The lodge history

This lodge history was produced by W.Bro.Rodney Pitham, P.S.G.D, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, an initiate of the Heart of England Lodge, on the occasion of the Lodge's 50th anniversary on 16th October 1997. The history was printed as a booklet, a copy of which was presented to all Brethren of the Lodge.

The beginning and the founders

There must have been some informal soundings and discussions about the creation of a new Lodge in Solihull, despite the days of austerity following the Second World War, but the first formal steps were taken at a meeting held on 3rd December 1946. "By the kind invitation of W.Bro. Harold Cartwright, a meeting of Masons was held at his home, Brueton Avenue, Solihull, to consider the desirability of founding a Craft Lodge to meet in Solihull." Twelve worthy Masons were present on that occasion and, having agreed to establish a Lodge, determined that W.Bro. Cartwright should be the first Worshipful Master. Thus it was that a Timber Merchant, a Merchant, a Solicitor, an Industrial Research Chemist, a General Manager, a Hosiery Manufacturer, a Sales Director, a Manager, a Manufacturer, a Buyer, a Journalist, an Advertisement Manager, a Sales Director, a Dental Surgeon, a Builders' Merchant, a Manufacturer, an Insurance Broker and a Solicitor became founders of the lodge.
The first year of the Lodge would prove to be a busy one for W.Bro. Cartwright, since he was at the same time Chairman of the Solihull Urban District Council. He was supported in both roles by W.Bro. W.M.Mell, the first director of Ceremonies and the Town Clerk of Solihull.
The reasons for the formation of the new Lodge were given by W.Bro. H.S. Foster, a Founder, when he headed a deputation of the Founders to his Mother Lodge, The Forest of Arden Lodge No 3862, on the 27th June 1947, seeking sponsorship.

"Briefly, the object is to give young Masons who have the prosperity of the Craft at heart and opportunity for progress and to exert our best endeavours to promote the genuine principles of the Art. We also have in mind the convenience of Brethren living in the district and other good reasons."

As a matter for reflection, Members of the Lodge today might wish to consider that they have continued to uphold and maintain those objects and precepts.
The Forest of Arden Lodge agreed to the request made of it and consented to the use of its furniture for the Regular Meetings. This was most generous and fortuitous, since the first meeting place of the new lodge was the Assembly Hall I the Council House, Poplar Road, Solihull, where the Forest of Arden already met. The Urban District Council offered the accommodation "on the understanding the Lodge would hold its meetings on the third Thursday in each month, and would use the furniture already stored in the building for the Forest of Arden Lodge." It is significant to note that, although the Lodge has had five different meeting places since it was founded, its Regular Meeting day has never changed.
There were seven formal minuted meetings of the Founders. Amongst other important matters determined was the first annual subscription - six guineas (6.30), which included the dining fee! At the fifth meeting of the Founders it was reported that the first two candidates for initiation had been interviewed: Mr W.H.Twigg and Mr A.C.Caney. The third initiate reported to the next meeting was Mr Raymond Priestly. Their candidature was proposed at the Consecration Meeting. W.Bro.Twigg was initiated at the first regular meeting on 20th November 1947 by W.Bro.H.N.Cartwright, the first Master. On the 10th Anniversary of the Consecration, in October 1957, W.Bro.Twigg was installed as Master.

The Lodge Name

It was at their second meeting, held on 22nd April 1947, that the Founders considered a name for the Lodge. Unfortunately, the minutes of that meeting do not record who it was who proposed the name eventually adopted, or the reasons for it. What we do know is that four names were put forward for consideration:-

Heart of England

Each one has a geographical or historical association with Solihull, and any one might have been selected as appropriate. Following a ballot of those present, Heart of England was chosen and approved by Grand Lodge.

The Consecration.

The Heart of England Lodge was consecrated by the R.W.Bro. Brig. Gen. W.H.Darrell, Assistant Grand Master, Provincial Grand Master on Thursday 16th October 1947, at the Council House, Poplar Road, Solihull, where, as the minutes record,

"the Founders and visitors to the number of 130 were present."

