The Warrington Museum of Freemasonry has come a long way from its small and rather dusty beginnings. It was in January 2014, when it was formally established under a Trust Deed and trustees appointed; Barry Jameson, John Pether, Jim Cartledge, Mike Williams, Vic Charlesworth, John McIntyre and Caroline Crook, a non-Masonic trustee and archivist.
Two of the initial key objectives for the trustees were firstly, to establish and agree a constitution for a charitable incorporated organisation and secondly to gain charitable status for the museum.
A considerable amount of effort has been applied to this and in January 2016 the trustees received confirmation that the museum had been accepted as a registered incorporated charity. Its registered charity number is 1165077.
Kevin Poynton, the Assistant Provincial Grand Master responsible for the Warrington Group of Freemasons, was delighted to be able to present the certificate to the trustees during their meeting on Tuesday 19 January 2016. He said that it was a considerable achievement for the museum and thanked the trustees for their collective efforts since their appointment. He said that the development of the museum was both impressive and an example of good practice. Getting charitable status was another important step in its development.
The trustees have also established a support group in the form of ‘Friends of the museum’, for individuals and groups. Securing charitable status opens up the opportunity to have future donations under this structure from individuals and to benefit from ‘Gift Aid’. This will allow the museum to claim back a further 25% in addition to the donation, subject to the donation being from a UK taxpayer.
Vic Charlesworth, the museum’s hard working curator, said that it was difficult to comprehend just how far the museum had progressed in the last two years. Achieving charitable status underpins the museums mission, to provide a varied and high quality heritage experience for all members of the community.
Warrington masonic museum officially opened
Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire, has opened the Warrington Museum of Freemasonry at Warrington Masonic Hall. Vic Charlesworth started the collection in 2010 with just one cupboard in the hall, but over the past few years many more exhibits have been donated – including rare and unusual jewels that were unknown to the Library and Museum in London.
There is now an impressive collection of jewels from every Warrington lodge on display, and volumes of masonic books and literature – which Vic is in the process of documenting – are available for research.
Tony Harrison, PGM of West Lancashire, made his first visit to Warrington Masonic Hall to open the Museum and Library started by Vic Charlesworth in 2010
Vic told Tony that he started the collection with one cupboard in the hall. In the last three years many more exhibits have been donated, including many rare and unusual jewels, some of which were new to the Grand Lodge museum in London.
Tony shared tea and biscuits with the friends of the museum and the members of the board of trustees: Barry Jameson (chairman), Vic Charlesworth (curator), John Pether (secretary), Jim Cartledge (treasurer) Mike Williams (board of directors representative), John McIntyre (group representative) and Caroline Crook (archivist),
Barry welcomed Tony on behalf of trustees to the museum, thanking him for taking the time out of his busy schedule to open the museum. Tony formally opened the museum by unveiling a plaque to mark the occasion.
Tony said he was delighted to be asked to open the museum and library which has a wide range of items that had been loaned or presented to the group over many years.
Tony then surprised everyone by presenting Vic with a special plaque to thank him for all his hard work and effort to create the museum. Tony said: 'I have never seen anything like this collection of masonic regalia and memorabilia. It is a truly wonderful display.'
Vic then presented Tony with a set of cufflinks and a tie pin with the Museum and Library logo. Tony then spent some time looking at some of the exhibits which are displayed in wall mounted display cabinets that were made by Vic and the late Ted Pargeter for the display of many of the smaller and lighter items such as regalia, jewels and aprons and these were first documented and then subsequently displayed on the first floor of the masonic hall.
There is now virtually a full collection of jewels from every Warrington lodge on display, together with interesting exhibits of charity jewels, hall stone jewels, collar jewels and a few examples of side degree aprons and associated jewels. David Wood has loaned the museum part of his collection of masonic jewels including a very rare Thomas Harper jewel from 1827.
Two floor standing display cabinets were kindly loaned by Warrington Museum, Eric Drinkwater donated two large cabinets and six more were acquired following the closure of a high quality gift store in Warrington.
There are also many volumes of masonic books and literature stored in other display cabinets which Vic is in the process of documenting, which are available for research.
After the opening ceremony Vic said: 'I hope to achieve charity status and with the help of the Friends of the Museum – who are providing an income stream for the museum – charity status should be achievable shortly, followed by full museum status.'
