White Ensign Lodge No. 9169 (regulated by the United Grand Lodge of England) meets at Redditch Masonic hall, five times a year on the last Friday of January, March, May, and October, and on the first Friday of December (Installation).
At the October Lodge Meeting, we celebrate the Battle of Trafalgar and traditionally have a large number of fraternal visitors. We normally finish our meetings by 20:00 and then move to the bar for a traditional tot, enter the Mess Deck and dine in style enjoying the company of our members and visitors.
Founded as a Naval Lodge in late 1985, the Lodge now has members with links to all branches of the armed services or who have served under the Crown – criteria. White Ensign Lodge is a proud member of the Circuit of Service Lodges.
Raising the White Ensign
White Ensign Lodge, as the name and the references to seafaring suggest, was consecrated as a Naval Lodge, in December 1985. It all started when Charles Shave, a Royal Navy Artificer used to travel from the Midlands with a couple of ‘shipmates’ to the Installation at his mother White Ensign Lodge in Gillingham, Kent. He formed the idea of creating a White Ensign lodge closer to home, and the Province of Worcestershire was happy for it to drop anchor in the Province.
In the event, there were 17 founders. The requirement from the start was that Brethren should have served in any rank, in the Royal Navy or the Royal Marines for a minimum of 12 months. The voyage got off to a great start, with new Brethren recruited from the Nautical Services Club based in Birmingham. But more recently we have broadened the scope to include any Brother who has served under the Crown and that includes civil servants. We also welcome initiates who have a connection – for example, the son of a former serviceman or who has served under the Crown.
All members wear a White Ensign pin badge – but ‘Special Reservists’ (permanently invited guests) receive a certificate and wear a Red Ensign pin. But everyone is welcome whatever badge they wear: we are Brethren, after all, look out for each other and collectively do a huge amount for charity, particularly service and local charities.
The Lodge originally met, oddly, on the first working day of the fifth week at Kings Heath, which began to prove difficult to schedule. In 2012, the Lodge set sail for Redditch, where it now meets on the last Friday of January, March, May, and October and the first Friday in December for the Installation.
Not every brother may have served in the RN or RM, but the Lodge follows many Naval traditions. We raise and lower the Ensign to a bugle call at the opening and closing of the Lodge, for example. And when we move to the Mess Deck (to landlubbers, the Festive Board) we start with a tot of rum – so you may be sure we are going to enjoy ourselves in the best Naval tradition. Order is kept using a ship’s bell while a Master at Arms issues 50p fines for errors in the Lodge Room and misbehavior at the Festive Board!
Our social events are a lot of fun too, not least Trafalgar Night, when the Mess Deck is dressed overall with bunting and it’s fair to say, we really push the boat out. Similarly, we enjoy Burn’s Night and, in April, a triple event of revelry when we will celebrate St. George’s Night, Shakespeare’s birthday, and the start of the asparagus season. We have a Golf Society and the ‘White Ensign Tourist Society’ – which aims to visit all of the Naval and Royal Marine Lodges in the country. Then there’s Ladies’ Night, a dinner cruise on the Avon, a Spring lunch, and much more.”
It’s clear that White Ensign Lodge is extremely lively and has a healthy membership of 40.
White Ensign Lodge is always looking to the future and encourages new members to join us, particularly those who have served under the Crown in any capacity and are looking to rekindle the camaraderie and esprit de corps that they enjoy or enjoyed during their service life.