The first Freemasons Lodge in Sleaford was the Hope Lodge No 423. It was established in 1818 and met at the White Hart Hotel in Sleaford. This Lodge ceased to operate in 1828.
In 1856 the St Botolph’s Lodge No 588 which was established in Boston in 1851, transferred to Sleaford. It met at the Bristol Arms Hotel in Sleaford (now Bristol Arcade) and later at the Corn Exchange. Freemasonry flourished in the town and by the late 1800s it was clear that larger premises were required.
In 1902 J W Sharpe – a local man and member of St Botolph’s Lodge – informed the Lodge that he had purchased some land in Watergate with the intention of building some lockup shops. He suggested that rooms above could be let to the Lodge. The decision to accept his offer was to significantly change Freemasonry in Sleaford. Following completion, the Lodge rooms above the shops formally open on 14th January 1903. (The plaque outside the building dated 1902 refers to the upstairs rooms.)
Freemasonry now had its permanent home in Sleaford and on 13th April 1916 the Sleaford Masonic Building Company Ltd was established to look after the premises. It has done so for 105 years.
With the new premises, Freemasonry continued to flourish. In 1917 a Lodge was to be formed to serve the personnel based at Cranwell. The Lodge took the name of the Royal Naval Air Station at Cranwell – Daedalus. They approached St Botolph’s Lodge and the Sleaford Masonic Building Company Ltd to use their premises. On the 27th April 1918, Daedalus Lodge No 3843 was consecrated. Although it was initially an RAF Lodge, Daedalus Lodge today is open to members of any profession.
Shire Lodge was consecrated in Grantham but was a moving Lodge, meeting at various places in Lincolnshire. This was possibly due to it having a strong connection to local government. During the Second World War it met in Grantham, moving to Sleaford in 1953 where it was more convenient for its members. It has remained there ever since welcoming members of all professions.
The final Craft Lodge to established itself in Sleaford was the St Denys Lodge, the daughter Lodge of St Botolph’s and consecrated 2nd June 1982. In addition to these four Craft Lodges, the Sleaford Masonic Centre hosts several progressive orders. At the time doubts were expresses whether another lodge was needed but St. Denys has gone from strength to strength and in line with its founders’ principles it tries to follow the Emulation ritual as closely as possible.
The most significant development for the Centre was the acquisition of the whole building and the creation of a well-equipped kitchen, reception room, male, female and disabled toilets and the Cecil Maxey Hall function suite and bar facility.
Today the Building Company is as active as it has ever been. It is a forward thinking, progressive, innovative company, with its Directors representing the four main Lodges. In addition to ensuring the building is well maintained and complies to all relevant legislation, the Sleaford Masonic Building Company actively promotes the use of the Centre for community use. It has hosted concerts, weddings, parties, training events and first aid courses. During the Covid-19 Pandemic the rooms were used to provide meals for vulnerable people and recently it was offered for use as a vaccination centre for Sleaford.
The Masonic Rooms on Watergate Sleaford have not only provided a permanent base for Sleaford Freemasons since 1902, but also provides an excellent community facility which is available to hire.
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