The December meeting for the Lodge of Charity No 2651 was planned as a ‘Christmas half night’. A small amount of agenda items being on the summons indicated an extended time was available for the Christmas celebrations to begin at the social board.
Well over 80 members and guests attended the function, the warmth and friendship displayed was in stark contrast to the chilled air and very heavy rain and the excesses of busy traffic bustling through the town, which made the journey even more difficult.
The lodge was opened in the first degree by Quentin Newhall, the WM, and following the usual business of confirming the last meeting’s minutes, Quentin opened the lodge in the second and third degrees. To help the less experienced members to make a daily advancement in Masonic knowledge, Quentin closed the lodge in the third and second degrees by the long way and quickly moved on to any other business. At this point Alan Bristow, the lodge secretary, announced one particular item was in the hands of Jeffrey (Jeff) Brooks.
Jeff explained that some of the more observant brethren may have noticed that the collar worn by the WM this evening is missing the jewel that the lodge bought in 1967 to commemorate the 250th anniversary of The United Grand Lodge of England.
Members may also remember that in April of this year the lodge celebrated the golden jubilee of David Spear being made a Mason in 1967 and to mark that occasion he made a very generous donation to the lodge, specifying that it was to be used as was thought appropriate by the members.
The lodge committee, after much thought and discussion decided that it would be very appropriate to purchase a Tercentenary Commemorative Jewel for the WM’s collar, not only to mark 2017 as the 300th anniversary of The United Grand Lodge of England, but also to mark the 50th anniversary of David being made a Mason.
Jeff then called upon David and asked him if he would be so kind as to present this collar and Tercentenary Jewel to the WM on behalf of all the members of the Lodge of Charity. David, a very surprised and extremely proud member of 50 years, presented the collar to Quentin, who was also similarly surprised and highly delighted to accept and to wear the newly jewelled collar, particularly being the first Master to wear it.
Everyone was surprised and delighted to see David present the collar bearing the tercentenary jewel, responding with rapturous applause.
Malcolm (Mal) Myers, a past master of the lodge, provided a very interesting explanation of two commemorative jewels previously worn on the WM collar and the new tercentenary commemorative jewel.
Before the explanation started, Mal said: “Brethren, as you will see, the size of the tercentenary jewel is much larger than the previous one celebrating 250 years and it is not practical for both to be attached to the WM’s collar. It has been agreed by the lodge committee that the older jewel be donated to the Warrington Masonic Museum.” Vic Charlesworth, the curator of the museum, was pleased to accept this jewel on behalf of the museum. Vic was delighted to receive it; he thanked the brethren and reassured everyone that he would take very good care of it.
The 250th commemorative jewel worn by the WM on his collar embodies the central theme of the Arms first granted to the Craft and Fellowship of Masons in 1472. There is evidence that Premier Grand Lodge formed in 1717 began to use the Arms shortly after its foundation.
Mal explained the heraldic meaning of the Grand Masters 250th anniversary jewel actually spanned the history of our ancient Craft since 1472 in the reign of King Edward IV. So nearly 500 years after the Arms were first granted, the Grand Lodge of England celebrated its 250th anniversary in 1967. An event which was marked by a gift of over £500,000, donated by lodges under its constitution, to be devoted to research into the science of surgery under the Royal College of Surgeons, for the benefit of all mankind.
In 1992 a second jewel was made available for adding to the collar. This jewel commemorated the 275th anniversary. The jewel, comprising of an ear of corn and a sprig of acacia encompassed by a wreath, has, at its centre, the combined standards of the Grand Lodge of England and His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent, the latter in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his installation as Grand Master.
For the first time in its history, in June 1992, the Grand Lodge of England publicised parts of the ceremony throughout the world. During this ceremony a foundation stone was dedicated to a village for the handicapped, by the charity known as ‘CARE’, with money totalling £1,750,000 donated by Masonic charities.
Now, in the year 2017, another jewel has been struck to commemorate the 300th anniversary. The Arms consist of two cherubim’s, one each side of a large shield whose border has lions depicted upon it. The ‘quartering’s’ on the shield itself are on the left, three castles and a chevron with a pair of open compasses depicted upon it and on the right, are quartering’s of a lion, an ox, a man and an eagle. Above the shield is depicted the ark of the covenant with cherubim and above the ark is Hebrew lettering. At the foot of the whole device is a scroll bearing a Latin motto.
The explanations were well received by the brethren and their appreciation was demonstrated by loud applause. Quentin thanked Mal for a very interesting explanation of the three jewels, commenting that all had made a good daily advancement in Masonic knowledge.
At this point the lodge was closed and before the brethren reassembled at the social board many changed their ties for ones with more of a festive nature about them, ready to meet their friends, wives and partners downstairs.
A traditional Christmas meal followed with all the usual trimmings and grace was offered by Derek Bird, the chaplain. Derek returned thanks and Quentin proposed the loyal toast.
By this point in the proceedings the festivities were well underway. It seemed that a triple celebration was most appropriate, firstly, to mark David’s 50 years in Freemasonry, secondly, the tercentenary jewel being presented and thirdly, the good tidings in the advent of the Christmas festival.
Robert Roberts, junior warden equipped with his party suit announced that he would be leading the carol singing and would start with the 12 days of Christmas. He allocated each of the days to either tables, groups, Masons, non-Masons, ladies or gents. Robert was accompanied by Tom Owen on guitar. After a short practice training was completed, but inevitably total mayhem resulted, but most importantly everyone enjoyed it with much laughter especially because Robert asked the respective group to stand whilst singing. Just to calm things down a little, the second carol was ‘Silent Night’ and finally ‘White Christmas’.
During the meal raffle tickets were sold and in the music interval the prizes were drawn. Many prizes were distributed and it was announced that the raffle had made a grand total of £363.
The remainder of the most enjoyable evening was under the control of ‘Jimmy Grace’ the entertainer and dancing continued until late. It had been an enjoyable meeting with the surprise in the agenda of the presentation of the collar with the tercentenary jewel affixed.
Pictures and story by John Starkey.