Freemasonry

Making Good Men Better

The outbreak of War in September 1939, had little effect on the meetings of the Lodge until the air attacks began in the Autumn of 1940.

The November Lodge of 1940 was held on the 11th at 12.30pm, three days before the first of the great air raids on Coventry. As a result of the damage and general dislocation, the regular meetings of December 1940 and January 1941 did not take place, but by subsequent resolution the Lodge was authorised to extend its session until May 1941.

Lunch-time meetings were common in 1941 and 1942 and for the next two years the “season” was largely confined to the April to August period to allow for the resumption of evening start times. Installation meetings continued to be held in October. The Lodge returned to normal Regular meetings in October 1944.

This rearrangement formed the basis of the meetings for the following three years, but in 1943 and 1944 the meetings were planned still further into the summer months to avoid the inconveniences of the “black out”.

The Lodge finally returned to its normal regular meetings in the evenings by resolution in October 1944.

The City of Coventry was still a big building site. Between 1940 and 1942 there had been 41 bombing raids on Coventry. In the biggest air-raid on 14 – 15 November 1940, bombs fell from 7.00pm till just after 6.00am the following morning (449 bombers, 30,000 incendiaries, 64 flare bombs, as well as 1,200+ bombs with 503 tons of high explosives) – the Cathedral was burnt out.

  • Destroyed: 75 factories, 26 hotels, 80 garages, 121 offices, 654 shops, 2,306 houses
  • Damaged: 111 factories, 41,500 houses, many buses
  • Evacuated: 5,930 houses for repair and many businesses

 Little Park Street after an air raid

Most of the centre was demolished and big plans were being discussed to redevelop it. These schemes for Coventry caused considerable unease among the Brethren, it seemed certain that the buildings in Little Park Street would be compulsory purchased at some point as part of these plans.

This led ‘The Coventry Masonic Joint Committee’ to disband and set up ‘The Coventry Masonic Memorial Temple Ltd.’, in parallel with the ‘Coventry Masonic Buildings Ltd.’ which still owned the building. The object was to find a suitable site for new Masonic premises elsewhere in Coventry.

Large Dining Room and Coventry Masonic Hall, March 2005

Not long after the war Charterhouse Lodge got into the habit of turning the after-proceedings at the December meeting into something of an Old English Night. Features included the carving of a huge joint of Christmas beef at a side table in the Little Park Street dining room, the smoking of churchwarden pipes and passing the port. The beef and the port still play their part at the last meeting before Christmas, but the last of the long clay pipes have gone. The singing of carols as a prelude to the festive season also became an established practice, and for several years we sang to the accompaniment of Holy Trinity Church choir.

By the nineteen-fifties certain Worshipful Masters of northern origin nurtured the idea of giving particular nights an Old Scottish flavour. Perhaps some of our most vivid memories have been the sight of well-known brethren disguised in Highland dress, and when all and sundry were invited to try the Haggis and take a “wee dram”.

By 2004, after a number of years when the Christmas meeting had become a Gentlemen’s evening, the Lodge held its first Festive Board with Ladies present. This was a great success and the evening ended with the singing of Carols.

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