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In 1813 at the construction of the pier at Ryde in the Isle of Wight, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master led a procession of masons in full regalia through the town. A month later in Newport, members of the public including ladies were invited to attend a lecture about freemasonry. These two occasions generated a great deal of interest and as a result East Medina Lodge was formed in Ryde in September the same year, sponsored by Vectis (now Albany) Lodge, and co-sponsored by Portsmouth’s Phoenix Lodge although there is no documentary evidence to substantiate this.
The Charter or Warrant held by East Medina was originally held by Atholl Military Lodge, formed in 1708 by the Regiment of Foot’s Recton’s Hanoverian Brigade, then stationed on mud flats on the outskirts of New York, presumably as part of the occupying colonial forces. The Warrant was subsequently surrendered. The practice of Grand Lodges re-issuing old warrants came about due to the introduction of a ‘Secret Societies Act’ following the Jacobite uprisings, to prevent sedition and any new secret or rebellious group from forming. In order to circumvent the Act, which included all groups and societies, Grand Lodges simply re-issued surrendered warrants to any Lodge wishing to form.
The inaugural meeting of East Medina Lodge of Truth and Friendship took place at the Bugle Inn on Ryde’s esplanade on 26th October 1813. The Master of King George III Lodge, which met in
Portsmouth, was the consecrating officer and Henry Collier was duly
elected and installed as the first Master of East Medina. There were
18 founder members present and 12 gentlemen were initiated into freemasonry the same day.
On 18th September 2013, the same lodge, which still regularly meets at Ryde, Isle of Wight, celebrated its bicentenary at Cowes Yacht Haven supported by some 230 masons from all over the country. Visitors from nearly 70 lodges were honoured by the presence of distinguished guests including the Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson, himself a Hampshire and Isle of Wight mason, and many other dignitaries including the Provincial Grand Master, Michael Wilks. Also amongst the guests were representatives of the Association of Atholl Lodges, of which East Medina is one, who attended in 18th Century costume.
During the proceedings, the Atholl Association presented the Lodge with a special celebration gavel, and a gift of three engraved goblets was received from a lodge in Ryde, New South Wales, Australia. Other highlights were the reading of a resumé of the centenary meeting held in Ryde Town Hall on 10th September 1913 and a talk on the history of East Medina Lodge. This very successful celebration ended with the presentation by the lodge of a cheque for £5000 towards the 2016 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
Keith Scovell
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