Antient & Honorable Fraternity of Free & Accepted Masons

"Devon" Lodge, No. 1138.

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Date of Warrant - 28th September 1866

Date of Centenary Warrant - 28th November 1966

Although there were, without doubt, many freemasons in Newton Abbot, no regular lodge was held in the town until 1759, when a lodge was formed in the Sun Tavern Inn, Wolborough Street, lapsing some years later. The second lodge in Newton Abbot was established just ten years later, in 1769, and was named the Royal George, probably because that was the name of the tavern in which it was held, although an inn by that name cannot be traced. After a time the lodge was held at the Oxford Inn, Bank Street, but it did not flourish and, after being transferred to Bridport it was eventually struck off the rolls in 1832. Another lodge was formed in Newton Bushell in 1812, and it originally met at the Freemasons' Inn, which was afterwards known as the Commercial Hotel. At that time the Prince of Wales was Grand Master and Lord Moira, Acting Grand Master. This lodge was erased on 1 December 1830. Another Lodge was formed on 15 March 1872, which was known as The Morning Star Lodge, and met at the Queen's Hotel, Newton Abbot. It was erased on 20 March 1884.

The Devon Lodge was formed in 1866, being the daughter lodge of Pleiades, No. 710, and has flourished ever since. It is interesting to note with what enthusiasm the original members worked to increase their number. During the first year they held nine emergency meetings in addition to their regular meetings. The present lodge building was built in 1867. Plans were approved for the building on 23 April 1867 and in August the foundation stone was laid, and is recorded as follows: 'The Provincial Grand Lodge of Devon held their Annual Meeting at the new Buildings opposite the Court House, Courtenay Street, Newton Abbot, and proceeded thence to the Masonic Hall to lay the Memorial Stone of the Devon Lodge No. 1138, which was laid by Bro. The Rev. John Huyshe, the R. W. Provincial Grand Master, after which an Oration in honour of Freemasonry was delivered by Bro. Methan, and a procession was formed consisting of Brethren from different Lodges in the Province of Devon. After the ceremony of laying the Memorial Stone, the Brethen repaired to the place of meeting, and the R. W. Provincial Grand Master appointed his Officers for the ensuing year and despatched other business pertaining to the Grand Lodge. An Address was susequently read by the Secretary and presented to the R. W. Provincial Grand Master from the Brethren composing the Devon Lodge. A Banquet was afterwards provided in the Corn Chamber in the Market, where about 160 Brethren sat down and partook of an excellent repas furnished by Bro. Swann.'

At the consecration Bro Metham said "Our obligations, if they mean anything, mean that we have given ourselves to others, that we have resolved to form all mankind in to one universal brotherhood, to gather up, as it were, the fragments of a ruined nature, and build them into a perfect temple. Such is the work to which every mason, in his generation, has bound himself to add a stone. The builder builds for centuries, we for eternity. A hundred thousand men laboured to raise a pyramid over a dead king; let us feel and show that we are engaged in a far nobler work, in erecting a living temple to a living God, a temple not to be judged by its outer magnificence, but by its inner decorations, and by its fruit which is to last for ever. If we would value at their proper worth those wondrous pillars of wisdom, strength and beauty on which Freemasonry rests, we must begin with that practical humility which can alone break down the barriers and bridge over the gulf which now divides man from his fellow man, with that charity which suffereth long and is kind, which thinketh no evils, which judges with candour and reprehends with mercy; with that submission to the Divine Will which teaches us to trust in God ourselves, and to feel towards others that love of which life is the essence; with that benevolence which so many need while treading, side by side with us, the thorny road of life, benevolence which we, in turn, may have to ask from others, and under what circumstances at danger, difficulty and distress, God only knows. We must in daily life be guided by prudence, temperance, fortitude and justice. We must be prepared to give at any moment an exact amount of the talents committed to us by the great Lord, to whom we are stewards; we must be prepared to show that those precious jewels, time, intellect and worldly wealth, have not been buried in the earth in a napkin, any more than they have been squandered in self-indulgence and vice, but that they have been spent in such works as are most consonant with His law and will."

