The 150th anniversary meeting to place exactly 150 years to the day of the signing of the Warrant of the lodge, on Monday 13th June 2022.
The meeting took place at Jordan Temple where 15 members and 16 guests and visitors were in attendance, including W Bros Peter Keaty & Craig Cox, AsstPGMs, W Bro David Purdy PAGDC, our VGO.
The brief business of the lodge was conducted by the WM, W Bro Geoff Jordan, PPrJGW, & after the Lodge was closed, our wives and partners were invited into the Temple to listen to a presentation by W Bro Ron Ashcroft on 150 years of the Lodge. W Bro Peter Keaty replied offering the congratulations of the PGM and the Province on reaching this important milestone.
The History of Jordan Lodge No. 1402
For those of you who were at the two previous celebrations, 50 years and 100 years!!! I am afraid that you will have heard the first parts of the talk before. So apart from the Worshipful Master I can carry on then.
Our mother lodge, St John’s, was becoming so popular that it was hindering the promotion of brethren. On 8th April 1872 a meeting was held, instigated by Bro J Chapman, at which the following motions were unanimously passed
1. A second lodge be formed for Torquay.
2. The second lodge would be called Jordan.
3. Bro Thomas Perry be the first Worshipful Master of the Jordan Lodge
4. A committee should be formed to make the necessary arrangements for the formation of the second lodge with power to add to their number.
5. Lodge of St John be solicited to give its consent to the formation of the Jordan Lodge and that it could use the building, furniture etc of the Lodge of St John.
6. Meetings of the Jordan Lodge be on the second Tuesday of each month,
On May 13th 1872 a meeting was called by the Master elect Bro T Perry at which the correspondence from the Provincial Grand Master the Rev. J Huyshe was read which showed that the PGM was anxious to render any assistance in his power to meet the wishes of the brethren forming the Jordan Lodge. It was also agreed a rent for the use of the St John’s building would be £12 per annum.
The warrant was granted by Grand Lodge on this day 150 years ago, 13th June 1872 and we were then to be known as Jordan Lodge No. 1402. The consecration meeting was held in the Bath Saloon, Torquay on 22nd August 1872. In his address the presiding officer the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, R. W. Bro. L P. Metham, stated the importance of our ladies saying “The good mason will find in a good wife an ever present companion to share his sorrows and trials and to enhance his joys.” This has remained true for 150 years
The first regular meeting was held at the masonic temple in Park Road on 10th September 1872 when Mr Charles Johns was initiated, attended by 15 brethren. He was passed and raised in October and November then spent the next three years outside the door of the lodge as the Tyler. The lodge continued to meet at Park Road, but it was not necessarily with great harmony for the facilities and accommodation did not always meet the expectations of the members of Jordan Lodge. In 1888 a special committee was formed to endeavour to find better arrangements and there was a proposal to purchase 8 Portland Place in Abbey Road for £550. This was aborted when agreements with St Johns brought improvements to the terms and conditions.
The desire to have a building of their own finally was resolved when the tenancy committee met on 11th January 1898 and made a proposal for the lodge to have a building of its own for, and I quote, “the greater convenience of the Brethren of Jordan Lodge and masonry in general”. The committee had gone further and secured the option of leasing the site of the present temple on a 99 year lease at a ground rent of £6 per annum. Plans had also been drawn up for the building at an estimated cost of £750 including furniture.
On May 4th 1898 the foundation stone was laid by W.Bro G. C. Davie, Deputy Provincial Grand Master, using a silver trowel especially engraved to mark the occasion.
During his oration the DPGM made reference to the need for lodges to have their own building because those who met in licensed premises tended to stay on after hours and lead the outside world to “unfavourably criticise our proceedings and judge us only by the convivial side of our system”. I am not sure how W. Bro Davie would view most modern lodges because I can’t think of any I have visited that do not have a bar.
The total cost of the building was £1,125 & 1s and was completed in February 1899.
The brethren were very enthusiastic about the venture and all the brethren donated items towards the furnishings. The WM donated the master’s chair, the SW the SW’s chair, the JW the JW’s chair, the secretary the secretary’s table and so on. It was very much a bring your own chair or wand party. In 1899 the number of registered members of the Lodge was 77. Unfortunately, in a break-in in 1999 the records of the first 30 years of minutes were stolen and so we do not know how many actually attended the first meeting held at the lodge. The Worshipful Master was J. G. Turle.
The lodge of Instruction started in1877 and originally met at 36 Fleet Street. Things did not go particularly smoothly at first and in fact it was suspended for three months in October 1878. In 1883 the Lodge of Instruction moved to St John’s building until moving to the present temple in 1899. The Lodge of Instruction was the foundation for good practice in Lodge and in October 1920 it was recognised as an official Emulation Lodge of Improvement No. 21. Jordan Craft Lodge meetings have adhered to Emulation working ever since.
At the start of WW1 in August 1914 Grand Lodge suspended all meetings but rescinded this in September. During WW1 Jordan Lodge members contributed significant amounts to the different relief charities helping injured armed personnel and the lodge rooms were lent out for a series of Royal Army Medical Corps lectures. In December 1915 three brethren were deputed to serve as visitors to wounded freemasons who might be sent to one of the war hospitals in the town. Several brethren answered the call to service whether it be in the fighting forces or undertaking work of national importance. Only one member of the Lodge lost his life fighting for his country in either the first or second world wars. That was Brother James Scholes who was killed on the first day of the battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916.
