The Premier Grand Lodge warranted the original Torbay Lodge on the 4th April 1772 as No 427. It was during this period of instability of Masonry coupled with its meteoric rise in popularity that the first Torbay Lodge was formed. George 111 had been on the throne for just 12 years
Torbay Lodge No 427 predates all other local Lodges in the area including those in Brixham, Totnes and Torquay.
Little is known of Paignton at that time. It was a hamlet within the Hundred of Haytor. The Imperial Gazetteer of 1760 described Paignton thus “ Streets irregular, narrow, dirty and ill kept, houses generally of mean appearance”.
For over 600 years the Bishop’s Manor flourished. Next to Crediton, Paignton was considered their wealthiest manor. The Parish Church dating back to the 12th Century was known as the church of Saints Peter and Pawle – a name used by the followers of St Augustine. We also know that Paignton had a Monastery – situated behind Winner Street.
In 1792 Richard Polwhele’s Devonshire described Paynton as one of the most fruitful lordships in all the County. The roads tolerably good, materials in general – marble” “The greater part of the houses are built of mud walls and covered with thatch but not remarkable for neatness or commodiousness. A great quantity of orchard ground. Numbers of inhabitants in the Parish supposed to be about 2,000. Number of paupers about 100 names”.
So in this small village the new Torbay Lodge No 427 met in an upstairs room at the “Crown & Anchor” in Church Street, Paington (note the spelling!) from 1772. This Inn was the regular meeting place for a period of over 40 years for Torbay Lodge. From 1815 the Lodge also frequently met at the “London Inn” also in Church Street - both Inns being equidistant from the Parish Church and the Monastery.
Crown & Anchor (on the right)