The origins of the Lodge of Research lie in the life and interests of W.Bro. J.T. Thorp. Thorp, employed in the elastic web business, was involved in overseas travel stimulating a lifelong interest in continental Freemasonry. Thorp was also an internationally renowned literary and historical scholar and was the recipient of many fellowships of learned bodies throughout the British Isles.
By 1892 there were 370 masons meeting in Leicester in 5 Lodges. Thorp, together with W.Bro. F.W. Billson, a local solicitor, formed a scheme to raise issues of Masonic interest at meetings of the Leicester Union Lodge of Instruction. On Thorp’s suggestion it was determined to follow the lead of Lodge Quatuor Coronati No.2076, and seek a warrant for a lodge devoted to research and the dissemination of Masonic knowledge.
The Lodge was warranted in 1892, and consecrated at a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on 26th October. Samuel Partridge was the consecrating officer, but he stood aside to allow W.Bro. G. Speth, a Past Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge, to install Thorp as the first Master of the Lodge. W. Bro. Speth then became an honorary member of the lodge, and contributed a number of papers to its “Transactions” thus marking the start of a long and happy relationship between these two Lodges. While the lodge has full power to initiate, pass and raise candidates, it was early on determined that there should be no trespass on the legitimate areas of the other private lodges, nor the Union Lodge of Instruction.
Thorp became Secretary of the lodge after he had served his year as Master, and was also the first editor of its “Transactions”, as well as the author of many contributions. Indeed it was his desire to preserve papers delivered to the lodge which led to the publication of the series which still continues, and which has featured the work of many distinguished Masonic scholars, including Prestonian lecturers and high ranking overseas Brethren.
One cloud fell across the lodge in 1909, however, when the members felt apprehensions about the move from Halford Street to London Road, and the Lodge resolved not to meet at the new premises, instead moving to Syston. This may have had something to do with the proposed cost of the new premises, and may also have been the cause of the resignation of Samuel Partridge from the lodge as he had been a major moving force behind the acquisition and development of the London Road site. After some two years these differences were set aside, and the lodge now meets at London Road, Leicester. The lodge has also been much involved in the growth and maintenance of the Hall’s Library and Museum.