In February 1930, W. Bro. H. S. W. Stone, who was then W.M. of Lodge Unanimity and Sincerity No. 261 proposed the founding of a new Lodge in Taunton. He was supported by the Worshipful Master and Brethren of the Lodge of St. George No. 3158.
Following a successful petition to the M.W. the Grand Master, Taunton Deane Lodge was consecrated on 1st October 1930 by the R.W. Bro. The Venerable. Archdeacon Farrer, M.A., P.G. Chaplain (England) and PGM for Somerset, assisted by Officers of Provincial Grand Lodge.
The Founders asked W. Bro. Brig. Gen. C. L. Norman, S.G.D. (UGLE.) Past Deputy District G.M. (Punjab) to be Master Designate He named Bro. R. J. L. Stenlake and Bro. E. Young as his Wardens.
The Lodge received many presents from founders and friends.
Bro. Stenlake presented the members’ display board on which all founders and subsequent W.Ms. of the Lodge are inscribed. (insert image)
The Banner and Badge of the Lodge were designed by W. Bro. Stone and Bro. R. D. Burt, the actual needlework on the Banner being carried out under the direct supervision of Bro. Burt. (insert image)
Our Tracing Boards were presented by W. Bro. Dr. A. J. H. Iles, the mahogany pedestals by W. Bro. W. G. Potter and Bro. H.F. Potter and the kneeling stool by W. Bro. P. J. Barnicott.
W. Bro. S. Goodman gave a set of Anthem cards and Bro. Hamlin a pair of slippers for the Candidates. Bro. H. E. Knott set the Guest’s Song and that for absent Brethren to music.
On March 5th, 1931, W. Bro. Norman installed his successor Bro. Stenlake. As a memento of his Mastership, W. Bro. Norman presented to the Lodge ivory gavels for the use of the W.M. and his Wardens.
Four years later W. Bro. Norman was appointed Provincial. G.M. for Somerset, being installed at Yeovil on May 23rd by the M.W. Bro. Lord Ampthill Pro Grand Master.
THE WAR YEARS 1939 – 1945
With the outbreak of war many arrangements altered rapidly, there was even the possibility of the Lodge closing down. The Masonic Hall was requisitioned for war purposes and only the Temple was left to the Brethren. It looked at first as though the activities of the Lodge would be somewhat restricted to formal meetings. But under the Temple is a cellar which had been used as a store room. The Trustees had this cellar cleaned and tidied so that after Lodge Meetings the Brethren could repair downstairs to partake of light refreshment. It was, of course, a stand up snack, and perhaps the more enjoyable for that, as Brethren were free mingle as they pleased.
In 1945 Taunton Deane Lodge had what is possibly a unique occurrence. The Grand Master of Ohio, U.S.A. had preferred a request to our M.W. the G.M. that Lt. T. R. Jones of the U.S. Army in England might be initiated in an English Lodge. Passing down through the proper channels the request came to Taunton Deane Lodge, and at an emergency Lodge in November, Lt. Jones was initiated by W. Bro. S. S. Orchard acting W.M. in the unavoidable absence of the W.M. W. Bro. A. P. Stoner.
Owing to the impossibility of obtaining Masonic jewels during the war years, only token presentations were made to retiring Masters. Similarly, the array of photographs of Past Masters was not kept up-to-date. After the war, in W. Bro. Blandford’s year of office, it was decided to purchase P.M’s. jewels for those W. Brethren to whom only token presentations had been made. To lighten the charge on the Lodge, the Founders gave up their Founder’s jewels as the badges on them were the same as the badges required to make up the P.Ms. jewel. At the same time, the collection of photographs of P.Ms. was brought up-to-date. Here, to lighten the cost, the frames were presented by W. Bro. W. S. Stansell. The collection now hangs in the dining room.
