Lodge Murdostoun Castle No.1096

Charter granted 2nd November 1911

REGULAR MEETINGS - 2nd & 4th Tuesday from September to April, Except December 2nd Tues only

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The History of our Lodge

Whilst officially the history of Lodge Murdostoun Castle began with the granting of our Charter on 2nd November 1911, the planning and ground work leading up to this memorable occasion began some time beforehand, and forms an integral part of the Lodge’s history, as do the events which followed the Consecration ceremony.

The Brethren who formed the Lodge must have had an eye for posterity, as the minutes of the many foundation meetings were carefully preserved.

The formation of the new Lodge
For some time, there had been a feeling amongst several Brethren in the district that Freemasonry would be advanced by the foundation of a Lodge in Cleland.  As often as it was discussed, the idea began to form deeper and stronger roots. A meeting would have to be held to sound out opinion.

Notice of this meeting being duly advised by postcard to all known interested Brethren, some 30 Brethren attended a meeting in the Co-operative Hall on 30th August 1911, to discuss the formation of a Lodge in Cleland.

After some discussion with Dr Lithgow acting as Chairman, it was agreed to form a deputation to approach Bro Col R. K. Stewart, to determine if he would support us in our venture to form a new Lodge, with Rev Duncan Cameron as the proposed Founding Master.

Colonel Stewart, as the Provincial Grand Master, agreed immediately, intimating that he would actively pursue the matter both in Provincial Grand Lodge, and with Grand Lodge in Edinburgh.    

His delight at the new Lodge being named after the house in which he lived was obvious.  He advised the Brethren that they should seek to obtain the sponsorship of the Master and Wardens of Lodges in the surrounding area, that these Lodges should thus show support for the venture.

This was duly carried out and Lodge St. John, Dalzell, Motherwell No 406, Lodge St. Clair, Cambusnethan No 427 and Lodge Robert King Stewart, New Stevenston No 919 became our three Sponsor Lodges.

The petition to Grand Lodge was duly signed on 13th October 1911, the founder members raising the sum of ten guineas for the Charter, which was granted by Grand Lodge on 2nd November 1911.  The sum raised was treated as a loan by the members, and was ultimately repaid in May 1913.

A Committee was formed to secure clothing, furniture, books and other requisite items for the new Lodge, and those present agreed that the Lodge colours would be Royal Blue.  Meetings were to be held fortnightly commencing on Tuesday 26th December 1911, following the Lodge consecration on 13th December.

As we can imagine, this was a period of great activity for the Brethren, and as the day of Consecration drew closer, the activity grew even more intense.  The first items of furniture, the Altar and the Charity Box, were provided. Offers of wine and corn, the use of Cornucopia, Cups, and Candlesticks were all forthcoming. 
Finally, the great day arrived.

On Wednesday 13th December 1911, a large and distinguished deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lanarkshire (Middle Ward), headed by Bro Col Robert King Stewart, was received into the Co-operative Hall, Cleland for the purpose of the Erection and Consecration of Lodge Murdostoun Castle.  The ceremonial work was carried out with great dignity by the members of Provincial Grand Lodge, and Bro Rev Duncan Cameron was installed as the first Right Worshipful Master of our Lodge.

Lodge Murdostoun Castle was now formally in existence.

The Early Years of the Lodge

The first candidates for Freemasonry were initiated on 6th February 1912.  On this occasion seven gentlemen were initiated, more than is allowed today.  In today’s world, many Lodges have difficulty having one candidate for initiation, far less to have seven available.

As with all new Lodges, the great interest evinced by the gentlemen of the local district was shown in the large numbers of candidates who were initiated in these early years.

As a new Lodge, many of the early meetings were opened by visiting Right Worshipful Masters and Past Masters, largely due to the relative inexperience of the new office bearers.  So from the very beginning we were blessed with a constant stream of visitors, which continues today, and will hopefully continue far into the future.  Fraternal intervisits with other Lodges in the Province, which are so enjoyed by all Brethren, got off to an excellent start, with the first visitation in to Cleland on 5th February 1912 by Lodge St. John, Dalzell No. 406.

In April 1912, the first Mark Master degree was conferred by the Hamilton branch of the Scottish Masonic Veterans.  On that occasion there were fourteen candidates, including our own RWM Bro Rev Duncan Cameron.

