Roll Call Lodge No 2523, In 1893 was a Military Lodge today we are from all walks of life:
The history of Roll Call Lodge really began in 1893 when a group of masons from the Hounslow district recognised the need for a lodge to serve the military brethren of the area. Hounslow was then a well-known garrison town and Hounslow Heath had been a training ground for many famous regiments, stretching back to 1793. The founders of Roll Call dedicated themselves to establishing the new lodge with tenacity and enthusiasm.
At this time the Middlesex Province included thirty-nine lodges, eighteen of which met at Hampton Court, five in Twickenham, two in Feltham and two in Hounslow. None of these catered to the particular needs of masons serving in His Majesty's Forces and certainly no lodge had yet been formed for that specific purpose. However as military brethren were constantly moving on to other postings it was felt that the new lodge would need the stability of a more permanent membership and that this could best be achieved if it combined military with local civilian brethren.
The founders of Roll Call spent many hours in discussion and in successfully lobbying other brethren for their support. However, the way forward was not simply a matter of course. In October of 1893 the first application was made to Grand Lodge for a warrant, but was rejected. Although we have no record of the reasons for this rejection or the arguments that followed it, our founder members were clearly not deterred by it.They persisted in their efforts and as a result the warrant was eventually granted, on 8th June 1894. The name Roll Call Lodge was chosen after careful consideration to reflect the lodge's military connections.
The most active representative of the military brethren was W. Bro. W. J. Trewinnard. He had returned from military service, was living in Hounslow and ran a sword manufacturing business in London. He was at that time a past master of St Johns Lodge no 434 and was an active and respected member within the existing Middlesex lodges throughout his masonic career. He was awarded Prov. A.G.D.C. in 1895, following his installation as our first Worshipful Master.
An equally dedicated founder-member was W. Bro. C. Robinson, a lawyer and resident of Hounslow who was at that time a past master of the Peace and Harmony Lodge No 60. He became Roll Call's Worshipful Master in 1896 and was awarded the rank of Grand Steward in 1899, P.A.G.D.C. in 1910 and P.G.D. in 1936. It can truthfully be said that our lodge owes its existence today to the drive, enthusiasm and dedication these two founder-members demonstrated in bringing together those first few masons a century ago. In all a total of 35 brethren from 25 different lodges combined to form Roll Call Lodge No 2523.
The warrant being granted, the next task for our founders was the organising and arranging of the inaugural ceremony of consecration, which they set about with the same enthusiasm.
A news article from the Freemasons Chronicle dated 7th July 1894 read "The Oddfellows Hall in Hounslow was fixed upon as the centre for this new project and here it was arranged that the meetings should be held on the last Thursday in each month. The large concert room was set out in the usual manner for the Consecration ceremony, the stage which had been enlarged for this purpose being reserved for the inaugural banquet". As anticipated, the consecration meeting was a great success and was attended by a total of fifty brethren which included seven Provincial Grand Officers, twenty-eight founder-members and fifteen visitors.
Bro WJ. Trewinnard was chosen as Master Elect and was duly installed into the Chair of King Solomon according to ancient custom. The following brethren were then invested:
Senior Warden - Bro. W. Mountford Junior Warden - Bro. J. Price Chaplain - Rev. Bro. E. Houndle Treasurer - Bro. W. Gardener Secretary - Bro. G. Brown Senior Deacon - Bro C. Robinson Junior Deacon - Bro. J. Harding Steward - Bro. C. Floyd Steward - Bro. J. Finlay Tyler - Bro. W. Hill
With the first meeting successfully concluded, it was followed by an equally successful inaugural banquet. If the granting of the warrant was the first milestone in Roll Call's history, then the inaugural meeting was the second. Now it was time for the lodge to begin Masonic business in earnest.
The first regular meeting of the Roll Call Lodge took place at Oddfellows Hall in Hounslow on 26th July 1894. Two brethren were initiated and two joining members accepted. At this meeting two designs for founders' jewels were considered prior to a vote to determine which one should be adopted. The first was circular and depicted a drummer boy beating a drum, the second was a scroll surrounded by a laurel wreath. After much deliberation the scroll was accepted. The price set for the founders' jewel at this time was eighteen shillings each.
Bye-laws of the Lodge were formulated and agreed at the second regular meeting on 30th August 1894 and immediately sent to Grand Lodge for approval.
Activity in the early years reflected the great enthusiasm and dedication with which Roll Call was founded. Although the first year was relatively short, activities included the acquisition of lodge furniture, three further initiations, five passing’s and three raisings, plus one additional joining member.
1895 was the first full year, and included twelve regular meetings. It also saw the introduction of the first of our serving military brethren from the Hounslow garrison. Colour Sergeant J. Hook was initiated on the 27th June and became the first of the many officers and men who were to swell the ranks and form lasting friendships with local civilian brethren, thus underlining the original aims of our founders.
Our minutes show that the first reference to a Lodge of Instruction was made in 1897. No doubt this was introduced and conducted with the same enthusiasm as that which had earlier inspired our founders and which has been carried forward with pride to the present time. The Roll Call Lodge of Instruction was and still remains the mainstay of our success. The weekly meetings not only ensure the continuity of purpose and tradition but also maintain important social links.
Over the following years the number of meetings varied from fourteen in 1897, with thirty-two candidates being either initiated, passed or raised, to a steady nine meetings in 1919 when thirty-seven candidates were processed plus four joining members. Meetings eventually stabilised at five per year by 1935. Our most active year was 1917 during which year eleven meetings were held and a total of forty-eight brethren went through one or more ceremonies.
