In The Beginning...
When Grand Lodge was established in 1717, the first Lodge in Hampshire to come under it's rule was the Lodge of Antiquity, No 26. The Lodge,
founded in London in 1724, came to Gosport in 1729 where it met at the East India Arms, in Gosport High Street. It later moved to the Three Tuns, in Portsmouth High Street, in 1736
Other Lodges established in Gosport were the Spring Clock Lodge at the Isle of Wight Hoy Inn and the Naval Lodge at the Sea Horse Tavern; both appeared and disappeared. Also, founded in 1796 at the Fountain Tavern in Middle Street, was the Lodge of Harmony, No 309, which, after meeting at a total of 26 further venues in Gosport, moved to Fareham in 1850
where it remains today.
This left Gosport, for the first time in 133 years, with no Masonic Lodge. Eleven years elapsed before Masonry was revived in the town in 1861,
with the founding of the Gosport Lodge, No 903.
In 1877 the Prince of Wales Lodge. No 1705 was founded, to relieve the vast numbers of members in Gosport Lodge. The membership of these
lodges further increased over the next nine years until the Lodge of Hope, No 2153 was consecrated in May 1886. Forty years elapsed before St
Swithuns Lodge, No 4795 was formed in February 1926, followed thirteen years later by Lee Britten Lodge, No 5789 in May 1939.
Then Came Rowner Lodge ...
In 1949, Lodge of Hope having moved to Portsmouth, there were then
four lodges meeting in Gosport, with a total membership of 813: Gosport Lodge with 393 members, Prince of Wales Lodge with 151 members, St Swithuns Lodge with 160 members and Lee Britten with 109 members.
The population of Gosport had reached 50,000 and with the cessation of hostilities was still increasing. Demobilisation of the Armed Forces added to already growing waiting lists for candidates for all four lodges.
Concerned by this fact, a group of masons from those lodges decided to apply for permission to form a new lodge, under the aegis of the Lee
Britten Lodge. After many meetings the acting secretary Arthur Lawrence wrote to the Provincial Grand Lodge, then in Portsmouth, to begin the
The Founders sought approval to use the name Rowner and in the
correspondence between themselves, the Provincial Grand Secretary and Grand Secretary refer to Rowner as a village near Gosport and an
important fort bearing the same name.
Rowner was in fact a medieval manoric and the present parish church of St Mary the Virgin, together with it's lychgate, was chosen as the design for the lodge banner.
It is worthy to note that the lychgate was restored in 2000 by generous
donations from the Lodge. A brass plaque on the gates notes that
contribution and connection between the Church and Rowner Lodge.
A petition was duly sent to which 31 Gosport masons had affixed their
signatures. The majority were shopkeepers and businessmen from the
town and of those original founders, 28 were resident in Gosport, plus 1 in Fareham, 1 in Southsea and 1 in Shepperton.
The Deputy Provincial Grand Master-In-Charge of Hampshire and Isle of Wight, W.Bro Wilfred Attenborough MB. BS. PGD, concecrated the Rowner Lodge No 6974 on Wednesday 10th May 1950.