Lodge number 4243
During and following the First World War there was an influx of Members into the Swan of Avon Lodge 2133, which at that time was the only Lodge in Stratford upon Avon. In 1920 the membership of the Lodge reached a total of 68 with others wishing to join and at a meeting of the members in November 1920 it was agreed to limit the number of members to 70, and to support the foundation of a new Lodge, if requested. A meeting of Past Masters was called to consider the situation, and after a full discussion the only solution to the problem appeared to be one of two things, either take the necessary steps to extend the membership, or start a new Lodge. The former involved finding larger premises than the Union Club, either to meet in or indeed to purchase. There was no building fund, and the establishment of a Masonic Hall Company did not appeal. Neither was it possible to obtain rooms in the town sufficiently large for the purposes of a Masonic Lodge at a reasonable rent. Several meetings were held, and eventually it was decided that a new Lodge should come into operation. The matter was taken up with enthusiasm, and fourteen members of the Swan-of-Avon, No. 2133 signified their willingness to become Founders, the initial fee, to be freely given - being Ten Pounds each. Subsequently the number of Founders was increased to twenty, the complete list being as follows.
In January 1921 a Committee was appointed to deal with matters concerning the new Lodge and in March a lease had been agreed with the newly formed Lodge for the use of rooms, furniture etc at the Union Club. In May, alterations to the Lodge Room at the Union Club were agreed at an estimated cost of £150, apportioned as £60 to the Swan of Avon Lodge 2133, £60 to the new Lodge and £30 to the Swan of Avon Chapter 2133. A rent of £20 per annum was agreed with the new Lodge for the use of “furniture, linen, plate, cutlery etc”.
The next important thing to be settled was the name of the new Lodge. The initial suggestions were:
‘Guild of the Holy Cross’ (an ancient Order and Benefactor of the Town)
‘Quiney’ (the name of the husband of Shakespeare’s daughter Judith and a prominent family in the town)
‘Welcombe’ (the area to the North and a favourite recreation ground of Stratfordians)
‘Hamnet’ (Shakespeare’s son who died in childhood),
But none of these names met with favour, and the matter was left for future consideration. At a subsequent meeting further names were considered:
‘Hathaway’ (the maiden name of the wife of William Shakespeare). Not accepted.
‘John de Stratford’ (the elder of two brothers born in Stratford-on-Avon, and both very remarkable men. John de Stratford (who died in 1348) became Archbishop of Canterbury. Ralph de Stratford, (nephew) Bishop of London, and Robert de Stratford, Bishop of Chichester). The triple-barrelled name did not seem suitable, and the surname was simply the name of the TOWN, without the Avon on which it is situated, and therefore might be confused with Stratford, London.
‘David Garrick’ the great actor of Shakespearean plays, and a benefactor to Shakespeare’s town by inaugurating the first Commemorative Festival in 1769, and by making presentations of the poet’s portrait and statue. This name in full, to prevent any allusion to ‘The Garrick’ a local Inn, was unanimously approved and adopted. It must be remembered that in the C18 Shakespeare and his plays were largely forgotten and David Garrick was instrumental in reviving interest in the Bard, and the Festival he held on the ground by the river Avon in 1769 was a major part of his revival of this interest. Although the Festival was not an unqualified success due to inclement weather nevertheless it sparked an interest in the general public in Shakespeare and his plays emanating from which was a desire to visit the town of his birth. This was the beginning of the tourist industry in Stratford and the prosperity and development of the town is in great measure due to the promotion given to it by David Garrick. He is, therefore, an extremely important figure in the history of Stratford upon Avon, and worthy of having a Masonic Lodge named after him.
(There is no evidence of Garrick ever having been a Mason)
The night before the Consecration, which was to take place on June 23rd 1921, a Meeting was called to receive reports from Sub-Committees, and make final arrangements and adjustments for the approaching Ceremony.
