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Grey Friars is one of the oldest lodges in Berkshire having been consecrated on 17th March 1866. At that time Reading Lodge of Union No.414 had some eighty members and agreed to sponsor a second lodge in Reading. Grey Friars began with fifteen founders and met in the Masonic Hall in Grey Friars Road, this was our Meeting Hall until 1969.
With the development of Reading taking place at that time and Grey Friars Road being part of this development a new centre had to be found. The property at Mole Road Sindlesham came on the market and with the substantial land adjacent to the buildings it was ideally suitable for our needs with sufficient space to erect a Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution home. This is Lord Harris Court. The centre was opened in 1969.
It is a source of pride that we have all the minute books dating back to 1866, the registration books and account books. In 1908 W.Bro.G. Thorne Phillips presented a set of photograph albums containing photographs of all the Masters up to that date. These have been updated every year. The first two volumes are held in the library at Sindlesham. This library is known as the Hugh Fraser Room. W.Bro. Hugh Fraser was Master of Grey Friars in 1920 and to celebrate his Diamond Jubilee the members of the lodge decorated and furnished the Library and Museum. To name it after one of our members was fitting as the Library was started by Grey Friars in the 1890's.
We have two banners, the original was showing signs of wear to the point where it could not be repaired so our current banner was made and presented to the Lodge by the Past Masters and was dedicated on 11th January 1984. The original banner can be seen hanging behind glass at Sindlesham. The current one depicts what may be described as the Seal of the Lodge and shows a Franciscan or Grey Friar. This is incorporated in the distinctive summons. The design and explanation of the summons was given by W.Bro. Ravenscroft, a Past Master in 1886/7 and is as follows.
The figure in what may be described as the Seal of the Lodge is that of a Franciscan or Grey Friar, as such he is in the habit of his order, and carries his badge, viz., A Skull. The architectural background of this figure is designed to represent the style which was in use when perhaps operative & speculative Masonry seem most conspicuously to have together characterised the Guild of Workmen, viz., the 14th Century, and when also the Franciscan order had reached its zenith.
The circle round the figure bearing on it the words Grey Friars Lodge and the figure 1101, as well as Seven Stars, being a circle intended to represent the Lodge complete, as only a circle can be; and while the central figure is also intended to symbolise the W.M., who existing for a time only in his capacity as Master carries the emblem of mortality; the circle being an emblem of immortality represents the enduring character of the Lodge itself, while the Seven Stars allude to the number required to make a Lodge perfect. The whole is bounded by a square which should be the figure on which all Masonic work is done, the diaper filling-in representing the square pavement on which the Lodge is placed.
The position of the seal as related to the rest of the design in what may be taken as the form of a Lodge, occupies the NE corner. Brethren will comprehend the allusion.
The outer border represents a symbolic cord which, enclosing the Lodge, forms a barrier against all without.
The inner border also represents a symbolic cord which binds together all within. Between these the design is intended to convey the idea of transition from darkness to light which every Mason is called to experience.
The symbols in the upper portion will be recognised as connected with the office of the East or Master’s end of the Lodge.
The situation and allusion of the letter G, fellow Craftsmen will understand.
The emblem of the sun and moon refer respectively to the Junior and Senior Wardens, while those at the bottom of the design represent the operative symbols of the Master and his Wardens.
In connection with the latter, the Latin words, Audi, Vide, Tace, the meaning of which all Masons will know, are so placed as to signify that in their several degrees, while it is the Master’s office chiefly to speak, the S.W. is to mark and observe, and the J.W. at any rate until time for refreshment, is generally to maintain silence.
In the Master’s emblem the square and compasses are arranged so that they may be studied even by the entered apprentice.
The legend taken from the Epistle of S. Paul to the Ephesians is written in Latin, partly for the reason that this was the language used by the learned of the Franciscan and other orders, but chiefly to indicate that our secrets are to be guarded by such obscurity as shall preclude their being opened to the uninitiated.
It reads as follows: “All the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God.
So mote it ever be.