The installation meeting of Plantagenet Lodge of Installed Masters No 9357 held at Wyrebank, Garstang attracted a large attendance and once again evidenced some excellent ritual and afforded an opportunity for renewed companionship.
The lodge name of ‘Plantagenet’ owes its origins to the royal house of that name and its special connection with both the city of Lancaster and the establishment of the Duchy of Lancaster. The word is believed to have its origins in the Latin translation of the familial name, which is ‘a sprig of broom’, which was recorded as the family emblem of Henry the Second. He apparently wore a ‘sprig’ of the plant in his cap and this ‘sprig’ features on the lodge emblem together with the red rose of the House of Lancaster and a depiction of the ‘John o’ Gaunt’ gateway at Lancaster Castle.
The principal guest attending was Derek Parkinson APrGM who on this occasion was joined by two distinguished members of the lodge who were quite happy to take a back seat. The two ‘resting Masons’ were none other than Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and fellow ‘recumbent’ Mason David Grainger PrAGM. Other members of distinction present included grand officers Phil Gardner, Jim Wilson Lancaster Group Chairman, Chris Butterfield group secretary and Keith Kemp PrGDC who is also DC of the lodge. Acting Provincial grand officers in attendance were Andrew Bartlett PrGReg, Ernie Greenhalgh PrGAlm, Paul Thompson PrJGD and Richard Dennison PrGStwd.
Subsequent to Peter Mason, the installing master, opening the lodge in the third degree, Keith Kemp re-entered the lodge to announce that the Provincial Grand Master stood outside the door of the lodge and demanded admission. Tony was immediately and warmly received but rapidly introduced Derek Parkinson as the principal guest, assuring Peter that he, Tony, was simply present as a lodge member and that Derek was the guest of honour.
Indeed, following the receipt of the salutations Tony quickly changed seats ensuring that Derek was seated immediately to the right of the WM. Following the presentation by Phil Gardner of the master elect, Allan Gregory Brown, there then followed an excellently executed example of Masonic ritual as Peter Mason placed Allan into the master’s chair with the skill and dignity that are the trademarks of such a senior and experienced Mason.
The standard of ritual continued at a very high level with the working tools being presented by Paul Thompson, Alan Mills and Mike Hutton in the third, second and first degrees respectively. The address to the master was given with particular sincerity and import by Peter Mason, whilst the delivery of the address to the wardens by Alan Mills drew particular admiration as he was only given a few days advance notice in which to prepare for the task.
Derek Parkinson rendered the address to the brethren with a particularly profound inference, which was much appreciated and admired by all present. During the appointment of his officers, the new WM Allan paid tribute to two of the brethren who were retiring from office after having rendered many years of valued service to the lodge. He thanked John Heaton for 15 years of ‘special harmony’ as organist and David Roberts for over 10 years of ‘clerical excellence’ as secretary. In a very much ‘tongue, firmly in cheek’ quip, John Heaton expressed his ‘guarded confidence that a young chap by the name of David Tattersall had eventually reached the required standard to be appointed as his replacement’!
At the appropriate moment on the conclusion of the installation, Derek Parkinson rose very promptly to offer congratulations to the new master, installing master and all participants. He humorously observed that he brought, as was customary, the congratulations and best wishes of the Provincial Grand Master although he noted that he hadn’t had too far to carry them as Tony was sat next to him!. He was also delighted to receive from the WM a cheque for £500 in favour of the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity, which he said was particularly gratifying to receive from a lodge whose members had undoubtedly made additional contributions to charity through their native lodges.
Wyrebank Banqueting Suite proved once again to be an excellent venue for the festive board with diners enjoying a substantial and most enjoyable three course menu. Conversation was particularly lively, accompanied by the soothing background of clinking glasses, and enthusiastically employed cutlery. As the meal progressed, toasts were proposed, honoured and responded to in a relaxed and dignified style.
In his response to the toast to grand officers, Derek Parkinson reiterated his praise for the quality of the installation ceremony. He admitted to some trepidation in ‘communicating the topics’ that the PrGM had asked to be covered at installation banquets, particularly as the author and originator of those messages was sat to his immediate right. He briefly reminded his audience of the need to support the WLFC as the imminent commitment that lodges would need to direct to the assumed forthcoming festival would see a significant reduction in the income of our own Provincial charity. Derek also had some thoughts to express on recruitment and retention, especially his belief that senior Masons should be viewed not just as ‘rulers in the Craft’ but also as approachable and empathic individuals who were very keen to engage with fellow Masons of all ages, rank and experience and learn about the concerns and ideas that members were expressing. He was also most complimentary of the facilities and ambience provided by Garstang Masonic hall, admitting that, on his last visit to the area the local lodges were still meeting in the old building. Touching on the enjoyment and friendship that we all derive from our involvement in Masonry and especially that gained by visiting other lodges, he reminded everyone that Tony had sent out an invitation to everyone to visit his ‘main lodge’; the Provincial Grand Lodge of West Lancashire when it met in Blackpool later in the year. He encouraged everyone to accept the invitation and make the event a memorable and enjoyable occasion. In concluding, he thanked the Lancaster group for inviting him and said how much he had enjoyed his visit.
Allan Brown, in his final remarks, admitted that he was somewhat overwhelmed to have been invited to lead Plantagenet lodge as its master and sincerely thanked the members for their confidence and assurances of support for the coming year. He drew a loud and spontaneous round of applause when he mentioned that Geoff Cousen, despite his continuing recovery from a serious and debilitating illness, had recently called him to tender his best wishes for the day. The response from the room was a fitting and moving testimony to the affection and esteem in which his fellow Masons hold Geoff.
The final task of the evening fell to Phil Gardner who presented Peter Mason with an especially hand turned miniature gavel on an inscribed stand as a permanent memento of his year as master of the lodge. This has been the traditional and unique item presented as a symbolic souvenir to every past master of the lodge in lieu of a past-masters jewel since its foundation in 1990. Peter admitted that when he participated as a founder member at the inaugural meeting of the lodge he had never expected to have the honour of receiving this ‘very special Masonic item’. It would, he assured everyone, be afforded a very special place amongst his extensive Masonic memorabilia.