Duncombe Mark Master Masons Lodge No.438
The First 100 Years 1891 – 1991

Written by

W. Bro. F.G. Davey PGJD
Produced by
W. Bro. M. R. Carter
2012

On 27th August 1891 a petition was forwarded to Grand Mark Lodge for the granting of a Warrant to hold a Mark Lodge at Kingsbridge to be named ‘The Duncombe Mark Lodge’. It was signed by the seven Founders of the Lodge who were:-

Bro. The Hon H.V. Duncombe Bro. J. Harris Square
Bro. J.R. Hill Bro. R.H. Lewis
Bro. Robert Chase Bro. The Revd. T.C. Lewis
Bro. George Watts

all of whom were members of the Temple Mark Lodge No. 50 (later re-named St. Johns Lodge Mark Lodge No. 50), the Master and Wardens of which endorsed the petition which nominated Bro. The Hon. H.V. Duncombe to be the first Master, Bro. J. Harris Square to be the first Senior Warden and Bro. J.R Gill to be the first Junior Warden. The petition was approved and a Warrant was granted on 1 st October 1891, the new Lodge being numbered 438.

The first meeting of the Lodge was held by special dispensation at 3pm on Wednesday 18 th November 1891 when the Chair was taken by Bro. F.B. Westlake, P.Pr. J.G.W. of Lodge Temple No. 50, other brethren of Lodge Temple filling the remaining offices. A ballot was taken for the advancement of 13 brethren and for 3 brethren as Joining Members. The ballot proving clear, 12 of the 13 brethren were duly advanced, the whole ceremony being completed in an hour. It is of interest that only two of the brethren elected that day reached the Chair of the Lodge, but 5 of the first seven Masters were Founders.

The Provincial Grand Master, the Hon Stafford H. Northcote, Bart., C.B., M.P entered the Lodge at 4pm, took the Chair and consecrated the Lodge assisted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. G.S. Lowe and the Provincial Grand Wardens. Bro. The Hon. H.V. Duncombe was then installed as the Worshipful Master by W.Bro GS. Lowe, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master.

The first By-Laws were formulated at an Emergency Meeting on 8 th December 1891. They provided that the Lodge should meet at the Masonic Temple, Duncombe Street, Kingsbridge on the fourth Tuesday in January, April, July and October and that the annual subscription should be 10/- (50p) a year.

At two of the meetings during the first year of the Lodge, four brethren were advanced and at another meeting three brethren were advanced. There were also some joining members and at the end of the first year the Lodge membership was 37, the average attendance being about 18 or so.

At the regular meeting on 5 th July 1892, a letter from the Provincial Grand Secretary was read congratulating the Lodge on the honour conferred by H.R.H. M.W. Bro. The Prince of Wales, Grand Master, in appointing the Hon. H.V. Duncombe as Grand Overseer of England.

In 1893 the Lodge was presented by the Provincial Grand Master with a framed portrait of himself.

It appears that in those early days it was not the practice for Provincial Officers to attend the Installation Ceremonies. At any rate, Duncombe Mark Lodge was not so honoured until January 1914, at least, there is no record in the Minutes of the presence of Provincial Grand Officers.

It also appears that until 1898 the Worshipful Master and Past Masters, and indeed some Provincial Grand Officers, were described simply as ‘Brother’. The Minutes of 4 th April 1989 are the first in which the Worshipful Master is described as ‘Worshipful Brother’

Between 1894 and 1899 there were only 5 advancees, one of whom resigned after having been a member for less than a year. By 1898 attendance at Lodge had fallen off. There were only 11 brethren present at the Installation ceremony in January and for the remainder of that year there were only about 7 or 8 present at each meeting. Bro. E.H. Dibben was installed as W. Master in January 1899 and also continued in the office of Treasurer which he had also filled in the previous year when Junior Warden. Bro. W. Davies, who had been appointed as Senior Warden in January 1898 resigned from the Lodge in April of that year. At the October meeting in 1900, Bro. E.J. Wilson, Senior Warden, was proposed as Worshipful Master for the ensuing year but refused the honour. The Junior Warden, Bro. W. Pengelly, was then proposed but also declined. The Worshipful Master, W.Bro. Ben Johnson was then asked to continue as Master for a further 12 months, to which he agreed, and he was followed by W.Bro. W. Pengelly in 1902.

Over the course of the next few years attendances improved slightly, though they dropped to 6 or 7 on occasion, but 13 brethren were advanced in 1900, 1901 and 1902.

The Minutes of October 1903 record the resignation of the Provincial Grand Master and the appointment of W. Bro. Major G.S. Strode to that office, and of Captain W. Powell, R.M. as Provincial Grand Secretary.

The Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. GS. Strode, attended an emergency meeting of the Lodge on 28 th November 1907 though there is no indication in the minutes of why the Lodge was so honoured on that particular occasion. In addressing the brethren, the Provincial Grand Master said that he had assisted Lord Northcote to consecrate the Lodge in November 1891. He congratulated the Lodge on its working, two brethren having been advanced at the meeting, but was critical of the fact that two or three brethren used books, of which he strongly disapproved.

By 1909, attendances had again declined and only 6 brethren attended the April meeting and 5 in October. No meeting was held in July 1909 but the Minute Book contains no explanation of this. The Minutes of 5 th October 1909 record that ‘W.Bro. J.R. Gill, Treasurer, reported that there was a balance of £3..1..9 to the credit of the Lodge in the bank and that there was about £2..10s owing to the Lodge for dues. The liabilities were about 10/- exclusive of rent’ this was the beginning of some disharmony. A note to the Minutes reads ‘ Read and confirmed 4 th January 1910 excepting paragraph 3 relating to finances, deferred to next meeting when statement of accounts to be submitted’.

The minutes of 4 th January 1910 record a resolution that the balance sheets for past and previous years be produced at the next meeting and the Worshipful Master (W.Bro. J.T. Gregory) expressed his regret that because of the absence of the deputy Secretary he was unable to show the actual financial position of the Lodge which he understood verbally to be just solvent. W.Bro. W.G. Beaumont was installed as Worshipful Master, he having previously served in that office in 1906. More of him later. The Treasurer, W.Bro. J.R. Gill, was not present at the meeting and the offices of Secretary and Treasurer were left open when the Worshipful Master appointed his officers.

The Worshipful Master was absent from the meeting in April 1910 and the I.P.M. took the Chair. He read a letter from Mrs Chase on behalf of W. Bro. Chase, resigning as Secretary of the Lodge because of ill health. He then read several letters received from the Grand Secretary and Provincial Grand Secretary relating to the failure to render Lodge returns. He added that the Lodge accounts were incomplete form 1907 to the present year. A committee of three was appointed to assist the Secretary and Treasurer, when appointed, in placing the books and accounts of the Lodge in order. It was also resolved to elect a Treasurer at the next meeting. However, this was not done but it was resolved that the Worshipful Master lay the whole matter of the Lodge finances before the Provincial Grand Secretary, this intention to be notified to W. Bro. Gill who had been the Treasurer from 1904 to 1909. Bro. Quick, the Senior Warden reminded the Lodge that the footnote relating to the third paragraph of the Minutes of 5 th October 1909, to which exception was taken by the late Treasurer, was written in by himself with the approval of the Lodge before he consented to sign as Junior Warden.

The next meeting of the Lodge in October 1910 was attended by only three brethren in addition to the Tyler, including W. Bro. Gill who took exception to the references to himself and the Lodge finances in the Minutes of the previous meeting. The then Senior Deacon, W. Bro. Calkin was elected (in his absence) as Worshipful Master for the ensuing year and the election of the Treasurer was deferred until the next meeting. No treasurer had therefore been elected and invested for the year 1910.

The installation meeting on 3 rd January 1911 was attended by only six brethren in addition to the Tyler and letters of resignation were read from the Senior Warden, Bro W.B. Quick, and the Junior Warden, W. Bro. Pengelly. It was agreed to send letter expressing regret to W. Bro. Pengelly but, perhaps rather pointedly, no similar action was proposed in respect of Bro. Quick who appears to have been instrumental in raising the question of Lodge finances which had been the cause of disharmony. W. Bro. Gregory the I.P.M. read a statement of accounts which had been prepared by W. Bro. Gill and audited by W. Bro. Gregory and W. Bro. W.S. Smith (Master Overseer). It was agreed that the note to the minutes of 5 th October 1909, which was added at the meeting on 4 th January 1910 at the instigation of Bro. Quick, be deleted, but this was not done even though W. Bro. Gill was appointed to the offices of both Secretary and Treasurer. There is no record of his election to the latter office and oddly enough, the summons for the meeting in March 1911 shows Bro. W.S Smith as Secretary, as does the summons for an Emergency Meeting in April 1913.

Only five brethren, including the Tyler, attended the meeting in April 1911, no meeting appears to have been held in July and only three brethren were present in October when the only business transacted was the reading and signing of the Minutes of the April meeting. The Minutes of the October meeting are not signed. Clearly the Lodge was in a pretty sickly state and there are no Minutes of meetings between 3 rd October 1911 and 17 th April 1913 when an informal meeting was held, attended by five brethren including the Tyler, at which suggestions were made concerning ‘ the transfer of the Warrant to Plymouth’.

