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Doyle’s Lodge of Fellowship, No. 84

Although there had been several lodges before it, the first truly successful lodge in Guernsey (working under the “Antients” Grand Lodge) was constituted in 1784, and was named Mariner’s Lodge in 1804. That lodge (which is still a very successful lodge today) was good enough to sponsor the creation of what shortly after inauguration became Doyle’s Lodge, which was constituted in Guernsey on 22nd September 2006.

Almost immediately, the new lodge took its name from, and became irrevocably associated with, a soldier of extraordinary ability. That soldier – Sir John Doyle – had been born in Ireland. After entering the Inns of Court in London, and subsequently finding the practice of law too dull, he became an ensign in 1771, and subsequently had a hugely successful military career in which he distinguished himself in actions both in the American War of Independence and in the war against the French in Egypt. (When war broke out with the French in 1793, he obtained permission for the raising of a regiment which, in honour of his patron, he called “the Prince of Wales’s Irish Regiment”.)

Sir John’s friendship with the Prince of Wales (he was for a time his secretary) resulted in his being appointed Lieutenant Governor of Guernsey. In that capacity, and consequently as Commander in Chief of the Bailiwick, he did more than any other office-holder to defend the Island. One of his more remarkable achievements was to persuade the States of Guernsey to go to the expense of recovering a vast (for Guernsey) area of land from the sea which at that time divided that northern portion of Guernsey from its southern counterpart. All in all, he was a brilliant man and he would have added immense lustre to the new Doyle’s Lodge, of which he became a member, and which took his name.

As with any long-lived institution, Doyle’s has experienced many vicissitudes. As a military lodge, it had the usual problems associated with the comings and goings of soldiers at short notice, and with the reduction in number of soldiers in the Island as a consequence of the ending of the threat of French invasion. Meetings of the lodge were suspended between 1825 and 1826, because the number of members had become so few. Meetings of the lodge were banned during the German occupation of the Island between 1940 and 1945.

Happily, the lodge has experienced other, more successful times – no more so than at present, when it has over 50 members. The approach of Doyle’s to ceremony may probably be best described as singular. It aims to honour the dignity of formal ceremonial, but in what sometimes appears to be a “different”, and certainly enjoyable, way. Indeed, it has been said that the lodge is the natural home for the opinionated and the eccentric.

Visitors are very warmly welcomed. Doyle’s should not be read about: rather, experienced.

ROGER PERROT

Doyle’s Lodge had its genesis in the exciting, and dangerous, days of the early 1800s. Guernsey had experienced unrivalled prosperity and growth as a consequence of the American, Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars. Privateering was then a legitimate commercial enterprise and wealth flowed from that activity. Against that background, there was ever the threat of invasion by the French, the result of which was an extensive military presence in the Island.

The emergence of Guernsey as other than a purely agricultural and fishing community brought with it an adoption of some of the then current thinking in the English-speaking world, and that included the concept of freemasonry.