A history of Fidelity Huyshe Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 91
by
W.Bro. T. Hobdey PPrGJW

Forward



It is with great pleasure that I write these few words to mark the occasion of 150 years of continuous working since the granting of the Warrant to HUYSHE (FIDELITY HUYSHE) Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 91. on 7th April 1866.

The Lodge I am sure took its name from the Rev. John Huyshe who was the first Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Mark Master Masons and also at the same time the PGM of the Craft and Grand Superintendent of the Holy Royal Arch for Devonshire.

The Founders of this Lodge had the vision and commitment to Mark Masonry to establish this the Huyshe Lodge of Mark Master Masons on a firm basis and together with succeeding members have raised a superstructure the Brethren today can be truly proud of.

At celebrations such as this it is good to have someone who will research the History of the Lodge and record it for posterity, for this we thank W.Bro. Tim Hobdey PPrGJW for his hard work in producing this history.
I pray that this History will stimulate the present members to build and sustain this Lodge into the future.

R.W.Bro. Peter Hawken MBE
Provincial Grand Master

Introduction

On the 17th May 2016 the Fidelity Huyshe Lodge celebrated 150th year of continuous operation.

This history of the Lodge has been hampered by the fact that the Minutes only go back to January 1928. The reason for this is that during the Second World War the Masonic Temple was destroyed by enemy action, more about that later.

Although the Minutes have remained in very good condition there have been times when it has not been easy to read the hand writing. It is not until January 1947 that a copy of the Summons is included with the minutes. At the same time the Treasurer's report is also included for the first time.

I have decided to try to convey to the reader snippets of information that have made reading all those Minutes interesting to myself. To this end instead of noting various pieces of information in chronological order I am splitting them up to make distinctive Chapters, in some cases leaving out the actual date(s) of the events.

The Lodge was consecrated as Huyshe on 11th May 1866, the date of the Warrant being 7th April 1866. The Lodge changed its name to Fidelity Huyshe in November 1891, as shown on the Past Masters board.

Meeting Venues

The first recorded venue used by the Lodge was Freemasons Hall, Princess Square, Plymouth. The Lodge met here until July 1941 when the Lodge was forced to relocate to Sincerity Hall, Elliot Street, Plymouth.
The Minutes of that meeting read:

'A brief explanation was given of the alteration in date and place of meeting, and the Secretary stated that since the Freemasons Hall, Princess Street, was burnt out in March he had been in correspondence with the Grand Secretary respecting the destruction of our meeting place, and the loss of our Charter. The Trustees' Secretary of the 'St. Aubyn' Hall, of the 'Huyshe' Hall and the 'Sincerity' Hall had been consulted regarding a new home for the Lodge and it was agreed at a Past Master's meeting to accept terms offered by Sincerity. The Grand Secretary was informed of the arrangement and a letter had been received from him, which was read in open Lodge, that our date and place of meeting were approved at Sincerity Hall on the 4th Tuesday of alternate months. A dispensation had reached us, also read in open Lodge, which provided for the confirmation of our Warrant.'

The Lodge remained at Sincerity Hall, Elliot Street until 1955. In March 1955 it was proposed that the Lodge should move from Sincerity Hall to Mount Edgcumbe Masonic Hall, Citadel Road. The vote was taken in May 1955 and resulted in 20 for the move and 1 against, they also voted for the provision of new collars 'as far as Lodge funds would permit' The first meeting at Mount Edgcumbe was in November 1955. No reason is given for the move but it was as a result of a report given by a small Committee of Lodge members who had been asked to look into a change of venue.

In January 1981 a notice of motion was given that the Lodge should meet at the Huyshe Masonic Hall, York Place, Stoke, Plymouth. This had been the unanimous decision of the Lodge committee. By-law No. 1 to be changed accordingly. At the meeting in March the proposal was seconded and after much debate the Lodge voted in favour of the proposition.

The first meeting at the Huyshe Masonic Hall was in September 1981 this delay was due to the requirement to give 3 month's notice to the Mount Edgcumbe Trustees. There are no indications in the minutes as to the reason for this change.

This Masonic Hall was situated on York Place, a road parallel to Albert Road. This Hall remained in use until the last 1980's when it was closed and became a Social Venue.

