Consecration to the end of the 19th Century
We were consecrated at Licence's Assembly Rooms on the sea front, in the presence of the Right Worshipful, the Provincial Grand Master, Viscount Holmesdale, M.P., by Worshipful Brother Henry Muggeridge, a Past Master of the Lion and Lamb Lodge No. 227 (now 192) who installed as first Master Brother George Adamson of 199.
At this meeting eight gentlemen were proposed for initiation and eleven as joining members. Trinity Pilots predominated, but veterinary surgeons, licensed victuallers, printers, tailors, and grocers were among the number. Brother Adamson must have worked very hard. At his first meeting in March he initiated eight candidates and admitted the joining members. How he coped we cannot think; but he did. Incidentally, the Lodge opened at 6.15 pm and closed at 9.45 pm. Our meetings were held at the Royal Hotel in Clarence Place. (Royal Hotel)
The minutes rarely mention 'after proceedings', but I suspect that there was some 'calling off', and the Junior Warden's column was occasionally in the erect position. However, here is a brief account of what followed our 1870 Installation:
"The brethren then adjourned (5.30) to a superior banquet, replete with every comfort, served up by our worthy and esteemed host, Brother Past Master Adamson. After the usual patriotic and Masonic toasts, a number of excellent songs were sung by the brethren, and the evening was passed with harmony and decorum peculiar to the craft". What more could be desired?
In February 1875, Brother William Albert Smeeth was installed as Master. His promotion had been rapid; but his influence in Lodge lasted over half a century. He was Secretary of the Lodge for 37 years from 1876, and his minutes can still be read without eyestrain.
In September 1886, we moved from the Royal Hotel to the Freemason's Hall, a building recently acquired. Ten shillings per member was voted as our contribution to the decoration and furnishing of our new home. The Master was Worshipful Brother Woldemar Oehme Kennett, who had a considerable share in the acquisition of the new building.
Queen Victoria's Jubilee Year saw the birth of the Military Jubilee Lodge on 23rd March 1887. We were the sponsoring Lodge and watched with interest the rapid growth and popularity of the new Lodge.
The last decade of the century was for us a period of steady growth in numbers and friendly relationships between Lodges in Dover and in neighbouring towns. To read of the initiation of such stalwarts as David Henry Wilson, Charles James Sellens, Edward Wilfred Barclay and Alexander William Prince is something of a thrill. It is also a reminder of passing years! Those stalwarts quickly reached the chair; Brother Sellens occupied it during 1899-1900, and it was during his mastership that the Masonic Hall Company was formed to take over from the trustees the ownership of the Masonic Hall. Brothers Sellens and Smeeth were appointed to the Board of Directors and the Company leased the building to the Masonic Hall Committee at a rental of £85 per annum. Brother Sellens' last initiate was Charles Steven Harris, who so frequently entertained the Lodge with 'The Bells of St. Mary'.