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Doric Lodge 2695
Freemasonry in Harrogate

Masters Musings (2016 - 17)

On these pages, the Worshipful Master of the Lodge provides us with some insight into his thoughts during our meetings throughout the year.  

The Worshipful Master of the Lodge is the Master Mason elected by the Brethren (members) to chair the Lodge meetings. The honorific title ‘Worshipful’ does not suggest that the Master is worshiped, but is used in its original meaning, ‘worthy of respect’ (Mayors and Magistrates in parts of England are also traditionally called ‘Worshipful’ or ‘Your Worship’). We as Masons carry on with this tradition and refer to the Master (Chairman) of Lodge as ‘Worshipful Master’

Installation Meeting: Friday 18th March 2016

Friday 18th March was an important day for me as I was installed as Master of Doric Lodge 2695. 

I have been a member for over twenty years but business and family meant that I delayed my progress - I was pleased to be here at last. 

There were a few last minute checks that everything was in place including parking for visitors and tea and cakes to fortify everyone for the ceremony. After overcoming some initial hesitation on my behalf the ceremony progressed smoothly through to me sitting in the Masters chair. It was moving to look at everyone and reflect on the many years I had known them although this was allied with a little trepidation on what the year would hold. 

Once I was installed I had to master the art of the gavel which I must admit I took to with rather too much enthusiasm at times.
The Festive Board (the meal after the meeting) was enjoyable with toasts, speeches and tributes to my excellent installing Master.

My thanks to all who took part in such a memorable ceremony. Onwards to next month and a bit less heavy handed on the gavel next time. 

Passing Meeting: Friday 15th April 2016

Having been installed this was first meeting when I was in charge as Master of Doric Lodge 2695. 

The ceremony was to pass a brother who had joined us a few months ago onto the next stage in Masonry. This is very important, as the ceremony is the mid-point in his masonic journey to being a master mason. 

I had my words, I knew what everyone was doing and the preparations for our St Georges night celebrations were all in place. We had our ladies invited and their meal organised in one of our committee rooms. 

All was going too well when I realised that I had forgotten the raffle prizes so some swift telephoning ensured that they arrived at the lodge otherwise there would have been some disappointed brethren. 

I am glad the ceremony went well. We had a good attendance which is really encouraging and helps make upstairs enjoyable and bolsters the singing. I even managed to curb my enthusiasm for the gavel (most of the time). 

The Festive Board was enjoyable with our St Georges them running through a number of readings and poems. I am sure it also added an extra gusto to our singing of the national anthem. 

The ladies joined us after we had both finished our meal so a good end to a successful night. 
As to next month - it will be busy with visits which include some local, and not so local, lodges and a fraternal visit to our friends in Zetland Lodge in Leeds. I am having a great time and looking forward to my next ceremony. 

Lecture: Friday 20th May 2016

I wouldn’t say I was feeling like an old hand but definitely feeling a bit more comfortable with the flow of the evenings. 

This month was interesting as it was an explanation rather than a ceremony. Following on from last month we do like to take time out occasionally to run through a ceremony and explain what each element means. When you realise that a lot of what we do dates from the mid 18th you can easily understand why some of the words and phrases may be unfamiliar. It is good to go through these and add some modern context and relevance as to why we do certain things - It went well. 

I was prepared with the raffle this time and had some surprise prizes for the evening. We had a good number of visitors from a number of different masonic lodges in the area. The menu for the evening went down well. 

It seems that I only just started in the chair and already I am preparing for the summer break [until October] with various activities. We have a walk organised which finishes at lunch time at a pub in the country and I am also arranging for an evening shooting clay pigeons followed by a curry.  

Next month we are taking a brother to the final stage of his journey when he becomes a Master Mason. I have a ‘few’ words to learn so I hope that my memory is in good form.  

Master Mason: Friday 17th June 2016

For one of our members this represented the final stage of his journey to become a Master Mason. It is a ceremony that calls for a lot of concentration for all those taking part to make sure it flows and leaves a lasting impression on the brother who is taking that last step. It is the balance we have to strike, it has to be enjoyable for everyone but equally it needs that edge of formality to give meaning and depth to what we do. 

It was only at the last rehearsal that everything really came together so we went into the evening feeling good. It was a great team effort and it is almost as if one person’s confidence in the words he has had to memorise inspired the next. So it was – apart from a couple of words it went smoothly from when we started at 6.45pm until we ended at 8.20pm. We all enjoyed taking part and I am 100% certain it was a memorable evening for the brother. 

Downstairs we had an excellent festive board as usual and I must admit that the rather nice Malt Whisky sent one of our members away very happy.  

That’s it until October as we are on summer recess. We have the walk in Nidderdale organised with a number of people already signed up and the clay pigeon shooting is also well subscribed. As for myself – there are a lot of lodges who only have one month off so I will be continuing with my visiting (and responding on behalf of the visitors). I have some more words to learn for when I come back which I shall be learning when I am lying on the beach in Italy!  