This venue was only used until November 1986 when it was proposed that the Lodge should meet at Davie Masonic Hall, North Hill, Plymouth. On this occasion there is a lengthy letter by the Worshipful Master which stated that due to increased rent at Huyshe Hall coupled with the request for assistance with the cost of replacing the roof and unsatisfactory festive boards it was decided a move to Davie Hall should be investigated. As there had been no notice of motion the Province was requested to grant a dispensation so that Fidelity Huyshe could meet at Davie Hall in January 1987. This was granted at a cost of £2.0.0.

In January 1987 the Lodge held its first meeting at Davie Hall. The Lodge remained at Davie Hall until 1991 when in March of that year there was a notice of motion to move the Lodge meeting to the Masonic Hall, Oreston. However, in May there was a lengthy discussion with regards to the move which on a vote was defeated.

The July meeting was held, by dispensation, at the Masonic Hall, Oreston. This was due to the fact that Davie Hall was being decorated. The September meeting was held in Davie Hall when a notice of motion was given that the Lodge should move to Oreston.

After the Installation ceremony at the November meeting the proposal for the move to Oreston was balloted for, by a show of hands, the result being 12 for the move, 11 against and 1 abstention - proposal carried. The first meeting at the new venue was in January 1992.

It does not appear that the move was a straight forward one as at the January 1992 meeting a Past Master, who had been unable to attend the Installation meeting, said how disappointed he was with the move to Oreston.
This led to a certain amount of lively discussion. The Secretary then read a letter from the Provincial Secretary who appealed to the Lodge to settle the matter here and now. The Provincial Secretary went on the say that the Lodge has the opportunity to go forward in the new venue and he wished the Lodge well for the future.

The Masonic Temple, Oreston has remained the meeting place for Fidelity Huyshe up to the present day. This 150th anniversary meeting has, by dispensation, been moved to the St. Aubyn Masonic Hall in order to achieve a larger number of guests.

In all we have held meeting at six different venues, all in Plymouth, since our records begin in 1928. It may be of interest to note that three of those venues have either been destroyed or are no longer Masonic Halls.

The Second World War

In September 1939 a communication was received from Mark Masons Hall stating that having regard to the Emergency Orders of H.M. Government, I am to inform you that until further notice all Masonic meetings are to be suspended. It is hoped that this may only be a temporary measure, as it fully appreciated that it is desirable that when possible the Brethren should have the opportunity of meeting. Signed by the Grand Secretary.
In the same month a letter from the Provincial Secretary was received regarding the following regulations and directions:

  • Meetings may not be held on Sundays.
  • Lodges should meet in Morning Dress.
  • Meetings should be arranged to take place as early in the day as possible.
  • The after-proceedings, where held, should be brief and simple.
  • In addition The Master of the Lodge may cancel any meeting should he feel it advisable.
  • The Master may change the date of a meeting by seven days either side of the regular day without dispensation.
  • The Master of the Lodge may be elected and installed on the same day.
  • Lodges may meet temporarily on dates other than those named in the By-laws, without formally altering the By-laws.
  • If a meeting is not held the business of that meeting shall be undertaken at the next practicable regular meeting.

It appears, from the minutes, that this Lodge only missed meeting in September 1939, March and May of 1941. This would seem to underline the determination of the Brethren to carry on regardless. There were occasions when, due to lack of numbers present, that the ceremony was not completed. This is particularly noticeable if they were working the Advancement Degree. If, on the other hand, there were Candidate(s) the Lodge relied on Visiting Brethren to fill the Offices.

In November 1939 it is reported that the two Lodge members had died, one in a car accident and one on H.M.S. Courageous. In the minutes of September 1940 it is stated that one Brother had received the news that is son was safe, having previously been reported as missing. The only other reported deaths, due to War action, were in January 1943 when a letter was sent to the family of a Lodge member conveying the condolences of the Lodge on the loss of their son and son-in-law on H.M.S. Courageous. It does not mention if the two gentlemen were Freemasons or not. The Lodge appears to have been very fortunate with regards to loss of life as a result of enemy action.
During the night of 20th/21st March 1941 the Masonic Hall in Princess Square was burnt down, the Lodge lost everything including all Lodge furniture and the Warrant. Dispensation was received for the venue to be changed and confirmation of the Lodge Warrant. Permission was granted in May 1942 to use a photographic copy of the Warrant.

In the minutes of September 1941 there is a mention that due to the small attendance and a heavy air raid on March 10th the Brethren had sheltered in the basement of the Masonic Hall until 8.00pm, presumably they then decided to cancel the meeting and return home. On that evening the roof of the Sherwell Chapel was destroyed.

