18th century Perfect Points

The Chorley Masonic Research Group, also known as Perfect Points, had a back to the old days feel about the annual general meeting. 23 of the group’s members met at Westhoughton Masonic Hall and amongst them was the group chairman Peter Lockett, who is also the president of Perfect Points. Also present were past presidents David Harrison and John Robson.

Perfect Points Chairman Gary Smith opened the business meeting during which he thanked all for what had been a successful year for Perfect Points. One positive outcome was that the meetings were being attended by the newer brethren and that it was good to see John Lord, who is an entered apprentice Freemason and a member of Peace Lodge No 2269, had come along to this particular meeting. Those below the rank of master Masons are being encouraged to come along to the meetings if the material is suited to their rank.

Once the annual general meeting was concluded, the brethren took a trip back in time and entered a lodge room from the 18th century. They found the room set with candles and a dining table ready for the start of a Masonic lodge meeting. The scene was set to see a demonstration given by the Brigantes Lodge No 9734 from the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland.

The team is headed by Richard Johnson a past master of the Manchester Lodge of Masonic Research and a Masonic author, who plays the part of the ‘worshipful’ of the lodge. The rest of the team for the evening were: senior warden – Phil Rampling from Manchester, junior warden – Malcolm Berry from Preston. The chaplin, who appeared to have a severe case of flatulence, was Ron Thexton who comes from Bolton, the secretary was Alvar Thorn from Penrith and the proposer was Dennis Whicker who had travelled from Sedburgh. As the main business for the demonstration meeting was to initiate a candidate, a suitable volunteer was needed. The man being prepared was Allan Shields, the publicity officer for Perfect Points!

Allan Shields (left) with the Brigantes Team.

Allan Shields (left) with the Brigantes Team.

The team had dressed to replicate the attire of 18th century Freemasons, including wigs. They make all of the costumes as well as the lodge room props that are used in the demonstration. They acted just as the officers would at a lodge in the 18th century, the meeting being held at the docks in Whitehaven, Cumbria. Richard opened the demonstration with a talk explaining how Freemasonry had its roots in London in 1717 and had spread up to Cumbria and explained where the ritual that his team would be working for this meeting had originated from. The scene was set and the candidate prepared, sat nervously waiting!

Dennis Wicker, playing the part of the tyler, then set the lodge with real burning candles and plenty of alcohol! (This was actually just water it must be pointed out) The brethren gathered around the table and conducted much of the business that today would be done once the lodge had been ‘tyled’. It would not be long before they opened the 18th century lodge and the candidate was admitted in quite painful style!

He was guided around by Dennis as the ceremony took place in a manner not too different to what is seen in our lodges today. The ritual worked was fascinating, all be it that the candidate did not always respond in the way he was prompted to!  At one point the chaplain had to leave the lodge room in order to seek relief from an embarrassing problem he appeared to have! After his initiation the candidate drank a ‘buff’ with his new found brethren, being made to feel welcome as we do today with our new candidate. Richard gave an excellent delivery of the charge, assisted by the wardens according to the 1762 workings of the ritual taken from the Colne manuscripts.

The demonstration was of a very high standard, well worked and rehearsed as well as being humorous at times. It was informative and gave an insight into the way our Masonic predecessors conducted a ceremony and received a round of well deserved applause from the Perfect Points audience.

Following the meeting the team from Brigantes Lodge joined the members of Perfect Points for a supper which consisted of ‘peasant’s stew’ and answered the many questions put to them.

Richard Johnson (left) receiving a cheque from Gary Smith.

Richard Johnson (left) receiving a cheque from Gary Smith.

The Brigantes demonstration team work hard and travel far and wide, performing without any remuneration, simply asking that a raffle is conducted and the proceeds go to a good cause of their nomination. With this in mind it was with great pleasure that Gary Smith was able to present Richard with a donation from Perfect Points for the sum of £200. Richard in his thanks stated that the donation was to go to the RMBI. In return, the members thanked Richard and his team for a most enjoyable meeting.

Perfect Points next meeting is in January 2016 with a talk given by Gary Smith which looks at Freemasonry during the holocaust. At the April meeting John Belton, a past master of the Manchester Lodge of Masonic Research, will be giving a talk relating to how you can build your very own Masonic library. So look out for the announcements on the Chorley Group website and come along and sample the Perfect Point’s experience!

The Brigantes Team with, from left to right in the centre: Gary Smith, Allan Shields and Mark Howard (Perfect Points Vice Chairman).

The Brigantes Team with, from left to right in the centre: Gary Smith, Allan Shields and Mark Howard (Perfect Points Vice Chairman).