SOME NEW ZEALAND MASONIC HOTELS
LECTURE BY W. Bro. L C. Major, P.M., Deputy Master
SOME NEW ZEALAND MASONIC HOTELS
By W. Bro. L C. Major, P.M., Deputy Master
"One glimpse of it within the Tavern caught Better than in the Temple lost outright". -Omar.
From earliest times, the establishment and growth of communities have been accompanied by the provision of lodgings far travellers, inns and hostelries where the itinerant could find bed and board. Often such places were the only ones in the small community where meetings and gatherings could be held and what mare natural therefore than that the early Lodges should meet there. A central location, a room large enough for a meeting to be held, stabling for horses and ready catering by the publican could all scarcely be found elsewhere until townships grew large enough for social halls in their own right to be erected. Such was the case in many early New Zealand communities and we thus find, in the histories of many of the older Lodges in this country that their early years were as hotel tenants. Our regulations now forbid the use of licensed premises as meeting places, no doubt because of the tendency for a ready supply of liquor to be reflected in rowdy supper proceedings and public disapproval or tipsy Brethren leaving the premises. However, in England at least, no such proscription exists and many English Lodges continue to this day to meet in hotels. The history of those hotels and Lodges whose times were intertwined is rich in fact and legend. Many of the hotels still exist today, perhaps refurbished or enlarged; others are dust or ashes or, phoenix-like, have risen again with little to connect them with their Masonic past than hearing the same name, To a lesser degree than in England, where inns still bear enigmatic couplets for names, their New Zealand counterparts in the main have been more prosaic. I was once asked by some travellers from overseas at the Masonic Hotel in Tauranga whether its name had any particular significance and whether perhaps a Lodge met there.
In my ignorance I said there was none although in fact the hotel had been used by Tauranga Lodge, No.462 I.C. (since defunct) far some preliminary meetings in 1876 and for the Consecration supper "an excellent repast, the viands being of the best quality". Other hotels bearing the same name were used for many years as meeting places; still others had no Lodge associations whatsoever, no doubt to the disappointment of their owners who hoped to reap Masonic custom by their choice of name.
At the time of writing, there are still over twenty hotels in New Zealand bearing the name “Masonic”. Surprisingly, little has been recorded of the Masonic connection with hotels apart from references in individual Lodge histories and, more particularly, there have been only one or two books published about New Zealand hotels. It may be significant that one of these two, Tavern in the Town by James McNeish contains several references to Masonic tenancy of hotels. A copy of his book is in our library, which I can recommend to any Brother, and I have the author's permission to quote from it, which I do later.
This is a strange case of a hotel being provided for a Lodge which did not appear. This hotel was built about 1870 by John Milne (whose children later began the Auckland Company, Milne and Choyce), at the bidding of a titled syndicate with the idea that Room 1 at the top of the stairs would be the meeting place of the district's first Lodge. When Milne finished, money was still owing to him so be moved in and became the first landlord. The hotel was built halfway up the slope where the road dips sharply to the sea; it has been on its site for as long as any in the north.
Originally it boasted two flagstaffs and had a beautifully panelled dining room.
As far the Lodge it was not formed for another 65 years.
Square and Compass, Timaru
A case again where perhaps hopes were not realized. In spite of its name, no Lodge actually met here although one of the preliminary meetings leading to the, founding of The Caledonian Lodge, No.534 S.C. was held in the hotel.
Freemasons Arms, Wellington
A variant from the more common "Masonic", notwithstanding, I have been unable to find any mention of a Lodge meeting there, nor even mention of Freemasons' arms (or elbows) gracing its bar. It was in Wellington in 1861
Alexandra (Previously Doncaster Arms), Pirongia
Perhaps a typical case of the association of a Lodge with a hotel was the use of this hotel by The Alexandra Lodge, No. 1188 E.C. Always colloquially known as Finch's after its popular landlord, the hotel was a two storied building of sludge grey pine. It looked like an elephant on stilts says McNeish, the upper floor overhanaging the street and held up by pair after pair of lean lanky sticks. There used to be a watering trough and an old fashioned pump in the cobbled yard out back. Here, also says McNeish, "King Tawhiao laid down his arms at the feet of Major William Mair; the tattooed King had come riding into the town at the head of more than 500 warriors. A brass band played them up the street".
