History of Silhill Lodge

The Founding of Silhill Lodge No. 4786.

The Brethren of the Lodge are grateful for the work done by WBro John F.R. Handley PProvJGW in researching the Lodge history.

Silhill Banner

It was early in 1924 when WBro William Hand, PProvAGDC, who was a Past Master of Cosmopolitan Lodge No. 3391 first mooted the idea of founding a new Lodge in the village, as it was then, of Solihull. The legend states that it was on a wet and windy night that the Solihull Masons, having attended a Lodge meeting in Birmingham, were walking back home up the Warwick Road from Acocks Green where the tram service terminated, that the new Lodge was first suggested. Whether this is true we do not know but in 1924 WBro Hand had discussions with a number of Solihull Masons and the idea of a new Lodge was born.

The Forest of Arden Lodge No. 3826 which was the only Lodge meeting in Solihull had a membership which would not permit any considerable influx of joining members or new initiates but they were willing to become sponsors of the suggested new Lodge. The first difficulty was the absence of suitable Assembly Rooms for Masonic purposes. The first Masonic body in Solihull, the Forest of Arden Lodge, which had been consecrated in 1918, held its meetings at the Solihull Council House (as subsequently did Shenstonian Lodge No.5544, consecrated in 1935) WBro. W.H. Whitehouse, the proprietor of The George Hotel, who owned an old barn adjacent to the Hotel, was approached to see if this could be used. After many conversations with him by WBro Hand, supported by Bro Herbert Sutton, they were able to persuade WBro Whitehouse to erect on this site a Masonic Hall.

Old Solihull High Street with St Alpheges

This remained the home for the new Lodge until in 1957 when the hotel and the Masonic Temple were refurbished and a 21 year lease was agreed with the new owners, Ansells Brewery Limited.

This continued until 1993 when new owners of the hotel gave notice they would not be renewing the lease, and a temporary move was made to Coleshill Town Hall where Coleshill Lodge kindly offered the use of their facilities.

After a search for suitable venues, eventually a building in Knowle which was at one time used as a works producing essences for catering was identified as suitable for purchase and in November 1994 the Lodge moved to the newly constructed Masonic Temple in Warwick Road, Knowle.

Having seen that the plans for the original building were drawn and approved W.Bro Hand, together with others including WBro E. Stanley Parker, then turned their attention to the matters necessary to prepare, before completing the list of Founders and before preparing for the Lodge Charter.

The name of the Lodge, Silhill Lodge, came readily to their minds, as this is of course the ancient name by which Solihull was generally known and is derived from the Saxon and means Miry Hill or Dirty Hill. This name no doubt came from what is now known as Church Hill, which would have been nothing but a cattle track, without any drainage, and one can imagine its muddy nature. The other name considered was Ulverley by which name the village was known until about 1195 when the name Silhill appeared.

The name Silhill was favoured over Ulverley as it was felt that Silhill was more easily recognised throughout the Province of Warwickshire as the early name of Solihull.

Having fixed the name W.Bro. Hand turned his attention to the design of the Lodge Banner. In searching for a design for the proposed Silhill Lodge banner he found the oldest building, of which there was a record, other than St. Alphege Church (1220), was the old Town hall, built in 1779.

He refrained from illustrating the Church because of St. Alphage Lodge No 1431 that was in fact named after this Church. The design on the Lodge Banner is a reproduction of the old Town Hall from an original photograph, but the building depicted is not the original Town Hall.

The original Hall was destroyed by fire some years before and there was no known photograph or drawing of the original building.

There was however, evidence of its earlier existence by the reference in an old Parish Bailiff’s account of 1711, “Repairing Town Hall 11/11d” whilst another note existed referring to the “Rent of Cottage near Town Hall”.

The Town Hall built in 1779 was demolished in 1880 when the present building in Poplar road was erected.

On the Foundation Stone of the Town Hall appeared the following verses in Latin, chiselled in the stone slab:

“On the 25th day of March in the year of Our Lord 1779 in the reign of our well-beloved Sovereign George 111 the peoples of the Parish Estates laid this foundation of the Town Hall which is now rebuilt. May the great and good God prosper the work now begun by the liberality of many contributors and when finished may He long preserve it to the lasting benefit of this ancient market Town, this Parish and this Country.”

WBro Hand interpreted this inscription as an inspiration for the Lodge Motto and abbreviated it to the following words:

Prosper Thou the works of our hand.

Domine opera manuum nostarum dirige

Having reached the stage where it was necessary to start identifying the Founders a meeting was called of the first five Founders, namely WBro W.H. Hand, WBro W.H. Whitehouse, WBro J.R. Lane, WBro E. Stanley Parker and WBro H. Sutton. Later other Founders were added, the suggestions made by WBro Hand were adopted and it was resolved that a Charter should be applied for to the United Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of England. In all seventeen Brethren signed the application for the Charter, all of which became the Founders.

The Petition for a Charter or Warrant of Constitution was sponsored by Forest of Arden Lodge No. 3826 and was duly presented and granted on 4th November 1925.

Silhill Lodge was consecrated on Friday 29th January 1926 at the Masonic Hall, Solihull. In the unavoidable absence through illness of the Provincial Grand Master The RWBro Col. W.F.Wyley, VD., DL., PGD Eng., the Deputy Provincial Master WBro Brig. Gen. M. Quayle Jones, CB., C.M.G., PGD Eng. presided over the Consecration ceremony and this was the first Lodge consecrated by him.

WBro William Hand was then Installed as Master, WBro J. Reginald Lane, PProvAGP (Staffs) as Senior Warden and WBro E. Stanley Parker ProvAGDC, as Junior Warden. The Addresses to the Master, Wardens and Brethren were delivered by the Assistant Provincial Grand Master, WBro J.S. Pritchett, B.C.L., PGD Eng.; WBro S.J. Beech, the Provincial Grand Senior Warden and WBro W.E. Bullock, the Provincial Grand Junior Warden respectively.

And so, over 80 years ago, Silhill Lodge was born out of the commitment and dedication of a few keen Masons. Over the years it has prospered and fallen away as with many other similar organisations. The members now stand proud of their heritage and see a successful and happy Lodge, which has much to commend it. Masonry is fun in Silhill and everyone enjoys their membership and the Fellowship we share. Long may it continue!

Back to top