An emergency Meeting of the Lodge was held on 8 th May 1913, which was attended by six brethren including the Tyler and one visiting brother from Metham Lodge No. 96. A resolution was passed that the place of meeting of the Lodge be the Davie Memorial Hall, Plymouth. This resolution was confirmed at a regular meeting held on 1 st July 1913, attended by only three brethren in addition to the Tyler, Worshipful Brothers Herbert, Beechey Spencer and Harry George Shorto of Metham Lodge No. 96 and Brother Abel Marks Raymond of St. George Mark Lodge No. 383 were elected as Joining Members

On 7 th October 1913 the Lodge met for the first time at Davie Hall, Plymouth. The meeting was attended by the worshipful Master and five other members of the Lodge and also by the Provincial Senior Grand Warden, W. Bro. Rear Admiral F.T.W. Curtis, the Provincial Grand Secretary, Capt. W. Powell RM (Ret’d) as well as 15 other visitors. Five brethren of Fortitude Mark Lodge No. 66 and 4 brethren of Metham Mark Lodge No. 96 were elected as Joining Members and five brethren of Harmony Craft Lodge No. 156 were balloted for and then advanced to the degree of Mark Master Mason. W. Bro H.B. Spencer was elected Worshipful Master for the year 1914. An assurance was given that the Grand Secretary was anxious that No 438 Warrant should not be lost to Mark Masonry.

The Installation Meeting of 5 th January 1914 was attended by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and this is the first time since Consecration that the attendance of an active Provincial Grand Officer at an Installation meeting is recorded. Two brethren were advanced at this meeting before the Worshipful Master was installed. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master gave the Addresses to the Master, Wardens and Overseers and the Worshipful Master gave the Address to the Brethren. Revised By-Laws were adopted including alteration of the date of meeting to the third Tuesday in January, March, May, July, September and November.

This period of change has been deliberately dwelt upon because it is a very important chapter in the history of the Lodge. It shows that a Lodge can be revived by the enthusiasm and determination of a few brethren even when it has sunk to such a low ebb as almost to have reached extinction. At least two meetings were attended by only three brethren in addition to the Tyler, and although they constituted a valid meeting, the election of Worshipful Master for the ensuing year at a meeting attended by only three brethren would not be lawful at the time of writing this history. However, it is not known what the Book of Constitutions provided in 1910 when W. Bro. Calkin was so elected. The minutes also indicate other irregularities (or what would be irregularities in this Centenary Year) for example, the holding by a brother of the offices of Junior Warden and Treasurer, of Worshipful Master and Treasurer and of Secretary and Treasurer at the same time, also a brother continuing as Master for three successive years, all of which would now require dispensations.
There is no record in the Minute Books of the grant of such dispensations. It was the break in meetings between October 1911 and May 1913 which caused Grand Lodge to withhold the granting of a Centenary Warrant in 1991.

At the meeting in April 1914, Brother John Howard Luscombe was advanced. He became Worshipful Master in 1924 and was for many years the Charity Steward of the Lodge until hi death in 1942. His son, W. Bro. J.F.P. Luscombe was advanced in July 1945, was installed as Master in 1961, and was present at the Centenary Meeting of the Lodge on 15 th October 1991 when he was the senior Past Master of the Lodge.

At the meeting on 15 th September 1914 the Worshipful Master W. Bro H.B. Spencer presented the Lodge with an ebony mallet and chisel, suitably engraved on silver.

At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge held on 1 st September 1914 a resolution was passed that the continuance of the war and for 12 months thereafter, if a Master Elect was unable to attend for Installation by reason of service with His Majesty’s Forces the General Board should have the power to confirm him in the rank of Past Master and membership of Grand Lodge provided that he was actually installed at some time during the year. However, Duncombe Mark Lodge did not need to take advantage of this dispensation and all the Masters Elect were duly installed at the regular Installation meetings though out the war years.

The Installation meeting in January 1915 was attended by the Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother G.S. Strode who during the course of the evening remarked that it was his first visit to a Lodge for upwards of 4 years because of ill health. It was agreed that By-Law No.1 be amended to provide that the Lodge meeting on the 4 th Tuesday in every other month instead of on the 3 rd Tuesday.

In September 1915 it was agreed that the permission of the Provincial Grand Master be sought to change the name o the Lodge to Strode-Duncombe. However, there is no subsequent mention of this proposal in the minutes of the Lodge and it can only be presumed that it did not find favour with the Provincial Grand Master.

During the next couple of years it was quite common for two or three Brethren to be advanced during a Lodge meeting and in November 1916 no fewer than 6 Brethren were advanced. At the same meeting, W. Brother H.B. Spencer was congratulated on having been appointed as Provincial Grand Secretary.

By this time the fortunes of the Lodge had taken a distinct turn for the better and the Installation Meeting in January 1917 was attended by 29 Members of the Lodge and 27 visitors plus the Provincial Grand Master and several Provincial Officers. Despite the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, the Address to the Master was given by W. Bro. H.B. Spencer who did the same on a number of other occasions besides frequently acting as Installing Master.

