TROUBLED TIMES FOR THE LODGE
In 1840 it was necessary for the W.M. – still W. Bro. Maddison – to write a letter to several members of the Lodge, particularly the Officers, drawing their attention to the necessity of a more regular attendance at Lodge Meetings. This did not produce the desired effect and only 5 brethren, out of 32 subscribing members, attended the next meeting. A Lodge of Emergency was called for December 21st. to ballot for W.M. and Treasurer. Nine members attended for that meeting and Captain Maddisonwas again elected W.M. Only 5 brethren were present in January 1842 when it was decided to have only three meetings per year and the banquet held on the same day as the meeting.
In 1843 the Lodge suffered a most grievous loss in the death of Captain Maddison who, for eighteen years, had been a tower of strength and W.M. for no less than six of these. Lodge records show that there were only eleven subscribing members in 1845 but nine of these were present at the Installation Meeting. Because of the small attendance at meetings, offices in the Lodge were often filled by brethren from the R.C. and R.S. Lodges, the Installation of the W.M. being performed by the W.M. of the Royal Cumberland Lodge.
For several years the L.O.H. had been following the custom of Bristol and other lodges of opening a Lodge of Installed Masters in a separate room and returning to the Lodge after Installation when the Officers were appointed and business concluded. For some further time this method was followed, and sometimes the old method when the brethren who had not passed the Chair left the Lodge Room.
LODGE FORTUNES TAKE A TURN FOR THE BETTER
In 1846 W.Bro. William Tucker of Bridgwater became a joining member. He was P.G.M. for Dorset from 1846 until 1853 when he was removed from office by the Grand Master, the Earl of Zetland, for appearing at the P.G.L. in the costume and wearing jewels of what were termed high degrees not sanctioned by G.L. 1849 saw the move to Westgate Buildings and the following year brought a decided increase in numbers and interest, there being no less than 13 meetings during the year. Dr. William Falconer became a joining member and Bro. Charles Vigne was initiated. The following December Bro. Vigne was appointed a Warden and in December 1851 became W.M. Both of these brethren were responsible for ensuring a higher standard of work in the Lodge.
A Lodge of Instruction was proposed, this to meet on Friday preceding the Lodge Meeting, and became the forerunner of the present day rehearsal. In 1850 a major re-organisation of the working of the Lodge took place. The month of Installation of the W.M. was changed from January to December as it is today – thus there were two ceremonies that year. At the same time, the office of Secretary/Treasurer was divided. Up to then also the office of D.C was not filled on a regular basis, and even when it was the person filling it seldom appeared on the list of brethren attending the meeting.
Two very interesting items appear in the Minutes for 1851 which are worth recalling. “In connection with the banquet following Installation, the Committee refer to irregularities which have arisen from the late hours kept at refreshment by which they greatly fear the good reputation of the Lodge has suffered. They suggest departing at an earlier hour in the future, and with that object in view they suggest that the Lodge goes from Labour to Refreshment and returning from R. to L. to close the Lodge at a fixed hour“. This course seems to have been followed for a time.
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