This being the 250th celebratory year of the Lodge of Lights No 148 existence, the committee set forth a plan of celebratory measures. It was decided that a good way to start the celebrations would be to invite the Sutton Coldfield Study Circle Demonstration Team to perform in period costume a typical initiation ceremony dating back to 1765, using the ritual of the year the lodge was founded. Following on from this very successful event it was decided to invite them back to conduct a second degree ceremony using ritual from the same year.
To put this into context, King George III was on the throne. It was in the same year he dismissed the then Prime Minister George Grenville, who was replaced by the Most Honourable Charles Watson-Wentworth, 2nd Marquis of Rockingham, a Whig. This happened over 44 years before Charles Darwin was born and approximately one year before Captain James Cook, at the age of 37 years, took up his commission as commander of the ‘Endeavour’. HMS Victory, ship of the Royal Navy was launched in 1765. She is best known as Lord Nelson’s flagship at the Battle of Trafalgar. November of the same year the Lodge of Lights No 637 (now No 148) was founded in The Fleece in Warrington.
So, the scene was set and all that was needed was a candidate for the evening. Philip Unsworth, the most recent fellow craft in the lodge, seemed the most logical person to ask to dress up in period costume, to go through a re-enactment of the ceremony 1765 style, provided it didn’t confuse him too much!
56 members and guests attended the meeting to witness the event, including grand officer Stan Churm. The lodge was opened in the normal way by the WM George Range and the usual administration undertaken. This
was followed by a ‘calling off’ by the JW David Harrison. George introduced the Sutton Coldfield Demonstration Team and their performance started.
A quick introduction was provided by their WM to help put everything into context. The ancient brethren assembled and just as normal, well not quite as normal, but recognisable, the minutes of their last meeting were discussed and agreed. The business was a second degree ceremony and a gentleman by the name of Philip Unsworth was then admitted with several similarities compared with today’s practices.
The lodge room was laid out into two separate parts, with a table at one end and a floor covering marked out on a sheet at the other. The main reason was because early lodges usually met in a single room and the dining area was in the same room as the lodge area. The lodge area probably would have been marked out with chalk or charcoal onto a wooden floor. It is noted in the minute book that the lodge was banned from one public house because the apprentice washed the floor with water and made such a mess!
It would appear that our ancient brethren spent a lot of time ‘calling off’ and ‘calling on’, with a great deal of time spent on refreshment rather than on work! Indeed, whist the lodge was open much liquid refreshment was consumed.
Philip was well and truly passed to the fellow craft degree and he appeared to enjoy his involvement and truly played his part in the demonstration. The performance which was light hearted, but with much realism, had many recognisable sections even by modern Freemasons and was extremely enjoyable and good fun. Comments like ‘nothing changes’ and ‘that’s similar to what we do today’ and so on were heard.
Following on from the demonstration George thanked the Sutton Coldfield Team for their excellent re-enactment. The lodge was then ‘called on’ and work continued.
Following the meeting an excellent three course meal was served by the hall staff. A raffle was held and a total of £195 (including the charity plate), which was allocated to the Sutton Coldfield team to determine which Masonic charity they would like to nominate as the beneficiary. The team leader very kindly suggested that they would like to put the monies to the Masonic Samaritan’s Fund. They commented that they had enjoyed the meeting very much and considered it an honour and privilege to perform a ceremony from 1765, to a lodge which was in existence at that time. George thanked the team for a most enjoyable demonstration and all the work they had put into it. He wished them a safe journey home and thanked everyone for their attendance.