At a meeting held on 27 th November 1917, Bro. Andrew Warren, Master mason of Pleiades Lodge No. 710, Totnes was advanced. The Minutes then record that a letter was read from certain Totnes Brethren asking the support of this Lodge to the formation of a Mark lodge at Totnes, and after hearing a statement from Bro. J.S. Brock of Totnes it was unanimously agreed to sign the Petition, which was done. The Minutes of a meeting of Pleiades Mark Lodge held on 11 th December 1918 record that the best thanks of that Lodge be accorded to the Master and Brethren of Duncombe Mark Lodge No. 438 for recommending the Petition of the Founders for the Lodge’s Charter. Pleiades Mark Lodge was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Master R.W. Brother Major G.S Strode on 11 th September 1918 and one of the brethren assisting was W. Bro. H.B. Spencer, the Provincial Grand Secretary. Included amongst the Founders were W. Bro Sholto Henry Hare, who became a Joining Member of Duncombe Mark Lodge on 28 th March 1916 and Bro. Andrew Warren at whose advancement meeting the Petition was signed the two latter were invested as the first Senior and Junior Overseers respectively.

At an Emergency Meeting in June 1919, Bro. C.B. Spencer, then an under-graduate at Cambridge University and later to become Provincial Grand Master was advanced. However, he never held office in the Lodge and took his clearance in 1927, four years after becoming one of the Founders of Caput Anguli Lodge No. 798, by which time he had become the Provincial Grand Secretary.

In March 1922 the day of meeting was changed back from the 4 thto the 3 rd Tuesday of every alterative month.

On 22 nd May 1922, Brother Robert Samuel Bray was advanced but it was not until 1945 that he was installed as Worshipful Master his Installation was the only meeting in that year that his duties permitted him to attend as he was then serving with the Royal Marines in Scotland. Although he was recommended for Provincial Honours in 1947, 1948 and 1949 it was not until September 1960 that he received a long overdue recognition of his services by appointment as Past Provincial Grand Overseer. On 20 th January 1975 he was presented with a silver fruit bowl to mark over 50 year’s membership of the Lodge. At the meeting in September 1978 he gave an interesting account of his career as a Mark Master Mason spanning 56 years. He was elected an Honorary member in March 1982 and died on 26th December 1989 at the age of 96 having been a member of the Degree (and Lodge) for over 67 years. For many years he gave the Address to the Brethren at Installation meetings, the last occasion being in January 1987 when he was in his 94 th year.

In November 1923 the Lodge became the sponsor of Caput Anguli Lodge No. 798 which was consecrated by the Provincial Grand Master, RW. Bro Major G.S. Strode Strode on 23 rd January 1924, all the Founders being members of Duncombe Mark Lodge No. 438. W. Bro. H.B. Spencer was still the Provincial Grand Secretary and assisted in the ceremony, just as he had in the Consecration of Pleiades Mark Lodge just over 6 years earlier. In fact, he installed the first W. Master, W, Bro, T.M. Jamieson, a Past Master of Duncombe Mark Lodge who had been advanced in that Lodge on 5 th January 1914 and installed as W. Master in January 1922. Caput Anguli Lodge was the first in the Province to qualify for the Keystone Collarette which was presented to the W. Master, W. Bro, W. Harry Taylor, by the Provincial Grand Master at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in 1931.

Towards the end of the year 1931, a number of brethren of Caput Anguli Lodge expressed a desire to have a Craft Lodge on similar lines to Caput Anguli and a meeting of members was held to discuss the matter. Eventually a petition was forwarded to the MW. The Grand Master of the Craft and as a result the Craft Lodge of Felicity No 5336 was consecrated on 13 th April 1932 by the R.W. Provincial Grand Master of the Craft, Sir Henry Y.B. Lopes Bart. All 12 Founders were members of Caput Anguli Mark Lodge No. 798. W. Bro. H.B. Spencer was the first master and W. Bros. C.B. Spencer and W. Harry Taylor were the first Senior and Junior Wardens respectively. The new Lodge had to be sponsored by a Craft Lodge, of course, but this is possibly the only occasion on which a Craft Lodge has owed its existence to a Mark Lodge.

The minutes of the meeting held on 18 th March 1924 contain a reference to correspondence received from the Provincial Grand Secretary saying that the Provincial Grand Master would that year attain his ‘majority’ as Ruler of the Province and suggesting the presenting of a piece of plate at the next meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. At the same meeting, hearty congratulations were extended to W.Bro. H.B. Spencer upon his being selected for honours by Grand Lodge. This is somewhat puzzling as he had been appointed as a grand Deacon until the meeting on 19 th May 1931 when he was congratulated on having become a Very Worshipful Brother on his promotion to Past Grand Overseer.

In May 1924, Brother George Arthur Wood, Governor of H.M. Prison, Plymouth was advanced and at the same meeting the W. Master received the renovated Lodge Banner which was hung on the South Wall of the Temple at Davie Hall. It had previously been repaired in 1896. There is no record of what happened to it ultimately.

