The Lodge: 1960 - 1969

The interest created in the 1950's was to continue into the 1960's but the stream of new members slowed with only 17 new candidates (and no new Joining members) being admitted during the period. Overall Membership remained in the 80's peaking at 86 in the Masonic years 1966/67 and 1967/8 but ending the decade at 82 (where it had been at the beginning of the decade). Some 19 members had been lost during the period virtually all due to death or resignation. Attendances at Installation meetings remained in excess of 100 at each meeting and reached an all-time record 145 in May 1963. Average attendance at regular meetings remained in the mid 50's with numbers at meetings varying from the late 40's to the mid 60's.The February 1968 meeting established an all-time record attendance for a regular meeting of 86. The good attendance was largely the result of around 40 members turning out for each meeting. Visitor numbers remained in the late teens to mid twenties. The meeting pattern of 5 regular meetings (January, February, March, September and October) with the May Installation persisted. March meetings continued as Past Masters' Nights. All ceremonies conducted were for individual candidates although two candidates took their Second Degrees in a combined ceremony in February 1965. The Lodge Accounts produced annually included a very brief review of the year's activities and an annual article (and advertisement) on the Lodge was included in both the School magazine -The Collyerian -and theOld CollyerianNewsletter. An advertisement also appeared in the School Year Book which was published at this time. The Lodges of Instruction continued to be held at Collyer's (with occasional meetings at Denne Road - usually for the Installation) and numbers held reasonably constant at an average of a dozen attending. Indeed such was the loyal interest shown in supporting the LOIs that in three consecutive years during the period a LOI supper for members and their ladies was held (1963/1964/1965).  

During the 1960s W.Bro. Eric Groves was Chairman of the Old Collyerians' Football Club and he did much to encourage its members to join the Lodge, either by inviting Old Collyerians and their wives to the Ladies' Nights or in discussions with them at the "Dog & Bacon" pub where he was accustomed to retire after Lodge meetings with two other Lodge stalwarts, W.Bros. Fred Tilling and Jimmy Street.

Lodge charitable financial support continued at this time with donations still being regularly given to "The Hostel of God" and also to the Sussex Masonic Housing Society. Occasional "one-off" non-charitable donations (usually modest) might also be made to other causes such as a contribution in 1960 towards a retirement gift for the outgoing Provincial Grand Master. The major focus for the Lodge charitable giving during this period was to be for The Royal Masonic Institute for Boys' 1966 Festival with the target set for the Lodge at £1,700. The Lodge continued its support for the Royal Masonic Hospital which administered the Samaritan Fund. Several members committed themselves to regular financial support for the Hospital, in recognition of which they were accorded the status of "Life Governor" and issued with a special certificate.

Rising costs necessitated a rise in subscriptions in 1960 to three guineas (£3.3s.0d) and then £4.0s.0d in 1968. Reduced subscriptions were suggested for Old Age Pensioner members and for those working overseas but this proposal was not permitted by Grand Lodge. Catering costs were also fast rising - now 10s.6d by 1963. The Installation dinner in 1965 cost had risen to £1.0s.0d and in an effort to contain costs the inclusion of liqueurs was abandoned. At Installations at this time it was also customary to provide cocktails for the official Lodge guests which the Lodge Stewards were required to serve. The idea was mooted again in 1964 of an all-inclusive dining subscription but again this did not find favour with the members, being rejected in a ballot after a lively debate. Catering continued to be provided by Wakefields but in 1969 they gave up the contract, being replaced by The Falstaff Café.

In March 1961 the Lodge was given several items of Masonic furniture by the Honor Deo Lodge (4 chairs - Master's, Wardens' and IPM's - three pedestals and sundry other items). These were now surplus to Honor Deo requirements as it had moved to Freemasons' Hall in London and it was felt they would be particularly useful to Richard Collyer especially if it was to meet at Collyer's. These were left in store in London and only finally moved to Horsham in September 1966. The customary annual formal Lodge visit to Honor Deo had by this time lapsed and efforts were made in 1965 to revive it although individual members had regularly exchanged visits on an informal basis.