Among Methan's concluding remarks, which should be passed from generation to generation, was this: "Today we commit to you the honour of this Province and the Craft; see that you guard them well."

The first regular meeting of Devon Lodge was held on 15th January 1867. The attention of the Brethren for the first 25 years was principally directed to the erection and furnishing of the lodge building at a cost of about £1,400. The second twenty five years was more centred in the work of the various charities, to which the lodge contributed in that time over £1,000. The furniture of the lodge has been considerably augmented by personal gifts from the brethren. The Master's chair was formally that of the Royal George Lodge, Newton Abbot (founded in the year 1759) and was purchased and presented to the lodge.

Freemasonry was mainly instrumental in securing 'The Passmore Edwards Free Library' for Newton Abbot. Bro. H. T. Parker meeting Bro. Passmore Edwards at the consecration of the Devonian Lodge No. 2834 in London in 1900, during a conversation found that Bro. Passmore Edwards had thought of giving a cottage hospital to Newton Abbot, in memory of his mother, who was born there, but on visiting Newton Abbot he ascertained that the town already possessed such a building. On Bro. Parker bringing the matter before the brethren at the next lodge meeting it was decided to write to Bro. Passmore Edwards suggesting that a free library was needed in the town, and would be appreciated, and also form a Memorial such as he desired. Bro. Passmore Edwards readily assented and said he would be pleased to give the town a free library in memory of his mother, conditional on the town finding a site and adopting the Library Act. Correspondence took place between the lodge and Bro. Passmore Edwards, the final negotiations being handed over to the Town Council. Bro. Passmore Edwards was made an Honourary Member of Devon Lodge in 1901.

On 6th November 1997 Devon Lodge was informed of the sad loss of W. Bro. Francis Henry Oliver, Past Provincial Grand Warden, aged 91 years. Bro. Oliver was initiated in 1932 in Midhurst Lodge No. 4460, becoming Master in 1954. He joined Devon Lodge in 1967, afterwards joining Devon HRA Chapter and Mark Masons. On 16th February he received a letter from the Grand Secretary congratulating him on sixty-five years in Freemasonry. He also received a certificate from Bro E. J. Holmon, ProvGM which was presented to him by Bro G. P. Rooke, PSGD, AssistProvGM. Bro Oliver was well respected and loved by the brethren of Devon Lodge, and there are many Past Masters who would not have attained the Master's chair had it not been for his encouragement and patience, especially with the ritual. He also supplied ritual books for the candidates after the completion of their three degrees. This will continue into the future thanks to the legacy he generously left to Devon Lodge. This legacy enabled the trustees to refurbish the Masonic Hall in Devon Square. The improvements were vast and will be enjoyed for many years to come. The work was started in June 2000 and completed in January 2001. This consisted of removing the roof from the refectory and building another storey above, giving a robing and committee room, cloakroom and an office. The refectory was completely refurbished and panelled out, plus a new bar, kitchen, regalia room and Tyler's room. There is a plaque in the hallway to remind brethren, now and in the future of Bro Oliver's bequest to the lodge. (This history is acknowledged as sourced from 'The Masonic Province of Devonshire 1732 - 2003')

On 29th November 2016, Devon Lodge No.1138 celebrated 150 years. To celebrate this landmark year for the Lodge a meeting under dispensation was held at Newton Abbot Racecourse, due to the large attendance, where a new Banner was dedicated. Attended by over 140 Brethren the Official Dedication Party was headed by R.W. Bro. Ian Kingsbury JP, Provincial Grand Master. Following the completion of the Dedication Ceremony the Brethren retired to the Dining Hall for a superb 5 course banquet meal.

There are three daughter lodges. The Ashburton Lodge, No. 2189. Date of Warrant - 18th December 1886. The Newton Lodge, No. 6129, Date of Warrant - 6th June 1945. The Teign Lodge, No. 7018. Date of Consecration - 26th September 1950. Further information may be found at Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire

Further history relating to "Devon Lodge" may be found among the information at Masonic orations delivered in Devon and Cornwall from A.D. 1866 at the dedication of masonic halls, etc., a relevent section is reproduced here

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