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History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge

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The Swinging 60's
The new decade began with W.Bro. Gordon Terry as our master and it was his sad duty at the February meeting in 1960 to record the passing to the Grand Lodge above of W.Bro. Arthur James Thompson, the first Master of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge.
On a brighter note at the same meeting Bro. Bill Nurse was initiated and became the first of quite a few policemen to be numbered amongst our ranks.

Our next master was W.Bro. Andrew Mowbray and on his Installation Night amongst the proposals for four joining members was one in the name of Bro. Roy Louis Lane Smith. As many members will acknowledge, W.Bro. Lane Smith, as he later became, was a driving force in the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge and is remembered with great love and affection.
At the October meeting in 1960, Bro. Richard (Dick) Barnes was passed followed by the raising of Bro. Cedric Andrews. On the second rising the secretary announced the decision of the Lodge Standing Committee who had met in response to a circular from Provincial Grand Lodge regarding the adoption of Sussex Ritual. The decision was :
"That the brethren alone have the right to regulate their proceedings, (Book of Constitutions, Rule 155).
That it is the wish of the brethren to continue to work the ritual as taught by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement as practised during the last 12 years :
1. For opening and closing the Lodge;
2. For the working of the Three Degrees.
That the Installation Ceremony continue to be worked using Emulation Ritual, with the exception of the Inner Working, that would be according to  Sussex Ritual."
This motion was carried by an overwhelming majority of the brethren and the decision of the Standing Committee was confirmed.

RAF Wartling

The meeting held in November 1960 saw a second and third degree worked with the candidate in the latter being Bro. R.T.Barnes. Applications were also received at this meeting for, as a joining member Bro. Herbert Hudson and as an Initiate Mr. James Roch. James Roch was a serving RAF Officer and Bro. Hudson a Civil servant. Both men worked at the RAF Station, Wartling.
In the early 60's,the Royal Air Force Station at Wartling was facing closure and of the 85 civilians working there 41. were to be offered other Government posts and the remaining 44, all stated to be married men, were to be discharged. The station was formed as a ground control interceptor unit in 1941 and between 1941 and 1945 took an active part in the destruction of 59 enemy aircraft and the possible destruction of a further 14.
W.Bro. Andrew Mowbray, Master in 1960, said that the brethren who worked at the RAF station and who were also members of the Lodge extended invitations to several brethren to accompany them back to the Officers' Mess at Wartling following the completion of the Festive Board on lodge evenings. I am also assured that a very happy time was had by those brethren concerned enjoying the last few drinks of the evening before they returned home sometimes in the early hours of the morning.

In April 1961 the Standing Committee of the lodge recommended that, "the lodge apply for a petition to form a Chapter working under the warrant of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630 and meeting on a Saturday".
The brethren were informed that 10 applications had already been received to join a Saturday Chapter and it was felt that the time had come for steps to be taken to supply this need. The brethren unanimously passed the proposal, and on the 24th.of March 1962 the Royal Sovereign Light Chapter was consecrated.
From that date on, the brethren of the lodge were reminded on their summons that, "It should be the aim, as it is the privilege, of every Master Mason, to attain this Supreme Degree"
Dress Code
The wearing of evening dress for the Lodge meetings was first mentioned in April 1949 but it was September 1962 that saw the introduction of the wearing of dinner jackets for the Installation Meeting. It was however stressed to the brethren that this was a request and not compulsory and if any inconvenience would be caused then dark suits may be worn. The important matter was attendance.
At the same meeting, Bro. George Grant was Installed as Worshipful Master and it is recorded in the minutes of the February meeting of 1963 that W.Bro. George personally delivered the Christmas Gifts to the Master and Crew of the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel. This was the first time that the gifts had been handed over by a member of the Lodge as on previous occasions these had been transferred from the shore to the light vessel by the crew of the Eastbourne Lifeboat.
At the Installation in September 1963, when W.Bro. George King took the Chair, W.Bro. Jimmy Mason retired from the office of Secretary of the Lodge. W.Bro. Frank Spooner made a presentation on behalf of the Lodge to W.Bro. Jimmy Mason in recognition of his untiring devotion and zeal in the execution of his duties as Secretary of the Lodge since its foundation in 1948.

At the same meeting at which W.Bro. Frank Spooner made the presentation to W.Bro Jimmy Mason, a new Tyler was appointed. This was Bro. Ernie Gilbert and many of the brethren who were initiated or became joining members in the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge will remember Ernie as the 'little' man who gave them every assistance as they prepared to take their first or subsequent steps in masonry.
March 2lst 1964 saw Bro. Alec Henney, a member of the Lodge, honoured with an appointment to command the largest British tanker. Bro. Alec as Commodore of the BP tanker fleet attended the launch of his new vessel, the "British Admiral" and was presented to Her Majesty the Queen.
September l6th 1967 saw W.Bro. Douglas Holman Installed as the 20th. Master of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge. Following the addresses to the Master, Wardens and Brethren, W.Bro. Holman presented the lodge with a magnificent sword which was worn by his father and himself during their service careers. The sword was to be suitably inscribed and used by Tylers of the Lodge for years to come. In the minutes for this meeting, first mention is made of the Royal Sovereign Ladies' (Masonic Charities) Association when thanks are received from them for monies sent by the lodge for the provision of teas at the Installation Meeting. As all members of the Lodge are well aware, this is a much appreciated tradition which is still carried on today by members of this excellent Association.
The next meeting held on the 18th November 1967 saw a change made to the regular meetings of the Lodge. Following full discussion by the brethren it was proposed that the regular meetings of the lodge shall be in the months of October, November, January, February, March and April. The Installation meeting would remain as the first meeting of the "Masonic Year" in October. This was carried by a majority decision, and subsequently, W.Bro. Richard (Dick) Thomas Barnes was Installed as the 21st Master of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge on 19th October 1968.


Our 21st Anniversary
The meeting took place on Saturday 26th April 1969 at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea at 4 pm precisely with W.Bro. Richard T.Barnes, Master and W.Bro. Albert C.Willmott, Immediate Past Master. Dress was full regalia and dinner jackets.
Included on the agenda for the meeting were items to present a Grand Lodge Certificate , to ballot for as a joining member W.Bro. Fred Brocklebank and to ballot for as candidate for initiation and if elected to Initiate Mr Gordon Eldridge.
Item 6 consisted of the annual elections as this was the last meeting before the October Installation. The election by ballot for Worshipful Master proved unanimously in favour of Bro. Roy Louis Lane Smith. The lodge was honoured with the presence of V.W.Bro. C.H.Mosse, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, and two accompanying Provincial Grand Officers. There were 35 visitors present making a total gathering of 85 brethren in all.

W.Bro. Roy Louis Lane Smith was Installed on Saturday l8th.October 1969 and it was he who led the Lodge from the 1960's into the 1970's. The Royal Sovereign Light Lodge had continued to grow from strength to strength and as it moved into the new decade the membership total stood at 68, with in addition, 5 Honorary Members. Meetings were very well attended by both members and visiting brethren with the average number in the signature book being 55.

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex

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