"Now, here's to the health o' our ain guid Lodge
The wisdom and the wealth o' our ain guid Lodge,
May plenty and peace like blessing increase,
And freedom reign supreme in our ain guid Lodge"
Francis Love 1781-1860.
In 1787 a group of Stevenston ( "Stinston") men applied to the Grand Lodge of Scotland for a Charter to open a Lodge in the town, They were members of Kilwinning No 0 and they claimed that the journey from Stevenston to Kilwinning was too strenuous especially during the winter months which would be true as roads in those days were non-existent. The Charter was duly issued on 5th November 1787 under the name of "Stivenstoune" Thistle and Rose No 224. Around the mid 1800s numbers were reallocated, and Thistle & Rose became No.169, No.224 is now Lodge Innocents in Cullen, Buckie, Banffshire. The original No.169 is now Shettleston St. John No.128.
It is believed that the Lodge first met in a "howf" in the old part of the village namely Schoolwell, Brae, and later in a house in Townhead Street ,(Weavers Brae) later still they moved to Ardeer House which was the home of the Warners who were the landowners. Patrick Warner is named on the Past Masters roll of the Lodge.
In 1814 they moved to premises in New Street (Coo Redden) in the Thistle & Rose Hotel. This was to be there home until the present Temple was built in 1956.
Records of the Lodge previous to 1914 have been lost, so little is known of the early history of the Lodge.
The Centenary celebrations took place on Friday 4th November 1887, a large number of brethren attending, they marched from the Temple headed by the Stevenston Brass Band to the house of the RWM Bro. D. Sinclair, where cakes and wine were served to all ,they then marched through the streets of the town to Shore Road Cottage the home of Bro Taylor, Treasurer where again cakes and wine were served, they were then met at the railway station where they were joined by a number of visiting brethren after which they proceeded to the home of Bro Cumming where they were again entertained to cake and wine, they then proceeded to Ardeer House and welcomed by the factor Bro. M'Jannet, they then returned to the Lodge room where a dinner was served, after the usual toasts a toast was proposed to "The oldest Freemason in Scotland and was replied to by Bro. James Young who was initiated into Thistle & Rose on 24th May 1819 on the day Queen Victoria was born. In a concealed drawer in the Alter a ticket for the Centenary dinner was recently found, price Three shillings.(15p),also a telegram from Grand Lodge of Scotland to Lodge Secretary Bro. Alex. Wilson "Regret to say could not get up Grand Lodge deputation to go to Stevenston". At the close the "laird" was accompanied home by the band playing "For he's a jolly good fellow”.
" Centenary" taken from the report in "Ardrossan & SaItcoats Herald" 11th Nov.1887
The laying of the Memorial Stone of Lodge Thistle and Rose took place on 26' March 1898 before a large and representative gathering of brethren who met in the Conservative Club rooms. The gathering formed outside in order of procession and proceeded to the site of the future Temple. Newmilns Brass Band, Ayr Burgh Band and a band of pipers accompanied the procession. After a dedicatory prayer by Prov. Grand Chaplain Bro. Rev.Wm.Lee Ker. the RWM Bro. James Orr Sinclair requested the Provincial Grand Master Bro H.R.Wallace of Cloncaird and Busbie to perform the ceremony of laying the Memorial stone, the RWM presented the PGM with a silver trowel to assist in his labours and the PGM should afterwards preserve it as a souvenir to this historic occasion. After addressing the brethren the PGM then presented the RWM with the mallet used in the ceremony to which the RWM gave his thanks on behalf of the Lodge (This mallet is used by the RWM at Lodge meetings to the present day ). At the Banquet which followed in the Thistle and Rose Hotel the usual toast list was duly honoured.
("Memorial Stone" taken from report in "Ardrossan & Saltcoats Herald" 1st April 1898)
The ceremony of Consecration of new Lodge room was held on Friday 21st October 1898 RWM Bro. Jas Off Sinclair presiding, the ceremonial was carried out by the PGM Bro. H.R.Wallace and the Prov. Grand Chaplain Bro. Rev. Wm.Lee Ker. The RWM Bro. Orr Sinclair was also Prov. Grand Secretary at this time. A supper to celebrate followed. Tickets cost Two Shillings. (10p.)
The 150th anniversary of the Lodge was celebrated by a dinner and concert in the Ardeer Hall on Sat. 6th November 1937, the RWM Bro. Wm. McDonald presiding over a company of 142 brethren including many visitors. Grand Lodge of Scotland was represented by Bro Leo. Melrose, Grand Treasurer and Bro. Greive, Grand D. of C. Provincial Grand Lodge deputation was headed by Prov. Grand Master. Bro. Brig. Gen. Crawford. On Sunday 7th November 1937 an anniversary Divine Service was held, the Lodge was opened in the Ardeer Hall by RWM Bro. Wm. McDonald, over 200 Brethren attended including visitors from many sister Lodges, the Provincial Grand Lodge deputation was headed by Prov. Grand Secretary, Bro. J. McDonald. The Brethren marched to Stevenston High Kirk headed by Darvel Burgh Band where the service was conducted by Bro. Rev. J.Geddes Richie of Lodge Melrose No.12. After the service the Brethren marched back to Ardeer Hall where tea and sandwiches were served.
