‘Buzz’ has been very fortunate to receive various donations from Bideford’s Freemasons. They are well known for their charitable work and many local organisations have benefited from their fund-raising.
I asked Peter Christie what he could tell us about the history of the Lodge.
The following information is taken from his book, ‘ More North Devon History,’ originally published in the North Devon Journal-Herald 23/5/1985.
“In 1843 the fourth lodge called ‘Benevolence’ was formed. Early members included the Town Clerk and the Mayor TB Chanter and this is the one that still remains today.
Its original home was in the Commercial Reading Room, an earlier forerunner of the town library. It moved from there to the Newfoundland hotel (now Mr Chips) thence to 9, Grenville street (now the Cafe Collective). From these premises the lodge moved to a hall in Bridgeland Street and finally secured its own rooms in October 1875 in the present day Masonic Hall in the same street. This was once the home of Thomas Stucley, a noted eccentric, and opposite the Conservative Club. (Home of Dr Ackland – see article ‘A Nineteenth-Century Bideford Doctor’).
The Victorian newspapers have various reports of this lodge – generally in January when new officers were installed and the annual banquet was held. For many years this was in the New Inn where ‘Brother Ascott’ was the host.
The lodge can look back at some 200 years of masonic history in Bideford – a very long period of connection with the town.”
(For the full story, read ‘More North Devon History’ by Peter Christie).