A Lodge with a prestigious history


Conception – 6 April 1876, Castle Inn, Coventry

On this evening, the Principals and Past Principals of the Trinity Chapter of Royal Arch Masons held a meeting and agreed to establish a new Lodge which was to be called ‘St Michael Lodge’.


Warrant Granted – 4 July 1876

On this day, St Michael’s Lodge was granted its warrant following a petition to Grand Lodge. The list of the 9 members of Trinity Chapter who signed the petition were as follows:

  • Rev Robert Hall Paynes (Vicar of St Michael’s Church, now Cathedral, Coventry, 1865)
  • William Webb
  • Thomas Clarke
  • Henry Scampton
  • John Astley
  • Henry Matterson
  • A E Fridlander
  • Geo S Phillips

St Michael’s was a new Lodge and as such was devoid of furniture. Brethren of the Lodge donated many items including a Bible by Rev Baynes, a Tripod and Ashlar by Bro C Read, and three Gavels and Blocks by Bro J Vale. The Gavels and Blocks were made from the wood of the Puritan Oak lately growing in Stoneleigh Park Estate, a tree that was known to be growing on Chantry heath near Stoneleigh in AD 1143 and was the meeting place of Puritans during the times of persecution.

A circular notice dated April 1876 detailed the following:

  • The Lodge to be called the “St Michael’s Lodge”
  • It is to meet at the Castle Inn, Coventry on the last Thursday of October, November, December, January, February and March.
  • Joining fee to be £4 4s with the annual subscription being £2 2s, to include refreshment!!

Consecration – 29 January 1877

With the permission of the Mayor of Coventry Joseph Banks and under the dispensation of the Provincial Grand Master, the Rt Worshipful and Rt Hon the Lord Leigh (Baron Leigh, Lord Lieutenant of Warwickshire and the first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons whose residence was Stoneleigh Abbey, Warwickshire), the ceremony of consecration of the Lodge was performed at St Mary’s Hall, Coventry.

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St Mary’s Hall, Coventry

The musical portion of the service included an original hymn that was composed especially for the occasion by the WM Designate Bro Rev R H Baynes, which was as follows –

Maker and Father of us all,

Look from Thy glorious Throne above,

Vouchsafe to bless our Festival,

And crown our Lodge with light and love.

Built on the firm Foundation Stone,

Of truth, relief and charity,

We put our trust in Thee alone,

For sure support we find in Thee.

Each Brother with Thy gifts endue,

Let peace and love rule every heart,

Preserve us steadfast, kind and true,

Thy Heavenly grace to all impart.

And when death’s darksome vale is nigh,

O help us by Thy strength divine,

To reach the Eternal Lodge on High,

And there as stars for ever shine.

Reverend Robert Hall Paynes was installed as the first Worshipful Master of St Michael’s Lodge number 1630 in front of 80 Brethren on 29 January 1877 in St Mary’s Hall, and afterwards he presided over a banquet at the Castle Inn, Broadgate, Coventry.

The Castle Inn was then the meeting place of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire and also a location that entertained Charles Dickens when he was presented with a specially engraved Coventry-made Rotherhams watch, which he used for the rest of his life.


First Regular Meeting – February 1877

First candidate proposed! Mr Rowland Hill was proposed as the first candidate for Initiation into St Michael’s Lodge 1630. His sons, W Bro P R Hill and W Bro E C Hill were later to follow in his footsteps.


Relocation – 1880

In the year 1880, St Michael’s Lodge relocated to the Queen’s Hotel where it remained until 1904. St Mary’s Hall was occasionally used for Installation meetings in the 1880s, and indeed on 1 October 1888 Provincial Grand Lodge was held under the auspices of St Michael’s Lodge. After the meeting there was a procession to Holy Trinity Church and a banquet at the Queens Hotel. Tickets were 5/6, attire was black morning dress, white gloves and high hats!

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Col W F Wyley PGM

On 26 February 1880 Colonel William Fitzherbert Wyley was initiated. Colonel Wyley, later Sir William, was a chemist and founder of Coventry Chamber of Commerce, a former city mayor, and a Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Warwickshire. When he died in 1940 he gifted his residence, the Charterhouse on London Road near the city centre, as a centre for arts and culture for the benefit of the people of Coventry.

On 31 January 1889 Colonel Wyley was installed as Worshipful Master of St Michael’s Lodge 1630. The Minutes of that meeting were read again 50 years later, on 26 January 1939, Colonel Wyley PrGM in the Chair!


St Michael’s Chapter 1630 – 1893

On 29 December 1893 the members of St Michael’s Lodge 1630 presented a petition to Grand Chapter to affiliate Trinity Chapter to St Michael’s Lodge and to have its name and number changed accordingly, which having been granted, it became St Michael’s Chapter Number 1630, and is thus exceptional in being five years older than the Lode to which it is affiliated.

