Freemasonry in Croydon has a history going back over 200 years playing an important part of the history of Freemasonry in England and of the community in Croydon itself.
In 1758 Patriotic Lodge was the first Masonic Lodge to be founded in Croydon. The Lodge held its meetings in The Greyhound Hotel which stood in the High Street. A pub by the same name remained in Croydon until the 1980’s and became the home to many gigs by bands and artists who would become world-famous including David Bowie. Patriotic Lodge was soon joined by Royal Mecklenburgh Lodge which moved from London to Croydon in 1784. Both found going difficult, as by 1822, they had folded. In 1838 Fredrick Lodge of Unity was founded in Croydon, which is still going strong today.
Crescamus Lodge was founded in 1961 adding to the traditions of Freemasonry in Croydon.
Asylum for Aged, Worthy and Decayed Freemasons
If you have wondered around the streets near East Croydon, you will have stumbled upon Freemasons Road and the large and imposing red brick Victorian building that sits next to the main railway line to East Croydon.
In 1831 that the idea of an Asylum for Worthy, Aged, and Decayed Freemasons was first proposed. Once funds were raised and a site identified, the official opening took place in August 1850 under the auspices of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution “with great ceremony”. The building had 40 rooms for elderly Freemasons.
This hidden gem of Croydon later changed its name to the Royal Masonic Asylum and remained there until 1955. The need for bigger premises was then identified and a new home opened in Hove, East Sussex.
Croydon council bought the premises to use as an old people home and six years later it was reopened and named Davidson Lodge. By 1973 the property was in a poor state and to prevent its demolition it was made a Grade II listed building. The accommodation was improved in 1981 when it was converted to 36 bedsits.
There were further conversions and improvements in 1983. Two years later Age Concern became tenants of the central hall, which they named the Joyce Grant Centre. They left in 1998. The hall remained empty until CNCA took up residence in 2001.
Croydon and District Masonic Hall
Saint George’s Presbyterian Church, Croydon, began as a temporary iron church situated on Oakfield Road. By 1865 a permanent church had been constructed. However, membership numbers dropped and the church closed by 1940. During the second world war it became a store for Oxo, but after the war damaged in air raids the building fell out of use.
Freemasonry in Croydon was without a permanent home. Lodges made use of function rooms in pubs, hotels and restaurants to hold their meetings and for dining afterwards. In 1947, the building was put up for sale, Freemasons in Croydon quickly raised the deposit and transforming the derelict building into Croydon and District Masonic Halls with Temples, dining and committee rooms.
In 2017 Croydon and District Masonic Halls will celebrate its 70th Anniversary.
Further Links to Freemasonry in Croydon
The wonderful Museum of Croydon located in the Clocktower at the Town Hall is an amazing place, full of many local artefacts including many related to Freemasonry in Croydon. One such item is a Masonic Firing Glass. Dating from 1865, the glass would have been used at dinners following Masonic meetings. The glass has a solid base and is engraved with Masonic symbols from the Holy Royal Arch.
One last link between Freemasonry in Croydon was The Freemasons Tavern. The pub which stood on Penge Road from at least 1869 before closing in 2002 and being converted into flats.
If you know of other connections between Croydon and Freemasonry, why don’t you let us know?