The first meeting of Royal White Hart Lodge was held April 20, 1764, in the home of David London, of “Halifax town”. Among other early meeting sites was a tavern operated by Mason William Martin known as the “Sign of the Thistle.” This must’ve been a pretty substantial place, since it is said to have had 40 rooms and two stories.
At this time there were two Masonic Lodges in Halifax. Royal White Hart was then working under a dispensation, and it is evident from early records that it had been in existence for many years before 1764.
At a meeting held May 20, 1768, Joseph Montfort produced a Charter from the Grand Master of England that stated:
“Henry Somerset, Duke of Beaufort, Grand Master of Masons in England, appointing Joseph Montford, Master; Joseph Long, Senior Warden, and Nathen Brown, Jr., Warden—a regular constituted lodge of free and accepted Masons by the name of Royal Hart Lodge, town of Halifax, Province of N. C.”
This charter was dated London, March 21, A. L. 5767 (or 1767), and Royal White Hart Lodge was named No. 403 in the list of English Lodges.
The current lodge building was constructed in 1823, contrary to the date of 1769 indicated on the nearby historical marker. Editors of the “Guide to Historic Architecture in Eastern North Carolina” confirm a construction date of the 1820s and describe the structure as a “tall, dignified, plain building of weatherboarded frame.”
From 1764 to 1772 and again from 1783 to the present time there is an unbroken record of these meetings. Unfortunately, all records are missing from 1772 to 1783. It is believed that these records were carried home for safekeeping during the Revolutionary period by one of the members and then lost.
Some furnishings of the Lodge
The Lodge has in its possession some silver candlesticks that were purchased Feb. 26, 1784, and cost 11 pounds.
The Master’s chair on the first floor was bought May 20, 1765. The candlesticks and chair are both believed to have come from England.
On March 10, 1772, Joseph Montford presented the lodge with an “elegant floor cloth” which he had acquired in England. A few years back an exact copy of this floor cloth was made and the original was stored for safekeeping by the Grand Lodge. The copy of the floor cloth is now on the wall in the West of the Lodge.