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The History of the Lodge

1947 - 2015

Immediately post war in 1946 it was perceived that with so many men returning from military service giving a large increase to the population of Portsmouth and surrounding towns and with the rebuilding of Portsmouth getting underway there was likely to be an unmet demand for Masonic membership which could not be satisfied by the existing Lodges. Worshipful Brothers Ratley, Underwood and Rayner having discussed this, quickly enrolled Brothers Elson, Pope, Bryant and Palmer to make a Founding Committee of seven, all of whom were members of Duke of Connaught Lodge No. 1834 and Wayfarers' Lodge No. 5740, which by the time the Lodge was actually brought into existence on 4th. December 1947 had an additional twenty-six brethren to make up thirty three founders.

The Provincial Grand Master, Right Worshipful Brother Edward Harris, the Right Honourable 7th. Earl of Malmesbury presided over the consecration of the Lodge with one hundred and forty six brethren in attendance. Worshipful Brother James Ratley was appointed the Primus Master of the Lodge. Mr. Harold Rayner the son of one of the founders was initiated into the Lodge on 20th. January 1948, our first initiate, and Portus Magnus was on its way. Just by way of information, the initiation fee was twenty guineas and the annual subscription was two guineas. If you were a serviceman serving abroad or a member living beyond a radius of 50 miles, the subscription was reduced to one guinea. Regalia could only be purchased with clothing coupons. At the festive board on the first meeting there were 32 members and 42 visitors in attendance and the price of the meal with wine was 6/6d. that is about 32p today. How times change. At the moment we have five members who are in receipt of their fifty year jewel., our oldest member is ninety eight years young and our longest serving Brother has been a member of the Lodge for over fifty three years.

Throughout its entire history, now extending over sixty five years, the Lodge has never been a specialist Lodge, attaching to any single profession or outside body i.e. old school, regiment etc., it has therefore maintained a broad mix of trades and professions, "meeting on the level and parting on the square". The Lodge members refer to themselves as "The Chosen Few" in acknowledgement to the Lodge anthem which is sung to our visitors at the festive board. Membership has always been quite strong and at the moment our membership is around seventy five. The Lodge has always been well supported and has been very successful in having a very active social calendar which supports our fund raising efforts, thereby enabling the Lodge to regularly give substantial donations to local charities, as well as supporting the Masonic charities.

The strength of the Lodge and its enthusiasm to support the Province generally has been rewarded with Worshipful Brother Graham Williams, who joined Freemasonry through this Lodge, having been promoted to Deputy Provincial Grand Master, the second highest position in the Province. We have over the years been very lucky to have several of our members attain active Provincial rank.

Phil Gooch

Worshipful Master 1994-95

Portus Magnus Lodge

No. 6530