Over the period of a hundred years many interesting incidents are recorded in the Lodge records. One of the great advantages of reaching our centenary is the opportunity to look in detail at the events, both major and minor, which combined to develop the character of Roll Call Lodge. Some, although meaningless to the general public, are nevertheless milestones in the history of our Lodge, while others, such as events of the two World Wars, were of national significance. Some of those events may stir memories both happy and sad for some of our elder brethren. Certainly they exerted their influences on the shape of Roll Call Lodge, and continue to do so to this day.
The choice of Oddfellows Hall as our first regular meeting place seemed ideal. It occupied a prominent position at the junction of Inwood Road and Hanworth Road, which at that time was central Hounslow and was convenient for the horse-bus services and the trams which were to follow them. One of the less desirable aspects was that it was situated next to the Salvation Army hall and adjacent to the fairground. Reports indicate that on occasions, this proved a considerable inconvenience, particularly when a meeting coincided with a bank holiday fair or with the Salvation Army band practice. Since the level of music frequently overpowered the ritual dialogue, the atmosphere of the occasion was sometimes lost, making it difficult for the Master and officers to conduct the meeting and proving less than ideal for the candidates.
Nevertheless this situation was tolerated even to the extent that the building was eventually acquired and renamed the Middlesex Masonic Hall on 13th February 1902 and it continued as the main meeting place for Roll Call until the December meeting of 1905. Thereafter activities moved to Council House, Hounslow. This was a very prominent red-brick building situated in the middle of Treaty Road, also convenient for the bus and tram services and slightly closer to the High Street.
This venue served as the permanent meeting place until February of 1931. While it is unclear what the arrangements were for dining during these early years a note in the minutes for December 1919 refers to a proposal that all lodge suppers should be held at the Red Lion Hotel. As the hotel was located in the High Street directly opposite Treaty Road this was obviously a convenient arrangement. In the early part of 1931 a hall in Grove Road Hounslow was acquired for a masonic club. No other details are available except that in April of that year it became the official meeting place of Roll Call Lodge and remained as such until the June meeting of 1933. A reference in the minutes of the November meeting to the masonic club being unavailable resulted in the one single meeting being held at the old venue in Council House. As that was the last meeting of that year the first meeting of 1934 moved to the Osterley Hotel which remained as the official venue until November 1939.
At this time the Red Lion Hotel was undergoing an extensive rebuilding programme and as the capacity and facilities were considerably increased it was adopted as the official meeting place of Roll Call Lodge. Up to this time it had been necessary to hold installation meetings at the Clarendon Restaurant in Hammersmith with special dispensation from Grand Lodge. However with the additional facilities available locally all meetings including Festive Boards could be held at the Red Lion Hotel. This was a great improvement on all previous arrangements and the Red Lion Hotel remained as the official venue until the June meeting of 1965 when the Twickenham Masonic Centre at Cole Court was adopted as the new venue. Roll Call Lodge has remained at Cole Court ever since.
A great many entries were made in our records during those earlier years which although of relatively minor importance when viewed in the context of the overall history of the lodge give an interesting insight into the way things were done then, and how the lodge has developed.
For example, it was an early custom to include a reply paid postcard with each member's summons to indicate whether or not they would be bringing guests. This practice was discontinued in 1896 as a cost saving. A reference to Lodge fees in our minutes of 1905 shows that country members paid thirteen shillings, overseas members seven shillings and resident members twenty five shillings per year. This was amended in 1906 to the effect that resident members' subscriptions would become due in two parts, twelve shillings in October and twelve shillings in March of each year. This no doubt assisted considerably with cash-flow problems!
Also in June 1905 reference is made to tickets for the installation banquet being available at 5/6d for members and 7/6d for visitors.
Although by today's standards these fees look unrealistic there is no doubt that they reflected the costs of the day. Records show that as the membership grew so did the incidence of members resigning or being excluded for non-payment of dues. Undoubtedly this situation was not confined to Roll Call Lodge: local history tells us that the level of employment at that time was uncertain to say the least and although Hounslow was in fact a thriving community it was by no means an area of great industry or affluence.
It is also possible that the first surge of enthusiasm by our founders may not necessarily have been matched by those who followed them. However the development of Roll Call Lodge followed a similar pattern to that of many other lodges, gradually gaining in strength, becoming established and hopefully to stand firm for the foreseeable future.
Whilst it is not possible to mention every single item of interest over such a long and busy period the following is a summary of references from the minutes of meetings and gives some insight into the workings of Roll Call over the past century.
12th November 1896 The first reference to proposals
that a lodge of instruction should be formed.
11th November 1897 Invitation from the Dean and
Chapter of St Pauls Cathedral to a bi-centenary service.
18th June 1898 Letter from Grand Lodge
It can be seen that over the century 1894/1994 many of the entries in our minutes, as well as charting the history of Roll Call Lodge, also record important milestones in our national history.
It is interesting to be able to examine more than a lifetime's information on the progress of the Lodge as well as the activities of the many brethren we have never met but with whose determination, energy and dedication we feel so much in common. We are able to move backwards and forwards in time at will simply by turning a page; to view the early involvement of our friends and colleagues, elder statesmen and mentors; to follow their progress to the chair of King Solomon and beyond. We are able to witness the strong, bold signatures of younger brothers’ change with maturity, perhaps gradually weaken with age and eventually cease to appear. However, we see that they are constantly being replaced by the brethren who follow them and continue the traditions which they have inherited. We hope that we, and those who follow us, will match the dedication, determination and energy of our founders of a century ago, and will maintain the continuity of Roll Call Lodge No. 2523.
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