The first country Lodge had been opened at Chelmondiston in 1919, and the average attendence in the province at December 1920 was 37 on lodge. This average has never been exceeded.
Notice was given at this meeting that our old pal Albert Plume would be raised to the Fourth Degree during that month, and officers for 1921 were elected as follows:-
Provincial Grand Primo: Kt. Osborne
Vice Grand Primo: Kt. Wooby
P.G.Alderman of Benevolence: I.P.P.G.Primo C.Garham
P.G.Alderman of Juniper: Pri. Garner
P.G.Treasurer: Kt. Plume
P.G.Minstrel: Kt. Cook
P.G.Director of Ceremonies: Pri.Green
P.G.Official Reporter: Pri.Penney(Snr)
The above list looks a bit quaint to-day, and contains one more office than the present constitution. The style of Vice Grand Primo was a relic of the District Primo Lodge, which had a President as its Chief Officer. The term Deputy, in use to-day, is more appropriate. It appears that the Immediate Past P.G.P. was the automatic choice for the office of Alderman of Benevolence, as he is on Minor Lodges, but with the advent of the Benevolent Committee, the holder of that office has few duties to perform, and it has become a minor office. The P.G. Guard has become the tyler, whilst the Director of Ceremonies has disappeared altogether. The presence of this officer in the foregoing list serves to remind us that it is still the prerogative of Minor Lodges to conduct their own Third and Fourth Degree ceremonies, if they so desire, without the assistance of the Knights Chapter, or R.O.H. Assembly.
In May 1921, it become apparent that Albert Plume R.O.H. was leaving the Province, and also that the Black Horse was no longer available for P.G.Lodge meetings. A committee of five reported that suitable accommodation had been found at the Unicorn, at a charge of 2/6d per meeting, and the Duke of Kent rent free. As so often happens in democratic bodies such as the R.A.O.B., the obvious choice lost the day, by 19 votes to 7, and the P.G.L. took up residence at the Unicorn on August 2nd 1921. Meanwhile a testimonial was put up on behalf of Bro. Plume, who had served the Ipswich Province more than faithfully, in many of its offices for over ten years. The result of this was that at the September meeting:-
Pri. Collins proposed and Kt. Green seconded, that the sum of 14/6 and 5/- be returned to the J.P. branch, and Sir George Osborne Lodges respectively, and the matter be dropped. Carried.
The Secretary does not record where Bro. Plume went to and from thence forward there is no mention of him. However, they did give him every honour, whilst he was able to serve the Province, and he apparently was satisfied with his reward.
During this period, the local Widows and Orphans Fund came into being, and is the first recorded instance of funds being paid out of Minor Lodge registration fees to P.G.L. funds. The fee being one half penny. This fee has remained the same until the present day, and by 1927, when the L.W. & O. was with the P.G.L. Benevolent Fund, it had a balance of over 100-00-00d. The balance in hand to-day being well over 400-0-00d.
In 1951 the only money that the P.G.L. had was its Benevolent Account, and the P.G. Secretary had to have his salary reduced.
The Ipswich Knight's Chapter No.105 was formed in January 1922, with Bro. Wooby as its first President and Bro. J.Garner as the Secretary. Bro. John Mason was the Secretary of this body from 1954 to December 1955.
The Provincial Grand Lodge held its meetings at the Unicorn from August 1922 until December 1941, when it was decided to move to the Duke of Kent, Upper Orwell Street, and from January 1942 to January 1948, when the R.A.O.B. Club at 2 Friars Road was ready to receive them,
all meetings of the P.G.L. and subsidiary bodies were held there. The Duke of Kent was the scene of the longest sitting of P.G.Lodge, which took place on November 3rd 1946. The meeting started at 11 a.m and was not finished until nearly 4 p.m. The main business on the agenda was to discuss the funds of P.G.L., which to say the least were in a very bad state, and the outcome of it was that the P.G.Secretary and P.G.Treasurer were suspended from the Order.
The only comment I wish to make on this state of affairs is to emphasize the fact that the rules of the R.A.O.B. are such, that if they are strictly adhered to, cases of this nature would never occur.
The Duke of Kent was also the meeting place of the first committee of the R.A.O.B. Club and Institute, which opened its own premises in October 1947. The first club was in use until 1951, when it was sold and the present club at 54 Foundation Street was purchased.
The Roll of Honour No. 41 was inaugurated on the 6th September 1949 with Bro. Robert Moss as President, Bro.E.Spence, Secretary and John Mason, Vice-President.
As we have seen, the Ipswich Provincial Grand Lodge was inaugurated in April 1914, with three Minor Lodges; since that time, twenty one others have been opened at various times, and to-day the P.G.L consists of delegates from fourteen Minor Lodges.