The Secretary sent a claim for £56.0.0, for Lodge property lost, to the District Valuer, Inland Revenue. A cheque was received in July 1942 from the War Damage Commission, compensation for the loss, of £40.0.0 minus 12/- (60p) insurance.

At the Installation meeting in November 1943 a new Keystone and Ballot box were presented to the Lodge. The regalia during this period was lent to the Lodge by Sincerity 35. The grateful thanks of the Lodge is recorded in the minutes.

At the meeting held in May 1945 the Victory in Europe was brought to the attention of the Brethren who then stood to order in sympathy for the departed. At the September 1945 meeting the Worshipful Master referred to the recent declaration of Victory and requested one verse of the National Anthem to be sung.

The Keystone Collarette

During the Mark Installation ceremony when the Keystone Collarette is handed to the incoming Master a piece of ritual explaining the significance is given. The wording being something like:

'This Collarette was presented by Grand Lodge in recognition of the contribution made by this Lodge in providing funds for the provision of new premises for Mark Grand Lodge.'or words to that effect.

Our ancient minutes reflect what was achieved by this Lodge. In May 1930 a letter was received from the Provincial Secretary. It dealt with the proposed new building for Mark Grand Lodge and the arrangements made for all private Lodges to assist in bearing the cost. The Provincial Secretary, who was present, was asked to explain in detail what was expected from the Lodges. It was resolved that the Lodge pledges its support and this would be discussed at the Next Lodge meeting.

At the next meeting the recommendation of the Committee that, as Grand Lodge requested, each member of the Lodge should subscribe a sum of £5.0.0 in ten years, i.e. 10/- or 50p per year. The fund was generally known as The Grand Lodge New Premises Fund. Each member was encouraged to make voluntary donations and that the sum usually donated to the Mark Benevolent Fund be diverted to the New Building Fund. A collector was appointed and a vote, by the Brethren present, supported this recommendation.

As there are no records of the Lodge Accounts until 1947 an exact amount donated is somewhat difficult to obtain. However, there are some interesting facts contained in the minutes. For example in 1931 the total collected had been £14.8.5 (£18.42p) and this was increased, from Lodge funds, by 11/7 (58p) to round the donation up to £15.0.0. At the Installation meeting in November 1932 it was proposed that the Lodge funds should donate 5 guineas (£5.5.0. or £5.25p) to the New Premises Fund, this was to be increased by the same amount, as a personal donation by the Secretary. The amount to be given in the Secretary's name.

However, in January 1933, before the minutes were confirmed, it was requested that the 5 guineas donated by the Lodge funds should be held in abeyance. This was carried and the minutes signed. A Past Master asked if the Worshipful Master intended to ignore the letter sent to him by several of the Brethren. On the Worshipful Master replying that it was totally out of order some of the Officers expressed a wish to resign their collars of Office. The minutes are not clear if the letter concerned the donation or not, a copy of the letter is not included with the minutes.

Several of the Brethren who resigned in January where re-admitted in July 1933 without paying the re-joining fee but Grand and Provincial Fees had to be paid.

Other contributions from the Lodge included the profit of a Ladies night in 1935 of 11/8 (57p) be donated to the New Premises Fund. The Ladies night in 1936 realized a profit of 7/- (35p) which again was passed to the Fund. In May 1943 it was proposed and accepted that 5 guineas (£5.5.0 or £5.25p) be donated to the New Building Fund (the name changes several times throughout the minutes) half from Lodge funds and half from the Charity funds.

To celebrate the 40 years that R.W.Bro Strode had been the Provincial Grand Master it was proposed that 5 guineas be donated to the New Building Fund from the Lodge accounts and the same amount from the Charity account. This was carried.

The accounts for 1953 show that the Lodge had donated to the fund a sum of £137.12.9. There was Cash in the Bank of £105.0.3 and the balance due to the fund was £122.7.0. This makes a grand total of £365.0.0. As this is the last mention of the New Premises(Building) Fund we must assume that £365 was our contribution to the above fund. A worthwhile contribution which I think deserves a mention.

In November 1955 the Lodge was informed that it had achieved the target for the New Building Fund. This was recognized by Grand Lodge in the form of a letter received in January 1956.

Significant Dates and Meetings

It is appreciated that each and every meeting of the Lodge is significant, especially if there is a Candidate(s) on that night. However, there are a few dates that should have a special mention.

