Senatores Lodge of Installed Masters No 8966 is one of the largest lodges in the Province of West Lancashire (if not the largest) with a membership list of nearly 300. It is little wonder then that there was a full house at its meeting at the Savoy Hotel, Blackpool to enjoy a fascinating and instructive presentation of ‘A Timeline Drama and Pageant’ by members of the St Helens and Prescot Group, a perfect start to Freemasonry’s tercentenary year.
The presentation took the form of a ‘timeline’ in the evolution of the United Grand Lodge of England and covered the often turbulent period between 1646 and 1813. In it, well known characters made an appearance in period costume and told their stories, often revealing to the audience facts about themselves and their lives which, no doubt, surprised even well-read Masonic scholars in attendance. Spiced with humour but essentially informative, the gathered brethren were highly entertained by the band of performers.
Starting in 1646 by introducing Elias Ashmole (alias Allen Yates), the first extant record of being ‘made a Mason’ in a lodge in Warrington on 16 October of that year, the presentation continued through the spread of Freemasonry to the formation of the first grand lodge, the Grand Lodge of London and Westminster (now often referred to as Premier Grand Lodge and known as ‘the Moderns’), on 24 June 1717 and the appointment of Anthony Sayer (aka Don Fraser) as its first Grand Master; to the establishment of the Most Ancient and Honourable Society of Free and Accepted Masons according to the Old Constitutions (now more usually referred to as the Ancients Grand Lodge of England) in 1751 and on, through a turbulent relationship between the two until their eventual union to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813.
Appearances by notables such as Dr James ‘Jas’ Anderson (alias John Roughley), the compiler of the first book of constitutions in 1723; Samuel Pritchard (aka John Dawson), a disillusioned Mason who decided he could make money by authoring the first ’exposure’ of Masonic ritual in his publication ‘Masonry Dissected’ in 1730 and Laurence Dermott (alia Chris Maloney) who presided as grand secretary of ‘the Ancients’ for almost 12 years and penned its own book of constitutions entitled ‘Ahiman Rezon’ in which an extended introduction satirically attacked the original grand lodge. A rocky relationship existed between these two grand lodges until their union in 1813.
Brethren in attendance, who may have thought prior to the meeting that the evolution of United Grand Lodge of England had been a seamless affair, were certainly made to think again!! The show was dramatic, historically accurate, extremely informative and highly entertaining. Those members of Senatores Lodge of Installed Masters who had attended were treated to an excellent evening and have entered tercentenary year with a wealth of knowledge.
Master of the lodge Ken Buckley was enthusiastic in his praise of the presentation team, the clarity of their performances and the gripping nature of the presentation’s contents – sentiments echoed by all the members present.