We are all interested in the stories, opinions and concerns of our close family whether it be from way back when or of more recent times. We would like to hear from you either with an article, letter or comment and we will do our best to include it. Opinions, ideas and shared information help us to enjoy our Masonry.
A couple of letters I have received recently: one, an article from J. Garroway PAGDC Secretary Lodge 119 about leaving the place of their meeting after 150 years.
The Passing of an Era
Era: Quoting from the Dictionary, A number of years counting from a point in history. The era in question is the passing into history of one of the oldest Temple’s in the history of Freemasonry in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland, the home of the Sun, Square and Compass Lodge No119 in Whitehaven Cumbria.
Lodge 119, as it is affectionately called, had been well established in the port of Whitehaven long before the Era in question began, and was to be listed as the only “Atholl” Lodge left working under the only Warrant, then granted by the “Antient” or “Atholl” Grand Lodge then in force in the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland The Lodge assembled in College Street on January 3rd 1859, for the first time and has held it’s meetings ever since. The Warrant then numbered 157, is preserved by the Lodge still, and can be seen at all meetings in their new premises.
But this is an other Era of which history has been already written, for when the Lodge outgrew itself and could not find a regular meeting place other than public houses, and be at call of various landlords fighting for custom, it was obvious that a regular meeting house was needed. No 2 College St, was purchased in 1858 for the pricely sum of £608, it was bought during Wor Bro James Jackson’s year of office, the property was conveyed to and vested in W.Bro’s Joseph Fletcher, Bro James Dees, Wor Henry Spencer, and of course Wor James Jackson, an amount of £453 was spent in altering the premises, bringing the total original cost up to £1,061.
Members of the Lodge then formed “The Masonic Hall Company” and 1,150, £1 shares were issued to the shareholders. Considerable sums were at that time spent on building, making the total outlay up to well over £2000. The Lodge purchased the shares in January, 1902, and the Company there upon conveyed the premises to the new Trustees appointed on behalf of the Lodge, sum 21 years later, and thereby making the Lodge the absolute owners, this was achieved by the energy of it’s members who went on to improve the building in many ways electricity, games rooms, members bar etc. Bro Lamonby wrote in 1879 “The hall that belongs to the Sun Square and Compasses Lodge is a Masonic Temple that is excelled by few anywhere for capacity and completeness”.
The approach to the Lodge was very discreet, set in a quiet street in the centre of the town, the visitor mounted a set of stone steps and through a vestibule door, to enter the long corridor that lead from the front door to the dinning room, the usual winding staircase takes you to a short corridor and then into the Lodge as illustrated.
The Building was Georgian in character and was listed as Grade Two, it rose to Three stories above the basement, and at one time the top story was the accommodation for the Steward, it had a Main Lodge and a practice Lodge/committee room/ museum. Every comfort was provided, it had a members Lounge and a reasonable sized supper room which also had a bar, it was also used as a function room, the building was unique as it was open six days out of seven for members and there friends.
The building was home to four Craft Lodges Sun Square & Compasses 119, Temperantia 2854, Cumbria 6643, and Concord 8113, one Chapter 119 Fletcher Lodge of Mark Master Mason 213, F.R.Sewell Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners 213, John Barr Council No 49 AMD, The West Cumbrian Rose Croix Chapter 346 H.R.D.M. Edmund Preceptory No 313 kTs. and The West Cumberland Lodge of Inst Masters 8114.
The closure only came about when the new premises, in the town of Cleator Moor, a distance of four miles or so came on the market in 2005, and all the Lodges without ties moved to the new premises leaving 119 with the upkeep of the building, a task that the Lodge with diminished membership could not maintain and the building was sold, and the Lodge moved to the new Masonic Centre in the town of Cleator Moor, which has every facility for members to enjoy their Masonry and meet in Harmony.
Another letter from W.Bro D. Roberts (events organizer and historian of Prosperity) regarding the official approval of Grand Lodge for Bicentennial Celebration Meetings.
As many Atholl Lodges are reaching the 200th Anniversary of their Warrant and might like to invite Grand Lodge to represent themselves at a specially dedicated meeting, it would be advisable to get the arrangements with Grand Lodge in place at the earliest moment possible. The experience of the Lodge of Prosperity has been to be told that verified proof of uninterrupted continuous meeting is required prior to any consideration being given to the invitation. So make sure you have got all evidence assembled in good time.