W Bro Andy Hardie SLGR and W Bro John Gray LGR describe this celebration

Snaresbrook Lodge No 4010 celebrated its Centenary at a meeting held at its regular meeting place of Freemasons’ Hall, on Thursday 27th February 2020. The Lodge’ s Centenary W orshipful Master W Bro Alan Cooper SLGR welcomed the Metropolitan Grand Lodge delegation headed by VW Bro Richard Greenhill PGSwdB, Assistant Metropolitan Grand Master.

To regular users of the Central Line Snaresbrook will be a familiar name to travellers heading in the direction of Epping . T oday Snaresbrook is an affluent outer London suburb but in 1870-72 John Marius Wilson’s Imperial Gazetteer described Snaresbrook as follows:

“Snaresbrook a village in Wanstead Parish, Essex in Epping Forest adjacent to the Ongar Railway, Seven and one half miles North East of St Paul’s, London. It has a station with telegraph, on the railway. The Infant Orphan Asylum for 700 children, and the Merchant Seamen’ s Orphan Asylum for 130 boys and 75 girls are here; the former built in 1843, the latter in 1862-3. The latter stands on a plot of 20 acres; exhibits a splendour of architecture almost palatial; and is capable of extension as to accommodate 400 children.”

The name of Snaresbrook in its present form is believed to have been firstly recorded in the year 1599; its first part is of uncertain origin, although could be connected with the use of snares for trapping animals in Epping Forest. The stream that gave the village the latter part of its name is no longer visible above ground unfortunately.

We know that after the First World War there were in the region of 350 Lodges established by brethren wishing to preserve the camaraderie that had helped sustain them through the horrors of that conflict in which P TSD , as we now know it, was yet to be formally recognised. Of course, a large number of those Lodges established after the Great War had regimental connections. Indeed, six members of Snaresbrook Lodge are also members of the Borough of Finsbury Lodge No 3901 which celebrated its Centenary in March 2019. Finsbury owes its establishment to members of the 2nd/6th County Regiment of London Finsbury Volunteers.

Snaresbrook Lodge owes its establishment to a group of men who served both their County and Country in the Special
Constabulary in the Wanstead and Leytonstone area during World War One. This gave them a deep spirit of comradeship, and as some were already Brethren they decided, when the time for disbandment came, that they would form a Lodge to continue the bond and into which the others, if they wished, could be woven.

Unlike in World War Two, which saw the establishment of the Home Guard; the organisation of home defence in World War One centred on the police. There were just 450 men in the Essex Constabulary in 1914, and so Special Constables were recruited to help with wartime duties and large numbers of men volunteered. As an example, in the Southend area, in 1914 there were 120 men in the Special Constabulary which had increased to 571 in 1915. It is worthy of mention that Special Constables, who were only paid expenses, did not have uniforms, only armbands, and were equipped with a length of rope to use as handcuffs. It was 1915 before they were issued with torches. The Special Constables were to be instrumental in drawing up plans for the evacuation of civilians in case of any invasion and would have been responsible for implementing the plans had any invasion come to pass.

The following poem was written by Special Constable 353 (unfortunately , his name was not recorded), and reflects the duties of the Special Constables, which included guarding installations liable to attack or sabotage, such as bridges, reservoirs, and lighting works. They also enforced blackout rules and had duties during air raids, and were empowered to stop and challenge anyone they considered to be acting suspiciously.

The New Year Bells are ringing A note of peace to all
And soon the poor red Specials will have their final call
No more the Hooters Siren
will sound its shrilling screams No more the Generals whistle will rouse us from our dreams No more in icy blackness
the Reservoir to guard
Or tramping round the viaduct and the smelling railway yard No more in midnight watched we wait the Zeppelin’ s hum
Or watch the bursting shrapnel as the raiding Gothas come
No more our worthy Sergeant will send us out at night
To watch and ward the Borough and see the lights too bright
We may not get a medal
we cannot win VC
We have only done our duty without reward or fee.

The Summons for the Lodge Meeting held in October 1922, notes that there were items to raise two of five brethren, to pass one and initiate two.
Given today’s preference is for these ceremonies to be personally and solely experienced, we probably would not wish to emulate them, but it illustrates the level of effort that the WMs, PMs. and officers must have committed to in those early days to increase and maintain the strength of the new Lodge.

History of course commends us to look forward whilst reflecting on the past. It is difficult for any Lodge celebrating its Centenary, and especially so for any small Lodge, to contemplate its medium-term future let alone the next 100 years.

The closing words of the Oration at the Consecration of Snaresbrook Lodge were “May the Brethren carry out the principles of the Order in their own lives and teach them persuasively to all those whom they will initiate into the great institution to which we all belong”. This was the aim of the founders and it remains that of the present Brethren of the Lodge going enthusiastically forward.

The Festive Board was held at the Grand Connaught Rooms where 45 diners enjoyed an excellent five course meal.

The comments made by guests reflect the successful aspirations of the Lodge for the celebration of its very special day.

“An excellent occasion made by the way everyone entered into the spirit of the day with such friendship, warmth and kindness".

"Thanks for the hospitality of the Lodge. You have a fantastic Lodge with Brethren who clearly enjoy both their Masonry and each other's company".

"It was good to be reminded what a lovely group of chaps you are in Snaresbrook Lodge. The members could not have made me and the other guests more welcome".

This article is part of the Arena Magazine, Issue 40 April 2020 edition.
Arena Magazine is the official magazine of the London Freemasons - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London.

Read more articles in the Arena Issue 40 here.