St. Laurence Lodge 5511


Upminster Masonic Hall,

Deyncourt Gardens,


Centre Website:

RM14 1DF

St Laurence Lodge - more can be found on our Lodge website - came into being through the interests and efforts of a number of brethren in the Upminster, Hornchurch and Romford areas who travelled to London daily and many of whom were members of Stock Exchange firms. After informal discussion on the subject they arranged a meeting of brethren to discuss the formation of a new lodge of Craft Masonry in Upminster, at the Bell Hotel, Upminster, on Friday the 9th March, 1934.

In 1934 there was only one lodge that met in Upminster itself, our mother lodge, Ingrebourne No. 3345, founded in 1909. It is pretty certain that the Ingrebourne Lodge was also the first ever to meet in Upminster.  Ingrebourne Lodge was and is an "Emulation" lodge and our founders wanted to "carry on the working with which they were well acquainted, viz. Taylor's working." The Upminster School of Instruction, founded in 1932, indeed existed to further the instruction of a number of brethren from various lodges in Taylor's working.

The need for a Taylor’s Lodge in Upminster being there, our founders set about fulfilling it. This might be the moment to describe them as they were in 1934. Some, as might be expected, were members of the Ingrebourne Lodge, assisting the brethren to create the new lodge.


W. Bro. R. Harper (pictured left) was Master in 1929 of the Walthamstow Lodge, No. 2472 in which he was initiated in September 1914, and which in 1935 was meeting at Freemasons' Hall. He was also a member of the Newbury Park Lodge, No. 4458 which met in Loughton. He lived at No. 1 Leasway in Upminster and was in exports in the City. First Master of the lodge, he was the father-in-law of W. Bro. Cyril Self, Master in our 25th year and the grandfather of W. Bro. Robert Self, Master in our fiftieth year. The family punctuates our history.

W. Bro. E.W. Harrison was initiated in our mother lodge in December 1919 and was its Master in 1932. He lived at 20 Grosvenor Gardens and was a stockbroker's clerk.

W. Bro. D.A. Ramsay was initiated on 17 September 1920 in the Burdett-Coutts Lodge, No 1278 which in 1935 was meeting in the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street. He was a Past Master of the Fleet Wood Lodge, No. 4556 which met at the Hotel Metropole, in Northumberland Avenue. He lived at 18 Tudor Gardens, Upminster and was a newsagent. He had two shops, one in St Mary's Lane opposite to where the International Stores is now and one in Station Road next to Talbots.

W. Bro. P. Wheatley was also initiated in our mother lodge in the same year as W. Bro. Harrison but one meeting earlier in the October. He was Master of Ingrebourne Lodge in 1929 and was its Assistant Secretary from 1932 to 1944. He lived at 52 Courtenay Gardens in Upminster and was a printer.
W. Bro. W.H. Foster was initiated in March 1921 in the Cripplegate Lodge, No.1613 which met at the Holborn Restaurant in Kingsway, a venue which figured prominently in the history of St Laurence Lodge. He was later Master of Cripplegate. His home was at 63 Ingrebourne Gardens and in 1935 he was a stockbrokers clerk.

W. Bro. H.H. Holden, of the Rectory, Upminster, is one of the major figures in the masonic history of the area. Initiated in the Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, 28 May 1895, a lodge meeting in the Masonic Hall in Oxford, he was a founder of our mother lodge and its Master in 1925. He remained very active in the Ingrebourne Lodge, being its Chaplain until his death in 1944. He is described on our petition as a "Clerk in Holy Orders", and was the fourth Holden to become Rector of St Laurence. (He was succeeded by his son, Hyla Rose Holden, who remains an honorary member of St Laurence Lodge.)

Bro. V.A. Wallace was initiated in September 1930 into the Rainham Lodge, No. 3079 which despite its name was meeting in 1935 at the Palace Hotel in Southend-on-Sea. At that time it had 114 members. Bro. Wallace is described on the petition as a works manager and he lived at 54 Ernest Road in Emerson Park, Hornchurch.

Bro. E.A. West was initiated on 18 May 1920 in the Merton Lodge, No. 2790 which met in Wimbledon. He was also a member of the St Barnabas Lodge, No. 3771 which was meeting in Freemason's Hall. He lived in St Mary's Lane, at number 179 and was a jeweller. His shop was also in St Mary's Lane.

