Header

Consecreated 17th May 1876. Ancient charge: "From ancient times no Master or Fellow could be absent from his Lodge, especially when warned to appear thereat without incurrring a severe censure unless it appeared to the Master and wardens that pure neccessity hindered him"

A History of St. Giles’ Lodge

In the early nineteenth century the burgeoning prosperity of the surrounding area with its copper, brass, lead, tin, iron-ore and coal resources brought together practical craftsmen to profit from the riches of the area and to share their knowledge and skills. Some of these men came from outside the region and it is possible that a number came from areas like Scandinavia with long traditions of excellent work in copper and brass. A number of these incomers were already Freemasons. It was they, who, dismayed by the distances they had to cover to reach the nearest meeting place and concerned by the lack of adequate facilities for travel, pressed for a lodge in Cheadle. Their action resulted in the foundation and consecration of St. Giles’ Lodge No. 1587 in 1876.

On Thursday, 4th November, 1875, Bros. J.P. Hall (Chair), R. Plant, B. Thacker, I . Williamson and H. Wardle agreed a proposition that the brethren of Forresters’ Lodge No. 456 of Uttoxeter be asked to sign a recommendation for a new lodge to be held at The Royal Oak in Cheadle and that it should be called St. Giles’ Lodge. It was consecrated on Wednesday, 17th. May, 1876, at the Royal Oak Hotel in the presence of the Provincial Grand Master, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Chaplain together with seventy six visitors from across the Province of Staffordshire.

In August 1877, the fourteen members of St. Giles’ Lodge received a letter from John Joules and Son, of Stone, expressing pleasure at the lodge’s use of a room in its premises at the Royal Oak but suggesting that the company was entitled to be paid for the coals and gas consumed, which would be a very trifling matter. The members accepted the principle of the charge and offered to pay either annually or half yearly if the company could identify an appropriate sum. The settlement must have been acceptable to both parties because St. Giles’ remained at the Royal Oak Hotel until moving to the Savings Bank, Bank Street, in July, 1886. Refreshments following the1887 Installation meeting at the Wheatsheaf Hotel were “of unusual excellence”. Tickets were priced at four shillings each.

In June 1895, meetings were moved to a room at the Town Hall and the lodge continued to meet there until 1916. During this time, the Annual General Meeting of Staffordshire Freemasons was held at Cheadle following a service at the Parish Church. Three hundred Masons processed to the Town Hall along High Street which had been decorated with flags and bunting. The meeting was held in the ballroom. The procession was watched by townsfolk and schoolchildren who had been given a day’s holiday. Since then, larger meetings have been held in the Zion Chapel Hall and the Carlos Institute at Cheadle and at Leek and Shelton Masonic Halls.

The present Masonic Hall in Cheadle is a substantial building standing near the end of The Terrace at the western edge of the town. It served as the Cheadle police station from 1847 until 1915. In that year it was purchased at auction for £275 and St. Giles’ Lodge first met there in February, 1916.

Throughout its use as a Masonic hall the building has been repaired, refurbished, redecorated and maintained by the brethren and the management committee. The lodge room contains much evidence of the generosity of individual members and the pride in the new accommodation taken by the members of St. Giles’ Lodge.

Behind the Master’s Chair and usually concealed by a lodge banner is a finely worked interpretation of the all-seeing eye motif, executed on high quality oilskin by Bro. J.E. Dean, who was the chief artist at Thomas Minton Ltd, a world-renowned ceramics manufacturing company in Stoke-on-Trent. The present banner, presented by W. Bro. J. A. Hurst to commemorate the lodge centenary, depicts the legend of St. Giles with a surround rich in masonic symbolism. The banner bears the Latin word, ‘Aegidius', which may be freely translated as 'In the name of St. Giles'.

The chairs of the Master and Wardens were purchased for twenty one guineas in 1909, made to a design submitted by Bro. J.W. Wadsworth. The finely worked cushions on those chairs were the gift of Mrs. Kathleen Rogers in 2000.

In 1969, there was a major renovation of the rooms previously occupied by the caretaker to allow their use as a dining room and kitchen on the ground floor and changing rooms upstairs. On 9th May, 1975, the Provincial Grand Master, James. E. V. Toney, presided over the official re-opening of the premises. For the first time since 1876, lodge members were able to meet and dine in their own premises. The dining room was completely redecorated and the front door replaced in 2013 and the building was re rendered in 2014.

The tradition of charitable giving has a long and honourable tradition in St. Giles’. In 1895 a ball held ‘under the banner of the Lodge' at which the members wore their Masonic regalia, raised £10 (£2000 in 2015). That profit was used to provide seventy nine new books for the library at the Cheadle Mechanics Institute. Two years later, when the Worshipful Master of St. Giles’, W. Bro. W. Brickell, attended the laying of the foundation stone of the Sutherland Institute at Longton, he was able to present to the then Grand Master, H.R.H. The Prince of Wales, a purse containing five guineas (£1100 in 2015) for use in connection with Masonic charities. That record of ‘raising and giving’ has been maintained up to the present day with St.Giles’ Lodge earning a silver plate for its charitable endeavours during the 2002 Festival and an award for raising £45,000 for the 2013 Festival, more than any other Lodge in Staffordshire. In addition, substantial donations are regularly made to a number of national and local charities and other worthy causes.

(Abridged extracts from “Freemasonry in Cheadle – A Personal View” by M.J.W. Rodgers)