The Mercers' School in London had closed in 1959 and the loss of this recruiting ground was beginning to cause concern for members of the Honor Deo Lodge in securing new members as it was a "closed" lodge. Whilst it could still find membership from past pupils, going forward this would prove less of a possibility following the cessation of the School. Given the similarities between Honor Deo and Richard Collyer in terms of aspirations and numbers of members a suggestion was put forward from Honor Deo that Old Collyerians be admitted as members. This would, it was felt, enable the tradition of the Lodge being restricted to Old Boys to be continued without the need to open membership to outsiders. In March 1964 the members of Richard Collyer were canvassed for their views on this idea. This seemed particularly attractive to those members who worked or lived in London. A suggestion had previously been made in Richard Collyer to consider forming a London Lodge (as the Old Collyerians' Association had done with its London branch and several school lodges had also done). The proposal was formally considered at an emergency meeting of Honor Deo in September 1969 but rejected albeit only on a casting vote (the membership being evenly split on the issue), the members preferring to keep membership restricted to Old Mercers.

The financial problems of the Horsham Masonic Hall Company continued during the 1960's. Horsham Masonic Hall rent remained at £25 per annum. In 1964 it was increased to an annual charge of £0.4s.0d per member. The Lodge was also asked to make an annual contribution towards the costs of repairs and renewals for the Denne Road temple. The cost per night for Lodges of Instruction had been increased first to £0.5s.0d in 1963 and then to £0.10s.0d in 1965, which helps to explain the popularity of holding as many meetings as was practicable at Collyer's. A Masonic social club had been set up at Denne Road with a view to encouraging more involvement in the running of the facility and hence more revenue. Two stewards were appointed by the Lodge to assist with the running of the club. By 1968 it was clear that the Masonic Hall Company was seriously in debt and concerns were expressed over the secrecy which seemed to exist over its affairs, with only the Board of Directors apparently being aware of the full extent of the problems. In 1968 a 50% increase in rent effectivefrom May 1969 was announced to try and contain costs and balance the books.

The Lodge's Financial Year-end was changed in 1965 from February to its present period now ending on April 30th. This made it co-terminous with the financial years of Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge thus eliminating much extra administrative work for the Secretary and Treasurer. The approval of the Accounts now took place at the September meetings instead of the May to the undoubted relief of the Treasurer.

Members were saddened in 1963 by the death of the very first Initiate of the Lodge, W.Bro.G.C.Cole and in 1964 of its first Master (and a Founder) W.Bro.H.C.Hunt. W.Bro.R.C.Agate retired in 1964 as Lodge Treasurer, which position he had held for 37 years from the Founding of the Lodge. In 1964 the long standing Tyler - appointed in 1939 (and only the Lodge's second Tyler) - W.Bro.S.C.Worsley retired from active Masonic duties and atestimonial fund was set up by March & Darnley in his honour to which Richard Collyer made a donation of £88 in recognition of his service to the Lodge. In 1965 Bob Greenop retired as Charity Steward after many years service in that role. This office was not yet officially recognised as a regular Lodge appointment.

Some talk was entertained in 1963 of replacing the January meeting with a meeting in another month when the weather might be kinder - (the 1960's saw some pretty bad winters). November was suggested as an alternative but rejected in a vote of the members (30 against, 17 in favour, 1 undecided and 1 in favour of cancellation of a meeting altogether). November was of course a bad month with the risk of clashing with The Old Collyerians' Association Winter Reunion. The matter was thereafter dropped. Membership of the Quatuor Coronati Lodge was resumed in 1964 (having been allowed to lapse). Agenda items at meetings at the time included reports on the proceedings of Grand and Provincial Grand Lodge meetings and also on The Federation of Schools' Lodges. The reading of the By-Laws also continued although this was now usually done in February, again usually "being taken as read" although on some occasions extracts would be read. This agenda item (now not done at all) had been dropped briefly from 1952 to 1960.

