At a gathering to commemorate the laying of the North East Corner Stone at Towcester Masonic Hall on the afternoon Friday, 27 April 2012, the Chairman of the Towcester Masonic Hall Property Company, WBro Richard Brice, opened proceedings by recapping the history of Freemasonry in Towcester.
(l to r) WBros Bunny Ingram & Richard Brice
It began in 1837 with the formation of the Lodge of Fidelity which originally met at various public houses in Towcester including the Talbot, Saracens Head and Pomfret Arms.
On 5 April In 1954 WBros Fredrick Snelson, Henry Ivens and William Roper signed a contract with Right Honourable Baron Fredrick Hesketh & Major Fermor Hesketh leasing the ground on which now stands the Towcester Masonic Hall. The lease was for 99 years and the cost ten shillings a year.
In 1990 WBros Humphrey and Bill Wormold became aware that Mr Fox, a local coach operator, was to retire and amenable to selling his land behind Towcester Masonic Hall. This gave Towcester Masons the opportunity to extend their premises – financed, it was hoped, by residential housing built on the site.
They managed to purchase the land at a competitive price but unfortunately it then became apparent that Roman remains were present complicating the possibility of building. A mortgage was raised, a Company set up and fund raising started to pay for the ground that then became a Car Park. Brethren such as WBros Richard Amos, John Smith, Joe Pike, Martin Holiday, Keith Cox, George Smith, Bill Wormold, Ken East, Roy Humphrey and may others all playing a very active part.
In 2000, with the help of Bro Bill Capel, WBro Mike Pusey, WBro George Smith and other Brethren, they managed to buy back from Lord Alexander Hesketh the lease giving them the freehold of the property.
In 2007 Towcester Masonic Hall was approach by South Northants Council. It wished to purchase the Car Park for the development of Moat Lane. With the great assistance of Bernard Chester of Tuckly Chester Architects and WBro John White Towcester Masons managed to achieve a considerable sale price for the land.
With the assistance of WBro Martin Holiday, they then managed to purchase additional land adjacent to the Masonic Hall. This land is now being used to extend and develop the Hall. The extension will double the Hall's size to cope with the future demands of Freemasonry in the expanding Towcester area.
(l to r) PGM, RWBro Max Bayes & WBro Roy Humphrey
After this introduction by WBro Richard Brice, the Chairman of the Hall Management Committee, WBro Bunny Ingram, invited one of the most senior Towcester members, WBro Roy Humphrey, with the PGM, RWBro Max Bayes, to lay the North East Corner Stone of the Hall extension. They did this using a silver trowel in pristine condition donated in 1839 by an unknown Brother.
After the ceremony everyone enjoyed refreshments.