The Hadrian Lodge 2483

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Past Masters
of the Lodge:

1893  Edward W Stillwell
1894  Henry J Capon
1895  Richard Francis
1896  William R Griffin
1897  James Wood
1898  George Nicholson
1899  Francis W Pawson
1900  William N Oldham
1901  Ernest Piper
1902  Francis Gildersleeve
1903  Edward W Stillwell
1904  Ebenezer Cornwell
1905  Charles M Wood
1906  James McCann
1907  Arthur E Wilcockson
1908  William N Oldham
1909  R Cecil Sewell
1910  George Vale
1911  George Honeyman
1912  Arthur Moule
1913  Lawrance King
1914  Frederick E Poulton
1915  Alfred Flint
1916  James L French
1917  Thomas Davis
1918  Arthur E Wells
1919  W Gordon Harris
1920  John Holden
1921  J Francis Philcox
1922  Benjamin F Erridge
1923  Robert C Hampton
1924  Joseph W Collbran
1925  Richard Waight
1926  Albert C Jewhurst
1927  H Percy W Webber
1928  Harold F Webber
1929  Basil H Davies
1930  Edward T Gibbs
1931  Albert W Grinstead
1932  Hendrick B Jansen
1933  William D Smith
1934  Frederick J Thompson
1935  Ernest J Bowles
1936 Thomas E Marchant
1937  Albert E Aucock
1938  Albert Morris
1939  William S Harris
1940  William S Harris
1941  William F Diaper
1942  Robert W McLean
1943  Alfred E P Merritt
1944 Oliver G T Casterton
1945  Harold P Storey
1946  George H White
1947  Thomas J H Griffiths
1948  David Perry
1949  Henry S C Green
1950  Leonard F Chandler
1951  Horatio H Chandler
1952  Frederick J Thompson
1953  Arthur F N Blackburn
1954  Norman Lees Ward
1955  Dennis N Phillips
1956  G H Darab Khan
1957  W Gordon Harris
1958  Stuart G Oddy
1959  Frank E Hughes
1960  Richard Toleman MBE
1961  Harold G Frazer
1962  Basil T Cooksley
1963 Harold O Smith
1964  Stephen F Allen
1965  Stanley F Wallis
1966  William H Greed
1967  Eric F Lloyd
1968  Kenneth Smith
1969  David G Winborn
1970  Geoffrey W Saville
1971  Herbert S Bird
1972  Anthony Britt
1973  Leslie Gray, ERD,TD
1974  C A Barrington Cole
1975  Bernard T Beal
1976  Eric W G Swain
1977  George Plummer
1978  J George Rogers
1979  A Henry Green
1980  John F Gasson
1981  Howard K Riddall
1982  Philip F Traice
1983  William J Gibby
1984  William J Kent
1985  Ronald Fenton
1986  Gerald M Matthews
1987  Christopher Carzana
1988  William J Gibby
1989  David V Pragnell
1990  Gerald M Matthews
1991  Edward Carroll
1992  Robert M Attwater
1993  David J Frampton
1994  Malcolm K Huson
1995  Peter G Cole
1996  Robin J Lloyd
1997  Edward Carroll
1998  Alfred A Peirce
1999  Kenneth B Findley
2000  J George Rogers
2001  Martin J Kenward
2002  Laurence A Evett
2003  Daniel R Shaves
2004  George Yeulet
2005  Norman Rushbrook
2006  Martin J Kenward
2007  Anthony F Clayton
2008  Glenn P Rogers
2009  Clifford Slack
2010  Clifford Slack
2011  Colin Darker

2012 David J Hanley
2013 Charles McIllwrick
2014 Bernard Stonestreet
2015 Raymond Gaydon

PGL Sussex
Provincial Grand Lodge
of Sussex

United Grand Lodge
of England


The history of The Hadrian Lodge

The Hadrian Lodge was consecrated on the 13th September 1893, at the drill hall in West Ham, making us approximately 120 years old. The Lodge met at the Corporation Arms on the opposite side of the road, where the car sales lot is now. The reason the Lodge was consecrated in the drill hall was because the Corporation arms could not accommodate the 100 people who attended. W.Bro Edward William Stillwell was our founding master, and, I believe, the driving force behind the formation of the Lodge. He was a senior officer in the Province of Sussex and Surrey and became a Grand Officer.

Edward Stilwell

Research shows an Edward Stillwell & Sons, Est 1809 and trading as “Gold lacemen, embroiderers & general military wear, specialities: gold lace, embroidery, Masonic clothing & jewellery. Incorporated as a limited Company in 1907 and in 1914 trading from 25 – 27 Barbican, London EC. It eventually went into liquidation in 1959 under the stewardship of Clarence Stillwell. Our Edward Stillwell would have been the grandson of the founder of the company in 1809.

At a “special Lodge meeting” on the 25th March 1896, “it was proposed by W/Bro Capon and seconded by W/Bro Stillwell and carried unanimously that the standing committee recommend the Lodge be removed to the Devonshire Arms Bexhill. It is not entirely clear why this move should take place but, our Lodge meeting in the small hamlet of West Ham, and with Eastbourne already having several well established lodges, it would seem that Bexhill offered the best prospects for increasing the membership. And so, after just 2 years and 8 months in West Ham the Lodge moved to Bexhill.

