A few of the Brethren of the area of Crossgates, Fordell and Donibristle believing Freemasonry to be a great moral that every man should have an opportunity of practising, and in order to develop the Craft more fully, consulted the Grand Lodge of Scotland to procure a Charter to enable them to do so.
The Brethren readily volunteered their services, and the application was submitted to the Grand Lodge Quarterly Communications on the 25th July 1873, when it would be brought before the Grand lodge Meeting on the first Monday of August 1873.
Authority was granted, and a working letter was received to that effect, with the Lodge to be known as St. John No.540 in the County of Fife.
The first Meeting called being the appointing of Office-Bearers, when the following offered their services: -
Right Worshipful Master Bro. Henry Cook
Depute Master Bro. John Paterson
Substitute Master Bro. Thomas Muir Long
Worshipful Senior Warden Bro. Thomas Campbell
Worshipful Junior Warden Bro. Alexander McLean
Secretary Bro. A.W. Cowan
Treasurer Bro. H. Moyes
The first Regular Meeting took place in the room of Mrs. Crawford’s Hotel.
The Brethren of the Lodge then thought it would be desirable that Meetings should be held in the now growing community of the village of Cowdenbeath, and permission was granted for the Meetings to be held in McLean’s Halls. Access to the Lodge Room was gained by ascending a ladder to the meeting place, it is recorded that this broke on many occasions.
Things worked smoothly for a short time, but from 1884 until 1888, much trouble arose concerning where the Meetings were to be held. Grand Lodge granted that the Meetings should be held alternatively at Crossgates and Cowdenbeath.
At a Regular Meeting held on 12th December 1888, Bro. Thomas Muirlong was nominated as Depute Master.The Installation Meeting was held at 8.00pm in Cowdenbeath on 25th December 1888 (Christmas Day). At this meeting Bro. Muirlong declined to accept the Office of Depute Master.At the Regular Meeting held on 11th December 1889, Bro. Thomas Muirlong was proposed asRight Worshipful Master, by Bro. Campbell; seconded by Bro. Bruce. Also proposed for this position was Bro. Robert Morris.The Installation Meeting was held on 27th December 1898, and Bro. Morris was appointed Right Worshipful Master, by 22 votes to 12.At a Committee Meeting held on 5th February 1890, Bro. Morris, R.W.M. handed in a letter of resignation as he was required to move to Methil for employment reasons. The Lodge refused to accept this resignation, and Past Master, Bro. William Keddie took temporary charge of the Lodge.During this period, as reported in the Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 5th February 1890, our Charter, and other Lodge items were lost, due to the McLean Hall in Cowdenbeath, being destroyed by fire.At the Regular Meeting held on 5th March 1890, it was clarified that Bro. Morris would be remaining in Methil and the Lodge reluctantly accepted his resignation as Right Worshipful Master.It was proposed that Past Master, Bro. William Keddie, be appointed as Right Worshipful Master, but he declined this nomination, and proposed Bro. Thomas Muirlong for this Office. This was seconded by Bro. Parker, and unanimously agreed by all Brethren present.Bro. Muirlong was installed as Right Worshipful Master, at a Special Meeting held at 7.00pm in Crossgates on 19th March 1890.Bro. Muirlong held the Office of Right Worshipful Master until his successor Bro. Thomas Campbell was nominated as Right Worshipful Master on 10th December 1890, and installed into Office at the Installation Meeting held on 7th January 1891.Bro. Muirlong was Right Worshipful Master of Lodge St. John No. 540 from 19th March 1890 until 7th January 1891, a period of nine and a half months.
In 1889, the Lodge was privileged to lay the Foundation Stone in the North East Corner of the new Glenfarg Railway Bridge, which spans the High Street of Cowdenbeath. The Stone being laid by Past Master, Bro. Archie Hodge.
The McLean’s Hall was destroyed by fire in February 1890, and other accommodation was sought in Brunton’s Hotel. With the whole contents of the Lodge property being destroyed, a new Charter was requested and granted by Grand Lodge.
Things were still not working smoothly with meetings being held in the two locations, with the Brethren of Crossgates thinking that far too many Meetings were being carried out in Cowdenbeath.
Provisional Grand Lodge then thought it advisable that a Lodge be formed in Cowdenbeath, to be known as Lodge Thane of Fife No. 781, and the same was granted in May 1891.
