The Birth of a Lodge

“The Birth of a Lodge”

It all started in 1951 when, after the dinner following Provincial Grand Lodge, the then Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master – Sir Henry Thirkill – spoke of the desirability of the foundation of one or more new lodges in the City of Cambridge.  In the following year, at the meetings of Provincial Grand Lodge, he reminded the Brethren of his wishes, and specifically asked Scientific Lodge and the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles to let him have their views before the next meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge, which was in June 1953.

At this meeting, he was able to state that Scientific Lodge No.88, had submitted a petition for a new Lodge to be known as the Gild of St. Mary Lodge and that the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles No.441, was taking steps in the same direction.  It is the events that took place leading to the Consecration of Thirkill Lodge on the 15th February 1954, that I have tried to recount, which have been extracted from preserved records of the meetings held prior to the Consecration.

Looking back, it is recorded that there is an impression that the enthusiasm in the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles for the formation of a new Lodge was somewhat lukewarm, and it was only the direct request from the Provincial Grand Master and the enthusiasm of the late Worshipful Brother F. J. Corbett that got the project off the ground.  Worshipful Brother Sidney Rolfe (the father of our Worshipful Brother Gordon Rolfe), was Master of the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles at that time, and the Committee of the Lodge arranged for a circular letter to be sent to all its members calling a meeting to be held at the Lion Hotel on Tuesday, 7th July 1953.  Some twenty-four members attended this meeting, when a resolution was passed to petition Grand Lodge for a Warrant, and also to request the Lodge at its next regular Lodge meeting, to adopt a resolution sponsoring a new Lodge.  The following Brethren were also appointed as an Executive Committee to take such steps as might be necessary to prepare a petition to Grand Lodge for a Warrant, and with power to act until the consecration of the Lodge, namely Worshipful Brothers S.A. Rolfe, F.J. Corbett, W.L. Dominy, C.A. Brady, F.E. Britten, W. Armistead, and H.R.E. Race.

Immediately following this meeting, this Committee then met and appointed Worshipful Brother Sidney Rolfe as Chairman and Worshipful Brother F.J. Corbett to act as Secretary until the Consecration of the Lodge.  The Meeting unanimously agreed that the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Sir Henry Thirkill, be approached with a view to the new Lodge being named "Thirkill Lodge", and the Secretary was asked to bring this request to the notice of the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master for his consideration.

It was further agreed that the Lodge should meet at the Isaac Newton University Masonic rooms at No.8 Corn Exchange Street, Cambridge on the third Monday in October, November, January, February, March and April, with the Installation Meeting to be held in November, that negotiation shall be entered into with the Trustees of Isaac Newton University Lodge for the use of its Temple and the furniture, and that enquiries should be made with regard to catering.  The Chairman and Worshipful Brothers S. Armistead and H.R.E. Race were appointed as a sub-committee for this purpose.

The Executive Committee next met on the 28th July, at 8 Alexandra Street, Cambridge (second floor), the office of Worshipful Brother F.J. Corbett, Acting Secretary at 6:15 pm, here it was reported that the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Sir Henry Thirkill, had acceded to the request of the Committee, that the Lodge should be named – "Thirkill Lodge".  In his reply to the request to name the Lodge after him, Sir Henry Thirkill wrote, and I quote herewith: –

“ No one could fail to be deeply sensible and appreciative of an honour such as the Founders wish to confer upon me, but as you know,  I have always inclined to the view that it is better that the name of the living Brother should not be attached to a Lodge unless the circumstances are very exceptional.  Personally, I shall be happily content to be known to the Brethren of the Province mainly through my personal contacts with them.  The delay in my reply resulted from a long consideration of this thought and was a measure of my deep appreciation of this honour, as a negative reply will have been much more in line with my feelings.

As I said, however, at the meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge last June, I am very anxious to give all the support I can to the new Lodge.  If, therefore, it is the unanimous wish of the Founders, and if it is felt by them, that by agreeing to the request I can more effectively be of assistance to the Lodge, I shall be happy to agree.  At the same time I should like to express my very deep and sincere appreciation of the generous thought which prompted the proposal.” 