When the J.P. Branch lodge was formed, it brought with it a problem that is still the subject of discussion in 1955, namely: How will the P.G. Lodge pay for transport on offical visits to outlying Lodges?
In 1921, the brother responsible for transport stated that he was 15/- short of the amount required to meet the cost of a bus to Chelmondiston. The deficit was met from the P.G.L. General Funds.
Throughout the years this same question has appeared on the agenda, and various schemes have been tried, to raise funds for transport, but they have all ended with a deficit having to be met from the General Fund. The obvious answer to this hardy annual is to raise the income of the P.G.L. and this can only be done by raising the rate per registration payable to P.G.L., from Minor Lodges. This has been done at the time of writing, and we must wait and see if it works.
From the earliest days of the Order in Ipswich, the members have been encouraged to affiliate to more than one Lodge in the Province, and even to-day, it is not unusual to find brothers who are members, by affiliation to nearly every Lodge in the Province. I do not wish to begin an argument into the pros and cons of this subject, but mentioned the matter to illustrate the effects of inter-affiliation on the life of various Lodges.
The Victoria Lodge, as we have seen, was opened for the express purpose of forming the Ipswich District Primo Lodge, and many if not all, of its members were also members of the E.U.R. and Pickwick Lodges.
By the early thirties, so many of its members were also members of the Sir George Osborne that in effect there was one Lodge meeting twice per week. The natural outcome of this was that the two amalgamated. Similarly, Felix was lost to the Amphibian the Pride of Stowmarket
took over the Hearts of Oak, and the Pickwick swallowed the King George Vth Jubilee, under the same circumstances.
The strongest Lodges to-day are those that whilst they have a considerable number of affiliates, also have a hard core of what one might term One Lodge brethren.
Lodges in country districts have proved to be very difficult to maintain and of the ten Lodges that have failed in the Ipswich Province, no fewer than seven were in country districts. The first recorded attempt to open in the country was made at the E.U.R. in 1912, when it was stated:- That we should re-open Lodges at Hadleigh and East Bergholt. from this it would appear that Lodges were formerly held at these places, but we have not investigated that matter. The proposal was shelved, due to the neccessity of starting the Victoria, and although Hadleigh is mentioned in several minutes books at various times, it was not until 1925 that the Loyal George opened. After a very chequered career, and dispite a great deal of effort by the P.G.L. officers, it gave up the ghost in 1933.
The industrial depression was the main cause of the winding up of the Chelmondiston in 1929, which had operated for ten years.
The survival of any Lodge depends mainly on obtaining sufficient Initiates to replace the loss of brethren from various causes. This probably was the main difficulty in the village Lodges,
owing to the small community from which it can draw new blood. The Stanville, Wickham Market, is an example. This Lodge had a remarkable survival record of 24 years, despite the fact that it is held in a small place, owing to lack of recruits it closed down in 1954, but re-opened on November 4th 1955.
The R.A.F. stations in the province have contributed many members to our Lodges, and the R.A.F. (Martlesham) was responsible for opening the Deban Lodge in 1925. This station still supplies the Lodge with members, but it is also in the happy position of having a good number of Woodbridge residents who could if necessary keep the Lodge going Bro. Arthur Allen, R.O.H. was initiated at the second meeting of the Deban, and he is still a regular attended.
The Wattisham Camp, foundered the Blenheim Lodge at Stowmarket, in 1940, during the Battle of Britian. This Lodge was named after the bomber aircraft that was operating from that base. So many of its members failed to return from the raids on the continent that it was held in abeyance until July 1946, when the writer and others, revived it at the Griffin Inn, New Cut West, Ipswich. The Lodge did not nave a happy existence there, and was suspended for a few months in 1950, when it was again revived at its present home, under the leadership of Bro. Fred Edwards, R.O.H., the present P.G.Secretary.
The Blenheim was not the first Lodge at Stowmarket, for in 1926 the West Suffolk Province were given permission to found a Lodge in that town. This Lodge could not have existed for more than nine years as the Pride of Stowmarket No.7451, was formed by the Ipswich Province in December 1937, and this also had its ups and downs, having held its meetings at three different houses, it was closed down in November 1953.
The main cause of the closing was that, at that time, Bro.A.E.(Ernie) Robinson, K.O.M., the City Secretary, met with an accident at work, which rendered him inactive for some three months,
and the Treasurer, Bro. William Barnard, K.O.M., had also been very ill for a long time. The dispensation was handed in to P.G.L. at its meetting on Sunday November 1st 1953, and every Brother who was present will never forget how deeply we were all moved. However, the R.A.F. (Wattisham) had a band of enthusiastic brethren who were looking for a Lodge near and handy, and on Monday, November 2nd, Robbo as he is known, got down to work again, and with the assistance of the R.A.F. members, the Lodge was re-opened with the title of Pride of Stowmarket II Lodge No. 8639, at the Pot of Flowers, on January 4th, 1954. The Lodge is now making good strides, and has a good mixture of civilian and service members.
