Paul Taylor has been installed into the chair of King Solomon at the installation meeting of Vale Lodge No 5256, held at Lancaster Masonic Hall. Paul has been a member of Vale Lodge for 35 years, but due to a number of reasons he has not been able to assume the master’s chair until now. The occasion is one he has been looking forward to for a long time.
After the opening of the lodge by WM George Fox and once the usual business had been completed, the lodge was opened in the second and third degrees. DC Norman Mitchell then retired from the lodge and on his return announced that Assistant Provincial Grand Master David Grainger was outside the door of the lodge and demanded admission. On this occasion David was accompanied by grand officers Jim Wilson and Paul Thornton, together with the Lancaster and District Group Chairman Nel McGill, vice chairman Scott Devine and acting Provincial grand officers Ray Wilkinson, Les Newlands, Barrie Bray and Steve McKellar.
On entering the lodge, David was given, on behalf of all the brethren present, a very warm and affable welcome by George. As is traditional, David was offered the gavel of the lodge, to which he replied: “It’s a delight to be here this afternoon, a delight to be offered the gavel and even more of a delight to offer it back.”
Following the salutations, the WM resumed work in the second degree. Giving his valedictory address, George was effusive in his thanks for all the support he had received from the brethren of Vale Lodge. It was the second time in the chair of Vale Lodge for George and in his own words: “It could not have gone better.”
At this point George asked Bill Byrne, Arthur Laycock and David Jackmen to act as installing senior warden, junior warden and inner guard respectively, which they all accepted with pleasure.
Master elect Paul Taylor was then presented by Tom White, a longtime friend and past member of Vale Lodge. Paul affirmed his unqualified assent and support of the essential ancient charges and regulations, following which he was placed before the WM pedestal, where he recited his obligation with respect to his duties as master of the lodge.
All brethren below the degree of a master Mason were then asked to retire and the lodge was opened in the third degree. George then requested all those under the rank of an installed master to withdraw for a short period and a Board of Installed Masters was opened. It was at this juncture that George invited Geoff Morrow to occupy the chair of King Solomon for the next part of the ceremony. Geoff is Paul’s father-in-law and it was to be his honour to place Paul into the master’s chair.
Paul was then installed as master, in what everyone agreed was an excellent ceremony, well executed by Geoff and George and very ably assisted by the officers of the lodge.
The working tools were presented and explained by Christian Bolton in the third degree, John Haire the second degree and Norman Mitchell the first degree, all of which received great acclaim from the brethren. Paul then appointed and invested his officers for the ensuing year.
The ceremony of appointing and investing officers being completed was the cue for Geoff Morrow to deliver the address to the WM, which was followed by Bill Byrne addressing the wardens and finally Vale’s distinguished guest David Grainger addressed the brethren of the lodge.
The end of the ceremony of installation marked the opportunity for David Grainger to bring greetings from the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison, who congratulated Paul on being installed in the master’s chair for the first time and hoped he had a great year in office. On behalf of the PrGM, David congratulated George, Geoff, the brethren who had undertaken the working tools and everyone who had taken part, on a ‘superb job’, a veritable ‘feast of ritual’.
As IPM, George thanked David for his comments and presented him with cheques and notice of donations to a total value of £1,864, this included £500 to MCF 2021 Festival, £250 to Lancaster Masonic Hall, £450 to St John’s Hospice, £150 to Unique Kidz, £70 to group sporting charities and £180 to lodge widows. In reply, David said this was a ‘magnificent’ effort, especially from such a small lodge and thanked the brethren on behalf of the eventual recipients.
After the ceremony, the festive board at Rowley Court was attended by over 50 brethren who were all in high spirits and enjoyed a fine meal. During the course of the evening and in response to the toast to the grand officers, David was able to bring his own congratulations to Paul on attaining the chair of King Solomon in Vale Lodge. He continued by thanking George for all his work as IPM as well as in his role as Provincial Publicity Officer. He also congratulated the brethren of Vale Lodge who had taken office.
In the body of his address David discussed a number of important issues, including the MCF 2021 Festival, membership, ‘light blue clubs’ and the Royal Arch. It was noted, that the PrGM has said that the Royal Arch is important and essential if brethren want to complete their journey through ancient Freemasonry and should be the next step after the Craft. David moved on to suggest that if brethren who were not members were interested, they might want to get in touch with their Royal Arch representative to find out more.
A very warming and sincere toast to the master was given by Paul’s father-in-law Geoff, in which he expounded Paul’s virtues, commenting that ‘you cannot pick your relations, but if he had to pick a son-in-law, he couldn’t have done better’. Geoff had proposed Paul into Vale Lodge and there had not been any reason to regret that decision since, it had been a great pleasure to install him in the master’s chair.
Following the toast to the master, an excellent rendition of the master’s song was given by George Fox with accompaniment by David Tattersall. It can be said the evening was a great success, and made only more so by the announcement that the raffle and bonus ball had raised £326.50 and the master’s swindle £55.
Article by Paul Thompson.
Photographs courtesy of Stewart Aimson