The History of Ferrers and Ivanhoe Lodge
The first Freemasons Lodges in Ashby-de-la-Zouch were set up by French prisoners- of-war who were living on parole in the town during the Napoleonic War. One is known to have been working in 1810 and another was in operation in 1814. There were English Freemasons in Ashby at that time as the records of the Tyrian Lodge 253, at Derby show that several residents of Ashby and Coleorton were initiated in that Lodge between 1796 and 1814.
However it was not until 1836 that the first Ashby Lodge, Ivanhoe 631, was formed, but this was short-lived, no meetings being held after 1841 and in 1851 it was erased from the roll of Lodges. A few years later strenuous efforts were made by Earl Howe, the Provincial Grand Master with the active support of the 9th Earl Ferrers and Edward Mammatt, who had been a keen member of the Ivanhoe Lodge, to revive Freemasonry in Ashby, and in February 1859 a warrant was granted by Grand Lodge. The new Lodge was to be named Ferrers and Ivanhoe No.1081 and was to meet in the Town Hall on the Monday on or after the full moon of every month. Earl Ferrers was designated as Worshipful Master but he died before the consecration of the Lodge in October 1859. Edward Mammatt was installed as the first Worshipful Master but he too died only six months later. The Brethren were thus deprived of the guidance of two experienced masons at a very early stage, but under the watchful eye of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W.Bro. William Kelly the Lodge prospered and increased in numbers. In 1863 the number of the Lodge was changed to 779 and in the same year St Augustine's Chapter 779 commenced working in Ashby.
In 1879 when St Helens Church was undergoing restoration the Lodge presented a new pulpit to the Church and in 1897 a special meeting of the Lodge was held to lay, with Masonic honours, the Foundation Stone of the new Cottage Hospital in Leicester Road.
By the 1970s the Lodge membership had reached 100 and in 1975 a warrant was granted for a second Lodge, Hastings 8695 to be formed in Ashby. Both Lodges met in the Town Hall as 779 had continued to do for over 100 years but in 1978 premises suitable for conversion into a Masonic Hall were found in Lower Church Street and were brought into use in 1981.
As Ferrers and Ivanhoe Lodge moves into the 21st Century we look forward to further building on the foundations laid by our predecessors a century and a half ago.