With the new Lodge Rooms in Cowdenbeath being consecrated in August 1892, the powers of Lodge St. John No. 540 working Degrees in Cowdenbeath were then withdrawn in April 1892.
A Special Meeting of Lodge St. John was called in 1905, with a view as to building their own Lodge Rooms, and a fund being started at this same Meeting.
The building was completed on 24th November 1911, when the Lodge Rooms were consecrated by the Grand Lodge of Scotland. Lighting to the new building was by means of Paraffin Lamps, with Electric Lighting being installed in 1920.
Hill of Beath then sought permission from Grand Lodge, to open up a meeting place, and permission was granted with the Lodge to be known as Lodge Hill of Beath No. 1892.
Unfortunately due to circumstances, this Lodge was not in operation for very long, and it was granted permission to amalgamate with Lodge St. John No. 540 in August 1937.
For a second time, the Lodge was unfortunate, when fire destroyed part of the new Hall in August 1931.
Times became rather hard as regards to finances, and it was decided to offer the Hall for sale. With a sum being agreed upon, the Hall was sold to J.Yates and Sons.
The Hall in question was approximately 100 yards from our existing Hall, which was purchased in 1935. Our new home being the former Cookery Room of the Local School Meetings were held in the local Institute while alterations were carried out on the new Hall, with anti-rooms added, and a coal fired central heating system installed. The first Meeting being held in the new premises on 7th October 1936, and the Lodge Rooms consecrated by the Provisional Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross, in November 1937.
The Lodge was only in the new Lodge Rooms for a few months, before the outbreak of the Second World War, and the Hall was taken over by H.M. Civil-Defence as an A.R.P. Wardens Post, and once again the Lodge reverted to the Institute for their monthly Meetings, returning to the Lodge Rooms at the end of the War, when the Hall was cleaned and re-decorated.
At this time many visits were exchanged by Lodges within the Province, either for consecration ceremonies or church services, which were held very frequently in those days.
Visits to Lodges out with the Province also took place, and the first mention of an inter-visitation of Lodge Camperdown No. 317, from Dundee, was in 1909. These visits are still currently carried out on a yearly basis.
Over the years, vast alterations have been made to our premises by the willing and diligent hands of Brethren and friends, and much thanks and praise is due to them for the bright and happy surroundings which now enhance our Lodge Rooms. We hold our annual Burns Night, Sportsman’s Dinner and Kids Christmas party in the Lodge Rooms and it is suitable for many other functions, for more information about this contact the lodge
Here are some extracts from our minutes which covers the time the lodge was bought and consecrated from 1934 - 1937 researched by Past Master Bro Ian Patrick.
5th December 1934, Regular Meeting.
First mentioned by Secretary that a Merchant in the Village would like to purchase the Hall. Considerable discussion took place, and the R.W.M. and Secretary were instructed to obtain definite offer and report to next Committee Meeting.
20th December 1934, Committee Meeting.
Offer of £200 received for Hall from Mr Crawford. After discussion it was proposed that contact should be made to see if offer could be increased.
27th December 1934, Committee Meeting.
As it had been established that the offer would not be increased, after lengthy discussion it was recommended to accept offer, and a Special Meeting was scheduled for 9th January 1935. Special Meeting to be advertised in the Dunfermline Press on 29th December 1934 and 5th January 1935.
9th January 1935, Special Meeting.
During this meeting Bro. Reid made an offer of £220 for the hall, and it was ultimately decided that as Mr Crawford was not prepared to increase his offer, the Lodge accepted the offer from Bro. Reid, and a cheque for the sum of £220 was handed over.
A Committee Meeting followed on from the Special Meeting, and arrangements were made to pass the Title Deeds to Bro. Reid. It was agreed that the Lodge would continue to use the Hall until May 1935.
It was also agreed to open negotiations with the owners of the Building in the grounds of the Miners Institute with a view to purchase. Bro. Reid agreed to lend whatever assistance he could with this matter.
A Deputation of Brothers. Harper, Izatt and Reid was appointed to meet with Mr Sandilands, Clerk of Works to the owners.
It was suggested that a Special Dance should be held in the Hall before it was vacated in May.
16th January 1935. Committee Meeting.
It was intimated that Bro. Reid had been taken ill, and Bro. Beveridge agreed to fill-in.
6th February 1935. Regular Meeting.
Bro. Harper reported on meeting with Mr Sandilands, and as it was anticipated that the premises could become available at any time, Right Worshipful Master, Wardens, Secretary and Treasurer were give authority to make a suitable offer, should this be required before our next meeting.