Walking Charge: Friday 21st October 2016

It seems such a short time since we stopped for our summer break during which we had a number of get togethers to make the most of the good weather. Two events in particular went down extremely well the first of which was our annual walk in Nidderdale. Starting off in Dacre we had a short and a long walk to suit different speeds which went via Summer Bridge to finish up at the Wellington in Darley. The second was in August and saw us at Knaresborough gun club with beginner level tuition and a competition for those who could point the gun broadly in the right direction. This then went on to curry and commiserations for those of us who suspected that we had been using the blank cartridges. During the summer we also met with a number of new prospective candidates both informally so they could get to know us better and also slightly more formally for one who is joining us in November. 

But back to work in October with a relatively light ceremony for the Brethren and myself to get us back into the swing of things. Not so for the team that performed what we call the walking charge. This is a retrospect for new Master Masons where we take them through the ceremonies they have undertaken so far. We explain what was said in more detail as well as revisiting some of the core themes that run through every meeting that we have. Everybody worked hard to make it enjoyable for themselves and also our visitors. Downstairs we had our traditional Trafalgar night ceremony which included a talk which compared the careers of Collingwood and Nelson. With passing the port (mostly the right way) we had an excellent festive board as usual and once again one of our members went away with a rather nice Malt Whisky.  

Our next ceremony is an initiation where we bring someone new in Freemasonry. I am looking forward to helping him start his journey.  

Initiation: Friday 18th November 2016

An initiation of a new candidate into Freemasonry is always something special. Having got back into our stride in October we wanted to make sure this was a ceremony that our new brother would remember. Lots of work in the rehearsals paid off as we had a great ceremony with most of the more recent Brothers taking part. The good thing about Masons is you can play as large a part as you want. From just coming to the ceremonies to meet with a good cross section of brothers right through to taking responsibility for one of the offices in the Lodge. It’s entirely up to everybody to do what they feel comfortable with. I am sure our new brother had a lot to take in but we will revisit elements during the course of the next few months to place actions and words in context. We also have a Lodge Mentor who works with members to answer any questions they have.
Retiring from the Lodge we made sure our new member was welcomed downstairs with some introductions and also a nice demonstration where we all get involved and show how our new brothers are essential to keep our Lodges complete. We do ask our new candidates to say a couple of words which are always received with a resounding round of applause. I am sure the fact that we were celebrating St Andrews night had nothing to do with the warmth of the reception he received. Next month our partners will be joining us for Christmas Carols after the meal downstairs. They are having a meal in Harrogate so it will be a great evening with us all together which will really launch us into Christmas.  

Lecture: Friday 16th December 2016

We handle Christmas lodges in the spirit of the season. We take a lecture and we break it into pieces so we can share it around so everyone has something to learn. Sometimes it’s just a few lines, sometimes longer, but taking an active part in the ceremony does add to everyone’s enjoyment of the evening. 

This year we did a series of questions and answers that goes through the significance and history of some of our ceremony. It was good to see so many people standing up on the evening and certainly from my perspective a bit of a chance to sit back and let the rest of the team take over. It was also good for our new member as he started to build on his initiation and what he had seen said last month. 

Downstairs the festive board started with mulled wine and of course, we had Turkey and Christmas pudding with a couple of brandies to wash it down. We also had all of our partners join us for Christmas Carols after the meal following their trip to a local Italian Restaurant. It was a great evening with some readings that really launched us into Christmas.  

As to next month, I am sure it will be on us sooner than expected and I will have to start thinking about my immediate successor. That’s the thing about masons, you are constantly moving onto new adventures!  

Lecture: Friday 20th January 2017

As I did a lot of visiting in December it was a quiet start to settle into 2017. Our ceremony was structured around a lecture on the reasons behind what we do when we initiate new candidates. Going through the different parts of the ceremony and explaining the significance of what we say and what we do provides an insight into the history of Freemasonry. This is particularly important as during the initiation there is so much going on that sometimes it is just a blur for new candidates. 

Originating from North of the Border there were a couple of opportunities to visit Lodges where Burns night was being celebrated. My accent as well as being brought up close to where the Bard lived resulted in me being called on to say a few words. 

After the rush of Christmas is was good at the festive board to catch up with everyone and swap stories on the good, and maybe not so good, events over the festive season. 

Next month it is my Ladies night so starting to think about that. Have the venue booked (Majestic) as well as a 30’s singer and Disco. I need to start thinking about flowers and gifts for the ladies. It’s amazing how versatile you need to be as a Master. 

Scrolling Night: Friday 17th February 2017

February is always an administrative evening where we elect for positions in the following year – it is called ‘Scrolling night’. As we do not have any visitors it is a more informal evening, however, we did take the opportunity to run a short lecture where all of the officers explained the Jewels that they wear on the Lodge evening. It was interesting as sometimes you get used to seeing symbols and artefacts without understanding what their signification is.
My successor is now in place and with some sadness I closed the lodge for the last time - where did my year go? 

As to the Ladies night, it went extremely well. It was a great idea to have the 30’s singer complementing our theme for the evening which was the Orient express. A number of the ‘regular’ guests at the Majestic Hotel commented that they thought they had been transported to Downton Abbey! 

On to the Installation in March where I will install my successor.