As was said previously, we are working to provide more information about the various items and artifacts that belong to Lodge St. George. Before the Old State House was granted to the brethren of Lodge St. George 200 for the annual rent of one peppercorn, there were plans in place to build our own lodge building. In the gallery above you can see a plaque that was once placed on the foundation that would support the building.
The inscription on the plaque translates from Latin as follows:
The Master Builder of the Hall
With the Approval of the Highest Authority
and by the counsel and guidance of his
own plans, laid the foundation-stone.
A man highly to be revered
“John Van Norden”
of the Ancient and Honourable Order of Freemasons
in the Islands of Bermuda
in the fifty-third year of the reign
of George III
Sincere fraternal greetings
and of light
There is an inscription attached to the plaque describing the placement of the plaque at the time.
This plaque was laid at the foundation stone of a Masonic Lodge in 1812 on a lot of land deeded by Sr J. Cockburn for that purpose. On this lot now stands the Y.M.C.A. building part of Outerbridges Supermart. This build was given to Lodge St. George by Wor. Br. W.E. Meyer.
The prime mover behind this lodge was John Van Norden, a Loyalist who had lived in New Jersey and Nova Scotia (where he had been a master of Windsor Lodge No. 13) before arriving in Bermuda in 1796 to take up a naval post. Van Norden and seven other prominent Bermudians successfully applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a warrant and St. George’s Lodge No. 266 came into being in May 1798. Flourishing in the early nineteenth century the lodge worked under the sanction of the Government. In 1812 Governor James Cockburn granted it a plot of land for a Masonic hall. Van Norden, who was by then both mayor of St George and Provincial Grand Master, conducted the building’s foundation stone laying ceremony. But the lodge outgrew its premises, and, just three years later, the governor deeded the former Sessions House to the lodge for the yearly rental of one peppercorn. Thus, the brethren of Lodge St. George now perform a public display while paying their annual rent at The Bermuda Peppercorn Ceremony.