A Brief History of the Province
The Province of Monmouthshire was first designated as such in 1753, 36 years after the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England in London from the disparate societies which had been meeting in hostelries prior to that date. The Provincial Grand Master, Sir Robert de Cornwall of Berrington, was then shared with the Provinces of Worcester, Salop, Gloucester and Hereford. Since then, the Provinces have grown and now have their own Provincial Grand Masters.
The earliest Lodge in the Province was formed as number 126, and lapsed in the same year! The oldest surviving Lodge is the Loyal Monmouth Lodge, number 457 (originally number 671), which was officially formed in 1839 although the Warrant is dated 21st December 1838. It continues to meet at Monmouth, the original county town.
Those were turbulent times. In 1751 the Grand Lodge had undergone various changes which caused great dissent, and resulted in a split into two entirely separate Grand Lodges. These were known as the "Moderns", because of the so-called modernisation that had happened, and the "Antients", so called because it represented a return to earlier masonic values.
Each of these set up Lodges in the Provinces, and it was not until 1813 that the differences were reconciled and the United Grand Lodge of England was formed. This was then recognised by everybody, as it is to this day.
Several of the earliest Lodges in this Province were formed during that unhappy time, but none of them survived more than a few years.
One of the most interesting Lodges which failed to survive to this day was called "Les Enfants de Mars et de Neptune", and was formed in 1813. This, as you may guess from the name and the period, was set up by French prisoners of war, who numbered about 200 officers and men. Membership was afforded to a number of local people, and when peace was declared in May of 1814, the departing French prisoners left 11 English Brethren behind. They formed themselves into the Philanthropic Lodge number 658 and continued to meet until 1828.
In the early days, Lodges met in hotels or hostelries. One of the earliest (but sadly not surviving) met at the Crown and Thistle Inn in Monmouth. The earliest building used primarily for masonic purposes was the building presently used by Loyal Monmouth Lodge, which they acquired in 1841. By 1847 there was a Masonic Hall in Newport High Street, but prior to that, earlier Lodges (sadly not surviving) met at the old Parrot Hotel (changed to the Talbot Hotel some years later), and the Westgate Hotel. The foundation stone for the existing building in Dock Street was laid on April 4th. 1855, and the building has since been extended along Ruperra Street, and more recently extensively restored. Nowadays all the towns in the Province where Freemasons meet have their own buildings.
There is a great deal of interesting history in this Province, and it is hoped to extend and illustrate this page in due course. The Lodges themselves have interesting histories, and when time becomes available, these will also be presented on separate pages.
Succession of Provincial Grand Masters and Deputies
Deputy Provincial Grand Masters