The first of these must be the Centenary Meeting held on Tuesday 24th May 1966. The meeting was held at Mount Edgcumbe Masonic Hall with the Centenary Dinner at The Duke of Cornwall Hotel. The charge for the meal was £1.1.0. or £1.05p in today's currency.

Prior to the Centenary celebrations there was a ballot for a candidate and an advancement ceremony. The Provincial Grand Master then received the gavel of the Lodge and took the Chair for the Centenary celebrations before handing it back to the Worshipful Master to complete the evening. A copy of the summons for the evening is attached to the minutes. It appears that on this occasion there were no representatives from Grand Lodge present, at least none are mentioned in the minutes. The meeting commenced at 5.30pm and closed at 7.40pm.

Fidelity Huyshe Lodge No. 91 and Metham Lodge No. 96, who were both consecrated in 1866, were asked to sponsor the Provincial meeting in their Centenary Year.

In January 1970 the Lodge hosted a special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge to invest W.Bro. C.J.R. Souhamy as the first Assistant Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire. A brief history of W.Bro. Souhamy will be included later.

The Lodge was opened at 6.10pm. The Provincial Grand Master was announced and admitted accompanied by Grand and Provincial Grand Officers. On being proffered the gavel, by the Worshipful Master, he accepted it and proceed to invest W.Bro. Souhamy as the first Assistant Provincial Grand Master. The gavel was then returned to the Worshipful Master who completed the evenings business which included a ballot for and the advancement of a candidate. The Lodge was closed at 8.20pm, the supper was held in the refectory on that occasion.

The first record of Bro. Charles Joseph Richard Souhamy is in the minutes of the installation held on 12th November 1928. On that occasion he was invested as the Almoner. He was, therefore, advanced prior to the Lodge minutes that are available.

By November 1930 Bro. Souhamy was the Registrar of Marks. At the installation meeting in 1931 he was invested as Master Overseer. In 1932 he was the Senior Warden and in 1933 he was installed into the chair of the Lodge. At the installation meeting in 1938 he was appointed as the Director of Ceremonies. An office he only held for one year as in 1939 he was appointed as the Lodge Charity Steward. At the Provincial meeting in 1939 he was appointed as a Provincial Grand Senior Deacon. He was by now a Lieutenant, Royal Navy.

In the minutes of January 1950 W.Bro. Souhamy is referred to as Past Deputy Grand Sword Bearer. In July 1950 he was congratulated on being appointed as the Provincial Secretary, an Office he held until his appointment as Assistant Provincial Grand Master. By this time he had been promoted to Lieutenant Commander. Between 1945 and 1951 he was the Lodge Director of Ceremonies. By May 1947, the first month that the summons is included with the minutes, he had been awarded the M.B.E. The summons for September 1952 indicates that he had been promoted to Past Grand Overseer and so is now a V.W.Bro. In July 1968 he is noted on the summons as a Past Grand Warden and is now a R.W.Bro. Although not an official Lodge Office he had for many years been involved with the Charity and had been mentioned on many occasions as the Charity Steward. At several meetings he had deputized for the Worshipful Master and had delivered the address to the Worshipful Mast and the Brethren on Installation evenings. In 1976 he retired as the Assistant Provincial Grand Master. In January 1984 he was elected as an Honorary Member of the Lodge. In his acceptance letter he writes that he hopes that his wife's health will improve to allow occasional attendance. The last time that R.W.Bro. C.J.R. Souhamy is mentioned on the Lodge summons is November 1986, I have been unable to find the reason why this should have been the case.

In November 1995 the Lodge was presented with new 'stones' to be used in the advancement ceremony. These are made of stone and replaced the wooden ones. The presentation was made by W.Bro. Chris Pugh of Santuary Mark Lodge. In order to keep them safe the box was made and presented by Bro. Phil Collins.

The Past Master's board was officially dedicated at the meeting in July 1997 by the Provincial Grand Master R.W.Bro. Dr. J.H. Wickstead. The boards were made by W.Bro. John Warner and the keystones were presented by W.Bro. Chris Pugh. I am led to believe that Grand Lodge had to be consulted regarding the names of Masters prior to 1928 due to the destruction of our records.

At the meeting in July 2002 a presentation was made to R.W.Bro. H.E.E. Holladay, the Past Provincial Grand Master, on the occasion of his 90th birthday. This took the form of a 'This is Your Life' that lasted approximately 15 minutes. At the end a copy of the presentation was given to R.W.Bro. Holladay by Bro. R. Stevens who had completed the necessary research. The evening also contained an advancement ceremony.

