Machen Lodge 1782 - Manent Optima Clo

Lodge History

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A Brief Resume'


In the Beginning

On the 27th of November 1878 the Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire, the Right Worshipful Brother, Lord Leigh presided over a meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge at the Swan Hotel in Coleshill. At the meeting the Deputy Provincial Grand Master the Very Worshipful Brother. Lieutenant Colonel John Machen performed the Ceremony of Consecration of a new Lodge that was to bear his name, and so Machen Lodge No 1782 was born. The number "1782" denotes that we were the one thousand seven hundred and eighty-second regular lodge to be granted a warrant to meet by the United Grand Lodge in London, according to its numbering system, in use since 1717. 

Banner.jpg (thumbnail) At the first meeting, there were eight founder members, five joining members and a brother   initiate.

 Two years later the banner (left), under which the Lodge still meets, was presented to the Lodge   by a Bro. Wilkinson.



Our first Worshipful Master was Bro. James Mavius (c1832-1916) - Past Provincial  Grand Deacon.

The other seven (7) founder members were:
Bro. H. Bourne (2nd Master)
Bro. V.G. Webb
Bro. Rev. T. Jones
Bro. W. Stacey (4th Master)
Bro. C. Simmons
Bro. F.H. Pogmore
Bro. E. Watson (5th Master)

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The last of these founders is particularly interesting, since in 1964 the Lodge was happily presented back with his Past Master's Jewel (right), by his Grandson, a Major S.G. Watson MBE, P.M. of King Solomon's Temple Lodge (4611), and which is now highly prized by the members of Machen who are told its history when they join our Lodge.


The Early Years

During the first few years, the lodge progressed satisfactorily. However visiting brethren at the Lodge were very rare, and during the period from the first Installation meeting to 1898 only 246 brethren had visited the Lodge. The Lodge was situated in a very inaccessible place which also started to have an effect on the membership. This handicap was not an easy one to overcome since the last train left Forge Mills at 8.30pm which prohibited brethren staying for the Festive Board unless they drove to Marston Green, which was over three (3) miles away and then caught the last train from there at 10.00pm. If they failed to do this then they were compelled to drive all the way to Birmingham. 

With membership attendance falling to such an extent that at times there were insufficient brethren to hold a Lodge at all, a ballot was taken in November 1898 and carried unanimously and the Lodge moved to Severn Street in Birmingham.

The  Initial Years at Severn Street

Following the move to Severn Street, the Lodge membership grew considerably to such an extent that during the 1920s the Lodge often performed up to four ceremonies in one evening!

To commemorate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897 the Lodge was presented with a "Loving Cup" and in 1898 a set of carved oak "Gavels".


The Second Fifty Years                                                                                                          

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 In 1927 the Lodge again moved its location to the Masonic Temple in Broad Street. This building no longer stands. However, nostalgia ever being part of the fraternity, the "Jubilee" celebration of Machen Lodge was held back at the Swan Hotel in Coleshill.


In 1939 the lodge once again moved its location to the Edgbaston Assembly Edgbastion Assembly Rooms_Five Ways ink.jpg (thumbnail)Rooms at Five Ways Birmingham.(right) The building no longer exists.

The advent of the Second World War together with its aftermath saw many sacrifices and many changes for Masonry in general. In 1941 as a temporary War measure meetings scheduled to be held in November, December and January were cancelled. In 1944 this decision was reversed and it was decided to revert to meeting dates prescribed in the Lodge by-laws and with victorious peace having been proclaimed in Europe, the National anthem was sung, the brethren also stood in silence as a mark of respect to those lost in the Wars.                                            

In 1947 and in response to the National fuel crisis, the Provincial Grand Lodge gave permission to wear overcoats in the Lodge rooms.

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In October 1971 the lodge made a move to the Clarendon Suites (left) at Stirling Road and in 1978 the lodge celebrated its Centenary, with the Provincial Grand Master,  the  Right Worshipful Brother Sir Stanley J Harley (1905-1979) together with a full Provincial team and ninety-three (93) other visitors assisted in celebrating this momentous occasion.



The Lodge's one-thousandth (1000th) meeting occurred in 1999 and again the Provincial Grand Master the Right Worshipful Stanley A Lates (1918-2009), together with his full Provincial Team of Officers honoured the Lodge and presided over the re-dedication of the Lodge Banner.

Present day - A Return to Severn Street

On Tuesday, 18th March 2014, the Lodge made its latest move and returned to its previous home of 1898; "Severn Street Masonic Hall", Birmingham. Also, we have had to change our meeting day to a Tuesday instead of the traditional Thursday. That November we were once again honoured by the attendance at our Installation Meeting of the current Provincial Grand Master - David F Macey.

Machen Lodge is now 140 years old and has a wonderful history and Masonic tradition to look back on, with some very interesting landmarks too numerous to mention in this very short account. Our Motto together with the coat of arms and crest which has appeared on the front of the Lodge Summons since December 1900, and which is in turn taken from the Lodge Banner has real significance for us. This Crest also with its distinctive hand in benediction at the top is associated with a Scottish/English Family name of Miller, whose motto is virtually the same. The motto as we see it on our badge was used in remembrance of a fallen soldier at the Battle of Waterloo - a Lieutenant Colonel William Miller, of the 1st Regiment of British Foot Guards of Glenlee, Scotland, who died in Wellington's famous victory over Napoleon, age 31 years, on the 16th of June 1815 at Les Quatre Bras, Brussels and it was later inscribed on his Regimental Memorial Stone by his fellow brothers in arms when they finally laid him to rest in his native Scotland some years later. He was apparently a man held in high esteem by his fellows and had seemed destined for a promising future in his chosen career, had he survived. It simply sums up their attitude towards their fallen comrade as it does our member's attitude towards our Lodge's future with its Latin text: "MANENT OPTIMA CAELO", which roughly translates to: "The Best is Yet to Come". 

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