It was a special night for the new master of the Duke of Lancaster Lodge No 1353 Gordon Brown, for it is the third time he has occupied the chair of King Solomon in the Duke of Lancaster Lodge, the first time being in 1995. Gordon was later to describe his installation as master ‘a privilege’.
The Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison was represented on this occasion by Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies David (Dave) Thomas, who was accompanied by Lancaster and District Group Chairman Jim Wilson, group secretary Scott Devine, grand officer Peter Mason and acting Provincial grand officers Steve Plevey and Stewart Aimson.
The immediate past and installing master Alan Long, extended a warm welcome to Dave on his entry into the lodge and quipped that ‘he hoped Dave would go home tonight thinking the brethren of Duke of Lancaster Lodge were word perfect, however, on the other hand he may be disappointed – have a good evening’.
In a ceremony that was distinguished by its sensitivity and sincerity, the master elect Gordon, was presented for installation by his good friend Alan Physick, before being installed in the chair of King Solomon by Alan Long. After taking the master’s chair, Gordon was presented with a splendid explanation of the working tools of an installed master by experienced Mason Bob Tyson. However, the explanations of the working tools which followed were presented in an equally excellent fashion by relatively ‘fresher’ Masons, especially the first degree working tools which were presented by Dave Male, who was only initiated a year ago. The working tools of a master Mason were delivered by John Pearson and those of a fellow craft by Lee Procter.
A highlight of the evening were the addresses which were word perfect and delivered with great dignity and eloquence by Graham Earl, Bob Tyson and Alan Physick, to the master, wardens and brethren respectively.
The investment and appointment of lodge officers by the WM followed, however following the appointment of the charity steward Graham Earl, the group charity steward Simon Hanson, rose to present Graham and the lodge with a certificate denoting their Vice Patronage of the MCF 2021 Festival in recognition of the donations made to the charity, an honour which was well deserved.
The conclusion of the ceremony afforded the opportunity for Dave to bring the greetings and good wishes of the PrGM Tony Harrison. Dave was sure that Tony would have wanted to congratulate Gordon on taking the chair of this fine lodge for the third time, and hoped he would have a busy and enjoyable year ahead. Dave also had no doubt that Tony would have taken the opportunity to congratulate the installing master Alan Long on a job well done. Dave also communicated to the brethren the best wishes of the group’s APrGM David Grainger, who hoped that all present would continue to enjoy their Freemasonry. On thanking Dave and asking that he return both the thanks and warm salutations to Tony from the lodge, the IPM Alan, presented Dave with a list of charitable disbursements given by the lodge during his year in office. These included £2,000 to the MCF 2021 Festival and a further £1,227 collected in the white envelopes. Donations were also made to the Royal British Legion £25, Lancaster Masonic Hall £500, lodge widows £600. Masonic fellowship £50, group walk £100, group whisky raffle £100 and group sporting charities £45. Dave expressed his admiration and gratitude for the lodge’s generosity saying, “It was a truly outstanding achievement and will make a huge difference to the recipients.”
Before the completion of the ceremony, Alan was presented with a pair of cufflinks from the brethren of the lodge hoping that they would remind him of his year in office. Alan responded by thanking the lodge for the lovely gift adding that he would certainly wear them with pride and look back on the year with humour and heart.
At the subsequent festive board, held in the dining room of the Rowley Court Banqueting Suite, the guests partook of a delightful three course meal. Conversation was spirited with everyone enjoying the occasion to the full. In his response to the toast to the health of the grand officers, Dave gave his own congratulations to the new master and affirmed his admiration for the fine standard of work that he had witnessed earlier in the lodge room, following which he praised members of the group executive and the group publicity officer for the tremendous amount of work they do as well as thanking the acting officers for their support.
Special mention was made, both of Roy Domville, the guest organist, for his work this evening and the imminent celebration of his 60 years in Masonry as well as Carl Hayhurst, a local Mason who as a proud member of the Chelsea Pensioners was wearing their superb red uniform.
Moving on to the body of his address, Dave commented that it was great to come to a lodge with such a long history. It was almost unbelievable to think that when this lodge was consecrated in 1871, historical figures such as Ulysses S Grant (Commander of the Union Armies during the American Civil War, also 18th President of the United Sates of America) and Jesse James (American outlaw and train robber) were still alive. Following this historical lesson, Dave went on to convey some of the topics which the PrGM wanted highlighting. To the forefront of these topics was the MCF 2021 Festival which he hoped the brethren would continue to support. Masonic halls were also an important subject and their support is crucial. This particular Masonic hall, Dave said, was a great meeting place and it was good to see the lodge supporting it with their wonderful donation. One further topic raised was the Royal Arch and Dave urged all present who are members of it, to encourage new members to join.
In conclusion, Dave thanked the secretary and the DC Malcolm Morrison and Nigel Parrish respectively for all their work and assistance in making the installation such a success and once again congratulated Gordon on attaining the chair of the lodge for the third time.
At this juncture, a sum of £45 was presented to Gordon, collected from the ‘masters swindle’, together with a tie pin which must be worn whilst he is office, for each time a master is caught not wearing it they have to give £1 to the wardens and master’s charity. Also, the ‘Loving Cup’ made its annual appearance and as tradition dictates, the cup was filled with port and passed around everyone present at the festive board.
The masters toast was given by Alan Long in which he endorsed Gordon’s credentials, not only as a good Mason, but as a good friend and a very kind individual. Gordon’s is keen to make sure the lodge prospers and has taken the chair again to allow younger brethren to come through the various offices in the lodge at their own pace. As the lodge almoner he does a lot of work visiting any lodge members who are ill, as well as keeping in touch with all the lodge widows. Gordon has never done things by halves and even finds time to help with the maintenance of the Masonic hall. The toast was followed by a delightful performance of the master’ song by Nigel Parrish with accompaniment by Roy Domville.
In responding to the toast to his health, Gordon paid tribute to the brethren of the lodge for their support and encouragement and ended by expressing thanks to everyone for attending the installation. The final announcement was to say the raffle had made £245, a fitting tribute to a wonderful evening.
Before leaving, Dave was presented with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers from the lodge for his wife, along with a thank you for his attendance at the installation.
Article and photographs by Paul Thompson.