In September 1924, W. Bro. W.G. Beaumont died and the Lodge was placed in mourning for three months. He was the last remaining member from the Kingsbridge days having been Worshipful Master in 1906 and 1910. He was advanced on 12 th February 1900 and was appointed Junior Overseer on 1 st January 1901 though there is no record of his having attended Lodge since his advancement, nor was he present at the 1901 Installation meeting or at any meeting during that year. Nevertheless he was appointed Senior Overseer in 1902, again in his absence, and became Master Overseer in 1903 still without having attended since the evening of his advancement. He finally put in an appearance in October 1903 and was also at the Installation Meeting in 1904 when he became Junior warden but did not attend again until October 1905 when he was elected Worshipful Master for the ensuing year, having been appointed as Senior Warden in January 1905 his Installation in January 1906 was therefore only the fifth meeting of the Lodge which he had attended. The last time he appeared in the Lodge seems to have been in May 1921.

In 1925 a member of the Lodge, W. Bro. R.J. Mitchell was appointed Mayor of the Borough of Plymouth. He died in 1936.

W.Bro. H.B. Spencer was still working hard. In January 1928 he installed the Worshipful Master, presented the Warrant, Working Tools, Book of Constitutions and By-Laws to the newly installed Master and then gave the Addresses to the Master, Overseers and Brethren.

W.Bro. Harry Chambers, whose grandson was advanced in the Lodge in 1988, was advanced on 16 th March 1915 and was Worshipful Master in 1927. He became Lodge Secretary in 1924/25 and again in 1929. He was invested as Provincial Grand Junior Warden at the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting at Tavistock on 18 th September 1929. He was honoured with the rank of Assistant Grand Sword Bearer of England in 1937 when the Lodge presented him with his Full Dress Regalia. He was promoted to Grand Senior Deacon in 1941 and became Provincial Grand Secretary in 1943. He continued as Lodge Secretary until 1945 and was promoted to grand Junior Overseer in May of that year. He died in October 1945 and on 20 th November 1945 the Chair at the regular meeting was taken by RW. Bro. C.B. Spencer, the Provincial Grand Master, who addressed the Lodge saying that it was unusual for him to preside over a private Lodge but this, was a special occasion and he wished to say a few words on the passing of V.W. Bro. Harry Chambers, Grand Junior Overseer (England), who had been the Provincial Grand Secretary.

On 18 th September 1935 a Keystone Jewel was presented to the Lodge at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. W. Bro. Harry Chambers accepted the Jewel on behalf of the Worshipful Master who was unable to attend the meeting. Our daughter Lodge, Caput Anguli 798 provided the last £50 of the amount required to enable Duncombe Lodge to qualify as a Keystone Lodge.

In September 1935 it was resolved to commemorate the good feeling existing between the Lodge and Caput Anguli Lodge No. 798 by presenting them with a small memento and that the W. Master, Officers and brethren of Caput Anguli Lodge be invited to attend the November Lodge meeting for that purpose. At the November meeting the Worshipful Master presented a suitably inscribed mallet and chisel to the Worshipful Master of Caput Anguli Lodge , an inscription having been engraved by two members of Duncombe Lodge, Bro. C.G. Bowden who had only been advanced in the previous March and Bro. W.J. Hiscott.

In May 1936 all Lodges were placed in mourning for three months on the death of The Right Honourable Lord Aldenham. RW. Deputy Grand Master and the minutes of the July meeting record thanks at the escape from injury by His Majesty King Edward VII (They must mean King Edward VIII) at the ‘recent incident in London’ though what that incident was is not stated. At that same meeting a resolution was passed to subscribe the sum of 20 guineas to the H.B. Spencer Commemorative Fund.

In June 1937 it was resolved to present an Illuminated Album to W. Bro. J.W. March in appreciation of his service as treasurer for the past 24 years. W. Bro. March was one of the joining members from Metham Lodge No. 96 elected at the first meeting in Davie Hall in October 1913 and he became treasurer at the Installation meeting on 5 th January 1914. His successor, W. Bro. L.M. Tyrell. Who had been invested as treasurer in January 1937, went on in the office for the next 20 years and in January 1957 was presented with a set of 2 pipes and tobacco.
In January 1938 the sum of five guineas was voted by the Lodge to the New Premises Fund to be credited to the quota of St. George’s Mark Lodge No. 383. There is no explanation of this gift but it appears to have been the kind of thing that took place between Lodges in those days, Duncombe having benefited by a much larger gift from Caput Anguli Lodge 8 years earlier, as has already been recorded.

