The birthplace of English Freemasonry.
The Province of West Lancashire is one of the largest of the Provinces ranged under the banner of the United Grand Lodge of England, it can also claim to be the birthplace of English Freemasonry.
The initiation of Elias Ashmole in Warrington on 16 October 1646 is the earliest recorded initiation into English Freemasonry. All trace of that early Lancashire lodge, if indeed such a lodge existed and was not merely an ad hoc meeting of conveniently situated Freemasons, has disappeared.
The oldest of the existing lodges in the Province is the Lodge of Loyalty No 86 in Prescot which
dates from 1753 and still meets on the Wednesday before full moon, although the brethren, of
course, can no longer rely on their horses to see them safely home in the moonlight.
The Province was founded as Lancashire Western Division in 1826, becoming the Province of West Lancashire in 1960. It covers that part of the ancient county of Lancashire west of the Great North Road (A6) but including Preston and Lancaster. It extends from the Lake District to the Mersey and from Liverpool into the suburbs of Manchester. Its lodges now meet in five counties – Lancashire, Cumbria, Greater Manchester, Merseyside and Cheshire. However, in all lodges within the Province the loyal toast is still to “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster”.
The Province, being so large, is divided into 21 Groups, each with its chairman, vice chairman and secretary, the largest number of lodges being in Liverpool which is divided into two groups: the Liverpool Group and the Gladstone Group.