Sylvan Lodge 6381


Upminster Masonic Hall,

Deyncourt Gardens,


Centre Website:

RM14 1DF

An initial Petition to form a new lodge was submitted to Grand Lodge by four Brethren of the St. Martins lodge No 2455 and two Brethren of the Mount Lebanon Lodge No 73, who wanted to enjoy local Freemasonry, as the storm clouds of war were gathering in 1939. In view of the uncertainties of the times, Grand Lodge would only approve the setting up of a School of instruction.

The six Brethren held an Inaugural Meeting on the 6 May 1940 at the Hornchurch Masonic Hall which then existed in Billet Lane. The School was formed under the sanction of St. Martins Lodge No 2455, entitled St. Martins School of Instruction No 2. At the second meeting on 20 May 1940 the name was changed to the Hornchurch School of Instruction and at the following meeting to Sylvan School of Instruction, these changes not being explained in the Minute Book.



The Minutes for the 27 May 1940 conclude by stating that the next meeting would take place on the 18 September, but such was not to be the case, the attacks on Hornchurch fighter base and the subsequent Blitz on London occurring at that time, disrupting life in general.

With the War over the School recommenced meetings on the 19 October 1945 when it rented accommodation at the ‘Cricketers’ in Hornchurch for 5/-(25p) per week, the school members paying 2/6d(12.5p) to join and 6d(2.5p) per meeting as dues. Perhaps in view of the passing of time it was not surprising that of the six original Brethren only one, Bro. C.M.T. George was still a School member. He had been joined by a further fifteen prospective founders and they submitted a Petition to ‘Headquarters’, as they called Grand Lodge

Genealogically our Lodge evolves from the Good Fellowship Lodge No 276 which dates back to 1789, but more directly, however, after complying with all the necessary regulations, sponsorship was provided by the Edward the Confessor Lodge No 3782 and the Sylvan Lodge No 6381 was consecrated at Great Queen Street on 7 January 1947, with W. Bro. Cedric Holyoake being installed as the first Master and Bro. George, the only survivor from day one becoming the Lodge Secretary. The Consecrating Officers, the Founders and eighty Visitors subsequently dined at the Holborn Restaurant.

And so the Sylvan Lodge was born; meeting at the Hornchurch Masonic Hall with a dress code stating ‘Morning dress with white collars, black or dark ties, no gaudy coloured cloth suitings and certainly no brown shoes’ and Annual Dues set at four guineas.

But why the Sylvan Lodge? For the answer one needs to examine the Founders Jewel which was designed by W. Bro Holyoake. It depicts an oak tree which originally grew in a field at the end of Sylvan Avenue, Emerson Park. When the estate was further developed by Thomas Bates, the road was extended past the tree, leaving it in the middle of the road where it still stands. It became a prominent local feature known as the Sylvan Tree and with three Founders living close by, no doubt the strength and endurance of the oak seemed an appropriate emblem. This Links in with our motto ‘Erecta et Aetate Matura’,- Upright and of mature age.

We know that the local Council did try to have the tree removed, but local opinion, led by Councillor Connie Cannon, the daughter of a Founder, protested vehemently  and won the day.

The First Regular Meeting on 21 February 1947 was to see the Initiation of Mr. W.G. Bird and Mr. G.H. Cornwell, who was to become the W.Master in 1956.

At the second Regular Meeting on 2 March 1947 the Lodge undertook what must be a unique double Initiation when Mr. Alex Harper and Mr. Alex Douglas Harper, father and son, took their first regular steps in Freemasonry, with Alex senior becoming the eleventh Master in 1957.

Just as the chequered pavement symbolises the opposites of this mortal life, so has the Lodge seen its high and low times. Certainly 1949 was a year of fortune and misfortune.

At the Installation Meeting in 1949 W.Bro Holyoake assumed the role of Secretary to enable Bro. George to progress to the chair of King Solomon. Regrettably, whilst holding the office of Junior Warden, Bro. George died on 7 May 1949 and this must of been a great blow to the Lodge.

To add to the sorrows, the Lodge’s Consecrating Officer, Brig. Gen Kincaid Smith, the R.W. Provincial Grand Master died on 15th July 1949 and the Lodge went into mourning for six months.

