THE ORIENT LODGE OF LILYDALE NO. 108
Graziers, loggers, horticulturalist, miners, agriculturalist expanded into the rich valleys of the Yarra valley with its plentiful and reliable rainfall, its rich soil and clear fresh waters, and Lilydale, being at the confluence of these valleys, developed as a centre of trade.
It is therefore not difficult to imagine that certain business men, with time to do such things, as life was not nearly as frantic as it is now, had time to pass the time of day with each other, and it is not difficult to imagine that in a particular way, certain of them learned of their common connection with Freemasonry.
And so begins the story of the beginning and development of Freemasonry in the Yarra Valley, particularly as far as Lilydale is concerned.
Messrs. E. Kidgell, G.R.White, R. Dickinson. L. Pollock and Mr W. Mitchell (who had no connection with David Mitchell) were five such business men who between each other evinced a very strong desire to become actively concerned in Freemasonry, having been connected with English Lodges. So much so, that on October 13th, 1885, they held a formal meeting at the Crown Hotel to discuss the desirability and possibility of forming a local Masonic Lodge, promise of support came from R, Black and Mr. Osborn.
The rail link to Melbourne, having been completed in 1883, necessary written communication with authorities of the English Constitution, headed by the District Grand Master, were considerably more rapidly accomplished, Melbourne now being within an hour and a half of Lilydale.
At this first gathering Bro. Kiddgell, now recognised as belonging to the Craft, was requested to contact the District Grand Secretary, Bro. I. W. Lempriere, and report back to a meeting a week later, October 20th, this meeting being held in Bro. Kidgell’s office.
At this meeting, the information from the District Grand Secretary was discussed and the meeting decided to go ahead with the formation of a lodge to be known as the Orient Lodge of Lilydale (Orient having reference to it being the most easterly lodge and to that section of the ritual that says learning originated in the east). Bro. Mitchell was appointed Secretary and the date of lodge meetings was set as the Tuesday on the nearest before full moon, this being considered an assistance to homeward going members, (who often relied upon the horse to choose its track home). Meetings were to be held in the State School in Castella Street, the School Committee being paid 5/- plus 2/6 for cleaning at each meeting. The Rachebite Hall also in Castella Street, was to be hired for the banquet to be held in connection with the Consecration ceremony and subsequent installation of Lodge Office Bearers. Bro. Kidgell was elected to be Foundation Master and Bro. J. A. Miller consented to be Tyler.
By the 17th November a mere five weeks after their first meeting a provisional warrant had been applied for and received – Number 2143 – and the following day, November 18th , 1885, was set as the date for the Consecration and Installation Ceremonies connected with the active working of the Orient Lodge of Lilydale. In this brief period, Bro. Kidgell and Bro. White had been authorised to go to Melbourne to purchase necessary lodge furniture. A venue for the consecration and installation ceremonies as well as a site for the banquet following such ceremonies was arranged, the necessary officers had been selected, elected and appointed and one must admire the enthusiasm and ability of the five founding fathers of the lodge. A complete list of Foundation Officers was :-
HISTORY OF THE LILYDALE LODGE No. 108 continued