Lodge of St Germain No.566

Lodge History

1850 - 1900

In Selby, the first Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons according to the modern Constitution of Freemasonry, under the Grand Lodge of England was the Mariners’ Lodge No. 576. This Lodge was formed on the 7th June, 1799, and was dedicated to “Holy St. John the Baptist, and to Freemasonry . . . Next to virtue, and lastly to Universal Charity and Benevolence.”

The Lodge met at the Rose and Crown in Micklegate. Its life however was very short, for the last minutes are dated 2nd September, 1807, although there is evidence that meetings took place in 1813. The Lodge was erased by Grand Lodge on December 4th, 1822, but some of the members lived to see the formation of the Lodge of St. Germain, and were highly esteemed by the brethren of the younger and more prosperous Lodge.

The Lodge of St Germain, No. 827, Selby, was constituted on Friday, March 1st, 1850, under a warrant granted by the Most Worshipful Grand Master, the Right Hon. The Earl of Zetland, and dated October 15th, 1849. Lord Zetland, who was also Provincial Grand Master of North and East Yorkshire, appointed Bro T. E. Newnum, P.M. of the Union Lodge of York, to represent him at the consecration.

The inclusion of the new Lodge in the Province of Yorkshire North and East Riding took place after due consideration of the facts that the petitioning brethren had been initiated in Lodges of that Province, and that the petition for the foundation of the Lodge had been recommended by the York Lodge. When the numbers of the Lodges were “closed up” in 1863, the Lodge became No. 566 on the register of the Grand Lodge of England.

The Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire North and East Riding held its annual meeting under the banner of St Germain at Selby first on September 17th, 1853, and again on July 24th, 1895. On the latter occasion Lord Zetland, Provincial Grand Master, presided, and the brethren attended Divine Service in the Abbey Church of St. Germain and St. Mary.

As 1899 was the Jubilee year of the Lodge, W Bro Mark Scott the oldest Past Master, was elected to the Chair (for the fifth time). To mark the year he appointed Past Masters to all the Offices with the exception of that of Tyler. W Bro, Mark Scott also held during that year the Office of W.M. of the Humber Installed Masters’ Lodge, Hull, having been granted the necessary dispensation.

St. Germain’s Chapter was founded in 1872 but erased in 1879. On April 24th, 1900, the Salebeia Chapter of Royal Arch Masons was consecrated, and it celebrated its Jubilee in 1956.

1900 - 1950

In October, 1905, it became necessary to find new Lodge premises. Then the property on Church Hill which was a Temperance Hotel called Knotts Hotel was bought. The last meeting to be held in the old Lodge room, which was situated in the Crescent, was held on April 6th, 1906, and meetings were then held at the Londesborough Arms Hotel until the consecration of the new Lodge by Lord Bolton, Past G. W. England, R. W. Deputy Provincial G. M. Yorkshire North and East Ridings, on the 11th October, 1906.

Five years later, W Bro Miles J. Stapylton was appointed Deputy Provincial Grand Master in succession to W Bro Lord Bolton, and in December of the same year he paid his first visit to the Lodge in that capacity to unveil a portrait of Lord Bolton. This portrait was later presented to the Lord Bolton Lodge, Hull, to replace their own which had been destroyed by enemy action during the 1989-45 war.

W Bro Mark Scott attained his Jubilee as a Mason, and received the congratulations of the brethren, in December, 1915 and at the Lodge meeting in the following January was unanimously elected W.M. Prior to the Installation Ceremony on February 11th, he unveiled a bronze tablet in Selby Abbey on which is recorded the restoration, by the Freemasons of Yorkshire, of the North Transept of the Abbey after the fire of 1906.

In July, 1918, permission was granted by Provincial and Grand Lodges for vocal music to be sung in the Lodge.

During the first World War (1914-18) many of the younger brethren served in His Majesty’s Forces, and the attendance at Lodge was necessarily depleted. After the war, however, the number of members increased so much that it was decided in May, 1921, to lease the adjoining premises for the extension and alteration of the Lodge. The money required, £350, was obtained on loan from the brethren. The property was eventually bought in 1933.

The meeting of the Humber Installed Masters’ Lodge, Hull, No. 2494, at Selby on June 21st, 1923, gave the brethren of St. Germain the opportunity of entertaining them after a visit to Cawood Castle.

