Farington Lodge No 7277 was honoured and pleased to be chosen to host the first of what no doubt will be many Tercentenary celebrations within the Leyland and District Group of Lodges and Chapters. The event which took place recently was a ‘Timeline Pageant’ and it was presented by a team of Freemasons from the St Helens and Prescot Group.
The presentation team included Frank Davies (as WM Preston), Norman Lay (as John Stones), Chris Maloney (as Laurence Dermott / Duke of Sussex), John Roughley (as James Anderson / Duke of Kent), Dave Burgess (Herald), Don Fraser (as Anthony Sayer) Allen Yates (as Elias Ashmole) and John Dawson (as Samuel Pritchard).
The pageant took the form of a ‘timeline’ in the evolution of the United Grand Lodge of England and covered the often, turbulent period between 1646 and 1813. In it, well known characters made an appearance in period costume and told their story, often revealing to the audience facts about themselves and their lives which may surprise even well-read Masonic scholars. Spiced with humour but essentially informative, many of the members and visitors were thoroughly entertained by the performance. The event was also open to non-Masons and was followed by an Old English festive board. On the night, a good number of non-Masons turned up to witness the historical moment of facts through the 300 years of recognised Freemasonry.
Before the pageant could be presented however, there was still a little lodge business which had to be executed as their next meeting would be their installation of a new master for the following year. Terry Fowler, WM of Farington Lodge opened the meeting so that a number of offices could be balloted for. Stewart Seddon Assistant Provincial Grand Master was then admitted in to the lodge room and he was given a very warm welcome by Terry on behalf of the lodge and its visitors. He offered Stewart the lodge gavel and before he sat down he handed it back saying that Terry needed it to carry out the work of the lodge. The lodge was closed following the business.
At this point the team from St Helens and Prescot entered the lodge room and set it out ready for their performance. A reading pedestal, a table and four chairs and a lamp placed upon it, were set out. At this point in the proceedings the visiting non-Masons were allowed in to the lodge room and they took their seats in anticipation of seeing the show.
The Herald (Dave Burgess) entered the room, closely followed by the team, and he announced the start of the pageant. Throughout the performance members of the team introduced themselves as the characters they were playing and through a well-prepared conversation the story unravelled on the birth of United Grand Lodge of England. Here follows the timeline as presented by the team:
1646 – Elias Ashmole becomes the first recorded Speculative Freemason.
1717 – The first Grand Lodge is founded and Anthony Sayer becomes the first Master of the new Grand Lodge.
1723 – James Anderson has his second draft Constitutions accepted and printed by the Grand Lodge.
1730 – Samuel Pritchard sells his copies of Masonry Dissected all across Britain and into Europe.
1746 – Edict is issued from Grand Lodge banning all public processions of Masons in regalia unless approved by the Grand Master.
1748 – Laurence Dermott arrives from Ireland.
1751 – Irish Lodges form Most Antient Fraternity of Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old Institutions (The Antients Grand Lodge).
1752 – Dermott appointed Secretary of the Antients Grand Lodge.
1753 – Lodge of Loyalty No. 86 receives its Deputation to constitute a lodge in Prescot and so becomes the oldest lodge in the Province of West Lancashire.
1789 – 12 years after being expelled from Grand Lodge for the first time, (he was expelled twice) William Preston is re-admitted and sets up a legacy in his will for future lecturers to receive funding.
1790 – Duke of Sussex attends Grand Lodge and demands an end to the “wretched squabbling”.
1809 – Sussex receives latest update on progress towards unification.
1811 – Sussex sets up a Lodge of Promulgation ready for unification.
1813 – Dukes of Sussex and Kent declare that “Pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more namely: the Entered Apprentice, the Fellowcraft and the Master Mason including the Holy Royal Arch.” They shake hands across the altar and Sussex takes his seat as first Grand Master of United Grand Lodge.
At the end of a very informative show everyone gave a round of applause and Terry thanked the members of St Helens and Prescot for their well-rehearsed performance. He said that he hoped the non-members especially, together with brethren present, had gained fruitful knowledge out of what they had witnessed.
Everyone then retired to the dining room for fun and frolics at the lodge’s ‘Olde English Nighte’ where a hearty meal of black pudding, steak pie and chips; apple pie and ice cream was all washed down with ‘black licwid.’ The pageant team remained in their costumes to make the evening a most enjoyable one and to heighten the camaraderie in the dining room. Everyone will remember the evening with fondness having made new friends and some meeting friends of old. The non-members too had a wonderful time which, it is hoped, will have whetted their appetite for more knowledge.