Brookfield Masonic Hall is the meeting venue for the Chorley Group’s Westhoughton lodges and chapters. As well as being a Masonic meeting place, Brookfield Hall is, like many of our Masonic venues, a thriving business enterprise in its own right. In a joint venture between both the Masonic and commercial sides, the hall opened its doors and held an open day event.
The event was linked into the heritage trail events going on in the town of Westhoughton. Attractions included a bouncy castle, barbeque, beer tent and refreshment stall, all set in the beautiful gardens that can be found in the grounds of Brookfield Hall
Mark Olly, who is a member of St Bartholomew Lodge No 6071 and a ‘Crusader’ set up camp with a group of fellow ‘Crusaders’ from the Macclesfield Rhetoric, Knights of Failsworth and Knights of the House of Sinclair. They brought with them a collection of Anglo Saxon paraphernalia including swords, shields, chain mail and jousting helmets.
Visitors were invited to take a full tour of the Masonic areas of the building. With the intention to promote an open approach to Freemasonry, the tour first took the visitors to the lodge rooms. On a knock they entered a typical, but ‘closed’ lodge room environment. Many of the fixtures and fittings were explained along with a brief history behind our order. Principal and assistant officers were in place dressed in craft regalia wearing the collar of the office they had taken up. The directors of ceremonies Derek Bond and Mike Silver explained the duties each officer would undertake, at which point the respective officer stood up.
The visitors entered the chapter room, although understandably not set up for a convocation, and were given an explanation and overview of the Royal Arch from Duncan Hopkins and Harry Noblett. The tour led them to the museum to learn about many of the other orders that Freemasons may join. On display were examples of regalia, aprons and jewels worn in the other orders. Provincial and Grand Lodge regalia was also on display and all was perfectly presented and explained by Stewart Wilson and Henry Causey.
The visitors ended the tour in the committee room which had been set up to present the charitable work undertaken by Freemasons and the benefits brought to organizations within the community of Westhoughton. On display were giant-sized cheques representing the donations made by local Masons and many visitors were surprised to learn about the amount of money raised by Freemasons. The visitors also received a photographic presentation showing how Masons raise money and the benefits felt by the recipients.
Derek Robinson and George Tipton explained that we are now in ‘festival mode’, pointing to the success of the previous festival and emphasizing that the money raised is distributed to many non-Masonic causes as well as to the care of members of the lodges and chapters in Westhoughton.
Downstairs the rooms were set out to show what a fantastic venue Brookfield Hall can be for weddings, parties or business meetings. Victoria Pennington, the manageress, and her team were on hand to show visitors all the benefits that the hall offers and the wonderful facilities available. Local businessmen who offer services for that special wedding day had set up displays representing the products they offer in conjunction with Brookfield to make the special day perfect.
Brookfield Ladies had a stall to promote the events they offer – this team work hard promoting events for Mason’s families and raise money for local charities.
The event was a success both for the business side of the hall, with bookings being made for weddings and meetings, and it also opened up Masonry to the local community. As a result, a couple of enquiries to join Freemasonry have emerged. Everyone enjoyed the day including the 22 Masons and the staff working at Brookfield who worked to make the open day event happen.
Brookfield Hall Chairman Bryn Hart thanked all those who volunteered and took part on the day or who had worked in the background to organize the event; vice chairman Gary Fisher, secretary David Hargreaves, assistant secretary Jayson Jackson, treasurer Mike Turner, as well as Victoria’s team from the hall; assistant manager Tom Sweeny, duty manager Nathan Bridge and chef David Hubbard.
Group chairman Peter Lockett who, with his wife Pam, visited the event to draw the raffle said that he was very impressed by the whole event, especially the support the day received. There was a wide range of interesting displays and stands and Pam said that she was particularly taken with the wedding suite.
Story and photographs by Allan Shields