Vic also said he was very grateful to the individual Freemasons who had made large donations and the lodges in the group who had paid £100 to be friends of the museum and the numerous number of people in the group who had helped him during the last five years to develop the museum.
Vic concluded by saying he was very thankful for the help he had received from the Warrington Museum Curator Janice Hayes, Michelle Hill our Museum Mentor and Craig Sherwood.
A project on the Greenall family started by Charles Shand before he died has finally been completed and presented in St Oswald Lodge
When Charles died a fellow member of St Oswald Lodge No. 5170, Derek Hunt, was asked with others to go through the many documents that Charles had collected.
Among them Derek found an unfinished work about members of the Greenall family who had been such a large influence on Freemasonry, not only in Warrington but in the Province of West Lancashire and Grand Lodge.
Two members of the family became Senior Grand Wardens of the United Grand Lodge of England and one became a Provincial Grand Master in Ireland.
Derek eventually found time to complete ‘The Greenall Family and its Service to Freemasonry’ and bring it totally up to date.
The history was presented by Derek at a meeting of St Oswald Lodge No. 5170 in which the last member of the Greenall family to be a Freemason, Lord Daresbury, was a member. He was a member of St Oswald Lodge for more than 50 years and after moving to live in Ireland became the Provincial Grand Master for the Province of North Munster.
After giving the history in lodge Derek presented a bound copy of it to Victor Charlesworth to place in Warrington Masonic Hall’s Library and Museum.
Vic said that St Oswald Lodge had been a fantastic supporter of the library and museum project since its inception and this presentation continued that support. He said the document would be a valuable asset along with other documents for anyone wanting to understand the history of Freemasonry in the town.
During his lifetime Charles produced many lectures and was acknowledged throughout the Province of West Lancashire and even further afield for his vast knowledge of Freemasonry. He was honoured with the high rank of Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden.
To read the full version of ‘The Greenall Family and its service to Freemasonry’ click here.
Members of St Oswald Lodge No. 5170 were the first to see a newly restored copy of the extremely rare 1769 edition of the Book of Constitutions
Lodge members had been so impressed by a talk given by Vic Charlesworth on the creation of a museum at Warrington Masonic Hall that they resolved to help him in whatever way they could.
His hard work to restore a particularly rare edition of the Book of Constitutions – so rare in fact that even the Library and Museum of Freemasonry does not have a copy – struck a chord with those present, however the book was in several pieces and needed to be professionally rebound, the work estimated to cost more than £200.
After the talk, and without Vic’s knowledge, those present decided to help restore the illustrated book to its former glory. They had a whip round and in no time at all had raised £120. Within a couple of days further donations had been received and the remainder of the money had been donated.
Because of their generosity and initiative, Vic decided that the members of St Oswald Lodge should be the first to see the restored book, and he presented it at their next lodge meeting in order to thank them in person for their support.
The significant influence exerted on Freemasonry in Warrington by the Lodge of Rectitude was highlighted by Provincial Grand Master Peter Hosker when he headed the centenary celebrations of the Lodge of Great Endeavour No.3597 and urged members to build on its legacy while planning for the future.
For this “very special landmark” Peter opened Provincial Grand Lodge in Warrington Masonic Hall. He had the help and support in the Provincial team of Assistant Provincial Grand Master Ian Boswell (who acted as Deputy Provincial Grand Master), Provincial Grand Secretary Geoffrey Lee, Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Keith Kemp, Deputy Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies Barrie Crossley, Provincial Grand Wardens Paul Renton and Ian Sanderson and Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Graham Halsall. There were two Provincial Junior Grand Deacons, Jim Cartledge and Eddie Wilkinson, Assistant Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works Dennis Tierney, Provincial Grand Charity Steward Barry Jameson, Provincial Grand Stewards Arthur McArdle and Ian Rowan.
More than 100 brethren attended the special celebration including Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master Dennis Rudd and Grand Officers Jack Forsyth, Frank Starkey, Gordon Amos, Stan Churm and Derek Hunt.
When presenting the Centenary Warrant to Worshipful Master John Tyrer, Peter said it was a “very special moment” and he urged members of the lodge to study the “very special document” when it is on display at future meetings. John said the lodge would take great care of the warrant and that it would be handed on “pure and unsullied” by masters from generation to generation.
