St Georges Lodge of Harmony No 32, more familiar known as just ‘32’, has been honoured by many illustrious and highly ranked brethren. However, the principal guest on the occasion of the installation meeting was the Provincial Grand Master James Anthony Harrison, who also happens to be an honorary member of the lodge.
Tony was accompanied by his Deputy Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning and Assistant Provincial Grand Master, Derek Parkinson. Acting stewards Mathew Casson and Paul Storrar, led the procession of grand officers which included Bill Culshaw, group chairman and Ian Sanderson, group secretary.
The master Keith Sanders welcomed Tony and offered him the gavel, a precious and unique ivory gavel with a rich history and fashioned long before ivory products were outlawed. It was once used by the 1st Earl of Lathom in Grand Lodge when he was Pro Grand Master. Tony took the opportunity to return the gavel stating it was far too valuable to entrust to anyone but the master himself. Following salutations to the grand and Provincial grand lodge officer’s, Keith requested two past masters to occupy the warden’s chairs, Barry Russell and Simon Parrington. Adam Scott acted as inner guard. The master elect, Mark Pritchard, was presented to the WM by his father, Tony Pritchard and Charles Grace. Mark then repeated his obligation as master elect.
Once brethren below the rank of an installed master had retired, a board of installed masters was declared open. Keith then proceeded to install Mark in a unique and sincere ceremony, enjoyed by all present but most particularly by his proud father, Tony. Mark was declared as worshipful master for the ensuing twelve months and saluted by past masters, master Masons, fellowcrafts and entered apprentices in turn and the working tools of each degree were presented and explained by Ed Warner.
Paul Storrerthen took to the floor to oversee the appointment and investment of the officers for the ensuing year. As each brother was invested, Paul advised them of their duties in a firm but confident manner. The address to the WM was given impeccably by his father, Tony Pritchard, whom Mark had previously invested as senior warden. The address to the wardens was given by Ian Sanderson with much sincerity and to the address to the brethren by Charles Grace was equally sincere.
At the conclusion of the ceremony of installation, Tony Harrison rose to congratulate Mark as the newest ruler in the Province. Tony also congratulated Keith as installing master. He then had the pleasure of presenting a certificate to Mark confirming that ‘Lodge 32’ was now a Patron of the MCF 2021 Festival which was followed by loud applause. The lodge was then called off and over sixty members and guests retired to the Pearce Suite to partake in a ‘glass of bubbly’ prior to taking their places on the traditional single long table with the master and senior warden at opposite ends, some 50 feet apart. A tradition of the lodge is that the diners still dine by candlelight. The delicious meal was accompanied by an ample supply of wine and port preceded by the snuff box being circulated amongst the diners.
The festive board at this, one of the oldest lodges in the Province, is an experience never to be forgotten. The PrGM responded to the toast to his health in a witty and eloquent manner and following the toast to visitors, a most entertaining response was given by Simon Medland which had the brethren rocking with laughter. All toasts and responses were followed by the boisterous and ear splitting banging of firing glasses, another tradition still carried on by the members of this lodge.
At the designated time, the lodge was called from refreshment to labour and closed in due form and perfect harmony. It was without doubt, an evening filled with surprises for first time visitors and another memorable installation for the members of ‘Lodge 32’. They enjoy their Masonry to the full whilst continuing the traditions of this ancient lodge.
Article and photographs by Phil Marshall.