Bro. E.W.J. Upton was a member, suitably enough, of the Upton Cross Lodge, No. 4454, having been initiated in that lodge on March 5 1930. In 1935, this lodge was meeting at the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street. He was a manufacturer of roofing tiles and lived at 97 Havering Road in Romford. His brother, A.V. Upton, was initiated into our lodge in 1936 and was a member until he resigned in 1962.

Bro. Ralph A. Ball, the father of W. Bro. Harry Ball and of the late W. Bro. Ralph E. Ball, was initiated in the Pro Deo et Patria Lodge, No. 4425 on 4 April 1928, a lodge that in 1935 was meeting in Freemason's Hall and of which he was later Master. He was also a stockbroker's clerk and lived at the time at 151 Hainault Road in Romford. Mrs R.E. (Mona) Ball recalls that Arthur Barrell, who then lived in Redriff Road, would walk each weekday morning to Ralph Ball's house and that they would then walk together to Romford Station (the 8.06 to Liverpool Street), passing the International Stores where she at age 15 was working as a cashier, tipping their hats to her as they passed.

Bro. A.V. Dowding, the progenitor of another St Laurence family, being the father of W. Bro. A.V. Dowding Jnr (now in Canada) and our Treasurer, W. Bro. G.J. Dowding, was initiated on 12 April 1929 in the Valentine's Park Lodge, No. 4412, meeting at the Great Eastern Hotel at Liverpool Street. He was a merchant's salesman in the City and lived at 86 Sunnyside Gardens in Upminster.

Bro. A. Edwards was initiated in the Queen Alexandra Lodge, No. 2932 on the 17 March 1925 which was meeting in 1935 at Pagani's in Great Portland Street. Bro. Andrew lived at 18 Gaynes Road and was an accountant.

Bro. W. Reader, who died so early, was a member of two lodges. He was initiated, 19 September 1919, in the United Service Lodge, No. 3124 which met in Sheerness in Kent and was a member also of The Liberty of Havering Lodge, No. 1437 which in 1935 was meeting at the White Hart Hotel in Romford and had 93 members. He is shown on the petition as "Gunner R.N. Rtd" and was a licensed victualler. He kept the Bull Inn on High Street in Hornchurch. His name is crossed through on the petition and then re-entered. The letter in Grand Lodge Library that refers to this tells that he was about to transfer his business elsewhere but that this did not, in the event, materialise.

Bro. H. Milner, the founder who survived the longest and was well known to many of our current brethren, was initiated in the Robert Mitchell Lodge on 18 March 1922. This lodge, No. 2956, was meeting in The Polytechnic in Regent Street. He was a bullion broker's clerk and lived at 31 New Place Gardens, Upminster. He was a man of about 34 years of age when our lodge was founded.

Bro. Hilary Martle, who was a founder but never in one sense a member, was initiated on 26 July 1924 in the Zodiac Lodge, No. 2615, meeting at the Holborn Restaurant. The record is not clear but it seems that, regrettably, a misunderstanding arose between Bro. Martle and one or two of the other founders which led to his resignation. Since Bro. Martle had paid his founder's fee, he was shown as a founder but he never entered the lodge. Bro. Martle lived in East Ham, at 8 Blenheim Road, and was a lighterage contractor.

Our lodge was at first to be called the Upminster Lodge. The proposition to name it this is shown as being carried at the second founders' meeting. Quite naturally, the Ingrebourne Lodge demurred in that they considered themselves the senior Upminster lodge. At the third founders' meeting on 12th April 1934, since the Lodge intended to meet in St Laurence Church Hall, the name 'St Laurence Lodge' was unanimously accepted.

At the Consecration of our lodge, the Provincial Grand Chaplain, W. Bro. Rev. Canon W.E. Morrow, gave an account of the story of St Laurence, one of the early martyrs of the Christian Church. St Laurence, a deacon of Rome was murdered in 258 A.D. During the so-called "Valerian" persecutions, one of the many persecutions of the early Christians (this one in the time of the Emperor Valerian) he was called upon to deliver up the treasures of the Church and produced the poor and sick of the city, who were his special charge. His fate was to be fastened to a gridiron over a fire and there, literally, broiled to death. So courageous a man was he, the legend goes, that he joked with his torturers, calling them to turn him over as he was "done on that side".