The Lodge: 1950 - 1959

The increases in membership and attendances which had been experienced in the closing years of the 40's were to continue throughout the decade of the 1950's and by the end of 1959 the Lodge membership stood at 82, the highest number since Consecration. The Fifties represented arguably the "golden years" of the Lodge as it was the most successful period in its history in terms of growth. Attendances at Installations were consistently over 100, the highest recorded figure being 136 in May 1957 and attendances at regular meetings showed a healthy increase with the average attendance per meeting in the high 50's, the lowest recorded being 43 and the highest 76. Average attendances during the period were as follows:- Installations: 50 members and 65 visitors; Regular meetings: 43 members and 13 visitors. Visitor numbers during the period ranged from a low of 2 to a high of 28 with an Installation high of 78 in 1957 and 1958. It was clear that visitors found the Lodge very welcoming as was evidenced by the comments of the Provincial Grand Master at the time (R.W. Bro. The Revd. A.T.A. Naylor) after his visit in May 1952:

"a delightful Masonic Spirit throughout and I know that a lot of this is due to the trust that the brethren have in W.Bro. P.A. Tharp".

The Lodge retained its pattern of five regular meetings per year plus the Installation and there was such a steady stream of candidates awaiting ceremonies that every regular meeting included a ceremony, most involving two candidates and for a few meetings in the early 50's two Degrees were worked. The March meetings were by now often set aside as Past Masters' Nights when Past Masters would be invited to conduct the Ceremony. The Lodge of Instruction also benefited from this upsurge of interest with numbers attending regularly in double figures. During the Fifties 27 Initiates entered the Lodge - the highest number in any decade since the Consecration and a number not equalled since - together with 5 Joining members and only 10 members were lost through resignation, death or exclusion. Of the 18 Founding members only six were still members of the Lodge, the rest having either died or resigned. Catering for the Festive Boards continued to be handled by Wakefields of West Street. Cost of suppers rose to 8s.0d by the end of the decade. At that time printed reply cards were sent to all members requesting them to confirm attendance at the meeting and at the festive board.

The Lodge continued with committed support of Masonic charities and in 1950 was set a target to raise £750 for the Royal Masonic Institute for Girls' 1953 Festival with each member as has already been mentioned being encouraged to contribute one shilling per week towards that target (the Province was tasked to raise £100,000 in total). In the event many brethren contributed and even members' wives joined the effort with seven qualifying as stewards. Support also continued for the Royal Masonic Hospital (through the Samaritan Fund) at Ravenscourt Park, London and in 1955 J.R.D.Greenop was appointed Lodge representative. The long-mooted Sussex Ward was eventually opened in 1957 at a cost of £11,000 to be supported by donations from Sussex.A popular charity at this time was "The Hostel of God" and support was also given to the St.Dunstans Entertainment Committee.In March 1952 the Lodge Benevolent Fund was formalised with a trust deed in the name of The Richard Collyer Lodge Benevolent Fund and three Lodge trustees were appointed (W.Bros.R.C.Agate, J.R.D.Greenop and R.Griffiths).

It became apparent in early 1951 that all was not well with the finances of the new Company and the Lodge was requested to pay an additional £10 per annum (in addition to the annual rent of £25.0s.0d) whilst the financial problems were being sorted out. In the event it was agreed to make the payment for one year but the Lodge also agreed to assist with a contribution of £12.10s.0d towards the repair of Temple furniture and fixtures at Denne Road. During the period 1950 through to 1954 the Lodge paid additional amounts to the Hall Company by way of purchase of additional shares, increasing its holding to 293 shares. In 1955 an interest free loan of £38 was made to the Company to assist its finances but from the financial year 1956 onwards the Lodge paid an increased rent calculated on a per capita basis (initially £0.4s.0d per member). This significantly increased the annual rent payable from £25.0s.0d to around the £93.0s.0d figure. By 1958 the Hall rent accounted for about 50% of a member's subscription. The Hall Company was requested to look at a number of options to try and increase Hall revenues.

An experiment was tried in the early 1950's with a different style of Summons - still four-sided but reduced in size to A5. It did not prove popular, lasting only a few months - probably because of the difficulty in fitting all of the relevant information into it and also because of the difficulty of reading the small print.

In 1950 Grand Lodge approved the wearing of old boys' or school ties at meetings of school lodges and in 1952 the requirement for Lodge Officers (and it was hoped other brethren) to wear white gloves in Lodge was introduced (hitherto gloves appear to have been optional).An IPM collar and jewel had been purchased in 1950.

