The Lodge of St. Blaise No. 6113

Our First 50 Years

 

 The Lodge of St. Blaise No. 6113

Consecrated 28th September 1945

 

 

A Concise History of the First Fifty Years

Compiled by W Bro F Whitehead, Lodge Secretary, and read at the regular meeting held on 11th October 1995, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Lodge.

 Introduction

The Lodge of St. Blaise No 6113 was sponsored by Vesey Lodge No 4473, and consecrated at the Edgbaston Assembly Rooms, Francis Road, Birmingham on Friday, 28th September 1945; the Master Designate being W Bro Norman Streather, a past master of Lodge No 3208.

Circumstances leading to the formation of the Lodge

With the ending of World War II and the common bonds which existed and which had increased during the war, it was thought that these should be perpetuated by the founding of a new Masonic Lodge.  The districts in and around Sutton Coldfield had grown in the immediate years preceding the war and many Brethren who had moved into the area were anxious to find a new Masonic home.  All the Brethren present at the inaugural meeting to discuss the formation of a new Lodge had served in one Civil Defence organisation or another and it seemed fitting that the association so established during the years of difficulty and worry should find permanent expression in the peace and harmony of a new Lodge.

 The development of the Lodge

At the consecration there were 22 founding members; as of the present date, there have been 92 other members admitted to the Lodge, either as initiates or joining members.  Current membership comprises: -

24 Full Members plus 8 Country Members.

During the life of the Lodge it has produced no off-springs by way of Daughter Lodges.  By nature, it has tended to be a somewhat introspective body dedicated to the basic aims of Freemasonry and it’s own unique excellence in the pursuit of the game of golf, particularly so during it’s early history.

The Lodge Banner

The banner depicts the figure of the martyr, Saint Blaise (or Blasius), who was Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia, which is situated south of the Caucasus Mountains.  He was martyred in 316 A.D.  Legend has it that he was torn with wool-combers’ irons before execution and this is possibly the reason for his becoming patron saint of wool-combers.  He was said to have possessed marvellous powers of healing.  The figure of Saint Blaise on the banner is shown in full Episcopal regalia, with cape, mitre and crozier.  Under his arm he carries a book, symbolizing the bible, and in his left hand a wool-comb, emblematic of his being the patron saint of wool-combers and wool-staplers.  With regard to the right hand, at first sight it appears as though the head of a lamb is there – which would not be surprising, because he is often depicted with a lamb (as he is on one of the old coins) – but on closer inspection it will be seen that the Bishop is raising his hand in blessing.

The Chapel of St Blaise was one of the early places of worship in Sutton Coldfield and was situated in the precincts if the Manor House on Manor Hill and was the Free Chapel at which at an earlier date sufficed for the needs of the Earls of Warwick and their retainers.  It was closed when the parish church was built, but existed until the 16th century.

Bishop Vesey, Sutton Coldfield’s great benefactor, received his first ecclesiastical preferment as Chaplain to the Free Chapel of St Blaise in 1495.  It is from this great historical background that the Lodge bears it’s name.  Hence the banner depicts the figure of Saint Blaise above the caption “Ad Finem Fidelis” (faithful to the last).  The banner measures 4 feet 6 inches high by 3 feet wide and was completely refurbished in the early part of 1993.

The Lodge formation and subsequent history

The Lodge has, since it’s inception, always held the regular meetings and officers meetings, along with a Lodge of Instruction, at the Masonic Hall, Mill Street, Sutton Coldfield.  It has an unbroken and continuous history, and from time to time has received dispensation to hold additional meetings to handle the workload.

At the outset the composition of the Lodge was conceived as compromising 5 Past Masters plus 18 Brethren not through the chair, with a potential cadre of some 3 candidates for initiation.

The fees were as follows: -

Founders                    £10.10. 0

Joining Members         £  8. 8. 0

Initiation Fee               £21. 0. 0

Annual Subscription    £  5. 0. 0

Regular meetings were proposed to be held on the 2nd Wednesday of January, February, March, April, October, November and December, with officers’ meetings and Lodge of Instruction to be held on the 4th Thursday of January, February, March, September, October, November and December.  The Installation meeting to be held on the 2nd Wednesday in November.

The Consecration Return to Grand Lodge reveals the following facts: -

WM Norman Streather PM 3208.  1941

SW  Leslie Victor Hazelwood

JW  George Stacey Jackson

And the subscribing Past Masters as: -

William Eli Lakin                                 PM 5811.  1940

Stanley Allport Coleman                       PM 4473.  1938

Edward Perkin Warner                         PM 5100.  1941

John William Joseph Slater                  PM 5100.  1942

The Secretary was Bro Frank Perkins Grounds.

Lodge By-Laws were drawn up and approved on 3rd October 1945 by the PGM, William H Darell and approved by the MW Grand Master Sydney A White, Grand Secretary 27th November 1945.

On 27th November 1973 the April Lodge regular meeting was deleted from the By-Laws but reinstated on 2nd February 1987, so as to cope with the resurgence then taking place.

The present By-Laws were issued and approved by the PGM, RW Bro the Rev Vernon S Nicholls on 17th October 1991 and accord in essence with the original Byelaws, thus preserving the original founders intentions.

