The first Freemasons Lodge in the area was The Vale of White Horse Lodge (No. 1770) founded at Faringdon in 1878; it has regularly met, without interruption, since that year.
It was founded by masons of The Abbey Lodge at Abingdon (No. 945 - founded in 1863), with the support of several other lodges in the area, most notably of The Royal Sussex Lodge of Emulation at Swindon (No. 355 – founded in 1818).
Its consecration and dedication on 31 October 1878 was an event in which great interest was shown by local population with a full account of the proceedings appearing in the local newspaper.
Its first meeting place was in the Faringdon Savings Bank premises, now the Council Offices at the town centre end of Gloucester Street, and the title of the bank can still just be made out on the carved headstone lintel of the door.
Since then meetings have been held in various locations, even in a garage in the Second World War when the present Masonic Hall was requisitioned by the military.
The present Masonic Hall in Gloucester Street was formerly a Methodist Chapel and was purchased in 1921, together with the adjoining three cottages which were very soon after sold off to reduce the debt of the purchase.
In 1974 the Ashdown Lodge (No. 8592) was founded as a “daughter” lodge of The Vale of White Horse Lodge and in 1984 the Vale of White Horse Chapter (No. 1770) was also founded.
Membership has always been broadly based, encompassing a variety of occupations and the first meeting approved the applications of a surgeon, butcher and a corn merchant and that diversity of our members continues today.
We are not, as commonly supposed, a secret society nor are we a religion. However, we do require a member to have a belief in God. This belief is not restricted to any particular faith and we hold all men to be equal in their spiritual belief as they are in life.
If you are curious about membership of Freemasonry or perhaps have a family connection which has lapsed in some way, we can help.