And so the new millennium was upon us. Time seemed to have flown by. One thing was clear and that was the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630 went into the new era with a healthy membership of 80 and with sufficient candidates to ensure ceremonies for the next 18 months.
The Royal Sovereign Light Lodge holds its meetings in the Masonic Centre, Wilton Road, Bexhill-on-Sea as do the Hadrian and Bexhill Lodges. The Hadrian Lodge owned the building outright. Over a number of years it became clear that a fair amount of maintenance was needed to keep the building in good order. In many parts of the country Masonic lodges were finding it evermore difficult to attract new members both for joining and as candidates for initiation. This subsequent fall in numbers and income made funding the necessary maintenance program difficult. Following a meeting of the Hadrian lodge members it was put to the other two lodges that the way forward was for each lodge to hold a one third interest in the building. This would provide additional funds which would enable the work to go ahead.
On 27th March 1997 the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge held a Special G.P.C. meeting to discuss the situation and the third share proposal was approved. Each lodge would be represented by 2 trustees and W. Brother Bill Clements and W. Brother Derek Greenwood agreed to accept this responsibility. The legal work progressed and in April 1998 the proposals were ratified.
W. Brothers Bill and Derek gave reports on the progress being made and it became clear that the necessary work was being tackled as and when funds allowed. Upon the death of W. Brother Bill Clements, W. Brother Derek Last became a trustee.
R.S.L.L. 100 Club
The R.S.L.L.100 Club is run by the brethren for the brethren and their families. A draw takes place at the six Festive Boards in the year which the brethren eagerly await. Cash generated by this draw is shared between winning tickets and good causes. Since its inception in 1998 it has supported the Lodge Benevolent Fund, the Sussex 2004 Festival and most recently a local Scout Group. W. Brothers Mike West, George Gibson and Richard Parker have all ‘held the reins’ and the 100 Club is now under the steward-ship of W. Brother Des Eakins.
Brethren, be seated
In January 2000, it was brought to the attention of the brethren that some of the original furniture of the lodge was in need of some remedial work, particularly 40 of the chairs. After close examination it was agreed to refurbish the worst of these. A quotation for repair was obtained and that provided the stimulation to find out how difficult it would be for a small working party to carry out the work, given some guidance. Some chairs needed new seat pads and others needed a jolly good clean and re-polish. W. Brother Reg Keys organized the volunteers into shifts during the summer and within a few days the job was done. The saving of £1,000 was well worth the effort.
When the lodge was formed in 1948 a number of gifts were given by the founders and early joining members. This is normal when a new lodge is formed. Some of these items are still in use today. However, there have, since those early days, been other gifts some of which are noted below.
A 50th Anniversary Cake by W. Brother Derek Greenwood
A large projector screen by W. Brother Ren Phillimore
A square and compass set from W. Brother Russell Bew
A banner display case made by Brother Albert Freeman
Ballot balls and their box made by Brother Albert Freeman
Ballot box from W. Brother Roy Sydney
Master’s Collar by W. Brother Jack Cousins’ daughter, Rita
3rd Degree sheets by the combined efforts of W. Brother Ren Phillimore and Mrs. Susan Sydney
A heavy maul hand turned by W. Brother Charles Tozer
A pair of deacons’ wands presented by the Lodge of Instruction
Proceeds from the Birthday Garden Party of Bro. Terry Wood are to be used to provide Masonic jewels.
If I have failed to acknowledge anyone’s gift to the lodge then I apologise and trust that it will be included in the 75th Anniversary update.
Freemasonry in the Community
In the early months of the new millennium, lodges were contacted by the United Grand Lodge of England with the details of a nationwide initiative. The idea was to present to the general public the true picture of Freemasonry in their community and that to concentrate our efforts nationwide over an agreed period of time would have maximum impact. Working parties were formed, ideas were discussed and investigated and from the reports received from other provinces it was clear that this initiative had the support of the brethren at large despite a few early concerns.
It was agreed that the three lodges in Bexhill should join forces and work together to present an open-day with display at the Masonic Centre, Wilton Road on the 29thJune 2002 and a Garden Party with cream teas and entertainment on Sunday 20th June.
