It was in 1831 that the idea of an Asylum for ‘Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ was first proposed. Four years later it was suggested, at a meeting in Blackfriars, that if each member could give half a penny (½ d) a day for three years £10,000 could be raised. This would be enough to establish the institution. In 1847 the site was secured and constructed by S.W. Daukes.
The official opening took place in August 1850 “with great ceremony”. Ladies and Gentlemen were invited to attend a “Dejeuner”. The tickets cost 3/6d, exclusive of wine. The building had 40 rooms for elderly Freemasons. In 1905, Matron noted, “Every week there is a night when a little entertainment is arranged in the Great Hall.”
To put the building into a historical context, it was in 1850 that main drainage/ water supply was made available and the expansion of Croydon commenced. The town became a mecca for prosperous merchants, clerks and trades people. The 1851 Census shows 20,343 Croydon residence, 713 in Coulsdon, 235 in Sanderstead and 615 in Addington. By 1950 the property was considered too small for the number of Freemasons wanting accommodation.
The residents were moved to Hove, Sussex. Croydon council bought the premises to use as an old peoples home in 1950 and six years later it was re-opened and named Davidson Lodge. By 1973 the property was in a poor state and to prevent its demolition it was made a Grade II listed building. The accommodation was improved in 1981 when it was converted to 36 bed-sits.
There were further conversions and improvements in 1983. Two years later Age Concern became tenants of the central hall, which they named the Joyce Grant Centre. They left in 1998. The hall remained empty until CNCA took up residence in 2001.