25th ANNIVERSARY ONWARDS
We celebrated our 25th anniversary on 6th October 1955 at the Masonic Hall. The Provincial Grand Master the R. W. Bro. Brig. General C.L. Norman attended, supported by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master V. W. Bro. H. Frampton and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W. Bro. G. H. Harrison. The W.M., W. Bro. L.J .Hockey invited the PGM to occupy the Chair of King Solomon to conduct the Ceremony of the Passing to the Second Degree of Bro. J.G. Kennedy, which he accepted, and was assisted by the Founder Members W. Bro. R. J.L. Stenlake as S.W., W. Bro. S. Goodman as J.W., and W. Bro. G.O. Boundy as I.G.
A silver salver, inscribed with facsimiles of the signatures of members of the Lodge, was presented to the P.G.M. who expressed his deep appreciation for the gift. Twenty five years later, at the meeting held in November 1980, the salver was officially returned to the Lodge for safe keeping by the daughter of Brigadier General Norman.
Three years later on 6th November 1958 the P.G.M. made a presentation to the Lodge of his personal sword. The sword was handed down to the P.G.M. by his father, Field Marshall Sir Henry Norman, also a member of the Craft. The P.G.M. had carried the sword since his early days as a Subaltern and it is now carried on all appropriate occasions in Lodge proceedings. The Lodge is indebted to W. Bro.W.S Stansell who donated the glazed case in which the sword is kept.
The ceremony on the 2nd November,1961 will always be remembered by those who were fortunate enough to attend. The Lodge was honoured by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master R.W. Bro. Brig.A.de L .Cazenove, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master V.W. Bro. H. Frampton and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W. Bro. H. E. Dyke. The Provincial Grand Master then called upon V.W. Bro. H. Frampton who gave an address to the brethren on the outstanding events under General Norman’s leadership and concluded by expressing to R.W. Bro. Brigadier General Norman the gratitude of the whole Province. Following the address, the Provincial Grand Master then formally invested R.W. Bro. Brigadier General Norman with the Full Dress Regalia of a Past Provincial Grand Master. The regalia had been purchased by donations made by all Lodges in the Province, most of which were represented at the Meeting.
On the 5th November, 1964 the Past Masters of the Lodge made a presentation to the Lodge of an Ivory Gavel for use by the J.W. The gavel, suitably inscribed was similar to those donated by the R.W. Bro. Brigadier General Norman which were carved from ivory brought back by General Norman from India during his period of military service there.
At the Regular Meeting of the Lodge on 6th April, 1967, members learned with deep regret of the death of R.W. Bro. Brigadier General Norman, Past Provincial Grand Master and Founder Member and first Worshipful Master of Taunton Deane Lodge. The brethren stood in silence as a tribute and in memory of this very distinguished Mason.
During the next decade the Lodge continued to prosper, although not without the loss to Grand Lodge above of some of it’s much loved Brethren.
5Oth ANNIVERSARY ONWARDS
The Ceremony on Thursday 2nd October 1980 was a celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Lodge; 114 Brethren attended including 64 guests. The Ceremony was honoured by the presence of the P.G.M, R.W. Col. H. Owen Hughes O.B.E who paraded in accompanied by the Pr.S.G.W, the Pr.J.G.W and other distinguished brethren. The minutes of the first meeting of the Lodge held in 1930 were read. The Master, W.Bro. K. Farrell then offered the gavel to W. Bro. W.B. Clatworthy, a founding member of the Lodge, who conducted the ceremony of passing.
It was at the meeting in March 1981 that the Silver Salver presented to Rt. W. Bro. Brig. General C.L. Norman was used for the first time to collect the alms bags in the temple, a tradition that has continued to this day. W.Bro. Kinnersley P.G.M designate attended the meeting to inaugurate a special display panel containing various memorabilia and certificates of Rt.W. Bro Norman. The display was paid for by members of the Lodge and has permanent place in the sherry room.
During the November meeting it was announced that Bro. N. G. Oram Tyler of the Lodge and Caretaker of the Temple would shortly retire. The Past Masters decided that in future the position of Tyler would become a progressive office.