The Lodge was constituted in the hotel on August 10th, 1866. After the installation of its first Master, William Otty, the Lodge initiated five candidates, one officer, three sergeants of the 50th Regiment, and one civilian. "It was a very wet day but that did not dampen the ardour of the Brethren, for Mr. Thomas Pinch, the popular host and owner of the Doncaster Arms, was the civilian initiated that day".
Bro. Glenie in his "Early Freemasonry in the Waikato" has recorded how the Lodge proceedings on this evening commenced at 6 p.m. and midnight had struck before the Brethren repaired to the dining hall of the hotel; and how,, nineteen toasts later, and in a Wintry dawn, they finally closed proceedings. I note also that Bro. Glenie is definite on the point that the Doncaster Arms and the Alexandra were in tact two different hotels. Be that as it may, the Lodge continued in occupation of the one or both until December 1904, over 33 years, when it moved into its new hall. Bro. Finch, the landlord, was installed as Master of the Lodge in 1879. He had been a member since the Lodge's inception and its Treasurer for several years.
Few other Lodges in this country can show such a long association with an hotel at Alexandra.
Forest Inn, Wakefield (Waimea)
As far as I am aware, only one Lodge in New Zealand bears the name of the hotel in which it first met, Forest No. 116 (previously 1481 E.C.). A preliminary meeting was held at the inn on June 16th, 1873 when Bro. Smith, the landlord, offered a suitable room to be used as a Lodge room. Since the Lodge resolved to meet there, it was decided to name the Lodge after the inn. It was duly constituted a year later but, the room provided proving unsuitable, the landlord was asked to arrange one more suitable, the Lodge undertaking to reimburse him for any outlay.
Although a Hall Committee of the Lodge was formed in 1875, it continued for upwards of 10 years to occupy the inn, moving to its own hall in 1883. From the photograph reproduced in the recent centennial history of the Lodge, the inn was a modest single-storied gable building set in a clearing in the bush. Typical of New Zealand, it had the ubiquitous iron roof. One wonders, seeing the picture of this small structure, which looks no bigger than a small suburban house, just what sort of accomodation the Lodge was provided with.
The Criterion, Otahuhu
However, like the Masonic at Rawene, the Criterion, Otahuhu had a room specially constructed for the Lodge, with sound proof walls. This hotel was used by St. Johns, No.464 S.C., inaugurated in 1866. Originally the hotel was in a narrow street opposite Hall's store, according to Barclay and purchased by Bro. Thomas Rogers who moved it to a new site where the special room was erected. The Lodge, which only lasted for about 9 years, presumably continued to meet at the hotel throughout its brief history for, after it had faded out, Bro. Rogers the landlord held the furniture, regalia and belongings of the Lodge which were later sold to Wairoa, No. SS. Thomas Rogers was a charter member of St. Johns; he was a Cornishman who went to the gold diggings at California thence to the copper mine at Kawau island before moving to Otahuhu. Barclay, who was a member of this United Masters Lodge records that another member of this Lodge had told him that his father had been a member of St. Johns for two hours. He had been in the hotel when a friend asked him to guard the door of the Lodge because of very low attendance. This he did, correctly answering knocks and keeping off intruders.
Even a century ago, it was not always thought proper for a Lodge to hold meetings in licensed premises. Thistle Lodge, No. 647 S.C. (later amalgamated with Masterton, No.1430 E.C. - now No.19 N.Z.C.) met in the dining room of the Empire, the Lodge being formed in 1879. In the following year a letter was read from the Provincial Grand Master stating that Provincial Grand Lodge did not consider the hotel a suitable meeting place. Although the Lodge made overtures to Masterton Lodge for the use of its hall, nothing came of it; acceptable terms were reacheed in 1883 but the Lodge did not move for another two years when a half-share was purchased. Perhaps a factor influencing the Lodge's delay in making a move from the hotel was its particular membership; before 1885 it initiated five publicans.
