Although no recorded evidence is available, it was in 1913, or possibly earlier, that W.Bro. Horatio Childs, Headmaster of St. Martin’s Northern School, conceived the idea of forming a Masonic Lodge from the Old Boys Association (O.B.A.) of this Elementary School. Tradition relates that no Lodge had previously been formed from such a source, but eventually permission was secured. The application was sponsored by the St. Pancras Lodge No. 2271, who provided several of the founders of the new Lodge.
The Consecration took place at Anderton’s Hotel, Fleet Street. Five candidates were proposed at this meeting, all from the O.B.A. Jewels were presented to the Consecrating officers as souvenirs of the occasion. There were sixty-nine persons who attended the Consecration meeting, sixty of whom dined afterwards at the Festive Board.
At the first Regular meeting on 23rd May five candidates joined, and five others were proposed. In March 1915 three members were advanced to full member status, and five more joined. This was prior to the ceremony of Installation. Between the Consecration and September 1917, the last occasion when more than two candidates appeared in any degree, there were three Emergency meetings. The Emergency meetings were busy with new members joining and existing members advancing to full member status.
The first Ladies’ Festival took place following the Lodge meeting in November 1914, with ninety two members and guests being present.
In May 1916 W.Bro. Farnie took up the first Stewards (Charity) List, the Festival being that of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI). A resolution was passed in 1919 that Old Boys take precedence over all Candidates, except a the son of a Mason. Also in this year the Lodge of Instruction was formed, with W.Bro. Farnie as the Preceptor.
In 1920 it was resolved that the Lodge become a Founding Lodge of the Freemasons Hospital. A proposal to change the date of the Installation meeting from March to September was carried in November 1921, and took effect the following year. In May 1922 the names of Past Masters of the Lodge were ordered to be inscribed on the Warrant of the Lodge, but this practice was discontinued some years later at the request of Grand Lodge.
A handsomely wrought Poniard was presented to the Lodge in November 1922 by Brother E. J. Owen. At the November 1925 meeting Brother (latterly W.Bro.) Gotobed who had for some time been acting as Organist was elected a Joining member, and was immediately invested as Organist. He held this office until November 1962, when on election as an Honorary Member he continued to serve in an acting capacity.
The connection with the “Old Boys” was further evinced in 1928 when the Lodge voted ten guineas to the fund for maintaining the Roll of Honour to the Old Boys of St. Martin’s Northern who had served in the Great War. This memorial is sadly no longer in existence. There is evidence to suggest that there were several Old Boys who were waiting to join the Lodge, who subsequently were killed during the Great War. The Lodge lost four members to the Great War.
The Lodge suffered a significant loss in March 1929 when W.Bro. Childs, the Father of the Lodge and its first Master, passed away. A Memorial Service was subsequently held at St. Martin-in-the-Fields. Possibly as a tribute to his memory, although the minutes do not say so, the Lodge Charity Association was formed two months later. A grant was made in 1933 towards the restoration of the fabric of St. Martin’s Northern School, this building was subsequently severely damaged by bombing in the Second World War.
At the 21st Anniversary meeting in May 1935 W.Bro. Farnie (then Secretary) read a paper on the events leading up to the foundation of the Lodge and a few details of its early history. Although it was resolved that this paper should be printed and circulated among the Brethren, recent efforts to secure a copy have failed. At this meeting also two Loving Cups were presented by W.Bro. G. Flower and W.Bro. H. Budd, who expressed a desire that these Cups should be filled and passed round the banqueting table at each May meeting.
The practice of using these Loving Cups subsequently fell into disuse, mainly because of the fears of of passing on infections. They were auctioned amongst Lodge members. The proceeds of the auction was intended to purchase replacement goblets, in practice the new goblets were donated by W.Bro. Ernie Lindus, and the proceeds of the auction were used to cover the costs of engraving the goblets. The engraved text honours the memory of W.Bro. G. Flower, W.Bro. H. Budd and also W.Bro. Ernie Lindus and W. Bro Arthur Fitch, another long serving member of the Lodge. The goblets are still used today by the Master and Wardens at the Festive Board.
