyed.

At the November meeting in 1952, the minutes show the first written reference to the link that was to be established between the lodge and the crew of the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel and subsequently the Royal Sovereign Light Tower when on the third rising it is recorded:

"Brother Almoner was asked to make a collection at dinner and from the proceeds to purchase and to deliver some small token of our goodwill to the crew of the Royal Sovereign Light Ship. Brethren not staying to dinner were asked to leave their donation with Brother Almoner. The smallest contribution will be thankfully received. Our late Treasurer, W.Bro. Roy Lane Smith was very keen that the lodge should associate itself with the crew of the Lightship and thought that Christmas would be the most appropriate time"

From thereon, the lodge minutes bear witness to a regular and similar proposition being made and accepted at the November meeting of the lodge. This continued for the next 42 years and only came to an end when in August 1994, the Royal Sovereign Light Tower became fully automated and its crew transferred or retired.
The second half of the 50's
In April 1955, the lodge changed its dining venue from the Devonshire Hotel to the Granville Hotel. Meals then cost 9 shillings and a footnote on the front of the summons pointed out to the brethren - "No notice of your intention to dine will mean no dinner!"

The October and November meetings of the lodge in 1955 were unusual in that ceremonies were not performed. A very rare occurrence for the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge! The candidate for the October meeting was unavoidably absent and so the lodge was opened and closed in all three degrees and an explanation of the 2nd. Degree Tracing Board was given by W.Bro. Harris. At the November meeting W.Bro. Frank Spooner gave an explanation of the First Degree Tracing Board and W.Bro. Jimmy Mason gave a short talk about the origins of some of the things that we say and do in our Lodges.

On the 18th February 1956, at the regular meeting, the sanction of the lodge was sought to hold a Lodge of Instruction working under the Lodge Warrant and designated the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge of Instruction, No.6630. Sanction was unanimously granted on the understanding that the proceedings were in accordance with the Ancient Charges, Landmarks and Regulations of the Order. Before this time a 'United Lodge Of Instruction' was held at the Wilton Road Temple on Tuesday evenings and the responsibility for administering its work and the organisation was shared between the three Bexhill Lodges - Hadrian, Bexhill and Royal Sovereign Light.

March 1958 saw the Annual Subscription raised to three guineas payable at the Installation meeting in September, and brethren residing over 20 miles away and thereby not in a position to enjoy the full privileges regularly were to pay an Annual Subscription of two guineas. The reasons given for this rise in subscriptions were:

""the increased rent demand for the use of the Temple entirely owing to the steadily rising costs both of maintenance and rates and the rising costs in running expenses." - Some things never change!
As the 1950's drew to a close, the records show that our lodge was continuing to grow with a steady number of applications from both initiates and joining members. The lowest attendance recorded was 27 in October 1957, believed to be as a result of a severe bout of influenza whilst the average attendance had increased during the decade from 36 to 50. It was in this healthy state that the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge entered the 1960's.
Compass, Square & the Letter G

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