Dickens Lodge No 8047 Celebrates its Golden Jubilee
The Howard Hall at Wigmore was the venue for the fiftieth anniversary meeting of Dickens Lodge No 8047, held on Monday 7th December. Eighty-five Brethren were in attendance, including two especially invited guests, namely, the Provincial Grand Master, Geoffrey Dearing, and the Past Metropolitan Grand Master, Russell Race. It was also hoped that the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence, would attend but unfortunately he was called away at the last minute.
The meeting was opened by the Dickens Lodge Master, Jerry Knott, who then handed over control of proceedings to Past Master Brian (Bill) Judkins. This was a most significant gesture, as Bill’s father (Bill senior) was the first Master of the Lodge at its consecration in December 1965. At the first regular meeting in January 1965, Bill senior initiated Bill junior.
A strong family theme is one of the characteristics of the lodge, which was further in evidence as Past Masters Rod Sparkes and David Conway were invited to take the Senior and Junior Warden’s Chairs. Rod was initiated into the Lodge by his father, George. David, and his brother Michael, were introduced by their father, and had the pleasure of being Master of the lodge in successive years. This theme has continued until recent times with current Director of Ceremonies, Roger Cox, introducing his son, Glen, both of whom have served two years as Master, in 2002 and 2003, and, 2010 and 2011 respectively.
The meeting was a fitting celebration of the lodge’s first half century and was followed by a sumptuous festive board enjoyed by all present. In his after-dinner response, the current Master not only reflected on the achievements of the Lodge in the past fifty years, but also looked forward with great expectations of continued success in the next fifty.
The Lodge is named after Charles Dickens, and it was with the permission of his ancestors that the use of their family name was allowed. Following its consecration at Franklin Road, Gillingham, the Lodge’s first meeting place was the Bungalow at the Leather Bottle in Cobham. Regrettably the Bungalow was destroyed by fire in October 1966 and never rebuilt. The first installation meeting in November 1966 was therefore held at Gundolph Square, Rochester. A short stay at Hoo St. Werburgh was followed by a move to Meopham Village Hall, which remained the lodge’s home until April 1988, when they moved to their current meeting place in Wigmore.