Napoleonic feast at Fairhaven

Readers who have been following the progress of the ‘sky blues’ at Fairhaven Lodge No 5076 will be accustomed to the younger members outnumbering their senior brethren in dark blue. Imagine, therefore, the surprise when the youngsters found themselves outnumbered in a gathering of 95 members and visitors assembled to witness a Napoleonic lecture given by the Musket, Pike and Drum Lodge No 9906.

Terry Stevens-Lewing modelling his Napoleonic headgear.

Terry Stevens-Lewing modelling his Napoleonic headgear.

The lecturers were; the lodge’s founding master Paul Barrass, who detailed the Masonic connections of the generals and senior officers from both sides of the confrontation; Gary Bate, who is a historical gunsmith, was able to create any kind of firearm from scratch, described the weapons used by all sides during the battle; and Mike Haynes who is the founding senior warden of the lodge and a frequent commander in Napoleonic re-enactments. Mike described the events leading up to Waterloo and described the famous battle with the assistance of brethren invited (cajoled in some cases!) from the audience.

Using the lodge floor as the battlefield, he showed how troop movements proceeded under the leadership of six-foot tall South Fylde Group Chairman Ian Ward as Napoleon (now known as ‘shorty’ to his friends!). Opposing General, the Duke of Wellington, was played by Fairhaven Lodge treasurer Melvyn Gray, who was then known as ‘lofty’ for the remainder of the evening.

Gary Bate explains how to load and fire a musket.

Gary Bate explains how to load and fire a musket.

Much hilarity was created by Mike’s entertaining style in telling the tale of the battle and his way of moving the troops around the battlefield, with historical facts and anecdotes as asides. This included the famous exchange between Lord Uxbridge, “By God sir, I’ve lost my leg.” and Wellington, “By God sir, so you have.”

Musket, Pike and Drum Lodge was consecrated in May 2016 for founders, initiates and joining members with connections, or an interest, in historical re-enactments and history in general.

Members of this very interesting lodge have already been involved in several re-enactments, including the battles of the Alamo and of Gettysburg. After nearly a year in existence they already have 64 members, with over 20 other candidates awaiting initiation or acceptance as joining members. Most of the members are drawn from this country but several others hail from different parts of the world. The intention is that the lodge installation will always be held in Staffordshire but will open the lodge by dispensation at suitable historical locations in other Provinces. The first four candidates will be initiated by dispensation at Leek Masonic Hall on Saturday 7 November 2017.

As with the conclusion of most lodge meetings, the bar and then the banqueting suite became very busy places. With nearly 100 thirsts to quench and as many dinners to be provided, the hall staff and the caterers were at full stretch but handled the event with great skill and efficiency. Behind the scenes and responsible for overseeing the success of the whole event was lodge secretary Kevin Burns, who, despite a few complications that were capably dealt with, actually got to sit down to eat his meal!

Pictured from left to right, are; Paul Barrass, Mike Haynes and Gary Bate.

Pictured from left to right, are; Paul Barrass, Mike Haynes and Gary Bate.

At the end of the evening the total funds raised for charity collections and the raffle was £669. Summing up on what had proven to be a highly successful event, the immediate past master John Conroy stated that it was an evening to remember that brought many people together to have fun and collect some money for charity, which was what Freemasonry was about. In response, master of the lodge.

Terry Stevens-Lewing thanked the lecture team for travelling from Staffordshire to entertain and educate the brethren. Terry later explained that he had first seen this re-enactment whilst visiting the Dorothy Vernon Lodge No 2129 in Derby and was keen to arrange for the team to visit Fairhaven Lodge during his year as master.

For their part, the lecture team thanked the lodge for the invitation and were very pleased to attend.

Speaking afterwards, Terry said that he had received some ‘fantastic’ comments from the brethren, some of whom would have liked an extended version to learn more about the subject. Terry went on to say, “For me this was a monumental success and I was overwhelmed by the support I received from the brethren. As a result of the feedback I am looking forward to Fairhaven Lodge inviting the team back to present its version of the battle of the Alamo.” Amen to that Terry!

Mike Haynes explains proceedings while, standing from left to right, are; John Conroy, Ian Ward, Joe Gordon, Liam Bird, Peter Rowan, Steve Smith and John Nicholls, representing the French lines.

Mike Haynes explains proceedings while, standing from left to right, are; John Conroy, Ian Ward, Joe Gordon, Liam Bird, Peter Rowan, Steve Smith and John Nicholls, representing the French lines.