ORIGIN OF LODGE NAMES
A glance at the R.A.O.B. G.L.E. Directory of Lodges under its jurisdiction, is sufficient to convince us that Lodges have adopted names from many sources. The Lodges in the Ipswich Province are no exception, and amongst them are one or two with odd sounding names.
The Gyppeswyck, as everyone Knows, is the old name for Ipswich, and in naming the first Lodge in the town, the choice was obvious, likewise, the Pride of Ipswich and other towns, requires no explanation. Many have opted the name of the licensed house at which the meetings were held,
and these include the Duke of Kent, E.U.R., Lifeboat and Racecourse Lodges. Of these, only one needs explaining. The E.U.R., as many railwaymen will tell you, is the name of the Company that ran the first train at Ipswich, the Eastern Union Railway.
Until about 1930 it was often the practice to adopt the name of one of the founders of a Lodge, thus we find that Bro. J.P. Brance had his Lodge at Chelmondiston, and the P.G.Primo for 1921 opened the Sir George Osborne Lodge during his year of office. This practice is now frowned upon by Grand Lodge.
In 1949, the founders of the Granville Lodge, pulled a fast one and decided to adopt the name of the local M.P., Bro. Edgar Granville, but as they named the Lodge first, and then Initiated the gentleman, nothing could be done about it,and the Lodge is certainly no worse for having that name.
The King George Vth Jubilee, and Festival of Britain Lodges commemorate those events, in 1935 and 1951 respectively.
The Pickwick was probably chosen for the association of Dickens with Ipswich, whilst the Amphibian is most appropriate for a Lodge in a seaside resort, and the Deban is taken from the river at Woodbridge.
In 1925, the general standard of conduct on the Lodges did not meet with the approval of some of the brethren, and with Bros. Harry Eade, Jimmy Wiseman, Elias Woods and Thomas Scoggins at their head, formed the Prince of Wales Lodge with a view to setting a higher standard. The registration and other fees were double those of lesser Lodges, and we have it on the authority of founder members, that for a long time it was a very exclusive Lodge indeed. To-day, its fees are in line with others, and is conducted no better, or worse, than its fellows.
With its medieval castle, there is no surprise at the name of the first Lodge at Framlingham. The Castle Lodge opened at the Crown and Anchor Hotel, in October 1925, and for a time made good progress, but with the founding of the Cardinal Lodge in April 1928, the former started to decline, and finally shut down in 1936.
The Cardinal conjures up visions of the founders seeking an inspiring name for their Lodge, and consulting the dictionary to find that the word Cardinal means first or foremost, as in Cardinal Virtue and Cardinal Point, but alas, the dictionary also provides another meaning which shatters the dream, A Cardinals Blessing, meaning of little value.
The truth is that the founders took the name from a no more awe inspiring source than a bottle of beer, Cardinal also being the trade mark of a local brewery. However, the members of this Lodge have always aspired to high ideals, although few of their number have been able to devote much of their time to P.G.Lodge officers, their work for the Province has been exemplary.
There are again two Lodges at Framlingham, but at the time of writing, the Festival of Britain Lodge is not very strong.
The Diomed Lodge was named after a noted racehorse, but how the founders connect the Sport of Kings with our objects of benevolence is a mystery that we have not solved. This Lodge has survived some rather bad setbacks, but may yet prove to be a winner that it is named after.
The main reason for any Buffalo meeting is Benevolence, and the doing of charitable works, and although from the beginning the first consideration was for the welfare of members of the Order, and their dependants, the founders of Buffaloism in Ipswich played a great part in the benevolent
activities of the town.
As our earliest references deal with this side of our story, let us examine them before passing on to benevolence within the Ipswich Province.
According to the reports quoted at the beginning of this book, the Ipswich Lifeboat Saturday Fund was started by a whip round on the first Gyppeswyck Lodge, some where between 1891 and 1894. If this statement is correct, it must have been a revival of an earlier fund, for on checking with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution we obtained the following facts:-
The town of Ipswich provided two Lifeboats, namely IPSWICH stationed at Thorpeness from 1862-73, where it was launched on service 14 times and rescued 34 lives. This was replaced by THE IPSWICH, 1873-90, and saved 19 lives in 13 launches.
The R.A.O.B. maintained two lifeboats (not five, as stated at the Gyppeswyck dinner); these were in service from 1887-94, and 1894-1912, at Dungeness, where between them they were launched 64 times on service, and saved 55 lives.