A Brief History of the Lodge


The Corinthian Lodge of Amoy held its first installation meeting on 11th December, 1878, on the island of Gulangyu, just off the west coast of Amoy, China. It was warranted on 18th January 1879 as the 1806th Lodge on the roll of the United Grand Lodge of England.

The Crest of the Lodge, chosen in its early years, is contained within a "vesica pisces", an ancient symbol of the Deity, whose radiant all-seeing eye looks down on a Corinthian column - a symbol of the beauty of workmanship of our first traditional master. The column is crowned with two of the Great Lights of the Craft. It stands on a mosaic pavement, a symbol of life, above which rise the celestial bodies indicating the Light of Masonry and the regularity its government should emulate.

As would be expected from its name, it was the fourth lodge in the English Constitution District of China to be named after the Noble Orders of Architecture, the others being The Tuscan Lodge of Shanghai, The Doric Lodge of Ching Kiang, and The Ionic Lodge of Amoy.

In 1875, the District split into North and South China. Ionic and Corinthian were the first new lodges to be added to the rolls of the Southern District, of which Corinthian remains a part today.

Amoy (now Xiamen) was one of several treaty ports along the coast of China with an International Settlement.  The settlement was situated about a mile from Amoy on the island of Gulangyu, which was spaciously laid out with private houses for foreign nationals, connected by winding rickshaw paths. One of its buildings was the Masonic Hall. Bro. Findsen, initiated in 1928, described it as a modest single storey building with a temple, banqueting hall, and custodian's quarters. It was built in 1880 in Victorian gothic style.

You can view the original deed and land registration documents on the 'Images/Documents' page of the Historical section, they are:

  Original deed
  Amended deed showing transfer of ownership
  Re-registration document and map
  Chinese deed document

Membership of the Lodge in those days consisted of about 20 of the inhabitants of the International Settlement, mostly merchants and staff of the Chinese Maritime Customs Service, assisted by seafarers who called regularly at the port. Attendances at installation meetings included delegations from Shanghai and Hong Kong. W. Bro. Le Patourel (W.M.  1932 and 1941) later recalled a visit by The Unique Institution and China Fleet Lodge of Instruction.

During the Sino-Japanese War, Amoy was occupied, but the Japanese left the International Settlement undisturbed, and Masonic working continued. However, with the outbreak of the Pacific War, Gulangyu was also occupied, and the inhabitants restricted to their homes. The Masonic Hall closed its doors for the last time on 11th November, 1941.

When the suggestion was made, after the cessation of the hostilities, to revive Corinthian Lodge in Hong Kong, the District Grand Master, R.W. Bro. F.F. Duckworth, received the idea with enthusiasm. W. Bro. Jeacock later recalled that the aim in 1948 was to keep the outport lodges ticking over with "caretakers" until such time as they could return home.

The resuscitation meeting was held on the top floor of Kings Building (now replaced by Swire House) on 21st June, 1948. Major items of business were to elect six joining members, elect a master, and "to sign a petition for a warrant". From this latter, it may be gathered that the warrant of 1879 was lost, and that the one now in the Lodge's possession is a duplicate. In fact, its only possession at that time was the title deed to the Hall on Gulangyu, worthless under the circumstances.

Regalia was borrowed from Perseverance Lodge, and none was owned till 1950 when each officer bought his own, and donated it to the Lodge.

The summons to the Installation meeting of 21st February, 1949 records 26 members including 12 from Amoy, the rest having joined since the resuscitation meeting. By the end of 1949 there were 53 members, including 22 absent brethren. These numbers stayed more or less static until the late 50s, and in the early 60s they more than doubled.

The Lodge celebrated its Centenary on 11th December, 1978, exactly one hundred years after its consecration. Thus, as each new member is made, he inherits from his predecessors a tradition of dedication to the Craft. He becomes a member of a lodge with an interesting and chequered history, the senior outport Lodge in the District. May each of its members ensure that its warrant "loses none of its former splendour".

Should you wish to read further about The Corinthian Lodge of Amoy consult "Amoy, the Port and the Lodge", by R.W. Bro. Christopher Haffner.

 


 

Picture of old Lodge building
The Masonic Hall was shared between two Lodges: The Ionic Lodge of Amoy No. 1781 and The Corinthian Lodge of Amoy No. 1806. Photo courtesy of The Wason Collection on East Asia, Cornell University.
Engraving of Lodge
This image is of a copy of a print that appeared in the 1880 May edition of the Illustrated London News, along with the following article:

"Some of our readers may possibly be ignorant of the situation, if not of the very existence, of Koolangsu.  It is a small island in the harbour of Amoy, one of the five ports thrown open to trade by the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.  Koolangsu is now chiefly occupied by the private residences of the various officials, merchants, and missionaries, who make up the total foreign community, all business being transacted upon the other side of the water, close to the native city of Amoy.  Our Engraving, taken from a photograph by Mr. St. J. H. Edwards, of the American Consulate, shows the new Masonic Hall recently erected to accommodate the members of the Ionic and Corinthian Lodges.  It was designed by Mr. W. Danby, of Hong-Kong, and contains a spacious hall of fifty feet in length by twenty-five in breadth.  The Worshipful Master of the Ionic Lodge for the present year is Brother Herbert A. Giles, District Grand Senior Warden, Hong Kong; and of the Corinthian Lodge, Brother W. C. Howard."
Picture of old Lodge building
This is how the Hall looked in 1996. Apparently, after the Lodge closed in 1941, it was looked after by a caretaker for a number of years. At some point the Hall was divided up into about ten small apartments, but unfortunately it seems that little or no maintenance was done in the intervening years, and after a typhoon damaged the roof, it was eventually demolished in 2000.
Picture of new building
And this is the building that now stands on the same spot as the original Hall. Although there are some obvious differences, it is a fair reproduction of the original.
The location of the Masonic Hall on Gulangyu Island, Amoy.
This is the site of the old Masonic Hall on Gulangyu.