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When a Freemasons Lodge was first established in the Devonshire town of  Moretonhampstead on Dartmoor in 1932 they purchased the freehold of their present building. They selected the name “Sanctuary Lodge” after “Sentry Field” where French prisoners held during the Napoleonic War could, if they escaped from Dartmoor prison claim sanctuary and possibly become parole prisoners working for the local gentry of the area.


Due to a large increase in membership from the Tavistock area in recent times, a decision was taken by the lodge members to move the lodge and sell the building, re-establishing themselves in Tavistock town. As one of the principle aims of Freemasons is benevolence, charities and groups, masonic and non-masonic, both locally and from all around Devon are now benefiting from the proceeds of the sale.

Over two days substantial donations were distributed, first at a presentation ceremony in the White Hart Hotel Moretonhampstead where the lodge building trustees Harry James, John Burridge, Trevor Swingler, Peter Denman and the longest standing member with almost 60 years of service Richard Perring presented cheques to:-   

“Devon air Ambulance” based in Exeter & North Devon represented by Debbie Gregory.   “Children with Cancer UK.” Plymouth Branch. represented by 10 year old Dylan Thomas who has, after 3.5 years of treatment himself recently been cleared of Leukaemia. He was accompanied by his sister Olivia 7 and Mum Louise.   “The 1st Moretonhampstead Scout Group” represented by Martin Halliday & David Forrest.

“Little Bridge House Children’s Hospice” North Devon represented by Dr. David Shute.

“Rowcroft Hospice Torbay” represented by Debbi Shotton.

“The Motor Neuron Association” based in Paignton, represented by Sarah Martin.

All received a part of a total of £43,000 given away that day.

On the second occasion they met at The Masonic Charitable Foundation Care Home “Cadogan Court”, Exeter which has recently opened a brand new Dementia ward. There £22,000 was shared between:-

“The Cadogan Court Care Home” Exeter, represented by Sarah Maynard, Care Home Manager where she and her wonderful team currently care for up to 72 residents.

“The Masonic Samaritan Fund”, represented by Ian Kingsbury the Provincial Grand Master of Devon, who are able to distribute funds for emergency medical treatments required by its members and their dependants.

“Teddy’s for Loving Care”, a Freemasonry group represented by Chris Yard Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, who have on behalf of all the Freemasons of Devon over the last 5 years sent 30,000 teddy’s to hospitals throughout Devon to be given to children in need of treatment, to calm their fears when entering the stressful surroundings of a hospital and are in need of comfort from a friend.

All those who have received cheques on the two occasions said how grateful they were to Sanctuary Lodge for their generosity and wished them a secure future in their new home for many years to come.