December 1986 brought a milestone to Taunton Deane, the Lodge initiated its 100th member into Freemasonry, Bro. T. J. Cramp, who was presented with a bible to commemorate his initiation which had been handed down to the Lodge by the family of the late W. Bro. R. M. Hewlett.
At the installation ceremony in March 1989 for Bro. J. Cozens, the new Master, presented to the Installing Master, W.Bro. Richard Went the Past Masters Jewel from his father W. Bro. John Went, this was the first time in the Lodge’s history that this had happened.
At the installation ceremony in March 1991 of Bro. M. Blackwell it was announced that W. Bro. T. A. Hughes P.S.G.D, Deputy P. G. M. would be appointed Past Grand Sword Bearer, a rank entitling him to be addressed in future as Very Worshipful Brother. That same year the Master set up a Lodge Fund to raise money for the restoration of the Lodge Banner which now needed urgent repairs. The monies required amounted to £500.00. During the installation of the new Master Bro. P. B. Read, the Lodge received its new Banner after having been completely refurbished a rededication ceremony took place in the December 1992 with the Provincial Grand Master R. W. Bro. Stanley H. A. F. Hopkins and the Provincial Team. The new Banner was paraded into the Lodge by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies. An oration was given by the Provincial Chaplain reminding brethren that the Banner had originally been designed by W. Bro. Stone and Bro. Burt, some 60 years earlier and not surprisingly need refurbishment, but that much of the original fabric and needlework was saved and used in the new Banner.
March of 1993 saw the installation of the new Master, Bro. D. C. Hughes, a Presentation of a Bible and part of the ceremony being undertaken by his Father V. W. Bro. T. A. Hughes, yet another first for Taunton Deane Lodge.
75th ANNIVERSARY ONWARDS
In 1995 all members received a Bristol Blue Glass Paperweight to celebrate our 75th anniversary.
A new Bible Dedication was held in the temple in April 1996. The Bible was a gift to the Lodge by W.Bro. C. Bacon, with V.W.Bro. T. A. Hughes taking the chair, the Master his Wardens and Deacons formed an escort to parade the new Bible into the Lodge. Afterwards, W.Bro. B. R. Hearle gave a very informative lecture on the explanation of the Provincial Grand Master Apron which once belonged to Brigadier General Claude L. Norman. The Apron can be found today displayed in the sherry room in the Taunton masonic centre.
At the April 1997 meeting Bro B. J. Renwick became an honorary member and the Lodge Organist. Brother Barry’s music has brought much joy to the Lodge and greatly enhanced its ceremonies right up until the present day.
On 3rd December 1998 a goblet engraved with the Tyler’s Toast was presented to the lodge by Bro. B. Kent of Canute Lodge No. 4876 & Bro. J. Judd of Eastleigh Lodge No. 8340, Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight.
At the installation ceremony of March 1999, Bro. G. D. Snook became the 70th and last Master of the Lodge in the second millennium but the first in the third. We were honoured by a visit in the same year from W. Bro. John Upward the Provincial Grand Charity Steward for Somerset. He gave a most interesting talk to the brethren on the different charities that Freemasonry supports and in particular the launch of the 2007 Festival for the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute.
The new Masonic year for the Lodge got off to a flying start with donations towards the R.M.B.I 2007 Festival totalling £5000.00 enabling the Lodge’s to achieve its first Acorn from the Province. The Acorn was presented to the Lodge at the February 2004 meeting where W.Bro Ray Guthrie Assistant Provincial Grand Master gave an explanation of the four Masonic Charities, before presenting the Worshipful Master and Charity Steward with the Banner and the Acorn. The second Acorn was presented in the December by the Provincial Grand Master R. W. Bro David Lloyd Jenkins after a further £4000.00 had been donated. At the ceremony the Worshipful Master W. Bro S. C French offered the Gavel to the P. G. M. Upon taking the chair of K. S. the PGM informed the brethren that the Province had already raised over £1,500,000 and was on course to meets its £2,000,000 target.
To be continued