Lodge Ara, No 348 I.C. had its second home in this hotel situated in Princes Street on the corner now occupied by the Northern Club. It was built by Samuel Allen Wood an immigrant from Sydney who had previously established an inn at Russell, on land purchased in 1841. McNeish describes it thus: "a modest, charming inn with wide verandahs and a hipped roof, low slung like a Chinese sampan, and chastely timbered. In the parlour japanned mahogany panelling, mahogany furniture from New South Wales and a moderate fireplace. The bar was no more than a neat cubby". The big oven had scarcely been installed when, in July 1841, Governor Hobson and his company attended for dinner. Sixty guests partook of six courses which "would have reflected great credit on any English hotel". Politics apart (for political meetings were held in the hotel), Wood's Royal Hotel was far and away the chief rallying ground - auction mart, exchange and concert house rolled into one. Weekly a mail and passenger cart left the door for the "Manakao".
Monthly the Philharmonic Society met and danced in the ballroom. By 1843 the Royal was picking up its social stride. Wood offered the use of his ballroom to Lodge Ara. At Christmas 1843 the town saw its first actors on stage, in the ballroom.
In September 1844, a duel took place outside the hotel between a Naval lieutenant and the newspaper editor. Bullets were exchanged without, fortunately, any personal harm, but honour was satisfied.
Samuel Wood, the publican was known as “Rakau Wood to the Maoris A flamboyant character by our standards of today, he nevertheless had the common touch. "His snuff box, suspended from the neck by a long ribbon, bobbing against a thick tweed waistcoat; he wore kid gloves and carried an elegant stick, twirling it from the gold bangle which held it to his wrist".
In 1847, Wood went bankrupt, the inn and stables were auctioned off and the Royal was not again licensed. It was purchased by a Sergeant Major in the 65th Regiment and finally demolished in 1866.
As for Wood, he had been initiated into Lodge Ara in 1844 and turned up again as licensee of the Masonic a few doors along Bro. Samuel Wood the street. He was also well known as Clerk of the Course at the races.
Unlike its counterpart in Rawene built for a Lodge which never occupied it, the Masonic in Auckland was not only built for a Lodge, but by the Lodge - Ara, No.348 I.C. The Lodge purchased the land in Princes Street and had the building erected which it let to a tenant, apart from a special room reserved for the Lodge and held its first meeting in it on January 8th, 1849.
This two storied wooden structure remained the home of Lodge Ara until the hall was built next door in 1881, and was finally pulled down about 1887 to make way for the new Grand Hotel. The Lodge room was also used by St. Andrew, No.418 S.C. from 1877, United Service. No.421 I.C.
(No.10 N.Z.C.) from 1864, Waitemata, No.689 E.C. from 1858, Ara Royal Arch Chapter, No.348
I.C. from 1861 and Union Mark Lodge, No.154 from 1872. For a time the Auckland Club also met in the Lodge room but in 1857 they were advised it would no longer be available. The publican from the opening of the hotel was Samuel Wood, previously at the Royal, Auckland. In 1873 Union Mark Lodge advanced George Augustus Avey who was then running the hotel.
A well known hotel of today in Dunedin is Wains. On part of its site in Manse Street used to be Moir's hotel, owned by Andrew Moir in 1862 and 1863 following which it became Job Wain's.
He extended the building to Princes Street. This hotel was the first home of Otago Kilwinning, No.417 S.C., constituted on April 7th, 1862, and its patrons must have quickly become used to seeing the Lodge members about as they held no less than eleven meetings in seven weeks there.
But their time was not wasted. This is a summary of the work undertaken:
7th -13 ballotted for affiliation, 17 for initiation
13th -initiated, 13 affiliated
21st -7 initiated
26th -2 passed ("raised to F.C. degree")
5th -12 passed, 4 initiated
9th -12 raised
12th -9 initiated, 6 passed
14th -2 initiated, 4 raised
21st -8 passed, 9 raised
26th -4 initiated,
a total of 36 initiated, 28 passed and 25 raised, or 89 degrees conferred.
The sixth initiate was Andrew Moir, the publican. The Lodge did not stay very long in this hotel, moving to the Shamrock, but it did attend there once more in March 1866 for the inauguration meeting of Shamrock, No.448 I.C. Little is known of this latter Lodge but presumably for its short life of about 4 years it also met at Moir's and possibly also Shamrock Royal Arch Chapter, formed about 6 months after the Lodge. The last member initiated in Shamrock Lodge was in 1870.
