White Friars Lodge No 6523
Provincial Charter Mark
Approved by the
Province of Durham, Awaiting UGLE Approval



History of St Bede Lodge No.1119

At the beginning of the 19th Century, Jarrow was a rural community, and the township, which included the villages of Hedworth and Monkton, had a mere population of 1500. Coalmining, Shipbuilding and the establishment of ancillary industries, completely transformed the economy and demanded labour. There was a steady influx and by 1870 the population had risen to 15,000.

Here was a fertile field in which Freemasonry could take root. Nor was opportunity lacking. Practising Masons now domiciled in the area, hampered by inadequate travel facilities from readily attending their own lodges, and fully aware of the wealth of material latent in the Town, pressed for the formation of a new Lodge. So it was conceived, and a petition was accordingly presented to St. Hilda Lodge No. 240, South Shields. It was received sympathetically; support was immediate. A Charter was granted on June 5th, 1866 and on August 7th, 1866, St. Bede Lodge, No. 1119 was consecrated by the Rt. W. Bro. John Fawcett, Provincial Grand Master in the Mechanics Institute, Jarrow. Here it was that the lodge was born and had lodgement until permanent premises could be secured. W. Bro. Henry Hedley was the first Master, and the first meeting was held on August 29th, 1866.

A period of consolidation followed and the strength of the Lodge grew. That interest was maintained is instanced by the holding of an instruction Lodge in 1871 and also by the ready response to regard favourably the suggestion to form a Lodge in Hebburn, from which area St. Bede Lodge had already attracted many members.

Further evidence of enthusiasm came in March 1878 when the question of a permanent meeting place was seriously considered. This was of momentous import, not to be entered into lightly, yet within a year the project was agreed. It was accepted of one of extreme urgency, and despite the mass of details to be sifted, discussed and presented for approval, the foundation stone was laid on 21st April, 1881, by W. Bro. George Spain, Master of Northumberland Lodge. Just ten months later, on the 15th February, 1882, the Temple was consecrated. St. Bede Lodge had a home.

Masonry not being static, but both stimulating and progressive, as it’s attraction spread, so did the Brethren already arraigned under its banners seek further enlightenment. It was a logical development therefore, that from within should come the desire for a Royal Arch Chapter. In due course representation was made, a warrant was issued, and on May 31st, 1882, St. Bede Chapter, No. 1119 was consecrated.

By the end of the century, the population of Jarrow exceeded 30,000. At the same time the results of the 1870 Education Act, giving education to all, were now being felt among the adult population. These facts were reflected in the increased flow of candidates. It was now apparent that to avoid long periods of waiting for admission, and to prevent subsequent accumulation of names of potential candidates, another Lodge was imperative. Thus did St. Paul Lodge, No. 3242 come into being.

About this time discussions were entered into regarding the alteration and extension of the building. Plans were agreed and the contractor took over in May 1909. Dispensation was granted for the regular meetings to be held at Carr Street, Hebburn, and through the good graces of Perseverance Lodge, St. Bede Lodge functioned normally.

On the 8th December, 1909, the building as we now know it was re-opened. It must have been with great pride and satisfaction that the Brethren reviewed the new Temple, for so greatly was it admired that the Provincial Grand Master, Rt. W. Lord Barnard, suggested that a description of the decorations, interpreting their allegorical significations should be obtained and kept permanently.

The 50th Anniversary of the Lodge was commemorated on the 13th September, 1916, by a visit from Provincial Grand Lodge, headed by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, V. W. Bro. Victor Williamson, and the presentation of mementos in the form of a jewel and medal. It was interesting to note that W. Bro. Jos T Dickinson, W. Master in 1873, and the first initiate, though unable to attend was to be the recipient of a jewel.

Further expansion in depth came in 1920, with the consecration of Jarrow Mark Lodge No. 701, and that Masonry was extending its appeal was shown by the formation of Pele Tower Lodge and whose consecration took place in our own Temple.

But the magnetism of Freemasonry is not solely parochial. It insinuates locally, it bounds nationally. Jarrow Masons, who for various reasons were residing in other parts, there sought contacts to carry on their daily advancement. One group proved apt missionaries, being so prominent among the founders of a Lodge in East Ham that significantly enough it was named “The Venerable Bede”, No. 4091. No doubt the adversity in the 1920 – 30’s accelerated this evangelisation, for if the exodus of skilled workers depleted our ranks, it added impetus in the more favoured areas.

The war brought employment, to be followed by a measure of prosperity unknown in the history of the Town. The rising standard of living, the time for leisure, and the means to enjoy it; all these increased the field of Masonic attraction. The pressure for Masonic status became so astute that Lodge lists had to be closed. The solution was to form another Lodge to cope with the demand. And it so was that on the 5th March, 1947, a Charter was granted for Gyrwy Lodge, No. 6462. The consecration was on 11th June, 1947.

This brings up to date the growth of Masonry under the aegis of St. Bede Lodge. In considering this we have tried to interpret the spirit reflected in the changes over that period. 100 years ago economy and position necessarily limited Masonic membership. We must acclaim those who brought the Lodge into being, those who found the wherewithal to provide the building we now own, and those who fostered and developed the movement and brought it within reach of men of all principal, revered and respected wherever the name of St. Bede is known.