Wallingford Masonic Hall

 

Goldsmith Lane, Wallingford

1/4 Mile out of Town Centre on A4130 towards Didcot

Parking in Public Car Park adjacent to Jenkins Garage

Directions

 

In 1929 a permanent home for Wallingford Freemasonry was found after nearly fifty years of meeting in a variety of venues which included the George, Lamb, and Beau Regard Hotels, and the Town Hall.

It was at a meeting in the Town Hall on 30th September, 1929, that the members of St. Hilda Lodge No. 1887 decided to purchase part of the Wallingford Brewery buildings, together with the manager’s house, on the south side of Goldsmiths Lane. The opportunity arose as the brewery had recently been sold by the Wells family to Ushers in Wiltshire and the brewing operation transferred to Trowbridge.

The site where the Temple now stands was acquired for the sum of £451 and Bro. T. Talfourd­Cumming, a Reading architect and member of the lodge, was appointed to design and oversee the erection of the new building.

By March 1930 plans had been drawn up and approved at an estimated cost of £1300. Tenders were invited from local builders and in June of that year the contract for the erection of the new Temple was awarded to Smallbones of Streatley for the increased sum of £1800.

In the meantime a building fund had been set up, £30 bonds issued and offered for sale to the members of the lodge, and a bank loan of £1200 obtained to furnish and equip the building.

The work was carried out in a first class manner and the Grand Opening took place on 16th April, 1931, as part of St. Hilda Lodge’s 50th Anniversary celebrations. With over one hundred members and visitors present the Temple was formally dedicated by the Provincial Grand Master, H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught.

For the next eight years until the outbreak of war in 1939, St. Hilda Lodge and Chapter were the only masonic bodies meeting in the Temple, and to all accounts the cost of upkeep was already becoming a burden. However, at this point the building was taken over by the War Office for use as troop billets and was in use as such until it was handed back to the lodge at the end of 1945. Unfortunately the building and contents suffered considerable damage during this period, but the walnut panelling and oak floor of the Temple itself were saved from desecration by the American Commanding Officer, himself a Freemason, who appreciated their intrinsic and aesthetic value and had them covered with hardboard for the duration.

In 1946 the decision was made to sell Brewery House which is the Georgian fronted building facing High Street. It was purchased by a member of the lodge for £2750, and became a furniture depository, and later offices.

The first post-war meeting in the Temple took place on 9th October, 1946, with R.W.Bro. Charles Nicholl, Provincial Grand Master, present.

Wallingford Temple

Inside Wallingford Masonic Temple

Despite the formation of two new lodges after the War, Portcullis Lodge No. 6672 and Ingham Clark Lodge No. 8164, St Hilda Lodge continued to struggle alone with the financial burden, until March 1976 when a committee of enquiry was set up under the chairmanship of W.Bro. Charles Wilkinson to try to resolve the situation. As a result of this St. Hilda Lodge relinquished the management to a new committee comprised of members of all participating bodies; new Trustees were appointed and Wallingford Masonic Centre came into being.

Since then with the proceeds of various fund-raising activities and a generous loan from the Provincial Building Fund considerable improvements have been made, and to quote W.Bro.Alan Purton whose help in compiling these notes is gratefully acknowledged, 'We now have one of the finest Temples with auxiliary accommodation in the province.'

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