At the end of the Agenda, the Worshipful Master Designate, W Bro Diggins, stated that he would be glad to hear any views tending towards the enhancement of the Consecration or the Banquet to follow.
Two suggestions were brought forward: -
1. As the next day the Founders would be making history, and as so far as could be known would be all together, scarcely likely ever to happen again - (it never happened), it would be good to have a group photograph. It could be taken in The New Place gardens, half an hour before the time for attendance at the near-at-hand Town Hall. Unfortunately, this excellent idea was not in favour, and therefore no record exists of the appearance of the Twenty Founders at that time.
2. It was pointed out that floral decorations of the tables when left in the hands of caterers were generally of a meagre kind, and out of keeping with the flower-town of Stratford-on-Avon. All the Founders were in possession of gardens, some of them very beautiful and as June is “the Month of Roses” it would not be a difficult matter for the Founders to cut from their own gardens all the flowers that would be needed, and thereby effect a saving of expense. This suggestion was unanimously approved, and it was decided that the ladies of the Worshipful Master, Wardens, and Secretary should take charge of the decorations:
The next morning found many of the faithful Brethren cutting out the best of their flowers, with the result that the four ladies had unlimited choice from hampers of rose-blooms, flowering plants of all kinds, smilax, and other tendrils.
June 23rd 1921
The great day of Consecration had arrived, and arrangements had been made for the Ceremony to take place in the Town Hall, and the Banquet in the Court Room on the ground floor. There was a large gathering of distinguished Masons, the analysis of attendance being as follows: — 72 Past Masters — 30 Master Masons — Total 102. There were twenty-four Consecration Officers, all of active rank in Provincial Grand Lodge, and a total of forty-six Past, and Present Provincial Grand Officers.
The Master’s Chair was placed under the Gainsborough picture of David Garrick (which is still to be seen hanging in the upstairs ante-room of the Town Hall). The Bretheren having assembled in the Lodge Room, and ‘Upstanding’ the Right Worshipful Bro. Col’ W.F. Wyley, Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. Canon C.W. Barnard, M.A., P.G. Chaplain, and other Grand Lodge Officers were escorted into the Lodge by Present and Past Provincial Grand Officers of Warwickshire and other Provinces.
The Provincial Grand Master assumed the Master’s Chair and appointed his Officers. The Provincial Grand Master then proceeded to perform the very beautiful Ceremony of Consecration, in the course of which the twenty Founders were placed in block formation in the centre of the lodge, the Worshipful Master, (designate) in the forefront, flanked by his Wardens on either side.
The impressive celebrations of “The Corn” - “The Wine” - and “The Oil”, were beautifully performed by the Provincial Grand Master and his Wardens, assisted by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, whose swinging of the Censer with accompanying pronouncements was much admired by his Brother Founders of the new Lodge.
A quartet of male voices (alto, tenor, baritone, and bass) under the direction of the Prov’ Grand Organist, sang appropriate anthems and the incidental choral music. Directly after the Consecration the Banner was un-veiled, and many were the expressions of delight regarding its beauty of design and workmanship. W. Bro. Diggins was installed in the chair of King Solomon in antient and solemn form by the Provincial Grand Master, after which the first Worshipful Master of the David Garrick Lodge, No 4243 was saluted by all the Past Masters in a body.
The Worshipful Master appointed and invested his Officers and the By-Laws of the David Garrick Lodge No 4243, were adopted. The Provincial Grand Master delivered the Warrant of the Lodge into the especial keeping of the new Worshipful Master, and also made presentation of the Book of Constitutions, (suitably inscribed on the fly leaf), the By-Laws of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire, and the By- Laws of the Garrick Lodge, No. 4243.
The Worshipful Master then appointed his Wardens, and the Officers of the Lodge. Propositions were made in proper form for twelve Candidates and one Joining Member. After the Provincial Grand Master and his Deputy had been escorted from the Lodge the Lodge was closed in due form, and with solemn prayer, and the Brethren departed in Peace, Love and Harmony, afterwards, with their Guests dining together in the Council Chamber of the Town Hall, which is the downstairs room.