Otago Kilwinning first met in the Shamrock in May 1862 for its inauguration on St. John's Day. This hotel was built at the junction of Rattray and Maclaggan Streets and Daniel Murphy of Murphy and Co., the proprietors, and a Chatter member of Shamrock Lodge, No.448 I.C., finding that the English Brethren were not interested in the Princes Street hall (erected by Otago Kilwinning), convetred part of his hotel into a hall 60 feet by 30 feet and advertised it as specially intended as a Freemasons' Hall. Lodge of Otago, No.844 E.C., The Dunedin Lodge, No. 931 E.C. and The Chapter of Otago, No.844 E.C. used the hotel room until 1864 when arrangements were made to use the Kilwinning Hall. Up to this time, Otago, No.844 had been using the Commercial Hotel in High Street. Kilwinning's history refers to its inauguration meeting as follows: “Bro. Murphy's offer to supply the dinner at 21/- a head was accepted. it was agreed the waiters and musicians should be Freemasons if possible. Bro. Murphy's quotation to supply the ball and supper at 12/6 a ticket was also accepted". Nevertheless the Lodge was concerned at the accomodation Bro. Murphy had to offer and considered transferring the Ball to the Criterion theatre. However, the Lodge, after the meeting, "sat down to a sumptuous supper got up in good style "by Bro. Murphy. The Hall was tastefully decorated with various Masonic emblems interspersed with the Flags of all nations, a conspicuous space being alloted to the Flag of Scotland". The hotel remained in the Murphy family until 1874 and in 1902 its name and licence were transferred to another hotel at the comer of Clark and Maclaggan Streets.
This hotel, now known as the Lady Bowen may fairly claim to he the oldest hotel building in Thames, being one of those buildings shifted from Auckland in the heyday of the goldflelds so far as population went. So writes A. M. Isdale of Thames in reply to my query and, as Secretary and Editor of the Thames Historical Society, he could not have been more helpful. Quite a number of buildings were shifted, he went on to advise. "In mid 1868 Thames had a population estimated at 18,000 while Auckland had 12,000. Behind the reservoir in Ponsonby Road, Auckland, a good number of leasehold cottages were sawn into sections and re-erected in Thames". Cottages from Devonport, houses from Freemans Bay and a big flourmill building from Riverhead were also removed to the Thames, the latter becoming a church hall.
The Wharf Hotel was used by the Lodge of Light, No.454 I.C. from 1871 until 1873, also by Lodge Sir Walter Scott, No.533 S.C. (No. 15 N.Z.C.) for a period during 1872. Previously known in Auckland as the Albert, it was placed on the corner of Brown and Albert Streets, adjacent to the wharf from which is was renamed, and became one of the 112 hotels serving the thriving and boisterous goldmining area.. Never a hotel of pretensions the Wharf nevertheless survived the leaner years following the gold boom, by virtue of its site near the wharf, then the centre of communications. Even when shipping gave way to rail, it was still handily placed and, when the axe fell in 1951 on many of the other Thames hotels, it was one of the seven of the remaining 13 which retained its licence, with a switching of name and licence from the Lady Bowen. Always well maintained the Wharf had had a solid, if unspectacular career, looking much the same today, except for the addition of a porch, as it did in a photograph of 1870.
"The original Rutland was built and owned by William Spears Russell early in the 1850s possibly 1853. This hotel was named after the English County of Rutland, and in honour of the 65th Regiment which was raised in that County. Mr. Russell had actually served as a Sergeant in the 65th, so that the name he bestowed on his hotel was most appropriate. The Rutland was a large two-storey building providing ample accomodation for the needs of the young settlement, and soon became one of the best known hotels in the colony. It was once described as being the resort of the officers of the Garrison, bankers, merchants, Government officers, and the gentry of Wanganui generally. The Rutland Hotel also had the distinction of being the early home of the Tongariro Lodge of Freemasons. The second owner was John Gotty, a native of Germany, and a Count in his own right". ("The Wanganui Story", Smart and Bates).
Tongariro Lodge, No.705 E.C. held its first meeting in the Rutland in October, 1857, and remained as tenant until early 1869. The first Master of the Lodge was W. S. Russell who had erected the hotel. The above mentioned authors also record: "On November 9, 1869, ,the S.S.
Wanganui arrived in the river with the Superintendant, Dr. Isaac Earl Featherston.
