At a meeting of the Lodge of Charity No 2651 held at Warrington Masonic Hall the members hosted a ‘Time Line Drama and Pageant’, drawing a time line from the initiation of Elias Ashmole in Warrington to the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England. The drama covers the period from 1646 to 1819 and is part of the tercentenary celebrations being played out across the country.
Before the lodge was opened, Alan Bristow read the dispensation from Provincial Grand Lodge to allow the meeting. The meeting was then opened by Quentin Newhall WM. Chris Eyres read a eulogy for Alan Phillips, a departed past member of the lodge and requested the brethren to stand in silence to the memory of departed merit. The remainder of the usual administration was undertaken.
The lodge was then closed in due form. The ladies, visitors and guests were admitted to the lodge room and the drama started. A total of just over 90 people attended the evening.
The drama was presented by St Helens and Prescot Masonic Group. The Herald, a fictitious character unknown in Freemasonry and there to keep the audience on track on the time line, started the drama with an explanation of the differences between speculative Masons and operative Masons, operative Masons build stone structures whereas becoming a speculative Mason is a way to become a better person.
The Herald introduced a character by the name of Elias Ashmole, being a prominent name for Freemasonry in Warrington but also of national fame, (Ashmolean Museum). Elias was the first recorded man to be made a Mason on 16 October 1646 in Warrington and this was the start of the time line drama and pageant.
Through various trials and tribulations as Masonry expanded to different counties, two Grand Lodges emerged and a considerable amount of bickering and friction existed between them.
After decades of discontent The Dukes of Sussex and Kent (two brothers) agreed the way forward and the United Grand Lodge of England was formed with the Duke of Sussex taking the seat as the first grand master. Both Dukes entered the lodge simultaneously to demonstrate their unity, bringing the time line to its happy conclusion.
Throughout the drama Stephen Derringer, the organist, played appropriate music, especially when the two Dukes entered the lodge to the ‘Fanfare for a Royal Occasion’ by William Byrd and arranged by Stephen. At this point the Herald invited Quentin to resume his rightful seat as WM, marking the end of the Pageant. The appreciation of all present was very well demonstrated by the amount of applause offered by the audience.
The lodge room was vacated and everyone assembled in the banquet hall where a three course meal was served. However, before the meal was served Quentin offered a very warm welcome to everyone saying he was delighted to see so many visitors, both Masons and non-Masons, also so many ladies. Chaplain Derek Bird said grace and the meal was served, which consisted of florentine baked eggs, roast breast of chicken and blackberry and apple pie plus tea or coffee. Derek returned thanks and Quentin proposed the loyal toast.
A raffle was held during the meal which when added to the lodge collection totalled £344, which was equally divided between the lodge and the players. The players use all their donations to support the tercentenary celebrations. Both the players and Quentin thanked everyone for their kind contributions.
Very constructive comments were made and included: “Very interesting”; “The players managed to put over the information in a jovial but enlightening way”; “I’m not a Mason but it was very informative, I enjoyed it”; “Very entertaining” and ‘I’ve made a good advancement in Masonic knowledge today, I think everyone should see it”. In general terms it was a very good, entertaining, informative evening but above all enjoyable.
Quentin brought the evening to a close by thanking everyone for their support and wished them all a safe journey home.