It was also in 1912 that the Lodge held it first special meeting to accommodate a candidate who was home on leave from Mexico, the first of many of our Lodge Brethren who are scattered throughout the four quarters of the globe. 

The difficulties of travel in those days speak volumes for the dedication of a Brother desirous of having Lodge Murdostoun Castle as his Mother Lodge.
In December of the same year, all RWMs and Past Masters who had graciously agreed to officiate throughout the year were made Honorary Members of the Lodge, as, in a small way, a ‘thank you’ to all those visiting Brethren who had taken such a deep interest in the formation of a Lodge.   This custom of rewarding Masonic excellence and dedication is still in force today.

In these early years, many of the Lodge ornaments, which are still in use today, were donated.  These charitable gifts being greatly appreciated by the Brethren as they helped immensely in aiding the fund raising efforts required to properly furnish the lodge.

The War Years

In the dark years of both the First and Second World Wars, we had many Brethren serving in HM Forces.  During these times, the Brethren still at home organised collections and charity functions to provide some home comforts for our Brethren amongst the troops, and to let them know that they were constantly in our thoughts.  Sadly many of our Brothers were called to eternal refreshment during these years, whilst they suffered in the atrocious conditions of trench warfare.

Of those who survived to return to their Mother Lodge, all spoke most highly of the support the gifts from the Brethren gave to them.  Charity, as a cornerstone of Brotherly Love, was, and still is, much in evidence in our Lodge, though perhaps the work which we do is done much too quietly. Perhaps we should tell the world the true meaning of charity.

In the late 1920s and into the middle ‘30s, the Lodge, like many in our area of Scotland, suffered its way through the depression in the inter-war years.  Candidates were few and far between, as, for many years, were the meetings.  Only the unstinting dedication and devotion of a handful of Brethren kept our Lodge alive.

As the Second War ended, the Lodge suffered the saddest of losses with the death of the reigning RWM James Connor after an illness.

As with all things, Life and Death are intermingled, and it was during this post war period that the fortunes of the Lodge dramatically improved.

The Brethren returning home from the horrors of war found sanctuary and comfort in the Teachings and Tenets of our Craft, and many new members were added to our Membership roll. Freemasonry once more flourished strongly in Cleland, so that, in 1947, serious consideration was given to changing our premises.

The coming of Change

In March of that year investigations were initiated to determine the feasibility of holding our meetings in the Colville Memorial Hall.  In April, all clear members of the Lodge were summoned to discuss the notice of motion regarding a change of premises.  At the meeting, after much discussion, the motion was passed unopposed, and after 34 years our first permanent change of location was effected, with the first meeting in our new premises held on 9th September 1947.

As the years passed by in the Colville Hall, the Social activities of the Lodge were reborn, much to the delight of the Brethren and culminated with the celebration of our Fiftieth anniversary rededication ceremony and dinner in 1961.  Our Lodge was alive and well and expounding the beauties of Freemasonry throughout our district.

Some eleven years after we moved to the Colville Hall, the Lodge received notice from the Church of Scotland that, due to the increased requirements of the various Church organisations which were also growing in stature like the Lodge, the full use of the Colville Hall was now required to support them. Consequently, the Lodge would require to seek alternative accommodation within the next twelve months.  Doubtless this message was greeted with some trepidation by the Brethren.  Where could we go? We were now homeless.

But we are a hardy lot in Cleland, and thrive on challenges. Thoughts immediately turned to the building of new Lodge premises, to which Provincial Grand Lodge was agreeable.  Suitable premises were soon found at Thistle Street in Cleland, and negotiations for purchase were commenced.  In the meantime, offers of assistance were received from all the surrounding Lodges to support us during this transitional period.

Thus the Brethren of Lodge St. Mary Coltness No 31 became our temporary landlords, having agreed to allow us the use of their Temple, and we held our first meeting there on 3rd September 1963.

From this time through to 1966, the Lodge was very active in trying to raise the necessary funds to purchase our present premises, and by late 1964 had the plans approved by the Brethren.

During this time of crisis, the Lodge recorded with deep sorrow, the death of Bro T. Johnstone, our last surviving founder member.  Would that he could have lived to see the results of all of our work.

As the years passed and the funds grew, the Brethren rallied round to provide the skills and the labour required to complete the new Temple, and soon it was completed and ready for dedication.

