The Oldest Lodge currently residing in Gloucestershire is a very carefully worded start, as Foundation lodge started life in a London coffee house in 1753. It was only recently in 1817 that it came to Gloucestershire, via Abingdon, where the Royal Union Lodge 246 – The oldest Gloucestershire Lodge – was already well established.
That said, over 200 years in Cheltenham has been long enough to establish some strong footings, not least the building in Portland Street that Celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2023. The anniversary of the first meeting was marked by a dramatic presentation of its history led by Peter Watkins, Provincial Grand Orator for Gloucestershire Freemasons.
This closed off quite a year for Foundation lodge and their Master Andy (Daisy) May. Three candidates were initiated, one was passed and two were raised. The lodge forged strong new bonds/rivalries with Vassar Smith at two hotly contested and well attended quiz nights. The members enjoyed fantastic occasions such as London Rugby Lodge, Royal Lodge of Faith and Friendship ‘Edward Jenner’ Celebrations and of course the tremendous evening at the Perseverance Lodge centenary. Following a brewery tour ‘social’ they were inspired to take on the brave task of running a comedy night at Gloucester brewery tap room, attended by 120 Freemasons and guests.
Andy delegated this ambitious social schedule to Tim Lee, Foundation’s Charity Steward, with the idea that charity is a natural output when Freemasons gather so if we focus on a great social lodge and events, the charitable aspects will necessarily follow; Peter Coles, Head of Charity in Gloucestershire, agrees:
“I know from first hand experience when I attended your Comedy Night at Gloucester Docks, that you have been able to engage brethren from across the Province to join in with your charitable fundraising – fundraising through fun activities always helps to stimulate donations!”
This Social approach to Freemasonry, though not a new concept, is a key pillar of the UGLE 2022 strategy. A strategy Andy and the Brethren has studied closely to ensure an effective return to ‘In Lodge’ Freemasonry following the events of 2020/21. Foundation charity donations totalled £16283, we encourage you to follow the links to these charities below.
The Lodge now enters its 272nd year with Master Keith Day at the helm, himself celebrating 50 years in Freemasonry this February. Keith and the Brethren intend to continue building on this post pandemic success. So, with those strong Foundations and a thriving membership we can certainly expect this grand old lodge to be around to celebrate their 300th in 2053. Tickets on sale soon?
We thank Peter Coles and Tim Lee for providing the photos and article content.