The Lodge: 1970 - 1979

Membership remained constant during the first half of the decade but started to sink slowly in the second half reaching 68 by 1980. Only 12 new candidates were attracted and the rate of admission was showing signs of slowing to one per year (although there were 2 candidates each in three of the years). Only one Joining member was enrolled during the period. Coupled with the slowing of new entrants, loss of members also began to accelerate. Part of this was sadly due to the deaths of many of the older long-standing members, but there were also 5 or 6 exclusions as efforts to attract back into the fold members in arrears of subscription (some 3 years in arrears) proved fruitless. Whilst a membership of 68 was quite reasonable the difficulty of recruiting new members was becoming more apparent. Attendances at meetings also began to drop. The Installation attendances dropped after 1972 down into double figures, recording a "low" of 59 in May 1978. Attendance at regular meetings dropped to an average in the low thirties with something approaching a 25% drop in members and visitors attending. The Golden Jubilee meeting in April 1977 brought a "one-off" high turnout of 71 (including 45 members) but it was clear that interest in the Lodge was much less than had been enjoyed in the preceding 20 years. Even the hosting of the Federation of School Lodges' Festival the following year only attracted the attendance of 35 members.

With the death of Bob Greenop in 1973 the Lodge lost its last Honorary member at that time. In 1976 the Lodge also experienced its first (and fortunately only) instance of a candidate being Initiated but resigning immediately. There have of course been a few occasions where candidates have pulled out before taking their First Degree. With five meetings a year in addition to the Installation this inevitably meant that at least 2 of those meetings would not take the form of Degree ceremonies so alternative agenda items would be needed.     

The decade was to see a steady rise in costs of membership and dining. Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodge dues and of course the ever-increasing cost of meeting at Denne Road were largely the cause for the increasing costs. Part of the increase was also the result of decimalisation (in 1971) when prices for everything suddenly rose, being disguised as "the inevitable process of adjustment to the new currency" and part the result of ever increasing salary costs in the period. The introduction of VAT further increased many costs. Other costs such as printing costs, postage costs, costs for meals for official guests etc were also fast increasing. To reduce printing costs the Lodge ceased printing of the AnnualAccounts (duplicating them instead), reduced Summonses to single sheet publications and cut out or reduced Toastlists. Dining in 1970 cost 18s/6d in "old" money, reaching £1 in 1972 but by the close of the decade had risen to £3 per head in "new" money". One attempt to reduce dining costs at the Installation was the introduction of a "cold" main course. Subscriptions similarly had started at £6.0s.0d in 1970 and climbed to £14 in the new currency by 1979.

In 1976 it was recorded that it was costing £7.60p per member to keep the Lodge running and it was recognised that the level of subscriptions was just about sufficient to enable the Lodge to balance its books - but little more. Many brethren were greatly concerned at the effects such increases would have but felt powerless to influence the course of events other than by raising subscriptions. Under Grand Lodge rules it was of course not possible to offer any reduced fees to pensioners or those in financial difficulty. It would be interesting to obtain an explanation of why "inflationary" pressures suddenly appeared in the 1970's and onwards when for almost 50 years prices seemed to have changed so slowly. Now there was an ever constant and unrelenting pressure on expenses and income struggled to keep pace. The Lodge now had formal representation on the Board of Directors of the Masonic Hall Company (W.Bro.R.Griffiths being appointed a director in 1970) so at least would be able to have greater insight into the finances of Denne Road.

In 1972 efforts were made to try and persuade Collyer's to change the date of the annual Founder's Day celebrations as this clashed with the Installation meeting and on several occasions the Lodge had found it necessary to apply for a Dispensation to change the date of its meeting to avoid a clash. In the event no changes were made.

Close links continued with The Federation of Schools' Lodges and in 1972 The Federation sought to bring Richard Collyer, In Deo Fidemus and Past & Present Lodges closer together by encouraging regular visitations to each other's meetings. In February 1972 the brethren of both Lodges visited Richard Collyer. Thereafter regular visits took place between In Deo and Richard Collyer but never seem to have become similarly established with Past & Present (although its Master is regularly invited to the Richard Collyer Installation).

