Adapted from a paper entitled "Sindlesham Lodge and Sindlesham Centre"
By Stephen B. Cox
All Masonic Lodges are of course unique and distinctive and make a specific contribution to the universal family of Freemasonry. However Sindlesham Lodge has a unique distinction in the Masonic Province of the Royal County of Berkshire.
The original Greyfriars site in Reading had been founded in 1852, and the foundation stone was laid in 1859 and opened in 1860. From then until 1969 the home of the Province of Berkshire was in the town of Reading at what is called the Old Greyfriars site. Freemasonry in Berkshire was based there for many years; it is now the Sainsbury's supermarket in Friar Street/Greyfriars Road.
Having outgrown itself the search was on for a new site. It was our founding master Worshipful Brother Ken Wickham who actually found the site for what became the Berkshire Masonic Centre at Sindlesham. It had been a Catholic seminary (St. Mary's College) and originally a family home called Sindlesham House which had been there for centuries, as our banner history proclaims. A new management company was formed in May 1969 and the centre dedicated on 6th. September 1969. Just over a month later the first lodge, Sindlesham Lodge No.8293, was consecrated in the new Temple.
There is also another connection. Two of the members were directly involved in the surveying of the site, and the planning and construction of the Centre we have today: Worshipful Brother Ron Swales and Worshipful Brother Gordon Morris
Sindlesham Lodge 8293 was the very first lodge to be consecrated at the new home and centre of the Province of Berkshire. Our sponsoring Lodge was Acorn Lodge No.5985 (our mother Lodge) making Downshire Lodge No.2437 our grandmother Lodge (Downshire Lodge founded the Wokingham Masonic Hall), and Greyfriars Lodge No.1101 was our great-grandmother lodge. This Lodge also sponsored Erlegh Lodge No.9110, our Daughter Lodge.
It is also worth noting that the consecrating Provincial Grand Master for our Lodge was Edwin Flavell - who is commemorated in the form of the Flavell Suite at the Berkshire Masonic Centre. The Lodge was consecrated on 17th. October 1969 in the presence of :
W.Bro.Rev.Canon SJS Groves Dep.PGM and
W.Bro. JE Bignall Asst.PGM
The Prov. SGW WBro. EAL Edwards acted as SW;
The Prov.JGW W.Bro.AP Beverton acted as JW;
The Prov.G.Chap. W.Bro.Rev.JN Clark acted as Chaplain;
The Prov. P.G.Sec W.Bro. HW Jefferies acted as Sec.
The P.G.DC, W.Bro. HWJ Fielding acted as DC.
The P.G.Pursuivant. W.Bro. WH Mayes acted as IG.
The Master Designate was: W. Bro. KE Wickham; SW Designate: W. Bro. EF Allwood; JW Designate: W.Bro.FR Benwell.
The ceremony of consecration was concluded with a Festive Board which consisted of 6 courses!
Finally we might also care to note that quite a large number of junior brethren attended those first classes of instruction of Sindlesham Lodge on a regular basis including a young chap with a bright Masonic future ahead of him: his name was Mike Hooton!