The Committee then unanimously agreed to invite the Worshipful Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Dr. H.B. Roderick, to become the First Master of the Lodge.  Happily, Dr. Roderick accepted this Office, and in his letter of acceptance, he stated that the Brethren must realise that they were putting a very near octogenarian in the Chair, and he went on to say:-  "If the Founders have weighed up the whole problem from all points of view, and still wish it well, let's get on with the job, and make it a first-class Lodge, second to none!"

The next step, of course, was to obtain the support of the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles No. 441 to sponsor Thirkill Lodge.  It is reported Worshipful Brother R. Alsop and Worshipful Brother C.A.H. Brady had to give an undertaking to the Committee of that Lodge, that the ritual of the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles will not be worked.  On this understanding, the meeting agreed to recommend the Lodge to sponsor Thirkill Lodge, which, of course, it did.

The sub-committee appointed to meet the Trustees of Isaac Newton University Lodge were now in a position to present their report to the Executive Committee.  The Trustees offered the use of the temple, a large ante-room, cloakroom accommodation and dining room on the first floor to accommodate sixty at a rent of four guineas per meeting, and the use of the large dining room for Installation Meetings, which was then let to a Dancing School.  The Trustees of Isaac Newton University Lodge also gave the use of their furniture.

Brother J.J. Hall, Custodian of the Masonic Hall, was appointed Tyler at a fee of two guineas per meeting.  Brother Hall was not only custodian of the building but was official caterer to the University Lodge and other Degrees that met there.  A menu for Thirkill Lodge was agreed comprising Soup, Fish, Main Dish, Vegetables, Sweet, Cheese and Biscuits, and Coffee, at a cost of five shillings per head, plus one and sixpence per head for the use of tableware, been the property of Isaac Newton University Lodge, thus making a total of six shillings and sixpence per head for supper.

At this Meeting it was recorded that twenty-three members of the Lodge of the Three Grand Principles No.441, and three members of other Lodges had applied to become Founders.  In view of the express wish of the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master that the number of Founders be limited to between twenty and thirty, it was thereby resolved that the number be fixed at thirty, and that the four remaining vacancies should be restricted to non-members of the Lodge of Three Grand Principles.

It was subsequently reported that a number of applications from Brethren had been received, but as these exceeded the number of thirty, agreed upon at the last meeting, it was resolved that they should be informed that applications from them for election as joining members will receive consideration and be welcomed.

It was further agreed that the Founder's fee should be ten guineas and Founder's jewel of approved pattern be available for those Founders who desired to purchase one.

It was also resolved that consideration of the ritual to be adopted by the Lodge, should be deferred until after the Warrant of Constitution had been granted by Grand Lodge.  The By- laws were considered and a number of preliminary suggestions were made, and it was resolved that the By- laws should be considered by a full meeting of the Founders, after the Warrant had been granted.  It was then resolved that the first officers be selected by the Master Designate, and that the following names be submitted to him for consideration:–

Immediate Past Master               

W. Bro. F.J. Corbett

Senior Warden                        

W. Bro. R. Alsop

Junior Warden                        

W. Bro. A.A. Arrandale


W. Bro. A.E. Hopkin


W. Bro. C.A.H. Brady


W. Bro. F.W. Britten

Director of Ceremonies        

W. Bro. W. Armistead

A full meeting of the Founders was held on 1st September 1953, again at the office of the Worshipful Brother F.J. Corbett, when the events just related were reported – the name of the Lodge, the First Master, the report of the Executive Committee and sub-committees, which were all received and adopted.  The Founders then signed the petition to Grand Lodge and paid their fees.  At the conclusion of this meeting, the Founders were entertained by the Master Designate and Worshipful Brother S.A. Rolfe, who were thanked for their hospitality.

I think at this stage it should be mentioned that the late Provincial Grand Master, Sir Henry Thirkill, as indeed had the Founders, felt the new Lodge will fill a gap in the Masonic structure of the City at that time, namely to provide a Lodge of modest cost in the matter of initiation fees, within the reach of many excellent candidates living on relative modest incomes.  With this in mind, the Petition to Grand Lodge for a Warrant of Constitution, the following reasons were given: –

That in comparison with the rest of the country Cambridge has fewer number of lodges in proportion to its population than cities of comparable character.

