The word Freemason conjures up the idea in many of a secret society that excludes non members from its circle and works only for the benefit of members. In reality it could be more fairly described as a private group of local people keen on supporting and protecting the local community and preserving their traditions and history. Hitler was frightened of the organisation and put them high on his extermination list after a successful invasion of these shores. As Rye Bay was the centre of his planned invasion area the members of the Rye Lodge would have been among the first of his prospective victims. The emergence of Freemasonry was in the early 18th Century and originally made up of the Nation’s best masons who travelled the country building and repairing cathedrals and churches. The Rye Lodge took its name from the Duke of Wellington who was Member of Parliament for Rye. A bonnet and bib, authenticated as belonging to Wellington and a pair of spurs said to have belonged to the great man are proud possessions of the Lodge. A complete set of pictures depicting the entire cortège at Wellington’s funeral hangs in the Lodge Temple along with an illuminated list of former Rye Lodge Masters.
Modern day Freemasonry is not such a unmentionable subject as was demonstrated at the recent Presentation Day when the Rye Lodge invited members of this year’s beneficiary groups and “Rye’s Own” along for the distribution of awards to local clubs, societies and organisations. The Mayoress of Rye, Jessica Neame was in attendance as Scoutmaster Perfitt of the 1st. Rye Scout Group collected £250 to help with their new hut. Rye Scouts, formed by Captain Cory, a close friend of Baden-Powell, one hundred years ago. Mrs. Geraldine Bromley received £250 on behalf of the Rye Sea Cadets, whose building is £300 years old and needs repairs. Mr. M. Oliphant collected a cheque for £250 for Rye Health and Care, who were congratulated on having Rye Memorial listed in the top 10% of hospitals in the country for cleanliness. Miss Bradbury collected £250 for Rye & District Age Concern. Mr. Norcross of St. Michael’s Hospice took a further £250 for a very worthy cause and a further award was made to Miss Hornsby on behalf of the Rye Parish Church Organ Fund. Then, as reported in more detail on page eight, an amazing sum of £13,750 was announced for the Rye St. John Ambulance. To round off a very interesting visit guests were invited to view the historic Wellington Lodge Temple and had the history of Masonry in Rye described by Master of the Lodge Don Smith. ……………
“Rye’s Own” January 2005
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