In 1924, W Bro W. N. Cheesman, P.P.G.W., published his monograph on Masons’ Marks, a copy of which was placed in the Lodge Library, as was also in the following year, a Souvenir Volume of the Installation of our Provincial Grand Master. To these was added, in April, a bound copy of the whole of W Bro W. N. Cheesman’s publications on Masonry and Mycology. Just before his death in 1925, W Bro Cheesman also gave to the Lodge copies of letters dealing with the history of the formation of the Lodge.

W Bro Cheesman had been Master of the Lodge in 1887 and 1905. It was in December, 1925, that W Bro Mark Scott completed 60 years as a member of the Lodge. He had been master six times, viz.—1868, 1876, 1882, 1889, 1899 and 1916.

In January, 1934, W Bro F. A. Greenland was appointed Tyler, an Office he held until 1959, when he was elected an honorary member of the Lodge. Among other outstanding members of the Lodge, the following cannot fail to be included:-

  • W Bro T. M. Weddall, the first S.W. of the Lodge and Master in 1851, 1863, 1864 and 1879.

  • W Bro S. M. Scott, W.M. in 1895, elected an honorary member for his services to the Lodge in 1947.

  • W Bro A. J. Somers, Master in 1908, who served the Lodge as Past Master for over 50 years, and was elected an honorary member in 1957.

  • The very W Bro the Rev C.F. Knyvett, Bishop of Selby, Past Grand Chaplain, elected an Honorary member of the lodge in June 1955. He completed 50yrs of service to Freemasonry on October 30th 1956.

Almost immediately after the outbreak of the Second World War, the secretary of the Lodge reported that the Lodge premises had been occupied by the military authorities. Meetings however continued to be held throughout the war. At that same meeting the Brethren were informed that a circular from the Grand Secretary asked that Freemasons should contribute to the urgent needs by surrendering their Masonic Jewels. Past masters jewels were not presented again until 1944.

During the war there was a provincial appeal for money for hospitals. The Lodge subscribed £1 per member, a total of £67. From this Provincial fund a bed in Selby War Memorial Hospital was endowed. It was dedicated on October 11th, 1941.

In 1947 occurred the unusual circumstance of a cancelled lodge being re-called, with 13 members present. Selby and district had been severely flooded by the overflowing of the river Ouse and the breaking of the banks of the river and neighbouring canals. On the 7th April it was thought impossible to hold the Lodge Meeting called for April 11 th and the summons was cancelled. This action was found irregular. Hence despite the flood, a few Members were hastily brought together and the Lodge meeting constitutionally held.

1950 - 2000

1950 was the centenary year of the lodge, and at the installation held in the Museum Hall on Saturday, February 25th, Bro D,M. Cochrane was installed Master, in the presence of the Rt. W Deputy Grand Master ( later Most. W Grand .Master) the Rt Hon The Earl of Scarborough. The W Deputy. Prov. Grand. Master, Sir William Crosswaite, P.G.D. the W Asst. Prov. Grand. Master. William P. Field, P. G. D. the Rt. W Prov. Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, Milburn E, Clarke, P.G.D. and many other Grand and Prov, Grand Officers. A Banquet was held afterwards in the Baths Hall,, when the Masonic Toasts were honoured and the gathering of about 180 Brethren had the privilege of being addressed by the Grand and Prov. Grand Officers.

The outstanding event of 1956 was the convocation of the Provincial Grand Lodge at Scarborough in June, under the Banner of the Lodge St Germain. No 566, united with those of St Cuthbert’s. No. 630( daughter Lodge of St Germain), Beacon Lodge No. 4362 and Brough Lodge No. 5464.

1960 marked another milestone in the long history of the lodge, as on April 27th, W Bro .E.R Ayres (Prov G.J.W. in 1952) was invested in Grand Lodge as P.A.G.D.C.., a well earned honour and the first to be received by a member of the Lodge.

On May the 4th, W Bro Ayres was invested in Grand Chapter as P.G.Std.B., being the first member of Salebia Chapter to receive Grand Chapter Honours.

For many years a lodge of Instruction has been associated with the Lodge . The present one has been in existence since 1941.

