Consecrated 1766 

Secretary: C Reynolds

Regular meetings are held on the third Tuesday of January (Installation) February, March, April, September, October and November.

This short history was compiled by W.Bro Derrick Smoothy.

The story starts in the early years of the reign of King George III. In 1766, the year of the Inception of this Lodge, the population of London as about 700,000. At the end of the Minories, opposite the Tower of London was a tavern known as the Crown and Thistle and this is where the Lodge first met. Four Brethren of Strong Man Lodge No. 45 were responsible for the formation of the Lodge, their names are on our warrant dated 1766, we were the sixth Lodge in the UK at this time. Thomas Sansum was the first Master, he was Installed on 4th December 1766 and ruled his Lodge from the chair which is still used for Installations to this day.

During these years it was customary for Lodges to follow ancient toasting procedures. In a Lodge the lighted candles were called Stars, the food, Materials, the wine, Powder, the bottles, Powder Barrels and the glasses represented the Cannon. Charging the cannon was to fill the glasses and to Fire was to drink. There is a record of the consecration of the Great Lodge at Swaffham in 1757 that they had thirteen pieces of cannon discharged after each toast, but for general meetings it become usual to have firing glasses, Brethren will appreciate the custom of the Master asking at the Festive Board how the Warden’s respective columns are Charged.

The Bible we use today was presented by Brother F. Gill in 1791, and in 1801 the Lodge moved to Rochford, first at the New Ship Inn. By 1803 meetings were held 12 times a year on the Thursday on or before the full moon. This enabled Brethren to travel home in some light lessening the risk of meeting Highwaymen.

In 1864 The Lodge of True Friendship founded a daughter Lodge in Southend. The Priory Lodge 1000. 1866 was the first year in which the Junior Warden gave the Charge after Initiation. A Mr Albert Lucking was proposed in 1867. He was a merchant of Southend who was to become quite famous in the Province. The Provincial Grand Master attending regularly about this time, possibly by train to Brentwood (or Burntwood) then by coach to Rochford, as there were no trains in Rochford at this time. A trip to London could take over 7 hours and a coach left the Kings Head Inn in the Square three times a week. The coach used some dreadful roads at the time, Ironwell Lane being a good example which has survived, this was used as there was no turnpike, whereas Hall Road had a turnpike near to Cherry Orchard Lane. The coach fare was about a week’s wages, five shillings each way, or three shillings riding outside, whatever the weather. The Railway didn’t arrive at Rayleigh and Rochford until 1896.

In 1875 the Provincial Grand Lodge was held at The Corn Exchange in Rochford Square.

In 1879 The Lodge was meeting at The Old Courthouse as the Old Ship was too small. The summons was printed for the first time in 1892 by Jaybez Francis in Rochford.