In 1778 the
Regiment was stationed at Exeter, and between that time and 1883 it is
known to have served at Penzance, Portsmouth, Bishops Waltham,
Porchester, Poole, Tunbridge, Falmouth and Taunton. During that period
of frequent movement they must have encountered many other Regiments,
some of which would have contained Lodges with “Travelling” Warrants
which were very common in the Army at that time. It is highly probable
that some members of the Regiment were initiated in these Lodges, and
in due time they would naturally want to have a Lodge of their own.
the 2nd Regiment back in Exeter, and application was made in that year
to the “Provincial Grand Lodge for the City of Exeter and County of
Devon”, which had been formed only eight years previously, whose
energetic Secretary, Beavis Wood, wrote to Grand Lodge:
report I sent you in January last the lodges undermentioned have been
constituted in the Province of Devon….
Good Intention in the North or Second regiment of Devon Militia – to
be held in the Town of Biddeford or wherever the Regiment shall be –a
previous Dispensation was granted 3 April 1783 – and the Warrant of
Constitution 2 May 1783. Lodge nights first and 3 Thursdays. First
Master and Wardens Thos. Arter, John Handford, John Rennels – This
constitution is paid for.”
Lodge of Good Intention was numbered No. 452, and was granted a
“Travelling” Warrant, “Biddeford” was named on the Warrant because it
was the home of Thos. Arter, a sergeant-major of the Regiment, the
first Master of the Lodge and therefore the custodian of the Warrant.
In the early days, with the Regiment stationed at Exeter, it met in
the Globe Inn, St Mary’s Church Yard, but by November 1783 it had
returned to Barnstaple, and the Regiment was stood down with the
approach of peace.
interesting to note that Loyal Lodge (now No. 251) was warranted only
three months after Lodge of Good Intention No. 452, was given the very
next number, and similarly met at a tavern called the Globe Inn.
exist locally today of the meetings of Lodge of Good Intention No.
452, but some information can be gleaned from the minutes of Loyal
Lodge of that time. Over a period these record the following visitors
from Lodge of Good Intention:
Thomas Arter Master; John Handford S.W; John Renolds J.W; William
Cornish; George Ley; Jno. Ward; John Mulles; James Braby;
Hartnold Lee Cridge Coleman Barrett Hewett
clearly a close relationship between the two Lodges from the start,
for the Loyal Lodge minutes for 9th July 1785 show a joint meeting of
the two Lodges for the purpose of working the Royal Arch, and
candidates were drawn from both. This meeting is a rare example in
Masonic history of Lodges under the Grand Lodge of the “Moderns”
working the Royal Arch – it was a practice much frowned upon.
demobilisation of the militia, the activities of the Lodge of Good
Intention No. 452 appear to have centred increasingly on Bideford. We
can only admire the enthusiasm of those visitors to Loyal Lodge,
returning from Barnstaple to Bideford late at night on horseback or by
pony and trap. They were exposed to the elements, travelling over
unmetalled roads and with few dwellings by the roadside. A hardy
breed, no doubt fortified by the comforts of the Festive Board.
evidence of the Lodge is sparse. In 1786, the Lodge is shown as
“contributing one guinea to Grand Lodge for the Charity Fund”and
later, in Watkins “History of Bideford” the list of subscribers
includes “Good Intention Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons in the 2nd
Regiment of North Devon Militia.”
that point the trail grows cold. Bruce Oliver conjectures that a
number of Bideford civilians joined the Lodge, and this may have
brought pressure for a new Lodge without military connections, more
representative of the town. Lodge Faithful No. 499 was warranted on
23rd April 1792 to meet in Bideford, and we know only that the Warrant
of the Lodge of Good Intention became dormant.
the link with Bideford is commemorated today in the close and valued
friendship between Lodge of Good Intention No. 6927 and Lodge
Benevolence No. 489.
On 27th Feb
1783, shortly before the formation of the original Lodge of Good
Intention, the journal “Exeter Flying Post” contained the following
“Witness, Beavis G.Wood, Pro.G.Secty.
To be sold by Private Contract, the good Brigantine Good
Intention, 180 tons,
Plantation built last year at Newcastle, now lying at
Starcross in the Port of
addition, one of the founders, John Godden, was a seaman. Was this
sheer coincidence, or was this vessel the inspiration for the name of
Nineteen-forties, it became clear that Barnstaple could support, and
in fact needed, a second Masonic Lodge. Loyal Lodge agreed to act as
sponsoring Lodge, and some of its members, together with Masons from
other North Devon Lodges, became the Founders. On 2nd November 1949,
Grand Lodge granted a warrant for the new Lodge, numbered 6927, to be
held in the town of Barnstaple.
of former Lodges with local connections had been considered for the
new Lodge :
Lodge Faithful had local
associations, but it had met only at Bideford, and it was thought
better to leave the name available in case Bideford Masons should ever
seek to use it.
Lodge of the Eight Brothers, a
Lodge attached to the North Devon Regiment of Militia, had met in
Barnstaple from 1812 to 1816, and as the successor to the defunct Good
Intention No. 452, it seemed a likely choice. However, it had been
warranted by the Atholl or Ancients Grand Lodge, and, possibly for
this reason, it was discarded.