No meeting of the Lodge was held in September 1939, the month in which the Second World War commenced. However, the November 1939 meeting took place as usual and all other regular meetings were held on the due dates throughout the war years except that no meeting was held in May 1941 which was the month in which the Blitz on Plymouth occurred, in which Bro. WH. Pearce of Duncombe Lodge was killed. Nothing of particular not in relation to the Lodge occurred during the war years, though the Lodge was obviously flourishing, candidates being advanced at almost every meeting and two at many meetings The minutes of January 1942 record the death of MW. Bro. H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, Past Grand Master, and those of 15 th September 1942 record that ‘the Brethren stood in silence as a mark of esteem and sympathy on the lamentable death of our Grand Master, Air Marshal H.R.H. the Duke of Kent’.

In the minutes of a meeting held on 17 th September 1946 it is recorded that ‘The Worshipful Master thanked the Secretary for the return of the Lodge Warrant after its absence from the Lodge for over 6 years, and framed at the Secretary’s (W.Bro. A.G. Dugga) expense’. The minutes do not say where the warrant had been for these 6 years but presumably it had been put in a place of safety for the duration of the war.

In January 1948 the Provincial Grand Master announced at the Installation meeting the death of M.W Bro. The Earl of Stradbroke, Grand Master of the Mark Degree.

At the Installation meeting on 17 th January 1950, the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. C.B. Spencer, accepted the gavel, took the Chair and proceeded to install the Worshipful Master. He did the same in 1951 and 1952 but the minutes contain no explanation of this unusual action. In each of those three years he gave the Address to the Brethren. He was present at each of the Installation meetings for the next five years but on those occasions the respective Worshipful Masters installed their successors and the Provincial Grand Master gave the Address to the Master.

The death of R.W. Bro. Major George Sydney Strode Strode, Past Provincial Grand Master is recorded in the minutes of a meeting held on 15 th July 1950, and the minutes of 16 th March 1954 record the death of M.W. Bro. brigadier-General W.H.V. Darrell, Grand Master. The Centenary meeting of Grand Lodge, held on 5 th June 1956 is mentioned in the minutes of a meeting held on 18 th September 1956.

1957 was the Centenary Year of the Province of Devonshire but the only reference to it in our minutes is an appeal in September 1956 to enable the Devon Mark Charity Association to make a grant of 1000 guineas to the 1957 Festival of the Mark Benevolent Fund to be presided over by the Provincial Grand Master of Essex, followed by a further appeal in August 1957 towards the purchase of a new Standard to replace the one destroyed by enemy action during the war. In January 1959 the R.W. Provincial Grand Master again accepted the gavel but this was by arrangement as it appears on the summons for the meeting, at the conclusion of which the Provincial Grand Master thanked the outgoing Master, W. Bro. F.E. Chapman, for giving him the opportunity of installing W Bro. Doidge as he had known him for a great many years and counted is a great privilege to be allowed to do so.

In July and September 1963 the minutes refer to a presentation to be made to the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Col, CB Spencer, on his attaining 20 years as Provincial Grand Master on 1st October 1963.

Mention has already been made of long serving Treasurers in the persons of W. Bro. March and W. Bro. Tyrell. In January 1964, Bro. A.F.G. Hawkins was invested as treasurer and was to outdo both of his illustrious predecessors as he served in the office for 26 years until January 1990 when he was presented with a wrist watch as a token of appreciation. He had been appointed and invested as P.Prov, A.G.D.C. at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in September 1985 in recognition by Provincial Grand Lodge of his long service as treasurer of Duncombe Mark Lodge.

Attached to the minutes of September 20 th 1966 there is a letter from the RW. Prov. Grand Master announcing he would be relinquishing office on 30 th November 1966 and that the M.W. Grand Master had been pleased to appoint W. Bro. Col. F.W. Dewhurst, R.M. PG. Swd, Br. to the office of Provincial Grand Master. At the meeting in March 1967 it was decided to send a donation towards a set of Past Provincial Grand Master’s Full Dress Regalia to be presented to R.W. Bro. C.B. Spencer as a mark of esteem and appreciation for his great service as Provincial Grand Master for 23 years. The Regalia was stated to cost about £100! At the July 1967 meeting, the death on 8 th June 1967 of R.W. Bro. C.B. Spencer was announced. At the July 1967 meeting, the death on 8 th June 1967 of RW. Bro. C.B. Spencer was announced.

On 5 th February 1975 an Emergency meeting of the Lodge was held to consider a change of meeting place. Lodge membership had again fallen off and there were insufficient members attending to meet the minimum requirements for a festive board. The Brethren felt that there was a danger of the Lodge ceasing to exist in consequence.
The discussion was continued at the meetings in March and July 1975 and at the latter meeting it was resolved to move to Plympton Masonic Hall commencing with the next meeting in September for which a dispensation was obtained.

