The Sun Lodge No. 106 held a Banner Dedication meeting and 200-year celebration of the granting of a Warrant of Confirmation, on Monday 13th June 2022

The Provincial Grand Master Rt. W. Bro. Ian Kingsbury presided and delivered a most interesting piece on the purpose and symbolism of the Banner and W.Bro. Dr. Adrian Rogers, PAGDC. Prov.G.Chaplain delivered an equally interesting oration, based around the sun.

THE SUN LODGE BANNER DEDICATION 2022 2OPT

A history of The Sun Lodge No. 106 Banner was given by Bro. David Bassett, PPrJGD

The history of The Sun Lodge No 106 Banner has been extensively researched by the Lodge archivist, W. Bro. Mike Hooper PPrJGW. The research started with the 1863 minute book, the earliest the Lodge has in its possession.

The earliest reference to a banner is in the inventory taken on the 14th December 1885 when it records ‘2 Lodge Banners’. The inventories of 1888, 1897 and 1891 refer to a ‘Lodge Banner and its box’. There is nothing in the early records on the design of the banner.

The history of the banner that has been in use for the last 82 years starts at a meeting of The Sun Lodge No. 106 on Monday 12th February 1940 when W. Bro. F W Davey gave ‘Notice of Motion’ that at the next regular meeting he would propose ‘That the sum of not more than £15 be taken from the funds of the Lodge to purchase a new banner’.

At the next Lodge meeting on Monday 11th March 1940, pursuant to Notice of Motion, W. Bro. F.W. Davey proposed “That the sum of not more than £15 be allocated from the funds of the Lodge to purchase a new Banner for the Lodge. W. Bro. C. H. Cole seconded. The proposition was carried.

The minutes of the meeting held on Monday 9th December record that W. Bro. J.S. Cole proposed, and W. Bro. J.A.A. Broom seconded “that the account of J. Whippell & Co. for the Lodge Banner be paid’. The Treasurers Account for 1940 duly records that £14.15. 0 was paid to J Whippell & Co Ltd for a New Standard. The inventory taken in the same month records ‘1 Old Banner, 1 New Banner purchased 1940’. Both banners are still being shown in the annual inventories up to 1955 when the annual inventory placed in the Minute Books appears to have ceased.

After 82 years, the banner is showing age related deterioration as the lettering and masonic symbols were painted onto the cloth surface. To celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Sun Lodge Warrant of Confirmation, the Lodge has commissioned a new banner on which the lettering and masonic symbols will be woven. The major change will be the banner heading which previously had ‘Sun Lodge – Exmouth’ and will now have the Lodge’s warranted name ‘The Sun Lodge’ as set out in the Warrant of Confirmation dated 17th March 1822.

The new banner is being dedicated at The Sun Lodge regular stated meeting on Monday 13th June 2022 in the same week as the 200th anniversary of the Warrant of Confirmation. Sun Lodge was consecrated on the 17th March 1759 in Newton Abbot, its early chequered history is well documented in the records of both the Province of Devonshire and Grand Lodge. When the Lodge petitioned for a bi-centenary Warrant, Grand Lodge confirmed its continuous working in Exmouth from 1797.

W.Bro. Michael Hooper, PPrJGW delivered the following presentation

200 Years with a Warrant of Confirmation

It is my privilege and honour to present on behalf of the Lodge, an explanation behind our celebrating the 200th anniversary of the granting of a Warrant of Confirmation on 17th June 1822. It was agreed that this would also be an opportune time to replace our banner, and so we are to have its dedication.

It may not be realised that our Lodge is one of the few not to have a Warrant, only a Warrant of Confirmation. To understand why this is we need to go back into our history. The centenary festival of The Sun Lodge No.106 of Freemasons at Exmouth (frequently shortened to Sun Lodge) was celebrated in January 1904 when the East and South Devon Advertiser reported that it “was an event of great interest to Masons throughout the Province and to those in Newton Abbot in particular”.

From research, it appears that the Grand Master granted a Warrant dated 17th March 1759 for “certain brethren to hold an Assembly of Freemasons, at the Sun Inn, Wolborough Street, Newton Abbot”, the title no doubt being taken from the inn.

Although dated in March, it has always been understood that the first meeting was held on 6th June 1759. This lodge continued paying dues to Grand Lodge up to 1781, at which time it ceased.

Five years later in January 1786, the Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire reports:- “I have yet heard nothing from the Lodges 161 Sun, Newton Abbot, 162 Angel, Crediton, 269 Plymouth Dock or 289 Exeter”. And again, five years later in February 1801 the Provincial Secretary reported “No.141 Sun, the remaining members are abroad, and the Master in Ireland, there is a request to be indulged to the next Quarterly Communication in May, and no longer”.

