Wey Side Lodge No 1395 was founded in 1872 by a number of Brethren residing in what is now known as Old Woking and meeting at St. George’s Lodge No 370 at Chertsey. The Warrant, dated 15th March 1872 and granted by the Grand Master, the Earl of Rippon, records the following Founders (the original Warrant is still presented by the Master at Wey Side meetings to this day):
Rev C.W. Arnold, Headmaster of Woking College; W. Smallpeice, Civil Engineer; G.E. Wainwright, Sugar Refiner; H.W. Charrington, Brewer; Rev T.C. Wilks, Vicar of Woking; J. Lavendar, Architect & Surveyor; H.F. Askham, Surgeon.
The Consecration was held on Saturday 15th June 1872 in the Infants’ School Room at Old Woking - there were 17 Brethren from various lodges present and the Prov, Grand Master for Surrey, Major General Browrigg P.G.S.W. took the chair to start proceedings.
An Installation Ceremony followed, although the word “Install” has been struck out of the minutes and the word “invested” substituted. Those invested were:
2012 marked the 140th Anniversary of Wey Side Lodge. At each regular meeting, our Secretary reads the minutes from the corresponding meeting a century ago. It is always of interest to members of Wey Side and our visiting Brethren that our traditions continue and that the Masonic ritual, process and principles have changed little in 100 years.
W.M. - W.Bro. Rev. C.W. Arnold
S.W. - Bro. W Smallpiece
J.W. - Bro G.E. Wainwright
Chaplain - Bro. Rev. T.C. Wilks
Treasurer & Sec - W. Bro. H.W. Charrington
S.D. - Bro. G.B. Smallpiece
J.D. - No appointment
I.G. - Bro J. MacGowan
The meeting was finished by 3.25pm and the Brethren “adjourned by invitation to the grounds of Woking College where a Garden Dejourner was spread by the Worshipful Master, C.W. Arnold.” Records show that the warm summer evening was conducive to thirst as the Brethren supped £8 8s 4d worth of wine!
Lodge Title, Badge and Banner
Wey Side takes its name from the River Wey; the School Room in Church Street being near a bend in the river and close to the Church. This scene is depicted on the Past Master’s Jewel and the Lodge Badge.
Our Lodge Banner depicts a beacon tower situated in Woking with the words below it “Thy name is a tower of strength”. Unfortunately, the actual tower became unsafe and was demolished in 1958.
Places of Meeting
Brethren of Wey Side met at the School Room for five years, adjourning to the White Hart Hotel afterwards, but in 1877 they moved to the Anchor Inn where the landlord agreed to “let the Parlour No 5 and the Club Room to the Wey Side Lodge of Freemasons for the sum of £6 0s 0d per annum to look after the furniture and to have fires when required.” Then in 1882 the first meeting was held at the newly built Masonic Hall, Woking Station (now the modern town of Woking) where Wey Side made their home until 1940. In the 1950s the hall was finally sold to Woking Council and subsequently demolished.
On 20th February 1940, Wey Side met at Freemasons’ Hall, London (the only time it has met outside of the Province) and a few months later at The Lion Hotel in Guildford then on to the Albion Hotel, Woking where meetings continued for another 21 years. For three years until 1965 its home was The Wheatsheaf Hotel, Horsell, then after sampling the freezing conditions of the National Rifle Association Pavilion at Bisley, decided to locate to the Guildford Masonic Centre, Weybourne House, Guildford in 1966, where we meet to this day although the original building was converted into flats and replaced by the fantastic new South West Surrey Masonic Centre in 2004.
In all human societies certain individuals exert particular influence. This is true of Freemasonry and the development of Wey Side Lodge.
Of our Past Masters the first, W. Bro. Rev Charles William Arnold, went on to serve the Lodge as Treasurer until 1885. It is W. Bro. Arnold’s design that adorns our Master’s Jewel (above) and Lodge Badge. He was appointed Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Surrey in 1876. Arnold Lodge No 1981, now meeting at Surbiton, was named after him and was consecrated by him in 1882.
Studholme Lodge No 1591 was sponsored by Wey Side in 1875, consecrated in 1876 and in 1901, 26 year-old Winston Churchill was initiated into Studholme.
Lord Onslow was a member of Wey Side, although he resigned in 1888. His son, Viscount Cranley (later the 5th Earl of Onslow) was initiated by dispensation in 1896 being only 20 years old. His father was by then Provincial Grand Master of Surrey.
Links with the Onslow family and Estate continued - in particular A..H. Bowles from the Onslow Estate Office was installed as Master in 1883 with a number of his family members subsequently joining Wey Side. He was appointed P.G.D. of England in 1897. However, in 1905 the whole Bowles clan resigned from Wey Side, apparently to live in Ireland.
W. Bro. J.J. Black became a Joining Member in 1906 and was installed as Master in 1909 after which he served 26 years as Secretary. W. Bro. Black was however one of the select few to win a ‘three-scratch’ silver matchbox denoting perfect performances of the three ceremonies of Craft Masonry. He was influential in the decision to adopt Emulation Working as the accepted ritual for Surrey in 1907.
A curious episode is recorded in 1874 when it was proposed and agreed that Bro. George Fisher of the Royal Dramatic College, Woking should be Passed and Raised in Wey Side “free of all expense to himself”. He had been initiated in Scotland 36 years earlier, but had never progressed further! He was duly Raised in 1875, but there is no record of him being proposed as a joining member nor that he paid any fees or subscriptions, yet at the time of his death in 1877, he is stated to be a member! His occupation is described as ‘Comedian’, so perhaps he provided entertainment in lieu of subscription?
Of course there are many others who have served Wey Side Lodge with distinction - too many to mention, and undoubtedly many more will continue to do so for another hundred years and more. Such is the history of Wey Side Lodge over its first hundred plus years, nothing startling or outstanding, but a record of steady progress in “being happy and communicating happiness”. It has had its ups and downs - periods when it has flourished and periods when it came near to collapse, but always the special personalities that make Wey Side what it is have come to the fore to help it on.
When we consider the heritage they have bequeathed to us, we pledge that the examples they have set shall not be wasted. It is our responsibility to prove ourselves a credit to our illustrious predecessors and to ensure that we hand on the principles of Freemasonry pure and unpolluted, through this, the Wey Side Lodge, to our successors.
Adapted from Wey Side Lodge No 1395 - History of the First Hundred Years 1872 - 1972
W. Bro Air Commodore John E.R. Sowman, C.B., C.B.E., PDepGSwdB, PPSGW
Adaptation & Additional information by W. Bro Paul R. Wilson, PPJGD
W. Bro. Harry Will Charrington
Secretary and Treasurer 1872