For the last two centuries members of Mariner’s Lodge No 249 celebrate the first meeting of each New Year by drinking punch from a punchbowl and jugs at the festive board.
For logistical reasons this year’s ‘Punchbowl Night’ was combined with a Ladies-to-Dine evening which was held at the Woolton Golf Club (home of Mariner’s Lodge). The after-dinner entertainment was a sing-a-long with music.
In 1813 Bro Squire Hargeaves donated a punchbowl and jug that was specially designed for the society of Freemasons and he presented in to Mariner’s Lodge on December 27 1813. The punchbowl and jug were filled with a special punch, the recipe being handed down over the years from the senior steward to senior steward. Only the senior stewards ever knew the recipe and that is what was drunk once again by the lodge members and their guests this year.
The first glass takes one’s breath away, the second puts a wide smile on the face (whilst at the same time delicately reddening the cheeks) and any more than three glasses causes a noticeable and unsurprising slurring of the speech!
The original punch bowl and jug are an extremely rare example of Liverpool Potteries which stood on the site of Herculaneum Docks. Both the punchbowl and jug were adorned with Masonic symbols and inscriptions. These were used every year until 1965 when a decision was made to discontinue the practice of carrying the hot punch in the bowl in case of possible damage. Today the original punch bowl and jug are on loan to the Museums of Liverpool and on permanent display in the Maritime Museum.
In 1969 Thomas Critchley presented a new set of two jugs and a punchbowl in order that the tradition may continue. These are the ones used while the original ones are safely housed in the museum. It is hoped that the new set will still be in use in 150 years from now.
The evening was a great success and enjoyed by all. It was nice to share a 200 year tradition with wives and guests and the punch was perfect drink to encourage the singing that followed the festive board meal.