History of St Thomas Lodge

front of gandy st

Early in 1920 a number of Freemasons resident in Exeter were united in the opinion that there existed a need for a new Craft Lodge in the city.
At that time there were five Craft Lodges meeting in the city,of which
St. John the Baptist No39; date of warrant 1732 was the oldest Craft
Lodge in the country; there are currently eleven Craft Lodges meeting
with in the city boundaries. This fact illustrating the strong ties that
exist between the City of Exeter and the Brotherhood of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of England.
These original Freemasons there were fourteen in number, were desirous to formulate this new proposed lodge to serve that part of the city to the west of the river Exe, and it was with this in mind that the lodge, if approved, would be known as ‘the ..St. Thomas Lodge.

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1921past master

It was agreed that a condition of membership would be that members of the lodge must reside in , or have business in St. Thomas. This was made very clear by the fact that a certain Bro. John Lake, a subscribing member of the Northcote Lodge No. 2659, was refused founder membership. He was employed as an engineer
with the company of Hucklebridge and Son whose premises were at that time on the east bank of the river adjacent to Exe bridge, clearly the “wrong side ” of the river .

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However, Bro. Tom. Howard, at one time a City Councillor, and a subscribing member of the same lodge as Bro. Lake, namely the Northcote Lodge, was the Landlord of the Seven Stars Public House which stood at the end of Okehampton Street,hard by Exe bridge; on the west bank of the river,
was admitted as a founder member. Bro. J . Lake was however proposed and seconded joining member at the inaugural lodge meeting immediately following the consecration ceremony. He was an Alderman of the City ofExeter and had at one time been a director of Exeter City Football Club.
The first formal meeting of these original Brethren took place at
Gandy Street on the 20th. August 1920 and it was resolved to officially petition the Provincial Grand Lodge and if successful to forward the petition to the United Grand Lodge of England. It was realised that for their petition to have any chance of receiving approval it would need the support of a Freemason of high standing in Office and also of similarly high social standing in the community, This they had in no lesser person than John Stocker Esq., who was currently the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of the province of Devonshire and also Chairman of the Exeter City Council Education Committee;.a Master builder (Retired). it is also a possibility that he was Chairman of the St. Thomas Urban District Council
Education Committee, this however has been the subject of some discussion between older Brethren within the St.Thomas Lodge and a certain element of doubt exists as to the accuracy of this statement. Whatever, though a small man in stature he was a big name in Freemasonry and within then local community. The John Stocker schools were named after him; they had previously been known as the St. Thomas Board School. He was later honoured
for his community work by the award of the Order of the British Empire  (O.B.E.). Whilst his brother, Henry Stocker, was the current Provincial Grand Secretary for Devonshire.

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Having obtained the support of such a prominent dignitary in both Masonic and Local Community spheres, four of the original fourteen masons at that meeting in August 1920 were delegated the responsibility of presenting the petition to Provincial Grand Lodge. These four Brethren being:

W/Bro. W.R. Brealey. P.M. Semper Fedelis Lodge No. 1254.
W/Bro. W.H. Pike. P.M. Northcote Lodge No. 2659.
Bro. E.H. Bradley. Northcote Lodge No. 2659.
Bro. L. Jones. Northcote Lodge No. 2659.

A further four meetings, held at Gandy Street, were needed before the new lodge could be consecrated, amongst other items of business the Lodge Bye-Laws needed to be agreed upon and written, two items of interest to present members of the lodge are;
1. All offices of the lodge were to be progressive, including that of
organist. If the Brother invested as Organist was not an instrumentalist he was required to go round to the back of the organ and pump the bellows.
This rule continued until the organ was fitted with an electric pump in
later years.
2. It was decreed that the W.Master of the Lodge and his two Wardens should be responsible for the costs of any and all visitors to the lodge.
This rule to the best of my knowledge has never been rescinded. However currently all lodge officers upon investment pay a small sum, proportional to rank, into the lodge hospitality fund. Perhaps?! this was instituted in order to relieve the burden upon the senior Officers. It is obvious to all that the petition was successful in its application and every thing proceeded toward that eventful day of the 21st. December 1920 (St. Thomas Day) when the Lodge of St. Thomas No.4198 in the register of the United Grand Lodge of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of England was
consecrated in the Kings Hall, Okehampton St. St. Thomas, Exeter. This building, situated along Okehampton St. was at one time in previous years a cinema but is currently in use as a night club. Up date 2014 It is now a church.
The consecration officers were as follows
Consecrating Officer
R.W.Bro. G.C. Davie. Provincial Grand Master.
Assisted I
W.Bro. J.W.S. Godding. P.G.D.(Eng). Asst. P.G.M.
W.Bro. Charles C. Davie. P.S.G.W.
W.Bro. M. Brutton Ford. P.J.G.W.
Bro. The Rev. R.D. Chapman M.A. P.G.Chap.
W.Bro. H.J. Stamp.
W.Bro. H.J. Stocker P.A.G.D.C.(Eng).
P.G. Sec.
2.        W.Bro. P.S. Shobrook. P.G.Org.

