Masonic Buildings - Daylesford Masonic Centre & its Craft Lodge

(Lodge of Evolution took its annual trip, this year to Daylesford, on Saturday 6 October with a large group of family and friends. Meeting at the Masonic Centre, we discovered a well kept and historic building, the pride of local Freemasons. Images are taken from our trip and edited text from the FMV website.)

The Lodge operating today as the Mt Franklin-St George Lodge No 12 (UGLV) was founded on 10 September 1857 as Mt Franklin Lodge of Hiram and Lodge of St. George on 29 April 1889. Lodge No12 continues to meet at the Daylesford Masonic Centre. These two Lodges merged in 1943.

Meetings of local Freemasons were held from April 1857 with the view to establish the Mt Franklin Lodge of Hiram. Subsequently a petition was sent to the Provincial Grand Master and a Warrant issued and the Lodge was numbered 1018EC.

The inauguration of Mt Franklin Lodge of Hiram took place at Daylesford on 10 September 1857. The members conducted their meetings at the Freemasons Hotel which is now the Royal Hotel until the Masonic Hall was built in Bridgeport Street Daylesford. Lodge meetings were held on the first Thursday on or before a full moon in every month. Holding meetings on the full moon was a common practice, because navigating the streets and tracks of a diggings township, dark at night, could and did lead to deaths and injury due to the hazard of numerous and often abandoned mine shafts into which people accidently fell. As time passed the holes were filled in and street lighting appeared, but the custom of meeting on these nights remained until 1937.

The gold rush brought a substantial increase in population, prosperity and vibrancy to Daylesford and a meeting was held in 1886 in the Mayor's Room at the Town Hall to consider forming a second Masonic Lodge, the Lodge of St George. On 29 April 1887 the Lodge was constituted and consecrated by WBro Taafe. The Lodge was numbered 2213EC until 1889 when the Lodge was then numbered 123 VC and then 119 VC until amalgamation. Meetings were held at the Council Chambers at a cost of £1 and continued there until the present Lodge was built in Vincent Street.

Mt Franklin Lodge of Hiram No.12 VC and Daylesford Lodge of St. George No. 112 VC amalgamated in 1943. The first joint meeting of both lodges was long before on 11 November 1919, the first anniversary of Armistice Day.

The Lodge of Hiram initially met at the Freemasons Hotel which is now the Royal Hotel in Daylesford, then the Masonic Hall in Bridport Street Daylesford until in 1920 when the new Lodge was built in 1920. The Lodge continues to meet at the Vincent Street site. The St. George Lodge initially met in the Council Chambers until the new Masonic Hall was built in Vincent Street and eventually amalgamated with the Lodge of Hiram in 1943 to become the Mt Franklin St George Lodge No. 12 VC.

The Lodge makes regular donations of scholarships to the local high school as well as all the primary schools within the area. Donations are also given in support of the Grand Master's Appeals and many other worthy causes. Donations have been given to the CFA for the purchase of radio equipment. Christmas hampers are also distributed to those people who are in need. During the winter months Lodge members also distribute firewood to the elderly who are in need.

The Lodge has an active social committee and some events include a night at the trots in Ballarat, The Lodge’s Christmas dinner is a regular event and ladies and Lodge widows are also invited to attend as well as other guests. There are various other events such as open nights/days promoting Freemasonry and visiting other lodges for special events or simply to visit and meet with Lodge members.

Perhaps significance of the name of the Lodge is linked to George Henry Jamieson, Senior Warden who was one of the founding members and was a member of the Lodge of Hiram in Buffalo USA. Perhaps simply a coincidence? Also the significance of Hiram Abiff in the rituals might have bearing on the name. Mt Franklin is of course the crater of an extinct volcano which is approximately 10 kms from Daylesford which stands at 627 metres and is a local landmark. With regards to St George Lodge's name, while many lodges throughout the world adopted the name St George, but the exact reason for members choosing this name is not known.

In 2007 the lodge celebrated 150 years of Freemasonry in Daylesford.

The East at the Daylesford Masonic Centre, 16 Vincent Street

The Foundation Stone of the current lodge was laid by Most Worshipful Brother F.T. Hickford Grand Master on 6 April 1920. MWBro Hickford was a prominent and well respected Freemason and for many years was President of the Royal Society of St George.

The Masonic Hall is currently undergoing refurbishment on a continual basis. Recently the Lodge instigated upgrades and repairs in order to meet safety standards.

During World War 1, ten lodge members saw active service. Whilst in World War 2 twenty-five lodge members saw active service. All members returned home safely.

The average age of members in the Lodge would be between 56-65 but we are looking for younger members who are willing to become active Freemasons and to share the experience of belonging to a fraternal organisation.

The members of the Lodge hold a wide range of professions that include members who are teachers, farmers, tradesmen, businessmen and retired members of the community.

The Lodge is near the centre of Daylesford which has become one of the more popular tourist locations for many Victorians as well as interstate and overseas visitors. On a typical weekend the population of Daylesford doubles. Just 90 minutes from Melbourne, Daylesford boasts the highest concentration of mineral springs in the country as well as being renowned for its surrounding landscape.

The Lodge celebrates a history of being one of the oldest Lodges in Victoria and has always placed pride in itself for the support it provides not only to its members but also the community as a whole.

Besides providing financial support, the Lodge also supports many community groups as well as providing a central meeting place in its hall for some of these organisations.

Mt Franklin-St George Lodge No 12 meets 4th Tues at 7:30pm (Dec., 2nd Tues. ). Installation – April

Early Warrants of the Lodge with WMs from 1857, William Trimble to A B Baldwin in 1942