The present Trinity Chapter was subsequently founded in 1894 by members of Trinity Lodge No. 254.

1893 also marked the beginning of the long and distinguished career of W Bro A L Bill PGStB PPrGW, who rendered over 60 years service to the Lodge and to masonry in general.

In the Minutes of 6 April 1893 there is reference to the intended building of a dedicated Masonic Hall in Coventry.


Fluctuation – 1896 – 1910

During this period there were quiet times for St Michael’s Lodge but also very busy times. The Minutes of 29 October 1896 stated that the Lodge was not opened as no Brethren were present, yet around the same period on one occasion three were Initiated and four Raised between 4.45pm and 7.10pm!


Second Minute Book – 1910 – 1926

The second Minute Book covered the period 1910 – 1926 and contains a reprint from the Midland Daily Telegraph 21 May 1910 of the Memorial Service held in Holy Trinity Church on the occasion of the death of King Edward VII, Protector of the Order, at which the Lodge was prominently represented amid the masonic contingent “wearing their jewels and colourful regalia.”

The Great War 1914-1918 brought sadness to the Lodge as in 1916 there was a vote of deep condolence on the deaths in action of T H Bethell IPM, whose father W Bro T B Bethell returned thanks, and of Lt W R F Wyley, a joining member from Apollo Lodge and only son of Colonel Wyley the then DPrGM.

War time resulted in few Candidates being initiated and also in a reduced a number of members attending meetings due to postal delays with the summons, but despite this the Lodge continued to meet regularly with the business being mainly connected with various war charities.

Early 1919 saw Bro H Ainsworth raised to the Third Degree. H M Ainsworth was the nephew of J J Man who was responsible for establishing the French motor company Hotchkiss here in the UK. Hotchkiss started out as a French armament company making rifles for Napoleon III in 1867 and evolved into making fine cars, often favoured by the aristocracy. Ainsworth not only figured in the design office but instituted the Coventry factory and competed in motor racing trials with the Hotchkiss cars.

On 27 February 1919, brothers P R and E C Hill were initiated, both very devoted members of the Lodge. Eustace Carey-Hill was Master of the Lodge in 1929 and his actual Past Masters Jewel is to this day handed on to the Immediate Past Master each installation night.


Jubilee – 1926

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The Jubilee meeting, which started the third Minute Book, was honoured by the presence of the PrGM Sir William Wyley (mentioned earlier), the DPrGM, APrGM, and the Grand Secretary! The last surviving Founder W Bro A E Fridlander was sadly unable to attend but was presented with a silver firing glass to mark the celebration. This firing glass was returned to the Lodge by Miss Fridlander in 1932 for the use of the WM and is still used today!

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In 1928 the Lord Bishop of Coventry, Charles Lisle Carr, was installed as WM by the PrGM Sir William Wyley. On 13 May that year, a service was held in St Mary’s Church, Warwick, conducted by W Bro the Rt Rev C L Carr, the Bishop of Coventry, and in attendance were the Provincial Grand Master Col Wyley and the Pro Grand Master Lord Ampthill. The following year W Bro P R Hill installed his brother E C Hill.

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Evelyn, wife of W Bro P R Hill, PM 1926, worked a new banner for St Michael’s Lodge which was consecrated on 7 April 1937 under the Mastership of W Bro S P Meacock, who gave many years devoted service as Almoner. The Brethren of St Michael’s showed their gratitude by presenting her with a silver salver. Again, this piece of silver is part of St Michael’s festive board to this very day.


War Again – 1939 – 1944

St Michael’s Lodge continued to meet again during the Second World War. Lodge meetings were at 1pm with a light lunch to follow. Despite the war, celebrations continued as 1940 marked the 60th anniversary of Colonel Sir William Wyley’s Initiation. This joyous occasion was well supported and Sir William was presented with a pair of gloves in recognition of his 60 year milestone. Sadly, on 11 August that very same year, 1940, Sir William Wyley, Past Master of St Michael’s and PrGM of the Province of Warwickshire, died. The minutes of the October 1940 meeting record the setting-up of the Wyley Bequest and the presentation to the Lodge of a silver salver that had been given to Colonel and Mrs Wyley on the occasion of Colonel Wyley’s Masonic Jubilee 26 February 1930 by the members of St Michael’s. Again, this silver salver is passed on to each WM on Installation night, a tradition still retained to this day.

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The Coventry Blitz, air raids by the German Air Force (Luftwaffe) on the city of Coventry, happened many times during the war with the most devastating attack over the 14 and 15 of November 1940. During this time many Coventry factories, services and landmarks were destroyed including Coventry Cathedral, dedicated to St Michael.

