The First 25 Years of Forester Lodge 7760
It was during the course of an Epping Foresters cricket match that the idea of creating a new Lodge was discussed between four members of various Masonic Lodges. Of these, two eventually became Founder Members of Forester Lodge both of whom went on to serve the Lodge over many years in many different capacities.
The President of the Cricket Club, subsequently became closely associated with the idea. He communicated his enthusiasm to other Brethren in the Craft, many of whom also later became Founder Members of the Lodge.
Henceforth, Forester Lodge had its origins at the commencement of a new decade – the controversial and so-called “ Swinging Sixties “. In which period was laid the foundations and threshold of so much change which has profoundly affected all our lives. In many respects the misguided dismantlement of time honoured and revered Institutions, whose influence through all levels of society ensured the retention and pursuance of recognised and accepted codes of conduct which have now become so often painfully notable for their absence and influence. Even so, in the face of all this, there was a preoccupation and concern for the many surviving expressions of tradition – among them the continuity of Freemasonry.
It was therefore in this spirit that Forester Lodge was Consecrated 25 years ago, and we celebrate that fact today with a great deal of pride and satisfaction.
The Consecration Meeting of the Lodge was held at the Masonic Hall, Loughton on Monday 1st May 1961. There were present 16 Founding members, 53 Visitors and an Acting Tyler.
All The Consecrating Officers were elected Honorary Members of the Lodge. Two Candidates for Initiation were Proposed and Seconded, another brother was Proposed, Seconded, and Admitted to the Lodge as a Joining Member.
At the First Regular Meeting of the Lodge on 2nd October 1961, Mr.G. Xxxx was Initiated, thus becoming the First Initiate. It was also proposed at this Meeting by the Worshipful Master, and seconded, that the Lodge sanction the formation of a Lodge of Instruction. This was carried.
At the 25th anniversary of the Forester Lodge of the sixteen original Founders we are pleased to still have seven Members in the Lodge. In particular the W.Bro., whom the Lodge has derived a great deal of pleasure in Installing in the Chair as its 25th Master. He was Director of Ceremonies of the Lodge shortly after its formation, an office he went on to hold with distinction for many years, together with that of Preceptor of the Lodge of Instruction. His influence and high standards in both Offices have been of inestimable value and will be remembered with a great deal of affection and high regards, particularly among the older members of the Lodge.
His Installing Master was also a Founding Member, Assistant Director of Ceremonies, and Assistant Preceptor over comparable terms of office, and his valuable services to the Lodge are also greatly appreciated.
The very early efficient progression of Brethren through the various Offices to the Chair of the Lodge was for some years, of vital importance, as it would of course be to all new Lodges, in order to establish a pattern of worthy succession. This challenge was however understood and accepted to their enduring credit. These first few Initiates exemplified in their subsequent work in the Lodge the standards that succeeding Officers of the Lodge have aspired to and pursued ever since with similar success, with the indispensable support and assistance of the Past Masters.
Testimony of these early facts is evidenced by the rapid progress of the Brother initiate who became the first Initiate of the Lodge to be Installed as its Master, within a span of approximately six years. This was substantially the course of events for a number of years until the membership grew sufficiently to enable a desirably longer period of graduation to the Chair, which is now achieved, emergencies excepted, in approximately ten years.
At the second Installation Meeting, in May 1962 the first three of the Lodge’s Initiates between them rendered an Explanation of the Working Tools in the Three Degrees with memorable distinction and credit.
In 1967, Our Installed Master had the honour and pleasure as Master, of representing the Lodge in response to an invitation extended to the Masters of English Lodges to the Installation of H.R.H. The Duke of Kent, G.C.V.O., A.D.C. as Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England at the Especial Grand Lodge Meeting held at the Royal Albert Hall on 27th June 1967, held to also celebrate the 250th Anniversary of the Founding of the Premier Grand Lodge.
On the occasion of the Installation Meeting in May 1972, the Lodge was honoured by the presence of the then Deputy Provincial Grand Master who was shortly afterwards to be Installed at Provincial Grand Master of Essex.
It was during 1978 that the Lodge decided to have a Banner designed and made. The cost of it was shared where possible by the Past Masters of the Lodge. As a consequence of this, the most memorable event in the recent history of the Lodge was the occasion of its Dedication on Monday 1st October 1979, which was directed and presided over by W.Bro. P.G.Std.B., with W.Bro. Prov.G.Chaplain also in attendance. All the Brethren present, both Members and Visitors, derived a great deal of pleasure and interest, particularly because it is a fairly infrequent ceremony to be witnessed, certainly only once in the lifetime of a Lodge.