The event in the Masonic centre enabled the brethren of all three lodges to put on display details of their history together with some artifacts of interest. Complimentary tea/coffee and biscuits were offered and over 70 members of the public took the opportunity to see inside the Masonic Centre. Brethren acting as stewards were encouraged to wear their usual regalia and to be prepared to answer any questions presented by our visitors.
The Garden Party with cream teas and entertainment was also very well supported on the following day. We were delighted to be invited to hold this event in the garden of W. Brother George Rogers and Mrs. Wendy Rogers. Bexhill-on-Sea Observer Senior Reporter Mr. John Dowling opened the Garden Party. A variety of garden games were in evidence as brethren, families and friends tried their luck and in addition garden and book stalls added interest to the day. The Hooe Silver Prize Brass Band provided some excellent musical entertainment during the day and the whole event had an unmistakable aura of a typical English summer garden party.
The recipients of the profits for the week-end were the Bexhill Homestart and the Friends of Bexhill Hospital. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Worshipful Brother Kenneth E. Thomas made the cheque presentations at the end of the day.
The R.M.B.I. 2004 Festival
Throughout the nineteen nineties and forwards to 2004, the brethren of Sussex worked towards a successful 2004 R.M.B.I. Festival. A very wide and varied list of fund raising events illustrated the great commitment and support for the 2004 Festival given by the brethren of our lodge. In Bexhill-on-Sea the three craft lodges in the town, The Hadrian Lodge, The Bexhill Lodge and The Royal Sovereign Light Lodge, worked together to plan a Summer Garden Party and Barbeque. The proceeds of this venture were to go to the 2004 Festival. Worshipful Brother George Rogers and Mrs. Wendy Rogers once again very kindly offered the setting of their lovely garden at Friar’s Charm. Lots of stalls and competitions made for an interesting and exciting occasion with many members and families coming throughout the course of the day. We were pleased to welcome to this event the R. Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, R. Worshipful Brother Ian Lay and Mrs. Jill Lay. We were blessed with fine weather and the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge chefs kept everyone supplied with fine food and repartee. Receipts for the event were £2,321.
In 1997, W. Brother Peter Bulmer started his quizzes in support of Masonic and non-Masonic charities. To date he has produced eleven and I know that they are welcomed by the brethren. The RMBI 2004 Festival received the proceeds from seven quizzes, the Grand Charity Tsunami Appeal benefited from one quiz, funds from another went to support the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge 50th Anniversary celebrations, the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge Benevolent Fund benefited from one quiz and the latest recipient was the Restricted Growth Association. Overall the quizzes have produced in excess of £1000 worth of donations to charities.
Brother Tony Beaden used his artistic talents to produce an excellent oil painting of the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel. The painting was auctioned in support of the 2004 Festival by sealed bids and W. Bro. David Wallis was the happy winning bidder.
On 15th April 2004 the Province held a Festival Banquet in Brighton as a fitting conclusion to the 2004 Appeal. Our target, set by the Province on a per capita basis, was £26,320. We exceeded this figure by £5,622 and the Province went on to declare that the final sum raised was £4,104,896.51.
Following the success of the Sussex 2004 R.M.B.I. Festival the Province launched an initiative called ‘Sussex4Sussex’. This provided Sussex Masons with an opportunity to support Sussex non-Masonic charities and other good causes. It was clearly welcomed by our brethren and they gave it great support. By February 2007 Sussex4Sussex had already presented £352,200. The Bexhill Hospital received £6,500 towards the cost of a Dyonics machine and an application for £5,500 for the Maritime Volunteer Service is presently been considered.
Running alongside this was the Sussex Masonic Charities Matched Funding Scheme which enabled a non-Masonic charity to have money raised by them matched by a gift from the Sussex Masonic Charities. This was particularly beneficial to the smaller charities to whom a doubling of their self-raised amount made a big difference.
The sum given in this manner was £58,775. Under this scheme, the Eastbourne Lifeboat received matching of £250, and the Little Common Scout Group and the Hellingly Guide Group are currently seeking matched funding for £150 and £250 respectively.
In addition to the above, individual lodges made donations to non-Masonic charities of £119,988.
