History of Lodge
Creation of the Lodge
"To promote and extend the cause of freemasonery in this quarter of the Kingdom of Fife" was the plea made in a petition to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a charter. The petition was signed by William Webster, George Ellice, Daniel McFarlane, Thomas Hutchison, Robert Laidlaw, William Melville, William Elder, George Clark, Robert Nicolson, John Ferney, and another ten Master Masons. The petition was sponsored by Lodge Kirkcaldie No 72 and the Edinburgh and Leith Celtic Lodge No 291. A charter was granted and dated 7th November 1859 authorizing the formation of a Lodge in Burntisland. The Lodge, was named Dunearn after an estate to the North West of Burntisland and allocated the number 400 on the roll of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.
In the language of the Old Minutes the commencement of the Dunearn Lodge took place on the 12th December 1859 at the first meeting held in the Forth Hotel attended by the twenty M.M.’s who had signed the petition. assisted by Brethren from the two sponsoring Lodges viz Lodge Kirkcaldie No 72 and The Edinburgh & Leith Celtic Lodge No 291. A second meeting was held on the 16th December again in the Forth Hotel. At these first two meetings a total of 13 local men were initiated, passed and raised into the Lodge giving it an opening membership of 33.
Consecration of the Lodge took place on the 22nd of December 1859. A report in the Fifeshire Advertiser of the day's proceedings reads: "By 12 o'clock the Brethren of the mystic tie had assembled beside the Railway Station in front of the Forth Hotel to the round number of 100, accompanied by two bands of music, 26 flags and two banners. The dress and gawdy insignia of the Brethren presented a very imposing aspect." The procession then marched through the town to the Music Hall where the consecration meeting took place.
The consecration meeting held by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross, had been called by order of John Whyte Melville Esquire of Bennochy and Strathkinness Provincial Grand Master. The following daughter Lodges of the Province of Fife and Kinross were represented Lodge Coupar o' Fife (No19), Lodge St John Inverkeithing (No60), Lodge Kirkcaldie (No72), Lodge St Regulus (No77), Lodge Lindores Newburgh (No106), Lodge St Bryces Kirkcaldy (No 172), Lodge St Serfs Kinross (No 327) and Lodge Minto Lochgelly (No 385). The following daughter Lodges of the Province of Edinburgh were also represented Lodge Mary’s Chapel (No1), Lodge Cannongate Kilwinning (No 2), Lodge Journeymen of Edinburgh (No8), Lodge Defensive band Edinburgh (No 151) and Lodge Celtic Edinburgh (No291). Lodge Dunearn was duly consecrated and the first office bearers were installed viz William Webster as RWM, Daniel McFarlane as WSW, Thomas Hutchison as WJW, John Ferney as Secretary, William Melville as Treasurer, Robert Laidlaw as SD and William Elder as JD.
At 4-00 pm the procession reformed and made it's way back to the Forth Hotel via Craig Kennety (Kennochie), Craigholm, the High Street and the Shore. A meal was served at 4-30 pm by Mrs Clarke of the Forth Hotel and thereafter the Brethren enjoyed a harmony.
This photograph was probably taken during the 1890's from the end of the Prince Albert pier. It shows the Forth Hotel in the background beside what is now the lower entrance to Burntisland station. The pier was demolished to make way for the East Dock which was opened in 1901. Two of the ferries are shown tied up a passenger ferry on the left and a goods ferry on the right.
Why Wasn't Lodge Dunearn Formed Earlier?
Why wasn’t the Lodge formed before 1859? A valid question since the infrastructure of trades guilds and burgh status was well established in Burntisland in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The trades panels displayed in St Columba’s Church represent the Guild of Wrights, the Guild of Hammermen and the Guild of Masons. Interestingly it is the Guild of wright’s panel which displays the square and compasses, symbols which have become synonymous with freemasonry.
This is a photograph of the Masons Panel on the front of the North Gallery of St Columbas Church. It shows three castles and a compass. There is also a Hammerman's Panel showing a crown and hammer. A third panel is the Wright's Panel displaying the Square and compasses. These panels were reconstructed by Andrew Young in the early nienteen hundreds. The original gallery having been destroyed earlier by fire contained a single panel with all three symbols on it.
Operative freemasons were craftsmen skilled in working freestone. This required greater skill than cowans or ‘dry stane dykers’. Early mason’s guilds were effectively trade unions set up in part to protect the livelihoods of skilled freemasons. Unlike other trades masons tended to be more mobile, moving round the country following large building projects. A high percentage of the large building projects were churches and the masons were often referred to as ‘The Cathedral Builders’. On the site of each large building project the masons would set up a lodge or ‘Ludge’ which would act as a canteen, a meeting place and in some cases a living area. It was out of these Ludges that many of the early Scottish Masonic Lodges grew.
