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Fitzgerald's Town

The first lodges in New

The first lodges in New Zealand were formed under the Constitution of the Grand Lodge of England, but it was not long before local Masons were involved in a national discussion regarding separation from England and the establishment of a Grand Lodge of New Zealand working under its own constitution to oversee the order in this country. 4 This hotly debated issue, was supported locally and in 1891 the Lincoln Lodge met for the first time as Lodge No. 33 under the New Zealand Constitution. The founding members and a few others kept the Lodge alive during the difficult depression years of the late 19 th century when resignations often outnumbered new members. Notable among these was the above mentioned F.W. East and W.G. Jennings, bricklayer, who served the Lodge as a junior officer from the year of his initiation in 1880 until ill health forced his retirement in 1920. The lodge recognised his years of faithful service at a ceremony at which he was presented with a purse of sovereigns. 5 The movement flourished during the first half of the 20 th century, but the reverse was the case in the second half when some lodges closed or amalgamated. However, the order remains strong and Lincoln Lodge No. 33 still holds its monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of the month and its installation meeting in October. The Druids In July 1880 a meeting was held in the schoolroom to discuss the possibility of forming a Druid’s Lodge in Lincoln. 6 A working committee was set up and shortly afterwards an application for authority to form a lodge in Lincoln was made to the Grand Lodge in Melbourne. This was not long in coming and on 24 August 1880 The Star of Anglesea Lodge No. 110 of the United Ancient Order of Druids was opened by the District President in the Lincoln schoolroom. 7 At this meeting 35 members were initiated and officers for the coming year were elected. These included well known residents such as A.C. Bartram, Henry Meyenberg, Joseph Sluis and the local doctor, Dr. Guthrie, all of whom have been mentioned elsewhere. The Star of Anglesea Lodge prospered from the beginning, doubtless because its role as a benefit society in an era when social services were limited was an obvious advantage. Druids in New Zealand, like the Masons, needed to control their own affairs, a need understood by the controlling body in Australia. In 1899 representatives of the Australian Grand Lodge 122

travelled to New Zealand to inaugurate the first Grand Lodge in New Zealand, and afterwards, whilst visiting Christchurch, constituted the District Grand Lodge of Canterbury on 2 December. 8 The offices were filled by members of different lodges and one of these was J. Taylor of The Star of Anglesea. The following year the Lincoln Lodge marked its tenth anniversary when members, wearing full regalia, were piped through the streets of Lincoln by torchlight, much to the interest and amusement of onlookers who were unused to such a spectacle! Afterwards the celebrations continued with a concert and ball in the Lincoln schoolroom, which according to the Star was a splendid occasion enlivened by song and music provided by locals and by visitors from Christchurch. 9 Lodge members wanted to meet in their own rooms, but like the Masons they used the schoolroom as an interim measure, and then when the Masonic Hall was built they hired it for their regular meetings and the Town Hall for social functions until it was destroyed by fire. However, in 1883 John Wolfe bought two quarter acre sections on Gerald Street, (Lots 2 and 3 Block I), possibly on behalf of the lodge, but it was not until 1893 that Bartram and Company contracted to build a hall which became the usual venue for many public functions. The Star of Anglesea Lodge provided its members with financial support as necessary, brotherhood, and the chance to socialise with fellow members at their meetings, concerts, dances and excursions and picnics whenever they could be arranged. They enjoyed convivial contacts with other friendly societies and on one occasion at least, in association with Ethelbert Lodge, Springston, hosted a social evening at Lincoln to which they invited members of other Druids lodges, Oddfellows lodges and the Roman Catholic Hibernian Lodge at New Headford. 10 The evening was enlivened with song, recitations, speeches and toasts and it was hoped that the bonds which existed between members of the different societies would be strengthened by such meetings. The Star of Anglesea flourished well into the 20th century, but as with many other societies went into serious decline in the second half of that century. The Druids Hall was used by many groups over the years, but maintenance became a continuing burden and in 1931 the building was sold to a local committee whose task it was to renovate the building for use as a public facility. 11 The new facility, the Community Centre served the district 123

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