At the conclusion of the consecration ceremony the Provincial Grand
Secretary assumed the Chair of King Solomon as the Installing Master and proceeded to instal his brother, W.Bro. John Stocker. P,G-D.(Eng). D.P.G.M. as the first Worshipful Master of the newly created lodge. Upon completion of the installation ceremony the W.Master then invested his officers from
the founder members of the lodge. Their names,Mother Lodge Nos.and rank i n the new St. Thomas Lodge are as follows;
Lodge. Rank.
W.Bro. John Stocker P.G.D.(Eng). D.P.G.M. 39 W.M.
W.Bro A.A. Davey. 1254 acting I.P.M.
W.Bro. W.R. Brealey. 1254 S.W.
W.Bro. W.H. Pike. 2659 J.W.
Bro. the Rev. B.C. Bennett. 112 Chap.
W.Bro. F. Chick. 2659 Treas.
Bro. L Jones. 2659 Sec.
Bro. H.E. Bradley. 2659 D.C.
Bro. W.B. Trick. 2659 S.D.
Bro. H. Dymond. 39 J.D.
Bro. Geo. Lane. 39 A.D.C.
Bro. W.J. Reed. 1254 Org.
Bro. F.J. Way. 1284 Asst Sec.
Bro. J. Reed. 39 I.G.
Bro. W. Clement. 3721 Steward.
Bro. T. Howard. 2659 Steward.
Bro. W.A. Rampton. Tyler.
Bro. W.H. Ayear 39
At this first lodge meeting a-goodly number of Honorary Members were proposed, seconded and voted into the lodge, seven being Provincial Grand Officers and two other Brothers. A remarkable feature being that one of these honorary brothers, a Bro,. Edmund Snow was celebrating his ninety ninth birthday on the Festival of S t . Thomas. It is recorded in later minutes of the lodge that he was a regular attender at lodge meetings until his death on the 13th. December 1923 aged 100 years and 357 days, a Freemason for 79 years 95 days, having been initiated into St. John the
Baptist Lodge No. 39 on the 31st. August 1844.
This first lodge meeting was closed with the membership of the lodge
being eighteen Brethren plus a further seven who had been proposed and seconded as joining members also two candidates for initiation , these two being a Mr. Edwin James Maunder, a Post Office Overseer at Exeter Post Office and a Mr. Albert Ernest Shapcott, Chief Accountant, City Treasurers Office, Exeter.
The Brethren then retired to Deller’s Cafe, Exeter for the Consecration Banquet which commenced at 7pm. at a cost, for the four course meal, of Eight Shillings and Sixpence (42p) excluding wines. The inaugural minutes record that about 200 Brethren attended the consecration, and greetings
were received from 37 lodges, 103 of these Brethren attending the Banquet. The lodge is very fortunate that in addition to possessing a copy of the Consecration summons attached to the minutes, it also has in the lodge archives a copy of the menu card produced for the banquet.

The standard dress in the Lodge being dinner jackets and bow
ties until the introduction of clothes rationing during the second world war when dark grey or black lounge suits were acceptable the relaxation of t his rule has never been withdrawn. Taking everything into consideration it could be said that the St. Thomas Lodge was away on a well founded start of its existence.

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wm of st thomas regaila this1

If you require full History of the Lodge from 1920 – 1995 please click here to download it.
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St Thomas Lodge