THE HERTFORD LODGE, NO. 403
Could the Freemasons who met in the Salisbury Arms Hotel in Hertford on the 8th of September, 1829, to consecrate the Hertford Lodge, have possibly foreseen that their vision, “to discharge the duties of Masonry in a Constitutional manner”, would outlast the succession and death of Queen Victoria, the Crimean, Boer and two World Wars, the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species, the discovery of atomic power, the coming and going of Concorde, man’s landing on the moon and the technological revolution that has transformed the world in which we live and work? And how conscious are we that our early Masonic forbears in 403 experienced firsthand the writings of Dickens, the Brontës, Trollope, Hardy and Robert Louis Stevenson, or the music of Chopin, Liszt, Wagner and Tchaikovsky?
There was no lodge in Hertfordshire in 1829, so a group of members of the Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1, supported two of their brethren who lived in Ware, in the petition to the Duke of Sussex, M.W. Grand Master, for the formation of a lodge in the county town. Without delay His Royal Highness issued a warrant, dated the 31st of August 1829, and the Hertford Lodge was constituted. The Consecration Meeting took place at the Salisbury Arms Hotel on the 8th of September, under the direction of Bro. John Bott, PJGD. Bro. Francis Crew, a bookseller of Lamb’s Conduit Street, London, was installed as its first Master.
Within a month, Crew had written to the Duke of Sussex requesting a dispensation, “in consideration of this being a new and most prosperous Lodge”, to initiate a number of gentlemen, including the Most Noble The Marquess of Salisbury of Hatfield House who in 1833 became Provincial Grand Master.
The lodge was inundated with initiates and joining members, forty-seven in all in its inaugural year, a great testament to the first Master, who earned wide acclaim for the discharge of his duties. In the History of Freemasonry in Hertfordshire, G. Blizzard Abbott notes that Bro. Crew:
will always be remembered . . . as having the wisdom, tact, and geniality . . . as the first Master of its senior lodge . . . to guide the destinies of Hertfordshire Masonry into the right path; and it is to the credit of the Hertford Lodge that it has always shown its respect for his memory by the able and consistent manner in which it has observed those principles which it was his delight as well as his duty to instil in the minds of its earlier members.
Subsequent years were equally fruitful: in 1870, the Worshipful Master, who rejoiced in the name Dr Herbert Busy Hodges, oversaw the joining of six brethren, and the initiation of no fewer than fifteen candidates, amongst whom were Abel Smith and Baron Dimsdale.
The Lodge’s records are littered with names that we recognize today, locally, historically and masonically. Among them are Farquhar, Stephen Austin, Wigginton, Longmore, Keyser, (all Masters), Salisbury, Dimsdale, Currie, and Cowper. Its members have ranged from the nobility to the ordinary, from High Court Judges and M.P.s to bricklayers. What unites us is a fierce pride in our history and a determination to ensure that we leave a flourishing lodge to the next generation. We are thrilled to celebrate this landmark in its life.
Director of Ceremonies (2004)
Original petition to form Hertford Lodge 403
Immediate Past Master
Full list of Officers