History of the Lodge from Consecration to date
In 1847 the Lodge de Loraine, No 541 was formed and from this in 1895 sprang Holmes Lodge No. 2571 a daughter Lodge, ten years later in 1905 came the granddaughter, St Gabriel Lodge No. 2995. In 1924 a daughter lodge was itself born of St Gabriel this being Dene Lodge No. 4635 and this was the situation as it existed up to May 1945 and the cessation of hostilities in Europe in World War II. It then became obvious that due to the time taken to attain the Chair of King Solomon it was necessary a new Lodge be formed and with the help and advice of senior Past Masters the St Raphael Lodge No. 6261 was born of the Mother Lodge St Gabriel No. 2995 – 22 years after the formation of the Sister Lodge – Dene No. 4635 and 99 years after the formation of the great-great Grandmother Lodge – De Loraine No. 541. The Warrant was granted and dated the 6th March 1946 with the Consecration of the Lodge and Installation of W. Bro William Ruthven Fox taking place on the 29th April 1946, the Consecrating Officer being the then R.W. Provincial Grand Master - Sir Cecil A. Cochrane MA.DCL. JP. A further Sister Lodge to Dene and St Raphael was formed in May 1990 – Oriental Lodge, No. 9371.
The choice of name: The Rev. John Walker Bennett M.A. Vicar of St George's Church, Gateshead was consulted by W. Bro Richard Lucas, our first Secretary, about any angel associated with or relating to the Arch Angel Gabriel (the name of the Mother Lodge). He suggested two, St Michael and St Raphael, the latter was chosen – "St Raphael", the Angel of Healing. Being then asked about a picture, he wrote to the Warden of the Guild of St Raphael (a Brother Mason) and was given permission to copy theirs and with the incorporation of Masonic symbols – a square and compasses and a scroll bearing the name St Raphael Lodge No. 6261, the Lodge insignia was formed, it was made complete by the addition in the legs of the square, of the lodge motto, again suggested by the Rev. Bennett – “Mens Sana Incorporae Sano, A Healthy Mind in a Healthy Body.”
At the first regular meeting of the Lodge on the 27th May 1946 wherein the draft by laws were read and approved and W. Bro. W.R. Fox, H. Knox and L.E.L. Jones were elected the First Trustees of the Lodge, the Rev. John W. Bennett together with James Holland, son of Bro. John T. Holland, brother of John R. Holland and twin brother of George Holland – all founders, were initiated as the first Initiates of the St. Raphael Lodge No. 6261. Bro Bennett was subsequently, on 28th October 1946, appointed Chaplain, having been Passed with Bro James Holland at an emergency meeting 1st July 1946 and Raised 23rd September 1946.
Of the first six Initiates of the Lodge W. Bro John Bennett was sent by the Church to minister in Australia, W. Bro. James Holland, (the first Initiate to become Master of the Lodge) resigned in 1968 and W. Bro. Robert Hall resigned in 2005, however such was the esteem in which he was held he was Balloted for and elected as an Honorary Member of the Lodge and although elderly and frail still resides in the east end of Newcastle upon Tyne. W. Bro. Charles L. Calvert, W. Bro. Mark H. Logan and Bro George S. Logan all being deceased.
Having had printing plates made of the St. Raphael Lodge Insignia the first summons bearing the Insignia on the frontispiece and inside page was issued for the meeting held on the 26th March 1947. The dies for the Lodge jewels having been ordered from George Kennings (Masonic Jewellers) and duly struck, the first past Master's jewel was presented to W. Bro William Ruthven Fox on the 26th January 1948. On the same occasion a leather wallet to hold the Lodge Warrant was presented to the Lodge by W. Bro A.H. Jackson P.M. of St Gabriel Lodge, No. 2995. This wallet is still in use to the present day.
On the 26th April 1948, following a letter of congratulation, greetings and loyalty, sent by the Lodge to HM King George VI and Queen Elizabeth on their Silver Wedding Celebrations a telegram of appreciation from their Majesties was read to the Brethren.
1948 - Rationing of all kinds was still (and for many years after) very much in evidence and the Brethren, the author included, were extremely gratified to receive from The Star in the East' Lodge, New South Wales, Australia, a delightful food parcel for each individual member. Grateful thanks were tendered to W. Bro I. Keddie, their Secretary who had been responsible for the organisation of such a kind and generous gesture.
In 1949, the first death recorded was that of our second Master W. Bro William Dixon P.M. A Masonic service was performed at his internment. It was also in 1949 (September 26th) that the closing of the Lodge In Extensor was performed. At the Installation meeting on 24th April 1950 W. Bro Richard Lucas, the first Secretary of the Lodge presented a St. John's Charity Box, hand carved, by himself, in teak in the shape of a column mounted on a pedestal for use at the Festive Board. The Brethren may reflect on this when making a charitable donation.
1952 – At the meeting of 28th January and after only one week notice the Lodge was used for the investiture of additional officers to Provincial Grand Rank to commemorate the installation of the new Grand Master, The Earl of Scarborough KG etc., at the same time the wartime suspension of the wearing of white gloves was rescinded. At the meeting on 25th February 1952 announced the death of King George VI on 6th February 1952.
1953 – On the 25th May a Lodge of Instruction was sanctioned by the Lodge and by 24th August 1953, this was formed and working and is still to this day in ‘good heart.’
