The Swan of Avon Lodge, No. 2133 - Stratford-upon-Avon



The Past Master's and Centenary Jewels of  the Swan of Avon Lodge

Sweet Swan of Avon! What a sight it were

To see thee in our waters yet appear,

And make those flights upon the banks of Thames

That so did take Eliza, and our James

But, say I see thee in the Hemisphere 

Advanc'd, and made a constellation there!

Shine forth, thou Starre of Poets, and with rage, 

Or influence,chide,or cheer the drooping Stage:

Which, since thy flight from hence, hath  mourn'd like night    

And despaires day, but for thy Volume's light.

The above is the concluding verse of the dedicatory poem by Ben Jonson in the preface of the first folio edition of Shakespeare's plays, 1623. It is the earliest known printed reference to ''Swan of Avon"





The Lodge was consecrated on 12th February 1886 in the presence of  Lord Leigh, the then Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire and about 150 brethren who attended a subsequent ‘banquet’ at, according to the summons, a cost of six shillings and sixpence each.

The Lodge had been sponsored by Apollo Lodge No. 301 and in its turn the Swan of Avon Lodge has sponsored the foundation of David Garrick No. 4243, De Montfort No. 5155 and Shipston-on-Stour No. 9418.

There had been two previous Lodges in Stratford-upon Avon, neither of which prospered; the Shakespeare Lodge No. 516  was consecrated in 1794 and was erased in 1799 and the Bard of Avon Lodge No. 1080, was operative from 1859 to 1872. The warrant of the former is held by Shakespeare Lodge No. 284 in Warwick and that of the latter is now held by the Bard of Avon Lodge No. 778, Twickenham, Middlesex. This Lodge presented, in the mid 19th century, a memorial window to the Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon, where Shakespeare is buried.

In the early years, the Swan of Avon Lodge generally met in the Union Club until, in 1939, in conjunction with the David Garrick Lodge, the premises in Great William Street were purchased at a cost of £1300.00 shared equally. The first meeting was in January 1940 but the new premises were only available for a short period however as they were subjected to requisition by the RAF which used them for training in aircraft recognition, resulting in the walls being decorated with a Spitfire and other fighter planes of a large scale. Sadly these paintings were covered when the premises had major building work and re-decoration in 1960. During the war years, the Lodge met at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

Amongst many occasions of significance during the long life of the Lodge, two stand out. The first is the death from wounds suffered in action of the Worshipful Master, W.Bro. F. W. Fincher in the First World War. A Memorial Tablet was unveiled in April 1922 and is to be found on the west wall of the Lodge. 

 The second was on 2nd July 1929 when the Foundation Stone was laid at the then Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, now the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, in which ceremony the Lodge took a significant part. Many hundreds of Masons in full regalia, processed from the Town Hall to the Theatre led by Lord Amptill, M.W. Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, who laid the Foundation Stone.

The operative trowel used during the ceremony was presented to the Lodge and is on display.  The trowel was used once again (this time as a featured prop) in the celebratory re-opening of the  theatre in 2010 following its £113 million refurbishment.

The Lodge celebrated its Centenary in 1986 when a Centenary jewel was struck and a booklet published, which has been the primary source of information for this article. It is to be recommended for a more detailed study.