It was on a sunny Sunday morning that members of the Chorley and Leyland Masonic Advancement Group, better known as ‘Perfect Points’, took a coach trip to St Edmund’s Church in Rochdale.
Though the church officially closed in 2007, it was upgraded to a Grade 1 listed building in 2010 providing protection from redevelopment. What makes the church unique, is the Masonic symbolism throughout its construction.
The church, which opened in 1873 and was commissioned by Albert Hudson Royds, a local banker, industrialist and Freemason, with a design including both overt and more hidden symbols of Freemasonry. The original plans were measured in cubits and no nails were used in the construction of the church roof, alluding to the building of the Temple of King Solomon.
On entering the church through a door situated in the west under a cross of Constantine, the group were immediately greeted by the splendour of a church built in cruciform and adorned with stained glass windows on all sides. Each window told a biblical tale with hidden Masonic symbolism to be found everywhere, from the garden of Eden to the more obvious symbols shown in a window dedicated to Noah’s Ark.
An expert guide from Friends of St Edmund’s, Howard Bowden, provided explanation of each facet of the church while highlighting the hidden symbols even the most eagle-eyed Mason may have missed. One highlight was a Masonic lectern consisting of a square and compasses on a golden table replete with Masonic symbolism and supported by three pillars featuring a plumb rule, level and compasses.
Friends of St Edmund’s Church is a group of volunteers that care for St Edmund’s Church, in Falinge, Rochdale. Friends of St. Edmund’s is vested in the care of the churches conservation trust and cared for in partnership with the friends of St. Edmund’s church on their behalf the friends help raise vital funds not only for the upkeep of St. Edmund’s but for the greater work of the Trust that cares for currently 353 historic churches in England.
Part of the church was used as the Royds’ family chapel, with windows behind the alter depicting the building of King Solomon’s Temple and individual windows to the side featuring Ezra, Nehemiah and the tyler wielding his sword. The tour lasted more than two hours before Perfect Points Chairman, Derek Robinson, presented a donation towards the upkeep of the church on behalf of the group.
Next stop was Rochdale Masonic Hall for an excellent Sunday lunch. However, the day was far from over as they were given access to the rooms upstairs. Not only were the lodge rooms something to behold but the outer rooms gave the feeling of being in a Masonic museum with exhibits going back to the 19th century on display. This was an unexpected delight for all present and much discussion was had regarding what had been seen throughout the day on the return coach journey.
Membership of Perfect Points is open to all master Masons wishing to advance their knowledge of Freemasonry with an annual membership fee of only £5. Demonstration teams and guest speakers are booked for your entertainment and a light supper follows. The next meeting will be held at Brookfield Hall, Westhoughton in October. For information or should you wish to join Perfect Points please email the secretary.