Lodge History

The precise origins of Freemasonry are unknown, although there are many theories claiming to represent the origins of the craft. These theories go back as far as the twelfth century with the formation of the Knights Templar, to biblical times with the building of King Solomon’s temple and even to ancient Egypt and the construction of the Pyramids.

The common belief however is that speculative masonry evolved from the crafts of the Middle Ages when many cathedrals, monasteries and other edifices were built. In those days the operative mason was in great demand as a craftsman and often travelled away from his from home for long periods. Masons formed themselves into craft guilds and erected temporary ‘lodge’ buildings close to their construction sites within which the craftsmen worked the stone, took their meals and held their meetings.

Guild members knew one another. They made regular contributions to the common purse to ensure that sick members who were not able to work would not go hungry and to pay funeral expenses if their families were not able to afford them.

From these practical beginnings, the tools and traditions of the operative mason developed, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, into a system of symbolic or ‘speculative’ allegories designed to promote social and moral understanding.

The organisation of Freemasonry in its present form dates back to the founding of the Grand Lodge of England in June 1717 and at this time was limited to a small number of Masonic lodges within the city of London. An initial founders meeting is said to have taken place at the ‘Apple Tree Tavern’ with a second meeting convened at the Goose and Gridiron public house on 24th June 1717. In fact many early Masonic meetings appear to have taken place in licensed taverns.

Provincial Masonry developed throughout the rest of the eighteenth century and gradually, the authority of the Grand Lodge of England spread across the country.

For efficient regulation and administration of the Craft, it became necessary for the Grand Master to establish ‘local’ representation leading to the appointment of the first Provincial Grand Master for Cheshire in 1725.

The Masonic Province of Hampshire came into being on 28th February 1767 with the appointment its first Provincial Grand Master, Thomas Dunkerley. The province consisted of 8 Masonic lodges of which only one, Ringwood No. 318 is still working today as Lodge of Unity No. 132.

It was over 100 years later in 1869, that the Isle of Wight, which until then had operated as a small but separate province, became amalgamated to form the Masonic Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. Today, the oldest Lodge still working on the Isle of Wight is Medina Lodge number 35 which transferred from London to Cowes in 1761.

In the eighteenth century there were in fact two Grand Lodges established in England, the Premier Grand Lodge (sometimes known as the “Moderns”) and the Antients Grand Lodge. It was not until 1813 that unification took place to form the United Grand Lodge of England and until that time the Antient lodges did not form part of Dunkerley’s original Province of Hampshire.

Freemasonry continued to develop throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and by the 1950’s many lodges were full to capacity, making advancement within the craft difficult to achieve. It is for this reason that many new lodges, including Taverners Lodge, were formed, typically by members of an existing lodge with a common vocation or interest binding them together.

Such was the case within the Lodge of Hope number 2153. The Lodge of Hope was consecrated at Gosport on 12th May 1886 having been established for the convenience of brethren who were serving or had retired from Her Majesties naval or military services. Because of its high membership numbers, the Lodge has, during its lifetime, sponsored a number of new lodges including The Royal Marine Portsmouth Lodge number 6423, St Thomas’s Lodge number 6574, our own Taverners Lodge number 7442 and the Charles Dickens Lodge number 8597.

The founding of Taverners Lodge in particular began with an informal meeting at the Fort Cumberland Tavern, Eastney Road, Southsea on Wednesday 4th May 1955 to discuss the possibility of forming a lodge of ‘Licensed Victuallers or anyone who has held a Justices Licence’. At that meeting were W. Bro. C.H.Hurdle (the licensee of the Fort Cumberland Tavern and a past Master of the Lodge of Hope), W. Bro. H.F Ingram and W. Bro. J.S.Heaton.

On Thursday 16th June 1955, a further meeting was held at the Fort Cumberland Tavern and W. Bro. Hurdle was subsequently and unanimously elected as chairman of the Founders committee. The meeting then continued to propose and agree that the new lodge should consist of 20-25 founders each paying £21 in founder’s fees in order to raise the necessary start up capital.


The Cumberland Tavern, venue for the initial Taverners founders meeting

The joining fee was set at £5 5s and an annual member’s subscription of £3 3s agreed. This seems a far cry from today’s annual subscription of £115 per member.

After a long discussion it was agreed to form a committee to proceed with the formation of the lodge. This committee consisted of seven founding members who were:

C H Hurdle – The Cumberland Tavern, Southsea
H F Ingram – The Railway Hotel, Portsmouth
S Heaton – The Windmill and Sawyer, Portsmouth
W Lowe – The Bear Hotel, Havant
C Eyles – The Artillery Arms, Portsmouth
K B Le Mettey – Baffins Inn, Portsmouth
F Nuttall – The Ship, Cosham

There followed many weeks of correspondence obtaining permissions and authority from Grand Lodge until finally, nearly one year later all the necessary paperwork had been completed and the formation of Taverners Lodge was given the official authority to proceed.

The consecration of Taverners Lodge number 7442 was held at the Masonic Hall, Commercial Road, Portsmouth on 26th June 1956 and was conducted by R.W Bro. Wilfred Attenborough, then the Provincial Grand Master, Hampshire and Isle of Wight.


Invitation to the Consecration and Installation Ceremonies

Consecration Ceremony

As has already been stated, Taverners Lodge was originally founded for the benefit of ‘Licensed Victuallers or anyone who has held a justices licence’. Indeed the original founders were to a man, licensees, plying their trade in taverns across the Portsmouth area. Being professionals in their field and fairly affluent for their times, it’s not surprising that Taverners Lodge soon gained a reputation for it’s generous hospitality and lively festive board and there are many stories relating to those early days.

