The photograph shows those who were present after the meeting ended, but not all those who were present even a few minutes later. At the time of closure,
Chapter Perseverance No 300 had just seven members, they were I. Horton (Z); G. Clarke (H); A. Booth (J); B. Carey (IPZ); B. Powell (Scr E);
C. Hallworth (Scr N) and S. Ridgeway (PS). Gerry Hodson appears second from left, and Peter Douthwaite was fifth from left.
The rest are just those of us who came along to see an old friend pass into history, as all things must.
In 2007, to mark its bicentenary, Chapter Perseverance No 300 produced an updated History of the Chapter. It is a wonderful, beautifully produced book, and well worth reading. In the preface to that book it says, “While the future of this Chapter is, like many other Chapters, dependant on a supply of new candidates …(we) hope that this book may help to inspire future members to look forward to a return to the “good” times.” It is sad, therefore, to relate the fact that Chapter Perseverance returned its Warrant earlier this year. But look at it another way. One of my first visits out to a Lodge as a District Officer was to a Lodge closure. The, then, APGM was Stephen Blank and I well remember his comment that, In the early years of Freemasonry, the average life span of a new Lodge was rarely more than 25 years. So let us look at this with a positive viewpoint and be very grateful for the 212 year history of Chapter Perseverance.
In 1807 Ashton-under-Lyne was a pretty little country town, just under seven miles from the growing town of Manchester. Manchester would not become a city until 1853, and would not really swallow up Ashton until well into the twentieth century. There were 5000 inhabitants living in 600 houses. Some parts of the town were quite genteel, others were less so. The main industry at the time was the spinning and weaving of cotton, but it was an industry still mainly carried out in the home. The first real steam driven mill would not be built until 1831. So it was a very different place to the Ashton of today. Lodge of Minerva, No 300, had been consecrated in 1793 / 4, so it was well established by 1807, and it must have been a logical step for some of its members to consider opening a new Chapter.
The new Chapter met in the upper room of the Globe Tavern on Stamford Street, the same place that Lodge of Minerva met. One of its Founder Members was Edward Lees, the Innkeeper of the Globe. The other founders included another Innkeeper, a Joiner, a Coal Merchant and the Curate of Ashton Parish Church. Its original number was 140, but this was before Lodges and Chapters were attached. That happened in 1817 when Perseverance changed its number to 562 to match the number of Lodge of Minerva. Together they changed their meeting place and number on a couple of occasions before 1863, when they gained the number 300, which they kept right up until the end. In 1920 the Chapter moved into Albert House, just opposite St Peter’s Church on Manchester Road, by chance the church where John Hutchinson, one of Perseverance’s Founder Members, had been Vicar. How things go in circles.
I will not dwell on the Chapter Meeting where Perseverance handed in its warrant. Closure meetings are decidedly odd. The business of the Chapter starts as normal, the Minutes are read, there was some discussion, and then the members of the Chapter formed a half circle, and passed the Warrant of the Chapter from hand to hand until it reached the hands of Gerry Hodson, the Assistant to the Provincial Grand Principals, who accepted the Warrant on behalf of Supreme Grand Chapter, and with that the Chapter was closed. There was no more business, no parade out of the room, and downstairs we sat together for one final supper. There was no top table, and no toasts, no raffle, simply because there was no longer any Chapter. It is undeniably sad, but the rich history of Perseverance Chapter has not gone away, and it will be remembered with great affection.
Photograph and text by Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley
This article is ©Kevin Hall, District Communications Officer for Ashton & Mossley District Freemasons.
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