On two occasions the Worshipful Master has installed his father in to the Chair. It is not uncommon for the Master to install his son. Although not unique to install your father is a special evening. The first was in November 1985 when W.Bro. M.T. Tope installed W.Bro. W.H. Tope as Worshipful Master. The second time was in November 2005 when W.Bro. R.J. Pacey installed W.Bro. M. Pacey as the Worshipful Master.

The 150th Year Celebrations take place on Tuesday 17th May 2016. This meeting is to be held at the St. Aubyn Masonic Hall, Stoke, Plymouth due to the greater capacity for the festive board.

Odds and Ends

Over the years our records have shown many items that could have been included in this short history. Some have been very poignant and others keep appearing time after time.

Early in the minutes we are informed that a widow had asked for assistance with the cost of educating her child. The Mark Benevolent Fund gave an annual bursary of £35.0.0 or £11.13.4 (£11.68p) per term. This was increased to £52.0.0. a few years later, on the death of the mother.

During the Second World War a widow requested assistance after the War Damage Commission had asked for over £4.0.0. It was agreed to give her £4.4.0. (£4.20p).

The summons has been redesigned at least twice, going from landscape to portrait and back to landscape. The amount of information on the summons has gradually increased.

Since moving to Oreston the Lodge has been very generous with both financial and manpower assistance to Sir Walter Lodge, the owners of the building, during the many improvements that have been carried out in the past twenty ive years.

To show their appreciation Sir Walter Raleigh Lodge presented a cheque for £500.00 in 2013 to be put towards the Mark Festival to be held in July 2016. This was included in the donations made by Fidelity Huyshe Lodge towards their Grand Patron's Collarette. The Collarette was presented at the installation meeting in November 2013.

Interestingly it has been noted that over the 79 years that the minutes have been available the cost of everything has increased out of all recognition. We have already read that a Ladies Evening had a surplus of 7/- (35p) and that the cost of the Centenary Meeting meal was £1.1.0. Nowadays we would expect to pay around £20.00 minimum for a Ladies Night and about £15 to £16 for the festive board.

It goes without saying that over the years the Annual Subscriptions have risen from 10/- (50p) in 1937 to over £45.00 today. Grand and Provincial Lodge dues have also increased considerably over the same period.

In 1973 a letter was received from Grand Lodge informing the Lodge that it had qualified as a Patron of the Royal Masonic Hospital and that V.A.T. of 10% was to be added to all subscriptions payable to Grand Lodge from April that year.

A topic that has, over the years, comes up for regular discussion is the July meeting. In 1979 it was proposed that, due to low attendances, the July meeting should be discontinued. In 1988 it was re-instated, however, two year later it was proposed to drop the July meeting. This was defeated at the next meeting. The July meeting continued until 2007 when it was again decided to discontinue the meeting. In November 2010 it was agreed to re-instate the July meeting. This, however, only lasted until September 2012 when it was again resolved to discontinue the July meeting. We now appear to have settled down to only meeting five times a year.

Over the years the festive board has been discussed several times. On occasions it has been the cost and at others the standard. In 1938 it was decided to set up a Committee to discuss with the Club Steward the cost of meals. It was agreed that it should be either 1/6d (8p), 1/- (5p) or Cheese and Biscuits (the cost being according to consumption). A bottle of beer to be provided free at the installation festive board. In 1976, in order to keep costs down, it was accepted that there would be a festive board only if there was a candidate. Since moving to Oreston we have been looked after by several caterers and we have been very satisfied with the arrangements.

At the Lodge meeting in March 1982 the reading of the Minutes of 50 years ago was included for the first time. This is of considerable interest as we learn of the advancement of our present Lodge members and their progress through the Lodge.

So what of the future? We are fortunate to have Brethren in all the progressive Offices down to and including the Organist. This should, hopefully, ensure that for the foreseeable future we will be installing Brethren at the November meetings. There is no doubt that the Lodge needs to recruit Brethren for advancement in order to keep the progression continuing.

The Lodge has many senior Past Masters to ensure that Lodge remains in a healthy state. Family ties have been important in the past and will be so in the future. We have already heard about the Tope and Pacey family connections but one family that has been very active over many years is the Passmore family. We have had father, son and grandson in the Lodge as well as other relatives who have taken on the Offices of Secretary and Director of Ceremonies so keeping the traditions set a hundred and fifty years ago alive.