SALOPIAN LODGE OF CHARITY 117 - History

The idea of a new lodge, to be formed from within the ranks of the Shropshire Militia, began well before 1810 when the lodge was finally consecrated. Some of the founder members were already active Masons when the Militia was stationed in Edinburgh in the late 1790s. In 1807 the regiment moved to Dover Castle, where they decided to form their own lodge, and began to keep Minutes and raise the necessary money to purchase a Warrant. By the time this was achieved, the Militia had moved once more, so that the new lodge - numbered 153 on the register of the Antients Grand Lodge - was consecrated in Gosport, Hampshire on 25th April, 1810. Its first Worshipful Master was the imposing figure of Sgt Major James Mansfield, whose portrait (right) still hangs in the Shrewsbury lodge rooms.


The new lodge grew, and while at Plymouth (where the Shropshire Militia did duty on the prison hulks and (16 miles uphill) at the newly-built prison at Princetown on Dartmoor) it acquired the name of the "Salopian Lodge of Charity". The brethren took part in processions on St John's Day, contributed to charitable causes and initiated many new members.


After a time in Ireland, the soldiers returned to their home base of Shrewsbury in 1815, where the lodge has been ever since.  The Union of the two Grand Lodges seemed a distant event: more troubling was the problem of finding new members for a military lodge. In 1820 (after complaints by the locals that 153 was initiating civilians) Salopian Lodge of Charity received a Patent from the United Grand Lodge which permitted the practice. From this time on, the lodge was in effect a civilian lodge based in Shrewsbury. It has always had close ties with the local community, and many members have written their names into Shropshire history.


117 is proud of its 'Atholl' connections (lodges that existed under the Antients Grand Lodge before 1813), and in 2000, the Millennium was marked by a visit to London, where Worshipful Master John Weaver was presented with a gavel by the Marquis of Northampton as a token of the lodge's connection with the Atholl Association. 10 years later, the Association presented a further two gavels to complete the set when 117 celebrated its 200th birthday.


In 2010, the Salopian Lodge of Charity celebrated its Bicentenary in fine style in the presence of deputations from Grand Lodge, [Provincial Grand Lodge and many of the lodges that (to put it simply) we hadn't seen for a while, including Lodge of Perseverance (now in Sidmouth) which was founded with many members from the Plymouth days left behind when the Militia departed for Ireland. Some 117 Brethren attended their Bicentenary in 2013.


Members of this lodge (now renumbered 117) have always had a keen sense of history, but the lodge today is also known for the readiness with which it embraces new ideas. Our website went live in 2002 - the first lodge website in Shropshire - and while the lodge has adapted its meetings to the needs of modern working men, the core values and the traditions of its ritual (and especially the extended Installation workings) are preserved zealously by its Brethren. A constant reminder of our connection to those founding fathers of the lodge are the silver collar jewels (including Deacons' jewels in the Antients' form of a figure of Mercury) which date from 1811, bought with the money raised by those first members of our lodge more than two centuries ago.

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