The Lodge of Instruction continued now regularly using the new Duckering Room at Collyers. In common with falling attendance at regular meetings, Lodge of Instruction attendance was also suffering. Regular exhortations were made to Lodge members to support it but usually, it seemed, in vain.

An attempt was made - the first of several - to record the variations in the Richard Collyer Ritual which distinguished it from the Emulation Ritual whence it had emanated. A sub-committee was established to review this but in the event did not appear to have succeeded in documenting these variations. One must presume that Bob Greenop had perhaps never produced the paper on Lodge Ritual he was working on mentioned in the previous chapter.

Members mourned the death in 1972 of W.Bro.David Bryce OBE, a Founder of the Lodge, and in 1973 of Bob Greenop himself, another Founder. A memorial fund was established to commemorate his life and service to the Lodge with the proceeds going to the RMBI 1978 Festival. The death had occurred in 1970 of the RevdCanon W.M. Peacock,Initiate andlater Honorary member.In 1974 the last surviving Founder, W.Bro.R.C.Agate died and the link with the Lodge pioneers was extinguished. 

In 1972 the long serving Secretary, W.Bro.R.Griffiths was honoured with Grand Rank and as a reward for his efforts the Lodge purchased and presented him with his Grand Lodge regalia. W.Bro.Griffiths decided to retire in 1978 after 33 years as Lodge Secretary and also as Secretary of the Lodge of Instruction, which post he had held since 1933.

It was learned in 1974 that Collyer's School was discussing a change in its status, possibly to a Sixth Form College, to avoid being forced by the Government into having to become a comprehensive school. This was a source of concern to the Lodge as it signified any substantial changes might diminish or take away its natural recruiting ground and Lodge members had already witnessed the effects of such a move on the Honor Deo Lodge. On September 1st 1976, Colllyer's subsequently became a Sixth Form College. In 1976 in view of rising costs and falling levels of membership the idea was considered of reducing the number of regular meetings from 5 to 4. Provincial Grand Lodge advised it would permit a reduction only by virtue of lack of candidates and not on cost grounds. In September 1977 as a cost saving printed Summonses were abandoned in favourof duplicated single side leaflet-styleSummonses.To help fill the number of meetings without ceremonies consideration was given to offering to conduct Second and/or Third Degree ceremonies for other Lodges who might find difficulty in processing all of their own candidates in a timely fashion (some lodges were clearly not suffering from a lack of members). In October 1977 the Lodge conducted the Third Degree ceremony for a candidate (who lived in Crawley and found it difficult to travel to his Mother Lodge) of thePhoenix Lodge No. 94 in Sunderland.

Two significant meetings took place in the Lodge during the decade.

The first was on 16th April 1977 when the Lodge celebrated its Golden Jubilee. Instead of treating this as an emergency meeting a dispensation was obtained to move the March meeting to this date. A sub-committee was formed to organise this event and a fund set-up to raise money to be used to commemorate the occasion. W.Bro.H.Pearmain undertook to produce a short history of Collyer's and W.Bro.R.Griffiths a short history of the Lodge for inclusion in a special commemorative programme. These histories were reprinted in the Federation Festival programme the following year. The Agenda included the reading of the Lodge Warrant and the Minutes of the Silver Jubilee meeting in1952 together with a lecture. The Provincial Grand Master was in attendance. The special programme additionally included lists of the Founders, Consecrating Officers, Sussex Provincial Officers, Masters and Officers of the Lodge. To further mark the occasion three members, W.Bros. D.H.Barnett, O.J.Street and F.C.Tilling, presented firing glasses to the Lodge for use by the Master and his Wardens at the Festive Board. A special presentation box (made by a Bro.P.Knight, a visiting brother) for these glasses was presented by W.Bro.T.Tidy.

