A short month due to the Christmas and New Year Festivities, but packed with Masonic activities!
I was also delighted to receive two letters during the month conferring honours – in the Royal Arch, promotion to Past Provincial Scribe Nehemiah and in Knights Templar, first appointment to Past Provincial Aide-de-Camp.
The first week of the month was perhaps the busiest of the whole Masonic year, due to a number of unexpected events and changes to normal dates.
On Monday 3rd December, Shuttleworth Council of the Allied Masonic Degrees and Gawthorpe Lodge of Royal Ark Mariners met by dispensation on the first Monday instead of the third Monday of the month for their Installation meetings, in the hope that reverting to the original meeting dates from our time at Burnley would encourage better attendance from both members and guests. So it proved with only one member absent and some special guests present for the Installation. The meeting arrangements in the new Lodge room in the basement of Colne Masonic Hall, newly decorated and fitted out with the furniture from the old Nelson Masonic Hall worked a treat, although the dining arrangements in the committee room on the ground floor will need some refinement. At least, for now, with a joining member in the RAM and a candidate in the Allied, we have some optimism for the future of both these excellent units.
On Tuesday 4th December, I was back at Colne for the Installation meeting of Queen’s Jubilee Lodge, as the Representative of the RW Provincial Grand Master. An excellent ceremony by the Installing Master and Officers and a brief but very enjoyable social board. In keeping with their established custom, Queen’s Jubilee Lodge hold their installation ‘Festival of St. John’ on the Friday following the Installation itself, meaning that the Representative has to commit to two nights out in one week – and two dinners!.
On Wednesday 5th December, I was up and away early for the train journey to London to attend the Higher Degrees meeting at Duke Street, St. James’s, supporting one of our candidates from the North East Lancashire District who had been unable to attend the original date offered for his promotion to the 30th degree in September. See separate article here
A day off from Masonic duties on Thursday (missing my Red Cross of Constantine Conclave meeting in Preston), in the interests of marital harmony, before the final outing of the week to attend Queen’s Jubilee Lodge’s Festival of St. John at Colne on Friday evening.
On Sunday 9th December, Sue and I attended the East Lancashire Provincial Carol Service at St. Ann’s Church in Manchester, as always an excellent start to the Christmas festivities.
Monday 10th December was the start of what has undoubtedly become the favourite week of my Masonic year – the annual trip to London for:
- Monday – Mark Grand Stewards’ Lodge – unusually this year, as a consequence of the temporary closure of Mark Masons Hall due to a broken sewer in the main street, both the Lodge meeting and the festive board were held at the Royal Overseas League;
- Tuesday – Grand Assembly of Royal Ark Mariners at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, preceded by a splendid lunch with John Smith and Gerry Young at Trattoria Verdi on Southampton Row and followed by dinner at the Connaught Rooms;
- Wednesday – Quarterly Communication of UGLE at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, where the Grand Secretary delivered a fascinating presentation entitled ‘Risk Takers, Caretakers and Undertakers’. The full text can be found on the Freemasonry Today website here.
Sue and I then managed to squeeze in a few days together in Harrogate for a belated celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary, delayed from 2017 due to my hospitalisation last November.
Finally, one more Masonic event to end the month and the year; the December meeting of Brierfield Lodge which, in common with recent years we have shared with the Brethren of Marsden within Pennine Valley Lodge. They normally meet a week later, but due to the Christmas holidays have often had to change their meeting date. It thus suits both Lodges, especially with Brierfield Lodge’s numbers being so depleted in December due to work commitments of several members, to meet on the same night and hold one joint festive board. Nice article by Bob Summers can be found on the Brierfield Lodge Facebook page