Rochford Hundred Lodge 8922

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A Picture That Tells a Story

The wonderful thing about this hobby we call Freemasonry is that you never stop learning and discovering things of real interest. A case in point happened just recently when one of our lodge members discovered an old photograph.

Our Junior Warden, Bro. Rob Ferrant does house clearing among many other activities and in the past he has come across many items of Masonic interest i.e. firing glasses, old jewels etc; this time he spotted a picture in a frame on a wall. He didn’t think it was of much interest at first but when he looked closer he realised it was a man in his Masonic regalia with many medals and jewels on his chest. He then realised that this must be somebody of some stature in the Masonic world.

He brought it into L of I one evening and everybody was interested to see it and to find out more about the person pictured. This is where I come in, I was intrigued to find out who he was and find out more about him. The picture had a name on it, James Berry, and a rank of AGP. The search begins.


Naturally the first port of call was the Internet and this immediately threw up my first clue, it appeared James Berry was Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Southend-on-Sea around the early 1900’s. It was getting more interesting. It also showed that he was a Founder Member of St. Philip Lodge No. 4221 in Southend so I contacted their Secretary W.Bro Dennis Wiles who kindly let me have some information from their archive, I then sent out more enquiries to both Province and Grand Lodge to see what they had on record.


From what I have received it began to show that this mason had a great deal of tragedy in his life but was a well respected and valuable member of the community.


James Berry was a member of St. Andrew’s Lodge No. 1817 (current Secretary Terry Ager). By 1920 it

This took place at the Masonic Hall, Broadway, Southend-on-Sea. The consecration was followed by the installation of the Master Designate, W.Bro. James Berry, PAGStB., PPGD by the Deputy PGM.

At the conclusion of W.Bro. Berry’s Installation and appointment of officers, he gave a hearty vote of thanks to the Provincial Grand Master and Deputy Provincial Grand Master for their kindness in attending and performing the ceremony of the day, and they were invited with the brethren who assisted them, to accept honorary membership of the Lodge. The first candidate for initiation was also proposed and seconded. He was Mr James Wallace Simpson, 26 years of age, a chemist from Thorpe Bay.


The Installation was followed by a Consecration Dinner held at Garon’s Banqueting Hall when 153 Freemasons met at the Festive Board. In addition to the dignitaries already mentioned, amongst those present were the Masters of True Friendship No. 160, Trinity No. 1734, St Andrew’s No. 1817, St. Clement’s No. 2442, Albert Lucking No. 2717, Westcliff No. 2903 and Nore No. 3610.


On the completion of his year as primus master he was presented with a silver cigar case by the Brethren he had initiated. He was then recognised as the Father of the Lodge.


W.Bro. Berry was an Alderman and 12th Mayor of Southend, his term of office was 1903-1904. As a matter of interest, James Berry’s name appears amongst such other illustrious Southend names as