The Grand Total distributed was £530,963 for 2006
As of January 2007 donations received from Sussex brethren for the Sussex4Sussex appeal amounted to £905,409.38. The amount given or committed to Sussex Charities and other good causes since the beginning of the appeal is £671,600.The figures quoted above will be by now out of date. For the up to date situation speak to our lodge Charity Steward, W. Brother Keith Mason.
Royal Sovereign Light Lodge on the Road
Early in the year 2000, an idea born out of discussion at the Festive Board, lead to W. Bros. Reg Keys and Roy Sydney looking into the possibilities of visiting other lodges sharing our association with Trinity House, or who had a strong maritime background.
The directory of lodges and chapters from United Grand Lodge was perused, details noted down and a general letter prepared. Thirteen lodges were identified as being likely to fit the criteria and 13 copies of the letter were sent on their way.
Over a period of time 7 lodges expressed their interest in becoming involved in this initiative. They were:
Trinity Mariners No.8406, Folkestone visited in 2001,
Owers Light Lodge No.7756 in Chichester visited in 2002,
Eddystone Lodge No.3952 in Plymouth visited in 2002,
Needles Lodge No.2838 in Freshwater I.O.W. visited in 2003,
Nore Lodge No. 3610 in Southend visited in 2003,
Great Orme Lodge No. 7703 in Llandudno in 2004 and the
Humber Lodge No. 57 in Hull also visited in 2004.
Travel to the Eddystone, Needles and Great Orme lodges was by luxury coach, driven by W.Bro. Dougie Mayne, and some private cars. Travel to the Nore, Humber, Owers Light and Trinity Mariners was by mini-bus courtesy of W. Bro. Ren Phillimore.
Trinity Mariners, whose membership included ships’ pilots for the Dover Strait and Harbour welcomed the brethren to their October Trafalgar Night where it was unusual to hear the Senior and Junior Wardens report their respective columns as Port and Starboard! A large number of Trinity Mariners returned the visit in March 2002.
The Owers Light lodge, like ourselves, took its name from a Trinity House Light Vessel guarding dangerous shoals.
The Eddystone Lodge welcomed both the brethren and wives to Plymouth where the men attended a lodge meeting and were then all joined at the Festive Board by their ladies. The Provincial Grand Master for Devon was also present. Some members of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge, who had formed themselves into a Sea Shanty ensemble entertained an Eddystone party the previous evening. On another evening, dinner was also arranged for Royal Sovereign aboard H.M.S. Drake by W. Bro. David Wallis.
Eddystone Lodge presented the R.S.L.L. with a large printed copy depicting the building of the Eddystone Lighthouse together with a book recording its history. In return the Eddystone received a framed photograph of the Royal Sovereign Light Vessel and our lodge printed history.
A reciprocal visit was made in March 2003 when Eddystone brethren attended our meeting which was also graced with the presence of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Sussex, V.Worshipful Brother Kenneth E. Thomas. The Royal Sovereign Ladies (Masonic Charities) Association arranged a dinner for the Eddystone Ladies together with Mrs. Maureen Thomas. We all met together at the end of the evening
The Needles Lodge, Freshwater, on the Isle of Wight welcomed the brethren and their ladies in Spring 2003. At the Festive Board a leaded quarter light window pane, made by one of the members, was presented. A suitable framed print and lodge history were given by return. The members of the Needles Lodge and their families joined us in our hotel on the following evening.
The Nore Lodge in Southend welcomed the brethren to their Trafalgar Night celebrations in October 2003. A short lodge meeting, attended by brethren from far and wide, was followed by an impressive meal echoing the fare of the time. All lodge members were in appropriate costume and a wide selection of toasts, monologues and sea songs, complete with cannon, made for an unforgettable evening.
The Great Orme Lodge, Llandudno, was visited in 2004 and amongst the highlights of the occasion was a performance of popular songs by the Llanddulas Male Voice Choir. Some of the Great Orme Lodge members were also members of the choir.
