History of the Province of Wiltshire 1900 - 2000

In 1900 Jacob Pleydell-Bouverie the 5th Earl of Radnor took over as Provincial Grand Master, a post he held for twenty seven years.  He was followed by a very distinguished army officer, Maj. General T C P Calley who had been Deputy PrGM from 1915.  Maj General Calley was installed by the Pro Grand Master, Lord Amptill and remained in charge of the Province for five years from 1927 until 1932..


In what was a great honour for the Province, Calley was suceeded by His Royal Highness, George Duke of Kent who was Provincial Grand Master from 1934 to 1938; he left the Province when he became Grand Master.  Sadly the Duke was killed in 1942 whilst on active service with the Royal Air Force.


In 1936 HRH the Duke of Kent, invested the 4th Lord Methuen as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and in 1938 the Pro Grand Master, the Earl of Harewood, installed Lord Methuen as Provincial Grand Master.


The meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge was held at Masonic Rooms, town halls or similar places, but in 1903 the Province met at Longford Castle, at the invitation of Lord Radnor.  Over 150 masons were entertained on the lawns of the castle in what was undoubtably a quite spectacular event 


In 1906 it was reported that W Bro Harry Bevir a local solicitor, was not only celebrating his silver wedding but had achieved 21 years service as Provincial Grand Secretary, in recogniton of which, it was arranged to have his portrait painted by Mr Herman Herkomer R A. 


In 1907 the Province took part in the laying of the foundation stone for St. Augustines Church, Swindon, with full Masonic honours.  The ceremony was widely reported in the local press with accompanying photographs some of which are still available to view.


The next Provincial Grand Master was with us for forty years. Paul Aysford, 4th Lord Methuen.  During his time in office there was a steady growth and this was continued under his successor, Reginald Arthur Collingwood Forrester (1968 to 1984) a solicitor.


These Provincial Grand Masters have been assisted by many Masons, by their Deputies and Provincial Secretaries. Lord Methuen, when PrGM, was assisted greatly by his Deputy, Daniel Gooch, and his secretary Brother Rea. Later secretaries who helped the building of the Province were Harry C Preater, later DPrGM, Sydney Cockayne, later Grand Superintendent, he was followed by C R W Moore, who assisted the 4th Lord Methuen in helping the Province grow considerably.


The seven years Festival for the "Boys" finished in 1974 the total raised being £340,348. A presentation of silver Consecration Vessels was made to the Province, September 1975, by the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies, to celebrate the Bicentenary of the Province. At that meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge the Province was honoured with the presence of R W Bro the Hon. Francis Cornwallis, Assistant Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, who congratulated the Province on reaching two hundred years. He was supported by five visiting Provincial Grand Masters, eight Deputy Provincial Grand Masters and many Grand Officers.

By 1977 there were now 35 Lodges in the Province.


Charity work was still proceeding as in the two years, 1981 to 1982, a sum of £65,709 had been raised for the Benevolent Institution, followed by a three year effort for the Grand Charity which raised £147,689. This was the last occasion, other than when a Festival was called, that the Province raised monies for the Institutions, the Charity funds were now to be run and administered within the Province.


There was a Special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge at Blunsdon on 21st Feb 1985 when the Past Pro Grand Master the Rt Hon the Earl Cadogan was received and took the chair. The Province had now been given the task of organising a four year Festival for the Grand Charity. In 1993 the Festival for the Grand Charity was held at City Hall, Salisbury. The sum raised being nearly one million pounds.


John R Ing, another solicitor, was Provincial Grand Master from 1985 to 1993.


The Investiture of local solicitor, soon to be District Judge Byron Richard Carron of Wanborough, Nr. Swindon, in 1993 heralded a new era for Wiltshire Freemasonry.  The new Provincial Grand Master instituted sweeping changes particularly in forming cordial relationships with new Freemasons, in a break with 'tradition' the PrGM took to greeting every Brother in the Lodge and at the supper table.   This was considered quite revolutionary at the time, but quickly proved to be an inspired move, leading to a more friendly atmosphere within the Lodge and at the Festive Board.  Having been offered a judicial post, Byron Carron resigned from office in 1999 and the Province was entrusted to Brian Edwick the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master.


In 1996 the Provincial Grand Master instituted a meeting with all the newly obligated Apprentices and their wives, to make them more welcome into the Brotherhood. A trio of learned brethren were introduced as Samaritans, if required, and in 1997 the Lodge of Loyalty at Marlborough organised the first open day for residents of the town.


Francis Wakem QPM  a retired Chief Superintendent and Assistant Provincial Grand Master was appointed and Invested as the fourteenth Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire in 2004 and served the office until October 2014; a period he often referred to as ten years or a decade.  Francis is a man for whom tradition is important but who also recognised the need for innovation and change, especially as the Province entered the 21st century and faced the challenges presented by the new digital age.  If Byron Carron presented a more relaxed form to Freemasonry, Francis Wakem elevated it to an art form and in this he was ably assisted at every turn by the quick wit of Byron, something admired and loved by Brethren from across the Province.


To follow in the footsteps of Francis Wakem was a tall order but in Philip Stuart Arthur Bullock the Grand Master chose an able and astute successor who had proved his worth and ability as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.  A business man by profession, Philip has embarked on a programme designed to promote Freemasonry in the community and to build on the theme of the Wiltshire Masonic Family.