In March 1960, The St Germain building fund was established to receive and accumulate voluntary subscriptions from the Brethren. During the same year the building was extended to provide extra toilet and cloakroom facilities.

For many years security of tenure of the lodge premises has been in doubt, due to a proposed road widening scheme. As a consequence, only essential renovations and repairs had been carried out.

In 1963 the premises were scheduled as an ‘ancient building’ ,Which was felt as sufficient justification for embarking on improvements as funds permitted. Thus, during the subsequent years up to 1970 considerable improvements to the lodge amenities were accomplished, the major being voluntarily executed by various members of the lodge under stimulating leadership and the personal example of W Bro D Foster, P.P.G.A.D.C. who also constructed and presented a model of the Second Degree Tracing Board.

In 1965 the kitchen was renovated; new units being built, walls plastering and a new floor laying. This was followed in 1966 by the redecoration of the dining room; the walls being half panelled and new lighting and curtains being purchased.

In 1969 the old under the stairs bar was removed and a new larger bar provided, the additional space allowed for a large carpeted area in the lounge for which new furniture was provided. In 1970 extensive work was carried in the snooker room most of the work being done by a number of Brethren wood worm infested panelling was removed and a new floor laid.

On Sunday, July 13th, 1969, a Festival service for the Ninth Centenary of Selby Abbey was offered in the Abbey by the Lodge, and supported by the Freemasons of Yorkshire. The sermon was delivered by W.Bro The Rev. J .Mainwaring Taylor, Prov. Gd Chaplain, Yorkshire North and East Ridings, a member of the Lodge of St Germain. Amongst those present were the R.W Prov. Gd. Master, the Very, W the Dep. Gd. Master. and the W Asst. Gd Master, supported by many Distinguished Brethren, including the Rt. W Prov. Gd. Master, West Riding, and his Assistant. Every Lodge in the Province was represented. Many of the principal visitors were entertained in the lodge after the service.

In 1970 the floor of the Temple was strengthened at a cost of just over £700, considering that the numbers attending regular meetings occasionally reached up to three figures it was probably a wise move.

Work was also taking place locally as a minute from the 12th of March 1971 indicates when it was reported that as result of nearby demolition work “the crockery cupboard had fallen off the wall and all was lost”. It was agreed to spend £150 on replacement crockery of which £50 was donated from the Salebia Chapter.

In the same year the subscription was increased to £6.50, remember we were all decimalised in 1971. Remember also that inflation was rampant in the early seventies and consequently, two years later in 1973, it was agreed the subscription would double to £13.

Due to some to some “technical difficulty” the method of increasing the fee would be a technical violation of the book of constitutions and the alterations to the by-laws could not be ratified by the date the fees were due in 1974. A letter from the Lodge secretary Bro D Davidson, was circulated explaining this and asking the Brethren to consider the intended increase as a personal donation. As a direct result of this problem By-laws were subsequently rewritten, the wording of which allowed the Lodge to adjust fees without reference to Grand Lodge or the Provincial Office. It is not recorded if any member did make a donation. Unfortunately the By-law ”the services of the Secretary shall be deemed equivalent to the payment of subscription” was accidentally deleted during the alterations and notice of motion to reinstate this By-law was given in January 1976. It was subsequently placed on the summons to be voted for at the February meeting but no record of it being actioned is recorded.

Alterations were under taken in September 1973 namely concreting the floor of the dining room and snooker room. So a dispensation was sought and granted for the lodge to meet at Howden for the regular meeting. The first time a regular meeting of St Germain had been held any where other than Church Hill for their meetings.

What is probably a unique meeting took place on Friday the 8th of October 1976, At the request of the Worshipful master W. Bro D W Allen, and with the sanction of Grand Lodge and the Province, all of the officers positions were taken over by Brethren from Cumberland Lodge No 26 on the Roll of the Grand Lodge of British Columbia, Canada. Consequently Mr. N. M. Webster, a Lewis, was initiated by the acting Master W. Bro B. Hemingway assisted by his countrymen and using their own ritual. Although it is not recorded in the minutes for the evening various gifts were exchanged including scrolls and totem poles. Flags of both nations adorned the dining room tables.

