Bedford Castle Lodge in 2021

30th December 2021 – As we approach the end of 2021 we should not only look forward to the new year where the vibes going forward from a masonic perspective are very encouraging but also reflect on the sadness of those losses we have suffered this year. Bernard, Martin and Gordon will forever remain in our thoughts and their contribution to the Lodge never forgotten.

6th December 2021 – A note and some thoughts from our Membership Officer – I am a firm believer that many of our acquaintances already have the heart of a mason, they just have not asked to wear the apron yet. All members should take a moment and reflect on a friend, family member or acquaintance which they believe matches this belief, and then, have the courage to invite them along to one of our social events. After all, who does not want a free meal and a pint with a great bunch of lads?

We are a younger, growing, and evolving lodge with a diverse cross-section of members from all walks of life. Guests to our lodge consistently mention two things – our dedication to the quality of ‘work’ we perform and how this is still achieved in a fun, supportive and jovial environment.

Being a medium-sized lodge, all our members are engaged. Any a new member, would be encouraged from the get-go to participate in delivering ‘work’, learn about the history of freemasonry and the history of Bedford Castle Lodge.

Feedback from new members says that we are supportive of different people’s learning abilities and commitment levels. They have also enjoyed everyone’s keenness to socialise outside of the craft.

We are also the latest meeting lodge at Kempston (meetings from 6 PM) to allow our members time to arrive from work.

The conclusion is that we are a growing Lodge which maintains the principals of Freemasonry but above all we enjoy it!

9th September 2021 – This was spotted by one of our Brethren on Facebook

The story of Bedford Castle.

On the 20th June 1224 the siege of Bedford Castle began. Most people in Bedford are familiar with Castle mound and the story of the siege. However – dig a little deeper into the story and our knowledge usually becomes a little sketchy…

Who built the Castle? How long was it there for? Who besieged it? Why? Even after a little digging, I’ve found out lots about the Castle that I didn’t already know.

Who Built the Castle? When? Why?

The earliest Castle was built by Ralf de Tallebosc soon after the Norman Conquest in 1066. A large part of the existing Saxon town was flattened to make way for the castle, which in its earliest days would have been made of wood. The Castle was built because the incoming Normans needed a place to overlook the newly conquered town, to defend themselves from the town (if need be), to defend themselves and the town from other attackers and they needed a stronghold from where they could retreat into the countryside.

Gradually the castle was rebuilt in stone, so that by 1130 it had a “strong and unshakeable keep”. By this time it was in the hands of the de Beauchamp family, who held the Barony of Bedford.

Under siege

The castle actually suffered several attacks before the great siege of 1224. The first of these was around 1137, when it was captured by King Stephen. During a siege in 1153 Prince Henry, soon to be King Henry II arrived in Bedford, delivered heavy plundering and left the castle in flames. St Paul’s Church suffered some damage although we don’t know how extensive this was. There was another siege in 1215, when King John sent Faukes de Breaute to capture it, following a minor rebellion that arose when the King refused to abide by the terms of the Magna Carta.

The Villian – Faukes de Breaute

King John gave Faukes de Breaute the castle and barony to thank him for his efforts. Faukes set about fortifying the castle and it is said that he pulled down St Paul’s Church to use the stone. Through the early 1220s, from his impregnable base, Faukes gained a reputation as an oppressive landlord and was eventually fined £3,000 by the King’s justices based at Dunstable.

Angry at the fine, Faukes sent his brother William to capture the three justices (although two escaped) and take them to the castle. The King (Henry III by this time) was furious and ordered Faukes to release the captured judge – when he refused the King ordered an attack on the castle.

Faukes had left the defence of the castle to his brother William so was safely out of the way when the attack came.

The final siege

Matthew Paris, a monk at St Albans Abbey, chronicled the Siege of Bedford some years later. The chronicles say that the siege lasted for 8 weeks, during which time the walls of the castle were bombarded daily with large lumps of stone flung from siege engines. Miners were used to dig underneath the castle walls and it was this that eventually led its destruction: on the 14th August the final walls collapsed when the tunnels were lit on fire, and the Keep was taken.

There my have been over 2500 men involved in the siege, coming from as far away as Cumberland in the north and Dorset in the south. Around 200 of them were killed. Most of the men inside the castle were hanged, although it is said that 3 were spared to serve as Knights Templar in the Holy Land.

The fall of the castle would have been a severe loss to the town as it would have been the town’s biggest employer and the focus of town life. In the years since the siege the castle mound has had several uses. From the late 14th Century the ruins were used as a rubbish dump and in the 18th Century the top of the mound was used as a bowling green.

29th August 2021 – The lodge will hope to run several functions over the next 12 months commencing with a Christmas Dinner on 9th December – venue etc to be confirmed. Our social committee are looking at a Lodge Luncheon sometime around Easter 2022 and our Master Elect is considering holding a barbeque next summer. Good times ahead – fingers crossed

22nd August 2021 – The Lodge returns for its first meeting of the year and all things being equal we hope to welcome Kim into our brotherhood. It has been a difficult time for everyone and in the case of Freemasons the road to remembering what to do and when in the Temple will be challenging it having been such a long time since we had the opportunity to perform our ceremonies. Good luck to all Brothers on their return to their respective Lodges but of course in particular to the Brethren of Bedford Castle Lodge.

10th April 2021 – The Lodge and its Members were saddened to hear of the passing to the Grand Lodge above of HRH The Prince Philip Duke of Edinburgh. HRH was a member of the Navy Lodge 2612 for Commissioned Officers of the Naval Services and had been a subscribing member for the last 68 years. Our sincerest condolences to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.

20th March 2021 – So Brethren here we are some twelve months give or take since our last formal meeting and still no date as yet to a return to normal service.  It has been a blessing to be able to meet virtually which has allowed us to keep in touch and provide support and assistance if needed.  Sad times as well. Having lost our beloved Secretary and seen two other loyal and respected members pass to the Grand Lodge above.  Still we must look forward initially with thanks for the two Senior Brothers who fell foul of Covid-19 but thankfully are still with us.   We are fortunate to have several new prospective members in the wings and hopefully on our return we can initiate them into this wonderful Society.

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