"This Lodge is going to take its place among the University Lodges of the world. In it there are many men who have made names that are honoured throughout the Empire, and among the younger brethren I have no doubt there are many others who will follow in their steps"
Rt. Wor. Bro. Aubrey Halloran (inaugural Master, later Most Wor. Bro.)
In keeping with the movements in the Universities of the United Kingdom and other countries, a number of graduates of the University of Sydney, several with wide Masonic experience, considered that the moment had arrived to demonstrate not only their oneness with the Masonic fraternity in general, but also their attachment to their Alma Mater in particular, by the formation of a lodge consisting of members of that University or any other recognised University (1).
Accordingly, the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales was petitioned with the sponsorship of Lodge Ionic (which is to this day affectionately called "mother" by members of Lodge University of Sydney). The proposal was further supported by several professors of the University, including the Registrar Dr W. A. Selle, Assistant Registrar Geoffrey Dale and Chancellor Sir William Cullen (Lieutenant - Governor of NSW and Chief Justice). It was further supported by such luminaries as the renowned surgeon Dr John Hunter, Archdeacon D. J. Davies, Dr H. R. G. Poate, Prof H. T. Lovell, Sir George Fuller K. C. M. G and Aubrey Halloran, who was elected to be its first Master.
The Board of General Purposes of the Grand Lodge was initially disposed to recommend against the sanction of the formation of a University Lodge, since there were concerns about the isolation that might result from the formation of a lodge with sectional interests, however it was argued that such a lodge might provide a beneficial influence to Freemasonry, and provide a forum where Masons of similar interests might find fellowship.
The name "Lodge University" was originally selected, but on the suggestion of the Grand Master (Most Wor. Bro J. Goulston) the more specific term "Lodge University of Sydney" was substituted. The consecration was held on Friday 24th October 1924 at the Masonic Hall in Castlereagh Street Sydney, with eighty two foundation members, of whom seventeen were Past Masters and sixty five Master Masons, including some of the most distinguished sons of the University.
"May this Lodge University of Sydney prove a new bond in the most precious friendships and activities of this community. In the intercourse of its members with other brethren and contemporaries outside the brotherhood, may it always be remembered that we have as much to learn from them as they from us"
Bro. Sir William Portus Cullen,
Chancellor University of Sydney, Lieutenant-Governor of NSW, Chief Justice
Use of the Great Hall
The first time the Great Hall was used for Masonic purposes was in 1888 at the inaugural meeting of the United Grand Lodge of New South Wales. While installations were frequently conducted in the Great Hall of the University from 1947, the first was conducted in October 1938 and celebrated in addition the Jubilee Year of the United Grand Lodge and the year of Australia's 150th Anniversary. Present were 293 brethren, with well over 350 at the festive board. The second time was on the 26th October 1945. The Silver Jubilee Year of Lodge University of Sydney was held in the Great Hall with over 350 brethren present. On 27 August 1971 a large Masonic meeting was held under the charter of Lodge University of Sydney, with the Grand Master Most Wor. Bro. R. A. Hammond in the chair, and the Prime Minister of Australia, the Rt Hon. William McMahon present as a guest. So impressed was the Prime Minister that he was initiated into Lodge University of Sydney in March 1973.
The United Grand Lodge of New South Wales frequently held its quarterly communications at the Great Hall from 1972 (using furniture of Lodge University of Sydney) while the Masonic Centre was being rebuilt in Castlereagh Street. The Golden Jubilee meeting of the lodge was held on the 25th October 1974. Many installations were conducted as an annual event up until the mid 1990's, when economic and other factors forced the lodge to abandon that solemn tradition and have the meetings at the new Masonic Centre.
Silver Jubilee of Lodge University of Sydney, in the Great Hall of the University. October 28, 1949
Within its first decade (1924-1934) eighty four candidates were initiated and sixty four Masons from other lodges affiliated. These figures were maintained for some decades. The number of members declined during the second world war, but recovered soon after. Changing times have seen membership numbers fluctuate but in recent years interest in Masonry has revived and the lodge continues to progress, where many others have floundered. Today, Lodge University of Sydney reflects the cultural and age diversity of Sydney, with a range of experienced Past Masters of many ethnic and religious backgrounds guiding the Masonic progress of teenage, young and middle-aged men.
The reputation and esteem of Lodge University of Sydney had grown to such a state within just 5 years of its formation that there were a growing number of requests to sponsor new lodges in the jurisdiction. These included Lodge Sydney High School 1929; Lodge Torchbearer (Sydney Church of England Grammar School) 1930; Lodge Fortian (Fort Street Boys High School) 1936; Scots Lodge (of Scots College) in 1951; Lodge Apollonia (a dental practitioner fraternity) 1954; Lodge St Ives 1956; Lodge Knox (of Knox College) in 1957; Canturbury High School 1959; Lodge Randwick High School 1961.