Perhaps it is because our Cathedral – St Columba’s Parish Church in Burntisland – was completed 3 years before William Schaw’s first statute was produced. William Schaw was King James VI’s Master of Works and is generally recognized as the father of Scottish Freemasonry. He produced two statutes in 1598 and 1599 which were a set of rules regulating the activities of the mason’s lodges and imposing some disciplines on their meetings. King James VI and William Schaw were based in Dunfermline. It is perhaps ironical that King James VI, chose St Columba’s Church in which to approve his revised version of the Bible in 1601. St Columba’s Church was built by John Roche a stonemason and an architect. Most freemasons in Fife about this time were represented by the Ludge of Dunfermling perhaps John Roche was a member of Dunfermling.
There are a number of examples of what are clearly mason's marks within St Columba's Church. It was traditional for operative stonemasons to have their own mark and to use it to identify their work. This photograph shows one of two marks which are visible on the south west pillar within the Church. The lower part of the mark could be the square and compasses.
Maybe it was because Burntisland was too small, the population in 1800 was only about 1500. However because of the establishment of the Railway terminus, locomotive works and the increased Dock Trade the population by the late 1850’s had increased to almost 4000. Perhaps it was this which encouraged the group of twenty master masons resident around Burntisland in 1859 to submit their petition to the Grand Lodge of Scotland .
Another reason why a Masonic lodge might have been formed in this part of Fife prior to 1859 was that the Grange Quarry in Burntisland and Cullaloe Quarry in Aberdour were major providers of freestone in the East of Scotland in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Grange providing the stone for Fettes College and the Old College in Edinburgh. There would have been a number of freemasons resident at these quarries since most of the stone would have been dressed locally before shipping. The Grange Freestone Quarry Company ceased operations in 1916.
The above speculation is substantiated in ‘History of Burntisland’ written by Bro Andrew Young and published in 1924. It describes a single Guild or Society representing the Hammermen, Wrights and Masons existing in Burntisland from early times and all effectively lumped together as Hammermen. There was also the Prime Gilt Society representing sailors and merchants. The gild of Hammermen of Burntisland were incorporated and given ‘seale of cause’ in 1683. The Hammermens Book exists and provides a record of their activities from 1648-1739. It shows that only three ‘measons’ (masons) joined the Society during that period.
Andrew Young then goes on to say ‘That masons were eligible, and yet only three were members in about one hundred years, shows how few were permanently resident. The masons hailed from large centres, and were members of the Masons Societies there. They moved in gypsy fashion from place to place as work was projected, usually building huts to live in, round the work in progress, and taking to the road again on its completion.’
The fact that no major building work took place in Burntisland from the end of the sixteenth century until the middle of the nineteenth century at least in part explains why there was no Masonic Lodge formed during that period.
Lodge Dunearn - An Independent Scottish Masonic Lodge
All Masonic Lodges in Scotland fall under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland which was formed in 1736. Under it’s Constitution the daughter Lodges are independent, sovereign, bodies in their own right. Grand Lodge has quite a different relationship with its daughter Lodges than other Constitutions have with theirs. Scottish Lodges have the right to devise their own ritual — within reason. There is no such thing as a ‘standard’ Scottish Masonic ritual, and in theory there could be as many rituals as there are Lodges, although in practice Lodges adopt an existing ritual and adapt it to suit their aspirations. The ritual which has evolved within Lodge Dunearn is based on the Bethune version.
Scottish Lodges also have the right to select their own colours for their regalia. Lodge Dunearn use maroon and gold.
Regular Meeting Places
A publication produced in 1944 containing a section on Lodge Dunearn stated that “The Lodge had no fixed meeting place, no fewer than fifteen places being used, until they arrived permanently in their own hall in 1917”. This wasn’t strictly accurate. Between the formation of the Lodge in 1859 and moving into our own hall in 1917, the Lodge usually had an agreement for the use of rooms on a regular basis. There were seven such places. If these rooms were unavailable to hold an ad hoc meeting then this would be held elsewhere.