For example, it was a tradition that full bottles of spirits were placed on the dining tables along with the port and wine and live music was a common feature. These festive proceedings, we are led to believe, often continued into the early hours of the morning and of course black tie and dinner suits were mandatory adding to the atmosphere and tradition of the lodge.

It was a further tradition that each year, the Worshipful Master would be presented with a ‘hat’ reflecting his particular profession or interest. The hat was presented to the current master on Ladies Night and all previous recipients would parade in line, in date order with the new recipient leading to the tune of ‘There’s a Tavern in the Town’. Unfortunately, this tradition fell by the wayside in the mid 1990s but it was revived it at our 50th anniversary festive board and continues to this day.

Because of it’s connection to the hospitality industry and in true Masonic spirit, visitors have always been of particular importance to Taverners Lodge and in those early days it was not uncommon to have more visitors than members – for example, there were no less than 74 visitors at the 10th Taverners Lodge meeting in December 1957.

Taverners has a number of special relationships with other lodges and we do of course, retain strong ties with our mother and sister lodges. But there is one other very special relationship that must not go unmentioned, namely our relationship with the Lodge of Hospitality and Concord No. 8645 in the Province of Dorset, with whom we have shared reciprocal annual visits for over 30 years. The Lodge of Hospitality and Concord was itself founded within the licensed trade, its members being drawn from hoteliers and licensees in and around Bournemouth and Poole.

During its 50 years Taverners Lodge has held it’s meetings at two separate venues: From the consecration meeting in June 1956 until the 188th meeting in February 1994, Lodge meetings were held at the Masonic Hall, Commercial Road, Portsmouth (now renamed Guildhall Walk).From the 189th meeting in April 1994 until the present day Tavemers Lodge has had its base at the Masonic Centre, Albert Road, Cosham.

Over the past 50 years there have been many members of Taverners Lodge and as life has taken its course, some have inevitably ascended to that Grand Lodge above where the Great Architect of the Universe lives and reigns forever.

Our 50th anniversary marked a special milestone in our history and it was a fitting time to remember those sadly missed and departed brethren. We remember that in their own times, they brought laughter, friendship and character to the lodge. Each and every one playing their own part in making Taverners Lodge what it is today.


The Taverners Lodge Banner


The Taverners Lodge banner is interesting both for its manufacture and content. It was commissioned on 20th August 1961 some six years after the consecration of Taverners Lodge and was made in Bangalore, India, by Barton, Son and Company for the princely sum of 550 shillings, or £27 10s!. The background material of the banner itself is made of sky blue satin and the embroidery is cotton thread. The fringe, chord and tassels are in art silk..

At the centre of the banner is the emblem and motto of the Licensed Victualler’s Association. The motto ‘Hinc Spes Affulget’ can be translated from the Latin as ‘Hence Hope Shines Forth’.

The banner was dedicated on 6th May 1963 at our 35th meeting by the Reverend G.W. Page, PG Chaplain, Assistant Grand Master of Hampshire and Isle of Wight.

The Tyler’s Sword

 The Tyler’s sword was donated prior to our consecration by Bro A.E.Carter, a Master Mason of Hope Lodge number 2153. Brother Carter was employed at the Royal Navy Barracks, Portsmouth during the time of the evacuation of Dunkirk.

As Bro. Carter describes, ‘It might well be a symbol of an unknown foreign warrior and well fitted to keep off all intruders and cowans, for on a certain night during the evacuation of Dunkirk – I forget the exact date – when I was on duty in the Wardroom at the Royal Navy Barracks, where I was Hall Porter for 27 years, a mixed party of officers and ratings from overrun countries were brought in.

A young officer of about 25 years of age, whether Dutch, Belgian of French I know not, was called away almost as soon as he came in and on leaving he handed me his sword and asked me to keep it till he came back. I never saw him again. Where he came from, who he was, what his end, we shall probably never know’.


History of the Tylers Sword

By WBro Peter Higgins

I joined Taverners Lodge in February 2006 and was introduced to the Tyler W. Bro L.E. Woodward PPJGW. It was then I first saw the Tylers sword and became aware of its significance. In July 2006 Taverners Lodge held its 50th Anniversary meeting where Bro Frank MILNER portrayed the history of the lodge. A letter regarding the Tylers sword was read out giving an explanation of how the lodge came to have the sword. The sword had no scabbard, was tarnished and had no sword knot on it.

I took the sword home, cleaned it and fitted a sword knot (sword knot is British Naval Officers knot). Curiosity then got the better of me and I began scouring the internet to find out its origins. After many hours research I came across a website (details below).

See website http://users.skynet.be/euro-swords/naval1837.htm



Our Tylers sword is confirmed as a French Naval Officers sword.  We may never know the name of the officer who left it at the Wardroom in 1940 or what happened to him. His sword keeps off all intruders and cowans to Freemasonry and will continue to be of service for many years to come. We are forever grateful for the French Officer for his sacrifice in the war to rid Europe of Fascism and tyranny.


The Taverners Song

There’s a Tavern in the town, in the town,
Where my true love sits me down, sits me down,
I’ll hang my heart on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.

Fare thee well, for I must leave you,
Do not let this parting grieve you,
And remember that the best of friends must part, must part.
Adieu, adieu adieu, adieu, adieu adieu.

I can no longer stay with you, stay with you,
I’ll hang my heart on a weeping willow tree,
And may the world go well with thee.