90 members and guests attended the installation meeting of Plantagenet Lodge of Installed Masters No 9357 to see Douglas (Doug) Eric Willougby installed into the chair of King Solomon at Rowley Court, Lancaster. This prestigious lodge was privileged by the presence of the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger who were accompanied by a host of grand officers including Philip Gardner, Lancaster Group Chairman Jim Wilson, Tom Blackburn, Tom Holroyd, Peter Mason, Christopher Band, Christopher Butterfield and David Kellet. The meeting was also graced by the presence of Provincial Senior Grand Warden John Lee and Provincial Junior Grand Warden Jonathan Heaton, together with acting Provincial officers Gordon Sandford, Richard Wilcox, Bernard Snape, Ian Thompson, Christopher Larder and Christopher Grey. The group vice chairman Neil McGill, group secretary Scott Devine and Furness and South Lakeland Group Chairman Peter Schofield were also in attendance. The Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, ably assisted by his deputy Barry Fitzgerald, competently organised this impressive assembly.
On completion of lodge business Keith Kemp entered the lodge room and announced that the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was without and demanded admission. The installing master Paul Broadley welcomed Tony and all the dignitaries and, as is the custom, offered Tony the gavel of the lodge, commenting “it is always nice to have you in our company.” Initially accepting the gavel, Tony thanked Paul for the warm welcome saying that it was delightful being there that day. Unbeknown to Tony however, a ten pound note had been wrapped around the handle of the gavel by Paul just before handing it across. Causing much delight and laughter, Tony accepted the gavel, removed the ten pound note and said “If you think that this is going to make me keep the gavel your mistaken. I will donate this to charity”, upon which Tony promptly handed the gavel back – what a fabulous way to begin an installation.
Once Tony had taken his rightful place in the lodge Paul asked John Lee and Jonathan Heaton to act as installing senior and junior wardens respectively. The master-elect was presented by John Heaton before being installed by Paul in what was a first class ceremony conducted with equal measures of sincerity and humour. Splendid explanations of the working tools in the third, second and first degrees were affected in their abridged versions by Steve Jennings (who stood in at the last moment), Bill Byrne and Mark Astbury respectively. The address to the master was given by the retiring master Paul Broadley in a delightful manner, whilst the delivery of the address to the wardens by John Lee drew particular approbation. As we have come to expect, the address to the brethren was delivered with eloquence and precision by the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison.
On rising at the end of the ceremony Tony gave his personal congratulations to the newly installed master and brethren ‘of this very distinguished and important lodge’. Tony also commended the immediate past and installing master Paul for the manner in which he installed Doug, adding, “It was certainly worth all the days and nights in learning the ritual.” A final pleasant duty for Tony was to present the master with a certificate confirming Plantagenet Lodge of Installed Masters as a vice patron of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, in recognition of the festival donation of £1,500. On behalf of the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival, Tony thanked the master and brethren for their contributions which have made this landmark possible.
On retiring to the banqueting hall, the 90 members and guests of Plantagenet Lodge were treated to some excellent fare. The meal completed, David Grainger in his reply to the toast to the health of the grand officers, hoped everyone present had enjoyed themselves, just as the Provincial Grand Master would wish. Reflecting on Tony’s enormous enthusiasm for everything Masonic, David believed “we are blessed to have such a tireless leader and Mason”. In his response, Tony began by again expressing his thanks to all the grand officers, wardens and acting Provincial officers for being present on the day. Particular thanks went to the Lancaster group chairman Jim Wilson for his tireless efforts and to all the group officers for all the work they do on behalf of the group. Thanks were also proffered to the publicity team for their work with particular emphasis on visiting the Provincial website, which Tony encouraged the brethren to undertake as often as possible. Tony then gave details of the topics that he wished to raise. He mentioned both the success of the new local care system which is working well and the subject of membership which although increasing, is still a problem, as we are losing too many Masons after they have joined: encouraging people to join is therefore very important.
Moving on to the Tercentenary celebrations Tony highlighted in particular the church services at Lancaster Priory and at St John the Divine, Sandylands as being of special importance but also mentioned that there would be all kinds of social events to look out for throughout the year. Moving on, Tony invited everyone to attend the Provincial Grand Lodge meeting when it meets in Blackpool later in the year. He encouraged everyone to accept the invitation and make the event a memorable and enjoyable occasion, particularly as it will be at that meeting that the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival will be officially launched. Tony took the opportunity of thanking those brethren who had already taken patronage of the Festival and encouraged those who had not to please do so. Tony concluded with the rallying cry of ‘please enjoy your Freemasonry’, support the Tercentenary and the 2021 Festival and please wear your ‘Festival jewel with pride’.
In response to the toast to the Provincial grand officers the Provincial Junior Grand Warden Jonathan Heaton made special mention of the immediate past master Paul Broadley who to his mind was a very pleasant and likeable man (which generated much laughter for some reason). Jonathan went on to congratulate all the brethren who had taken part in the ceremony, adding it had been a really ‘enjoyable day’.
Continuing the tradition of Plantagenet Lodge, Phil Gardner presented the outgoing master Paul with a special hand-turned miniature gavel on an inscribed stand, as a permanent memento of his year as master of the lodge. Phil added that Paul had been a fantastic ambassador and hoped the gavel would remind him of a very happy year in office. The tradition of presenting the gavel to the immediate past master originates from the time when the lodge was founded in 1990 and it was decided not to give a past-master’s jewel but to mark the master’s year in office with a more unique and permanent symbol. These miniature gavels are made by Phil Newby of Warton Lodge No 8411.
Article and photos by Paul Thompson.