Contributed by W.Bro P.E. Hinde PPrJGW (1929 – 2004)
(With additional notes by W.Bro J.E. Rivett PAGDC)
Early in the 1970s, there were two Craft Lodges meeting at the Masonic Hall Rushden; Pemberton Lodge No. 3039, formed in 1904 and Risdene Lodge No. 6532, formed in 1947. A group of Brethren from both Lodges conceived the idea of starting a new Lodge and with the permission and encouragement of the Provincial Grand Master they convened a meeting. Although support was not unanimous, because some thought their own Lodge would lose candidates, an application was made to form a third Rushden Lodge under the sponsorship of Pemberton.
Twenty Brethren petitioned for the new Lodge, most of whom were from the Pemberton and Risdene Lodges. The name they chose was “Heigham”, the old way of spelling the name of the ancient Borough of Higham Ferrers, to which the town of Rushden is joined.
The motif they chose for their Banner is the fifteenth century school building standing at the foot of Higham Ferrers St. Mary’s Church tower. The school was discontinued in 1906 and the building is now the Chantry Chapel; it was renovated by the generosity of the late Bro. John White.
The Consecration of Heigham Lodge took place at Tennyson Road School, Rushden on Saturday, 24th March 1973. The Provincial Grand Master, RW.Bro, R.A. Palmer T.D. assisted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW. Bro. D.R. Baker, PAGDC lead the Provincial Consecrating Team of twelve Provincial officers. In addition to the 20 Founder members, there were 106 visitors who shared the Festive Board.
The first Worshipful Master of Heigham Lodge was the late W.Bro. A.C.A. Colton, PGStB a well known local businessman, County Councillor and a resident and ex-Mayor of Higham Ferrers. He was the Director of Ceremonies of Pemberton Lodge and a powerful influence in the formation of Heigharn Lodge. Sadly, Arthur Colton died in 1977, a great loss to Heigham in its formative years.
The position of Immediate Past Master was filled by the late W.Bro S.R. Fox PPrGW, the Director of Ceremonies of Risdene Lodge, another very strong character who went on to become the Assistant Provincial Grand Master. Ronnie Fox attended and played a part in the Lodge until the last few weeks of his life when he died in 1993.
The first Director of Ceremonies was W.Bro. G.S. Osborne PPrAGDC and due to his initiative the ritual has always been to a very high standard at Heigharn. In 1981 he was appointed Senior Grand Deacon.
The First Senior Deacon was W.Bro. W.H. Griggs. Past Master of Pemberton, another very lively character with strong views and a very enthusiastic Mason. We soon learned that to sit at table near Bill Griggs led to lively conversation and a strong possibility of being talked into donating or joining something! The “Griggs Pot”, a pint beer mug, was regularly passed round the tables for all sorts of charitable causes. Bill Griggs was extremely generous to the Lodge as were most of the Founders, but sadly, he died in 1980 and the Lodge lost another stalwart in its formative years.
The Assistant Director of Ceremonies was W.Bro J.G. Humphrey, PM of the Old Wellingburian and Risdene Lodges. He served for eleven years as ADC and a further five as Director of Ceremonies. He has remained a very active member of Heigham giving a great deal of advice and practical assistance to alleviate Lodge expenses. John was appointed PAGDC in 1991, and promoted to PJGD in 2006..
W.Bro. W.E. Lawrence PM of the Old Kimboltonians Lodge was appointed Organist and he took great care to select music for Heigham which was different from that played in the other Rushden Lodges. W.Bro. Wilf continued as Organist until 1990. He was honoured in 1991 by being awarded the Provincial Grand Master’s Certificate of Merit. Wilf Lawrence died in 2000, at the age of 91, but was a regular attendee all of his life, occasionally playing the organ and taking part in the ritual.
Brother F.W. Tassell was elected Tyler at the Consecration meeting and he continued as Tyler for twenty years He was a Serving Brother of Pemberton Lodge as his father had been before him. Bro. Frank’s contribution to Heigham Lodge was acknowledged at the Installation Meeting on 10 March 1993 when he was made an Honorary Member of the Lodge At that same meeting the PGM presented him with a Certificate marking more than fifty years service to Freemasonry and promoted him to PPrSGD. He was then presented with an Illuminated Address from the Pemberton, Risdene and Heigham Lodges to honour his long, meritorious and faithful service to Freemasonry at Rushden. Frank Tassell died in 1994.
At the first regular meeting in April 1973 Bro. W.M. Griggs was elected a Joining member. He progressed to be installed as Master in 1979 and in spite of his demanding business life, Bro. Max (of Dr Martens fame) has played an active part in the development of the Lodge. He served as Almoner from 1983 to 1987 and was Chairman of the Heigham Charities Association until 1994; he was promoted to PPrSGW in 1996. Heigham. Lodge and Rushden Freemasonry have often benefited from his generosity and recently he was instrumental in decorating and furnishing the splendid “William Griggs Room” at the Masonic Hall in Northampton in memory of his late father, a founder of this Lodge.
It was in the early eighties when attentions were turned to the Province’s 1987 Festival for the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and a target of £8,000 was set. This target was soon reached and when it became obvious that it would be greatly exceeded, another target of £ 12,000 was set. The final figure donated by Heigham, to the Festival was £13,674, which was a tremendous achievement for such a small, newly formed Lodge.
A further festival took place in 2002, this time the beneficiary was the Provincial Grand Charity. Heigham Lodge was set a target of £13,000, which once again the Lodge managed to exceed, finally declaring a total of £17,600. As on the previous occasion, this too was a remarkable achievement.
Over the years, between the festivals, many other Masonic Charities received donations from Heigham Brethren depending to some extent on the Master’ lists which often contained non-Masonic causes. The Minutes record donations to the Rushden Hospital, the Rushden Aftercare Committee, the Macmillan Nurses, the Ophthalmic Hospital, the Across Group, the Spastic Society, the BBC Children in Need Appeal, the Peterborough Cathedral Restoration Fund, Headway, The Diana Princess of Wales Air Ambulance and the Masonic Housing Association scheme at Palmer Court.