Freemasonry in Tenbury Wells

The History of Craft Freemasonry in Tenbury Wells

Halfway through the 19th century three complementary factors contributed to the emergence of Freemasonry in the town. The chance discovery by Septimus Godson, Squire of Tenbury, of a spring of water of medicinal value led to the construction of brine baths and to the promotion of Tenbury — with the name "Wells" then added — as an inland spa. Secondly, in 1864, a rail service was provided by the joint Great Western and London & North-Western companies, giving access to Birmingham to the east and to Ludlow, Hereford and Leominster westwards. Besides, and most significant, St. Michael's church and college — including a Choir School — had been dedicated on September 29th 1856, patronal festival of St. Michael.

The creator and first warden of the college was the Rev. Sir Frederick Arthur Gore Ouseley, Bart., Mus.Doc, who was also Vicar of the newly-created parish and, later Precentor of Hereford Cathedral.

There were only eight Masonic Lodges in the Province of Worcestershire at that time, the most accessible of which to Tenbury Freemasons were Hope and Charity of Kidderminster and Stability of Stourbridge, though a longer rail journey permitted a visit to Worcester No.280 and Semper Fidelis. Ludlow's Lodge of the Marches No.611 necessitated a journey of only ten miles and Hereford's Palladian No.120 might be host to W. Bro. Ouseley. The founding in 1861 of the Royal Edward Lodge No.892 at Leomister, only nine miles distant from Tenbury, no doubt prompted the Reverend gentleman and friends to seek support for a Worcestershire Lodge in the inland watering town. The petitioners, ten in number.

Thus it was that on Saturday, April 21st 1866, the Lodge of St. Michael No.1097 was consecrated by the R.W. Bro. Albert Hudson Royds, Provincial Grand Master, assisted by his Deputy, W. Bro. John Barber, M.A. The meeting took place in the local Corn Exchange.

For the first 42 years the Lodge headquarters were in the Swan and, as it stands beyond the north end of the Teme bridge and so is situated in the administrative county of Shropshire, permission of the Provincial Grand Master of North Wales and Salop had to be sought. This was readily granted, though until such arrangement had been completed, the first two regular meetings were held in the Corn Exchange.

The Lodge now possesses its own premises in Church Street. In 1907 the building was purchased for £440 and during the next two years was, at a further cost of £600, adapted as a Masonic Hall with the necessary kitchen, dining and robing rooms, in addition to living quarters for the caretaker. The cost of alterations and decoration was borne by a £250 donation from W. Bro. G.R. Godson, sums contributed by the remaining Brethren and a bank loan. Extra furniture was also provided. This was quite an achievement for such a small Lodge as it was at that time. The building had previously been divided into a parish hall, a private school and the Black Crow public house. The first meeting in their own Temple took place on 28th January 1909.

The Lodge of St Michael

Founded 21st April 1866