Freemasonry in Stafford can be traced back to 1814 when the Lodge of Fortitude, No 652,
was constituted at a meeting held at the White Lion Inn in Forebridge. Four years later
it moved to the Three Tuns.
In 1832 the Lodge number was amended to No 472 and a year later the name of the lodge
was changed to Royal Chartley Lodge of Fortitude and had 12 officers, 12 members, 22
initiates and two joining members. A busy time followed: five meetings were held in August
and in September one meeting started on a Sunday and was followed by meetings on the
Monday, Tuesdayand Thursday of that week. The Worshipful Master at the time lived in
Rugeley and the Treasurer’s book records claims, which were met, for
coach hire and a glass of wine for each of the meetings!
September 10, 1833, was an eventful day for Freemasonry in Stafford when a Foundation Stone
for a Masonic Hall was laid in County Road and according to a report in the Staffordshire
Advertiser some 20,000 people watched the ceremony carried out by the Provincial Grand
Master of Staffordshire, Right Worshipful Brother Lord Ferrers.
Arrangements had been made to buy the land at a rate of £1 a week during the lifetime of
“an aged and decrepit widow.” As soon as the contract was signed she regained her full health
and strength and more than £700 was subsequently paid to her.
A few years later the plan was abandoned and it was not until 1953 that Stafford Masons found
a new permanent home when the present Masonic Hall, a former Methodist Chapel was
dedicated to Freemasonry in a ceremony on March 31, by the then provincial Grand Master of
Staffordshire, Right Worshipful Brother, Colonel, the Earl of Dartmouth with 148 members in
There was an attempt in 1938 to find a permanent home for Stafford Freemasons when a joint committee was set up by the two existing lodges, Staffordshire Knot and Izaak Walton to consider building a purpose built and designed Masonic Hall. A site in Friars Road, adjacent to the former King Edward V1 Grammar School was identified as suitable and was secured when two members each put up a £25 deposit towards the £2,000 costs. The scheme was quietly dropped as World War 2 approached.
The first meeting of a Masonic lodge at the Gaol Square Masonic Hall was held, on April 15, 1953, which ended 70 years of Stafford Freemasons meeting at the Swan Hotel in Greengate Street. Before the meetings in the Long Room at the Swan, they met at various hostelries around the town including The White Hart Inn, the Three Tuns, the Grand Junction Hotel and the North Western Hotel.
Purchasing the present property was made possible by a generous gift in the will of Worshipful Brother C H Turkington who died in April 1933 when he left the sum of £11,440.8s.9d. (More than £500,000 today) a plaque in the dining room references the gift and a small meeting room at the rear of the Temple, which also doubles up as a changing room for senior Freemasons on Lodge nights, is called the Turkington Room.
The wood panelling, known as Oak Heidelburg Panelling and the organ in the temple are of particular historical interest. The panelling came from Alton Old Hall and was donated by the Earl of Shrewsbury. The age of the organ is yet to be fully researched but it has been ascertained that in 1952 a clean and overhaul was carried out by Jardines of Manchester at a cost of £182 and the blower was moved for an additional sum of £90 which it is thought included fitting a new blower.
Today some 15 different Freemasons Lodges meet at Gaol Square and they include three Stafford based lodges, the Staffordshire Knot Lodge, No 726 (in the register of the United Grand Lodge of England) which was consecrated on October 6, 1858, the Izaak Walton Lodge, No 4281, consecrated on September 14, 1921, and Chartley Lodge, No 7569, which was consecrated on March 7, 1958. Two other craft lodges which have members from across the Staffordshire Province also meet regularly at Stafford. They are the Staffordshire Past Masters Lodge, Foster Gough Lodge, No 2706, which was consecrated on March 25, 1898, and the Staffordshire Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge, No 9567, which was consecrated on November 30, 1994.
A number of what are known as side order Masonic Lodges also meet regularly at the Hall, the Hall is also available to hire for private functions and for
TV / Film location.