The tradition established of involving brethren in Degree ceremonies where the candidate was a relative continued. In October 1965 a new candidate, P.G.Simpson, entered the Lodge and his father, a March & Darnley member, was invited to present the Working Tools of that Degree. This custom was repeated in February 1968 for the Initiation of Bro.J.C.Munnery, with his father (likewise a member of March & Darnley), presenting the Tools and further repeated for his Second in October 1968 and Third Degree in February 1969.

Outside of the Lodge another new member, T.Tidy, was acquiring a reputation for athletic achievement, being awarded Centurion Status in 1959 and subsequently on five further occasions in the period to 1975. This award from The Centurions was for walking 100 miles under race conditions within a 24 hour period. His best recorded performance was to walk from Brighton to London and back (104 miles) in 21 hours 16 minutes 43 seconds and his best time for a measured 100 miles had been recorded at Chigwell in October 1965 where he completed the distance in 20 hours 21 minutes ten seconds.

Surprisingly since the time of Consecration the Lodge had never had a meeting at Collyer's (other than Lodge of Instruction meetings) and the idea was put forward in 1966 to hold the Installation meeting in the School Hall. This was never taken forward and it was not until 1995 that the Lodge finally held a meeting there.  

In September 1966 The United Grand Lodge of England announced the setting up of a 250th Anniversary Fund and in recognition of a financial contribution from the Lodge, a special Commemorative Jewel was presented to the Lodge, to be worn by the Master on his Collar of Office. The actual Anniversary was marked by a special and very grand meeting in the Earls Court Arena in London. Special breast Jewels were issued to mark the occasion and an example of this can be seen in the Lodge's Jewel Collection.

In October 1966 the Lodge conducted the Third Degree ceremony for Bro.Captain P.K.Holmes. He had the distinction of being the first and only Initiate of the Lodge not to have all three Degrees carried out by Richard Collyer. His Second Degree had earlier been undertaken by the Brethren of Letchworth Lodge No. 3503 in Gibraltar where he was serving with theArmy. 

In May 1967 the Lodge achieved its 40th Anniversary and the occasion was marked by calling the roll of the Founders of the Lodge of whom three were still members (W.Bros.Agate, Greenop and Bryce). That same year the Lodge contributed towards the restoration of the School War Memorial Boards.

In 1967 March & Darnley Lodge celebrated its Centenary and in recognition of that achievement it was presented with a new Lodge Banner by her two daughter Lodges, Richard Collyer and Causeway. The cost to Richard Collyer was £27.5s.0d. An invitation to visit the Lodge was extended to the Master and Brethren of March & Darnley in January 1968. The three Horsham Lodges maintained close links and in the early 1960's there were occasional meetings of their Secretaries to discuss matters of common interest. Reciprocal visits continued with In Deo Fidemus and on occasions brethren from other lodges were still invited to assist in ceremonies. Close links and support also continued between the Lodge and The Federation of Schools' Lodges. Having been the Lodge representative from the date of joining the Federation (being succeeded by W.Bro.W.A.Saunders and now W.Bro.P.R.Ticehurst) the then Lodge Secretary, W.Bro.R.Griffiths was appointed the Federation's Chairman in 1960, which post he held for 2 years (later becoming Vice-President 1978 -1989). In 1962 W.Bro.A.D.Saward was appointed an Honorary Auditor, which post he was to hold for 10 years.

In October 1967 the Lodge became a participant in "Sumafin" - a company established by The Provincial Grand Lodge of Sussex to provide funds for the erection of Masonic buildings in Sussex.

Honorary membership was accorded in 1968 to "Bob" Greenop, Founding member and a long serving and faithful member of the Lodge. One of Bob's legacies to the Lodge had been a collation of notes on the Lodge's Ritual (a document sadly now seemingly lost).