HISTORY OF ST DAVID'S LODGE No.393
Freemasonry in Berwick is older than perhaps this building suggests. John Fullar in his famous ‘History of Berwick-upon-Tweed’ which was published in 1799 tells us that there were two Lodges of masons in Berwick, and one in Tweedmouth. Indeed there was a permanent presence in the town from 1773.
Lodges came and went and masons met in various hostelries, many of which have now vanished, such as the White Bear and the Angel. St David’s Lodge met at the Gibraltar Tavern in 1794, moving to the Red Lion in 1802, which was situated near the main Guard on the north side of the High Street, By 1828 when a new warrant was issued for their Lodge, they were meeting at the Berwick Arms.
In June 1831 the members of St David’s Lodge played a major part of the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new Fish Quay at Eyemouth.
In 1871, it was proposed “that immediate and active steps be taken to raise funds for the erection of a new and suitable commodious lodge room.”
In June 1872 the present site was bought for the sum of £95. On 30th January 1874 the Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Northumberland carried out the ceremony of dedication. The total cost of the hall, being £1800, had been met in full by 1888.
St David’s memorabilia includes two banners said to have been sent form Wark Castle to Berwick for safe keeping at the time of the Battle of Flodden. There is also a marble tablet found at the corner of Tweedmouth church with the inscription that “This church foundation was laid on December 27th 1782, by the Rt. Worshipful Master Selby Morton of the Lodge of St Cuthbert’s No.133, a Lodge which appears to have ceased to exist around 1830. The collection also includes several snuff boxes reputed to be made of wood from Berwick’s medieval bridges and a gavel presented from a Scottish Lodge reputed to be made from wood taken from a ship of the Spanish Armada.
Within the Temple are two chairs dated 1641 and 1733, the former clearly engraved with masonic symbols.
Members of the Lodge attended the laying of the foundation stone of Berwick Pier in 1810’; an apron worn by a James Good on that day is on display as is one worn by the surveyor, Bro John Fox.
Among banners in the Lodge is one of the Eighth and King’s Regiment which was presented to St. Cuthbert’s Lodge in 1806, there being a close and lasting association with the garrison stationed in the town. Masons had their own corps of volunteers during the Napoleonic Wars to act as a defence force for the town.
St David’s Lodge uses a very beautiful gavel which was presented to them by Knapp Lodge of Pennsylvania, USA.
In 1920 a second lodge, St George’s, was formed to meet the popularity of freemasonry. Unfortunately, the passage of time and the effects of dry rot have taken their toll and the building is now in need of urgent and extensive repair. The Brethren have embarked on an ambitious programme to raise money to accomplish the restoration of this splendid building.