A PERIOD OF UNCERTAINTY
Minutes of 9th November 1851. “No other business being before the Lodge it was adjourned till 17th November, the Lodge remaining open”.
The Tynte Royal Arch Chapter, (No. 528), attached to the Lodge was formed in 1852. On many occasions the Chapter met and adjourned because there were not sufficient members present to open it. From 1865 to 1874, the Chapter was in abeyance. The last meeting was held in 1894. Eleven years later, in November 1905, the P.G.M. of Somerset requested that the Warrant should be returned to the Grand Scribe E. The Funds, (£47 5s 0d), were to be transferred to the Masonic Benevolent Fund, which was duly done on 12th March 1913 !! (A complete history of the Chapter was given in 1963 and was subsequently reported in the Transactions of the Somerset Masters’ Lodge).
In 1853 the Lodge moved back to the Corridor Rooms owing to the inability of the landlord of 3, Westgate Buildings to reserve the room solely for Masonic purposes and other Masonic bodies; the R.C. Lodge and Chapter, Bladud Preceptory and Tynte Chapter followed. After considering various proposals it was agreed to obtain possession of aRoman Catholic Church and two dwelling houses inOld Orchard Street. The Ground Rent was bought outright for £ 150 and £ 636 was paid for the Church and two adjoining houses. The undertaking was vested in the hands of the Royal Sussex, the other Lodges becoming tenants. The Lodge of Honour paid an annual rent of £ 6. Pews were removed from the Church and used to provide screens on each side to lessen the width of the room, and a partition was erected under the gallery at the west end to form an ante-room.
The new Lodge Room was consecrated on 3rd December 1866 by the W.M. of the R.S. Lodge and the Lodge of Honour held its first meeting here one week later. (It might be of interest to note that almost 100 years previously there had been a meeting of Masons at the Theatre Royal in May 1771 – thus this building has hadMasonic connections for over 200 years !). So interesting is this building that several histories have been written which are worth researching. From 1866 onwards for some 30 years the Lodge passed through a chequered existence, sometimes reviving, sometimes falling off and constantly dependent on sister Lodges for assistance in the working, although very little of this appears to have been done. At least during that time the Lodge was free from worries of accommodation.
1875 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the constitution of the Lodge and finishes the most interesting period of its history. W. Bro. Bartrum was W.M. for this anniversary year; this becoming his third time in the Chair of K.S. 1878 and 1879 was a particularly difficult period. The question of disbandment was uppermost in the mind of the Lodge. Three meetings could not be held because of lack of a quorum. “Was it lawful to have no meetings and no election to office for one year, but pay regular dues to Grand and Provincial Lodge ?” To this question the P.G.M. gave a very definite “No”.Regular meetings must be held and officers elected. W. Bro. Bartrum resigned and recommended disbandment of the Lodge. However, a special meeting was called and the brethren pledged themselves to use their best endeavours to improve the working of the Lodge and increase its membership.
STABILITY FINALLY FOLLOWS
The Lodge finally settle into a period of growth and stability, with membership rising to over 70 at times.Lodge of Honour has met regularly in Old Ochard Street to this day, with only a brief time away from the Masonic Hall, due to bomb damage in World War ll.
As would be expected, Charity Appeals have received great support over the years, e.g. Restoration of Wells Cathedral, (twice), Restoration of Bath Abbey, (three times), and more recently the Holiday Home for the Disabled in Combe Down, the R.U.H. Appeal, Dorothy House Foundation as well as the Redevelopment Fund for the R.M. Hospital, the Samaritan Fund and the setting up there of a four bedded ward to be designated “The Somerset Ward”.
Over the years several articles have appeared in the Transactions of the Somerset Masters’ Lodge, (copies are in the Library), concerning the history, etc., of the Lodge of Honour and the Bath Masonic Hall, which are worth reading; the last one being given in 1986 by W. Bro. A.E. Gayner on “The Furniture in use Today”, much of which belongs to the Lodge of Honour.
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