The regular meeting places were as follows:
The Forth Hotel: The Forth Hotel was situated in what is now called Seaforth Place Burntisland, immediately adjacent to the railway station (the line from Tayport terminated at Burntisland in 1859) and the Prince Albert Pier (a passenger ferry service operated between Burntisland and Granton). An agreement was reached with Mr Clarke, the proprietor, to rent two adjoining rooms for £5 per annum (including gas and coal). Regular meetings were held here from the 12th December 1859 until 6th April 1864. Meetings were also held here for a period in 1873-74. Many visitors from the Edinburgh Lodges travelled by ferry to attend the early meetings at Dunearn.
The Golf Tavern: The Golf Tavern is located in Links Place, Burntisland. An agreement was reached with Mr Young, the proprietor, to rent two rooms for an annual rent of £2. Regular meetings were held here from 3rd May 1864 until 23rd June 1865. At a meeting held on 7th April 1865 Bro Barrie moved that a committee should be formed to look for a more suitable meeting place. This was approved and a committee consisting of Bros Rogen, Barrie, Bruce and Jackson was formed. On the 18th of April at a regular meeting the committee reported that the Town Hall could provide accommodation consisting of a room and anteroom provided curtains were purchased. An alternative offer had been received from Mrs Clarke of the Forth Hotel providing accommodation free of charge. It was proposed and approved that the Town Hall was the most suitable.
The Town Hall: The first meeting was held in the Town Hall, on the corner of the High Street and the Kirkgate, on Thursday 29th June 1865. Curtains had been purchased at a cost of £7. Meetings were held regularly here until Dec 1869.
The Music Hall: The Music Hall in Thistle Street was donated to the town of Burntisland during the early part of the nineteenth century by Young of the Grange Distillery. (Now known as the Young Community Centre). It was used for meetings from 1870 until 1872. (There is a period in the early 1870’s when the Lodge minutes do not quote the locations of meetings.
The Kirkgate: Between 10th December 1874 and February 1881 meetings were held in what is described in the minutes as ‘The Kirkgate’. The precise location is unknown although it is unlikely to have been in the part of the Kirkgate between Somerville Street and the High Street. The most likely location would have been at the top of the Kirkgate on the east side beside the steps down to the Lower Leven Street Hall. At a business meeting held on 3rd February 1881 a petition was submitted stating – “Finding that the Brethren of 400 , visiting Brethren and especially Brethren being initiated have many and obvious reasons for complaint; that the Lodge meetings should not be in the present rooms and wish that the Lodge remove to rooms more suited for the purpose and offered on very easy terms. The same being situated in the George Hotel – Bro William McDonald, Proprietor”. The petition was signed by 24 Brethren including the RWM, DM and Wardens, and approved.
The George Hotel: Located in Harbour Place, Burntisland. Regular Meetings of the Lodge were held here from February 1881 until 6th March 1883.
The Leven Street Hall: The wording of the minutes would suggest that this was not the Lower Leven street Hall. It was probably the hall in East Leven Street used by the SWRI and subsequently the Scouts. This was used for meetings from 13th March 1883 until October 1886.
The Free Masons Hall (Lower Leven Street Hall): Bro Stein Pithie a local solicitor helped the Lodge to draw up a long term lease on this basement property which became known as the Free Masons Hall. The building had been constructed in the 1840’s as a Church. It was located on the corner of the Kirkgate and East Leven Street and entered by steps down from the top east side of the Kirkgate. For much of the twentieth century it was known as the NUR Hall. The first meeting was held in the Free Masons Hall on the 11th October 1886. It had been agreed at an earlier meeting to purchase three new oak chairs for the RWM and the Wardens. Unfortunately the chairs didn’t arrive in time for the first meeting. The problem was solved by kind permission of Bro David Crawford (Town Officer) who loaned the three magistrate’s chairs from the Town Hall. The three oak chairs obviously arrived later since they are still in use today.
Meetings were held regularly in the Free Masons Hall until the hall upstairs was converted at the end of 1912 into the Picture Palace. Silent films were shown, unfortunately this proved to be incompatible with the Masonic requirements downstairs as described in this part of the minute of the Regular Meeting held on 10th February 1913 …..”Bro A P White moved that it be remitted to the Lodge Committee ‘to look for a site for a New Hall or other place of meeting owing to the continued noise above from the Picture Palace’”.
This resulted in several sites being considered and rejected including a site owned by Mr Pitkethly in Leven Street and the possibility of using a room in Rossend Castle. Throughout the history of Lodge Dunearn few decisions have been taken quickly and the decision on moving to new premises was no exception. However three sites were eventually identified as possibilities for providing a new home. The first was a site on the north side of the High Street which was being used as a builder’s yard. The second was a site at the east end of Rossend Avenue (now Broomhill Avenue) of one eighth of an acre. The third was a property at 24 Somerville Street. The first two options would have required the construction of a new building and the third structural changes to existing property.
