Tonight was the final meeting of Lodge of Naphtali 266. Despite the nature of the evening, brethren came together to support and celebrate such a historic lodge and the lodge was given the send off it deserved.
An extract from the lodge history, expertly presented tonight by WBro Warrington:
The Premier Grand Lodge, the Moderns, accepted the registration of Naphtali No. 532 on the 22nd September 1788 at the Spreadeagle Hotel, Chapel Street, Salford.
Naphtali was the fifth son of Jacob and is described in the 49th Chapter of Genesis as “a hind let loose” which is depicted on our summons and banner.
Between 1788 and 1858 it met in :-
Speadeagle Hotel Chapel Street Salford
Red Lion Chapel Street Salford
New Market Inn Smithfield Manchester
Crown Inn Booth Street/Fountain Street Manchester
Dog Tavern Deansgate Manchester
Volunteer Inn Union Square Bury
Hope & Anchor Bolton Street Bury
Masons Arms Whitefield
Bridge Inn Heap Bridge
Finally arriving in Heywood at the Brunswick Hotel in 1858. It could have been described as the biggest pub crawl in Masonic History. It could well have been that at the time the pub landlord owned the warrant and chatels of the Lodge and maybe moved, or sold them to another landlord.
After trying a couple of Masonic Rooms and two pubs in Heywood it settled at the Victoria Hotel Church Street Heywood from 1919 to 1968, when it then moved to Richard Street.
The Lodge was consecrated in 1788 as No. 532 but due to the merging of the Ancients and Moderns and various closing up of the numbers it changed to 441 in 1792, 505 in 1814, 333 in 1832, and finally 266 in 1863.
On May 31st 1860 the Brethren of Naphtali No.333 processed to the site of the new St Lukes Church in Heywood to “lay the foundation stone in true Masonic Fashion”. The Lodge provided a Naphtali Masonic window placed in the North East corner of the building which is, as far as l am aware, still there. The working tools used by the brethren in laying the foundation stone were presented to the Lodge to be placed amongst its archives by Albert Hudson Royds DPGM, East Lancashire.
The 1914-18 war did not seem to have a great deal of effect on the running of the Lodge, meetings were well attended with no shortage of candidates. At the December meeting in 1914 it was decided that the Lodge should make a contribution to the building of the new Masonic Hall in Manchester. The Lodge subscriptions were raised by 2/6d, that’s 12.5p for those who are now digital, to £2 per year. The extra 2/6p to go towards the Building Fund for the new Masonic Hall.
After the first world war the Lodge became very successful and it was proposed that a petition for new Lodge be submitted. Part of the petition reads: Lodge Naphtali is already too large in membership being upwards of 100 strong. Many of the present members cannot get into office for twenty five years. By creating a new Lodge we think this will be obviated. We have capable and very efficient brethren to take several offices. There are at least twenty candidates waiting to none of whom exception can be taken, all being of high standing in the commercial world, prominent citizens and quite fitted to participate in our secrets and mysteries.
And so, St Lukes Lodge No 4294 was consecrated at Freemasons Hall, Cooper Street, Manchester on Wednesday 20th. November 1921.
There was a very close relationship between the two Lodges which existed right until St Lukes closed in 2008. We always visited both Lodges and certainly never missed an opportunity to attend any social events, it was like being a member of two Lodges. The Masters were expected to attend each others Lodges at every meeting during your year in office, and it was frowned upon if you missed any. The close bond was exemplified by our wonderful joint Ladies Committee which in its heyday would for example hire Heywood Civic Hall, get a steel band from Moss Side and completely sell the place out. Not forgetting the fantastic St. Annes weekends. Wonderful Days.
Just jumping back to 1947 in what was possibly the shortest meeting recorded, whilst the Lodge was meeting at the Victoria Hotel Heywood, the meeting lasted 15 minutes because the heating system had broken down. It is recorded that the ceremony was conducted with the brethren wearing overcoats and after 15 minutes could not stand the cold any longer. Sadly it does not record what the ceremony was but I bet its not been done in 15 minutes since.
In 1972 the Lodge membership was recorded as 81.
The Lodge celebrated its bi-centenary on time in 1988, Grand Lodge was represented by the Pro Grand Master Lord Cornwallis and the bicentenary warrant was read out by the Assistant Grand Secretary Graham Redmond, a post which he still holds. The celebration lasted well into the night with the Pro Grand Master holding court in the bar.
This has not even been a scratch of the history of Naphtali, not even a pin prick, but a part history of 235 years of Lodge of Naphtali, being No 266 on the register of the United Grand Lodge of England.