That the average number of members in the City Lodges is approximately one hundred and sixteen, and they range from seventy-one to one hundred and seventy.

That in addition to lack of opportunity for men of good standing to come to Masonry, there is also a need for opportunities for young Freemasons to be able to take office within a reasonable time from the date of initiation.

The next meeting of the Founders was held on the 29th December 1953. Worshipful Brother Dr. Roderick occupied the Chair, and at this meeting, it was resolved that Messrs Arthur Fenwick should supply regalia as hereunder: –

Collars and jewels at Two Pounds Eight Shillings each {engraving extra}

Six Gauntlets for the Master and Wardens for Fourteen Pounds Five Shillings

Master's Collar with Chain at Eighteen Pounds

Thirty Founder's Jewels at Thirty-Six Shillings each

The design for the Founder's Jewel was also approved, which, of course, now forms the Crest on our summons and Past Master's Jewel.  The First Officers presented their Collars and Jewels suitably engraved.

The final meeting of the Founders of the Lodge was a very happy event, when the Master Designate, Worshipful Brother Roderick, held a sherry party at his house in Queen's Road, for the Founders of the Lodge.

On the morning of Monday the 15th February 1954, the Founders met at the Isaac Newton University Hall and the Ceremony of the Consecration was rehearsed under the direction of the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, Worshipful Brother E. Cant.

At 4 pm that afternoon, the Lodge was consecrated by the Right Worshipful Brother Sir Henry Thirkill, assisted by Worshipful Brother H.E. Nourse, Provincial Senior Grand Warden, Worshipful Brother J.K. Newton–Smith, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, Worshipful Brother the Rev. Canon  P.G. Ward as Chaplain, Worshipful Brother P.W. Hall as Secretary, Worshipful Brother E. Cant, as Director of Ceremonies, Worshipful Brother S.H.R. Souter as Organist, and Worshipful Brother R.G. Houghton as Inner Guard.  The ceremony was performed with great dignity and without a hitch, following which Worshipful Brother P.W. Hall installed the Master Designate.  The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Sir Henry Thirkill, delivered the address to the Master.  The first Worshipful Master then invested Worshipful Brother R. Alsop as Senior Warden, and Worshipful Brother W. Arrandale as Junior Warden, the address to the Wardens being presented by Worshipful Brother S. Riddiough, who was later Deputy Provincial Grand Master.  After the Worshipful Master had appointed his officers, Worshipful Brother P.W. Hall gave the address to the Brethren.

The Consecrating Officers were all made Honorary Members of Thirkill lodge.






Compiled by W. Bro. D.R. Reed PProvAGSec

Using extracts taken from various Papers and Documents (1991)


Founder Members



Sidney Alfred Rolfe                              

441 & 5810

Frederick James Corbett                       

441 & 5810

Frank William Brittain                          

441 & 5810

Cyril Alfred Hubert Brady                    


William Armistead                                


William Lindsay Dominy                      

441 & 1405

Arthur Wellesley Arundale                    

460 & 285

Horace Reginald Emmanual Race                 


Reginald Alsop                                       


William Pitstow                                      

4334 & 5810

Albert Victor Rolfe                                  


Horace Lister                                          

441, 5810 & 7288

Thomas John Chapman                              


Alfred Richard Mizen                             


Frank Harold Garner                               


George Henry Matthews                         

441 & 1728

Basil Maurice Scudamore                       

441 & 4018

Henry Buckley Roderick                         

859, 1492, 3532 & 5810

Archie Ernest Hopkins                            

441 & 3577

Robert B. Sewell                                       

3102, 1492 & 859

William Barrodale Savory                             

858, 96, 631, 1591, 3270 & 3305

Sidney Tomsett Miller                             

859, 3532 & 1492

Claude James Walker                              


Percy Albert Parfitt                                 


Jack Nelson Baldry                               

441, 5810, 6539 & 7288

Leslie Frank Day                                     


Hubert Charles Finbow                           

441 & 7288                         

Sidney Riddiough                                    

1492, 859 & 4520

Bertie Meadows                                       


Robert Windle Potts                                   

441 & 3216