Herga Lodge No 2548 was consecrated at Harrow House, Harrow-on-the-Hill, on the 16th February 1895 by the then Provincial Grand Master of Middlesex, RW Bro the Rt Hon Lord George Hamilton, MP, PGW, who was accompanied by a team of 6 senior Provincial Officers.
There were 20 Founders (only 19 of them were in attendance), of whom 5 were Past Masters, and there were 37 visitors, making a total of 63 in attendance. Following the Consecration, W Bro Edmund R Bartley Dennis was installed as the first Master, serving for 2 years, and he appointed VW Bro Ralph Littler as the first Senior Warden and W Bro John F Childs as the first Junior Warden. The sponsoring, i.e. Mother, Lodge was Abercorn Lodge No 1549, sadly erased in 2012, originally meeting in Stanmore and more latterly at the Harrow District Masonic Centre.
It may be of interest to note that the subscription was £3.3.0 [£3.15) p.a. and the Initiation fee was £5.5.0 [£5.25]. On 18th February 1995 the 100th Anniversary Meeting of the Lodge was celebrated. Unsurprisingly, no Founders were able to be present.
The name ‘Herga’ was taken from the ancient Saxon name for Harrow, which signified a temple. Interestingly and how much of a coincidence it might be, is open to conjecture but there just happens to be a small village named Herga in the Udupi district of Karnataka in India and it has a temple of considerable importance on a small hilltop! Now, our Saxon Herga is likewise on a hilltop and the name is first recorded in 767 as Gumeninga hergae. A suggested meaning is heathen temple of a tribe called the Gumeningas.
Before the Consecration meeting closed six candidates were proposed for initiation at a later date. They were:
- The Revd James Edward Cowell Welldon, Headmaster of Harrow School;
- Mr Arthur Fillmore, Clerk to Harrow School Board;
- Mr Harold Senior, Manager of the Kodak factory in Harrow;
- Dr Alfred Henry Williams, MD;
- Mr Thomas Charles, Surveyor to Harrow Urban District Council; and
- Mr William Halliday, Superintendent of the Harrow School Workshop.
With the exception of the first-named, all were initiated into Freemasonry on 16th March 1895. Subsequently the Revd Welldon was initiated, along with three other candidates, at a specially authorised extra meeting (technical term: ‘Emergency Meeting’) on 17th May 1895.
Thus it can be seen that right from its very early days the Lodge was receiving members who either lived or worked in the Harrow area, thereby justifying the case envisioned by seven senior Masons who met in July 1894 to consider the oft-mooted suggestion that a local Lodge for local men in Harrow was desirable.
Some notes regarding the early connection with Harrow School are apposite. The Revd Welldon had been Master of Dulwich College for some two years before he took up the position of headmaster of Harrow School in the summer of 1885, a post which he held until 1898, in which year he was not only invested as Grand Chaplain of the Province of Middlesex but also was appointed Bishop of Calcutta, soon becoming Metropolitan of all India and the Island of Ceylon [Sri Lanka today]. He had been ordained as a deacon in 1883 and as a priest in 1885, and whilst at Harrow had held a number of clerical positions. Sadly poor health led to his resignation from the Calcutta appointment in 1902, when he returned to England and subsequently took up other senior appointments in the church, becoming Dean of Manchester from 1906 and of Durham from 1918.
The last of the candidates initiated in March 1895, Bro William Halliday, although not so eminent, was to have a longer and in many ways more enduring connection with the Lodge. He was the Workshop Superintendent at Harrow School and he served the Lodge well by designing and crafting much of the furniture owned by the Lodge. Some of his work, which is on indefinite loan to the Harrow District Masonic Centre, can still be seen in various parts of the Centre, and are identifiable by the Herga name being carved on them. Indeed, the furniture was much admired and was used for Provincial meetings for many years. Bro Halliday never became Master of the Lodge but regularly attended the meetings, eventually dying in 1931 at the age of 94.
Bro Arthur Fillmore went on to become the 12th Master of the Lodge in 1906 and subsequently became the Lodge Secretary in 1912, a post he held until he died on 15th February 1940.
Unfortunately, no history as to the choice of the Lodge logo seems to have survived but it is clear the design was influenced by Harrow School’s own crest.