The History of Leigh Chase Lodge

The appropriate name "Leigh Chase" was approved at a meeting in February 1948. The area of Leigh Chase had been associated with the Castle at Hadleigh for generations and in former times had held ample stocks of deer. This connection led to the inclusion of deer on the Leigh Chase Crest.

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With Taylors working adopted as the ritual, Leigh Chase Lodge No. 6804 was consecrated on Thursday, 19th May, 1949 at Freemasons' Hall, Great Queen Street by the RW. Provincial Grand Master, Brig.Gen. K. Kincaid-Smith. This was followed by a Festive Board in the Connaught Rooms. It was decided not to issue Founders' Jewels due to the heavy purchase tax of 75% levied at that time.

The Temple at the Overcliff Hotel, Westcliff-on-Sea, was chosen as a suitable venue, and Westcliff Lodge gave permission for their Lodge furniture to be used. Meeting dates were fixed for stated Saturdays in February, March, October and November, and the first regular meeting of Leigh Chase Lodge was held on 22nd October, 1949.

As well as the close association that existed with the sponsoring Lodge, Hadleigh Castle, there was also a strong link with Belfairs Lodge through one of the Founders, who was their DC.

In 1957, Lodges meeting at the Overcliff Hotel were informed that the property had been scheduled for redevelopment, and with much regret Leigh Chase had its final meeting there in April. Their first meeting at the new Southend Masonic Centre was on 2nd November, 1957.

In 1979, a handsome sum was received from the estate of Gladys Godlonton, the widow of a Past Master, to provide income for charitable purposes. This income was initially distributed each year to qualifying organisations by the Leigh Chase Masonic Charities Association. The funds, now in the Lodge Relief Chest, are distributed annually on the basis of 1/3rd to the Master's List, 1/3rd to a Masonic Charity and 1/9th each to three local Hospices.

A major event within the Lodge was the presentation of the Lodge Banner which was dedicated by the Rev. Henry Heath, Provincial Grand Chaplain, on 6th January, 1996.

In 1997 Leigh Chase was one of the first Lodges in the Province to qualify for the Essex Festival 2000 Gold Award, and the Certificate was presented in March 1998 by W.Bro. C.G. Williams, PSGD, APGN. W.Bro. Williams was made an Honorary member of the Lodge at the 50th Anniversary meeting.

The Leigh Chase Lodge of Instruction was formed in 1950. It met initially at the home of one of its members and having since had several venues including the Green Baize Club in Eastwood, currently meets at Saxon Hall Masonic Centre in Southend-on-Sea.

There was also a link with Hadleigh Castle's LOI No. 2, formed in Chelmsford during the war to cater for Brethren from Marconi, which had been moved there from London. Leigh Chase Brethren residing in the area naturally joined this LOI, becoming involved in its administration and enjoying the company of those who were originally responsible for the birth of Leigh Chase Lodge.

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