Bruce Robbins, WM of Lodge of Fidelity, hands the Lodge’s Warrant to the APGM for Southern Area, Richard Hawkins
We gathered together on 18th December, some 30 of us, to say a final goodbye to an old friend. The Lodge of Fidelity, being numbered 430 in the Records of the United Grand Lodge of England, which had been Warranted on 23rd December 1835, was to close this day, after almost 185 years.
Our group was led by our APGM, Richard Hawkins and our District Chairman, along with Grand Lodge Officers and Officers of the District. At one time it was quite rare to see a Lodge closing, recently it has become all too commonplace. A closure is quite simple, really. The business of the Lodge in regard to its previous meeting must still be concluded, but then things change and become a little more sombre. Today Lodge of Fidelity’s senior member, Ian Casson, read a short history of the Lodge, and then it came time for Richard Hawkins to talk to us. This is, in part, what he said.
“There is always sorrow and sadness at the closure of a Lodge, it is understandably a very emotional day. It is a time of bereavement, a time to look back with thankfulness and forward to new things.
The world into which The Lodge of Fidelity was Warranted in 1835 is unrecognisable to us. William IV was on the throne, Robert Peel had lost an election in April and William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, was the new Prime Minister. Charles Darwin arrived in the Galapagos Islands and Charles Chubb was granted a patent for a burglar resistant safe. The Unlawful Societies Act of 1799 required for a list of all Lodge members to be submitted annually to the Justices of the Peace. Motorways, sewer systems, electricity, flights to the USA, the internet, even Boris Johnson weren’t even dreamed of.
Into this ancient world a group of good men founded a new Lodge which they named the Lodge of Fidelity. Given the number 623 for the first 28 years then renumbered 430 in 1863. Why Fidelity ? One can only guess – there were already Lodges of Fidelity indeed one of the oldest lodges is Lodge of Fidelity No 3 founded in 1754 and still working in London.
The final members of the Lodge of Fidelity 430 with the APGM Rev Canon Richard Hawkins, before the ceremony.
Fidelity is an inspirational and powerful name for a Lodge. The dictionary defines it like this, “Fidelity is the quality of faithfulness or loyalty.” You and your forefathers have been true to your name, you have been faithful and loyal not just to this Lodge but to the whole Masonic organisation. Yes, it is a sad day but Brethren do not blame yourselves for the closure of this Lodge just focus on all the good the Lodge has achieved and the fellowship and amazing times you have enjoyed.
Lodges are born, live and die. In the first century of United Grand Lodge the average lifespan of a Lodge was only 25 years. The Pro Grand Master has said that most Craft Lodges only survive 50 years, so look how fantastically well you have done to reach 185 years – what a wonderful achievement.”
And after that there was little more to follow. Brian Reynolds read a poem and the Worshipful Master of Lodge of Fidelity handed the Warrant of the Lodge over to Richard Hawkins. He carried the Warrant out of the room, and with that, without sound or fury, the Lodge simply ceased to be.
More pictures from the Lodge Meeting, and also from the Social that followed the Meeting are available for you to see by following this link. Photo Gallery
Photographs by Kevin Hall DCO, Words by Kevin Hall and Richard Hawkins
© 2020, all text and images contained in this post are the property of the author and photographer respectively.