Copthorne Masonic Lodge
The History of Copthorne Lodge
This extract is taken from an introduction to the Lodge written by W. Bro. Arnold Avison on the occasion of the 21st Anniversary of the Lodge in 1954, and is from "Copthorne Lodge No 5427 - The First Fifty Years" prepared in 1983. A printed copy was distributed to all those attending our 75th anniversary meeting held at Croydon Masonic Halls, 22 November 2008.
The history of England is said to be written in the churches and inns of our countryside. In one such inn, near by the church, 521 feet above sea level, at the very top of the hill and known to all as a very hospitable hostelry, there mused a kindly and philosophic figure, one Albert Swaine Gurney. He was a family man, with business interests, and an excellent mason. In his mind he conceived the idea of a local Lodge to accommodate those who had come to reside in that salubrious area known as Banstead and District. The Copthorne Lodge owes its inception primarily to Brother Gurney, who had gathered together some seven good masons and true; these brethren decided to invite that eloquent divine, W. Bro. Rev. Canon F. Norman Skene, MA, Vicar of Banstead, to become their Master Primus. Canon Skene suggested the new Lodge be named "Copthorne", largely because the brethren would be drawn from the surrounding parishes forming the "Hundred of Copthorne", which included Banstead, Ewell, Kingswood and Tadworth. This title was adopted gladly and unanimously by the Founders, and the Skene family crest was, with his permission, adopted by the Lodge.
Consecration of the Lodge
A great deal of preparatory work was undertaken by the Founders at their preliminary meetings and a Petition was submitted to the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for Surrey and subsequently granted; the Lodge was consecrated and constituted on 5 October 1933, at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street, London, by
W. Bro. G.H. REDWOOD, PGD, Deputy Provincial Grand Master
The Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. J.B. Corrie, PGD, then installed the Worshipful Master Designate, W. Bro. Rev. Canon F. Norman Skene, MA, PPGC.
The first Officers for the ensuing year were afterwards appointed from among the Founders and invested by the WM.
The Consecration of the Lodge is always a solemn and impressive ceremony, and thus it was with the Consecration of the Copthorne Lodge. An outstanding impression on that memorable day was made by the oration of the Chaplain, and it is pleasant to recall that the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Lt. Col. H.A. Mann, for the first time in the Province of Surrey, read the Warrant of Consecration in his earlier capacity as Provincial Grand Secretary.
The Worshipful Master announced from the Chair that it was the pleasure of the Lodge to invite HRH the Prince of Wales, Provincial Grand Master for Surrey, to accept Honorary Membership of the Lodge; this invitation was subsequently accepted most graciously by His Royal Highness, on 19 October 1933.
The Brethren, by unanimous resolution, asked the Consecrating Officers to accept Honorary Memberships of the Lodge, which they did with pleasure.
Following consecration of the Lodge, membership grew in those early and reached 50 by December 1936. Meetings held in those early years frequently involved carrying out ceremonies in all three degrees and it was not unusual for them to last for up to 4 hours.
A unique event occurred on the 3rd April 1937 when the foundation stone of the new Banstead vicarage which was the home of the first Master Canon Skene was laid. The Worshipful Master of the Lodge and members of the Lodge were invited to be present and dispensation was obtained from Grand lodge for brethren attending to wear Masonic clothing. The laying of the stone including proving it plumb level and square was carried out by officers of the Lodge and the stone declared well and truly laid.
In September 1939 notice was received from the United Grand Lodge of England that having regard to the Emergency Orders of HM Government all Masonic meetings were suspended until further notice. Permission was later granted for meetings to be held under special conditions and in October 1941 the Lodge was informed that it was the desire of Grand Lodge that brethren should not wear white gloves for the duration of the war.
In October 1943 the Lodge was informed by the management of the Drift Bridge Hotel that owing to shortage of staff and food restrictions it was not possible to cater for future meetings so dispensation was obtained to hold them at the Stoneleigh Hotel until further notice.
Copthorne Lodge founded Ye Olde Wells No.6541 which was consecrated on 30th October 1947.
In October 1948 a recommendation came before the Lodge that all future meetings should be held at the Sutton Masonic Hall and a dispensation authorising the change of venue was obtained in time for the meeting on 27th November 1948.
In March 1950 a resolution proposed that the Lodge should consent to a Chapter petition. This was approved and Copthorne Wells Chapter No.5427 was subsequently consecrated on 10th February 1951 and has flourished ever since.
In May 1955 it was agreed that the custom of wearing Dinner Jackets at Installation Meetings should be discontinued. The September meeting of 1956 the Lodge paid tribute to V.W.Bro.Canon Fredrick Norman Skeene MA PGC PPGC Primus Master of Copthorne Lodge who died on the 31st May 1956.
The Lodge received in November 1966 the Commemorative Jewel as recognition of its full support for the 250th Anniversary Fund set up to provide a research fund for the Royal College of Surgeons. In September 1968 a Comforts Fund was inaugurated with a view to administrating to the comfort of indisposed brethren and their immediate families.
You might be interested to read the original 1933 By-laws for Copthorne Lodge. The annual subscription was four guineas (£4.20), with a current equivalent value of at least £240 now. The initiation fee was an eye-watering ten guineas then (equivalent to at least £600 now).
Past Masters of the Lodge
Masonic Links to Copthorne Lodge
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