There were over 50 brethren present for a meeting of Phoenix Lodge of Installed Masters No 9206 where the WM Andy Sumner, welcomed everyone to Chorley Masonic Hall. Present on this auspicious occasion were grand officers Stewart Seddon Leyland Group Chairman, Frank Wilkinson and Kenneth Shaw and acting Provincial Grand Steward Gary Smith. Andy opened the lodge in fine style and in a manner which befits a past master of any lodge. The dispensation to hold the meeting on the night at Chorley Masonic Hall was read by the secretary before the lodge business could be transacted.
It was soon time for the main event and Andy invited the honoured guest for the evening, Dr Paul Calderwood, to the floor to setup and make ready for his lecture. This he did and before starting he enquired whether everyone could see the screen as the slides were pertinent to the talk. Paul explained that the lecture normally took over one and a half hours but on this occasion he had reduced the talk to be just 30 minutes. He also suggested that if at the end of the lecture brethren would like more information; there was a booklet and a book, which could be purchased with the proceeds being divided and forwarded to The National Autistic Society, The Royal College of Surgeons of England and The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution. It was easy to see how long the talk could be as it was a very interesting and a well-researched topic.
Paul’s lecture on the evening, Prestonian Lecture 2013, ‘As we were seen: The Press and Freemasonry’. Paul set out to examine the way in which Freemasonry was portrayed in the national press in England and Wales during the 20th century. He considered how and why the public image of Freemasonry changed from that highly-respected organisation, at the centre of public life in 1900 to a position on the fringes in the 1990s and became regarded by many people with suspicion and disapproval. He showed a graph which charted the peaks and troughs of where the press had written articles about Freemasonry and Freemasons over the years. One reason for these peaks was the high profile members which the craft had attracted; none more so than various members of the Royal family.
At the end of the lecture, Andy thanked Paul for his time and commitment to giving the lecture to the lodge and he was also privileged to ask the first question. He asked whether any research had been carried out in the 21st century to which the answer was no there hadn’t been as it was classed as ‘current affairs’ and therefore ‘not yet historical enough’. Frank Wilkinson asked whether there were any findings in to how the press perceive and therefore report on Freemasonry today. Again, due to the lack of research during this century the answer was still unknown. Gary Smith made a point on whether the current Royal Family, being more popular than in previous and more recent times, were to be encouraged into Freemasonry and whether it would therefore inspire the press to further pick up the ‘pen’. Following the question and answer section, a round of applause was given from the brethren who wanted to show their appreciation.
Andy closed the lodge and every brother made their way to the dining room to enjoy each other’s company. The festive board was of excellent quality and thanks go to Chorley Masonic Hall for hosting the meeting and the catering staff who waited on diligently.