Abercromby Lodge No. 3699 celebrates centenary at Liverpool Masonic Hall

Thursday, 16 January 2014

The Provincial team were out in force recently to help the members of Abercromby Lodge No. 3699 celebrate their centenary meeting at Liverpool Masonic Hall

The proceedings commenced with the entrance of the Deputy Provincial Grand Master Howard Jones, whose arrival was heralded by Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp. He was preceded by the Provincial Standard Bearers and the Provincial Sword Bearer in a magnificent and colourful procession.

Howard was accompanied by many Grand and Acting Provincial Officers. Amongst those distinguished brethren were Mark Dimelow, the Chairman of the Liverpool Group, Sam Robinson, vice chairman Bob Povall and Abercromby Lodge grand officers Dudley York-Sumerskill and Ian Fisher.

Accepting the proffered gavel from the lodge WM Arthur Garnett, Howard took the chair and opened a special meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge. He called upon the Provincial Grand Secretary Peter Taylor, to read to the assembled brethren the centenary warrant issued by the Grand Master commemorating the centenary and permitting and authorising the members of Abercromby Lodge to wear their centenary jewel. Howard then formally presented the warrant and centenary jewel to Arthur Garnett, who promised to keep and pass on the warrant to his successors pure and unsullied as he received it.

A most wonderful oration was then delivered to the assembly by the Provincial Grand Chaplain the Rev Graham Halsall, who explained how Abercromby Lodge came to be so named. The lodge was consecrated on the eve of the Great War on 3 January 1914 and was named after nearby Abercromby Square, in those days a fashionable location filled with merchant’s homes and also the palace of the Bishop of Liverpool. The lodge motto is Vive et Vivas and Graham went on to moralise upon the meaning of those words, which could be translated as 'Live well so that others may live’. Graham then led the assembly in prayer for the future of the lodge and its members.

Howard passed on the greetings and congratulations of the Provincial Grand Master who had been prevented from being in attendance due to illness. The special Provincial Grand Lodge was closed in due form and Howard returned the gavel to Arthur.

A comprehensive but concise history of Abercromby Lodge from consecration to the present day was then read to the lodge by Dudley York-Sumerskill. This history explained how the lodge became named and traced the story of the lodge and its members, including the effects on it of the vicissitudes of two world wars, the economic difficulties of the 1930s, as well as the more prosperous periods.

It was interesting to note that the lodge membership consisted at one time of many members of the teaching profession. Dudley made mention of several individual brethren who made notable contributions to the lodge including the first master, Herbert Standring and Billy Bucknall who were instrumental in founding the lodge. Abercromby lodge’s oldest surviving past master from 1957 is Herbert Price, who recently celebrated his 101st birthday! Although sound in mind and spirit, Herbert’s physical condition prevented him from attending the meeting. Dudley’s discourse was received with applause by the assembly. Although far too extensive to be reproduced here, several of the lodge members have co-operated to produce a written history which was distributed to the members and visitors for their interest.

It is pleasing to report that the lodge is now undergoing something of a renaissance with several younger members looking to advance through the lodge offices. The meeting reached a conclusion when Arthur Garnett presented Howard with a cheque for £300 which represented a donation by Abercromby Lodge to the masonic charities.

The lodge was closed and the brethren adjourned to a lavish festive board. Following the meal Howard gave a most interesting speech in which he gave an account of the life of Sir Arthur Stanley, who was the Provincial Grand Master at the time that Abercromby Lodge was consecrated. The consecration took place in the Bear’s Paw public house in Lord Street, Liverpool. This fascinating account received hearty applause and crowned what had been a most enjoyable and memorable evening and a fitting celebration of the practice of 100 years of Freemasonry by the brethren of Abercromby Lodge No. 3699.

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