Since this was a normal working day at the offices of the Local Authority, with staff and members of the public going about their legitimate business, it is not surprising that the copy of the summons incorporated in the Minute Book has the pencilled message on it "We are being watched from door behind the WM." Perhaps someone's curiosity had been aroused by the large number of similarly attired gentlemen, all carrying cases, arriving at the building at more or less the same time, and they wanted to find out more. We will never know, and, likewise, we will never know who wrote the message, or to whom, or with what result.
Without doubt, however, the Consecration would have been an impressive occasion, with 16 Grand Officers supporting the Assistant Grand Master and the Lodge. W.Bro.Cartwright was installed by W.Bro. Chas. F. Monk P.G.D, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and the Working Tools were presented by W.Bro.G.G.Alderson, P.G.D, Assistant Provincial Grand Master. A collection taken on behalf of the Warwickshire Masonic Benevolent Fund was taken and amounted to 15-5-0. "Hearty good wishes and congratulations on behalf of all the visitors" were tendered by W.Bro.C.Checkley, Master of Forest of Arden Lodge.

The Lodge Banner.

The Founders, at the formative meetings, had discussed the design of a suitable Banner for the Lodge, but no firm decision was made. Indeed, the discussions continued on-and-off for many years, but, finally, the Banner was dedicated at the 99th Regular meeting of the Lodge, held on 16th November 1961, 14 years after the consecration. The dedicating officer was W.Bro.David Mitchell, PGD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master.
W.Bro.E.Spencer, P.Prov.G.Chaplain, addressed the Brethren on the symbolism of the Banner.

"The chaplet of oak leaves... reminds us of the leafy Warwickshire countryside which is geographically and metaphorically the Heart of England. But the oak tree, standing firm through the changing centuries...symbolises... strength and stability in moral and social matters...Two pierced mullets, the five pointed stars...may be regarded as typifying our twofold duty, to God and to man...The circle at the centre of each star, being without beginning or end, is an emblem of eternity, and may justly be deemed to typify God, who is without beginning of days or end of years."
"The greyhound...we may interpret as a symbol of singleness of purpose, and of celerity in carrying it out...and reminds us that we should endeavour to be swift and determined to serve God and our fellow men, particularly in the fraternity of our order."
"Then at last we come to the Saxon crown which completes the crest, a symbol which looks back to the antiquity of our land and its institutions, and which looks forward to that reward for which we may hope. Having done our best to live according to the ancient tenets and established customs of the order, we look forward for the promise that the Lord of Life will enable us to trample the King of Terrors beneath our feet, and crown our hope with everlasting bliss in the realms of a boundless eternity."

Meeting Places

The 104th Regular Meeting of the Lodge was the last to be held at the Council House, Poplar road, Solihull, on the 19th April 1962. Bro.B.Toombs was that evening raised to the Third Degree, in the presence of W.Bro.W.W.Tongue, P.G.D., Assistant Provincial Grand Master. The new meeting place was the Civic Hall, Solihull, the first meeting held there was the installation in October 1962, when Bro.F.Neal MBE was installed as Master, and W.Bro.W.V.Mercer was elected as a joining member.

Although overtures had been made to the Lodge for it to meet at the Temple at the George Hotel for many years, these had been resisted. However in 1980 the Lodge severed its "association" with the Local Authority and decided to make that move, and remained there from January 1981 until April 1992. All the Solihull Lodges were required to leave the George at that time since the owner refused to renew the lease, and the Heart of England was fortunate to find a temporary home at the Red Lion, Knowle, where we were made most welcome. The move to the Red Lion brought back memories to those members of the Lodge who had inhabited the Civic Hall and the Council House, especially that small band of volunteers who assisted the Tyler in setting up and taking down the Lodge. We stayed at the Red Lion for two years and, in October 1994 moved to the new, purpose-built, Solihull Masonic Temple, Warwick Road, Knowle, our fifth and hopefully our last meeting place.