Old English Nights are traditionally a time when brethren can come together with non-Masons for a light hearted evening of fun and frolics. This was certainly the case at Rufford Lodge No 7217 who have taken up residence in the Eccleston Suite at Park Hall Hotel, Charnock Richard.
Prior to the festivities, a packed lodge room saw 30 members and 53 Masons from other lodges attend the regular meeting which was opened by the WM Brian Fairhurst. After the meeting was officially opened, DC Alan Burgess informed Brian that Assistant Provincial Grand Master Philip Gunning was outside the lodge and demanded admission.
On entering, Philip was offered the gavel and was congratulated on his forthcoming promotion to Deputy Provincial Grand Master, which will be conferred on him in May. Philip thanked Brian but said on this occasion he had great pleasure in handing the gavel back, but whilst on his feet he thanked the members for conferring on him honorary membership of the lodge, which was something he would cherish.
Brian then asked all present to imagine that they were attending a meeting in a small village in Cornwall and that the year was 1752. He then presented an ancient charge of considerable length used at that time after an initiation of a new candidate. The words used in this piece have many of the equality’s of the present charge used in the modern ritual and also brought home to many reflections of a time gone by.
At the completion of the meeting the brethren retired to the medieval banqueting hall adjacent to the hotel. Once the guests were seated and suitably refreshed ‘finds master’ Derek Midgley took charge of the proceedings. The rules for the night were presented in suitable dialect, to quote Derek: “No feitin, don’t speak withi gob full wen eightin. If tha eight of order – pay thi fine” and many other such old English expressions.
All present took the fines levied with good humour and paid up when ordered to do so. One such fine was cheered by all the drivers in the room when a one pound fine was incurred on all those brethren who had cadged a lift to the venue, only to be reciprocated when the drivers of said vehicles were also charged a pound for polluting the air with exhaust gasses.
After much merriment the meal was served, black pudding on creamy mash for starters, then shoulder of lamb with seasonal vegetables, followed by apple and blackcurrant crumble with custard. Following the meal the fines continued until the evening’s entertainment was announced, ‘The Brothers Grimm’ medieval jesters. The brothers suitably attired and with much merriment and innuendo, proceeded to display their talents with a range of fire eating, juggling and medieval merrymaking.
A volunteer was called for and the guests had no hesitation in suggesting that dastardly Derek ‘give me your money’ Midgley was an ideal candidate. What followed produced much merriment, for with his head suitably locked in an ancient guillotine and a rather large cucumber provocatively protruding from a convenient hole below his face and with everyone shouting “off with his head”, the blade fell, the cucumber severed, but miraculously Derek’s head and body were still in one piece.
Our court jesters also performed close-up table magic, balloon swallowing and a considerable amount of adult humour during their performance.
The evening raised the magnificent sum of £765 to be donated to Masonic and non-Masonic charities. It must be said that all present had a wonderful evening and the last words quoted are from rule eight “If thi guzz womm wi any money, thet a lucky b….r”.