Many soldiers were stationed in Torquay and in particular the New Zealand Expeditionary Force. There were several New Zealand brethren at the installation meeting on the 10th September 1917 and then five sergeants from this detachment were initiated into the lodge in December 1917, April 1918 and November 1919. In recent years we have still had contact with the ANZAC masonic association.
On September 4th, 1942, the temple along with the terraced housing adjacent to the lodge were badly damaged by a German bomb. The meetings were again held at St John’s Lodge. Once permission had been gained to repair the lodge the work was carried out by Messrs Thos. Leaman in the persons of W. Bro. C. D. Nickels PAGDC and W. Bro H Sowden PPrG. Supt Wks. W. Bro. S. A Bryant PPrG.Org, working in co-operation with these two produced the design for the ceiling and frieze. The ceiling represents the Canopy of Heaven and the frieze symbolic Masonry. The “Rose Window” in the west of the temple was designed by W. Bro. S. A. Bryant and represents the River Jordan and was installed at the same time as the other works. The works were completed in 1951.
But a lodge is not the temple it is the people in it and Jordan Lodge has had several well-respected members, two of whom had rooms within the building named after them. The Hughan Room which is now the bar area after W. Bro. William James Hughan PGD who attained world-wide recognition as a masonic historian and W. Bro. John Lane, who in 1895 received for his literary services to the Craft and especially his Masonic records, the rank of PAGDC. He was the first brother initiated at Jordan Lodge to receive this award and the first to attain the rank of Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1899
W. Bro. Arthur Ellis whose “History of Torquay” is a standard work of reference. At the meeting on 11th August 1930, he was warmly congratulated “on this stupendous work” and it was mainly this book from which I researched the information on the Cockington Church talk I gave the last time the Ladies were invited.
The Lodge has served the community well over the last 150 years with seven members who have been appointed “Mayor of Torquay” Bro. John Richardson, 1894/5, W. Bro. John Taylor PGStd Br,1902/04, W. Bro. Harold Thomas 1932/3, W. Bro. Rowland Ward, 1935/6, Bro. Thomas Taylor 1952/3, W. Bro. Kenneth Bryant 1955/6 and W. Bro. Denis Damerell 1973/4 and in addition our present Tyler W. Bro. Derek Mills who is a past Deputy Mayor of Torbay.
So, what about the last fifty years? Because of my attachment with the Lodge of instruction I must give mention to the past preceptors who taught me the ropes. In particular W. Bro. Derek Short, an ex-wartime hurricane fighter pilot and master of this lodge at the 100 years celebration in 1972 and W. Bro. Bill Bradford, PSGD, a founder member of Petitor Lodge when it was consecrated in 1969 and master of this lodge in 1995/6, who installed me in the chair of King Solomon in December 1996. Their profound knowledge of the ritual and understanding of the principles of masonry guided many a young mason to reach the heights that they probably thought were out of their reach.
In the history of the first 50 years publication the first seven trustees are named and I feel that today’s trustees should be mentioned. There are four remaining Bro Derek Blackmore, who, although never wishing to go through the chair, has always been prepared to take any office up to SW to help out, W Bro. Chris Wood, who is the only person to hold the office of Master for 3 years, is an assistant preceptor and treasurer of the LOI and has used his paramedic skills to save lives on several occasions at provincial and local meetings. W. Bro. Denis Holding who has also been master twice and is the main stay of the running of the Lodge building from looking after the finances to keeping the bar stocked up and myself of whom the Provincial Grand Master once said, WHO? The trustees form the management committee with the addition of W. Bro. David Wilson whose love of and dedication to masonry is renown. He has been master of this lodge twice and is a member of several lodges that have needed support. Whenever the lodge has needed anything, it is David who is always first in the queue to help or finance the projects.
It is probably a sign of the times that in the first 100 years there was only one person who had served two years as master of the lodge, W. Bro. William Gale in 1905/6 In addition to those I have just mentioned W. Bro. Derek Knutton was master in 1982 and 1983 and of course our current master, who at the grand old age of 90, took up the role for the second time having been master in 2000.
When one looks through the record books of the lodge one can’t help noticing that the names of people who are spoken of with high regard are often those who have served the office of secretary and I am sure that our present secretary, W. Bro. Simon Wills will be among those mentioned in future years. He was instrumental in bringing Lodge Concordia No 3102 to the province of Devon and to this building in particular.
There have been more than 730 members of Jordan Lodge and it reached its peak in popularity in 1946 with 143 members but, with the consecration of many other lodges within the bay, numbers have fallen and currently it stands at 55. Like all lodges we need new blood if we are to survive the next 50 years, but I am sure with the new initiatives this will happen.
I have to say that I have enjoyed researching this talk and give thanks to those historians of the past who were comprehensive in their work and particularly to W. Bro Mike Chittenden who catalogued the information on Jordan lodge so fantastically that it has moved me to wanting to continue his work for future generations.
I will finish with the words of a dear friend and former secretary, W. Bro Gordon Hardy, who wrote in the foreword of the booklet “Those hundred years” produced for the centenary of the lodge
“And now, as we, the brethren privileged to be members of this fine old lodge, turn our thoughts to the past let us dedicate ourselves to the emulation of former and present worthy brethren devoted to the making of the history we are proudly celebrating at this centenary. That the tongue of good report may again be heard when our history in once more written”.