United Service Lodge of Derbyshire
on the Registers of the United Grand
Lodge of England and the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire
The Lodge was formed by Officers of the First Volunteer Battalion, The Sherwood Foresters. This battalion was raised in 1916 for home defence. The reason for forming the lodge was that some officers wanted to stay in touch with each other after demobilisation in 1919. A number were already Freemasons and thought that a Lodge should be formed. The Commanding Officer Lt Col GA Lewis (a member of Tyrian Lodge No 253) was asked to make enquiries regarding forming a Lodge for members of the armed services. He sent out a circular to freemasons, known to have been in the services, calling a meeting to form a Service Lodge. The meeting took place on 30th April 1919 in Derby Masonic Hall, it was agreed to proceed.
The office of Master was offered to and accepted by Brig HA Chandos-Pole-Gell of Hopton Hall Wirksworth, of the Household Brigade Lodge No.2614 and Derwent Lodge No.884 and the offices of Senior Warden and Junior Warden respectively to Lt Col GA Lewis Tyrian Lodge No. 253 and Lt Col H Newton of the Arboretum Lodge No.731. The names of thirty founders were forthcoming at once headed by the Provincial Grand Master His Grace the Duke of Devonshire K.G. G.C.V.O. The petition was granted by Grand Lodge and the Lodge was consecrated on Wednesday 22nd October 1919 in the Masonic Hall Derby. All of the founding members were present except Rt WBro The Duke of Devonshire (who was at that time in Canada in his capacity as Governor General). There were a large number of distinguished brethren who included V. Wbro HJ Hayman P.G.Chap who became the founding master of our sister lodge the United Service Lodge of Nottinghamshire.
In the early years there only 4 meetings a year, but so many candidates were coming forward that a large number of emergency meetings were held. Even with the extra meetings two or more ceremonies were conducted with the Lodge being called off between them. The practice of holding regular meetings every month except for a 3 month summer recess, as we do now, was commenced after the adoption of a new bye law proposed by Wbro Lewis on 6th February 1925.
At the first meeting of the lodge 5th December 1919, 2 initiations took place. The initiates were Rt Rev Charles Thomas Abraham, Lord Bishop of Derby (who always thereafter signed his name in the Tyler’s Book as “Charles Derby”) and Lt Commander Russell Lister Kay RN. They were both balloted for elected and initiated that same evening.
The Lodge continued through the 1920’s and 30’s without any really notable occurrences just the usual business of the Lodge. In September 1939 all Masonic activity was stopped until further notice but resumed again commencing in November.
During the war the Lodge was well attended and there was no shortage of candidates. One American, who had been elected in America and posted to Europe before he could be initiated, was initiated on behalf of his Mother Lodge in America.
The brethren of course had to make their way to and from the Lodge in the blackout which was made worse on occasion by the smoke screen used to protect the Rolls Royce Factory and the Locomotive Works from air attack.
In early 1966 the Lodge heard of an American Mason who had been rescued from the wrecked oil drill rig Gem and was recovering in the Derbyshire Royal Infirmary. The Lodge arranged assistance for him and a rota of brethren to visit him from this and other Lodges until he was discharged.
One of the original Lodge traditions that some “Service” qualification be a prerequisite for membership of the Lodge. The membership decided in 1970 that with the changing conditions the “Service” qualification should be dropped.
The Lodge continues in good form to the present day, and although the “Service” qualification has been dropped we still have a large membership from all three services. We are now looking forward to our Centenary in 2019.