Preface

The idea for this booklet was inspired by the 75th anniversary of the Richard Collyer Masonic Lodge No. 4905 which occured in April 2002 and it originally sought to provide a detailed account of the Lodge's history to supplement the brief history previously produced by W.Bro. Roy Griffiths for the Lodge's 50th anniversary in 1977. 

The story of the Lodge is not a particularly remarkable one but it is perhaps an important piece of social history (and indeed Horsham history) which should be recorded for posterity. In these politically correct times Freemasonry is not regarded as "fashionable" and this book recalls the days - not so distant - when it enjoyed a high profile and commanded respect within the local community. Sadly in more recent times, the efforts of certain elements of the press, the political left and indeed the churches have all chosen to create an impression of Freemasonry as a sinister organisation to be treated with great suspicion. Whilst one cannot deny that there may have been individuals within the organisation who have not helped to counter this impression, nevertheless the vast majority of its members are ordinary decent citizens who derive great pleasure and satisfaction from participation in its quaint rituals, the camaraderie it engenders, its moral and social aspirations and not least of all its dedication to the cause of Charity universal. Such people are certainly no more influenced by "mercenary or other unworthy motive" than are the members of any golf club, Rotary branch or any other organization but merely meet to pursue a common interest in the company of like-minded people. As for the problem people have with its secrecy, any serious inquirer need look no further than the local lending library or the Internet to find out what it is all about. 

The fortunes of the Lodge have for much of its existence been closely linked with that of the former Collyer's Grammar School (founded in 1532 by the London Mercer Richard Collyer "for learning, manners and true religion") and The Old Collyerians' Association but with the conversion of the School to a Sixth Form College on September 1st 1976 the Lodge has had to chart its own course as it lost its traditional recruiting ground and the community spirit engendered by former pupils who would spend up to 7 years at the School also evaporated. To cope with this major change membership of the Lodge previously restricted to former pupils, staff and governors of Collyer's Grammar School was relaxed to admit members who had no such immediate link with Collyer's (but who were in most cases relatives or friends of members). At the present time 50% of the membership consists of former pupils but it is very pleasing to observe that the non-Collyerian membership seems to share the same sense of history and loyalty as is evidenced by the hearty singing of the School song at each meeting. The Lodge still looks forward very much to the day when it might attract members from the "New School". In the earlier periods of the Lodge's existence the list of members included many well-known names in Horsham - including many local shopkeepers (now there are none, reflecting the displacement from Horsham's streets of long-established locally owned shops by the national chains, the mobile phone shops and estate agencies). The membership is now only 26% Horsham based, with a further 45% coming from within a 30 mile radius. At one time there were far flung members who regularly travelled from Plymouth, Ilfracombe, Norwich, Oxford and Holyhead. This demographic spread reflected the post-Second World War - and still increasing - trend for people to move further afield to live and work. It does however say much for the dedication of its past members to be willing to be supportive of the Lodge even from a great distance and this was one of the Lodge's great strengths. Sadly this is no longer the case with more members being drawn from locations much nearer to Horsham.

The explanations advanced for the creation of the Lodge in this preface and in Chapter One are the personal views of the author of this history while the history per se from 1927 to the present has been based on material extracted from the Lodge archives and from the personal reminiscences of its members. Thus as the Lodge's success has been the direct result of teamwork so therefore the success of this history must also be acknowledged as the result of teamwork.