Witta's Island Lodge No. 9359
Masonic Province of Oxfordshire
A Brief History
The idea of the formation of a new Lodge in Witney started with a handful of Witney Masons led by W.Bro. Robert 'Bob' Stokes PPrJGW in and around 1988/89. At that time he felt that with the population of Witney increasing and the consequent growing waiting lists to join established Lodges and the time taken to get to the Chair of King Solomon, there was an opportunity to create a new Lodge in Witney to deal with the demand.
With the blessing of the Provincial Grand Master, a Founding Committee was set up and its inaugural meeting took place on 31st May 1989. The Founding committee met a total of five times over the following year, agreeing everything from Lodge name, officers, ritual, music, meeting dates/times, banner and finances.
On Saturday 19th May 1990, 136 brethren assembled at the Provincial Masonic Centre in Oxford at 333 Banbury Road for the Lodges' Consecration and Installation Ceremony. The Consecrating Officer was the Provincial Grand Master RW.Bro. Geoffrey Redman-Brown, assisted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master VW.Bro. Dennis Merry PGSwdB and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro. John Cockin PSGD along with many of the active Provincial officers. W.Bro. Bob Stokes became Primus Master of the newly formed Witta's Island Lodge!
On 8th February 1992, the Lodge held a Banner Dedication, again officiated by the same Provincial team, this time at the Witney Masonic Centre. W.Bro. David Hutton designed the banner.
Since then, there have been 125 regular meetings, 2 extraordinary meetings and 1 emergency meeting. During the last 25 years, the Lodge has initiated a total of 40 brethren, passing 38 and raising 37 and also welcomed 13 joining members.
The Witta's Island Lodge celebrated its Silver Jubilee / 25th anniversary on 21st May 2015. With 8 subscribing Founders and an active membership, we look forward to the next 25 years!
Explanation of the Witta's Island Lodge Banner
square and compasses
banner With the foregoing axiom in mind, the very first committee meeting of the founding members of Witta's Island Lodge was held on 31st May 1989 and agreed that arrangements ought to be set in place to acquire a banner for the lodge. The primary requirement was to obtain and approve a banner design and Bro. David Hutton agreed to prepare a draft for presentation at a subsequent meeting.
At the next meeting, held on 27th June 1989, Bro Hutton duly presented his preliminary design and provided a rationale or overview of the chosen imagery and symbolism in respect of Witta's Island Lodge as follows:-
The name of 'Witta's Island Lodge No 9359' is boldly stated and proclaimed quite clearly at the head of the banner.
As the Lodge was taking its title from an ancient name of the market town Witta's Island, the central or focal point of the banner simply depicts an area of land surrounded by water. The encircling water courses as shown represent the rivers and streams that surround Witney even to this day and it is commonly held that to access the centre of the town from the immediate countryside it is necessary to cross a bridge.
However, the most predominant feature of the design is the glaring sun situated at the very top of the banner. This is representative of the fact that, by virtue of the time of year that Witta's Island Lodge holds its meetings, viz from April through to late August, we are first and foremost a 'Summer Lodge'. The sun is also especially depicted high in the heavens due to our 'peculiar' assertation that masonically 'the sun is always at its meridian with respect to freemasonry'.
It is our hope and expectation that the sun's beneficent rays do not shine down alone on Witta's Island but by the symbolic addition of our three great, though emblematical lights in freemasonry, namely the VSL, the Compasses and the Square, the whole community will be enlightened and uplifted and will thereby, in some measure, be the beneficiaries of freemasonry in general and by our Lodge in particular.
The foregoing imagery is effectively framed by two 'great pillars' for two especial reasons. Firstly, Witney was always regarded as the 'Gateway to Oxfordshire' for trade and merchandise, mainly wool, for the various mills from the outlying countryside. Hence the Gateway or 'Porchway or Entrance'. Secondly, in recognition of the Gateway Lodge No 8501 being our sponsoring Lodge, it was felt that the two pillars on their banner, which depicts the aforesaid Gateway, ought to be deferentially replicated on our banner.
Moving further down towards the base of the banner, the rustic and verdant countryside outside of the town of Witta's Island, is masonically represented by the foliage of Acacia 'arising from the ground'.
At the very bottom or foundation the banner proclaims and declares that Witta's Lodge was 'Founded 1990'. square and compasses