Lodge of Friendship and Unity
Lodge No. 1271
Meeting at The Masonic Hall, Church Street, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire.
The Lodge meets at 6.30pm on the second Wednesday in every month (except June, July and August)
Installation at November meeting when the Lodge Tyles at 4.15pm
A little bit of history revealed
It is 7pm on October 6th, 2010. In a meeting room in the Francis Hotel in Bath, Kit Harding, an auctioneer of the firm Carter Jonas, announces to an audience of some 70 or so people that the next lot, lot 6, is a property in Church Street, Bradford on Avon, known as Church Hall. A photo of the familiar building appears on the screen beside the auctioneer. The sale catalogue itemises the features of this historic, Grade-I-listed building dating back to the 16th Century. Bidding is slow to start. The auctioneer encourages bidders by emphasising that this is a substantial property for a relatively low guide price, and the bidding finally gets under way. The true value of the property is vastly in excess of the guide price, but there is a significant encumbrance ─ a 999-year lease granted to the existing tenants, the Freemasons, in 1922! The hammer goes down, and the hall is sold to bidder no. 141 for £30,000. The Freemasons now own the property which they have rented from Holy Trinity for the past 88 years and, for the present, we are the tenants. Picture: Church hall prior to the demolition of no 28 Church Street, at the north-east end of the terrace, in 1923.
In our December 2009/January 2010 issue of Parish News, pp 11-12, the Churchwardens, Tony Haffenden and Joan Finch, wrote an article explaining why the PCC had decided to sell Church Hall. At the time, this seemed to elicit little comment, but in the final few weeks before the actual sale, a number of people in the congregation and the wider community have expressed surprise that such an apparently valuable church property should be disposed of. It is perhaps therefore worth repeating some of the points made by Tony and Joan almost a year ago.
The property has not, contrary to common belief, belonged to the church from time immemorial. It dates back from the early 16th century and it is thought that it was built as a community building, presumably for parish business. Since then it was at various times a school, a row of cottages (with a public house attached!), and a ruin.
Canon Jones’s History of Bradford on Avon (1859) makes the following reference to the hall: Leland visited Bradford (1538-40), and in his Itinerary speaks of a rich clothier named Horton who (his words seem to imply) died no very long time before, his wife being yet alive. He may allude to the same person as the founder of the Chantry. He dwelt, according to Leland, in a house built by himself “at the north est part by the Chirch.” He also built “a goodly large chirch house ex lapide quadrato at the est end of the chirch yard without it.” I can have no doubt that the present work-shops, in what is called the Abbey yard, belonging to Messrs Edmonds, formed part of Horton's house, the situation exactly according with Leland's description, and having within unmistakable evidences of having been formerly a dwelling house. The ‘Church House,’ which is also said to have been built by Horton, is still standing; it is situated in Church street, and is now the property of Mr Butterworth. The Church House is now the Free School, and is the property of the Trustees of the School (CSA) . Both these buildings are of about the same date, and the similarity of their oak ceilings strikes you at once. The Church House, which, in a map of 1743, I have seen distinctly marked out as the building alluded to, was the place in which, before the days of rating, meetings were held for raising funds for church repairs, the poor, &c. The order of these meetings seems to have been ‘business first, pleasure afterwards,’ for no sooner had they attended to the wants of others than they had a little care for themselves, and indulging first of all in a little good cheer, then betook themselves to various kinds of festivities. The memory of one of their amusements is still preserved in the name-(happily now it is no more than a name)-of the Bull Pit, where they used to witness the then popular sport of bull-baiting.
In the early 20th century the building belonged to Mr Albert Wallington, a Trowbridge clothier, and a Freemason, who on 23rd August, 1922, granted the Freemasons the use of:
...ALL of the building and premises formerly known as the Free School but now used as the Freemasons Lodge Room, together with the adjoining cloak room and lavatory in the rear and also the room adjoining these on the ground floor part of the adjacent house with frontage on Church Street, for the term of 999 years for a yearly rent of £20..
For his part, Mr Wallington covenanted that that the Freemasons could continue occupation if they were ‘quiet’ and paid the rent for the 999-year term without fear of eviction, and that he would be responsible for insurance against loss or damage by fire and for repairs to the roof, main walls and
main timbers — no mean undertaking.