Another notable recent event was the Signal Honour conferred on our Secretary and Second Initiate. The Lodge has been honoured and has achieved great satisfaction and pleasure as a consequence of his appointment and Investiture to Grand Rank.
The Next 25 Years
The solid traditions which were laid down as above were used as the foundation for the strict discipline of WBro. Roy during his time as DC ( 1986 – 1996 ). Aided and abetted as always by WBro. Bill, standards of Ritual even for such a small Lodge were always maintained at the highest level, and the slightest misdemeanours were immediately to be discouraged by a baleful glance.
In 1977, Brother Ken was Initiated, thus beginning a long tradition of association with the Fire Service, leading ultimately to 5 Initiates, and which continues even today in the persons of WBros Dave and Bob ( and not forgetting our permanent visitor WBro. Doug).
But possibly the most significant introduction during this period was that of pub landlord WBro. Derek in 1987. His Initiation into Forester Lodge has led to 10 further initiations of whom 5 have already been Masters of the Lodge.
The Lodge has always been honoured by the attendance of a number of loyal visitors, whose ongoing support has always been most appreciated by its Members.
One such permanent guest was W. Bro. Cliff, who ultimately clocked up nearly 40 years of attendance, as a consequence of which Members of the Lodge were ultimately most pleased to offer him Honorary Membership.
In the same way many other visitors have become part of the scene at Foresters in recent years – most notably Bro. Mick H who has missed very few meetings. Equally Bro. Doug has not only been a constant visitor for more than 15 years, during which time he has on many occasions not only offered himself as Candidate at ceremonies, but has also carried out a number of acting offices within the Lodge itself (although not yet all at the same time..! )
It was in 2002 that an era ended when the last Founder, W. Bro Jack PPJGW passed to the Grand Lodge Above, with a well-attended funeral at Waltham Abbey.
But those traditions and high standards already laid down by the likes of Brothers Jack, Roy and Bill, are still maintained to this day by our current Director of Ceremonies over the last 7 years, Brother Bob, whose excellent work has already been recognised by the Province with an active role as an ADC.
Whilst almost any performance in the Lodge is always encouraged and rewarded by Bro. Bob as being “marvellous“, nonetheless only the best quality performance is expected, and in most cases, delivered.
In achieving this, the contribution of the Lodge of Instruction must not and cannot be ignored. This meets on most Monday evenings throughout the season, clocking up now over 1100 meetings, being mostly well attended, and with Past Masters usually far outnumbering those under instruction. If ever there were evidence of the brotherhood and camaraderie of Freemasonry in general and Forester Lodge in particular, surely this it.
This now brings us to the role of the one of the Founder’s family, which is woven throughout the fabric of Forester Lodge. From the very beginning on 1st May 1961 it was WBro. Bert, as a member of the Forester Cricket Club, who became a Founder member of Forester Lodge, and went on to serve for many years as its Treasurer (8yrs), Chaplain (7yrs), and Charity Steward (16yrs), and to be a member for more than 35 years.
It is now his son, Brother Rob S., who has already been a member for 33 years, and a Preceptor in the LOI, who carries on the family tradition. He has been Master of the Lodge twice (so far), and is probably the most accomplished ritualist in the Lodge since the Founder’s era, being able to deliver all the Ceremonies / Lectures / Addresses not only accurately but above all with sincerity, adding a layer of meaning to his work where us humbler mortals are just happy to get to the end.
However the mention of these particular characters within the Lodge should not be allowed to overshadow the contribution that every Member of the Lodge makes in their own particular way. Whether it is Brother Mick M, who has been the Proposer of more Candidates than anyone in recent years (6 so far…! ), or Brother Rob H. who has been our Treasurer for 10 years (not an easy job to balance the books of such a small Lodge), or indeed the meticulous handiwork of Brother Norman in maintaining the Banner and the Pedestal cushion in first class condition. So the Members of Forester Lodge continue to contribute to its being not only an active Lodge, but above all to its being a happy Lodge.
The future is never easy to forecast, particularly so in these difficult times – but whatever it should hold for the future of Forester Lodge, those who have played their part in its past can be very proud of their achievement.