Last September the national group decided to hold the next six monthly meeting at the Warrington Masonic Hall. It was not a good day for travel, being wet, windy and rather cold but this didn’t deter the more hardy travellers, several coming in by train and car from far away reaches such as London, Nottingham and Herefordshire, just to name a few.
Members of the Warrington museum were on the ground and eager to meet and greet the visitors as they arrived, with a welcome cup of tea or coffee and biscuits.
Just over 30 people were in attendance and the meeting soon got off the ground and made a good start by chairman, Bruce Littley, calling the meeting to order. He welcomed everyone to Warrington Masonic Hall and hoped that their journeys had not been too bad. Several introductions were made and he continued by listing apologies for the members who were unable to attend and thanked the ones that could.
Roger Boylan, the honorary secretary, referred to the minutes of the last meeting of the ML and M Group which was held at Freemasons Hall, Great Queen Street, London on Saturday, 24 September 2016. Upon a proposition a vote was taken and the minutes were accepted. Matters arising were dealt with.
Diane Clements, curator at Great Queen Street museum provided an update report from Grand Lodge Library and Museum Group highlighting some recent developments, ably assisted by her team.
At this point Vic Charlesworth, curator of the Warrington museum, announced that a tour of the museum and hall would be undertaken in two groups. He would take one, and Carline Crook, archivist, would conduct the second one. Group one would visit the museum firstly and then the three temples, with the second group taking the reverse order. A great deal of interest was shown in the museum artefacts and contents of each of the temples with several items dating back to the 1700’s. One of the temples was set up for a Royal Arch Chapter meeting. Attention was also drawn to the Lodge of Lights No 148 honour board, being the oldest lodge in the Warrington Group, with its warrant dating back to 1765 and Elias Ashmole Royal Arch Chapter No 148 just having celebrated 150 years. Comments were very complementary with several saying it was a wonderful facility.
The hall staff produced a delicious hot pot meal served in large bowls with red cabbage, beetroot and crusty bread. A second course of cheesecake or fresh fruit salad followed, with tea or coffee to finish.
Following lunch, Bruce called the meeting to order with the next item on the agenda which was identification of exhibits brought in by members and general forum. Several items were presented with various views being expressed and indications of where to look for other information or guidance on the artefact discussed. One item introduced by the Warrington team was the ‘Waterloo Apron’, which is believed to have been removed from the body of a dead officer at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June 1805. The apron has just been restored and is on loan from the Marquis of Lorne Lodge No 1354 in the Leigh Group. Vic gave a short presentation on the apron and on its restoration.
Any other business followed then Bruce made his closing remarks which included expressing thanks to all those present for the contribution they had made to the discussions. He mentioned it had been an interesting meeting saying how well the Warrington Museum of Freemasonry had progressed and how much he had enjoyed the hall and its facilities. He continued by offering his thanks to the catering staff and all involved in organising the day. He concluded by thanking Diane Clements and her team for their help and support. Concluding, he wished everyone a safe return journey.
Some very complementary comments were registered in the visitor’s book including “Well planned and organised, a most enjoyable experience”, “Lovely collection, excellent curators”, “Very impressive and well-ordered display”, “Very well laid out displays” and “Very enjoyable” to list but a few.