Without doubt the crowning glory in our 50 years history was the application for and the granting of an official delivery of a Prestonian Lecture and on November 23rd 1953,
Grand Lodge designated St. Raphael Lodge No. 6261 one of the three Lodges in the
country to receive an official delivery of the Prestonian Lecture for 1954. After
considerable organisation necessary to widen the range of Lodges invited with a restricted number of tickets to their members and on Wednesday the 22nd September 1954 at an ‘especial meeting by dispensation’ and before an audience of approximately 320 Brethren, W Bro Bruce W. Oliver, P.A.G.D.C. Prestonian Lecturer for 1954 delivered his lecture entitled "The Freemasons' Education". This proved a great success and added greatly to the reputation of the Lodge and to this day the St. Raphael Lodge No. 6261 is the only Lodge in the Province of Northumberland to have hosted an official delivery of a Prestonian Lecture. W. Bro. Bruce W. Oliver was subsequently voted an Honorary Member of the Lodge. (For those Brethren unaware of 'William Preston' 1742-1818, his history and the involvement of the Premier Lodge of Masonic Research, Quatuor Coronati No. 2076, the author can only refer you to his extended treatise given at a regular meeting on 22nd March 1993 together with a reading of W. Bro. Bruce W. Oliver's "The Freemason's Education" and to appreciate the signal honour of receiving one of these 'Official Deliveries' one must know that out of approximately 7000 Lodges ruled by Grand Lodge only 69 had been so honoured from 1924 – 1954).
1955 - The Lodge again achieved a signal honour when three of the Past Masters - W. Bro L.E.L. Jones (author and producer), W. Bro W.R. Fox and W. Bro G. Holland partook in the production of an ‘Athol Lodge’ of Northumberland showing a demonstration of the initiation of an ‘Athol Mason’ (circa 1780) and given in full period dress and with genuine Masonic accessories with St Raphael representing 25% of the team. The demonstration was given under the auspices of Northumbrian Masters Lodge No. 3477 at Stephenson Road, Heaton – twice, (one by ‘special dispensation’), the Wear Lecture Lodge No. 7248 Sunderland, The Durham Lodge of Installed Masters No. 4441 by ‘special dispensation’ and permission, in the Chapter House of Durham Cathedral, The Border Lodge of Installed Masters No. 5372, Carlisle, The Napier Clavering Lodge No. 3428, Stephenson Road, Heaton, The Middlesex Masters' Lodge No. 3420, meeting at the 'Cafe Royal' Piccadilly, London.
25th March 1957, Lodge visited by W.Bro F.D. Drane, assistant District Grand Master of Egypt and the Sudan.
Wednesday 7th May 1958, death of founder John Turnbull Holland, father of three past masters, W. Bros John R. Holland, George Holland and James Holland. November 1962 - January 1963, St Raphael Lodge No. 6261 Masonic Lodge Club formed to comply with provisions of Club Licensing Act 1961.
23rd May 1960, W. Bro. Leslie E.L. Jones elevated to Grand Lodge Rank P.A.G.D.C. (first member of St. Raphael to attain such honours).
Monday, 17th June 1963, death of William R. Fox P.P.G.W. first Master and Founder. (The last Masonic Service was held at his cremation).
Over the next few years the prospect of losing the Stephenson Road Temple to Coast Road widening schemes was discussed and alternatives considered, the worst finally happened and this led to the building of the new Temple wherein we now reside, with the St Raphael Lodge being shareholders, having over the years judicially purchased shares in the Temple Company. This led to the following sequence in changes of venue:
25th April 1966, the St Raphael installation was the last installation performed in the Stephenson Road Temple. 23rd May, 1966, onward, meetings held by ‘dispensation’ at the Banqueting Hall, Jesmond Dene.
Wednesday 30th August 1967 transfer to and meeting held by ‘dispensation’ at the New Masonic Temple, where we are to this day.
The Lodge Banner:- The dream and ambition of the Founders and Past Masters to possess our own Lodge Banner was realised when Bro Herbert A. Syrett PPGStwd. went to live in Malta G.C. and discovered the firm of ‘Griscti's Embroideries Ltd’. With agreement of the F & GP Committee, the Secretary, W. Bro George Holland, was able to very closely liaise with Bro Syrett on the making of the banner giving specifications and colours to the manufacturer and accepting a quote of £82.00 (Maltese), £1.00 Maltese being worth 22 shillings at the time making a total cost of £98 4s.0d. Sterling.
The banner was brought over personally by Bro. Syrett resulting in a considerable financial saving to the Lodge as customs duty and purchase tax was very high at that date on luxury goods. On the 22nd April 1974 at the installation ceremony Bro Syrett delivered and presented the banner to the Lodge complete with the brass rod and gilt cord. The banner was partially paid for by a Banner Fund raised by collections etc.
28th January 1980 W. Bro Lionel K. Pallister was installed as Assistant Provincial Grand Master by R.W. Bro J.S. Stephenson.
26th October 1992 - W. Bro George Holland, PPSGW – Founder was presented with a scroll and bowls bag together with a bouquet for Mrs Holland to mark his 50 years in the craft. This was followed in January 1994 by the presentation of a Provincial Grand Lodge Certificate to mark the same anniversary.
Monday 26th April 1993 - W. Bro George Holland, PPSGW, resigned his office of Secretary after 40 years of service and a total of 47 years in continuous office since the inception of the Lodge.
March 1995 - W. Bro Lionel K. Pallister presented with his 50 years Certificate as a Freemason.
Monday 22nd April 1996 - Golden Jubilee of St Raphael Lodge No. 6261
In this Golden Jubilee Year W. Bro Robert Hall was the first initiate of the Lodge to receive a 50 year certificate.
In conclusion, St Raphael Lodge No. 6261 is still the only Lodge so named. Many Lodge names are replicated many times. e.g. St Peter’s – 21 Lodges so named, St George’s – 30, St Gabriel – 2; St Michael's – 19.