Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

Masonic Hall, Sidmouth, Devon

After visiting and photographing the Old Meeting Unitarian Chapel, I walked down the High Street and noticed this interesting building. According to the foundation plaque, building commenced in 1890. I've had difficulty in finding anything about the building so far, apart from the fact that it belongs to the Masonic Lodge of Perseverence No 164, and that meetings commenced in 1828.

However, I did find some interesting history about Perseverence No 164...


A potted history of Freemasonry began in 1717, when four London lodges organised themselves into a Grand Lodge. To begin with, the Grand Lodge held an annual feast, during which elections were held for Grand Master and Wardens, developing into a regulatory body during 1721 and operating a charity fund as well as controlling more than a hundred lodges by 1730.

A rival Grand Lodge, calling themselves the Grand Lodge of Antients (ancients), appeared in 1751; comprising Freemasons of mainly Irish extraction who were unable to join the London lodges. Their claim was that the original Grand Lodge no longer practiced Freemasonry in the manner of the 'old institutions', calling them by the name of the moderns.

By the end of 1813 the two Grand Lodges decided to reconcile their differences and merged together into one United Grand Lodge, which was consolidated on the 27th of December of that year. Of the six Devon lodges who can trace their origins to the Antient Grand Lodge, five are situated in Plymouth, the exception being Perseverence No 164 in Sidmouth.

A lovely Palladian window on the front, photo above. Beneath the apex of the gable is a bas relief sculpture containing a pair of compasses and below the window there's a pentacle as the central motif.

More delightful ornamentation above the side entrance, below, including a crown with three plumes, which is the heraldic insignia of the Prince of Wales.

The rear of the building, below, with a semi-circular window amongst the ducts and fans.

These photos can also be seen in the Photo Gallery album, along with a few more.

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