At the meeting in November 1975 a letter was read announcing the retirement as Provincial Grand Master of R.W. Bro. F.W. Dewhurst RM. and the appointment of R.W. Bro. Lt. Cdr. C.J.R. Souhamy, R.N. MB.E., P.G.W. as Assistant Provincial Grand Master in Charge, the Deputy provincial Master V.W. Bro. H.E.E. Holladay being absent abroad. At a special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on 23 rd March 1975, R.W. Bro. H.E.E. Holladay was installed as Provincial Grand Master. The subsequent Annual Meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on 25 th September 1976 was held at Plymouth and sponsored by Duncombe Mark Lodge No. 438. The minutes of 15 th May 1979 record the death on 26 th April 1979 of R.W. Bro. Dewhurst and in January 1986 the Lodge made a donation to a Commemorative Fund set up in his memory.

The meeting on 16 th November 1976 was attended by the Provincial Grand Master R.W. Bro. H.E.E. Holladay, who made some criticisms at the end of the meeting, in particular he deplored the use by Brethren of books of ritual during the ceremony.

In September 1977 Brother of the Lodge, when visiting a scrap merchant, saw a number of silver collar jewels inscribed ‘Temple Lodge No. 50 MMM’ which was the Mother Lodge of Duncombe Mark Lodge. When he explained this to the merchant, a Mr Russell who was not a freemason, and offered to buy the jewels, Mr Russell presented them to him for the Lodge. They were cleaned by another Brother and used to replace the jewels belonging to Duncombe Mark Lodge which were on the Officers’ collars. In November 1979 it came to the notice of the Lodge that our daughter Lodge, Caput Anguli No. 798 was short of some jewels so the Duncombe jewels which had been replaced by the Temple Lodge jewels were presented to Caput Anguli Lodge.

The meeting of July 1978 saw the restoration of fraternal visits between Duncombe and Caput Anguli Mark Lodges which had lapsed some time previously.

At the meeting in March 1979 the secretary was able to report that the Lodge had exceeded its target for the New Premises Fund of Grand Lodge at 86 St James’ St., London S.W, which Grand Lodge occupied towards the end of 1979.

The minutes of 15 th September 1981 record that strong feelings had been aroused by the decision of Grand Lodge to increase registration fees from £5 to £15 from 1 st August 1982, and Grand Lodge dues from £2 to £5 from 31 st August 1982. There was some strong criticism of the manner in which these increases had been introduced and it was decided that the views of the Lodge should be represented to the Western District Mark Master Masons’ Association and to the Provincial Grand Secretary. A letter was subsequently received from Grand Lodge giving a full explanation of the reasons for the increases in fees and dues. The Lodge was also informed by the Provincial Grand Secretary that the R.W. Bro. H.E.E. Holladay, the Provincial Grand Master had the temerity at the Grand Lodge meeting to propose an amendment postponing the increases to a later date to enable an explanation to be given to Lodges prior to their introduction, but although he had received a good measure of support, the amendment failed. Also in the minutes of 15 th September 1981, the appointment and investiture on 9 th June 1981 of Prince Michael of Kent as Grand Senior Warden is recorded. On 8 th June in the following year, W, Bro. F.G. Davey, the Secretary, attended the Installation of Prince Michael of Kent as Grand Master, being one of the 33 representatives from the Province of Devonshire. He gave a report to the Lodge of that Investiture at their meeting on 8 th July 1982, a copy of which is attached to the Minutes of that meeting.

The death of the Earl of Stradbroke, Pro Grand Master, Past Grand Master at the age of 80 was announced at the meeting held on 19 th July 1983 he had been Grand Master from 1973 to 1982.

By the end of 1984 membership had again fallen to about 35 and the Brethren had become dissatisfied with the Plympton Masonic Hall for a variety of reasons The meeting in march 1985 was a t the St Aubyn Masonic Hall, Stoke, Plymouth by dispensation of the Provincial Grand Master and at that meeting it was resolved to transfer the meeting place of the Lodge to St. Aubyn Masonic Hall on a permanent basis This move necessitated the acquisition of certain items of Lodge furniture, all of which were provided by the skill and generosity of a few members of the Lodge.

At the Installation meeting on 21 st January 1986 the Provincial Grand Master presented a Patron’s Jewel of the Mark benevolent Fund to the Worshipful Master on behalf of the Lodge to be worn by him and his successors at future meetings of the Lodge.

The minutes of the meeting on 15 th July 1986 contain a report of the 118 th Festival of the Mark Fund of benevolence held at Exeter University on 9 th July 1986 when 620 Brethren and their ladies sat down to dinner including several members of Duncombe Mark Lodge. The Festival had raised the record sum of £450,887.50 of which £381,094.86 came from the Province of Devonshire and £32, 629.09 from the Province of Cornwall. The original target set for Duncombe Mark Lodge in 1977 was £1650 which it as then thought likely would increase to £2000 by 1986 In June 1981 Duncombe’s target was doubled to £3300 In the event, the Lodge contributed £5312.60 representing an average of £166.02 per brother as by this time Lodge membership had fallen to 32.