The visit was to lay the foundation stone of the Wanganui Bridge. The town declared a public holiday, flags and bunting flew from all buildings. After the ceremony of driving the first pile, His Honour the Superintendent was escorted to the Rutland Hotel, where members of the local Masonic Lodges entertained him to lunch. Two years later the bridge was completed". They did not mention that the foundation stone of the bridge had been laid with Masonic honours by the Brethren of Tongariro and St. Andrew Kilwinning Lodges. The latter, No. 481 S.C. (No.79
N.Z.C.) had also used the Rutland Hotel but only for its inauguration meeting on January 10th, 1868. Nor did they mention that the Superintendant was a Freemason himself, and was thus described on a scoll recording the event which should have been placed in the foundation of the bridge but was removal and only saw, the light of day 93 years later when it was presented to St.
Andrew Kilwinning without any explanation as to where it had reposed all those years.
But an event which took place in the hotel during its occupancy by Tongariro Lodge is of greater interest still: Part of the hotel adjoining the small room used by the Lodge had become dilapidated. The landlord's sister living in the house was very curious about Freemasonry and, going into the disused room and removing a knot from the wall was able to witness part of the proceedings. The Lodge history records: "She did not, however, possess the gift of silence and our evening while serving behind the bar she was expounding the secrets of Masonry to a gentleman who at that time was not a member of the Craft (though he afterwards became a Mason and subsequently occupied the Master's chair in the Lodge). The good lady was especially impressed with the third degree which she described as 'very dreadful'. She stated she was going again that night and that it was her intention to enlarge the hole in order to get a better view. She informed her hearer that there was not a great deal to see until the Lodge had been opened about half an hour. There was to be a third that night and if her friend would join her in about half an hour, he might take his turn at the peep hole. Unfortunately for her plan, her brother, who was standing near, though unobserved, overheard this conversation and, when the lady had climbed up to her accustomed place, he crept softly behind her and taking a firm grip on her ear, conducted her without any ceremony to her rightful place behind the bar".
Southern Cross, Wellington
Long since out of living memory as it was demolished 130 years ago, this little establishment deserves a place in the record, being that at which the small gathering of Masonic Brethren took place in 1842 in answer to a newspaper advertisement, to consider the "propriety of applying for a warrant to hold a Lodge at Port Nicholson". From the meeting, New Zealand Pacific, No. 517 was duly founded (now No.2, N.Z.C.). This two storey building of pise (rammed earth, clay or gravel) stood in Willis Street, now one of the Dominion's busiest streets, "only a stone's throw from the harbour beach". An etching of the time shows it as apparently one of the largest buildings in the pioneer township.
Bro. F. J. France, the proprietor, was a foundation member and the first Inner Guard of the new Lodge. New Zealand Pacific held 23 meetings at this hotel in 101⁄2 months, finally leaving because of dissatisfaction with banquetting arrangements. The festival of St. John was celebrated a month after the Lodge's establishment with 16 Brethren attending in Masonic clothing, the Lodge being opened at 3 p.m. and the banquet commencing at six.
Also at this hotel took place another very historic Masonic event, the welcome to French Brethren of “the lodge at Akaroa".
Barrett's Hotel, Wellington
One of the oldest hotel names in New Zealand, Barrett's takes its name from "Dicky" Barrett, the whaler, who piloted the "Tory"' into Port Nicholson in 1839 and who purchased on its arrival the material for the original hotel which was brought out to this country in sections from England by Dr. Evans, second in command of the New Zealand Company expedition. The building was erected in July 1840 on "the beach" at Wellington on a site close to the foot of where Molesworth Street now exists. New Zealand Pacific Lodge, now No.2, met in the original building from October 1843 until April 1849 and at the first meeting there, visitors included Bros. Col.
Wakefield and Dr. Featherston (later Superintendant of the Wellington Province).
At its 17th meeting, the Lodge decided to canvass members for £60 as a loan to Bro. Suisted, by now the proprietor of the hotel (and the 9th initiate of the Lodge) to enable him to erect a wing containing accomodation for the Lodge. This room, described as "elegant and ornamental" was situated above a billiard room on the ground floor.
