Old Palace Lodge No.7173

 

An Address by V W Bro D Barr,PSGD. DepProvGM on June 10 2013

A Brief history of Old Palace Lodge 7173 presented at 18th Annual Craft Lecture Festival

 

Brethren may I first say how delighted I am to offer a few words tonight on the history of Old Palace Lodge 7173 of which I have been a member for some 37 years.

I start by asking you to think back some sixty two years to 2nd October 1951 when a group of 15 freemasons sat down at this very centre to have the final discussion on the formation of a new Lodge.

 By the way in 1951 the King George 6th opened the Festival of Britain, the first ever computer was installed in Manchester and Zebra crossings were introduced in Great Britain

The reason that it came about for this new lodge to be born was that Croydon Chantry Lodge, another Croydon lodge, had a significant membership and to assist in progressing what was then quite a sizeable queue of master masons. 8 of the Chantry members of the 15 in total were founders together with their Masonic friends (another seven) to form this new lodge.

 

Not only therefore was a small lodge to be born but another common factor of the then proposed founders were that many of them were choral singers in what was then Croydon Parish Church. Now of course Croydon Minster

One of the Proposed founders was Brother The Rt Rev Cuthbert Beardsley who, at that time, was the Bishop of Croydon. He was eventually elected as the founding Junior Warden and from the gossip of remaining founders when I was initiated I was told that the real motive was to get the Bishop through the chair quicker than he would otherwise have done so through Croydon Chantry Lodge!!

The Bishop went through the chair in 1954 and eventually his cleric duties took him to Coventry Cathedral as Bishop of Coventry

 So you see it could well be Old Palace was given a little divine help in its formation and early years!!

In February 1952 at a recorded meeting of the founders it was agreed to call the Lodge Old Palace. The significance is of course that Old Palace school still remains in Croydon and going back even further to John Whitgift’s days it’s the Palace then used by the Archbishop of Canterbury when breaking his journey from Canterbury to Southwark Cathedral—John Whitgift being one of those archbishops of course.

 Indeed in  part of the  approved  lodge crest, special permission was granted to bear the arms of John Whitgift.  This crest since the consecration has been used by the Lodge in its letter head banner and indeed past-masters jewel.

The designer of that Past Masters Jewel was our founding almoner a W/Bro Cyril Spackman who gained Masonic fame as the designer of the Hall Stone Jewel; a Jewel that is still worn with pride.

An architect by profession he won a competition created by Grand lodge to design the hall stone Jewelthat jewel being created  in 1921 to assist in financing a memorial fund to commemorate those brethren who had made the supreme sacrifice. Freemasons Hall Great Queen Street was opened in 1933

Incidentally he won the grand sum of £75 for his efforts. It would be worth about £1600 today. The actual paper design and plans have recently come to light and has been submitted to the Grand Lodge archives’ as they are far more experienced than we are in keeping delicate paper for historic purposes. A copy of his design is now hanging in the changing area of this temple just outside.

So in the light of the start up and its connections it won’t surprise you to learn that the initial concept was for a tee total Lodge with no wine or beer at the festive Board—brethren look around you know of our membership of some sixty years later—do you think we remain teetotal!!

 So  on 13th May 1952 this Lodge was consecrated by the then PGM  Col HA Mann  --- it’s interesting to note that on that day the PGM was assisted by one of his executive  F T Wheeler who also went on to become PGM

Once again to enable those who are old enough to remember 1952 was the first flight of the first jet airliner the De Havilland Comet---------- the Queen was proclaimed Queen of England due entirely of course to the sudden death of George 6th in 1952.

 

It is interesting to note that the royal death of George 6th did cause some difficulties with Old Palace as at the time summons had been printed and all administrative work done

It was decided not to cancel the consecration due to the death of the King.

However to pay respects to the death of the Monarch two black parallel lines were printed across the Summons and the order of Consecration and we still have a copy of that Summons today.

 Let me tell you brethren the custom in those days was to accept an invitation to a Lodge meeting IN WRITING! yes imaging doing that now ----could choke up the e- mail system couldn’t it—well We are lucky to have as part of the Lodge history the majority of acceptance letters from all brethren who attended our consecration.

One very disappointed Mason as he desperately wanted to be a founder was a Brother Frank Martin who was a choir boy of the church and moreover was another member of Croydon Chantry lodge. Sadly he had not completed enough time as a master mason to be a founder of this new lodge. Frank became the first joining member and went on to become Secretary of the lodge for many years; his Nephew is still a member of Chantry Lodge today—another feat of bravery Frank can take credit for is for proposing me into freemasonry and of course the Old Palace Lodge.

 

How things have changed brethren in May of 52 some 100 plus were in attendance----------- Oh that this could happen every meeting now!!

 The Lodge gained strength over the next 25 years with various personalities going through the chair. The 25th Master was W/Bro John Smart who celebrated our quarter centenary by presenting all his officers with Jubilee Crown I still have mine—they are worth £12 now!!

 Who says Masonry costs you money!!

Indeed we were the sponsoring lodge for Croydon Millenary lodge in  1980 and have gone on to share their Royal arch chapter –

As I indicated we celebrated both on the 25th anniversary and again at our 50th in 2002 both of which have souvenir brochures

Our history was also written for the 50th – to tell you it reads well would be an understatement

 We have been honoured by four members who had Grand rank admittedly three joined us from other Lodges but were none the less very active in our Lodge  in both the meetings and the club of instruction. They certainly have played a major role in the Lodge’s development.  But of course we have one home made one!

 I hope you will have seen from tonight’s festival we continue to have young good men who want to practice and enhance the traditions of freemasonry.

Incidentally whilst this is our first sponsored festival it’s the second occasion that Old palace Brethren have taken part

 

Over the years we have supported many charities and all the Masonic festivals and helped those who we considered needy—We currently have a young football team in Selsdon wearing Old Palace shirts and a disabled school in the north of the borough being sponsored for a prize for learning.  Being part of the community is part of our goals.

 

In recent years the lodge has been honoured with a number of brethren being appointed to Provincial acting ranks in the Province and we are and were proud to see this happen.   

 Our latest acting office is given to W/Bro Peter Ashton who will be appointed this year as Provincial Grand Steward - another first for Old Palace-

Where do we go from here – well it’s onto the completion of the seventy  five years and then on to the Centenary  The enthusiasm of our current membership and their commitment to the Masonic principals can only bring success

---------sadly it’s unlikely I will be around  for that  centenary In 2052  although I might just make it to the 75th  but whatever I certainly will be at both celebrations in spirit because this is my Mother Lodge

------and  just for one night and despite I’m currently wearing my  Provincial regalia – this chain, I can and will say------------- it is to me and  again just for tonight -----the best Lodge in the Province!!

Brethren thank you for listening