The History of Singleton Lodge No. 8399

It was in 1971 that The Grand Lodge granted a warrant for the establishment of a new lodge in Swansea to serve the various academic establishments of the city. It had originally been suggested that it be called the “Colleges Lodge”. However, this was felt by those in authority to be rather similar to the name “Universities Lodge” which was already being used by a lodge in Cardiff. The university at Swansea is on a campus on the sea-shore built around Singleton Abbey, which at one time was the home of the Vivian family, the Lords Swansea, until they left the estate in 1919.

John Hussey Hamilton Vivian, the 4th Lord Swansea, had recently become the Provincial Grand Master (1966) in South Wales, and it seems that he expressed a wish that the new lodge should be named the “Singleton” Lodge, thereby combining references to the university and to his own family’s connection with the area. The Singleton Lodge No. 8399 was consecrated by Lord Swansea on Monday, 15th November 1971. After the ceremony, the Brethren attended a six-course banquet, complete with sherry, wines and coffee – at a cost of £3.50 per head! It seems that up to that time His Lordship had never set foot in his family’s ancestral home at Singleton, but our Worshipful Master was able to arrange for him to pay a visit there and to be shown around the old house. Lord Swansea found it a very interesting and nostalgic experience, but he expressed his great delight and relief that he was no longer responsible for the upkeep of that great roof!

After much discussion in the early days, the Lodge Committee decided upon a badge for the lodge, which was duly submitted to, and approved by, the Provincial authorities. It consisted of an oval shape, divided horizontally into two. The upper half has a light blue background on which is placed the usual square-and-compasses motif in gold. The lower half is taken from the arms of University College Swansea. It has a green background on which are shown a pick-axe and an anchor in saltire, together with a vertical sledge-hammer. These represent, coal-mining, the sea and the metal industries which historically are characteristic of the area. Over them is laid an open book. This is a charge often found on the arms of universities and, of course, symbolises learning. The motto which was adopted was “AD UNAM OMNES” which translates as “ONE FOR ALL”, a sentiment very appropriate for an organisation which promotes the idea of fraternity and unity.

At first, various items of the lodge furniture required for the ceremonies were borrowed from our Mother Lodge, the Glantawe Lodge No. 5378 – (that is to say, the lodge under whose sponsorship the petition for the formation of the new lodge had been prepared and presented). Officers’ collars were donated by the Brethren who served in the various offices of the new lodge during the first year. A beautiful set of gavels (which are used during the course of the ceremonies) made out of brass and mahogany, with inset masonic symbols had been made and presented to the lodge by one of our founder members.

In November 1973 the decision was taken to purchase a full set of the required items – this decision being spurred on by the imminent arrival of a new form of taxation, VAT, and the fear that a considerable price rise would ensue if matters were delayed! The lodge was thus now fully equipped, save for the fact that as yet we had no board on which to display the names of Past Masters and no lodge banner – both rather expensive items for a new small lodge to acquire. Fortunately, we were provided with a Masters’ Board in the late 1970s through the much appreciated generosity of two of our Brethren who were partners in a local firm of builders. They undertook the construction of the board at their own premises, and presented it to us.

The banner took rather longer. During the late 1970s earnest discussions took place as to the prospect of acquiring one, but nothing happened, banners being very expensive items. However in 1989 the lodge was extremely fortunate in being presented with a banner by the wife of one of our members – and moreover, a banner made and embroidered by her own fair hand. This was dedicated by the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master at a special meeting held on 30th October of that year. The banner now hangs above our Worshipful Master’s chair at every meeting, and we record once again our gratitude to the lady concerned for her generosity.

Over the years, in addition to our normal regular meetings, many social functions, such as Sunday lunches and Ladies’ Evenings, have been held at various venues. Popular features of lodge activities in the early days were the weekend hotel breaks taken at locations in west Wales, including Saundersfoot, St. David’s and Aberystwyth – although for various reasons no such trips have been organised in recent years. Perhaps the time has come for them to be revived? Christmas Parties have also been arranged for the children and grand-children of the Brethren – functions at which Father Christmas has never failed to put in an appearance! Other memorable events have been the Church Services held from time to time during the summer recesses.

Singleton Lodge is, as stated previously, a daughter Lodge of Glantawe No. 5379. They also have an elder daughter, The Old Goreans Lodge No. 7193, founded in 1952. The three Lodges have kept in close contact over the years, and a notable feature has been our annual ‘official’ visits to one another. As mentioned earlier, the original intention was that Singleton Lodge should be associated with the educational establishments of the city – although it should be stressed that it was never a “closed” or restricted Lodge in any formal way. Our early initiates reflected this academic connection but as time went by, experience showed that this early intention could no longer be fulfilled. Nowadays our members and initiates are drawn from all walks of life. However we have recently joined the ‘Universities Scheme’ launched by Grand Lodge and we hope once more to increase our recruitment from the academic community.

During the period of our existence three of our Brethren have achieved the distinction of having been Freemasons for fifty years and four of our founders are still subscribing members of the lodge. The lodge celebrated its first 25 years in 1996. We are hopeful for the future as we carry on into our second 25 years, and we trust that the golden jubilee celebration, when it comes, will find Singleton Lodge in good heart.