The hotel licence was transferred when Bro. Suisted moved to a new site near Willis Street (where the present - third - Barrett's now stands) and the Lodge moved with it, the old building being fitted up as a Council Chamber and used by Sir George Grey, the Governor. Bro. Suisted departed for Otago and the new proprietor was Edward Roe, initiated in the Lodge in 1850.
However, a dispute arose between the Lodge and him over catering charges and the Lodge moved in 1854 to the “Crown and Anchor". At this venue the Lodge initiated and passed Henry Thomson (G.M 1890, 91) although he never in fact became a member of the Lodge.
Perhaps the accomodation at the "Crown and Anchor" was not up to Barrett's standard because, after consideration of alternatives, the Lodge decided to go back to Barrett's in 1861 but immediately began plans for its own building. It finally moved out of the hotel in December 1867.
As well as New Zealand Pacific, Waterloo, No. 463 S.C. (No. 13 N.Z.C.) briefly figured at Barrett's, holding its consecration supper there "where a banquet was provided that fitly wound up the pleasures of the evening".
Warkworth Hotel, Warkworth
According to Lane's Records Rodney, No.1711 E.C. occupied this Hotel from 1877 for 7 years, the original portion of the hotel which still exists having been built in 1863 or 1864.
As a sample of the accomodation offered in those days, this advertisement appeared in the New Zealand Herald in 1879: "Andrew Irwin, (Formerly Chief Steward of the S.S. Taranaki) has assumed proprietorship of the above Hotel, and begs to intimate to his friends and the travelling public that they may depend on receiving every possible attention at the above House which is now one of the most comfortable ones in the province. The best Wines, Spirits and Ales to be obtained in the market. Horses on hire. Free stabling".
An interesting document discovered in the hotel in 1968 shows that the Licensing Commission operated no less effectively in those days than now: "to: The Worshipful the Licensing Commissioner, Mahurangi District, Warkworth. Constable McLeod respectfully reports for the information of the Licensing Commissioners for the District of Mahurangi that he inspected the Warkworth Hotel, Warkworth and found it in good repair, Furniture in good order, the house clean and orderly and well kept in the past quarter. Neil McLeod. Const."
Whitianga Hotel, Whitianga
Among the now extinct Lodges of New Zealand was Whitianga, No.725 S.C., consecrated in this hotel in 1885 and already dormant by 1890 and now replaced by a new Lodge, the first in the town for 85 years. The old Lodge met in a large upstairs room of the hotel for a time and among its founders were two hotel-keepers, Sydney Richardson and John S. Talbot. Isdale of the Thames Historical Society records: "In 1862 the Mercury Bay Timber Company set up at Whitianga.
Timber working by various companies went on for about 60 years. There were three hotels; the first Whitianga hotel was built in 1867 for £60, with 12 rooms, by Thomas Carini or Carina (also rendered as Kareena etc.). The first meeting place or hall at Whitianga was Mercury Bay Athenaeum Hall built in 1885 before which meetings were held in a large room at Mr. Carina's hotel. Carina was something of a charater, ran bush-style horse races in a nearby paddock and won a competition grinning through a horse collar. A rock near Coroglen is called Kareena's rock, but a reporter found many hopelessly variant tales as to who Kareena was, what country he came from, how his name was spelled, and why the rock was named after him".
Bruce Hotel, Akaroa
This gabled, church-like structure with its shingled roof was named for Capt. James Bruce, a Dundee born "seadog" who served his apprenticeship in the Arctic whaling ground. Before his Akaroa days, he brought settlers to Otago in the brig "Magnet" and also brought the province its first horses. Later purchasing the "Brothers" he began trading from Akaroa, but the ship foundered in Akaroa harbour in 1841. He turned "landlubber" and became known as "the perfect host" in his hotel.
Akaroa Lodge, No.1666 E.C., founded in 1876, held some of its early meetings in this hotel, but only lasted about 2 years before fading out. By the time it commenced, Bruce had long since died (1858) and the hotel was sold to George Scarborough who became the foundation SW. of the Lodge. He was a popular landlord, also mayor of the Borough. Later he became a member of Canterbury, No.1048 E.
As for the hotel, in 1882 an anti-liquor fanatic set fire to three of Akaroa's inns, including Bruce's but it survived until the turn of the century when today's replacement was built. The latter still has two mahogany chairs from the ship "Magnet".