In October 1950 George Cox, the Sussex County Cricketer and one-time star of Collyer's School Gilbert & Sullivan performances,was proposed for membership and initiated into the Lodge. InFebruary 1951 the Lodge welcomed as a Joining member Colin Keen who was home on leave from India where he worked for the Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation. He was a distinguished and enthusiastic mason belonging to 2 lodges (Kilwinning No.1131 and Wallace No.1279) within the Scottish Constitution and one within the Eastern Constitution (Temperance and Benevolence No.1160) and was the Assistant Grand Marshal of The United Scottish Grand Lodge of India & Pakistan - later appointed its Grand Director of Ceremonies and then Grand Chaplain. His Master's Jewel from the Wallace Lodge No.1279 can be seen in the Lodge's Jewel collection. In January 1952 David Bryce was honoured with the OBE. He was later to become Chairman of the School Governors from 1955 until 1964. Two Masters of Collyers joined the Lodge during the decade, F.G.Elson, Minister of Religion initiated in 1951 and P.Pointer a Joining member in 1958. In 1957 a School Governor, L.Coultham was initiated into the Lodge.

In 1952 the whole nation was plunged into grief by the death of King George VI, a Past Grand Master. The Lodge passed a resolution in February 1952 pledging its loyalty and devotion to the new Queen Elizabeth and recording its sorrow at the death of the King.

A special emergency meeting followed by a special banquet was held in April 1952 to mark the Lodge's Silver Jubilee and a Second Degree Ceremony was conducted by W.Bro. H.C.Hunt assisted by 5 Founding members, W.Bros.Agate, Tharp, Greenop, Booker and Martin and other Past Masters. The Lodge was honoured by the presence of the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro.Arthur Jolly and the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of South Wales Eastern Division, R.W.Bro.E.J.Rutter, President of The Federation of School Lodges (who delivered an "inspirational" address to the brethren). An attendance of 98 brethren was recorded on this occasion. A special prayer was said by the Vicar of Horsham and the Consecration minutes and the Lodge Warrant were read. The Master of the day addressed the Founders and made a special presentation of a silver tankard to each of them to mark the occasion.Certain items of equipment were presented to the Lodge, foremost of which was a box of Working Tools (still in use today) which had been purchased by donations from many of the members. Over the first half of the decade it was necessary to purchase new Gauntlets for the Master and Wardens to replace those dating back to the founding of the Lodge and many of the Officers' Collars and Collar Jewels were also replaced at that time. Later in May 1954 Colin Keen donated three inscribed ivory gavels to the Lodge (still in existence today even though various Brethren have been heavy handed with them) and a new "G" (since lost). In 1955 the Lodge Banner was repaired.

In addition to the subscribing members the Lodge had 4 Honorary members in 1952, three being Provincial Officers who had been present at the Consecration (W.Bros.Cushman, Griffiths and Langridge) and the fourth being the Revd.Canon W.M.Peacock. In May 1954 P.A.Tharp was honoured with Grand Rank. He continued as a subscribing member until 1957 when he was accorded Honorary membership of the Lodge which he enjoyed until his death in 1959.From the end of 1959 only Peacock remained as an Honorary member.

Meetings were usually well-behaved affairs but the Installation meeting of May 1952 seems to have been somewhat acrimonious as we learn from a letter sent to the Lodge from the Provincial Grand Master that "W.Bro.P.A.Tharp had to take the steam out of some of the brethren and the Provincial Grand Master had cause to defend the Grand Officers present". The exact cause of such great excitement was diplomatically but unfortunately not recorded in the minutes but one suspects it may have been occasioned by the standard of the ceremony.

Two brothers R.F and W.R. Batchelor uniquely took their First (September 53), Second (January 54) and Third Degrees (February 54) together in joint ceremonies.

From October 1954 onwards the Lodge of Instruction was permitted to meet in the Collyer's School library instead of at Denne Road. Since 1952 the number of meetings per year had almost doubled with two per month with the exception of April, November and December which featured one. There were no meetings in June, July or August.

During the 1950's the Lodge maintained its interest in the affairs of the Sussex Masonic Golf Association and the (Lawn) Bowlers' Fellowship and nominated a representative to liaise with each.

In 1956 the Lodge voted to give an annual prize - to be known as the P.A.Tharp prize - to Collyer's for presentation at Founder's Day. At this time the value of the prize was £2.0s.0d (today it is £25).

A further aspect of the interest being shown in the Lodge was the decision in 1957 to seek to form a Richard Collyer Royal Arch Chapter which would be attached to the Lodge (previously members wishing to pursue this Masonic Order had to attend the March & Darnley Chapter). This had long been considered a desirable development (mooted as far back as 1951) to provide Collyerian masons with their own Chapter but would also reduce the waiting time to progress to the Chapter Chairs. 14 Lodge members were the founders and the Lodge granted the new Chapter a loan to assist with the set-up expenses. The Chapter was consecrated on April 18th 1958. Further Masonic expansion also occured in Horsham in the same month with the founding of a sister lodge, the Causeway Lodge No. 7588 which would also be meeting at Denne Road.

Close links continued during the period with the brethren of In Deo Fidemus, Honor Deo and March & Darnley Lodges with regular annual visits from them and occasional assistance from them (and indeed brethren from other lodges) in ceremonies.