It was only 12 months ago that the brethren in attendance at the meeting of the “new” Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No 178 witnessed a very young and nervous Scott Bennett deliver the working tools at the installation. Now, here we were, seeing this keen and enthusiastic young man himself going into the chair of this new but strangely historic lodge. Strangely historic because although this is the 18th regular meeting, the lodge itself was formed by the amalgamation of Langtree Lodge No 6166, Norley Lodge No 7319 and Lodge of Antiquity No 178, who together share the history and traditions of four centuries of Freemasonry.
Assistant Provincial Grand Master John Seddon was delighted to attend as the representative of the Provincial Grand Master, and was accompanied by three fellow grand officers, Paul Hesketh, himself a member of the lodge, David Ogden (group vice-chairman), and Jeremy Gaskell, who, despite the transport disputes and disruption in London and the south of England, had made the journey from Kent to be present. Jeremy’s affinity to the lodge comes from his great grandfather, who was a member of Lodge of Antiquity in the 1800s. John was also supported by acting Provincial officers Peter Ridehalgh, Alan Johnston and John Bimpson, together with Geoffrey Porter (group chairman).
The master Ric Wooley welcomed John into the lodge, and on failing to persuade the principal guest to take the gavel and conduct proceedings, went on to conduct a delightful and dignified ceremony to install his successor Scott Bennet. Members of the lodge ably assisted him. Scott was presented to the installing master by Brian Kelly, whilst Bill Cunliffe delivered the address to the master, and John Grimshaw to the wardens, who had to slightly amend his delivery as, due to illness, only one warden was appointed. The working tools were delivered by Ric Wooley, Tony Danson and Keith Whittaker, and John Seddon, as expected, delivered a faultless address to the brethren. As so eloquently described by lodge organist, Graham Speakman, who gave the address to the new Senior Deacon, it is done in a manner unique to this particular lodge. We are all aware that, in normal circumstances, the collar of a deacon bears a badge depicting a dove with an olive branch. In this lodge, however, the collar bears the badge of Hermes, who in Greek mythology was the messenger of the gods who would transport himself from place to place with the speed of wings. Lodge No 178, warranted in May 1786, can retain this historic deviation from the UGLE “norm”.
Ric, as IPM, had the pleasure of presenting Scott with the solid gold Crawford jewel to be worn during his term of office. This had been a tradition in Lodge of Antiquity since 1913. It derives from the lodge’s famous statesman, James Ludovic Lindsay, 26th Earl of Crawford and 9th Earl of Balcarres, who was master in 1886, and the jewel was donated to the lodge on his death. Since 1913 each and every master has worn the jewel and the tradition now continues in Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity.
Officers invested, John rose to bring the congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master to both the new Master and his predecessor who had so ably installed him, and all the officers and brethren who had taken part. Scott, in his new role and with much enthusiasm, responded and gave John several cheques. With the consent of the WM, John then shared with the brethren the donations which he was delighted, on behalf of the recipients to receive. The donations were as follows: Masonic Charitable Foundation £400, £200 to Prostate Cancer Research, £200 to Kidneys for Life, £200 to Wigan and Leigh Hospice and £300 Pemberton Masonic Hall. Graeme responded by praising the lodge for donating this staggering amount of money. The brethren attended a lively and convivial festive board in the best traditions of Pemberton Masonic hall.
Scott lives in Warrington with his wife Alyona and two young children, and is a trainee solicitor working in Preston. Apart from a great fondness for travel, Scott’s main interest, outside of work and Masonry, is participating in extreme sports, particularly snowboarding. Everyone is confident that his youthful enthusiasm, combined with the great deal of experience and support the lodge has to offer, will keep the Norley and Langtree Lodge of Antiquity No 178 running smoothly into the future.
Article written by Barry Dickinson