Masonic Hotel, New Plymouth
The occupancy of this hotel by Mount Egmont Lodge, No.670 E.C. is fairly well recorded. In September 1854 arrangements were made with Mr. William George, the proprietor: "In consideration of the yearly rental of £30, of the exclusive privilege of supplying the Lodge with refreshments, and of the Lodge being held on his premises so long as he shall afford satisfaction to the members, Mr. George agrees to erect a hall as plan submitted by the Lodge, to put up two movable partitions, to open a communication with double doors to his present premises, to retain the raised portion thereof for a Masonic reading room, and the further portion extending to the second partition when required for Masonic purposes, and also to give the exclusive use of the entire hall and lobby leading thereto to the Mount Egmont Lodge once a month on the day appointed by the Lodge, and to build a chimney in the reading room, and a closet for the Masonic paraphernalia". These arrangements must have had considerable impact within the Lodge because we find the proposed annex grandly named by an alteration in the by-laws, from in Bro. Black's room" to "in the Masonic Hall in Devon Street".
All, however, did not apparently go well with the proposed hotel alterations; we find the Lodge resolving in February 1856 that the Master is to insist on Mr. George at once completing the Lodge room according to agreement, in March, "he was to complete it before the next meeting", and in April, "Mr. George agrees to complete the Lodge room forthwith according to the original agreement". The Lodge apparently got along with Mr. George until he was succeeded by Samuel Newall, who joined the Lodge and notified a reduction in rental of the room. Several meetings in 1860 were held in the "Herald" office, possibly because the lodge room was commandered for military accomodation.
In 1865, the Lodge moved to its own new hall, but before its departure and in that same year, Southern Kilwinning, No.447 S.C. met at the hotel by permission of Mount Egmont. The former Lodge only lasted about 5 years. Mount Egmont also lent its room in February 1865 for the consecration of De Burgh Adams, No. 446 I.C. "An assemblage of Brethren met at the Lodge room, Masonic Hotel, on the corner or Devon and Brougham Streets, where the Lodge was duly constituted and erected". "The Brethren of the English Lodge met the intending members of the Irish one, about to be formed . . . for the purpose of being present at the installation of the W.M. and investiture.... "At half past six a banquet was tastefully spread in the large room of the Hotel, under the active management of Mr. Hammond, having been liberally provided by the exertions of the 'Banquet Committee', when the tables had the good taste not to 'groan', but rather to rejoice under the load of good cheer they willingly bore. The wines etc. provided by Mr. Hammond the landlord, were excellent quality." It is recorded that Brethren were highly pleased with the result; "The enjoyment of the Brethren during dinner was much enhanced by the delightful performance by the band of the 43rd Light Infantry (kindly lent by the Commanding Officer and Officers) under the able direction of Bro. Lay.
Food For Thought
European Hotel, Charleston
In its heyday a boisterous town of 18,000 people, Charleston by 1927 could boast as its only inhabited buildings the hotel, Post Office and Police station. As one of New Zealand's gold mining centres, its rise and fall were echoed in many other similar communities, springing up like mushrooms and declining almost as rapidly to become ghost towns.
The European, whose faded and tattered remains still stand was once a proud occupier of Charleston's "golden square" and one of the 93 hotels serving the thriving centre. A year after the discovery of gold nearby in 1866, the town was at its peak with fortunes being made by diggers and the inevitable hangers-on ready to relieve them of as much as they could. Every boat from Melbourne brought dancing girls, barmaids and diggers, the latter outnumbering the womenfolk by twelve to one. There were two newspapers, three breweries and three banks.
Of the three two-storeyed hotels, the European was the leading establishment. It was built by Charles Weitzel in 1866 and was in turn library, temporary church and the setting for marriages.
Its wedding breakfasts were unrivalled and among other West Coast celebrities, Seddon partook of feasts there for which 150 fowls were provided. The Masonic, Oddfellows and Foresters Lodges met in the long dance hall upstairs, the Masonic Lodge being Charleston Kilwinning, No.487 S.C. which was formed on May 1st, 1868, and lasting less than 30 years. For many decades after, the old pedestals, honours boards etc. lay gathering dust, perhaps some items are still there. The proprietor, Charles Woodhead, was initiated into the Lodge in 1885.
SOURCE: UML V21 N06, page 91-100