In November 1946 the PrG Secretary requested a return of the Lodge members showing their involvement in the war.  Of the then 28 members, they were all shown as having served either in the National Fire Service, Special Police, War Damage or Royal Observer Corps.

The Initial membership of the Lodge was drawn from a broad spectrum of professions and occupations comprising managers of industry, solicitors, chartered accountants, architects, engineers, chartered surveyors and builders.

It has, throughout it’s history, remained very much a homogeneous group of very dignified gentlemen who have demonstrated a high degree of self sufficiency and set high standards of Masonic decorum and behaviour.  It has been very much a “private” Lodge given to enjoying it’s own conceived basis of foundation and aims.

Inevitably, with the passage of time and the demise of many of it’s either founding of early initiates and joining members, coupled with a degree of introspection, by the mid 1970’s to early 1980’s, the Lodge was in a state of decline.  At this point, serious consideration was given to merging with the Mother Lodge (Vesey Lodge No 4473).  However, a number of active joining members were introduced and the Lodge has gone through a resurgence carrying with it all the excellent attributes of the early founding members.

Present membership, though comparatively low, is very active and is maintaining the same high standards, which have characterised St. Blaise since it’s inception.

Financial stability, though at times precarious due to the prevailing economic climate during the latter part of the 1980’s, has been restored.  Charitable performance is excellent and a small but steady intake of new members assures the Lodge of a long and successful future.

Whilst many of the original members have now passed on, the commitment and dedication of the active membership should ensure that the same dignified high standards and Masonic principles, on which the Lodge was founded, will be carried forward undiminished by the passage of time.

The social attributes of the Lodge Members

This record of the first fifty years of the history of the Lodge would be incomplete without some reference to the sporting characteristics of it’s early members.  Here, the writer is indebted to the senior Past Masters of the Lodge for the details they have supplied in regard to the general social activities outside the actual Lodge business.  Additionally, it is recorded that due to the very close connections the first Lodge members had with Moor Hall Golf Club, - where the formation of the Lodge was first conceived, it was only because of the insistence of Provincial Grand Lodge that the Lodge did not bear the name of “The Moor Hall Lodge”.  It is thus true to say that the Lodge of St. Blaise was founded by golfers, the founding father and first Master being W Bro Norman Streather a Past Master of Lodge No. 3208, whose father resided at Moor Hall.

In producing this history of the first fifty years of the Lodge it was felt that apart from an analysis of the Lodge records, anecdotal background details must be obtained from those Past Masters who were witness to the early development of the Lodge.  To this end, a dialogue was entered into with several of these Brethren who were able to recall, quite vividly, their impressions of the social attributes of it’s members during the formative years of the Lodge’s history.  W Bro C T Sandford recalls that golf was a strong cohesive force in the early days insofar members met each other at least once a week and also, together with their wives, took part in golf club social occasions and competitions, all being in keeping with the precepts of friendship and fraternity underlying Freemasonry.  W Bro S W Cadden recalls that once a year members of the Lodge stayed at Hawkstone Golf Park for a long weekend; Friday night to Sunday afternoon, to play golf.  Ritual in the early days of the Lodge was of a very high standard.  If any member missed a Lodge of Instruction, he would be telephoned the following day and be “told off” in a very strong manner.  No ritual books were allowed into the Lodge of Instruction; others would prompt you.

Early Masters of the Lodge were very socially active; most of them played either snooker, golf or cards.  W Bro G S Jackson played snooker against Joe Davies (world champion) at Moor Hall and won.  As well as being one of the early Masters of the Lodge, he went on to win a rose bowl at an athletics meeting and subsequently presented it to the Lodge, after which, members held an annual golf tournament.  The winner was presented with the rose bowl and had his name and the year in which it had been won engraved upon it.

All members worked hard and played hard, and enjoyed their Freemasonry with great commitment, both in and out of the Lodge.

W Bro S E Wright also recalls that the Ladies’ Evenings in the early days were always held at Sutton Coldfield Town Hall, where full evening dress was the order of the day and the local Mayor was present.  During the evening a game of bridge could be played.

Of the lighter moments on the golf outings, W Bro F W Luckman remembers inadvertently driving his opponent’s ball (W Bro W R Gamble) into a pond, only to receive an eloquent flow of invective delivered in true Masonic style for his error of judgement.  He recalls that the Lodge in those days was comprised of a pretty formidable group of men.

In retrospect, to quote our present Senior Past Master, it can be seen that the common interest in golf provided a very acceptable base on which the Lodge was founded and developed, but also had the effect of inhibiting the growth of other social activities which might have provided a broader appeal to potential new members.

The result of the over emphasis on golf was that after some twenty five years, owing to age and infirmity of the original members, the enthusiasm for golf diminished and no general lasting social activity had developed to replace it.

On a more personal note, it has been my experience, having been a member of several Lodges both at home and abroad, whilst their formation usually derives from a closely knit base, their ultimate survival depends upon the broadening of that base so as to embrace others.

Looking at the next fifty years there is no doubt that the Lodge of St. Blaise has emerged fully enriched from it’s formative years and firmly established upon a solid path having broad appeal.

It thus behoves all existing members of the Lodge, to build upon this base and to continue the principles and aspirations the founders of the Lodge laid down half a century ago.

 

11th October 1995                       W Bro Frank Whitehead, P Prov G Supt Wks

 

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