A Special Meeting at Wivenhoe Masonic Hall

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Wivenhoe, mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086, on the banks of the River Colne has a rich maritime and Masonic heritage. The Essex County Standard in October 1893 describes the interest, excitement and how the town and shipyards were gaily decorated with bunting and a large crowd gathered at the railway station to greet the distinguished guests for the Consecration of Colne Lodge, the first in the town.

Just 28 years later, on 17th October 1911, Wivenhoe had its own new Masonic Hall. The then Deputy Provincial Grand Master (DepProvGM), His Honour Judge Frederick Philbrick QC, was the guest of honour at the first meeting. One hundred and ten years later on 29th September 2021 at the same Hall, a Celebration Meeting was held and the guest of honour was the incumbent DepProvGM, Nick Franklin.

This special occasion was a cluster meeting of Colne Lodge No 2477 and Ostrea Lodge No 8209 to celebrate having taken advantage of the cessation of meetings during the pandemic to carry out an extensive refurbishment of the Masonic Hall including work to the inside of the roof, new insulation, re-installation of the lighting system, the secretary’s and treasurer’s table, honours boards for other Lodges, the pillars and re-painting throughout.

Nick Franklin was accompanied by Tony White, an Assistant Provincial Grand Master (APGM) and several Provincial Officers including Geoff Turpin, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies (ProvGDC), Paul Thurgood, the Deputy Grand Sword Bearer (ProvDepGSwdB), a Provincial Senior and Junior Grand Deacon and two Provincial Grand Standard Bearers. The Brethren were treated to a presentation by Colne Lodge Secretary Bob Needham entitled “The Establishing of Wivenhoe Masonic Hall" followed with an illustrated presentation by Paul Fell, the Secretary of Ostrea Lodge entitled "The Refurbishment of Wivenhoe Masonic Hall". Paul also commented “it was the first full meeting for the two Craft Lodges since lockdown ended and everyone had a wonderful time”.

Mike Kropidlowski of Ostrea Lodge who did a fair share of the decorating and the many Brethren who did much of the work themselves were praised by the DepProvGM who said he “was very impressed with what had been done especially as it was all completed within budget”. Nick surprised and delighted everyone by quoting a poignant piece about “a mighty Masonic structure within whose precincts we stand today” as written in the booklet ‘Colne Lodge First 100 years 1893 to 1993’. The DepProvGM was presented with a £1,000 donation by Colne Lodge to the Essex 2022 Festival for the Masonic Charitable Foundation which has pledged £7 million to help charities and good causes in Essex.

A well-known secret about Freemasonry is that as well as maintaining their own premises, numerous local charities are helped by Essex Freemasons volunteering their time, equipment and skills to refurbish or enhance facilities at buildings which charities use. With skilled craftsmen such as Bob Needham, who is proud of his paintwork, and Paul Fell, who is slightly biased towards his attention to detail on ornamental work, it is beyond doubt that Freemasonry in Essex has a lot to offer those who enjoy volunteering, doing charitable work and supporting good causes.

Tony Hales

Content Generator
Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex