The 60 year’s anniversary meeting of Foxhall Lodge No 7484 held at Poulton le Fylde benefited from two presentations, the first of which was given by South Fylde Group charity steward Dave McKee. He was explaining the arrangements and procedures appertaining to the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2021 Festival. Dave covered aspects such as methods of donations, festival jewels and beneficiaries, along with several other queries from the members present, which he answered with some assistance from Regional Charity Steward Ted Rhodes. Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Winder gave some background information on prior discussions with grand lodge charity officers and some encouragement to support an initiative that would benefit Masons and non-Masons alike. The brethren showed their thanks for an interesting and enlightening presentation by giving warm applause.
The year 1957 was interesting for a number of reasons and nobody is better at finding these interesting snippets from yesteryear than David Winder who was invited to preside over the lodge by the master Bob Taylor. David had researched the history and progress of the lodge since its consecration on 20 February 1957 and delivered an excellent presentation.
Some interesting contemporary items of information gleaned by David for the education of the brethren were that Norwich became the first council to install a computer, Jodrell Bank observatory became operational, the Cavern Club opened its doors for the first time, Stirling Moss won the British Grand Prix at Aintree and Manchester United retained the First Division title.
It was, of course, a pre-package tour era when holidays abroad were practically unheard of; a time when Blackpool sands were awash with holiday makers, at least that is when the tide was out! When there were more deckchairs than you could shake a stick at and not many that were untaken.
The new Foxhall Lodge was sponsored by Clifton Lodge No 703. The founding father of the lodge and consecrating master Walter Stevens was a Cheshire Mason who held a Cheshire Provincial rank. He was the owner and proprietor of the Kenmore Hotel on South Promenade in Blackpool. A E Wilson and T Whittaker were the founding senior and junior wardens respectively while a couple of Cheshire Masons, G Hill and D Southworth became chaplain and assistant director of ceremonies respectively. All were under the scrutiny of director of ceremonies E Hall. The formation and idea of the lodge had been mooted by Thomas Manning, the then deputy chairman of the old Fylde Group of lodges; the object being to help the advancement of younger Masons and to maintain and create interest in the craft in general. Founder members came from numerous lodges both within the Fylde Group but notably quite a number from mother lodges outside the group. To mention but a few, Newton in Hyde No 3024, Merseyside Lodge No 5751, Westminster City School Lodge No 4305, Atherton in Sunnyhurst Lodge No 4488 and several other lodges no longer in existence.
The lodge was named after the original Fox Hall which was erected near to the ‘Black Pool’ from which the town takes its name, that being a point at which Marton Mere drained into the sea. It was agreed to hold eight meetings every year and to restrict candidates to a maximum of two per annum. The lodge decided to deliver lectures and explanatory tracing boards to enhance the knowledge of its brethren. The initiation fee was not cheap by 1957 standards. It was 30 guineas (£31.50) with the joining member’s fee set at 15 guineas (£15.75). Meals were five shillings. Lodge regalia and furniture had been presented by each founder and, in the early days, it was a tradition for each founder to present the collar and jewel of his office.
The consecration meeting took place at the Masonic Hall, Adelaide Street, Blackpool. The Deputy Provincial Grand Master L E Rutherford was in charge. The regular lodge meetings were held at several venues until 1978 when, due to difficulties in retaining room facilities on a regular basis, the lodge decided to move to Poulton Masonic Hall.
The lodge banner was designed by Edwin Carpenter, the founding secretary. It portrays the old Fox Hall, the Ionic pillar of wisdom and a fox’s head. The original summons followed the design of Clifton Lodge with a background of three Masonic pillars denoting, wisdom, strength and beauty. It was dedicated in 1989 by the then Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter S Walker, assisted by the redoubtable Reverend Harold Kirk Smith.
In his presentation David Winder outlined the lodge history, mentioning many important characters that had shaped its destiny. He also presented many salient facts such as numbers of meetings and the ceremonies carried out on a plethora of candidates from all walks of life. He congratulated the members for their record of charitable donations, which in the last ten years alone, had amounted to £16,826.
David went on to make some sage observations about the future of Freemasonry in general and the Foxhall Lodge in particular. He encouraged his audience to speak openly to non-Masons about their own Masonic experiences and the aspects of their membership that gave them most pleasure. He urged them to move with the times both intellectually and administratively to ensure that we can attract new members and thereby ensure the future of Freemasonry.
Having completed his presentation David thanked the master Bob Taylor for allowing him to take part in the meeting and the meeting concluded to be followed by a fine repast.