20th February 1935. Regular Meeting.
Feedback was favourable with regards to progress being made towards purchasing the new Hall.
6th March 1935. Regular Meeting.
Communication was received from J Blair and Sons, Solicitors, requesting a copy of the Charter and minutes of the meeting recording the Office-Bearers present when the sale of the Hall was authorised.
20th March 1935. Regular Meeting.
As a meeting had been held with the purchaser, it was agreed to forward the information requested regarding the sale of the Hall.
Attention was also drawn to the fact that the old Cookery Room was now advertised for sale. Secretary was authorised to write for particulars, and offer £50 to purchase Hall.
3rd April 1935. Regular Meeting.
Secretary advised that a written offer of £50 had been submitted to purchase Hall.
17th April 1935. Regular Meeting.
Concern was expressed regarding the delay on the part of the County Council in replying to our offer. Considerable discussion was held, and it was agreed that Bro. Harper should go and speak with the Master of Works.
1st May 1935. Regular Meeting.
Feedback was given by Bro. Harper regarding his discussions with the Master of Works, and a reply was expected any day.
15th May 1935. Regular Meeting.
Following discussions, it was agreed to increase our offer to £75, should this be required.
29th May 1935. Special Meeting.
The Brethren were advised on the completion of the sale of the old Hall to Mr Blair on behalf of the purchaser Mr Yates.
The Brethren were also advised that a letter had been received from the County Clerk accepting our offer of £75 for the old Cookery Room.
12th June 1935. Committee Meeting.
Bro. Beveridge agreed to submit plans for the required alterations to the new Hall.
19th June 1935. Committee Meeting.
Bro. Beveridge advised that plans had been submitted.
16th October 1935. Committee Meeting.
It was reported that the sum of £83:13/- had been paid to the County Council for the Hall, with a further £10:11/6 payment for the Title Deeds
20th November 1935. Regular Meeting.
Meeting was held in the Miners Institute, and as this was the Annual Visit of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross, a full update on the progress to date was given, and plans for the new Hall were given Provincial Grand Lodge approval.
3rd July 1936. Committee Meeting.
A quotation was received from John Reid and Sons for the sum of £261,16/9 to complete the alterations to the new Hall. As it was thought that the quotation was high, Bros. Harper and Wilson to meet with the contractor.
8th July 1936. Committee Meeting.
It was now agreed to accept quotation, and also ask Mr Reid for a quotation for the installation of electric lighting.
22nd July 1936. Committee Meeting.
It was agreed to instruct the contractor to proceed with the quotation, which now included the installation of electric lighting. A payment of £100 to be made, with the outstanding balance paid on completion of the work.
9th September 1936. Committee Meeting.
It was intimated that the new Hall would be ready for the first Regular Meeting in October.
A Deputation from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Fife and Kinross was present, and congratulations were given to the Committee for having acquired such a nice new meeting place.
7th October 1936. Regular Meeting.
Lodge met in new Hall for the first time.
17th November 1937.
Consecration of new Lodge Rooms, Bro Cole, Right Worshipful Master.
1st December 1937.
Bro Russell, Depute Master, proposed as Right Worshipful Master Elect by Bro Cole, Right Worshipful Master.
15th December 1937.
Bro Russell installed as Right Worshipful Master.
The Lodge was closely linked in its early days with the village of Cowdenbeath and the Parish of Beath. Its Charter was granted on 4th August 1873.
The first Right Worshipful Master, Bro. Henry Cook, was one of the leaders of the Fife miners in the “Eight Hours Day” controversy, and a Founder of the Fife Miners Union, of which he was the first President.
The first equipment was supplied locally, with forty Aprons by David Kilgour, Crossgates, and Lodge Jewels by Richard Fielding, Dunfermline.
The first celebration of St. John’s Festival was preceded by a torchlight procession through the village, and the grounds of Cuttlehill, then owned by Sheriff Lamond, and headed by the famous Fordell Brass Band. Dinner was provided by Messrs Crawford at 2s. 6p. (twelve and a half pence) per head.
Linked by Cowdenbeath, an intimate connection existed with Lodge Minto No. 385, Lochgelly, and for years the two Lodges met at this central point, the processions coming in from west and east, clad in Regalia, and headed by bands.
