History of Marmion Lodge - Tamworth's oldest Masonic Lodge

How it all began

Marmion Lodge is Tamworth’s oldest surviving lodge and is one of the oldest in Staffordshire. In early 1865 seven Tamworth Freemasons named William Hutton, Thomas W Coldicott, Edwin Hooper, George T Green, William J Walters, Thomas Sneyd and John Fairfield petitioned the United

Grand Lodge of England to form a Lodge in Tamworth. The petition was duly granted on the 13th April 1865 by the Grand Master, Thomas Dundas, Earl of Zetland.

There followed a preliminary meeting on 27th May 1865 at the White Horse Hotel to organise the formation and opening of the Lodge. Subsequently, Marmion Lodge no 1060 was duly consecrated at 12 noon on Tuesday, 13th June 1865, with the proceedings once again taking place at the White Horse Hotel.

13th June 1865 – A new Lodge is born

The Provincial Grand Master of Staffordshire, William Kenwright Harvey, presided at the ceremony of consecration and, with the assistance of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, John Burton, the Provincial Grand Senior Warden, G Baker and the Provincial Grand Junior Warden, H Segrave, installed William Hutton as the first Worshipful Master. 

The new Worshipful Master then invested the following as officers of the Lodge:

  • Senior Warden: Thomas W Coldicott
  • Junior Warden: Edwin Hooper
  • Treasurer: J Thompson
  • Secretary: George T Green

The following men, introduced by the Provincial Grand Master, were then initiated as members of the newly formed Lodge:

  • William Bindley
  • Thomas Dumolo
  • Samuel Hanson
  • Charles Clarson
  • Robert Bindley  

The Lodge meeting was duly closed and the entire Lodge went in procession, headed by the band of the Tamworth Corps of the Rifle Volunteers, to Tamworth Town Hall for a celebratory banquet.

 Tamworth Town Hall

   Tamworth Town Hall

  

   Through the remainder of 1865, Marmion Lodge continued to grow, with another 16 members joining and many more in the years that followed.

  






At its 50th anniversary celebrations in 1915, over 50 members of Marmion Lodge posed for this picture.

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 Marmion Lodge at its Centenary celebrations in June 1965.

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The White Horse Hotel – Marmion Lodge’s first home

The White Horse hotel, once owned by Sir Robert Peel, MP and twice Prime Minister (1834-35 and 1841-46), stood at the corner of Lichfield Street and Silver Street. It was named after a horse fair held in Lichfield Street and had a large stable yard at the rear of the premises. It was finally closed on 16th May 1968 and then demolished.

Marmion Lodge on the move

At the end of 1868, Marmion Lodge moved from the White Horse Hotel to a private house at 14 Church Street, Tamworth. The house was rented for the sum of £7 10s, inclusive of coal, gas and taxes and a sum not exceeding £15 was spent on alterations to meet the requirements of the Lodge. The Lodge held its first meeting there on 13th January 1869. Nowadays, 14 Church Street is currently “The Wardrobe” clothes shop.

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The Lodge continued to meet at 14 Church Street until early 1887, when the Lodge moved to rooms in the Municipal Buildings, which it leased from the Corporation of Tamworth.    

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Over the years that followed, a permanent home was sought, with various projects being pursued. As early as 1879, a building fund was set up with £26 4s 4d being deposited in the National Provincial Bank at Tamworth. Nevertheless, it was not until 1930 that these plans were finally realised when Marmion Lodge moved to its current home, a Grade 2 listed building at 29 Lichfield Street, where it continues to flourish to this day.

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Early Masonic activity in Tamworth

Prior to the founding of Marmion Lodge, it is recorded that the Lodge of Harmony No 558 met at Dudley’s Coffee House in George Street, Tamworth from 1796 to its closure in 1809. 

Earlier still, St Bartholomew’s Lodge No 547 was constituted and held meetings just outside Tamworth at the White Lion, Coleshill Street, Fazeley. This Lodge subsequently moved to Sutton Coldfield, where it eventually closed in 1828.

Two of Tamworth’s most important landmarks: Tamworth Castle and St Editha’s Church, represent two fine examples of the stonemason’s practical work. Since the most popular theory on the origins of Freemasonry is that it derives from medieval stonemason’s guilds, the work of stonemasons is often of interest to the Masonic historian.

 Tamworth Castle.JPG

When a history of Marmion Lodge was produced for its 50th anniversary celebrations, it was noted that “…a part of the cemented floor of the present upper North Gallery of the Castle was decorated with squares and emblems of the craft. The characters are still to be faintly seen.” However, no evidence has been found of Freemasons holding meetings there.

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A close inspection of St Editha’s church will reveal the “marks” of the stonemasons’ who built it. Such “marks” were used by stonemasons to identify the stones they had carved and thus the wages they were entitled to, as they were often paid “piece-work” rates.