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History of Havant Lodge No. 4689 E. C.

 

The Lodge Crest
The Lodge Crest

It was Bro. F. E. Smith that made the first approaches concerning a new lodge to meet in Havant. Brethren from our mother lodge, Carnarvon Lodge, No. 804, of which he was a member, shared his vision and agreed to pursue the idea. By that time Carnarvon Lodge had around 170 members. As the Havant district was growing, it was felt necessary to sponsor a new lodge to cope with the “overflow”. Many people in business from Portsmouth were living in the area and needed a lodge closer to their homes and the consensus was that Havant was a sufficient recruiting ground to ensure a continuity of membership.

The first meeting to discuss and plan for the formation of Havant Lodge took place at the Masonic Hall, Havant on 23 January 1924 where brethren agreed on the setting of a Founders fee at five guineas (£5.25p) and the initiation fee fifteen guineas (£15.75p). The number of meetings, including the Installation, was set at nine per year, and that lodge membership is limited to 100 (although this later changed). An inclusive yearly subscription was set at two guineas (£2.10p), divided equally between the lodge to cover refreshment and supper (Installation banquets extra). Lodge meetings were set for the second Wednesday of each month at the Masonic Hall, Havant.

The crest inscription is the Ancient Greek aphorism, “NOSCE TE IPSUM” which translates as “Know Thyself”. There are many meanings attributed to this phrase in literature. It may variously be considered to mean a warning against attention-seekers, avoiding the opinion of the multitude, knowing one’s place and limitations, especially when relating to God, or as a general observation about self-awareness. However, there is no record as to the reason for its selection.

The Founders chose their candidates for membership from amongst professional men, members of the Civil and Local Government Services, together with men of approved rank in His Majesty’s Forces and accepted status in business.  Acceptable military ranks for membership excluded those below the rank of CPO equivalent in the army and air force and civilians should be considered ‘equal to the above’.  The petition was prepared in June/July 1924 and was signed by thirty-one petitioners, including seven Past Masters, from a range of local and distant lodges. Of these, fourteen were current members of Carnarvon Lodge. Other Hampshire Lodges were Royal Sussex Lodge 342, Portsmouth Lodge 487, Zetland Lodge 515, Lodge of Friendship 928, Portsmouth Temperance Lodge 2068, St Clair Lodge 2074, King Edward VII Lodge 3816, Portsdown lodge 4356 and Excelsior Lodge 4505.

The Lodge Banner (1925)
The Lodge Banner (1925)

The consecration of Havant Lodge took place on 11 February 1925 and a distinction, which marked the occasion, was that the lodge was the first consecration by Right Worshipful Bro. The Right Hon. The Earl of Malmesbury following his appointment as Provincial Grand Master. The Provincial Grand Chaplain delivered an oration on the nature and principles of our institution and opined that, although the Empire needed honourable men, he felt both concerned and appalled that the Craft was growing too fast. He cautioned us to be very careful whom we receive as members, urging that the lodge should concentrate on quality, not quantity.

The first Master and Founder Member was W. Bro. Henry Arthur Eaton, a music dealer from Havant and Past Master of Royal Sussex Lodge No. 342. The Senior Warden was Frank Ernest Smith, RN (Retired) from Havant; Junior Warden was Henry William Green, a Havant tailor.

The lodge war record 1939 to 1945 shows that membership increased from 79 to 99 over the period despite instructions from Grand Lodge in September 1945 that meetings should be suspended. During this period, 45 meetings convened between August 1939 and August 1945. The only documented reference to the war was a mention in the agenda of a nearby air raid shelter. There were 44 initiations and average attendance was 26. Because of blackout restrictions it was considered advisable to change the day of the meeting from Wednesday to Saturday, thereby enabling the lodge to be ‘Close Tyled’ in the early afternoon. After a severe and prolonged air raid in the area on the night of the 10th and 11th of January 1941 the lodge meeting due to be held on Saturday 11 January was cancelled since all available members were helping the local authority to maintain essential services. Fortunately, there were no untoward incidents at any lodge meetings and, despite many lodge members being on active service, thankfully none were wounded or killed during the war.

In 1948, efforts were made to sponsor a new lodge (to be known as St Faith’s Lodge) but the idea did not progress.

In 1961 W. Bro. H. D. Miles presented a Square and Compasses set to the lodge.

A Lodge of Instruction was introduced in 1963 by Wor. Bro. Frank E. P. Clark and was active until December 2006.

1969 saw the introduction of Alms collections in the Temple for the first time.

In 1975, W. Bro. L. A. Lillywhite presented two Deacons Wands to the lodge to mark his brother’s year as Master.

The lodge appointed a Charity Steward in 1976. Charitable support from the lodge has included: donations to the Hostel of God (later to be known as Trinity Hospice), the Royal Masonic Hospital, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution, Royal Masonic Institution for Boys and Girls, “Wings for Victory” in 1943, the Provincial Comforts Fund, Zetland Court, Queen Alexandra Hospital Rocky Appeal, the Tom Langton Fund, Naomi House Children’s Hospice, Rowans Hospice and The Rainbow Centre as well as the widows of former members. In December 1955, the lodge became a patron of the Royal Masonic Hospital and a double patron in 1967 in recognition of its continued support. In 1984, the lodge became a patron of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution.

In 1981, Past Master W. Bro. Frank Sorrell became Lord Mayor of the City of Portsmouth.

In 1998, a presentation was made at the installation meeting to W. Bro. Tom Eaton to mark 22 years as Lodge Organist.

So-called country membership, whereby members living beyond a radius of 25 miles from the lodge could pay a reduced subscription, was finally withdrawn in 2005.

Between 1925 and March 2020, the lodge has welcomed 263 initiates, 95 joining members and 22 honorary members.