Entrance to the Banqueting Hall disclosed a remarkable display of floral decorations. It is questionable if such an elaborate scheme had ever been seen in Stratford-on-Avon. The principal table had been placed under the famous roll of Bailiffs and Mayors, dating from 1553 to 1920, and the napery bore a profusion of flowers in Royal Blue and Gold, the colours of Provincial Grand Lodge. There were two long tables on either side of the room, and a third — about three-quarters of their length — in the centre and the combined blaze of colour was entrancing.
A few days later brought a letter from the Provincial Grand Master, stating that, “never in the whole of his Masonic life had he seen anything so beautiful at a Banquet". The first Meeting of the David Garrick Lodge after the Consecration (Emergency) was summoned for 21st July, 1921 at 5-30 oclock in the evening, and there was an attendance of Seventeen, including one Visitor, Bro. W.F. Crofts of the “Swan-of-Avon” No. 2133, but there was a great improvement at the next Meeting a fortnight later, when the attendance totalled thirty-four, (Sixteen Visitors). By this time the number of Candidates for Initiation had increased to eighteen, all of whom were dealt with during W. Bro. Diggins’ occupancy of the Chair. In the early stages it was definitely decided to give every Candidate a single Ceremony, and the same was faithfully carried out; also, the plan has been continued ever since, nor is it likely ever to be altered. It meant strenuous work. The Brethren would meet at 4 Oclock in the afternoon, when there would be Two Initiations, and Two Passings. For the longer Ceremonies of Raising, only Two could be taken. In addition explanations of the First or Second Tracing Boards would be given and even though there had been no less than SIX ceremonies - all the work was cleared away, and the Brethren would be seated at Dinner by 8 Oclock to the tick.
This happy state of affairs was due to the very efficient Director of Ceremonies, W. Bro. C.M. Collins, who prevented any lagging behind the time allowed for each event. On - and - On, until 19th October, 1922, when the last of the fifty-four Single Ceremonies completed the programme, and W. Bro. Diggins was able to leave a clear course for his successor, W. Bro. J.S. Robb.
On 18th January 1923, there was a very interesting interlude. Bro. F.E. Osborne, who on the 21st July, 1921 was the first Initiate (he became Worshipful Master in November, 1928) stepped forward, and presented the worshipful Master with an enlarged portrait, with interleaved artistic embellishments, bearing the signatures of the Eighteen Candidates. He also presented a duplicate picture to the David Garrick Lodge, which now hangs in the ante-room.
At a meeting on 10th February 1921, a Sub-Committee approached Mr. F.E. Osborne - an accomplished artist, and Principal of the Stratford-on-Avon Guild of Fine Arts - also one desirous of becoming a Freemason - to prepare a suitable design for the David Garrick Banner. He complied at once, and in a very short time completed the work. The sketch was shown to an attendance of seventeen Founders and was greatly admired, arrangements then being made for the same to be sent to the Provincial Grand Secretary to obtain the necessary approval of Grand Lodge.
It seemed then that all matters for progression of this design were in proper order, but before the next Meeting on 12th April 1921, there was “trouble in the offing”. Amongst the old prints supplied to Mr. Osborne for the design of the Banner, was a copy of David Garrick’s Armorial Bearings, which the artist had enlarged and used with impressive effect as a bold centre- piece, which proved a “Snag”. Grand Lodge returned the design with a statement that ‘approval could not be given unless the Founders obtained the right to assume Arms in the legal way from the College of Heralds, the cost being Seventy Pounds’.
The Founders, although anxious to do everything in a high class manner, could not see their way to incur so heavy an expense, and therefore Mr. Osborne was requested to substitute a sketch (from an old print) of the Octagon Festival Theatre, standing on the bank of the Avon in 1769, in which David Garrick produced the Plays of Shakespeare, and himself took part in the performances.