The Humber Lodge, Hull was visited in October 2004 by W. Bros. Ren Phillimore and Roy Sydney. A ceremony of passing was performed using Emulation working. The evening did however have distinct differences to Royal Sovereign Light, both in the ceremony and at the Festive Board. This lodge was consecrated over 250 years ago and the organ in the lodge appeared to be original. It had only recently been upgraded from hand bellows to an electric motor!
It is true to say that on every visit we were received with great hospitality and made to feel very welcome and I am sure the brethren will remember these occasions with pleasure.
Royal Sovereign Light Lodge Honoured
On 21st January 2001, W. Brother Roy A. Sydney was appointed Provincial Junior Grand Warden. W. Brother Roy said that he had no doubt that this honour reflected the high esteem in which the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge and all its members were held by the Province.
At the lodge meeting held on the 20th March 2004, W. Brother Ren Phillimore, Worshipful Master, rose to congratulate W. Brother Roy Sydney on his appointment to Grand Lodge with the rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. This was the first ‘home grown’ Grand Officer in the lodge’s 60 year history.
Both our current Provincial Grand Master and his predecessor, asked what makes the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge so successful. There is no single answer to this, but some of the points below may well be instrumental in the Lodge’s appeal:
ü Friendly meetings on a Saturday (October to April);
ü Additional large and varied selection of social events for all;
ü Dining venue makes for warm and welcoming Festive Board, with fine food;
ü Atmosphere in the Lodge room with a membership of 70 adds to the enjoyment of a ceremony;
ü Lodge of Instruction, open to all with a regular attendance of up to 25 brethren and an annual Lodge of Instruction Supper;
ü Active support for members and events;
ü Complemented by the unique Royal Sovereign Ladies (Masonic Charities) Association.
Why joining members and initiates choose to join the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge doesn’t really matter………. The important thing is, that they do!
Lest We Forget
At the January 2003 lodge meeting W. Brother Ren Phillimore announced that he, together with W. Brothers Dougie Mayne, Vince Doddington and other brethren, had attended the Remembrance Day Ceremony at the Menin Gate,Ypres, Belgium and had laid a wreath of poppies on behalf of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge in remembrance of those who lost their lives in World War One. These visits were initiated by W. Brother Dougie Mayne in the year 2000 and have been repeated in subsequent years.
Following these occasions in November 2005 the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge welcomed 5 brethren from the ‘Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge’ Number 12, Province of Flanders, Grande Lodge Nationale, Francaise.
In a totally separate piece of Masonic research I came across the following excerpt from the Masonic Year book for the District of the Punjab 1940-1941.
‘In January, 1922, Brother Rudyard Kipling was a Founder of a lodge in France, No.12, under the Grande Lodge Nationale, the membership of which is open to those who have taken part in the work of the Imperial War Graves Commission. This Lodge meets in Lille on the third Saturday in January, March, September and November.
Brother Kipling was invited to suggest a name for the new lodge and what could be more appropriate than the name that he put forward, ‘ The Builders of the Silent Cities’ .This name was adopted. He was also a founder of the lodge of the same name consecrated in London in 1927, No. 4948, under the English Constitution, for those who had completed their work in France and had returned to England as well as those still engaged in the work’.
This lodge now meets in the Lancaster Gate Hotel, London. In our Grand Lodge Library there is a form dated 15th February 1922 filled up in Brother Kipling's own handwriting for the Secretary of ‘The Builders of the Silent Cities Lodge No 12’, to complete his register and Grand Lodge returns.
Brother Rudyard Kipling celebrated his 70th birthday on 30th December 1935 and passed away on 18th January 1936. His ashes now lie in the Poets' Corner in Westminster Abbey.
If Music Be the Food of Love
One of the hardest lodge offices to fill is that of Organist. I found myself trusted with this responsibility from the date of my raising and remained there until it was time for me to take my place as Inner Guard.
Guest organists then filled the post until W. Brother John Prynne agreed to step in and play on a regular basis. John was very new to playing in lodge ceremonies but with lots of encouragement and a little help and advice he grew to become not only the organist to the Royal Sovereign Light Craft Lodge and Chapter but also to many other lodges and side degrees throughout the Province. In fact it seemed that wherever you went as a lodge guest, W. Brother John was already there playing the lodge organ, or his own keyboard. When family commitments called for him to move from Bexhill-on–Sea in 2007, John had completed 20 years as our organist.