The second took place on Saturday 16th September 1978 when the Lodge hosted the 35th Annual Festival meeting of The Federation of School's Lodges. It had been hoped that this meeting could be held at Collyer's but at the time the School was in the middle of an extensive building programme and could not possibly be used for such a large meeting. Attendances at such festivals are well in excess of 250 and with dining to be provided for such numbers as well a large venue is essential. There was nowhere else in Horsham suitable for such a meeting and it was decided to hold it at the Masonic Hall in Worthing. A Festival sub-committee was set up to organise and coordinate the event. W.Bro.W.H.Saunders, the Lodge's Federation representative, was Festival Secretary for the event. At one stage given, the enormity of the task, consideration was given to inviting In Deo Fidemus and Past & Present Lodges to act as co-hosts butin the end Richard Collyer decided to go it alone. An impressive attendance of 423 brethren was recorded of whom only 35 were Richard Collyer members. The meeting started with the welcoming of the Officers of The Federation, followed by the welcoming of The Provincial Grand Master of Sussex and other distinguished visitors. The main item on the agenda was an address given by W.Bro.A.R.Hewitt, Past Librarian of Grand Lodge entitled "Some Historical Masonic Anecdotes". 72 School Lodges were represented at the meeting. The meeting was adjudged to have been a great success and broke even financially. A special programme was also produced for this occasion, a scaled-down version of that produced for the Golden Jubilee. At the business meeting which preceded the main Festival meeting, W.Bro.R.Griffiths was elected a Vice President of the Federation.   

The main thrust of the Lodge's charitable giving during the 1970's was towards the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution's 1978 Festival for which the Lodge was set a target to raise £6,000. The Lodge achieved its target and as a reward was accorded the status of "Double Patron" of the RMBI. Support continued for a number of other charities including The Hostel of God. In 1976 Grand Lodge approved the status of Charity Steward in a lodge as a regular office.

The saga of the Honor Deo Lodge furniture and equipment which had been given to the Lodge in 1961 rumbled on. Efforts were made to try and find a use for the items in question at Denne Road which had been kept in store at Collyer's. Some of the items were by now in a poor condition. In 1977 they were declared surplus to requirements and it was agreed they should be sold. No offers were however received from within Masonic circles and they were eventually sold at public auction.

The tradition established of involving brethren in Degree ceremonies where the candidate was a relative continued. In January 1972 at the Initiation of Bro R.A.Munnery, his father, a member of March & Darnley and now the Richard Collyer Tyler, was invited to present the Working Tools. To complete the family occasion the candidate's brother, Bro.J.C.Munnery (brother by birth and now also by Masonic bond), delivered the Charge after Initiation. In September 1976 the Lodge admitted and initiated Bro.C.J.W.Penney who was the son of the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro.Revd. J.E.Penney who attended the meeting and delivered the Charge after Initiation to his son. He attended his son's Second Degree in October 1976 and delivered the Charge after Passing, returning yet again in January 1977 for his Third Degree, but this time merely offering the prayers. The regular meeting agendas continued to follow the pattern established over the years with Reading of the By-Laws still included, and one meeting - February or March - being a Past Masters' Night. 

Within the Horsham Masonic community - now swollen to 5 lodges with the founding of two more lodges (Carfax Lodge No.7819 in 1961 and Stane Street Lodge No. 8648 in 1975) efforts were continued to ensure good relations and regular visiting between the lodges. The Horsham Masonic Club helped to further links on a social level, occasionally putting on dances.Socially the tradition of Ladies' Nights continued. That of 1970 was held at The King's Head in Horsham, others moved slightly further afield to such places as Capel, and Crawley.Catering for lodge meetings at Denne Road had passed from the Falstaff Café in 1974 to a new caterer Armand Catering. In February 1972 the Lodge formally became a member of the Sussex Masonic Golfing Association, although it had long maintained an interest in its activities.

By 1978 the Lodge was unfortunately in financial deficit which had to be corrected by increased subscriptions. It was also agreed to abandon the February meeting, thus leaving 4 regular meetings (January, March, September and October) and the May Installation.