Our History

Coston Lodge No. 5600

Coston Lodge No. 5600 was consecrated on 8th January 1936 by the Provincial Grand Master, R. W. Bro. General Sir Francis J. Davies, under charter from the United Grand Lodge of England.

From its earliest days in Northfield, Freemasonry had been closely associated with the ancient Parish Church, parts of which date back to Norman times. When it was decided to form a Lodge in Northfield, the patron saint, St. Laurence was chosen as its name and the Lodge was duly consecrated in the Church Schools in December 1898. St. Laurence Lodge continued to hold its meetings in the Church Schools until the present building was acquired.

When certain Brethren met in the Rectory at Northfield to discuss the formation of a new Lcoston banner.JPGodge to be held at Northfield, the wish was to maintain the association of Northfield Freemasonry with the Church was universally expressed. To do this through the nomenclature of the new Lodge was not easy. The Mother Lodge was designated St. Laurence with that saint as its emblem. A daughter Lodge had been formed and named Northfield Lodge with the Parish Church emblazoned on its banner. As this new Lodge was to be another daughter of St. Laurence it was decided to name the Lodge after the eldest daughter Church of the old Parish, namely Cofton Hackett. Here again the Brethren felt that antiquity should be respected and ‘COSTON’ the ancient name for Cofton Hackett was to be adopted. The Lodge banner would then bear a painting of Cofton Hackett or Coston Church.

It then became necessary to decide upon the design of the Lodge Jewel and in this respect it was possible to incorporate a very old tradition connected with Northfield.

The first record of a priest at Northfield is to be found in the Doomsday book in 1086 and as actual dedication of the Church had been lost in antiquity, for centuries it was commonly believed that the correct designation was that of St. Michael and All Angels. Because of this, the old Chapels of Ease of Northfield at Cofton and Bartley Green were both dedicated under the name of St. Michael and All Angels. Indeed, up to 1873, Littlebury’s Directory and Gazetteer of Worcester speaks of St. Michaels Northfield.

Lodge Jewel.JPGAbout this time, however, the Will of John Guest, dated 1537, was found in the archives of Worcester Cathedral, in which he gave instructions for his body to be buried in the Crypt of St. Laurence, Northfield. This Will was responsible for a searching enquiry as to the actual dedication and it was not until then that the question was definitely settled by the discovery of the symbol of St. Laurence, a grid-iron, at the very top of the church tower, on the west front, conclusive proof of the Church’s dedication.  As however, Northfield, and because of that Cofton, had for so long been designated St. Michael’s it was decided to maintain the dual association with the Coston Lodge by incorporation the figure of St. Michael in the Lodge Jewel.

Franchelie St. Leonard Lodge No. 6788.

The Lodge was formed by fourteen founder members, ten of which were members of its Mother Lodge, Northfield Lodge No. 5056. The Lodge was consecrated on January 22nd 1949 by the Provincial Grand Master, R.W. Bro. Ben Marsh.

The Lodge was formed in association with the village of Frankley and its ancient church of St. Leonard. In the Doomsday Book the village name was spelt in the old Roman style of Franchelie and the name of Franchelie St. Leonard is that of the ecclesiastical parish.

The crest on the banner of the Lodge is that of the old hamlet of Franchelie conferred upon the men of Franchelie in feudal times by their first Saxon Lord. According to tradition, he freed his tenants from the base services of serfdom. This is depicted by the Saxon White Horse, the weapons of a freeman and the collar of a serf cast on the ground. This is further emphasised in an old ballad which declares:franchelie banner.JPG

Where men shall ask, where men are free                                                                  
O proudly tell of Franchelie
O proudly tell of Franchelie
Where everyman is free
Where Saxon Lord and Norman Lord
Ne’erheld their seigniory

The sundial, the main feature of the banner, is a copy of that on the tower of the Church. It is shown showing the meridian. As the sun passes across it from East to West, that is from right to left, the jewels of The Master and Wardens are represented in their respective places. As the Lodge is associated with an ancient church and its first Senior Warden was both the Rector of Frankley and the Chaplain to Northfield Lodge, the Mother Lodge, the Chaplains Jewel is inscribed below the sundial.

Above the sundial on the church appear the words: HONAS NON NUMERO NISI SERENAS

Translated it means ‘Hours I will not number unless serene’. More loosely translated it can be read ‘We will only dwell on the happy hours’, implying that their full import will be felt by every visiting brother who comes to join us in our work and refreshment.

From the onset the Lodge has followed the traditions laid down by the founders, namely that each member present must be vouched for, and that all meetings should be opened with a reading from the Book of Sacred Law. Since its foundation the Lodge has held its meetings at Northfield Masonic Hall. In the early days, however, one meeting was held in the barn adjacent to the church until it eventually fell into disrepair.

The Amalgamation.

In early 2007 membership of Franchelie St. Leonard Lodge had reduced to a level where it had become no longer viable to continue as an independent Lodge. At the same time numbers in Coston Lodge had declined to a level where its long term viability was becoming a doubt.

Following discussions between senior members of each Lodge and the Province it was decided that the two Lodges would amalgamate. Throughout the Masonic year 2007-2008 both Lodges met on the same evening at Northfield Masonic Hall and persued their own agendas with the combined assistance of all members.

In the summer of 2008 the Warrant of Franchelie St. Leonard Lodge was returned to the Province and the warrant of Coston Lodge No.5600 was changed to Coston & Franchelie Lodge No. 5600 thus maintaining the historical link to their respective old parish Churches. Final amalgamation of the two Lodges took place at the Installation meeting on Wednesday 12th November 2008.

 

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