Aultoun Lodge No. 7899
Lodge Name: Aultoun Lodge No. 7899
Masonic Centre: Alton
Meeting Dates: 4th Sat Sep, Nov, Jan, Mar
AULTOUN LODGE No.7899 – HISTORY
Date of Warrant – 13th March 1963
Consecrated – 25th September 1963
At the end of World War Two Alton town had a brand new Masonic Temple with an Anteroom. The Temple, by today’s standards, was very underused by the Chapter, the Mark and Shalden Lodge which built it.
In 1947 another Lodge was urgently needed, so Amery (our mother Lodge) was formed.
We had won the War, but it brought our country to its knees financially. For 8-10 years afterwards, we experienced a period of National Austerity, salaries were low and there was strict rationing of clothes and food.
There was little mobility of Labour; Wednesday was the half day, and so Amery had little option but to follow the Shalden tradition and meet on that day. There was no scope or time for experimentation. Peoples’ first priority was to make a living.
All considered, our Mother Lodge did very well. Amery soon had a waiting list of 3 years (Shalden 5 years).
During the summer of 1962 it was agreed to approach and invite Amery to become the “Mother Lodge” of what became Aultoun Lodge.
On 5th October 1962 the first formal meeting of a Foundation Committee was held.
The Secretary attended to all the necessary administration and appropriate forms were despatched in December. The Consecration took place nine months later and all went smoothly. Like any new Lodge we were anxious not to be just a factory for degrees, but to have lectures etc. Our working was Emulation based on the Nigerian Ritual with some minor changes.
The Lodge Banner, Name, Emblem and Proposed Motto
The Name of the Lodge
Of the other two Lodges using the Temple, our Mother Lodge – Amery, was named after a District of Alton where the Temple stands. So it was first thought that other village names might be appropriate – Chawton for example with its links to Jane Austin. Alton itself was considered with its current spelling but it was felt it was too presumptuous for a new Lodge to assume that title. Thoughts went back to the countryside around us, and to the Pilgrims’ Way, which runs through it. It was then decided to research the spelling of Alton in the Doomsday Book and other records. There were three or four spellings of which the main one was AULTONE, pronounced ALLTONY but we really did not want to be referred to as the “Barber’s Shop”. Another Name was Aultoun which was adopted.
The Lodge Banner
It had been intended that following Grand Lodge approval of the design, quotations should be obtained from various suppliers. In the GP Committee Minutes of 19th November 1964, the cost was estimated at approximately £60, to be raised, when required, by levy on all Founder and other Members.
The Founders were unhappy about paying “London” prices, so further enquiries were made. An approach was made to a group of three ladies in Sussex who had done such sewing for the London suppliers, but had set up on their own. They promised to finish the job quickly, but declined to give an advanced cost estimate – it depended upon the design, the quantity of fine materials used and of course the hours of hand sewing.
They completed the work in six months. The cost was never disclosed, but was probably three times the original estimate.
The Emblem and Proposed Motto.
The background colours – the green and white, represent the Forests and Downs, the reddish brown – Agriculture. These are all taken from the Rural District Council Crest. Above that is the river (WEY), which rises from the springs in and around the town.
The Hill -Our Lodge looks up Amery Hill to St Lawrence Church. In the same way, our Lodge looks up to the Grand Lodge above and we are climbing Jacob’s ladder towards it. The first temple at Jerusalem was built on a hill.
The Tree -is to remind us of the Alton Forest – which provided timber for the Royal Navy.
In the centre of the Emblem, is the door of St Lawrence Church here in Alton – taken directly from the Emblem of Amery our Mother Lodge.
At St Lawrence Church in 1643, there was a fierce battle of the Civil War, which was, amongst other things, for the right to worship in freedom and for us to study our three Grand Principles – Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. So the church door for us represents the gateway to the Truth. (Our proposed motto therefore contained – The Way and the Truth).
The Way, The Truth, The Life or in Latin – Via, Veritas, Vita.
That was the Motto which was proposed and sent with The Lodge Name and Emblem to Grand Lodge for approval.
The Lodge was stunned when the Motto was rejected as being too Christian, being taken directly from St John’s Gospel Ch14, V6.
There was no desire to carry out a further reconstruction of the Motto as that was how it looked and how it remains.
By 1962 travel was easier and candidates began to travel from further afield. For many Founder members, weekdays were not popular so Aultoun Meetings were changed to Saturdays, but to reduce the social impact on families – only four meetings per year with the optional two ceremonies each, was adopted as standard practice.
Dinner was an essential part of the evening, so we insisted on a good meal. This is why we wore DJs and imposed a Dining Subscription.
The same applied to Raffles. We did not wish to handle money at the table but also:-
- Founders were against them in principle.
- It was thought that selling tickets and the draw was a distraction from good conversation.
- We thought that we should treat our guests at table like guests at home – just imagine the reaction if we asked them for money!
The Founders held strong views on a number of issues, here are just three:-
- Too much back-slapping at Festive Board. Our Speakers were asked to say something witty, but not to waffle on.
- The Secretary was asked to keep his minutes short and factual.
- The formation of the Benevolent Association. The intention being the Lodge would decide how much we should support each call on our Funds, and each Member would have a say in respect of his own contributions. The Lodge is indebted to W. Bro John Butlin in setting up the Benevolent Association