The new centre-piece - a painting of silk, or satin, (sic.) - was duly completed by Mr. Osborne, Grand Lodge granted permission to proceed, and Messrs Kenning & Sons, of London, performed the work by dove-tailing pieces of cloth, with gold and silver braid &c - at a cost of £64-6-0. Other expenses increased the total cost of the Banner to £71- 11-0, much more than is usual for such an appurtenance of a new Lodge, but the finished article is one which the members of the ‘David Garrick’ will always regard with feelings of pride.
It was decided that the Consecration Jewels should bear Enamels in colour of the David Garrick picture by Gainsborough, presented by the great actor to the town of Stratford-on-Avon, and now displayed in the Town Hall.
In its early years the Lodge met at the Union Club in Chapel Lane (which is now the Administration and rehearsal rooms for the RST), with each year the Installation meeting usually being held at The Town Hall. Occasionally the Installation was held at the Stratford Memorial Theatre. Installation Nights were definitely the meetings to go to as the Festive Board was something to behold. Take for example the Installation in 1934 – the meal consisted of 10 courses!
Every year there was a Past Masters Night, usually in April or May, a meeting where the By-laws were read, and an ‘Old English Night’ seemingly always in December. This seemed to consist of nothing more than a Turkey Dinner!
Meetings continued to be held at the Union Club until the premises at Great William Street were purchased. In August 1939 a joint Committee was appointed to discuss the proposed purchase of the Primitive Methodist Chapel in Great William Street, Stratford upon Avon, and made ready for meetings. The estimated capital cost of purchase was £1,300 to be shared equally between the Swan of Avon and David Garrick Lodges, with the formation of a Masonic Hall Company to acquire the property. The first recorded meeting at GWS was December 1939 when the Installation meeting was held, and they continued to be held there until March 1942 when the Hall was requisitioned by the RAF and the meetings were transferred to the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. Remember this was wartime, and the business often included that the ceremony would be ‘subject to Service Leave’. On repossessing the building in November 1944 large and impressive paintings, about 20ft high, of Spitfires and other war fighter planes covered the walls of the Temple. These excited much interest and admiration, especially from visiting Brethren.
In October 1942 the Summons says that the meeting will be held on the 22nd October this being a Full Moon! Presumably there was a blackout in place and Brethren had to walk without there being any street lights, in fact the next meeting in November 1942, which was the Installation meeting there was a special notice to say that as the blackout facilities at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre were inadequate meetings would be suspended during the dark winter months. For the next 3 years, 1942-3, 1943-4 and 1944-5 no meetings were held in December, January or February. And the other meetings were still held at Shakespeare Memorial Theatre. The first meeting back at GWS was in November 1944 for the Installation and meetings have been held here ever since although until 1950 the Installation meetings continued to be held at the Town Hall.
One interesting fact is that the dress code was always Dark Morning Suit (and during the war – Service Uniform) until December 1950 when the Summons stated ‘Dark Lounge Suit’ and this continued to be the norm except at Installation when Dark Morning Suit was the order of the day.
In 1960 the premises were out of use from March to September when the premises were extended and an additional floor inserted, the cost of the work being £5,800. Alas during these alterations the paintings disappeared, but there is a memorial note of their existence in the robbing area of the Hall.
Bro J E D Coles
I am indebted to a Bro John Ernest Daniel Coles, who was initiated into the Lodge in February 1934 and has left us an almost complete set of Summons’ from then until 1952, together with a couple of years’ of a complete set of menu cards for the regular meetings and also invitations and Toast Lists for Ladies Festivals.
The menu card for the regular meeting on 21st October 1937 gives us an idea of how our predecessors dined:
Cream of Tomato
Steamed Turbot, Shrimp Sauce
Jugged Hare, Port Wine Sauce, Red Currant Jelly, Forcemeat Balls, Brussels Sprouts, Roast Potatoes
Fresh Fruit Salad, Cream
Cheese and Celery
And Installation Nights were something else!