The first reference to this is in 1874, when “it was agreed to invite the Brethren of Lodge Minto to meet us in Cowdenbeath and celebrate the summer festival of St. John. Mrs. Crawford was engaged to provide a banquet for those present” (Mrs. Crawford was proprietrix of the former Cross Inn).
The same two Lodges joined to carry through the ceremony of laying the Foundation Stone of the new Ballingry School. The Lodge was also represented at the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Royal Blind Asylum, Edinburgh in 1876.
When Lodge Thane of Fife No.781 was formed in Cowdenbeath in 1891, the Crossgates Lodge at first demurred to giving up their claim to Cowdenbeath, but finally the fraternal feeling prevailed, as witnessed by a fine gesture from Lodge St. John, in presenting the new Lodge with ten guineas to cover the Charter expenses
A distinguished honorary member of the Lodge was the late William Adamson, M.P. for West Fife, Secretary of the Fife Miners Union, and Secretary
EXTRACT of MATRICULATION of the arms of LODGE ST. JOHN 540
David Wishart having by Petition unto the Lord Lyon King of Arms of 18 January 1974for and behalf of LODGE ST. JOHN 540 Shewn THAT the Lodge was erected under the Charter from the Grand Lodge of Scotland of date 4 August 1873 THAT the area served by the said Lodge is in the district of Crossgates in the civil parish of Dalgety. District of Dunfermline in the County of Fife, THAT Ensigns Armorial were recorded in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland (Volume 27, Folio 62) of date 20 October 1927 in name of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, AND the Petitioners having prayed that the foresaid Ensigns Armorial might be matriculated of new in name of Lodge St. John 540, with suitable difference.
The Lord Lyon King of Arms by Interlocutor of date 17 March 1975 Granted Warrant to the Lyon Clerk to matriculate in the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland in the name of Petitioners the following Ensigns Armorial
Videlicet:-Dexter, per fess Azure and per pale Gules and Argent,
1st, the Eagle of St. John affrontee, wings expanded grasping in its talons the Holy Writ Expanded Or,
2nd a cross of the third charged at its centre with a lozenge Sable,
3rd, two gates of the last, Sinister, Vert, on a chevoron Or between three towers proper a pair of compasses extended chevronwise Sable.
Matriculated the 1st day of August 1975 Extracted forth of the 107th page of the 55th Volume of the Public Register of All Arms and Bearings in Scotland this 1st day of August 1975
At a Regular Meeting held on 12th December 1888, Bro. Thomas Muirlong was nominated as Depute Master.
The Installation Meeting was held at 8.00pm in Cowdenbeath on 25th December 1888 (Christmas Day). At this meeting Bro. Muirlong declined to accept the Office of Depute Master.
At the Regular Meeting held on 11th December 1889, Bro. Thomas Muirlong was proposed as
Right Worshipful Master, by Bro. Campbell; seconded by Bro. Bruce. Also proposed for this position was Bro. Robert Morris.
The Installation Meeting was held on 27th December 1898, and Bro. Morris was appointed Right Worshipful Master, by 22 votes to 12.
At a Committee Meeting held on 5th February 1890, Bro. Morris, R.W.M. handed in a letter of resignation as he was required to move to Methil for employment reasons. The Lodge refused to accept this resignation, and Past Master, Bro. William Keddie took temporary charge of the Lodge.
During this period, as reported in the Minutes of the Committee Meeting held on 5th February 1890, our Charter, and other Lodge items were lost, due to the McLean Hall in Cowdenbeath, being destroyed by fire.
At the Regular Meeting held on 5th March 1890, it was clarified that Bro. Morris would be remaining in Methil and the Lodge reluctantly accepted his resignation as Right Worshipful Master.
It was proposed that Past Master, Bro. William Keddie, be appointed as Right Worshipful Master, but he declined this nomination, and proposed Bro. Thomas Muirlong for this Office. This was seconded by Bro. Parker, and unanimously agreed by all Brethren present.
Bro. Muirlong was installed as Right Worshipful Master, at a Special Meeting held at 7.00pm in Crossgates on 19th March 1890.
Bro. Muirlong held the Office of Right Worshipful Master until his successor Bro. Thomas Campbell was nominated as Right Worshipful Master on 10th December 1890, and installed into Office at the Installation Meeting held on 7th January 1891.
Bro. Muirlong was Right Worshipful Master of Lodge St. John No. 540 from 19th March 1890 until 7th January 1891, a period of nine and a half months.