A further severe loss befell the Lodge in July 1938 when W.Bro. Colin Farnie, a Founder, Past Master, and for twelve years Secretary, died in the Royal Masonic Hospital.
Four months later the Lodge met for the last time at Anderton’s Hotel, which was soon to be demolished. During the subsequent difficulties of finding a new permanent home, it was suggested that the Lodge should meet on a day other than a Saturday. The members turned this idea down by a large majority.
The 25th Anniversary Meeting in March 1939 was held at the Cannon Street Hotel, and to commemorate the occasion a Cushion and Fall (still in use) were presented by W.Bro. G. F. Holder WM, and dedicated to his father W.Bro. G. T. Holder. The Menu Card of this Silver Jubilee banquet was presented by W.Bro. T. A. Meynell.
At the May meeting in 1939, the last before the outbreak of war, three ceremonies were carried out for the last time. The following meeting in September was cancelled (with all others at that period by order of Grand Lodge). The Installation Meeting, therefore, took place in November.
In March 1940 at the Manchester Hotel, Aldersgate, a decision was taken by a large majority to hold future meetings at Freemasons’ Hall, where all subsequent meetings have been held. From September 1940 to May 1945, due to war conditions the Lodge met early, usually at 1.00 or 1.30 pm. However, the November 1940 meeting was cancelled by the Worshipful Master.
For some years little of exceptional interest took place in matters concerning the Lodge, but in 1947 the Secretary, W.Bro. Bailey, was honoured with Grand Rank, as his predecessor W.Bro. Farnie had been many years earlier.
In 1948 a sum of 250 guineas was donated to the 150th Festival of the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys, presided over by the M.W. the Grand Master.
In 1951 a Trust was established for the Benevolent Fund, and a Film of the Royal Masonic Institution for Girls was shown at the November meeting.
At the Installation meeting a photograph of W.Bro. H. Childs was presented to the Lodge by W.Bro. T. W. W. Newman, and it was agreed that this should be pasted in the first Minute Book, which was open for inspection at the 60th Anniversary meeting. A reproduction of the photograph is included on the page about Horatio Childs.
In 1953 two members were honoured with Grand Rank, W.Bro. W. H. Bailey and W.Bro. C. Clover.
In 1956 W.Bro. Gotobed was honoured with Grand Rank, in appreciation of his services as Organist since 1924. The Lodge conferred Honorary Membership upon him in 1962.
There was a moving scene at the Installation meeting in September 1962, when a presentation was made to W.Bro. W. H. Bailey on his retirement from office of Secretary, after twenty-four years in that capacity. He was succeeded by W.Bro. F. J. Hobden, who served the Lodge with distinction until compelled, by ill health, to retire in 1970, when the Secretary-ship passed to W.Bro. Derek A. J. Hill.
In 1968 a presentation was made to. Bro. A. E. Holder for his 50th year in the Lodge. W.Bro. Holder was honoured with Grand Rank in 1969, and in 1973 the Lodge, in appreciation of his services as Director of Ceremonies over a period of 21 years, conferred upon him the distinction of Honorary Membership.
In May 1990 W.Bro. Ernie Lindus was honoured with Grand Rank. Ernie served the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies for 21 years.
In March 1994, as part of the 80th year celebrations, a Lodge banner, designed by W.Bro. Ron Parkes, was dedicated in a formal ceremony by the Rev. Peter Hemmingway, Junior Grand Warden. A special Festive Board was held afterwards at the Connaught Rooms, with the diners being entertained by a team of hand bell ringers.
Despite all the economic problems that beset our country at the present time, our membership is as strong as ever. The Lodge of Instruction, now meeting twice a month throughout the year, bears testimony to the enthusiasm of the members, and supports an excellent future for Unity and Progress Lodge.
During the 100 years of its existence the Lodge has been served by 10 Chaplains (at intermittent periods), 17 Treasurers, 11 Secretaries and 13 Directors of Ceremonies.