Masonic Buildings - Queenscliff Masonic Centre & Cosmopolitan Lodge No 96 UGLV
The Queenscliff Masonic Centre stands at 60 Learmonth Street in Queenscliff, Victoria. The Foundation Stone of the building was laid on Tuesday 15th April 1930 by the Worshipful Master of Cosmopolitan Lodge No 96, WBro Robert Thomas PGStdB.
Cosmopolitan Lodge is one of the older Lodges in Victoria and predates the formation of United Grand Lodge Victoria (1889). It started life with its first meeting in Queenscliff in 1883 as No 2,065 on the Grand Lodge of England’s Roll of Lodges. Like many other old Victorian Masonic Lodges, their original Warrants to operate were issued from overseas, mainly from the Grand Lodge of England, Ireland or Scotland. When United Grand Lodge of Victoria was founded, Cosmopolitan joined the local Grand Lodge. The oldest of these Lodges in Victoria is Australia Felix No 1 formed in January 1840, seven years before Melbourne was declared a city by Queen Victoria. Famously, (well, in Masonic circles), the Foundation Master of Australia Felix, WBro. George Brunswick Smythe, a member of St Mary's of London Lodge, rode from Sydney to Melbourne on horseback to deliver the dispensation warrant that would allow the Lodge of Australia Felix to meet. Then and now, a dedication to Freemasonry by individual members working as a group is what makes us succeed.
Lodge Cosmopolitan continues to meet in Queenscliff in its 1930 building. Very special thanks to WBro. Dick Clark, PGIWkgs, Secretary of Cosmopolitan for his assistance in facilitating Lodge Devotion’s meeting in their wonderful Centre. It is very obvious that they are proud of it and take excellent care of their historic asset. The building has two Lodge rooms, one upstairs and another on the ground floor with a South on the ground floor as well.
Queenscliff became a town in 1853. The “Queenscliff Sentinel” of 2nd Feb 1884 reported that Queenscliff was pronounced a Borough in May 1863. This 1884 paper reports that 1,500 people (double that number in Summer) lived there with 233 rare payers. With rail and steamers providing transport, the town became a holiday destination of the wealthy in the 1800’s and the town reflects its importance and opulence of those times. The same announcement notes the Council met at the Forester’s Hall, the Foresters contact being N Batchelor (Secretary) and the Freemasons contact being Bro R Ward, as the WM of Cosmopolitan Lodge. At that time, Cosmopolitan’s Lodge number would have been No. 2065 E.C. (English Constitution).
Queenscliff’s ground floor lodge room
The Foresters Friendly Society is a British friendly society formed in 1834 as the Ancient Order of Foresters (AOF) and is also a Fraternity. Its head office is located in Southampton, England and as of 31 December 2016, the society had approximately 75,000 members, an asset base of £78.9 million, and managed funds of £277m on their members' behalf. Most of those members would solely be financial, rather than ceremonial participants. In 1874 the American and Canadian Foresters seceded from the Ancient Order of Foresters and set up the Independent Order of Foresters (IOF). Like the Odd Fellows (and its financial arm Manchester Unity), the AOF & IOF are Mutual Societies and also fraternities with a ceremonial component, just as is the Catholic Order of Foresters of Nth America. Ceremonially and philosophically, the AOF society’s aims were to “help the poor, to cheer and protect the unfortunate, to relieve and provide for the widow and the orphan, and to aid and assist the members of his fraternity when they were in need of succor” but also offers a range of member benefits, and in 2016 nearly £1m
Queenscliff Second Floor Lodge Room
was paid out in discretionary grants and benefits, and charitable donations. The society provides its members with financial products - including tax exempt savings which are only available via friendly societies and also offer insurance policies against sickness and death, and group insurance to several police forces in the United Kingdom, the Police Service of Northern Ireland being one of the largest, and its Guernsey business mainly consists of medical insurance. The Foresters Hall of Queenscliff was one of many in Australia, the first branch of the Order (known as a Court) was established in Victoria in 1849. Today in Victoria, the Foresters Friendly Society is a public company incorporated under the Corporations Act, as well as being a life insurance company registered under the Life Insurance Act providing investment and insurance products. There remains a “Forrester’s Hall” in Collingwood, on the corner of Smith and Gertrude Street, built in 1868 for Court Perseverance 2727. The Argus of 25 March 1868 reports the Laying of its Foundation Stone – and how the Foresters then crossed the road to the Freemasons Arms Hotel. The Freemason’s Arms is long gone – but the Foresters continues to operate as a pub and is part of the rich Fraternal History of the Collingwood and Abbotsford area. We should go there for a beer !
