Fringe Box



Focus On Weybourne House and Masonic Lodges

Published on: 28 Feb, 2012
Updated on: 28 Feb, 2012

By David Rose

The South West Surrey Masonic Centre near Guildford town centre is tucked away off Hitherbury Close, between the Portsmouth Road and the River Wey. The following facts about it and the adjoining Willow Reach (formerly Weybourne House) are from a Masonic information leaflet.

The entrance to the South West Surrey Masonic Centre.

Weybourne House was built in 1897 and was used as a Roman Catholic girls’ school.

In about 1937, this large detached building became Weybourne School and Children’s Guest House.

Picture postcard view of Weybourne House from the 1900s.

The masons purchased the house in 1948 for use as a lodge.

Prior to this, Masonic lodges and chapters meeting in Guildford had no permanent or satisfactory meeting place that they could call their own.

Local hotels, inns, halls and restaurants were all used.

Among these were the Lion Hotel, Angel Hotel, Castle Inn, the Borough Halls, Holy Trinity Hall, Ward Street Hall, Constitutional Hall, Brett’s and Abbot’s Kitchen restaurant, most of which no longer exist.

In 2004-5, the current meeting place for freemasons, known as the South West Surrey Masonic Centre, was built and Weybourne House was converted into high-quality masionettes. It is now known as Willow Reach.

Freemasonry is the UK’s largest fraternal and charitable organisation. It has some 300,000 members in about 8,000 lodges.

Its origin is lost in the mists of time, but the earliest recorded ‘making’ of a freemason in England is that of Elias Ashmole in 1646.

Organised freemasonry began with the founding of the Great Lodge of England in 1717.

The object of freemasonry is to take good men who, by assisting together, can help to improve each other and strive to attain high moral standards in life, to the best of one’s ability, based on friendship and fulfilment.

Traditionally, freemasonry has been restricted to men, probably because the early stonemasons were all male, but there are two grand lodges in England that are restricted to women only.

Most lodges meet between four and eight times a year and conclude with a dinner.

There are instruction meetings at which ceremonies of initiation, promotion and installation as a ‘master’ are rehearsed and learned.

There is a strong charitable side to freemasonry. Through optional individual contributions, UK masons donate considerable sums of money to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities.

A number of lodges use the South West Surrey Masonic Centre.

The former Weybourne House, now called Willow Reach. 

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