Freemasons open the doors

May 5, 2023 BY

Welcome in: The community were invited inside the Freemasons Victoria’s Smythesdale branch, which has 27 members. Photo: TIM BOTTAMS

THE curtain was peeled back for the first time over the weekend for a local branch of a centuries-old organisation.

Members of Freemasons Victoria’s Smythesdale branch, Prince of Wales Lodge No. 40 opened the doors of their nearly-130-year-old building to the community as part of a ceremony on Sunday.

Master of the Lodge, Bill Stephens, oversaw the ceremony and said the aim of it was to show people what the Freemasons are all about.

“We’re trying to open this up to the public so they’ve not got that misconception that we’re a secret society which we’re not,” he said.

“The aim of today is to invite the people in so they can see the Lodge and see part of what we do.

“We give two scholarships each year to the local primary school. Freemasons Victoria have a masonic taskforce that go around helping with fires, floods, whatever.

“They also give grants to organisations that need something. We’re out there for the public. A lot of people don’t really know this.”

The day was the branch’s first Ceremony of the Vacant Chair open to the public, which is an event aimed at recognising people who’ve fallen in wartime conflicts.

The event included an explanation from Mr Stephens on Lodge members’ different roles and seating arrangements.

Following the ceremony, which included a speech from Ballarat Legacy’s Ron Fleming, the supper room was opened up for attendees with tea and biscuits on offer.

Lodge member and former Master, Gavin Myers, said the event would give people a better idea on the history of the branch and their building.

“We met over at the Courthouse Hotel across the road at that point,” he said. “In 1906 our building was constructed and that’s when we moved over here.

“Back then they would have had to set up and pack down each meeting whereas here it’s a purpose-built. It’s our history up on the walls.”

Mr Stephens said the event will be their first of many to be opened up to the community, with another aim of the event being to gauge how they might assist local organisations.