In May 1981 Bro D.E.Davinson became Worshipful Master Master Master of the Lodge on went on to Gain Grand Lodge Master and was installed as Master of St Germain and subsequently went on to gain Grand Lodge Honours. He also became Deputy Provincial Grand Master, he also attained the rank of Most Excellent Grand Superintendent of Provincial Grand Chapter.

On the 14th of December 1984 W.Bro A.Exelby was made an Honorary Member as a token of the regard he was held in by the Lodge. A letter of thanks from him was read out in the January and unfortunately news of his death on the 4th of February was broadcast at the February Meeting.

For the second time in its history at Church Hill, a regular meeting was held away from home on the 11th of October 1985 when Mr V.M. Griffiths was initiated at Connaught Court. Much organisation and movement of Lodge furniture had to take place to make the meeting possible. It proved to be very successful with 48 members in attendance and 48 visitors. W. Bro V. M. Griffiths became 150th Master of the Lodge.

The 1980’s saw an increase in initiates and joining members and new technology was needed, consequently on the 10th February 1989 it was agreed to have a telephone put in the building.

1995 saw the question of Charitable trust being well researched and debated. This culminated on the 13th of October when a proposition to apply for Charitable Trust Status was voted for. The vote was 27 for and 14 against. As the current Trust deed required a 75% majority for the change the motion was defeated.

Most of the evening was given to the debate but time was still found to propose W. Bro T. R. Hodgson an honorary member after 60 years loyal service to the Lodge. The D.P.G.M in charge W. Bro D. E. Davinson then had the pleasure of presenting Provincial Long Service Certificates to both W. Bro Hodgson( 60years )and W. Bro K Taylor(50 years )and expressed his thanks for the part that both had made in his own development as a Mason.

In 1996 W. Bro K .Boaz was promoted to Grand Lodge as PAGDC.

For the first time in 47 years a P.G.M, R.W. His Honour Judge Gerald Coles attended St Germain when Bro A.J. Joy was installed as Master on the 9th of May 1997. The Provincial Grand Master was attended by a number of his team including his Deputy and one of his assistants.

Renovations and improvements to the Lodge were regularly being undertaken throughout the 1990’s. Both W.Bro T Stafford and W.Bro K Harland had been consecutive chairs of the house committee and had both brought much enthusiasm and commitment to the post.

In 1998 the old bar was removed and a new building was erected in the old back yard to accommodate the new bar the old Temple stairs were removed and new access stairs and chair lift were installed. Thanks to a very generous donation by Bro W.H Harding and some exceptional fundraising this area was carpeted and the whole downstairs re painted by the Brethren themselves.

2000 -

In May 2004 the Lodge was again honoured by a visit from the Provincial Grand Master this time by the R.W. P.G.M, R. J. Anderson and his team to the Installation of Bro J Doherty, and on this occasion he presented Long Service Medals to W. Bro K. Taylor (60 years) and to W. Bro J. Huddlestone (50 years) and promoted them both to P.G.J.W’s.

In 2005 W. Bro I. F Franks was promoted to the active Grand Lodge Rank of G. Purs.

In 2005 the Snooker table was removed after much discussion and the room turned into the reception area, this work continued into the Temple and in 2006 a new central heating system was installed by W. Bro Taylor. And the Temple was refurbished by number of the Brethren.

In 2006 W.Bro K. Boaz was promoted to P.G.J.D.

In 2007 this merry band of workers descended into the dining room to refurbish the room and damp proof the walls, and install new wiring and smoke alarms.

At the April 2007 meeting it was proposed that W.Bro K Taylor be made an honorary member. This was unanimously passed in open lodge.

On the 19 September 2008 Bro J Endley received a scroll signed by all the Brethren in thanks for all his hard work refurbishing the Lodge buildings from W Bro K Boaz.

On 28 April 2010 W Bro D Clough was appointed and invested with Grand Lodge Honours of PGStdB.

On 11 June 2010 W.Bro David Marsh PGSD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, attended the regular lodge meeting to present a 50th Year Membership Certificate to W.Bro David W Allen PPJGW. When he joined the lodge as a Lewis, David was taken through all three degrees by his father who was Master at the time.

Late September 2010 finally saw the new windows fitted to the front of the Lodge Building and the front of the Lodge repainted.