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THE EARLY DAYS OF THE BEXHILL LODGE No 4898

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Up to 1926, the only Masonic Craft Lodge in Bexhill was the Hadrian Lodge Number 2483.
This Lodge had become very strong numerically and the accommodation it used was, according to records, very limited. In addition to this, it appears that quite a number of Masons were moving into Bexhill and the numerical strength of the Hadrian Lodge meant that little opportunity arose for these and new members to take an active part in the working of the Lodge.

Early in 1926 various Masons got together to explore the possibility of a new Craft Lodge being consecrated. On Thursday 4th February of that year a preliminary interview took place with W Bro Harold Clark, the manager of the Sackville Hotel, to see if the hotel would provide suitable accommodation for Lodge Meetings and it was agreed that the Pillar Room in the basement could be adapted for this purpose.
On the7th October 1926 a meeting of those who were to become the founders of the Lodge met at the Sackville Hotel and it was proposed and passed that.
(1) It is desirable in the interests of the Craft and to meet local requirements that a NEW LODGE should be formed in Bexhill.
(2) The name be the 'Bexhill Lodge'
(3) The accommodation offered at the Sackville Hotel was suitable
(4) That the Hadrian Lodge Number 2483 be asked to endorse the petition to Grand Lodge
(5) That the Founders' Fee be 10 guineas.
It was also agreed that if the petition was granted then the First Officers should be Past Masters only where necessary or essential to get the Lodge into proper working order.
On 10th November petition for the formation of a NEW LODGE in Bexhill, signed by the 16 Masons who were to be the Founders, and endorsed by the Worshipful Master, Senior and Junior Wardens of Hadrian Lodge, was passed to the Provincial Grand Master who approved its submission to Grand Lodge, after having inspected the proposed accommodation at the Sackville Hotel.
The result of this was that the Bexhill Lodge Number 4898 was duly Consecrated on the 28th April 1927 at the Town Hall, Bexhill-on-Sea, the ceremony being carried out by the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful . Bro Major R Lawrence Thornton CBE. DL. supported by other Provincial Grand Officers. It came into being under the leadership of its first Worshipful Master W. Bro Edward Thomas Gibbs with 15 other Founder Members, before an assembly of 150 Brethren.

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W. Bro. Edward Thomas Gibbs, ProvGStwd

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When the Lodge had been declared duly constituted the Right Worshipful, the Provincial Grand Master dedicated the Lodge Banner which had been presented by the Master Designate W. Bro E T Gibbs and which bore a sketch of the Parish Church, Lynch Gate and a Martello Tower. Silver ashtrays were presented to the Consecrating Officers.


Then followed the Installation of W. Bro Gibbs and at the conclusion of the Ceremony, those present were transported to the Sackville Hotel for the Consecration and Installation Dinner.
It is interesting to note that the local press described the founding of the Bexhill Lodge as 'the first Lodge of Freemasons, which was born in the Borough'. This was because the Hadrian Lodge had been consecrated in Westham.

It is pleasing to note that during the meeting on the 28th April it was proposed by the Worshipful Master and carried that 'This Lodge do become a Hall Stone Lodge in connection with the Masonic Million Memorial Fund.

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The Hallstone Medal was conferred on this Lodge by H.R.H. the late Duke of Connaught, the then M.W. the Grand Master for our support to his appeal for a Masonic Peace Memorial (1914-1918 war). It is passed from reigning master to his successor when he is installed in the high and honourable office.

The Lodge held its first Regular Meeting on 4th October 1927 when its first Initiate Mr Fred Spring was admitted.

Six Meetings a year were held, many with two ceremonies, and the Lodge progressed.

When the foundation stone of the Temple in Wilton Road was laid on 13th May 1931, the current Worshipful Master of the Lodge, W. Bro J.W.M. Howes, was in the procession bearing a cornucopia of corn. It was not until September 1939 that the Lodge transferred its meetings to the Temple.

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The Lodge of Instruction was formed in February 1934 and one of its objects was to ensure that
(1) All full members of the Lodge should be able to present the Working Tools of all Three Degrees
(2) The two Senior Stewards should be able to carry out the duties of the Senior Deacon
(3) The Junior Stewards should be able to carry out the duties of the Junior Deacon
(4) The Deacons be expected to be able to open and close the Lodge from the Chair in all Degrees.

With the outbreak of the war, the Sackville Hotel was no longer available and the Lodge moved its home to the Temple, Wilton Road and throughout the hostilities meetings were maintained at varying intervals, apart from a break from May 1940 to February 1941.
After another spell from 1947 to 1951 at the Sackville Hotel the Lodge finally 'settled in' at Wilton Road and has since run its steady course under the wise guidance of its Worshipful Masters, Past Masters and Officers together with the full support of all members.

A dispensation was requested to hold a special meeting on 23rd April 2002 in place of the regular meeting 2nd April 2002 to commemorate its 75 years. This was granted by the Provincial Grand Master R.W. Bro Ian H Lay. The meeting was attended by W. Bro Alan Huntley, Assistant Provincial Grand Master and his escort W. Bro Joe Wilkins, Prov.G.D.C. together with 32 members and 57 visitors.

To celebrate the Lodge's 500th meeting W. Bro Alf Durrant,. PPrJGD suggested at a GPC that a new Bible be purchased, this was agreed by the committee and members. On the 2nd October 2012 the R.W. Bro. Kenneth Eastwood Thomas,. Provincial Grand Master and his provincial team attended this 500th meeting. After normal business was completed the Worshipful Master invited the RW Provincial Grand Master to occupy the chair of the Lodge. The PGM asked his Provincial Wardens and Pursuivant to act in their offices during the dedication, the ProvGDC escorted them to their appropriate chairs. The PGM then addressed the Brethren; he then called on the Acting ProvGChap for a Prayer. The PGM then requested the ProvGDC to bring forward the new VSL; the ProvGDC escorted W. Bro. Bough,. PPrJGW the Lodge Chaplain to outside of the Lodge, being followed by the Provincial Deacons and Stewards. The ProvGDC re-entered the Lodge followed by W, Bro Bough carrying the new VSL on a cushion with the Provincial Deacons and Stewards following. The VSL was paraded around the Lodge and it was placed on a lectern in the SE corner of the Lodge.

The Brethren then sang the Hymn “O God Our Help in Ages Past” after which the acting Provincial Chaplain gave the VSL a dedication prayer and an Oration. The PGM then dedicated the new VSL. The PGM requested the ProvGDC to place the new bible in place on the Masters pedestal removing the old bible which was placed on the lectern.

Freemasonry in Bexhill has gone through phases when, for example, the Temple was consecrated in 1931, the Town's masons paraded through the town in full regalia and accompanied by a band. Freemasonry itself is now aiming to be more open and the three Lodges in Bexhill coupled with the Province of Sussex held an Open Day on 29 June 2002 when families and members of the public were welcomed into the Temple at the Masonic Centre in Wilton Road, Bexhill. This was followed the next day by a Garden Party which was open to the public and was hosted by W. Bro G Rogers of Hadrian Lodge No 2483.

The early meetings of the Bexhill Lodge were held in the "Sackville Hotel". This is now "The Mermaid/Mistral" where we did dine after Lodge meetings so it could be said that the Lodge returned to its roots.

After many years at the "Mistral/Mermaid" on the 6th October 2009
the Lodge moved it's dining venue to the Cooden Beach Golf Club.

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