A short history

St Hilda Lodge was constituted and consecrated on 14th February 1881 in what was then the United Province of Berks and Bucks. The prime mover had been Major JG Shanks who was then a Past Master of The Lodge of Sincerity at Plymouth. The other ten Founders, with one exception, were all local men with no less than four of them being Surgeons.

The Ceremony of Consecration was preceded by an assembly of brethren at Wallingford Town Hall whence the brethren went, in procession, to St Mary’s Church for a choral service after which the Consecration ceremony was performed at the George Hotel.

Research continues as to the reason why St Hilda’s was chosen as the name of the lodge but it is thought to relate to the association of St Hilda, the wise Anglo-Saxon, Abbess of Whitby, with the Bishop of Dorchester (on Thames) and her patronage of Freemasons whom she employed to build many monasteries and churches. [‘free’ masons because they worked in free-stone - easily worked stone, eg limestone].

Records show that for ten years the lodge usually met at the George Hotel but dined at The Lamb when, in 1891, the latter set aside a special room for the lodge meetings as well. After several abortive attempts to find a permanent place of their own, eventually in 1929 the lodge bought part of a redundant brewery which they adapted to create the present Centre.

On 13th April 1931 the Centre was opened with great ceremony by the Berkshire Provincial Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Connaught, with over 100 members and visitors present.

However, its use was short lived because at the outbreak of the second World War in 1939 the War Office requisitioned the building for troop billets and was in use as such until it was handed back to the lodge at the end of 1945. For the duration of the war the lodge returned to its old home at the Lamb until 1946 when it was able to move back to the Centre.

Unfortunately the building and contents had suffered considerable damage during its wartime ‘service’, but the walnut panelling and oak floor of the Temple itself were saved from desecration by the American Commanding Officer, himself a Freemason, who appreciated their intrinsic and aesthetic value and had them covered with hardboard for the duration.

The first post-war meeting in the Temple took place on 9th October 1946 and was honoured by the presence of RW Bro Charles Nicholl, Provincial Grand Master.

The history of the Lodge since WWII is being researched and documented. Details will be published here in due course. Meanwhile if any reader has useful knowledge about St. Hilda lodge or the Wallingford Masonic Centre, please let us know via the contact details below.

If you would like to see the 'Family Tree' of St Hilda Lodge no. 1887, you can do so by clicking here.

If you are interested in joining St Hilda Lodge and would like to talk to someone in person, or if you are a Freemason and would like to attend one of our Lodge meetings as a visitor, please get in touch with us.

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Tel:01491 837122
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