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Contact the Lodge Secretary - Dave G. on 01582 733444

Our History

History of Saint John the Baptist Lodge No. 475

All About St John the Baptist Lodge No:475

St. John the Baptist Lodge was the first Lodge to be formed in the county of Bedfordshire, its original number was 698.

It was consecrated in Luton, then a town with a population of about 5,000 on 29th July 1841. The Consecrating officer was the Master of the Lodge of Israel No. 247. Bro. George Aarons who was renowned as a wonderful ritualist, and because of his affliction was known as ‘Blind Aarons’.

The MWTGM the Duke of Sussex had appointed Bro. Aarons who was a Past Master of both the Lodge of Israel and the Lodge of Joppa, to be a member of the board of installation which board had been delegated to install the Masters of London Lodges. W/Bro. James Savage PM Lodge No.1, and Junior Warder of Grand Lodge and Bro. Reverend John Little of Lodge No. 123 together with eighteen other Past Masters and Brethren assisted Bro. Aarons at the consecration.

The founders of the new Lodge were:

  • Alexander Fraser, Gentleman of Flamstead Bury
  • Edward Chillwell Williamson, Attorney of Law, Luton
  • William Phillips, Chemist, Luton
  • Francis (or Frederick) J Law, Bank Manager, Luton
  • Charles Gream, Managing Clerk, Williams & Austin, Luton
  • Richard Vyse, Merchant, Luton
  • Charles Austin, Attorney at Law, Luton
  • Thomas Oakley

Immediately after the consecration of the Lodge, the following were admitted and initiated:

  • Thomas Waller of Luton, Surgeon
  • Joseph Richardson of Woolside, Yeoman
  • Francis Field of Luton, Straw Plait Dealer
  • George Boulton of Farley, Farmer
  • William Dorrington of Luton, Carpenter

The Initiation Fee in 1841 was Six Guineas.

The original meeting place was the George Hotel, this was changed to Park Street in 1845 and then the Town Hall in 1848 when the rent was £2 10s 0d. per year

In 1863 the last general review of numbers resulted in the number 698 being changed to 475.

Formation of Provincial Grand Lodge of Bedfordshire 

On the 29th October 1875 an Emergency Meeting was held at the Town Hall in Luton when it was proposed by W.Master E.C.Williamson, seconded by Past Master W.Phillips that a committee be formed to formulate a proposal for the formation of a Provincial Grand Lodge for Bedfordshire.

On Friday 21st May 1880 a petition was sent to His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, and Most Worshipful Grand Master, to put forward a case to form a Provincial Grand Lodge of Bedfordshire.

On Friday 10th April 1885 the Secretary stated that a petition to the Most Worshipful Grand Master signed by all the Bedfordshire Lodges. i.e (St. John the Baptist No 475, Stuart Lodge No 540, Andrews Lodge No 803, and Beaudesert Baptist Lodge No 1087) was sent and he was waiting further information.

The petition was finally granted on Friday 7th July 1885, almost 10 years after the original idea was formulated.

Town Hall FIre

The next memorable occasion although not a pleasant one was on the 19th July 1919 when the Town Hall was set alight due to an end of W.W.1 celebration that went wrong. And our Lodge lost most of its records in the fire. A small handful of papers were found and although they were badly water damaged. Also our original banner and four firing glasses were found intact.

The Lodge celebrated its 100th Anniversary on Tuesday 29th May 1941 at the Marsonic Centre Luton, Guilford Chambers, Cheapside Luton, and its 150th Anniversary on Saturday 27th July 1991 at the Keep, Bedford.

In December 2000 a new banner was dedicated by the Provincial Grand Master, and the old banner is framed and is hanging in the committee room.