In the heart of Manchester, nestled amidst the bustling streets and towering buildings, lies a hidden gem of history and tradition, Manchester Hall, the meeting place for Freemasonry in Manchester.
Within that hall was where the Cornucopia Lodge Number 4553 amongst many others have met and have been a symbol of unity, brotherhood, and enlightenment for a century.
Yesterday, as the sun dipped below the horizon and the stars adorned the night sky, it was time for the lodge to celebrate its 100-year anniversary, a momentous occasion that had been long-awaited.
The Goulburn Lodge room, a majestic setting that exuded elegance and reverence, served as the perfect venue for this significant celebration. Illuminated by a cascade of elegant lights, the hall welcomed members from all corners of the country, drawn together by the common thread of Masonic fellowship. The lodge’s emblem, a cornucopia brimming with the fruits of knowledge and wisdom, hung proudly within, a symbol of their journey through time.
The evening began with the lodge opening conducted by the lodge’s Worshipful Master, WBro William H Bell, who had recently been installed as Master, William or “Bill” to his friends is one of the oldest members of the lodge and is considered the “father” of the lodge, just for perspective, Bill last took the Masters chair back in 1982.
Not before long there was a knock on the door and WBro John Curry, the Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies for the Province of East Lancashire came into the lodge room to let the Master know that RW Bro Robert Frankl was outside with a provincial deputation and they demanded admission,
RW Bro Frankl was warmly welcomed, and his presence added an extra layer of honour to the event, the Master of the lodge offered the Provincial Grand Master the gavel and, on this occasion, he was incredibly happy to accept.
The lodge was then called off, to allow something that has not been done before, wives, partners, family, and friends were allowed into the lodge room to participate in the night’s celebrations.
Among the esteemed guests was none other than the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, Robert Frankl’s wife Fiona, the worshipful master’s wife and son, also other lodge members family, friends, and prospective new members who were made most welcome.
Cornucopia Lodge were also very honoured to have some of the widows of Brethren who had sadly passed away, also in attendance were wives of members who could not visit lodge anymore, and it was great to let them see firsthand that the legacy of the lodge that their husbands helped to build was in safe hands.
RW PGM Frankl delivered a heartfelt speech, acknowledging the remarkable achievements of Cornucopia Lodge and praising the lodge’s unwavering dedication to the Masonic principles of truth, charity, and brotherly love.
As the night unfolded, there was a palpable sense of camaraderie and warmth in the air. Members, old and new, shared stories, and experiences, forming connections that transcended time. Laughter and conversation filled the halls, echoing the celebration of a hundred years of shared brotherhood.
There was a brief history of the lodge delivered by one of Cornucopia’s rising stars Bro David Dunkley who capably read out a history of Cornucopia covering the last 100 years, it told of how the lodge was formed back on the 13th of October 1923 as a daughter lodge of Strangeways Lodge No 1219 which sadly handed back its warrant many years ago.
Within the history it painted a tale of a lodge that was thriving up until the 1980/90s where it’s dwindling number of members nearly ended up in closure, a trend that started to turn around after 2017, today the lodge has 21 active members and continues to grow at a steady pace.
After the history came an insightful oration prepared by the Provincial Grand Chaplain WBro Russell Conn who could not be in attendance but whose oration was capably delivered by WBro Carl Philips the current chaplain and secretary of Cornucopia.
It was then time for the Provincial Grand Master to examine the Centenary Warrant and it was the job of the Provincial Grand Secretary WBro Chris Wildman to read it out for all the members of the lodge, it was then presented to WBro William Bell for his safekeeping.
The Provincial Grand Master then conducted a very pleasant duty, on occasions such as this the PGM is allowed to promote an outstanding member from within that lodge with the highest honour possible, he explained he was going to award this esteemed accolade to a brother who had not only been a member of the lodge for almost half of its existence but had also been the lodges secretary for almost 25 years.
Of course, he was talking about WBro William H Bell who was both shocked and elated to receive the honorific of being made a Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden, you could tell he was genuinely overjoyed to receive such a prestigious promotion.
After that, the guests were ushered out of the lodge and the PGM and his deputation retired, there was the usual charity collection and the lodge was formally closed, there were photographs and then it was time for our festive board.
The evening’s festivities included a sumptuous dinner, with tables adorned with candelabras that reflected the lodge’s theme of abundance and wisdom. The jubilant crowd savoured an array of culinary delights, symbolising the plentiful harvest that came from a century of friendship, knowledge, and shared purpose.
The centenary celebration at Cornucopia Lodge was more than just a party; it was a tribute to the enduring spirit of the Lodge and its unwavering commitment to the principles of Freemasonry.
As the night ended, with the stars still shining brightly in the sky, the members of the lodge departed with a renewed sense of purpose and a stronger bond, ready to continue the journey of brotherhood and enlightenment for many more generations to come.