Date of Warrant, February 12th, 1896.
Centenary Warrant, dated 22nd May, 1996.
Meets at the Masonic Centre, St. Martins, Guernsey on the first Tuesday in each month, except January, July, August & September.
Installation Meeting in December.
St. Sampson’s Lodge was sponsored by Fidelis Lodge No. 1809 (as it was then known), and five of the nine founder-members were Past Masters or members of that Lodge. The original Petition to Grand Lodge reads;-
TO THE Most Worshipful Grand Master of the United Fraternity of Antient, Free and Accepted Masons of England.
We, the undersigned, being regularly registered Master Masons of the Lodges mentioned against our respective names, having the prosperity of the Craft at heart, are anxious to exert our best endeavours to promote and diffuse the genuine principles of the Art, and for the convenience of our respective dwellings and other good reasons we are desirous of founding a new Lodge to be named ”SAINT SAMPSON’S”. In consequence of this desire we pray for a Warrant of Constitution empowering us to meet as a Regular Lodge at the Commercial Hall, St. Sampson’s on the third Thursday of every month, and there to discharge the duties of Masonry in a Constitutional manner according to the forms of the Order and the Laws of Grand Lodge; and we have nominated and do recommend Brother William Stranger who has served the office of Warden in a Regular Lodge to be the first Master, Brother Thomas Robin Ogier to be the first Senior Warden, and Brother Astley H. Terry to be the first Junior Warden of the said Lodge.
The Prayer of this Petition being granted we promise strict obedience to the Commands of the Grand Master and the Laws and Regulations of the Grand Lodge.
W.Bro. William Stranger, P.M. Fidelis 1809
Bro. Harry Merrall, S.W. Fidelis 1809
W.Bro. Thomas Robin Ogier, P.M Fidelis 1809
Bro. William Bird, PSD. Fidelis 1809
Bro. Daniel Flere Ogier, PSD. Fidelis 1809
W.Bro. John Stranger, P.M. Loyalty 243
Bro. Astley H. Terry (Capt.), M.M. Doyle’s 84
W.Bro. Frederick Crumpton, P.M. St. John’s 191(Bury)
Bro. George Anthony Eastland, (G.L. Netherlands) Mariners 168
A marginal note reads:-
In accordance with Article 116 we the undersigned being Master Masons of the Lodge Fidelis 1809 recommend this petition – William Stranger, W.M. 1809, Harry Merrall, S.W. 1809, Thomas H. Hunkin, J.W. 1809.
The Petition is dated at GUERNSEY December 28th. 1895.
The covering letter from the Provincial Grand Master – Dr. James Balfour-Cockburn – which accompanied the Petition is worthy of repeating in full as it illustrates very clearly the social sensitivities of the day:-
Dear Sir and Very Worshipful Brother,
I have the honour to forward a Petition for a new Lodge in this Province. I do not hesitate to submit this application for the favourable consideration of the Most Worshipful Grand Master, in as much as the Parish of St. Sampson’s is a flourishing one and its Port or Harbour is encircled by a large, busy and thriving town. It is the centre of the stone trade, the great industry of the two Northern Parishes of the island.
The town is quite three miles from St. Peter’s Port where all Masonic work is at present carried out – and I am aware that many a worthy brother living in the Vale or St. Sampson’s has dropped out of Masonry entirely on account of the distance of his residence from the Masonic Temple.
I fully endorse Bro. Stranger’s opinion that a local Lodge could prosper without any detriment to existing Lodges which all meet in what is practically a distant and separate town. Fidelis Lodge indeed is the only one that would be likely to be affected in any way – but as the Petition emanates from, and is strongly supported and recommended by Fidelis Lodge I infer that any such result is neither dreaded or considered probable. I have endeavoured to ascertain the feelings of the other Lodges on this – Doyle’s and Mariners appear perfectly indifferent and as regards Loyalty, one of its influential Past Masters and its present Secretary are among the Petitioners. I consider it right, however, to add that this new Lodge would, in all probability never become a very powerful or affluent one. Its present promoters are indeed respectable men and fairly well-to-do, but it would recruit its members chiefly from the fruit growers, small farmers, local tradesmen and Master Mariners continually trading in and out of the Port – the same class of men as now support Fidelis.
I have the honour to be yours truly,
St. Sampson’s Lodge has the unique distinctions of being the FIRST Lodge to be consecrated under the present Provincial Constitution of Guernsey and Alderney; it was also the FIRST Lodge, under the same constitution to be held outside St. Peter’s Port.
The original meeting place was the Commercial Hall, Bridge Road (now Commercial Road) St. Sampson’s. This is the Meeting place recorded on the Lodge Warrant from the United Grand Lodge of England and dated 12th. February 1896. The building which now (in the year 2006) is owned by trustees for the Transport and General Workers Union and is the Union’s local office, was then owned by one Robert Stonelake, ownership having been transferred to him by his father—also Robert—by a conveyance dated 30th August 1888. The Stonelakes were already Freemasons but not members of St. Sampson’s Lodge. There were strong family connections—by marriage—at that time, and subsequently, with the Bird and Noël families, and ownership of the building shuttled between them until 1921 when Ruby Bird sold it to George Luxon.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this conveyance caused some consternation and controversy as the members of St. Sampson’s Lodge were under the clear impression that the building had been ‘given’ to the Lodge by one of its members—W.Bro. Wm.(Billy) Bird. The membership had spent substantial sums on the building in the belief that the Lodge owned it and now, with their ‘home’ sold over their heads, became very disappointed and apprehensive of their security of tenure. The whole situation was allegedly very ’un-Masonic’ and resulted in much ill-feeling and discontent.
Originally, meetings were held on the third Thursday of every month and the Lodge enjoyed a large and thriving membership being situated in a busy commercial area of the island. Membership grew steadily and in due course another Lodge was formed, presumably to ease the pressure of accommodation at meetings in the small premises. Thus Hansard Lodge No. 3515 was consecrated on 30th. May 1911 and shared the same meeting place with St. Sampson’s Lodge for several years.
Eventually the Masonic Hall – as it was now called – became too small and in 1925 Hansard Lodge left to share the Masonic Temple in Le Marchant Street with Mariners, Doyles, Loyalty and Fidelis. The rapidly expanding St. Sampson’s Lodge followed in 1932 as it out-grew the small meeting room.
Early records and Minute Books of St. Sampson’s Lodge have not survived and are thought to have been destroyed during the German Occupation of the island. However, Signature books from the late 1920’s have survived and from these it can be deduced that the last Regular Meeting held at the Masonic Hall, Commercial Road, St. Sampson’s was on Tuesday 15th. November 1932 when 35 members were present and 10 visitors. Judging by the day on which the meeting was held it was very possibly an Emergency Meeting and the next meeting was held at the Masonic Temple, Le Marchant Street, St. Peter’s Port on Tuesday 6th. December 1932. This was an Installation Meeting with 62 members present and 77 visitors!!
Contrary to Dr. Balfour-Cockburn’s prediction St. Sampson’s Lodge became a very vigorous Lodge with a membership covering a broad spectrum of island life, including a large contingent from the Civil Service. Indeed, the late Provincial Grand Master, Sir John Loveridge frequently recalled his memories of the Lodge as being one of the largest and most vigorous in the Province with spectacular Installation Banquets at the Le Marchant Street Temple when the top table had four legs, the middle two extending from the main banquet room right across the small dining room.
Compiled by Worshipful Brother B. F. Vandertang. P.Prov. JGW.