Gresham Lodge

Lodge Number: 869
Consecration: 19 June 1861
Meeting Place: Halsey Masonic Hall – Cheshunt
Meeting Dates: 2nd Saturday June (Installation)
4th Saturday January
2nd Saturday April
4th Saturday October

THE GRESHAM LODGE was named after Sir Thomas Gresham whose portrait adorns our Summons and Lodge Banner, who in 1567 ruled the craft as its Grand Master, conjointly with Francis Russell, Earl of Bedford; the former having control of the southern division and the latter the northern division. Whilst we have evidence the lodge was named after Sir Thomas Gresham, we have no explanation as to why!

It is reasonable to state that Masonic activity in Hertfordshire was busy between 1839-1845 when eight Lodges and two Royal Arch Chapters were established

A number of London Masons got together and became Founders of Gresham Lodge, namely

Bro. Rev. John William Laughlin, Prov.G.Chaplain Herts.,Old Concord Lodge No. 201, now 172.

Bro. Henry James Thompson, (Jeweller), Lion and Lamb Lodge No. 227, now No. 192.

Bro. Charles Swan, (Jeweller), Jordan Lodge No. 237, now No. 201.

Bro. Joseph Angell Hatch, Victoria Rifles Lodge No. 1124, now No, 822.

Bro. Oscar Frederick Vallentin, Dry Salter Prosperity Lodge No. 78, now No. 65.

Bro. Clarence Harcourt, (Solicitor), Neptune Lodge No. 22, now No. 22.

Bro. Charles James How, United Strength Lodge No. 276, now No. 228.

Bro. Joseph Braithwaite, Victoria Rifles Lodge No. 1124, now No. 822

Bro. Jeremiah How, Berkhampstead Lodge No. 504, Lodge of Unity No. 82, now No. 69.

Although the Founders were all London Masons, Bro. Jeremiah How and Bro. Rev. John Laughlin were also Hertfordfordshire Masons; Bro. Jeremiah How being ProvDC. from 1854 – 1859  and Bro. Rev. John Laughlin was the Prov. Grand Chaplain during 1861, so the link was there.

The Lodge  was  consecrated on Wednesday,19th June 1861 registered as Lodge No. 1171 (changed to Lodge No. 869 in 1863), at the Four Swans Hotel, Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, (known then as Waltham Crofs).

The R.W. Bro. William Stuart, Prov. Grand Master, Provincial Officers, Lodge Founders, and visitors numbered 27.

The R.W. Prov. Grand Master vacated the Chair and Bro. Jeremiah How conducted the consecration ceremony. Bro. Rev. John Laughlin gave the oration.

Bro. Joseph Braithwaite was installed as the first W. Master and appointed the following Bro. Joseph A. Hatch, SW Bro. Charles Swan, JW Bro. Oscar Frederick Vallentin, Treasurer; Bro. Rev. John William Laughlin, Chaplain; Bro. Jeremiah How, Secretary; Bro. Henry James Thompson, D. of C.; Bro. Charles How, S.D.; Bro. Clarence Harcourt, J.D.; Bro. Charles How provided the music during the ceremony and festival board.

The Silver vessels for the consecration were kindly lent by Bro. George Lambert, Lodge No. 742.

There was a serious decline in the attendance of Officers, welfare and prosperity of the Lodge and in 1869, just seven years after founding the Lodge, all but three of the original Founders and joining Members and most of the Initiates had left the Lodge. It is probable that the Lodge would have collapsed had it not been for the commitment of a few of the more recent Initiates.

During 1874 the subject of moving the Lodge was up for discussion as regular meetings of the Lodge were held in the summer when pleasure vans, and excursion parties to Broxbourne and Rye House were in full swing; much annoyance was experienced from the close proximity to the high road. Moves were made to move to the old Banqueting Hall of one of Cardinal Wolsey’s palaces called `The Cheshunt Great House. And the first meeting of the Lodge at Cheshunt Great House was held on Saturday,9th of October, 1875.

On 8th July, 1876, Prov. Grand Lodge was held at Cheshunt Great House, under the joint banners of the Gresham and King Harold Lodges.

At the 10th July, 1906, W. Master Bro. A. C. Beach and Bro. W. H. Wendon stated that several Members of the Lodge with other Brethren were desirous of forming a new lodge to be held at the Great House. Bro. W. H. Wendon of Gresham Lodge became the First WM of the Gaddesden Lodge No. 3398. It is pleasing to record in 1985 that the relationship between the two Lodges has remained very close; our Daughter Lodge celebrating her 75th Anniversary in 1984 and subsequently its Centenary in 2009, but sadly closing in 2011.

13th July, 1946, it was announced the Lodge would hold meetings at the Walnut Tree House, Cheshunt. (later re-named ‘Halsey Masonic Hall’) after the Great Hall was requisitioned for war use..

On 10 June 1961, the Gresham Lodge held its Centenary Meeting in the marvellous setting of the Masonic Hall, Great Queen Street. Bro. Ronald W. Johnson, Installing Master, conducted the ceremony in an exemplary manner, Installing Bro. Robert E. Harrisson, A.R.C.A., as Master.

14th September, 1981 saw the lodge, at its third attempt and after 120 years of its history, achieve the formation of its own Gresham Chapter.

At the Gresham Lodge 125th anniversary year celebration on 14th June 1986, W. Bro. Denis W. Winter was installed as Worshipful Master and a photograph of Lodge members and guests on that day is displayed near the entrance to the Halsey Temple at Halsey Masonic Hall, Cheshunt.

2011/12: Wally Taylor (for the second time) was installed as the 150th Worshipful Master of Gresham Lodge on 11th June 2011 and on 22nd October 2011 a special Banner Re-Dedication was held, conducted by R.W. Bro. Colin Harris and his Provincial Executive.

Sadly, since 1986, membership has declined somewhat, but this seems to be the general trend in many organizations throughout the country. However, what we may lack in quantity we are certainly rich in quality and currently we can boast a strong Lodge, with some very active members with plenty of work on the agenda.

In the past 30 years the Lodge has initiated 39 new members and welcomed 12 joining members, sadly some have decided to cease their membership. Currently we can account for 38 subscribing members which by modern standards, reflects a fairly sizable Lodge – but we must never be complacent but search diligently for the right type of person to become Freemasons, ever mindful that the final choice of joining is theirs alone, not ours, so we never press for membership.

During the past 30 years, the majority of our Gresham Past Masters have received Provincial Honours with some of these appointments and promotions creating `active officers` within the Province of Hertfordshire. Currently we have two Grand Officers, eighteen Past Provincial Grand Officers of Hertfordshire and three brethren jointly holding Senior & London Grand Rank.

The Lodge would like to convey its thanks to W. Bro. Fred Barton`s wife, Shelia, for her  sterling work in completely renovating and restoring our Lodge Banner to its former glory. The finishing touches of re-painting the portrait of Sir Thomas Gresham was undertaken by W. Bro. Bob Harrisson. Shelia spent approximately 8-10 weeks complete the renovation in 1994.

Finally, we feel sure that Gresham Lodge has a great future and whilst few of us (if any) will be around in 50 years time, we have no doubt that our successors will celebrate Gresham Lodge`s 200th Anniversary in great style.