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History of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge

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The 70's
The first Master of the new decade was W.Bro. John Wilkinson. He was installed at the meeting in October 1970 by W.Bro. Roy Lane Smith when 80 brethren shared the festive board.
January 1971 saw a notice of motion proposing the wearing of dinner jackets at all meetings. This was not adopted, although even today dinner jackets are encouraged to be worn at the Installation Meeting. A month later the lodge was delighted to receive from Bro. Freddie Ellis of the Tyrian Lodge, one of the very last ensigns to be carried by the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel. The light vessel was replaced in 1971 by the Royal Sovereign Light Tower. Another gift gratefully received by the Lodge was the Bible cushion presented by Bro. R.E.MacDonald.

April 1972 saw W.Bro. Vic Spanner initiate another member of the "thin blue line" and on this occasion it was Bro. Ian Greenlow.
Following the April meeting in 1973, there is recorded in the minute book the following report at the festive board. "The W.M. reported that on the occasion of the Lodge's 25th and Silver Anniversary, it was fitting to mark the occasion by presenting a coveted Masonic Hospital silver nurses' buckle to Miss Jacqueline Willmott since she had recently passed her final examinations and had endeared herself to many of the brethren and their families through her kindness to them when staying in hospital. On behalf of the lodge, the W.M. stated that he had made the presentation to an unsuspecting Miss Willmott at Crawley during the previous Sunday afternoon and her expression of appreciation made every part of the presentation more the worthwhile. The W.M. also extended his thanks to Bro. Willmott for his forbearance in allowing the lodge to make the presentation and to Miss Willmott's fiancé for conniving with the Matron to delay Miss Willmott purchasing a buckle on her own account".

It was at the following meeting that W.Bro. Richard Barnes began his many years service as the Lodge Secretary. No single person makes a lodge, but people of the calibre of W.Bro. Dick have done more than most to ensure continued success in the progress of our lodge.

October 1973 saw the chair of the lodge occupied by W.Bro. Bobbie Allen. Sadly in February 1974 W.Bro. Bobbie was taken seriously ill with a stroke and was likely to be incapacitated for quite some time. The Worshipful Master's duties were taken over by the Immediate Past Master, W. Bro. Derek Last and it is recorded in the minutes that there was a great rallying of the brethren to help the lodge and in particular, to assist with the needs of W.Bro. Bobbie Allen.
Square & Compass
In April 1974 the lodge received an invitation from Provincial Grand Lodge to send their banner and the model of the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel to the 200th Anniversary Celebration of Provincial Grand Lodge. This invitation was happily accepted.
At the Installation meeting later in the year the number of brethren attending topped the 100 mark for the first time since the consecration.104 brethren signed the attendance register and of those 100 shared the festive board. Throughout the 70's it is noticeable that the attendance at regular lodge meetings  was now usually around 75 to 80.

At the 1975 election meeting in April, no Wardens were available to progress to the chair and so the then Worshipful Master, W.Bro. Derek Last stood for election and was elected for a second year in office.
On the 10th April 1976 the author's application for initiation was read. Following a favourable ballot and three double ceremonies conducted by W.Bro. Charles Denton, Bro. Roy Sydney was appointed organist of the lodge, where he was to remain until the time came for him to begin his work on the floor in October 1984.

October 1978 saw the retirement of Bro. Ernie Gilbert after 16 years of service to the lodge as Tyler. His post was taken up by W.Bro. Stuart Elford who himself was to serve for the next 16 years in the same capacity. As this decade neared its end, it must have been very satisfying to the founders and senior past masters of the lodge to see the continuing growth in the number of brethren coming forward, swelling the numbers as joining members and initiates. It was also gratifying to see also the large number of visiting brethren who regularly attended the meetings. It was surely a clear indication to them that the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge was in good health and thriving.

The Eighties

W.Bro. Harry Noye led the lodge into the 80's as the 32nd Master. At the April meeting of that year he invited W.Bro. Roy Lane Smith to share with the brethren his experiences of a holiday in Hawaii, the highlight of which had been a visit to an Hawaiian Lodge and the 3rd Degree ceremony that they had performed.
October 1980 saw the retirement from the office of Director of Ceremonies, W.Bro. Andrew Mowbray after 12 years of dedicated service. During those years the high standard of ceremonies of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge had been established and stood as a guide for all. Undoubtedly much of the credit for this belongs to W.Bro. Andrew. W.Bro. Roy Lane Smith another highly respected member was to complete 5 years in office not only as Director of Ceremonies, but also as the Preceptor of the Lodge of Instruction.
In January 1981 and subsequently in the same month in 1982 and 1984 the minutes record that the lodge received the usual thanks from the keepers of the Royal Sovereign Light Tower for the Christmas gifts that they had been sent by the members. On these occasions however the letters of appreciation were received with a little more interest than normal as it was written by the Principal Keeper, W.Bro. W.G. Trebilcock who was the reigning Master of a lodge in the West Country.

At the January meeting of 1983 it was carried unanimously by the brethren, that the lodge adopted the permitted alternative wording to the obligations of the three degrees. As with all changes, this took some time to get used to, but with the passing of time, it now seems as if the current wording has always been there. In April 1983, the then Secretary of the Hadrian Lodge announced that the organ in the Temple was beyond repair and that contributions for a new instrument were invited. A "new" instrument subsequently appeared and musical harmony was restored to the Temple. However nothing lasts for ever and only recently another instrument has taken up residence, the 3rd since 1983.
October 1985 saw W.Bro. Richard Barnes retire from the office of Secretary. 'Dick' had given 12 years of his masonic career to this most important of posts and had controlled the administration of the lodge in a dedicated and conscientious manner. The brethren welcomed the opportunity to express their appreciation and esteem to him.

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex

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