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AlfredThe history of Freemasonry in Alfreton is most fascinating, beginning with an initial presence in 1864 when the Royal Alfred Lodge No 1028 was established by three worthy men Mr George Cressy Hall, an Attorney, who resided at Swanwick Grange, Mr Thomas Horsley, described as a gentleman of Pinxton Old Hall and Mr William Wilson, who was a member of a distinguished family of bankers and lawyers.  These three Freemasons joined the fraternity in 1862 at Belper, under the banner of Beaureper Lodge No 787 and later, with the assistance of their members and also Tyrian Lodge No 253 members from Derby, formed Royal Alfred Lodge at Alfreton on 13th August 1864.  Initially the Lodge experienced some difficulty in its first ten years of existence and at times it seemed doubtful whether interest was sufficient to keep it going.  The average attendance at that time per meeting was 8 Freemasons – a meal costing 4s.6d (was this something to do with the lack of support?!).

As the years passed by, the Lodge continued to make progress as a result of the valuable membership of many worthy citizens of Alfreton and the surrounding villages.  One sign of the advent of modern facilities resulted in the Lodge members passing a resolution altering the date of the monthly meetings from the Tuesday nearest the full moon to the third Tuesday in the month. It must be presumed that the conditions of travel to the Lodge had so improved that the illumination of a full moon was no longer required!

Since the consecration of Royal Alfred Lodge the local George Hotel remained the venue for the meetings until 1901 and after an amicable parting due to extensive rebuilding works, The Angel Hotel offered alternative accommodation and remained the Lodge’s home for the next 20 years.  The George Hotel, however, still provided facilities for the festive board (meal) after each meeting and the annual installation banquet was held at the Assembly Rooms on Chesterfield Road, Alfreton.  In December 1914 the Lodge was 50 years old, but did not celebrate its Golden Jubilee until the following February.  Alfreton still retained its position as a market town and trading centre in the district, but the coal mining influence had grown considerably.  Alfreton Colliery was now in full production and many past members came from the mining industry.  Despite the clouds of the First World War, its Golden Jubilee was celebrated on 16th February 1915 and in the austere times it was still possible to enjoy a celebratory dinner at a cost of 3s.6d.  However, during the period of the War austerity was the rule and during the period of the German Blockage no refreshment whatsoever was offered after Lodge meetings.  After World War I a considerable increase in membership was enjoyed and it became necessary to form an additional Lodge in Alfreton.  This increased interest resulted in the Vulcan Lodge No 4382 being formed 6th December 1921.  This Lodge was sponsored by members of Royal Alfred Lodge and referred to as ‘the Daughter Lodge’.  Vulcan Lodge also used the same premises and festive board facilities as Royal Alfred and followed in their footsteps.

Royal Alfred Lodge No 1028 Masonic HallOn 16th May 1922 Royal Alfred left The Angel Hotel and obtained a lease to a building owned by a brewery company opposite the George Hotel on Chesterfield Road and carried out its meetings and ceremonies there right up and until the Masonic Hall, formerly the Abraham Lincoln Library, was purchased for Masonic use in 1971.

The outbreak of World War II in 1939 caused Royal Alfred to temporarily transfer to Ripley Town Hall, a Lodge room used by Okeover Lodge No 1324, as their guests.  The premises at Alfreton being requisitioned by the Military Authorities.  Due to the wartime blackout a dispensation was given in 1941 and subsequent years, for the Lodge to meet during July, August and September and recess during the winter months.  The last meeting at Ripley Town Hall was conducted June 1946 and following the lifting of the requisition order Royal Alfred returned to their home in Alfreton.  Difficulties thereafter arose with catering facilities and eventually a Lodge member, Clem Hill, came to the rescue.  From June 1948 meals were provided and enjoyed at Hill’s Cafe on High Street, Alfreton.  The ensuing development of the Lodge was maintained with meetings being held at the Chesterfield Road premises, followed by meals at Hill’s Cafe on High Street.  In 1958 the lease of the Lodge premises was renewed for a further 15 years, but it was feared that road widening proposals would have an effect on the building’s use. Due to this fact a building fund was started in 1959 by Members to prepare for possible alternative accommodation. Fortunately the Lodge’s use of the building was secured by signing a further 15 year lease with the Brewery Company and in 1961 a considerable refurbishment of the Lodge room was carried out to eradicate woodworm.

_MG_7255Following major improvements the Rev W C Spooner presented Royal Alfred Lodge with 11 beautiful carved oak chairs, which are still lovingly used today and take pride of place within the Masonic Hall on Derby Road.

Royal Alfred No 1028 remains, not only the oldest, but also a very successful Lodge here at Alfreton.  It is due to the tremendous foresight of the early members of Royal Alfred that the other Lodges of St Thomas, Vulcan and Morcar exist today at Alfreton. These four Craft Lodges enjoy use of the Abraham Lincoln Library Building, together with other Masonic Degrees.

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