In the same year the Lodge had a further upheaval in that it transferred its Regular Meeting place from the Hornchurch Masonic Hall as it could not accept imposed new catering arrangements, to the White Hart Hotel, Romford.

However, all was not gloom in 1949, for on the 8th February Mr. A. W. Snow was initiated. W. Bro Snow, or ‘Uncle Bert’ as he was affectionately known to us had the good sense to marry Gwen, the daughter of W.Bro Archer, a Founder and the Lodge’s first I.P.M., who was his Proposer.

W. Bro Bert has filled most Offices in the past 48 years, as well as being Preceptor for longer than anyone can remember. He must also hold the record for lodge attendance’s, probably County, or even country wide, having missed only one meeting since his initiation and that only because he was in hospital - he even tried to twist the doctors arm for the evening off, without success! Long may he continue as ‘father of the lodge’.

Later in 1949, on the 8th November the Lodge’s first Lewis was initiated, when Mr. John D Harper became a Mason, proposed by his father and seconded by his brother. It is pleasing to see that Bro. John is still a member and we look forward to him celebrating 50 Years with the Lodge in the near future.

In the early Years it is clear that the Lodge attracted an increasing membership to the extent that a Bye-Law was introduced restricting the numbers of members to sixty; would that it was necessary to invoke such a rule nowadays!

W.Bro Holyoake, the first Master, was appointed a Provincial Grand Steward in 1953, but within five years his health had deteriorated to such an extent that he had to resign as Secretary and take Country Membership. He subsequently died at the Royal Masonic Hospital on 2 November 1968

The last Founder to ascend to the Chair of King Solomon was W.Bro. D J Sibley in 1954. He moved to Dorset and thus became a Country Member in 1979, finally departing this life in 1994, thereby breaking all direct links between the Lodge and it’s Founders.

Moving on, 1962 saw two excellent Masons taking their first steps; W. Bro W G Cole and    W Bro. D I Pier.

W Bro. Bill Cole was one of that rare breed, being possessed of a photographic memory. This enabled him to become a very skilled ritualist who, having no problem with the words, could concentrate on delivery style to great effect. He became W.Master in 1970 and again, to fill a gap in 1984.

Regrettably Bill passed to the Grand Lodge Above in June 1992 and he has been sadly missed.

In 1963 the Lodge was on the move again, on this occasion leaving the deteriorating White Hart Hotel in favour of the Upminster Masonic Hall, its present home. It is of interest to record that the Hall then charged a lodge £3.13s.6d (£3.671/2p) per meeting, giving an annual cost to our Lodge of £18.7s.6d (£18.371/2p). The Caterers then, as now were Bairds and at that time a meal cost between 11/- (55p) and 14/6d (72.5p). In view of both figures the Annual Dues were raised to six guineas (£6.30p), but to make the Brethren feel better, the Lodge started to serve wine with meals.

The Lodge celebrated it’s Silver Jubilee on the 11 January 1972, the Installation Meeting at which W. Bro Derek Pier became Master for the first time, with two of our most senior members, W.Bro Bert Snow and W.Bro Les Nevett being appointed as Director of Ceremonies and Junior Warden respectively. W. Bro. Derek emphasized his commitment to the Sylvan by coming to the rescue in the capacity of Master again both in 1988/89 and 1993/94 when others fell by the wayside.

On the 22 November 1977, the present Director of Ceremonies, W. Bro. Colin Foster became the Second Lodge Lewis when he was initiated by his father, W. Bro. George Foster. W. Bro. George also had the pleasure of both Passing and Raising his son, who subsequently became Master in 1987.

On the 28 November 1995 W. Bro. Bert Snow presented the Lodge with a Banner, in memory of his late wife and this was dedicated by the Deputy Provincial Grand Chaplain, Colonel, the Reverend John Blackburn in a most impressive ceremony. At that meeting Honorary Membership was bestowed on W. Bro. Bert Snow in acknowledgment of his record of service to the Sylvan Lodge over a period of forty six years,

Whilst the Sylvan has never been a large lodge, the Brethren have always strived to promote the best of Masonic traditions, whilst at the same time enjoying the fraternal company.

This Lodge rose from the dark days of the Second World War through the efforts of its Founders and we believe that it is now well placed to move forward into the 21st Century so that those in the future may look forward to celebrating it’s centenary in January 2047.