Merchants’ Lodge No 241 were delighted to host the Prestonian Lecture for 2022 entitled ‘Royal Family and Freemasonry’ which was held in the Adams Suite at Liverpool Masonic Hall. The Prestonian Lecture is the only lecture given under the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England and is named after William Preston (1742-1818) who is widely regarded as the foremost Masonic educator of his time.
This is explained in each Grand Lodge of England Masonic Yearbook as such; ‘During his lifetime William Preston developed an elaborate system of Masonic instruction which was practised in association with the Lodge of Antiquity of which he was at one time Master. At his death in 1818, Preston bequeathed to Grand Lodge the sum of £300 for the perpetuation of his system of instruction. Lectures in accordance with this system were delivered from 1820 until 1862, when the lectureship was permitted to lapse. In 1924 the Prestonian Lectureship was revived with a modification to the original scheme, the lecturer now submitting a Masonic subject of his own selection, and except for the war years, 1940-1946, regular appointments have been made annually since 1924 to the present day.’
Merchants’ Lodge was opened by the WM Barry Marsden, newly installed at their October 2022 meeting, and then having dealt with all of the other business he warmly welcomed the principal visitor, Dr John W Hawkins PJGD, the Prestonian Lecturer for 2022, who had travelled up from London. This prestigious event was the only opportunity to be present at this year’s lecture within the Province of West Lancashire and the WM expressed his appreciation to all in attendance. Many having travelled some distance from the far reaches of West Lancashire, and distinguished guests included John James, AProvGM for the Liverpool and Gladstone Groups, Duncan Smith, AProvGM for the Blackpool, South and North Fylde Groups and Bob Paterson, Vice Chairman of the Liverpool Group.
The lecture gave a fascinating insight into the history of the Royal Family and the connection with Freemasonry from the early 19th century to the present day and our Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent. The presentation was beautifully illustrated with slides and there was even a speaking part for a lodge member, Ray Fitzsimmons.
At the end of the lecture, John James thanked Dr. John Hawkins for his fascinating lecture. He added that the lecture was detailed and informative but had a thread of humour running through it which made it easy to listen to. The WM Barry Marsden offered the thanks of Merchants’ Lodge brethren to Dr. Hawkins, and he echoed John James’s sentiments.
The festive board took place in the main banqueting suite, and it was pleasing to see so many Masons enjoying each other’s company and the excellent meal of spring rolls with chilli, chicken chasseur with seasonal vegetables and profiteroles. Following the official toasts, Ray Fitzsimmons proposed a toast to the health of Dr Hawkins which was well received by the brethren. In his response, Dr Hawkins thanked the brethren and explained that he was delighted to be in Liverpool, a place he has visited many times as his wife was born in the city. He then explained that the monies raised during the evening will be divided between the charities of Merchants’ Lodge and his two chosen charities, the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Gardner’s Trust.
He explained that the Gardner’s Trust is a charitable organisation which was set up in 1879 when Henry Gardner left £300,000 in his will to assist blind and partially sighted people. In concluding, Dr Hawkins thanked the WM and the brethren for their warm welcome, gracious hospitality, and generous giving. Barry presented Dr Hawkins with a fine bottle of port and a history of the brethren of Merchants’ Lodge.
During the festive board, copies of Dr Hawkins’s extended and exquisitely illustrated book, an extended version of his lecture, were signed by the author and sold to the brethren. The book sales raised £400 for Dr Hawkins’s charities. The raffle raised £200 and the collection in the lodge raised a further £118. The evening summed up what Freemasonry is all about. An informative lecture of the history of Freemasonry and the connection with the Royal Family, a warm and fraternal evening at the festive board, and most importantly, over £700 raised for charitable causes.