As the month of November closed, the members of Sovereign’s Peace Lodge No 8911, together with visitors, gathered at Liverpool Hope Street Masonic Hall for their final meeting before surrendering their warrant. The principal guest on the occasion was Mark Matthews, who was accompanied by group vice chairman Tim Burgess and Provincial Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies Robb Fitzsimmons. Sovereign’s Peace Lodge was a daughter lodge of Liverpool Lodge No 1547 that on the night were represented by Jack Parker and Tom McLaughlin.
For the closing meeting, master of the lodge Richard Wilson opened the lodge in due form, assisted by his junior warden Martin Richards, acting senior warden Arthur Monk and other lodge officers. After dealing with the customary initial lodge business, Richard offered the gavel of the lodge to Mark Matthews who accepted and occupied the master’s chair. The brethren gave the customary salutations to Mark, who responded accordingly.
It was at that point that Mark addressed the members and all present, firstly by wishing them all ‘good evening’. He said it was as recent as 6 September of this year, that he was delighted to be the principal guest of the lodge to lead on the happy occasion of the 50 years in Freemasonry celebration of the master Richard Wilson. He was scheduled to be there again that evening in regard to the lodge installation meeting, which regrettably was no longer the case, as with the closure of the lodge that night he was sadly in attendance to take receipt of the lodge warrant. Whilst it may have been considered that the meeting was to be a sad occasion, which it no doubt was, it should also be seen as a celebration of the 42 wonderful years of a very fine and distinguished lodge.
On the 16 March 1979 Tom Ridge, Duncan McCubbin, Frank Haigh and Norman Dainty who were all retired police officers, met at the Adelphi Hotel in Liverpool. The reason was to consider the possibility of forming a lodge for retired police officers in the North West of England. Further contact with other retired police officers, identified that there was a great deal of interest and enthusiasm for forming a retired police officers lodge.
A meeting of prospective founder members was held at Hope Street Masonic Hall on 30 April 1979 with 26 brethren having proclaimed a definite interest in forming a lodge, with an additional eight identifying themselves as possibilities. After the meeting, the reason submitted to the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Lodge for forming the lodge was to ‘commemorate the 150 years anniversary of Sir Robert Peel (founder of the police in 1829), by forming a lodge of retired police officers and to assist those retired police officers whose former duties and commitments prevented them from joining the Craft and thus becoming Masons; further to encourage those colleagues who, having served the Craft loyally as master Masons over many years and never having achieved the ultimate aim of being master of a lodge, to do so with the special help and support of their former colleagues, friends and brethren of long standing.’
The next stage of the process was to name the lodge. A number of possible names were suggested; Hue and Cry Lodge, Law and Order Lodge, Lodge of Vigilance, Blue Lamp Lodge, Bridewell Lodge, Chevron Lodge (no doubt suggested by a former sergeant!), Semper Vigilante (ever vigilant) Lodge, Peacekeepers Lodge and Sovereign’s Peace Lodge. Following a vote, the latter was unanimously agreed upon. There was also a need to identify a suitable lodge crest. Norman Dainty suggested that Irene the Goddess of Peace, holding the scales of justice in one hand and a laurel of peace in the other. For those who hold the Police Long Service and Good Conduct Medal, Irene Goddess of Peace is the figure depicted on the reverse side of the medal. The suggestion was also unanimously approved with the addition of a truncheon and handcuffs beneath Irene’s feet.
Following a Quarterly Meeting at Grand Lodge in London on 12 September 1979, the formation of Sovereign’s Peace Lodge No 8911 was approved, with the lodge consecrated on Friday 16 November 1979, by the then Provincial Grand Master Sir Knowles Edge and his Provincial team.
There were 34 founding members. Following the formation of the lodge, it enjoyed many years of success most notably in terms of a large membership and high numbers of visitors, and remarkably, the first regular meeting after the consecration, held on the 26 February 1980 saw a ballot for and admittance of 46 joining members. Unfortunately, in recent years the membership of the lodge has continued to decrease and the difficult decision to close the lodge was taken.
Mark, in speaking directly to the brethren of Sovereign’s Peace Lodge, thanked them for their valuable service to the local communities during their working lives and for their considerable contribution to the Liverpool Group and Freemasonry in general. He added: “Finally and on a more personal note, I thank you for the friendship and hospitality that you have shown to me over the years that I have served as your group chairman and Assistant Provincial Grand Master.”
Following this, Mark invited Richard Wilson to return to his rightful place in the master’s chair. Upon the conclusion of all the final lodge business and risings, Richard closed the lodge. Robb Fitzsimmons attended at the secretary’s desk to receive the Warrant of the Lodge from lodge secretary Richard Humphreys and proceeded to take it to the WM, who in turn presented and surrendered it to Mark Matthews.
In closing Mark informed the brethren that he accepted the warrant with great sadness but he was very happy that all of the brethren of Sovereign’s Peace Lodge were remaining in Freemasonry with their other lodges. He wished everyone well and the brethren proceeded out of the lodge room for the final time.