He has been succeeded by W. Bro Harry Waddingham who now adds to the ceremonial with his own particular style of music.
Royal Sovereign Light Lodge on the Web
Following the publication of the Lodge History it was thought that this would make a perfect starting point for our own website.
Brother Phil Conner took on this challenge and following several meetings with the editor of the History and a great deal of time and effort, the proposed site was ready for uploading. Prior to this the finished package had to be presented to Provincial Grand Lodge for their approval.
Authorization was granted without alteration and in fact the website of the Royal Sovereign Light Lodge, which went "live" in 2001, was looked upon by the Province as an example of how a Masonic website should look. We still receive enquiries from interested parties on a regular basis.
Updating is now conducted by W. Brother Peter Bulmer to whom I am very grateful.
Of the social events organized for the brethren and their families the most eagerly awaited of all is the Christmas Evening. These began in 1989. They were initially held in the Masonic Centre, Wilton Road and included evenings of Christmas Music, both carols and popular songs, with appropriate readings. New musical skills were encouraged with some modern carols being introduced and the playing of musical instruments. This led to the inception of the lodge’s own choir (complete with candles and antlers!). Also joining us one year were the Bexhill Ladies' Barbershop singers. These occasions were followed by Christmas Fayre provided at the home of the Worshipful Master, the lodge itself or the Mermaid Restaurant.
More recently these occasions have taken place in the larger, historical setting of the Manor Barn and have followed an annual theme. These have included ‘ The Twelve Days of Christmas’, ‘Olde Tyme Music Hall’, ‘Christmas Extravaganza’, ‘ Christmas Aboard HMS Royal Sovereign’ (Trafalgar), ‘Medieval Night’ and in 2007, a ‘Christmas Special’ with the Hastings’ Stage School. Our Christmas meal in 2008 was once again held at the Manor Barn, with entertainment being provided by the Bexhill Ladies' Harmony Choir.
Spectacularly, Christmas aboard the HMS Royal Sovereign and the Medieval Banquet were attended in full costume.
These events have been principally led by W. Brothers Sydney, Keys and Mason ably supported by working parties and choir members.
Proceeds from the evenings have supported a variety of charities including the R.N.L.I., the Sussex Kidney Trust and the Restricted Growth Association.
Worshipful Masters from 1995
1995 Alan Simpson
1996 Michael F.C. Perry
1997 Michael T.J. West
1998 Alexander Landymore CBE
1999 Colin Archer
2000 Keith Mason
2001 Richard H. Parker
2002 Peter R. Bulmer
2003 Ren V. Phillimore
2004 Anthony J. Collins
2005 A.N. Other
2006 Geoff Loyd
2007 William E. Smith
2008 Michael P. Bridger
2009 Keith E. Johnson
Joining Members from 1995
Derek Hobson John Shuman
Vincent Doddington David Perrin
Leonard Cruse Ronald Dyason
Martin Kenward Russell Bew
George Damen Douglas Mayne
Phillip Moore John Williams
Desmond Eakins Terence Wardle
George Hensher William Fisher
Harry Morton Paul Clancy
Thomas Nevin Derryck Daughtery
Initiates from 1996
Jim Bennett Geoff Loyd
Geoff Ticehurst Kevin Alpine
Michael Bridger Keith Johnson
Phillip Conner Terry Wood
Barry Wickens John Packer
Nigel Paine Stephen Smillie
P.L. John Harris (senior)
Peter Banwell Peter Claridge
John Harris (junior) Paul Stewart Murray
Allan Gray Robert Turner-Horton
Andrew Reynolds Rodney Beale
Instead of a Ladies' Festival for his year, the Worshipful Master organised a most successful Quiz Night in early 2006, which was held at Bexhill Bowls Club. Proceeds from the evening were forwarded to the charity, Barnardo's.
After much debate between the three lodges using the Wilton Road Temple, a defibrillator was provided by the temple trustees, for emergency use. Brethren from each of the lodges will have the opportunity to undergo training to ensure its correct use in 2006.
Entire contents copyright ©2001 by Royal Sovereign all rights reserved.