At the meeting on 20 th January 1987, W.Bro. R.G. McFarlane was elected as a Joining member. He was to become Worshipful Master of the Lodge in the Centenary year after meteoric progress, surpassing even that of W Bro. Beaumont though he was a very much more regular attender that the latter, having been Junior Overseer in 1988, Master Overseer in 1989 and Senior Warden in 1990, the only three offices whish he filled on his way to the chair. Even so, this is not a record for Bro. J.T. Gregory was advanced on 3 rd July 1906, became Master Overseer on 1 st January 1907, Senior warden on 7 th January 1908 and Worshipful Master on 5 th January 1909. Increases in rent and Grand Lodge dues in 1989 had an adverse effect on the Lodge finances and at the meeting of July of that year various ways of effecting economies were discussed, it transpires that a considerable saving of rent could be achieved by changing the meeting place to the Queen Victoria Masonic Hall, St. Budeaux and that such a change could also bring other benefits associated with the festive board, though there would have to be a change in the months of meeting. At the subsequent meeting on 19 th September the necessary amendments to the By-Laws were approved and the first meeting of the Lodge at thee Queen Victoria Masonic Hall was the Installation Meeting on 20 th February 1990 which was attended by 84 Brethren.

On 7 th October 1990 a luncheon was held at the Rougemont Hotel, Exeter to mark R.W. Bro. H.E.E. Holladay’s 50 years as a Mark master Mason and 15 years as Provincial Grand Master. Five Brethren of Duncombe Mark Lodge attended this luncheon at which R.W. Bro. Holladay was presented with a silver inkwell in the shape of a keystone on a base of Porphery Stone, together with a silver pen and silver pencil. R.W. Bro. Holladay retired as Provincial Grand Master on 9 th October 1990 when V.W. Bro. Dr. J.H. Wickstead, PhD, D.Sc., P.G.J.O. assumed the style and authority of Deputy Provincial grand Maser in charge of the Province of Devonshire, in which capacity he continued until his Instillation as Provincial Grand Maser which took place at Torquay on 8 th January 1991 and was attended by several member of Duncombe Mark Lodge. The Installation meeting attended by R.W. Bro. Dr. Wickstead as Provincial Grand Master which was very fitting he having been advanced in Caput Anguli Lodge No. 798 one of Duncombe’s two daughters.

In September 1988 the secretary had written to Grand Lodge through the Provincial Grand Secretary making enquiries about the award of a Centenary Warrant in 1991 but in November 1988 he reported that the Grand Secretary had said that the Lodge did not qualify because there had been no meeting between 13 th October 1911 and 17 th April 1913. The Provincial Grand Secretary again raised the question on behalf of the Lodge during 1990 but Grand Lodge refused to alter their decision. Despite this, the Lodge resolved that it would celebrate its Centenary in 1991 and at the meeting on 15 th October 1991 the One Hundredth Anniversary of the formation of the Lodge was celebrated. This meeting was attended by the Provincial Grand Master, the Past Provincial Grand Maser, the deputy Provincial Grand Master, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master and by many other distinguished Brethren of Grand and provincial Grand rank. The warrant of the Lodge was read by V.W. Bro. D.I.J. Owen, P.C.J.O., the Provincial grand Secretary; an Oration was delivered by W.Bro. W.J. Toop, PD.G. Chaplain, the Provincial Grand Chaplain, and a précis of the history of the Lodge was read by W.Bro. F.G. Davey, P.G.Std. B. the Secretary of the Lodge.

Reference has been made to long serving treasurers but the services of three Secretaries, all of whom attained grand rank, also deserve mention. The longest serving was W.Bro. Harry Chambers who served a total of almost 18 years in the office. W.Bro. N.J.C. Ray was Secretary for 15 years and W.Bro. F.G. Davey, the compiler of this history had been Secretary for 15½ years at the time it was written. W.Bro. Davey was advanced on 21 st September 1965, was appointed as Steward in January 1966 and from then on was in active office in the Lodge for the next 26 years, in one capacity or another. The history would also be incomplete without a mention of W.Bro. W.R.G. Line, P.Pr. G.J.W. who at the time of the Centenary Meeting in October 1991 had been the Lodge Organist for at least 30 years. He was elected an Honorary Member in May 1967.

Duncombe Mark Lodge experienced varying fortunes in the first 100 years of its existence but it has a great deal of which it can be proud, having had very many illustrious Brethren as members including officers of Grand Rank up to as high as Grand Senior Overseer, a Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire (though not while still a subscribing member of the lodge), no less than three Provincial Grand Secretaries and a Provincial Grand Treasurer to say nothing of numerous appointments as active Provincial Officers including Senior and Junior Wardens. The Lodge had also had two Mayors of Plymouth (one of them having resigned from the Lodge) both of whom by a strange coincidence had the surname Mitchell, and a Governor of H.M. Prison, Plymouth.