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Preserving Wiltshire’s Lodge and Chapter records for the future

by Susan Snell

Archivist and Records Manager Library and Museum of Freemasonry

The Historical Records Survey (HRS), co-ordinated by the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall in London, commenced four years ago. It aimed to fi nd out what records Lodges and Chapters hold, where they are kept and their state of preservation.

Wiltshire, led by its HRS provincial representative, Philip Bullock, rose to the challenge by submitting 61 returns to the Survey, representing a remarkable 100% return. Some records, once thought to be lost have come to light and several items relating to early erased lodges have been rediscovered.

Details for 1410 individual items relating to Wiltshire Lodges and Chapters are now recorded, including the oldest minute book submitted to the Survey across England and Wales dating from 1732. This small volume is one of fi ve minute books, two account books and a manuscript volume of Masonic songs dated 1776, ‘the gift of a Brother’, relating to a Lodge which met at the Three Lions Inn and other Salisbury hostelries. Later named Sarum Lodge, this lodge had become No. 109 on the roll of the Modern’s Grand Lodge by the time it was erased in 1801.

These records, whose details were submitted to the Survey by Elias de Derham Lodge, No 586, represent important resources for researching the early history of Freemasonry in Salisbury. This lodge also contributed details of a minute book dating from 1828 and an account book compiled by Union Lodge, No 819, which met at the fi rst Masonic Hall in Rollestone Street, Salisbury.

Elsewhere, actress Diana Dors’ father, Albert E S Fluck, appears as Worshipful Master of White Horse Lodge, No 2227, Westbury in the minute book for 1931. Of modest means, Bert worked in the accounts offi ce of the Great Western Railway and lived in Marlborough Road, Swindon. The minute books of Lodge of Loyalty, No. 1533 include details for the initiation on 3 February 1942 of Marlborough’s horse racing champion, Sir Gordon Richards (1904–1986). In the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Year it is interesting to note that Richards won the 1953 Derby on Pinza, the only title up to that year to escape his record-holding tally of 4,870 wins on the fl at.

Although the Survey is now complete, details for any additional items can be added or changes to location can


be amended by contacting the Library and Museum. The Survey certainly achieved one of its aims by raising the profi le of caring for Lodge and Chapter records, so that future members can continue to read them and research unique Masonic details.

Some guidance on looking after Lodge and Chapter records, with recommendations on keeping and maintaining current minutes, is available on the Library and Museum website at: information-leafl ets/

Francis Wakem, PrGM and other members of Wiltshire Province hand over an early minute book with Susan Snell, Archivist at the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, into the care of Clare Skinner and Tom Craig at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre, Chippenham in 2010.

With this aim in mind, records from 14 Lodges and a Chapter have been deposited on loan at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre at Chippenham. Located near the rail station in Cocklebury Road, the Centre which opened in 2007, offers the most up-to-date public access facilities with an ideal storage environment to ensure the future care and preservation of Wiltshire’s archives. Other Lodges and Chapters considering placing older records there on loan deposit should contact Philip Bullock, who can facilitate such arrangements.

In addition, the Survey highlighted the preservation needs of Lodge and Chapter records. Overall, the Survey revealed 79% of lodge and chapter records were in good condition but 20% were fair or poor.

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