Thus, the initial agreement had nothing whatever to do with Holy Trinity. Albert Wallington subsequently died on 27th Feb 1923, and in his Will, drawn 18 up on 26th April, 1909, but subsequently unaltered, he left the property to his daughters together with the prospect of maintaining and insuring the property on behalf of the Freemasons. Those ladies then took the logical step of giving the property away to Holy Trinity, the vicar at the time being the Revd WHM Clarke. The PCC of the day became Trustees, and they immediately agreed to extend the existing ante-room of the Lodge by taking in the ground floor room of the adjacent cottage and to carry out certain repairs and restoration works. They also granted to the lodge further rights on the use of other parts of the building for the remaining term of the lease. And in December 1929 the PCC granted a further concession for the use of the main upstairs meeting room — scene of many of our own Harvest Lunches, entertainments, talks and study groups, and, until 6th October past, the regular meeting place for the MU, the Saxon Club, Junior Church, etc. In return, the PCC had the ‘right’ to use the kitchen (provided it made good any damage it caused). Such was Mr Wallington’s legacy. And although at some point the rent was raised to £40 pa, it could hardly be called a reasonable contract.
As Joan and Tony explained in their earlier article, the financial demands for the maintenance and modernisation of the church itself have escalated to the extent that it has become increasingly difficult for us to carry out the essential refurbishment work that the hall requires. In recent years we have been running the hall at a significant loss; money badly needed for church maintenance thus being used to subsidise church hall. And it was for this reason that the PCC, having considered a number of options, finally decided, with the support and agreement of the Rural Dean and the
Diocesan Board of Finance, to sell the hall.
As of October 6th, then, the church no longer has responsibility for the hall. The ‘once and future’ financial burdens are lifted and we can now turn our attention to finding ways of making better use of our 12th Century church building, not only for the activities of church groups which have previously been using church hall — Junior Church, the Mothers’ Union, the Saxon Club and the Credit Union — but also welcoming in people for other activities.
Thanks to Anthony (Tony) Haffenden and to Holy Trinity Bradford on Avon Parish News for this wonderful article. (editor)
Cots for Tots receive support of £500
Wiltshire Freemasons support a number of local charities with many of them having a very emotional connection. This was certainly the case when a member of the Lodge of Friendship and Unity which meets in Bradford-on-Avon asked members to donate some money to Bristol based charity Cots for Tots.
When a baby is sick, no parent can imagine being anywhere else but by their side and with babies coming from all over the South West for treatment at St Michael’s, Bristol, the need for convenient, inexpensive accommodation is absolutely essential.
Cots for Tots House, is a 12-bed family accommodation unit, providing a free home from home for these families. Just a short distance from the Hospital, Cots for Tots House takes away the stress of expensive fuel bills or hotel rooms and hours lost travelling, meaning families can simply be there for their loved ones, day and night.
Freemason Anthony Bonner of was really grateful for the facility when his daughter Trixy was in the neonatal intensive care unit.
The Master and the Almoner of the Lodge recently visited the charity and presented a cheque for £500 to Chloe Headdon of Cots for Tots.
Freemasons project a positive image
Derek Robins Almoner of Lodge of Friendship and Unity No.1271 presents a new Projector Screen to the Mainly Music group in Bradford on Avon.
Around 30 under fives turn up every week with their parents and enjoy two hours singing and dancing. It's very popular and run completely by volunteers.
They were very pleased with the new screen presented by the Lodge which meets in Bradford-on-Avon. Three of the ladies in the picture are Freemason's wives including Janet Brown, Sue Lavis and Marlene Haffenden.
The Lodge is making a good start in building up their Community hours in support of the Assistant Provincial Grand Master's 300 hours for 300 years initiative. They also open up their doors every Thursday in support of the local Credit Union.
Proud day for Tony and Marlene Haffenden
A Service of Celebration and Commissioning for the Diocese of Salisbury by the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtham Bishop of Salisbury was held at Salisbury Cathedral on Saturday 16th April 2016 when Marlene Haffenden was commissioned as Wiltshire Archdeaconry Chairman of the Mothers Union who are celebrating their 140th Anniversary Year.
The Aims and Objectives of the Mothers Union are to promote and support married life and to encourage parents in their role to develop the faith of their children.
To maintain a worldwide fellowship of Christians united in prayer, worship and service
To promote conditions in society favourable to a stable family life and the protection of children and to help those whose family life has met with adversity. Mothers Union have over 4milion members who serve all over the world. Rosie Stiven was Commissioned as Diocesan President.
In the picture are W. Bro. Tony Haffenden of Friendship and Unity Lodge No.1271 with his wife Marlene who was commissioned as Wiltshire Archdeaconry Chairman. They are standing in front of the replica tomb in Salisbury Cathedral with the stone rolled away. The angel said to the women, 'Do not be afraid, I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here: for he has been raised', as he said. Matthew 28:5.6))