Hors d’oeuvres Varies
Mock Turtle Soup or Cream of Chicken
Halibut, Oyster Sauce
Lamb Cutlets, Mint Jelly, Madelaine of Vegetables
Roast Pheasant, French Salad, Game Chips
Raspberry Souffle or Peach Meringue
Savoury. Anchovy Eclairs
(Menu Card Installation 15th November 1934)
Ladies Festivals were also quite an event. Let me read to you the Invitation Letter for the 1936 ladies Festival
W. Bro F Brooks. The only Brother, so far, to occupy the chair twice by election. 1925 and 1937. SW Bro Fenn disappears and W Bro Brooks, presumably as Snr PM takes over.
Since then, of course, we have had W Bro Reg Clarke, who did 2 consecutive years (2013/4) due to the last minute incapacity due to illness of the SW Paul Stanton leaving no time to find a successor; and this year, W Bro Colin Dennis has taken the reins for a second term, his first year (2012) in the Chair being spoiled by his having to spend a lot of time in the States on business.
W. Bro. Percy Parriss initiated in 4243 in 1926 and WM 1940. A Past Master for over 50 years regularly singing the Tyler’s song well into the 1990s — when he had reached 100 years of age.
W Bro Chris Rookes WM 1950 Manager/Proprietor of the Red Horse Hotel in Bridge Street (now the site of Marks & Spencer). We still obtain our wine from his company. Chairs in the Lodge room are from the Red Horse.
W. Bro. J.G. Clarke. Effectively Master for three successive years as two WMs died in office leaving him as IPM to take over again 1972-75. Played a large role in the administration of Reading Court. Treasurer 19xx-85. His reign in the Chair finally came to an end when W Bro Ken Lane took over in 1975.
W. Bro. M.A. Cross left a bequest to the lodge in his will, of various jewels and mementoes which are displayed in a cabinet (made by W Bro John Upchurch) on the wall by the SW’s chair. He was Preceptor for a number of years.
W. Bro. W.L. Troughton. Preceptor for a number of years and the only Past Master, so far, to Install his son, Michael, into the Chair. Other Father – Sons. In 4 years we had 3 Masters who had sons in the Lodge
W Bro Moorhouse (WM 2004) and son Mark
W Bro Viv Davies (WM 2005) and son John
W Bro Ray Sanders-Crook (WM 2007) and son Steve.
W. Bro. T.B. Reading donated the land for Reading Court, and left money in his will for the Brethren to have ‘a drink on him’ once a year. The wine at the February meeting of the Lodge is purchased from this request.
W. Bro. Frank Hazzard. Architect for Reading Court.
Two Joining Members who did not do a great deal in the Lodge but who did much for masonry in Stratford were W. Bro. C.N. Batham for many years Secretary of Q.C.C.C and a benefactor of the Masonic Hall via a legacy. The dining room is named in his memory The Batham Room
V. Wor. Bro. Vernon. S. Nicholls who came as P.PGM of Isle of Man and Sodor, and became PGM of Warwickshire.
In 2006 there were often five Grand Lodge officers present in the Lodge. W. Bros J.G. Clarke and C.J.P. Moore Prov J.W. who were both Initiated into the Lodge. Also W. Bros. A. G. Oxenbury, P. L. Britton and A. J. Wellan, Prov. S.W. , Asst. PGM , and a long serving Lodge Charity Steward, who were joining Members.
Members of the Lodge who have served as Mayor of Stratford upon Avon:
W Bro Guyver WM 1941 – Mayor 1958
W Bro Mick Love WM 1997 – Mayor 1992
Bro Roy Lodge – Mayor 2006
and one Past Mayor’s Consort! (Me)
A paper presented to the Lodge in March 2016 by W Bro Keith Beckett PPJGD
DAVID GARRICK LODGE