Lodge History

The precise origins of Freemasonry are unknown, although there are many theories claiming to represent the origins of the craft. These theories go back as far as the twelfth century with the formation of the Knights Templar, to biblical times with the building of King Solomon’s temple and even to ancient Egypt and the construction of the Pyramids.

The common belief however is that speculative masonry evolved from the crafts of the Middle Ages when many cathedrals, monasteries and other edifices were built. In those days the operative mason was in great demand as a craftsman and often travelled away from his from home for long periods. Masons formed themselves into craft guilds and erected temporary ‘lodge’ buildings close to their construction sites within which the craftsmen worked the stone, took their meals and held their meetings.

Guild members knew one another. They made regular contributions to the common purse to ensure that sick members who were not able to work would not go hungry and to pay funeral expenses if their families were not able to afford them.

From these practical beginnings, the tools and traditions of the operative mason developed, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, into a system of symbolic or ‘speculative’ allegories designed to promote social and moral understanding.

The organisation of Freemasonry in its present form dates back to the founding of the Grand Lodge of England in June 1717 and at this time was limited to a small number of Masonic lodges within the city of London. An initial founders meeting is said to have taken place at the ‘Apple Tree Tavern’ with a second meeting convened at the Goose and Gridiron public house on 24th June 1717. In fact many early Masonic meetings appear to have taken place in licensed taverns.

Provincial Masonry developed throughout the rest of the eighteenth century and gradually, the authority of the Grand Lodge of England spread across the country.

For efficient regulation and administration of the Craft, it became necessary for the Grand Master to establish ‘local’ representation leading to the appointment of the first Provincial Grand Master for Cheshire in 1725.

The Masonic Province of Hampshire came into being on 28th February 1767 with the appointment its first Provincial Grand Master, Thomas Dunkerley. The province consisted of 8 Masonic lodges of which only one, Ringwood No. 318 is still working today as Lodge of Unity No. 132.

It was over 100 years later in 1869, that the Isle of Wight, which until then had operated as a small but separate province, became amalgamated to form the Masonic Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. Today, the oldest Lodge still working on the Isle of Wight is Medina Lodge number 35 which transferred from London to Cowes in 1761.

In the eighteenth century there were in fact two Grand Lodges established in England, the Premier Grand Lodge (sometimes known as the “Moderns”) and the Antients Grand Lodge. It was not until 1813 that unification took place to form the United Grand Lodge of England and until that time the Antient lodges did not form part of Dunkerley’s original Province of Hampshire.

Freemasonry continued to develop throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and by the 1950’s many lodges were full to capacity, making advancement within the craft difficult to achieve. It is for this reason that many new lodges, including Prudence Lodge, were formed, typically by members of an existing lodge with a common vocation or interest binding them together.

Prudence Lodge History

Prudence Lodge is part of the Royal Sussex Family, and is the great, great, “granddaughter” Lodge of Royal Sussex Lodge. The following explains the start of the Royal Sussex tree and that part that Prudence Lodge belongs to.

Royal Sussex Lodge is the head of the many family trees within the Province of Hampshire and Isle of Wight. We must all remember that the Royal Sussex Lodge was the Province’s first Lodge formed under the new United Grand Lodge, and was warranted on the 25th August 1814 No 653, the Lodge number was later changed to No 428 in 1832 and finally changed to, as we know it today, to No 342 in 1863.

Royal Sussex sponsored five “daughter” Lodges – Portsmouth Lodge 487 (1843), Gosport Lodge 903 (1861, with support from Phoenix Lodge), Landport Lodge 1776 (1878), Duke of Connaught 1834 (1879) and Comrades Lodge 4745 (1925).

In turn four of the “daughter” Lodges sponsored other Lodges to be formed and consecrated. Portsmouth Lodge 487 had three “daughter” Lodges: United Brothers Lodge No: 1069, United Service Lodge No 1428 and Prince Edward of Sax Weimar Lodge No 1903. The Gosport Lodge 903 had seven “daughter” Lodges. The Duke of Connaught Lodge 1834 had four “daughter” Lodges and Comrades Lodge 4745 had two “daughter” Lodges. These Lodges sponsored other Lodges, thus extending the Royal Sussex family tree to 56 Lodges. Some Lodges in the Royal Sussex family tree extend to the District of Cyprus.

Portsmouth 487 is the “great grandmother” Lodge of Prudence 7183, and was consecrated first “daughter” of Royal Sussex. Prince Edward of Sax Weimar Lodge 1903 youngest “daughter” of Portsmouth 487 and “grandmother” Lodge of Prudence 7183 sponsored a “daughter” Lodge, Portsmouth Temperance 2068 who sponsored three “daughter” Lodges, Neptune 5150, Solent 6182 and Prudence 7183. Prudence 7183 sponsored Sir Francis Drake 7668 who in turn sponsored Links Lodge 8431.

Readers may be interested to know that our Founders considered several names for the proposed “new” Lodge before settling for Prudence. At one time the names of Wilfred Attenborough, St Christopher and Friendship United, were proposed in that order followed by Prudence and Amberley. Following discussions with Provincial Grand Lodge the Founders settled on Prudence lodge.