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The Caversham Lodge No.3831

THE FORMATION OF THE CAVERSHAM LODGE 3831

extracted from the History of the Lodge
by W.Bro. D.J.Clare PPrJGW P.M. 1989.

Introduction        

The concept of the formation of a Lodge at Caversham within the Masonic Province of Oxfordshire restored and cemented long established ties with the County of Oxfordshire. There was however, one false start to the foundation of Caversham Lodge. In 1907, the Rev H N Dymond was the moving spirit in an effort to form a Lodge at Caversham but it failed through lack of support. Finally, in 1917, the praiseworthy venture was revived by W Bro J St Laurence Stallwood and certain other Brethren. Having on this occasion been favourably received, the Caversham Lodge No 3831 was formed as a Daughter Lodge of Thames Lodge No 1895, of Henley-on-Thames. The Lodge was consecrated on 6 March 1918 in the last year of the Great War, at a time when traditional society was in the process of great change.
          The catalyst for the formation of the new Lodge was, as mentioned, W Bro J St Laurence Stallwood PrGReg (Berks) PM 2043, assisted by Thames Lodge Past Masters W Bro W Anker Simmons PPrSGW (Oxon) PM 1895 and W Bro J Bruce Simmons PrGStB (Oxon) PM 1895. Perhaps being local residents, and the Simmons particularly being Thames Lodge Members, they felt that a new Lodge within the Oxfordshire Provincial boundary in Caversham was amply justified given the difficulties of independent travel in those times. W Bro Stallwood thereby prepared a circular letter to all Members of the Craft known to be resident in Caversham. Due to the new Lodges location on the borders of the Province of Oxfordshire the founding Past Masters, although Caversham residents, were predominantly Berkshire Masons, with members of Morland Lodge No 3066 being in the majority.
          Lodge meetings were regularly held at one of two venues, prior to the building of the present Temple on a site in the grounds of The Traveller's Rest inn on the Henley Road, in Caversham. The two temporary venues were Balmore Hall in Hemdean Road, Caversham and more surprisingly, The Masonic Temple in Greyfriars Road, Reading, in the neighbouring Province of Berkshire. The Lodge shuttled between each of these venues no less than six times during the period from its first meeting in 1918, through to the occupation of the present Temple in 1966.
          Many of the furniture items and ceremonial fittings in use today have fortunately survived from that period. From the Lodges Inventory Records we can see that some were purchased by the Lodge but many were donated by the founders, among them is the volume of the Sacred Law, which was given to the Lodge by the first Worshipful Master W Bro W Anker Simmons. Messrs Samuel Elliott & Sons manufactured most of the ceremonial furniture and donated several items, whilst two of their Directors subsequently became Members of the Lodge. W Bro F W Allwright donated the Inner Guard's sword, and the poignard; the former having been used by an officer during the Franco-German War of 1870. The silver alms tray in regular use in the Lodge commemorates Bro Rev C W O Jenkyn MA MC the Lodges Chaplain for eight years, who sadly died in 1933.


2. The Inaugural Meeting         

An inaugural meeting to discuss the formation of a new Lodge was convened on Thursday, 13 September 1917 by W Bro J St Laurence Stallwood PrGReg (Berks), and W Bro J Bruce Simmons PrGStB (Oxon). W Bro W Anker Simmons PPrSGW (Oxon) took the chair at that meeting. W Bro Stallwood, acting as Secretary, presented a list he had compiled of some 52 Freemasons who were resident in Caversham and the surrounding district. At that meeting it was decided to proceed with an application to form a new Lodge, to be known henceforth as the Caversham Lodge. The petition to Grand Lodge was signed by the founders, who are listed below together with the offices they subsequently held, on the occasion of the consecration of the Lodge:

WM. W Bro W Anker Simmons CBE PPrSGW (Oxon) PM 1895
IPM W Bro Thomas Latham Jun. PPrAGDC (Berks) PM 1887
SW W Bro J Laurie PPrGOrg (Bucks)
JW W Bro J H Smith PPrGDC (Berks)
Sec W Bro J St Laurence Stallwood PrGR (Berks) PM 2043
DC W Bro J Bruce Simmons PrGStBr (Oxon) PM 1895
Tres. W Bro F W Dormer PrGAsstSec (Berks) PM 3066
W Bro N Cauldrey PrGStBr (Berks) PM 574
ADC W Bro J B Anderson PPrGPurs (Berks) PM 3066
A.Sec W Bro F J Wicks PPrAGSec (Berks) PM 3066
SD W Bro J W Youngs PM 723
SWD W Bro George Povey WM. 3066
ChySd W Bro George W Smith WM. 414
W Bro F W Allwright PM 3066
Chap Bro the Rev R S Stoney MA
Bro J T Ransley
Almr Bro W G Ingram
JD Bro W H Oliver
IG Bro R Godden
SWD Bro W O Wright
Bro H Taylor
Bro A A Allen
Bro E W Faulkner
Bro F Foster
Bro J M Burtenshaw
Bro F Gale
Bro Capt. Ransley
Bro L Castle
Bro F T Robinson
Bro A Kendall
Bro H Terry
Bro J Gentry Birch

          Bros. A W Smith and H E Winterburn were also founders but were not permitted to sign the petition, being of less than three years standing as M.M's. Bro Winterburn was appointed as Organist, and Bro F Grover was the Lodges first Tyler.
          Following this inaugural meeting, and at the regular Thames Lodge meeting of 9 October 1917, with W Bro F B Reeves PrGStdBr in the chair, the following address was received by the Thames Lodge Brethren: "W Bro W Anker Simmons CBE PPrSGW (Oxon) addressed the Lodge respecting the proposed consecration of a Lodge at Caversham, and gave notice that at the next meeting he would move; that the formal approval of Thames Lodge No 1895 be given to the proposed foundation of a Lodge at Caversham"
          This was followed at the Thames Lodge Installation meeting on 13 November 1917, when Bro W T Robin was installed as Worshipful Master, by the formal request for approval extracted here as follows: "In pursuance of notice given, W Bro W Anker Simmons moved that the formal approval of Thames Lodge No 1895 be given to the proposed foundation of a Lodge at Caversham". This proposal was seconded by the incoming Worshipful Master, and the authorising forms were signed forthwith by the Worshipful Master and the Wardens, as required.

3. The Consecration Ceremony        

  The Provincial Grand Master R W Bro The Right Hon Viscount Valentine CB MVO, attended by W Bro Rev T T Blockley as Senior Warden and W Bro W Potts as Junior Warden, and accompanied by other distinguished Brethren performed the ceremony of consecration for the new Lodge on Monday, 6 March 1918, at Balmore Hall, Hemdean Road, Caversham.
          The venue for the consecration meeting was originally described in the Warrant of the Lodge as being Weston Mead, Caversham. The venue must have been deemed unsuitable since, as we see from the consecration records and the Minutes of the first and subsequent meetings, the Lodge meetings were held at Balmore Hall in Hemdean Road, Caversham, thus necessitating dispensation to be applied for, to Provincial Grand Lodge, on the occasion of each, and every, meeting for a number of years.
          At the Festive Board, on the evening of the consecration, no less than 142 Members and their guests dined, including some 30 distinguished Brethren who enjoyed the fare whilst seated at the top table.
          This was the first Lodge to be consecrated in Oxfordshire since 1892 and looking back on the fact that Caversham Lodge begat Old Rectory No 6651 and in turn Shiplake No 7942, and Cadogan No 8965, it is clear that since Freemasonry is still flourishing in this corner of the Province, we can appreciate the significance of that occasion.