Senlac Lodge No. 5273 – History

On the 29th October 1930, several Masonic Brethren met at the Metropole Hotel, Hastings, to discuss informally the formation of a new lodge to be composed of serving and ex-service brethren of H.M.’s Forces. There had been some correspondence with Provincial Grand Master Lodge before this meeting, from which it was apparent that the Provincial Grand Master was in favour of the formation of a new lodge. At this meeting it was unanimously agreed that a “New Lodge be formed for Hastings and the District of East Sussex among Masons who are present and past members’ of H.M. Forces” A steering committee was formed consisting of W.Bro. A.M. Elliott (as secretary) and W.Bro’s W.F. Brown, R.T. Glenister and Bros. E. McCully, A.G. Seward and W.R. Weatherseed; to which was added at a later date W.Bro’s Jukes, E. Olle, R.C. Sewall and Bro. Adams.

This committee met on several occasions thereafter and all the brethren in Hastings and East Sussex who were either present of past members of H.M.’s Forces were invited to become Founder Members of the New Lodge. From this about thirty brethren responded, showing interest, and this was ultimately reduced to twenty seven Founder Brethren. Several names for the New Lodge were proposed – “Empire Service”, “St. George”, “Comrades” and “Senlac”. All these were submitted via Provincial Grand Lodge for transmission to Grand Lodge for selection of a suitable name. “Senlac” was the choice of Grand Lodge and this was the name proposed by W.Bro. Olle. Senlac was apparently chosen as it has connections with the Battle of Hastings 1066, the outcome of which had profound effect on the future history of Great Britain. It would be nice to think that Senlac Lodge has had a profound effect on Masonry in Sussex, as the precision of the work has earned much praise from all who have had the pleasure of witnessing the ceremonies.

The petition for the formation of the new lodge which was forwarded to Grand Lodge included the following objectives:

1. To unite together in harmony and concord past and present members on H.M. Forces and to promote fellowship and good feeling among them.

2. To assist brethren who have served in Military and other lodges but have been prevented by circumstances over which they had no control from taking office in their lodge and so pass through the Chair.

3. To approach as nearly as possible the work of a Military Service Lodge and for this purpose we ask permission to be allowed to wear uniform (in case of members who are still serving), decorations and war medals.

4. It is our strict intention not to permit anyone to hold office in the lodge who has already passed through the Chair in another lodge except under special circumstances, such as the necessity of appointing a Past Master to the Chair owing to the failure of a qualified Brother to occupy the Chair.

The Petition for the new Lodge was signed for presentation to the Derwent Lodge No. 40 to sponsor on 12th January 1931. A special sub committee was formed on 12th February 1931, consisting of W. Bro’s Elliott, Olle and Seward, to select a design for the Lodge Banner and Founders’ Jewel. Several designs were submitted, some of which were rejected by Grand Lodge on one or other of the following conditions:

1.No part of the Royal Arms may be assumed by a Lodge without the express consent of the Sovereign or other Royal Persons whose arms are concerned.

2. No Lodge is permitted to use the Arms of the United Grand Lodge.

3. No Arms of an individual or Corporation may be adopted without the written consent of such individual or Corporation and, in the case of consent being given, the Arms must be used in their entirety.

4. No Lodge can adopt as Arms a portion of an existing Coat of Arms even if permission is given by the holder, as such adoption would amount to the assumption to a new Coat of Arms.

5. No Lodge may be permitted to design or assume Arms, such as assumption being an infringement of the Royal Prerogative.

6. Arms that have become extinct cannot be used. In addition to the foregoing Grand Lodge will not nowadays approve a banner which comes to a point at the bottom as it must be square in this area.

Thus our Banner is of a Norman Knight (again a rhetorical connection with the Battle of Hastings) carrying a shield with a Lion Rampant thereon.

The Latin quotation on the Banner “Animo et Fide” means “By Courage and Faith” which surely must be the watchword’ of us all. It has been confirmed that this quotation has been used by Knights etc.

The Banner in use today was presented to the Lodge on the 50th Anniversary special banner dedication meeting held on the 19 June 1981. This Splendid Banner with a Norman Knight was made by the Lodge Secretary W.Bro G Higgins and his wife who also made and presented several curtains to the St. Leonards Masonic Centre.

The petition for the formation of the new lodge received approval on 22nd April 1931 and the No. 5273 allocated, and the date for the consecration of the Senlac Lodge No. 5273 was fixed for 19th June 1931. The Lodge By-laws were at the time submitted and subsequently approved on 18th July 1931. These by-laws have been amended, from time to time and it is interesting to note that the heading originally read

“The Lodge is founded to afford opportunity for Brethren being past or present members of H.M. Forces and who have not passed the Chair and do not hold progressive office in any other Lodge to occupy the Chair of this Lodge”.

And this was amended and approved in 1934 to:

“The Lodge is founded primarily for the convenience of past or present members of H.M. Forces” and this is still in force today.