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Brief History of Lodge Coupar o' Fife No. 19

Lodge Coupar o' Fife can trace it's roots back more than 300 years. At the formation of The Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736, the master Dr John Moncrieff , and his two wardens John Ross & John Sheen , made the trek to Edinburgh to represent our Lodge. Nowadays a trip to Edinburgh can be made quite comfortably by car, bus or train in less than an hour, but over 250 years ago, our brethren faced a long journey by stage-coach and ferry to reach the capital. Cupar, being on the main stage routes between Falkland Palace and St Andrews, enjoyed good transport links for the day. Around Fife that some milestones prominently featured the name of Pettycur. This was the main stage, post, and ferry link near Burntisland, which connected to Granton harbour across the River Forth. Pettycur has been in the news relatively recently, with the discovery of a ship belonging to Charles 1st which foundered in a sudden squall, and sunk with the loss of the crew, and most of the crown jewels of the period. Happily, our three brethren had no such problems on their trip.

For some reason our charter from The Grand Lodge of Scotland was not obtained in 1736, but some years later on 6th February 1758 .   The charter itself mentions that the Lodge had been known to exist for at least 100 years before then. Lodge meetings were held for some years in the Ladywynd before the current Lodge building was erected in 1811. The Lodge is a category A listed building. The reason for its architectural importance is that the building has a stepped frontage rather than being flat. Lodge meetings have been held here since then with some brief interludes due to the two world wars. During the second world war the military took over the use of the premises for billeting Polish troops.  

The enumeration of Lodge numbers is a complicated subject, but it has been researched and we have some good information relating to this Lodge which we now call Coupar o' Fife. In 1737 just after Grand lodge was formed we were No.21. In 1747 the lodge name was Cupar in Fife, with Cupar being spelt the same way as today. The original charter issued by Grand Lodge in 1758 is made out with the name of the Lodge being Coupar of Fife and the number 21. New numbering issued in 1809 left us as No.21, in 1816 No.18, 1822 we were given No.17, and finally in 1826 No.19.

One of the old aprons from the period between 1822 and 1826 when we were No.17 St John, has survived and is thought to be quite valuable to collectors of Masonic memorabilia. Strangely, two lodges at that time - both called St John - were issued with the number 17!   St John of Dunkeld were numbered 17/1, and Lodge St John, Cupar, 17/2.

In the last enumeration in 1826 the No.17 was given to Lodge Ancient Brazen, Linlithgow.     The lodge name as well as the numbering has changed over the years and records show that in 1836 we were Cupar in Fife (19) with Cupar as in the current spelling, but there is no date for when we changed to today's name of Lodge Coupar o' Fife with the older style for the spelling of Cupar.

Note the Ram's head , which we have adopted as a symbol of the Lodge. From it, every visitor to the Lodge is offered a pinch of snuff as a token of welcome. The exact details relating to it's history are either lost or have gone unrecorded, because despite a search of many old minute books, we can find no confirmation of it's origin. However it is believed that in the late 1800's, a German called Gustaf Vogel arrived in town, and set up his business in Kirk Wynd as a sausage skin manufacturer

. gustav vogel
Gustav with dog

We do know from the minute books that he took his three degrees during 1902 and 1903, and went on to become an office bearer in the lodge for a brief time soon after. Whilst we believe that he was the supplier of the Ram's head, there is no further trace of this in the minute books. Gustaf also worked in the local slaughterhouse, and he met an untimely death by contracting anthrax when being cut by a knife.

The other part of the mystery lies in the casket for the snuff which is set into the Ram's head. It bears the inscription - Presented to Lodge Coupar o' Fife - Bro. Wm Davidson September 1891 - Mounted by the Lodge. This of course pre-dates Gustav Vogel's association with the Lodge. Was this Ram's head a replacement for one which was there when Gustav joined the Lodge?      The condition of the head today is quite remarkable when you think it has spent it's life on a mantlepiece shelf originally above the fireplace which used to be in the West wall. That mantlepiece contains Masonic symbols, and can still be seen on the landing where you sign the tyle before entering the Lodge. It would also be hard not to notice that the Ram's head has now been incorporated into the new Lodge carpet, as well as being used on the Mark penny.