Congratulations to Villerica Lodge No 4053

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The February meeting is always a special occasion for the Brethren of Villerica Lodge No 4053.  It is the Installation Meeting.  As is the custom in Masonic Lodges, at the Installation Festive Board, all the Brethren look forward to singing the ‘Master’s Song’ and raising their glass to toast the Worshipful Master for the ensuing year.  This year’s February meeting would have been even more special as Villerica was Consecrated in the Grecian Temple at the Abercorn Rooms of the Great Eastern Hotel by the RW Provincial Grand Master of Essex Lord Lambourne on 19th February 1921.

Together with those Essex Freemasons whose Lodges and Chapters should have commemorated their Centennials during the last 12 months, Villerica Brethren must wait until time and circumstances permit such celebrations to be restored. During this time, they will no doubt reflect that 102 years ago some of the Founders were talking on Billericay Station with one saying that he remembered a Vicar who once said Billericay was derived from the Latin ‘Villerica’ meaning ‘Clean Town’ and so the name was adopted. The Lodge now meets at Hutton Masonic Hall.

Whether it is a potential new candidate or an experienced Brother, fortunate enough to attend the postponed Centennial celebrations, both will find Villerica to be a typical Masonic Lodge with about 40 members where the rich, the poor and those in-between, meet together, use the same idioms, abide by the same etiquette, eat, drink and joke together, all united in a sincere love of Freemasonry and its three grand Principles of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth.

This is exemplified through one Villerica Lodge member who was awarded a CBE on the same day in 1958 as a certain Matthew Busby (of Manchester United and England fame). George Frederick Chaplin was born in 1900 and Initiated in 1929. After being the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, Almoner and Treasurer, he was installed as an Assistant Provincial Grand Master in 1957. Serving the Community as a JP, a Deputy Lieutenant and an Alderman, W Bro Chaplin also proposed Malcolm, his son, into the Lodge and devoted his life to the people of Essex. He became a Chairman of Essex County Council and was Knighted in 1962.

The late W Bro Chaplin may now be looking down from Grand Lodge above and wishing the day may soon come for all the Brethren of Villerica Lodge to celebrate their Centennial whilst joining all of the present Provincial Leadership Team and every Essex Freemason in congratulating Villerica Lodge No 4053 on reaching their Centenary.

Tony Hales

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Provincial Grand Lodge of Essex