On the 19th January 1914 a Special Meeting, attended by 36 Brethren, was held to discuss the options. A ballot resulted which was minuted as follows: “The vote was taken by ballot when there voted for: Rossend Avenue - 2, High Street – none and Somerville Street – 34. Somerville Street therefore carried.” At this meeting a Hall Committee was formed consisting of RWM Jolly, Bro J A Waddell, Bro W A White, Bro R Hutton and Bro A Pearson. The Trustees of the Lodge then purchased the property, at 24 Somerville Street, from Mr Green, paying £260 from Lodge funds.
The last meeting to take place in the Free Masons Hall was held on the 8th of February 1917.
The Masonic Hall (Somerville Square): Whilst the options for a new home were being considered in 1913 Bro Anderson Jackson, a builder, had quoted £600 to make the modifications to the building in Somerville Street necessary to create a Masonic Hall. In January 1914 he was given the go ahead. Four architects were contacted regarding designs for the new Hall. After some discussion it was agreed to use W B Wyllie, Architect, of Kinghorn.
To fund the cost of the refurbishment a loan of £600 was agreed. “At a regular meeting of the Members of Lodge Dunearn No 400 held in the Free Masons Hall on 27th April 1914 a letter was read from Messrs McIntosh and Brown Solicitors, Burntisland acting on behalf of Miss Strachan, Victoria House (next door to the Erskine Church), Burntisland, agreeing to give a loan of £600 on the security of the Buildings and ground at 24 Somerville Street and buildings to be erected thereon.” (Miss Strachan owned much of the property on what is now the south side of Somerville Square.)
Everything seemed to be progressing with the development of the New Hall in Somerville Street, when surprisingly at a meeting held on 12th October 1914 after a motion by Bro Waddell “to proceed with the Building Scheme at a cost not to exceed £600”, Bro James Stocks PM moved an amendment that “the scheme be entirely abandoned owing to the excessive cost of the undertaking and the state of the country at the present time and it was not clear how the income could be raised to meet the expenditure of interest and ordinary working of the Lodge”. The amendment was carried and the scheme was abandoned.
During 1915 great efforts were made to get out of the loan arrangements and discussions took place about how to proceed with the property and a new hall. Eventually temporary repairs were carried out and the property was let as a house. Lengthy talks took place with Wylie the architect about reducing his bill and releasing the drawings for the proposed modifications. This was ultimately resolved although the loan stood.
On 8th February 1916, a meeting was held “to decide whether we go ahead with the proposed new hall or not”. It was agreed that a modified drawing submitted by Bro Anderson Jackson and proposed cost of £430 be accepted on condition that he consult Mr W R Simpson architect re the plans and that Mr Simpson act on behalf of the Lodge as clerk of works for the project, his fees to be included in the £430 cost.
Dean of Guild approval was granted in March 1916 and work commenced.
The first meeting to be held in the new hall took place on 12th February 1917 (Anno Lucis 5921).
Consecration of the New Hall took place at the Provincial Visitation held on 24th March 1917.
That part of Somerville Street west of the Kirkgate was renovated in the late 1950’s and renamed Somerville Square. The north and west sides were completely rebuilt. The Masonic Hall in the middle of the sixteenth century terrace forming the south side of the square was left untouched and the adjoining properties refurbished. (See Listed Building on this website)
The alterations to the property in 1916/17 had created two rooms on the lower floor. In 1974 planning permission was granted and the diviiding wall was demolished creating one room. Further modifications were carried out in the 1980's to create a lounge, bar, toilets and cloakroom. The hall on the upper floor remains as it was created in 1916/17.
The Masonic Hall is still in use today.
Some Notable Brethren
Bro Thomas Hutchison was a founder member of the Lodge and one of the original signatories of the petition submitted to Grand Lodge. He is it’s longest serving RWM. He served in the chair for two terms 1861-1871 and 1873-1874, a total of 11 years. In the 1871 census of Burntisland he is shown as being Postmaster and living in the High Street.
Bro Andrew Anderson was the tenth candidate to be initiated into Lodge Dunearn on the 14th December 1859 and then passed and raised two days later on the 16th December. He was a ‘letter carrier’ known as Postie and lived in the Kirkgate. He had passed through all of offices of the Lodge ending up doing two terms as RWM in 1876-78 and 1880-81. He acted as Tyler for 25 years (from 1883 – 1908). Bro Anderson died in 1910 and was buried on 27th of September with full Masonic rites, the service being conducted by Bro Rev Houston of Auchterderran.