A special meeting was held in Ardeer Hall on the 22nd June 1954 to obtain authority to instruct the architect to issue schedules and obtain quotes from contractors and thereafter proceed with the erection of the new Temple at 54 New Street. Difficulties in obtaining planning permission had been overcome by the hard work of Bro. J. Clark. PM Secretary, plans were prepared and approved and authority to proceed was unanimously granted by the Brethren. Discussions on ways to raise money to cover the cost took place and a suggestion that each member donate £5, also any brother who wished to grant a sum of money interest free to be repaid as and when the Lodge was in a position to do so. These suggestions were approved. The scheduled cost of the building was £11,000. (Current value over £700,000).
The ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new lodge at 54 New Street took place on Sat. 18th June 1955, Bro. A. McLatchie. RWM presiding, ceremonial work was carried out by the Provincial Grand Master. Bro. the Rt. Hon. Earl of Eglinton & Winton. with the Stevenston Pipe Band in attendance.
The official opening and consecration of the Temple took place on Sat. 30th June 1956 Bro. J. Bryan RWM presiding assisted by a large number of brethren, visitors were welcomed from 23 sister Lodges. The ceremony was carried out by Bro. the Rt. Hon. Earl of Eglinton & Winton. Prov. Grand Master assisted by the P.G.L. office bearers. After the ceremony a banquet was held in the Ardeer Hall and the toast list duly honoured. Cost of tickets :£1.1/-(a guinea)
The first regular meeting in the new Temple was held on Tues.10th July.1956 when an E.A. Degree was conferred by the RWM and Wardens, also on this occasion Honorary Membership was conferred on the Prov. Grand Master.
On Sat. 14th Nov. 1987 another milestone in the history of the Lodge took place, the occasion being the Lodge Bi-centenary. Bro. Norman Collett, RWM. Presided over a large turn out of brethren, including visitors from many sister Lodges. The deputation from Prov. Grand Lodge was headed by Bro. T. McColl IPPGM The ceremonial work was carried out by Bro. Brian Brown. Sub. Grand Master Mason and office bearers of Grand Lodge. After the ceremony a dinner was provided in the Ardeer Hall and the toast list honoured, a harmony followed in the Social Club to conclude a historic day in the history of the Lodge.
In 1781 Francis Love was born in the Wardhouse Stevenston, he became famous throughout the west of Scotland particulary in Masonic circles. A poet of no mean ability, a weaver to trade, his life being spent in this occupation, he was chiefly noted for his adhesion to the principles of Freemasonary. Great respect was held towards the man by all sections of the Masonic brethren, not only within "Thistle & Rose" with which he was connected for over 50 years, holding various offices in the Lodge till his death in 1860. The Lodges of Ayrshire erected a handsome monument to his memory in Stevenston High Kirk churchyard, it takes the form of an obelisk A copy of his poems was published in 1863 and a second edition 20 years later by popular demand. Bro. Archie Chambers Prov. Grand Master done a lot of research into Bro. Love and compiled a very interesting talk on his life and works.
The two pillars of strength in a Lodge must be the Secretary and Treasurer and existing records show several long serving brethren in these offices;
Bro. Robert Graham 1914 - 1933
Bro. Joseph Clark 1933 - 1955
Bro Thomas Standford PM 1955 - 1971
Bro. Alex. McLatchie PM 1971 - 1991
Bro. Hugh Barr 1991 - 1996
Bro. Robert Cramb PM 1996 - 2015
Bro. Robert Kerr PM 2015 - 2021
Bro. Stewart Gray PM 2023 - Present
Bro. William Bell 1914 - 1934
Bro. Jame Ballantyne PM 1934 - 1955
Bro. William Thomson 1961 - 2015
Bro. Norman Collett PM 2015 - 2018
Bro. James Hill PM 2018 - Present
Bro. Thomson took on the office of Treasurer on a temporary basis in 1961 and sadly passed to the Grand Lodge above in September 2015.
In 1991 Bro. Thomson was honoured by the Grand Lodge of Scotland by receiving the Honorary office of Assistant Grand Treasurer.
At the regular meeting of the Lodge Tues 30th January 2006 Bro. Thomson was presented with a 60 year Diploma by Past Prov. Grand Master Bro. Adam Cunningham. The RWM Bro. Robert Cramb Jnr. then presented Bro Thomson with an engraved lead crystal plate in recognition of 45 years service as Lodge Treasurer.
Bro. Thomson was further honoured in 2011 by the Provincial Lodge of Ayrshire were a Celebration Dinner was hosted to mark his 50 years as our Lodge Treasurer.
"May the robe o' contentment around you entwine,
An' the pleasure o' pleasin' be aye your design."
Francis Love 1781-1860.
Extracts from "A History of Stevenston" by the late Bro. J Clements. (Local Historian)
Further research by Bro. Robert Cramb PM.