On the first Saturday in September 1971, a large and most distinguished deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lanarkshire, Middle Ward, headed by the provincial Grand Master Bro Kenneth O. Byers was received into the new Temple.

The ceremonial work of dedicating our Temple was carried out by the members of Provincial Grand Lodge in a most dignified manner, much to the appreciation of the many members of Lodge Murdostoun Castle present.

Since then, the Lodge has continued to grow in Masonic stature, and in size.  We have added a lounge, new toilet facilities and, in 1981, a complete new roof to the building. The building is now almost the way we would like it to look.  Some future historian will doubtless record the changes which we will make to our temple as we continue to grow and prosper.

To sum up, Lodge Murdostoun Castle has had a mixture of fortune during the last 100 years.  Some bad times, but mostly good times, some distinguished Brethren, and hundreds upon hundreds of good, honest, dedicated Masons have been initiated, passed and raised in our Temple. 

We look forward with anticipation to the next 100 years, and the pleasure of being part of the continuing enlargement of our Masonic family.

May this Lodge of ours continue to flourish, and to spread the tenets of Morality, Virtue and Brotherly Love to all in the world around us.

Centenary Update.

25 Years have passed by since the Lodge history was written for our 75th Anniversary, and in this our Centenary year an update would be useful.

Shortly after our history was first published, the celebrations of our 75th Anniversary culminated in a quite magnificent Anniversary Ball held in Carluke District Hall in October 1986.  It was a very pleasing occasion and many of the ties which unite us all were strengthened and enhanced.

As we now reach our hundredth year and our 1146th candidate works through his degrees in this our Centenary year, how he will wonder at the progress made since we began in November 1911.  Many more names have been added to our illustrious roll of our Past Masters and they continue to be the backbone of the Lodge.  Our premises are steadily changing with increased and improved facilities whenever we can afford the change.

Like our Temple, the world is also changing, though in its case not always for the better.  Much of central Scotland is devoid of traditional industry, and unemployment is at levels not seen for much of the last century.  The fabric of our society is somewhat frayed at the edges, and morality seems to be a rare element today.

Yet this Craft of ours continues to provide a haven for the faithful.  There is still a place where the troubles of the neutral world are excluded; where Love and Friendship and Harmony still flourish.   Long may it continue.

Candidates may be few, but they still come, and we continue to take great pleasure in them.  To enlighten the mind of a new Brother to the truest tenets of our Craft is a privilege beyond price.

During the last few years two Pillars of the Lodge demitted office after serving as Lodge Secretary and Treasurer for over 30 years each, in the persons of Bro. John Wood and Bro. John J Campbell, both Past Masters of the Lodge.   Both brethren have certainly ‘marked well’ in the service of their Lodge and epitomise what is best in our noble craft.

Over all of the years since we began, one of the strongest principles of our craft that we hold dear is Charity.  We have supported both Masonic and non–Masonic charities, locally and further afield; Guide Dogs for the blind, Capability Scotland and CLIC Sargent to name but three.   It is the intention of the Lodge to continue to carry on with charitable work.

As we enter our second century of Masonic life, we wonder what the future holds, for us individually and for our beloved Craft.    God knows.    And He will, in the fullness of time, reveal His plans for us.

This brief history has allowed us to cast a backward glance at where we have been, and what we have achieved.  Now is the time to look forward to the challenges of an unknown future.  A time for reliance on the depth of our Faith, and our trust in the simple, straightforward beauty of the teachings of Freemasonry.

To you my reader, I deliver a simple message.     Trust in God and do the right.  Let us all be Upstanding Brethren, and show that cynical and less than perfect world just who we are and what we are.

May our Craft flourish in every quarter of the globe.  God bless you.

Bro James Finlay PM, Historian, November 2011



My sincere thanks to the following Brethren for all their assistance in the creation of this history of my Mother Lodge.

Bro William T. Somerville P.M.    for his foresight in starting the collection of historical information

Bro John Wood P.M.       for his unending support in the interpretation of Lodge minutes

Bro David Craig PM Lodge Almoner   for his special assistance in the layout of this document

And all other Brethren who helped with individual details, anecdotes from the past, and generally a wealth of information which was invaluable to me.

Bro James Finlay P.M.     Historian to the 100th Anniversary Committee


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