Bexhill was then a very different place to what we see today. There had been a massive growth in the town following the building of the Sackville Hotel by the Earl De La Warr. He encouraged his many titled and wealthy friends to visit the town and it really was the playground of the rich and famous. We had several large hotels here and Thomas Webb, a London builder who had developed the East Sea wall for the Earl (at a cost of £34,000.00) and been given the area from the west of sea road to the polegrove in part payment for his work, was developing the town that we know today. Its worthy of note that the town was the first in England to be laid out in a “Block formation”

To put the growth factor in perspective, the 1891 census tells us that there were 5,206 people here with 1,009 houses. In 1901, just ten years later, that had grown to 12,213 people and 2,659 houses. By 1931, when this temple was built the population was 21,229 with 4,911 houses.

Such was the exclusiveness of the growing resort that H.H. Sri Sri Maharaja Sir Nripendra Narayan Bhup Bahadur, a great favourite of Queen Victoria, and Indian Royalty, maintained a residence in the town. The old Maharajah passed away in 1911, and his son, in 1913, built a memorial fountain, on the site where the De La Warr pavilion now stands. When the De La Warr was built it was moved to Egerton Park and later dismantled. The Indian connection can still be seen by the stylised cupolas and ornamental chimney pots along the Marina.

The Lodge did indeed flourish in the town and by end of the First World War membership stood at 97. Continuing to meet at the Devonshire at the end of 1926 membership was 140 and we were the third largest Lodge in the Province.

It can only be natural that, in the end, someone felt that it was time for the Lodge to have its own purpose built temple and indeed this had been muted in 1914. I guess the advent of the 1914/18 war held thing up a little and so it was on the 13th November 1918 at an Installation meeting held by dispensation at the Sackville, that it was proposed in Lodge by W.Bro French that a memorial building fund should be set up with a view to raising enough money to build a Masonic Hall.

Shortly after this a double plot was purchased on the corner of Magdalen Road and Manor Road. This stood on the books until 1925 when it was sold, accumulating a profit of some £584.00. Eventually, our present site was obtained and after much wrangling and hand wringing, this building was constructed in 1931, by a member, Bro McCormick, for the princely sum of £3,537-8s-8d including plans, construction, heating, stamp duty, bank charges etc. but not the contents. Bro McCormick’s name is over the inside of the front door, with the Architects name Bro Cash. Bro Norman Rushbrook has calculated that, at today’s prices, we would have to raise some £170,000.00 to achieve the same.

The laying of the foundation stone ceremony took place on the 13th May 1931. The Provincial Grand Lodge attended and the ceremony was conducted by the Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro Laurence Thornton. The Lodge convened at the Devonshire Hotel and from there paraded, in full Masonic dress, to the site in Wilton Road. This was fully reported in the Observer, with photos, I have a copy of that report here. The Lodge was finally dedicated on may 12th 1934 for Masonic use although the Lodge used it, by dispensation, from 14th October 1931.

Many of the contents were donated by the members and as you look around the lodge you will see many things with a small silver plaque attached. The chairs you sit on were all bought by the members and each one bears his name. The chairs were bought for 17s 6d and sold to the members for 1 Guinea. The pedestals were donated by W.Bro Ernest Gibbs, he was the founding Master of the Bexhill Lodge. The hand rail that goes up the stairs was donated by Bro Janson and fitted by W.Bro Gordon Harris. It cost of £12.00 plus £1.00 for the heavy duty brackets. We, today, have much to be grateful for hard work and devotion to the cause that our forbears made. I somehow don’t think we would be able achieve this today.

It only remains to mention the enigma of the name that the Lodge is blessed with. We have no record of why we are called “The Hadrian Lodge” looking at the banner it is obviously connected the Roman Emperor Hadrian. This is something of a mystery because, despite some heavy research, I am unable to find any connection in this area with Hadrian. He did visit Britain, oversaw the planning of his wall, which is now a World Heritage Site. But never came anywhere near here.

Anderida, the original Roman Castle in Pevensey was built some 220 years after Hadrian death. Most Lodges bear a name which is in context with their surrounding, Bexhill Lodge, Royal Sovereign Light Lodge, in Eastbourne we have Beachy Head, Eastbourne, Chatsworth, Battle has King Harold, Rudyard Kipling and Abbey. Or, a lodge may name itself in such a way as to make its members and others think. Briefly, The Emperor Hadrian was the only Emperor never to expand the empire or wage war, he consolidated the Roman Empire, introduced civil law, encouraged the arts and brought law and order to the masses. He was also a great and innovative builder. The pantheon in Rome was built to his design, and the first recorded dome to be built in history and the first building to be built with concrete foundations. His country estate, Tivoli, was built with extraordinary innovation, with pumpkin domes and innovative building techniques. It remains even to this day as an inspiration to architects. Adams, that famous English architect, spent much time in Tivoli, making moulds and drawings that would inspire him to incorporate them into many of the great country houses that he designed. All in all I like to think that that is the reason we bear his name although I must stress that that is my personal view.

W.Bro. Gerald Matthews