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Sir Winston Churchill in the ruins of Coventry Cathedral

St Michael’s Lodge continued to meet and the minutes of the meeting on 28 November 1940, the first meeting after the Great Air-Raid earlier that month, recorded that a new Candidate was Initiated! A typically British approach to carry on in the absence of heat and light and encourage enjoyment through a simple combination of beer and sandwiches for the Festive Board. There is a letter in recognition of this from the PGSec congratulating the Lodge on their devotion to their Masonic duties. Meetings were held regularly for the rest of the war, but the normal months of meeting were varied.

…… to be continued

(St Michael’s Lodge history is being collated and assimilated and this page will be added to regularly, please check back for the next instalment!)

Past Masters

1877   Rev R H Baynes MA

1878   Rev R H Baynes MA

1879  Rev R M Beaumont MA

1880  Rev R M Beaumont MA

1881  H Higinbottom

1882  A S Tomson

1883  Ed Lynes MD

1884  H B Francis

1885  Rowland Hill

1886  Mark A Fenton MD

1887  Rev Geo Cuffe MA

1888  Chas Davidson

1889  W F Wyley

1890  O Minster

1891  Frank Smith MD

1892  J G C Graham

1893  Milner Moore MD

1894  Rev Ll Wood MA

1895  Rev T W Downing MA

1896  W R Goate

1897  Rev F M Beaumont MA

1898  Ed Blackburn

1899  A L Bill

1900  T B Bethell

1901  Chris J Hill BA

1902  Chris J Hill BA

1903  Chas Gray Hill

1904  A Paul Smith

1905  E H Snell MD

1906  A Slater BA

1907  R J Sawers

1908  F L Harman Brown MB

1909  D Davidson MD

1910  F A Collington MRCS

1911  W E Bennett MRCS

1912  A Slater BA

1913  Rev G R Gipps BA

1914  J M Fenton

1915  T H Bethell

1916  H Nelson Smith

1917  Rev G F Upton MA

1918  H W Brazil MD

1919  H Nelson Smith

1920  F A Collington MRCS

1921  R H Bailey BA

1922  M G F Nash

1923  W H Milnes RBA ARE ARCA Lond

1924  R Caldicott

1925  E M Boote

1926  P Rowland Hill

1927  A H Sturdee

1928  Rt Rev C Lisle Carr DD

1929  E Carey Hill

1930  J C Potter

1931  Rev J N Frankland

1932  D W Ratcliff

1933  W F Grove

1934  W A Bennett

1935  R Bloomfield Perkins

1936  C C Graham

1937  S P Meacock MRCS LRCP LDS

1938  J H Hardman Brown MA

1939  H O Vaux JP MIME

1940  T W Daffern OBE

1941  C W Iliffe

1942  Capt S A Hector OBE

1943  Canon G W Clitheroe BD

1944  W B M Wyley MA OSJ

1945  Canon J Cornes MC MA

1946  Capt W F Strickland

1947  P S Rendell MBE DL

1948  R V McKeown

1949  S H Newsome JP

1950  G W J L Keeble TD

1951  R S Rudland MBE VRD MRCS LRCP

1952  F C Kenderdine

1953  Canon L Ashcroft

1954  J Hoare FCA

1955  J H McKeown OBE

1956  A J Newsome BA

1957  Dr J M Mclean

1958  O Poppe

1959  E R Whittindale

1960  E A Goddin

1961  H R Duval

1962  Rev Canon A J Partridge TD MA

1963  J F Blythe TD

1964  A G S Herbert

1965  H N Gregg GM JP

1966  J E Glasgow

1967  G W Forrest

1968  T K Meredith JP

1969  J B Blair

1970  Rev J W Smethurst MA

1971  B Gillitt MA

1972  J M Williams

1973  Rev A F Williams

1974  P M S Newsome

1975  Dr D L Blundstone

1976  J C Large JP

1977  J S Glover

1978  D R Sarginson

1979  P G King

1980  J L Marcus

1981  C L Ferguson

1982  I N Smith

1983  R Schofield

1984  Dr G A Campbell

1985  J S Hammon

1986  J C B Leech

1987  R V Wiglesworth

1988  Dr M A H Lewis

1989  Dr J D Farr

1990  Dr M R Gold

1991  J R J Cotterill

1992  D C Mander

1993  Dr P L Kander

1994  R G Tudor

1995  D H Blair

1996  Prof D E Smith

1997  Dr R J Ballantine

1998  G C Austin

1999  Dr P I Biggs

2000  Dr R A Wyld

2001  P I Mander

2002  Dr G A V Murray

2003  Dr I Moule

2004  Dr R D Jones

2005  B C Smith

2006  K S H Jones

2007  C R Woodings

2008  Dr C J French

2009  Dr W R Dimitri

2010  Dr R Lal-Sarin

2011  Dr S A W Chalker

2012  Dr J W Pritchard

2013 Dr P M Whidborne

2014  N J Ferguson

2015  G E B Mander

2016  Dr S Bogahalanda

2017  Dr S K Lenton

2018  Dr M Pai

2019