Lodge History

Elmley –  the Name

Elmley Church

St Mary's Church, Elmley

In the later years of the 11th Century a Castle was built at the Manor of Elmley by the Lord of the Manor Robert D’Abitot. To avoid confusion between the Village and others of a similar title, the village became known as Elmley near the Castle which was, through time, shortened to just Elmley Castle.

The village of Elmley is situated South-West of the Town of Evesham in Worcestershire. Parts of the present day church are contemporary with the Castle. On the death of Robert D’Abitot the Manor first passed to his brother, later to his niece Emmeline and subsequently to her Norman Husband, Walter de Beauchamp.

Walter was already the holder of large estates and so the Beauchamp influence and holdings became vast throughout the whole of the Country. During the middle of the 12th Century the feudal barons tested their might against each other to defend or extend their influence. Elmley Castle stood firm and grew in importance becoming the principal seat of the Beauchamp Family receiving many visitors of great importance. Thus began the Golden Years of Elmley Castle’s History. With the increase in population due to the importance and enlargement of the Castle, the village church became unable to accommodate the ever increasing congregation and was enlarged during the 13th Century.

The long reign of Henry III marked troubled times with increasing dissatisfaction of his alleged misrule. Knights and holders of land by feudal tenure, discontent with the conditions of homage and allegiance, rose to join in open conflict. One of the leading figures in this revolt was Simon de Montfort, 6th Earl of Leicester. The battle of Evesham, 4th August 1265, was decisive in the fate of those who rose against the King. De Montfort’s army, weakened by the withdrawal of many supporters who felt the De Montfort’s reforms were going too far, had crossed the river Severn to the grounds of the Abbey at Evesham. Here in the Ox-bow of the river Avon they awaited reinforcement. De Montfort’s second son, also named Simon, was leading an army from London.

Simon’s joy at seeing the banners of his second son’s army was short lived for Prince Edward , son of King Henry III, had ambushed that army before they reached Evesham and having stolen the banners now carried them at the head of the advancing forces. De Montfort’s army had been tricked. Finding themselves trapped on the low ground and out numbered by a superior army there was no escape being surrounded by water on three sides and the army of Prince Edward on the high ground before them. De Montfort was forced to charge uphill in a battle later described as “the murder of Evesham for a battle it was none”. Simon was killed and his army completely destroyed. He was buried beneath the altar in the Abbey at Evesham. He is now recognised as the pioneer of Representative Government.

A fact recorded on the stone marking his death within the grounds of the Abbey remains. Many local buildings are named in his honour and Masonry has the Simon De Montfort Preceptory, meeting in the Evesham Masonic Temple. Whilst the village of Elmley gained from their loyalty towards the King, the same cannot be said for the Castle. On the death of William Beauchamp, his Son, another William inherited the Earldom of Warwick from his mother’s family, in or around 1267, where upon he proceeded to transfer the principal seat of the Beauchamp Family to Warwick Castle. From this time Elmley Castle suffered dire neglect. The 14th and 15th Centuries saw some attempt at repair but the glory days were never to return and the remains of the castle were removed to benefit other buildings amongst which is the old stone bridge across the river Avon at Pershore.

Lodge History

Elmley Castle – Lodge No 6247 (Consecrated March 22nd 1946)

Aliis non Nobis  – For Others Not Ourselves

The conception of a new lodge for Evesham was founded in the Abbot Lichfield Lodge. It was by way of response to concerns expressed at the ever increasing time taken within the lodge, for a candidate to progress from initiation to installation. Worshipful Brother Walter Craven, a past master of Abbot Lichfield Lodge, was very much to the forefront in the pursuit of a new lodge. He sought the opinions of fellow Masons and reported his findings to an officers meeting of Abbot Lichfield Lodge in January 1937.

He reported that current requests for membership together with outstanding ceremonies in connection with passing and raising would not be cleared until 1939. He pointed out that there were also many within the Town and District who were anxious to join the Masonic Order and so it was agreed to pursue the formation of a new lodge. News that the Right Worshipful Brother General Sir Francis J. Davies, Deputy Grand Master, Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Worcestershire, had shown special interest in the formation of a new Lodge was the encouragement needed. However investigations and planning work in connection with this new lodge were halted by the outbreak of the Second World War.

It was not until 1945 that circumstances allowed for the subject to again be considered at a meeting initiated by W Bro Craven. As a result of this meeting the Deputy Grand Master was approached and gave his blessing to the proposal at the same time consenting to the use of the name Elmley Castle Lodge. In the October of the same year the first founders meeting was called and W Bro A. Haynes was nominated as first Master of the new lodge. On November 8th 1945 the Worshipful Master Designate, through the Provincial Grand Secretary, petitioned the Most Worshipful Grand Master, The Earl of Harwood K.G., for a warrant to found a new lodge to be named “Elmley Castle Lodge”. This was granted on the 6th February 1946 Elmley Castle Lodge No 6247 was consecrated at Worcester on the 22nd March 1946 when, the Right Worshipful Brother, General Sir Francis Davis, Provincial Grand Master, with W Bro Alfred Allen, Deputy Grand Master and W Bro W. Harvey Gibbs, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, acted as principal consecrating officers assisted by other officers of Provincial Grand Lodge.

It’s interesting to know that the Provincial Grand Tyler was paid one guinea for his services. The first candidate initiated into the lodge was Mr Frank Darricotte. He was proposed at the April meeting, which because the Masonic building had been occupied by the armed services during the war was held at the Northwick Hotel, Waterside, Evesham. He was elected by ballot and initiated at the same meeting. W Bro Frank went on to become Worshipful Master of the lodge in 1954 and again in 1967. The wisdom and knowledge of those who saw good reason for the formation of the lodge was proven when in only the fourth month of the lodges life, it was necessary to close the list to all new membership inquires, the numbers on record being more than the lodge could cope with. Now as then the actual number of members is restricted by the capacity of the Masonic Hall at Evesham.

Both the Temple and the Dining Hall accommodate approximately 70 people. The Lodge celebrated the 500th Meeting in October 2008 and its encouraging knowing that with 59 subscribing members, and 4 honorary members, the lodge was in a similar position to that which prevailed at its foundation.