Province of Herefordshire

The Masonic Province

Of Herefordshire

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Cantilupe Lodge - No 4083

After the two wars of 1914-18 and 1939-45, there was a marked increase in the number of applicants seeking to join Freemasonry. The 1920s were particularly prolific, so it follows that during the same period there was a corresponding increase in the number of new Lodges. It has been suggested that the reason for this activity was that people were looking to replace the comradeship engendered by wartime life. Whatever the Constitutional reason might have been there is no doubt that Palladian Lodge came under increasing pressure to support the formation of a new Lodge in Hereford. There was no difficulty in promoting enough interest and a Petition was sent to the Provincial Grand Master for his approval. Many eminent Freemasons supported the move and it seems there was no shortage of suitable candidates, either as Joining Members or as potential Initiates.

Cantilupe tomb in Hereford CathedralCantilupe Lodge formally came into being on 17th June 1920 and was soon an active and virile member of the Province. Its early growth was rapid and due to the large number of applications received, it proved necessary to admit more than one candidate in a ceremony on many occasions. There is a record of having undertaken two Initiations and two Passings in one night and Lodges of Emergency were held by Dispensation to enable the long list of applicants to be admitted. The emergency soon passed but the Minutes show that there was never a shortage of applicants to join its ranks. Its stability and decorum is reflected in the Minutes of its meetings by the conduct and quality of its debating. They noticeably reflect a thoughtful sense of purpose and sound common sense. It has been a prominent and staunch supporter of the Charities both national and local and generously supported the Masonic Hall Committee in the task of raising money for the purchase and improvement work of the present Masonic Hall. The move into Kyrle Street in 1929, established for all city lodges a permanent and stable venue. Hitherto Cantilupe had met at the College Hall, Cathedral Cloisters, Hereford, with some festive meetings at the Town Hall. Colonel M.J.G. Scobie, CB, DL., PGD, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Herefordshire was the first Master. He lived at Armdale House, Hereford and was a solicitor by profession and founded the present Hereford practice of Beaumont Smith, Davies, Offa Street, Hereford. He was an exuberant character, disciplined, with a lively and colourful personality. There is a story that as a Colonel of the Light Horse he would sometimes go to the office in dress uniform on horseback; which must have been an eye catching spectacle. With his lively intelligence, there can be little doubt that he was well suited for his parental task in Lodge as its first Master.

There were two prominent churchmen who served as Founders, the Bishop of Hereford, Rt. Revd. Herbert Henley Henson and the Dean, the Very Revd. Reginald Waterfield. They were good enough to place the College Hall at the disposal of City Lodges during their tenure in office. However, it is not stated if they were responsible for influencing the decision to name the Lodge after Thomas de Cantilupe. He was Bishop of Hereford between 1220 and 1282 and gained a local reputation for being a charitable and devout churchman. He died on his return journey from Italy where he had been granted an audience with the Pope. He was buried at Santo Severo, Tuscany but his bones were later exhumed and interred in the Cathedral at Hereford. Some 40 years after he died he was made a Saint by the College of Cardinals to mark his devoutness and devotion. The qualifying evidence revealed that he wore a hair shirt and an iron girdle next to his skin which was infested with fleas. The St. Thomas de Cantilupe Shrine became a focal point for pilgrims who flocked in large numbers into Hereford to pay homage to his memory and to touch the Holy Shrine. In the twentieth century the Dean’s Senior Sexton was Brother James Poulter who became first Tyler and served the Lodge in that Office for fifty years. Shortly before his death he presented the oak entabulature which was placed on the east wall behind the Master’s Pedestal in the Lodge Room. His portrait hangs in the dining room next to the entrance door to the Lodge Room. Cantilupe Lodge has good reason to be pleased with its history to date. In the course of its life it has provided from its ranks, two Provincial Grand Masters and two Deputy Provincial Grand Masters as well as many other senior Provincial Officers of note. Its generous support of the various charities has hitherto been a matter of record and members may feel justified in thinking that if St Thomas de Cantilupe could return today, he would not feel that his name was being used in vain.

Cantilupe Lodge Banner

Cantilupe Lodge BannerThe badge depicts the Shrine of Saint Thomas de Cantilupe placed on a black and white chequered pavement. He was, in 1320, the last Englishman to be canonized before the Reformation. The Shrine which stands in the north transept of Hereford Cathedral is enriched on three sides with military effigies in armour. Each effigy bears a shield in a variety of attitudes. They were once emblazoned with a coat of arms but no trace or detail remains today. The spandrels in the upper stage of the Shrine are exquisitely carved with various types of foliage. Within the arcade in the upper part of the tomb is a slab of Purbeck marble, formerly polished and inlaid with a half length brass effigy of Bishop Cantilupe. The shrine was vandalized during the Reformation and suffered neglect over the next 300 years. It was further damaged by Cromwellians who stabled their horses in the Cathedral during their occupation of Hereford in the mid 17th century. The Shrine was rebuilt close to its original site during the last century but the canopy with which it was surmounted was not restored. An interfaith ceremony at Hereford Cathedral on Saturday 8th November 2008 saw the restoration of the canopy to its former glory.

The tomb bears no inscription or device but Cantilupe Lodge adopted the motto ‘Fide et manu forte’, which translates as ‘By faith and a strong hand’.