Provincial Grand Chaplain Rev Graham Halsall gave an oration and also said a prayer of rededication of the lodge. Peter praised Graham for “his input and particularly for his inspirational oration.”
Peter presented John Tyrer with a Centenary Jewel and then gave all other members of the lodge permission to immediately wear their new jewels.
As Provincial Grand Master, Peter said it was within his power to make certain special appointments. He asked for John Tyrer to be placed before him and promoted him to the rank of Past Provincial Grand Superintendent of Works. John said he was “totally surprised” and did not know how it had been kept such a secret. He said that even with 31 years as a detective he had not heard anything in advance of being promoted in Provincial Grand Lodge on the night of the centenary celebration.
After giving a brief history of the lodge John presented Peter with cheque’s for the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and Warrington Masonic Hall. He praised the selection of these two recipients, as he said the charity had suffered during the 2010 Festival and that Masonic halls were now being given the priority they deserve.
In response to the toast to grand officers at the festive banquet Ian Boswell said it had been “a privilege and a delight” to share in the lodge’s very special occasion. He then went on to propose the toast to the health of the Provincial Grand Master.
In proposing the toast to the Lodge of Great Endeavour No 3597 Peter said: “Today's story begins in 1912, when Freemasonry was flourishing in Warrington, with five lodges. However, with the ever increasing number of Masonic candidates not even five lodges were sufficient to provide opportunities to those who sought either membership or advancement in Masonry. Accordingly, to supply that need, Lodge of Rectitude was formed and consecrated on 13 May 1912,
Unfortunately, the then Provincial Grand Master, the Hon Sir Arthur Stanley, was unable to attend to consecrate the lodge in 1912. Whenever I think of Sir Arthur Stanley, I am reminded that one of his lasting legacies to the Province was the creation of the group system, and that group system is still in place today. In his absence, the ubiquitous and evergreen W Bro W Goodacre stepped in. His office was that of the Provincial Grand Secretary of the Province of West Lancashire, and he held that office from 1884 to 1918 a total of 34 years. He was in education, being the headmaster of Talbot House School Old Trafford. There are, in fact, similarities between Bro Goodacre and our current Provincial Grand Secretary - Geoffrey Lee was also in education, being an English teacher and the House Master of Spread Eagle House Rossall School on the Fylde Coast, and although Geoffrey has only served as Provincial Grand Secretary for 16 years, he tells me that it feels more like 34 years!
I am certain that in 1912, Bro Goodacre, as the honored guest, would have been entirely at home with the professional and local businessmen from various walks of life, including members of the Indian Civil Service. who came together on that consecration day.
The lodge has much to proud of, and over many years it has had a significant influence on the development of Freemasonry in Warrington. That influence is evidenced over the years, and this evening I have chosen three examples.
In 1944, the substantial expansion of Rectitude led members to promote the formation of a daughter lodge, which was consecrated on 10 May 1944 and that lodge was named Great Sankey Lodge No.5939.
In 1947, as Rectitude continued to prosper and enlarge its membership, the members sought permission to sponsor a new lodge, the result was the formation of Warrington Temple Lodge No.6420 - a lodge that continues in existence today.
And in 1968 Rectitude had expanded its membership to become once again one of the largest lodges in the Warrington Group, prompting members to seek permission to sponsor a further daughter lodge. The Warrant is dated 13 November 1968 and the lodge was named the Lodge of Good Fellowship No.8258.
I appreciate and understand that when numbers increase, additional lodges are consecrated, and when numbers decrease, changes need to be made. Lodge of Rectitude properly recognized the need for change, and what better way forward than for mother to invite two daughters to return to the family and amalgamate together. Thus the amalgamation of Lodge of Rectitude No.3597, Great Sankey Lodge No.5939 and Lodge of Good Endeavour No.8258 took place on 13 June 2007, with the No 3597 being retained and the name being changed to Lodge of Great Endeavour.”
Peter concluded: “Give thanks for your history and all those who have made Lodge of Great Endeavour what it is today; build on the legacy that you have inherited; in building on that legacy of the past 100 years, enjoy the present; but at the same time plan for the future.”
Replying to the toast on behalf of the lodge, John said that when the amalgamation took place it was “the coming together of the family”. He said the lodge is looking forward to the future and aims to “grow and grow”.