In March 1803, the Provincial Grand Secretary replied to Grand Lodge, “the warrant of the Lodge No. 141 ‘Sun’, Newton Abbot has been lost or missing. The members are all dead but one, and he if he is not dead, is in Ireland, and not likely to return”.

In the following December the Provincial Grand Secretary further wrote, “that the warrant had come into the hands of a Mr John Green, of Newton Abbot, who was not a Mason, and had very improperly attempted to sell it, but that the Provincial Lodge had directed it be delivered up to have it transferred and united to the Lodge at Starcross, which was then removed to Exmouth. He now pretended he could not find it, although he had lately been attempting to sell it as a bargain, with the warrant of the “Royal George” Lodge which he had also got hold of and for which he asked an exorbitant sum.”

Brethren will see why such strict injunctions are now placed upon newly installed Worshipful Masters in reference to the warrant granted by the Grand Master of England. Proceeding onwards to the following Quarterly Communication, it was directed that “the constitution of the Lodge No. 141 “Sun” at Newton Abbot, be removed to the last new Lodge at Exmouth”. The Grand Secretary writing “that the Provincial Grand Lodge had done quite right in ordering the warrants to be returned, and if they can be got from Mr Green the Grand Secretary would endorse them and put the seal on them, but if he could not get them a temporary authority, or dispensation would be granted.”

Undoubtedly it was this temporary authority or dispensation from Provincial Grand Lodge which enabled “Sun” Lodge to meet at Exmouth in 1804. This dispensation was given up to Grand Lodge in 1822 when the present confirmation of warrant was given to the Lodge. The only members made in “Sun” Lodge or on register prior to 1806 were Rev. Thos. Hugs, Newton Abbot, Thos. Sheppard, 1st Batt. Devon Militia, and James Couch, gentleman.

From 1806 to 1813 ten were admitted from Exmouth, one from Topsham, one from Budleigh, one from South Shields and one from Sunderland. The warrant of confirmation was granted in 1822 to John Higerty, Jas. Shepherd, Henry Southcote, Wm. Shepherd, Richard Pinn, Nathl. Pearce, John Land and others.

It was also reported in the local newspaper that “with reference to old-time Masonry at Exmouth, the Past Master reigned supreme, the Ritual learned on the floor of the Lodge was sacred, (although we have a Warrant allowing a Lodge of Instruction dated 12th January 1846), courtesy was unfailing, great discretion was exercised as to who should be admitted, and the brethren were very particular as to dress.

It is related that a good Brother, a Magistrate for the County, drove up to the Beacon Hotel in his carriage and pair where the Lodge was then held until the beautiful new hall was erected. He was reported to the Lodge to be in a grey suit of clothes. The W.M. courteously sent out the message that the worthy brother must enter the Lodge in black clothes, and so the brother (good Freemason that he was) hurried back to Withycombe, changed his clothes, hurried back to the Lodge, and expressed his regret to the W.M. and the brethren for his inadvertence.

Whilst the Lodge No. 106 celebrated its centenary on 18th January 1904, being 100 years since the period of correspondence between the Province and Grand Lodge, it had previously celebrated its centenary on 6th June 1859 when it was No. 123 and reported at length in The Freemason’s Monthly Magazine in June of that year. 59 members attended whose names and ranks are reported fully, and it reported “There was, as will be seen, a large sprinkling of the purple aprons of Provincial Grand Officers of Devon and other provinces”. The ritual for this centenary meeting was drawn up by W. Bro. George Turner a most enthusiastic and able Mason, whose bust is over the door.

Over the years, our Lodge has had various numbers and meeting places. In 1759, No. 240, Sun Inn, Newton Abbot: 1770, No. 196, 1780, No. 160; 1781, No. 161; 1792, No. 141: 1814, No. 171; 1832, No. 123, and our present number 106 from 1863.

In Exmouth in 1804 it met at the Dolphin Inn at Exmouth Cross, in 1809 at the Globe Hotel, Strand, in 1817 at the Dolphin Inn, in 1842 at the Globe Hotel; from 1886 to 1894 at the Royal Beacon Hotel when it was transferred to the present Hall.

The Register of members, still used by our Bro. Secretary shows members initiated or joining The Sun Lodge over the years from 19th January 1797 when Henry Avery was initiated to date.

I have also studied a list of members of the Sun Lodge No. 171 held in London from 1800 onwards, which proves our existence, and disputes the numbers shown in the newspaper report of 1904, that “there were only 3 members made in “Sun” Lodge or on the register prior to 1806”. Our register shows 30 members being initiated between 1797 and 1806.

I trust Brethren that these facts will enable you to better understand the early days of our esteemed Lodge.