In the early days of Lodge Cosmopolitan, it met at the St Georges Church of England Grammar School (1882-1902), more commonly referred to as the Sunday School (The rent was 9 pounds per year). St George the Martyr Church And Parish Hall notes that “The Church and Parish Hall are socially significant for their associations with important cultural groups such as the Cosmopolitan Masonic Lodge Queenscliff (over 50 years),” and other groups such as Orange and ANA Lodges and served as Queenscliff Borough Council Chambers 1899. One would assume the Grammar School was within the same complex, the Church, Parish Halls and original Vicarage were all attributed to the Melbourne architect, Albert Purchas. The Church was constructed in 1863-64 of locally quarried limestone, with a stuccoed brick tower added in 1878 and further extensions made in 1887 and 1958. An association with “the prominent Baillieu family”, a name any student of Melbourne University will recognise, but the Baillieu’s also have Masonic connections.
The name “Lodge Cosmopolitan” is common and used by non-Masonic Fraternities. I am aware of three ”Cosmopolitan Lodges”” in Victoria, one being our Masonic Lodge. Loyal Cosmopolitan Lodge was an International Order of Odd Fellows, Manchester Unity Lodge (IOOFMU) which met in Ballarat while there was a Cosmopolitan Lodge, No. 2, P.A.F.S. in Port Melbourne. I did not recognise the PAFS anonym and discovered it stands for Protestant Alliance Friendly Society, and later PAFSA the “a” being of Australasia. This was a mutual provident society for interdenominational Protestants from the second half of the Nineteenth Century. This was national, but perhaps not working under a central body until later, being described as “kindred” societies. It seems it began in 1871 in Redfern, by 1874 was in Queensland, and Victoria, and by 1878 there was a national body. The PAFSA is yet another example of how vibrant fraternalism was in Australia in the 1800’s and 1900’s.
Our Masonic Cosmopolitan Lodge in Queenscliff had a strong association with the Queenscliff Fort. Many members fought in wars throughout the 20th Century. The commanding officer of the Royal Australian Artillery at Fort Queenscliff – Brother LtCol. Charles E Umphileby died of wounds at the Boer War in South Africa and a minute is recorded in memory of Brother Umphileby killed in action. There are newspaper reports of funerals of officers form the Fort where the lodge was in attendance to mourn a lost Brother. One interesting one was Captain George James Fitz-Robert Boothby (1861 1889) was a Scottish amateur golfer who played in the late 19th century and tied for third place in the 1882 Open Championship (Scotland). Boothby later moved to Victoria and became a Victorian Artillery Militia member. The Brethren of the Cosmopolitan Freemasons' Lodge attended his funeral.
The first shot of WW1 was fired by a member of Lodge Cosmopolitan, Bro John Purdie. Then a sergeant with the army's Royal Australian Garrison Artillery stationed at Fort Nepean, at 12.45pm on August 5, 1914, he fired on German merchant ship SS Pfalz to stop it from escaping the bay, less than four hours after hostilities officially began. I will include a link below where you can read about him.
With its proud history and tradition, the “Lodge Down by the Sea” has a banner that bears the motto “STATIO TUTTISIMA NAUTIS” which translated means “I stand for the safety of seaman”. The banner features a sailing frigate and a lighthouse and is identical to the Queenscliff Borough Council seal. On several occasions Grand Lodge requested the banner for use in their Installation of the Most Worshipful Grand Master at the Melbourne Town Hall.
Cosmopolitan meets on the 2nd Wednesday of each month at 7:30pm
Rehearsal – 1st & Last Wednesday
Installation – September
Read more on Bro John Purdie, the man who fired the first shot of WW1; Page 8-9 (10-11 in e-version)
Below, JW Pedestal in the first floor Lodge Room
Ground floor. above, SW pedestal, below JW Pedestal
Meaning of the Window in the Queenscliff Masonic Centre
The theme of the leadlight window above the Master's chair on the ground floor is intended to bring to the Mason’s mind in tune with the teachings of Freemasonry.
Some of the symbolism includes;
The central figure is the letter G for God, reminding us of God the Supreme Being and Great Architect of the Universe and the benign influence of the Sun, without which Man could not exist.
The crooked path reminds us that the path through Life leading to God is never a straight and easy path, and that it will have many twists and turns before we received the Final Secrets of Life.
As we pass through the green fields of life, we will be reminded that we will be enabled to lay up a crown of Joy and Rejoicing, which will continue when time with us shall be no more. The hills and mountains remind us of the Grandeur and Majesty of God and the difficulty of life.
The Circle encompassing the whole, reminds that it is the Emblem of Eternity, without beginning of days or ending of years, and although refers to the Great and Awful hereafter, when we have hope to enjoy everlasting life