QUANTOCK LODGE NO. 4446 was granted its Warrant in 1922.
The Watchet Masonic Hall, and the ‘home’ of Quantock Lodge No.4446, is situated at the junction of Doniford Road and South Road and adjoins the site of the old Watchet Court Leet Pound, where in olden times straying animals were impounded. Watchet Court Leet continues to exist, but stray animals are no longer impounded!
Watchet Masonic Hall was consecrated by the then Provincial Grand Master, R.W.Bro. Col. William Long on the 5th day of April,1923. (What a way to finish an income tax year!) Early Quantock Lodge Minutes make no mention of the actual building of the masonic hall. The Building was built with local red sandstone, which accounts for its warm outward appearance. The cost of the Building was £1260, with the money raised partly by donations, partly by the issue of numbered Bonds in multiples of £5 (a lot of money in those days), and partly by a Bank Loan. It was understood that the Bank Loan was made possible in that the local Bank Manager was one of the Lodge’s founding members. As the Lodge prospered, the £5 Bonds were gradually repaid – there was an annual draw each year to see which Brother would be repaid. It was recorded at the time that some Brethren requested that their Bond numbers be left out of the draw, thereby ((taken from Lodge Minutes) increasing the chance of a refund to those Bretheen in greater need. Repayment of the Bonds was helped along by W.Bro.H.S.Reed, who later made a handsome donation to clear the outatanding debt, so that in 1944, the then Treasurer. W.Bro.F.J.Williams was able to report that the Lodge was free of debt.
The first Worshipful Master of Quantock Lodge was the then Vicar of Watchet, W. Bro. Reverend T.Hawkes, PProv Grand Chaplain. However, Lodge Minutes record that at the Installation Ceremony, a Deputy Worshipful Master, W.Bro. Westacott was also appointed, which surely was an unusual practice if not an irregular one, by present day standards: but it would seem that W. Bro. Westacott’s appointment was justified in that the W.Bro. Revd T.Hawkes did not attend any other Lodge Meetings during his year of office. Later records show that the W.Bro.Revd T.Hawkes left Watchet during his Master’s Year having accepted another living in another part of the country, but these records also indicate that the said W.Bro.Revd T.Hawkes made a surprise return visit to the Quantock Lodge for a meeting held during 1947.
During the Second Second World War, Watchet Lodge and Quantock Lodge members were able to provide a truly Masonic Welcome to those visiting Brethren who were stationed at the nearby army camps. Many of these Visitors came from all parts of the UK, the USA and also, what we used to call in those days, the ‘British Empire;’ One Australian Visitor, when responding to the Visitors Toast, told the story which he vouced was true and had occurred in his own Lodge ‘down under.’ A Candidate was asked the usual question in the North East Corner ‘Have you anything to give… etc?’, and when the Deacon was slow to prompt, the Candidate replied ‘I do not have anything on me at present, but put me down for a few dollars’ – or was it still Australian pounds in those days?
In 1977, Committee records show that the Watchet Masonic Hall Bar prices were very low with Gin/Whisky costing 20 pence a double. No wonder the Brethren could not afford to go home!
Since the Watchet Masonic Hall was built there have been many improvements and additions made both to the building and the fixtures and fittings and where the records show that the Brethren themselves have by donating money or by their own labours contributed to improving and maintaining the Building and its contents. Looking to the future there are plans to extend the Lodge Dining area, improve access for the disabled and upgrade the toilets.
Prepared in 2012 by W.Bro.D.S.Binding PPSGD