Lodge of Good Intention it was
consecration of the new Lodge took place on Wednesday 24th May 1950,
at the Foresters Hall, High Street, Barnstaple – premises expansive
enough for the elaborate ceremony involved, and to contain the large
attendance. The Festive Board was taken at the Masonic Hall, at that
time the building surmounted by Queen Anne’s statue at the end of the
Strand. The menu of six courses must have seemed a veritable feast in
those years of post-war austerity, and undoubtedly helped to make a
truly memorable occasion.
The story of
the man who created Trafalgar Lawn is well worth re-telling. It is a
story, first, of service to his country, followed by a fine piece of
entrepreneurial adventure. His legacy today is one of the finest
architectural features in North Devon.
was born in 1779, four years before the creation of the original Lodge
of Good Intention No. 452. His father, the Rev. William Hole, was the
Surrogate of Barnstaple. At the tender age of 14 he joined the Royal
Navy, not an easy entry into adult life in those days. A year later he
saw action as a Midshipman aboard HMS Belliqueex at the capture of
Port-au-Prince. By 1801 he had risen to the rank of Lieutenant, and
served under Lord Nelson at the Battle of Copenhagen.
ensuing years, he attained the rank of Captain, and began to amass
prize money through the capture of enemy ships. One such was the
Danish vessel Aalborg, which earned him a large sum, and there were
several similar prizes.
he was First Lieutenant of the Revenge, a line-of-battle ship sailing
under the lee line of Admiral Lord Collingwood. During the battle,
both the Captain and Commander were injured, and Lewis Hole took
command. For his bravery on that day he was promoted Commander.
Trafalgar also brought him substantial further prize money.
hostilities ceased, he retired to Barnstaple, settling in Ebberley
Lawn. He invested part of his prize money in buying a large meadow in
Newport, known as Cowie or Coney Meadow. Situated between Limers Lane
(now Park Lane) and the London Road (now Newport Road), it stretched
from the Coney Gut, a stream which now runs under Rock Park, to the
land which now borders Rock Avenue, a considerable expanse. It
included not only the site of the current Lawn, but also what is now
the Nelson Terrace area (another significant name) and part of today’s
Rock Park. His dream was to commemorate Nelson’s great victory by
creating the finest development in the town.
16th 1824, this advertisement appeared in the
North Devon Journal
“Newport, in the Parish of Bishops Tawton”
“Building Land to be sold or leased,
for a certain period of years, which is worthy of the attention of the
Public, as the situation is at once healthy, agreeable and convenient;
and the houses (as accurately tried by level a few days since) will
stand fully as high as those of Ebberley Place. The ground below the
terrace is to be laid out in a Lawn, Gravel Walks and Shrubberies,
which will be kept in order by the Proprietor, solely at his own
expense; of whom plans may be seen of what is to be done.
He intends to build a Lodge at
the bottom of the Lawn, and to have a railing adjoining the London
Road (the railings remained in place until 1940, when they were
removed and melted down for the War Effort);
in short, everything will be done to
make this one of the most delightful spots in Devonshire.
Apply to Captain Hole, the
Proprietor, Ebberley Place, Barnstaple.”
built and retained No. 4, the largest and most imposing house of the
terrace, for his own residence. We know little of his retirement, but
with several other retired Naval Officers living nearby, he did not
want for congenial company. He was raised to Flag Rank in 1846, and
died in 1870 at the age of 91, a full Admiral, and senior in his list.
enter No. 4, let us remember the achievement of this local boy who
was presented to the Lodge by W.Bro. T.R. Sandford, one of the
Founders, and a member of Benevolence Lodge No. 489 at Bideford.
dedicated at the consecration of the Lodge on 24th May 1950, by the
Bishop of Crediton, R.W.Bro.William Surtees, Past Grand Chaplain and
Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire from 1938 until his death in
was drawn up by W.Bro. Bruce Oliver, PAGDC, a distinguished member of
Loyal Lodge and the Prestonian Lecturer for 1954 (see “Pen
Portraits”). It contains references to the original Lodge of Good
Intention, allusions to the history of Barnstaple, and some purely
background of blue silk, the central figure is a Militiaman of the
North Devon Militia. He is shown dressed in a red coat, white breeches
and gaiters and a blue and white hat, and carries a musket. On one
side is a fort, embroidered in brown, the coat of arms of the Borough
of Barnstaple, dating from the 17th Century. On the other side is a
ship, also in brown but with white sails; this is the “good ship
Dudley” one of a number which sailed from Barnstaple Quay in 1588 to
join Drake in harassing and defeating the Armada (the number is
variously put between four and six).
Militiaman stands upon a black and white squared pavement, on which
are placed the square, level and plumb-rule. Above, the sun and
compasses are embroidered in gold, as are the moon and seven stars,
and the scroll-work along the top. Framing the whole is a pair of
pillars. Interestingly, they are surmounted by the traditional globes
rather than the bowls which are such an unusual feature of the brass
pillars which form part of the Bath furniture.
our banner is a clever combination of the different elements which go
to make up our Lodge.