On the 29th of May 1885 Bro Archibald Blair was initiated into Lodge Dunearn and then passed and raised in the same day, as was the norm at that time. Bro Blair was born in Cellardyke and became a seaman on sailing clippers. In 1885 he was a river/harbour pilot based in Burntisland (he lived in Wells Close). Pilots were at that time self employed and would lie on the Lammerlaws watching and waiting for ships bound for Burntisland to appear over the horizon close to the Bass Rock. They would then race in small sailing boats, the first to arrive at the vessel winning the contract to bring her into Burntisland Harbour. Bro Blair was also a staunch member of the Salvation Army and played a key role in the establishment of the first SA Hall in Broomhill Avenue.
One of the signatories of the original petition to form Lodge Dunearn was William Elder, who became RWM on three occasions (1872-73, 1874-76 and 1881-82). Bro Elder or Captain Elder, as he was known, was captain of one of the ‘Goods Ferries’ which operated from Burntisland to Granton from 1847 – 1890. (The 'Goods Ferries' was the first railway ferry in the world.
Bro G O Kininmonth was RWM of Lodge Dunearn on two occasions 1906-1909 and from 1914-1918, a total of 8 years. He went on to become the Provost of Burntisland for 6 years from 1919-1925. His son Bro A F Kininmonth was RWM from 1948-1950.
The first member of the Lodge to join in the Masonic Hall, in Somerville Street was initiated at the opening meeting held on 12th February 1917. He was 28 year old Bro Robert Douglas, a locomotive gland packer of 44 Somerville Street. His nephew Bro Alex Douglas was initiated in 1938 and was presented with a platinum certificate in 2008 in recognition of 70 years of Masonic Service. The photo shows 95 year old Alex with some of the Brethren in Oct 2009.
Pierrots or seaside entertainers performed at the beach pavilion in Burntisland each summer from about 1910 to the mid 1930’s. (The beach pavilion was demolished to make way for the old swimming pool near the Beacon Centre). David Dalton Payne, a Pierrot, was initiated into the Lodge on 31st May 1920. He was described as a Music Hall Artiste. The photograph on the left taken in 1925 shows Dalton Payne in the middle with his entertainers.
Laying Foundation Stones
In the nineteenth century Laying the Foundation Stones of public buildings seems to have been very much a Masonic ‘thing’. In fact there was at the time a specification of the ceremonial which should be followed at the Laying of Foundation Stones. Some of these ceremonies which Lodge Dunearn participated in are:
Wallace Monument: On Monday the 24th of June 1861 an event which has been described as ' one of the most interesting Masonic spectacles ever witnessed in Scotland ' took place. This was the laying of the foundation stone of the Wallace Monument a 200ft high structure built on Abbey Craig near Stirling. At a meeting of Lodge Dunearn held in the Forth Hotel on 18th of June 1861 it was agreed to send a deputation of 8 Brethren to this event. The Brethren travelled by train from Burntisland to Stirling joining deputations from Lodge Kirkcaldie (no 72) and the Ludge of Dunfermling (No26). Deputations from 135 Scottish Lodges witnessed the Grand Master Mason the Duke of Athole lay the foundation stone. A crowd which was estimated at 70,000 were present.
Newburgh School: Lodge Dunearn sent a deputation to Newburgh on 5th October 1866 to lay a foundation stone for the new school..
Craiglockhart Poorhouse: It was agreed at a meeting held in the Town Hall on 3rd July 1867 to send a deputation. Ferry and rail tickets were to be provided but Brethren to be responsible for their own clothing.
Edinburgh Royal Infirmary: It was agreed to send a deputation to the Laying of the foundation stone at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary in Lauriston Place on 13th October 1870. The stone was laid by HRH The Prince of Wales. One of the Lodge Dunearn Depuation dressed as a Chinaman and the following report appeared in the Scotsman the next day: "That one tall fellow, who looked like Chang's younger brother, was next to the Prince of Wales, the special attraction and most conspicuous person there". (The Chinaman was 6ft 6ins Bro Archibald Hay, Kirkton, Burntisland who was initiated into Lodge Dunearn in 1869.)
Kinghorn Infant School: It was arranged to hold a special meeting of Lodge Dunearn in Kinghorn Town Hall on 21st September 1888. After the meeting a procession was formed which included the Brethren, local dignitaries, local organizations and the school board. They processed to the site of the new Infant School via North Overgate, Bow Butts, High Street and Rossland Place. The stone was laid by the WPGM Bro Oswald of Dunnikier.
.................to be continued.