ISSUE 13, April 2005

The Campbells are coming: At speed!
Travel: Warming to Iceland
Royal Masonic Family: The Six Masonic Sons of George III, Part II
Quarterly Communication: Address of the Pro Grand Master and: Report of the Board of General Purposes
The flying eye hospital
Beamish Museum: The million pound project
  Wigan Grand Lodge: The Liverpool rebels
Chelsea Lodge: That's entertainment
Re-enactment: The way we were and: The Russian connection
Community Service: Weathering the storm
Faith and Freemasonry: God and the Craft
Education: Researching Freemasonry on the Internet and: Masonic events
Freemasons Hall: Masons at War
Grand Charity: Report and grant list and: Support for Asian tsunami
Masonic Charities: Reports from the Masonic charities
Obituaries, Letters, Book reviews, Gardening

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Seven of the nine members of the Devonshire Demonstration Team (l to r): Mike Yeo, Paul McNally, Keith Vallance, John Eaton, Nigel Watts, Joe Sevieri, John Cornish

The way we were

Demonstration teams of Masons travelling England and Wales in 18th century costume, carrying out re-enactments of ceremonies dating back to the time of the Hanoverian Kings, draw large attendances.
    It is fascinating to see how our early Brethren conducted themselves at their Lodge meetings, both ritually and in the festive sense. One comes away from these demonstrations educationally enriched and having had an absorbing evening.
    One such group of dedicated Masons is the Devonshire Demonstration Team, permitted to have an official name by the Provincial Grand Master RW Bro R. O. Osborn. The team re-enacts a Plymouth Lodge meeting of September 1759.
    Set up in 2001 by a small group of Devon Masons, it has ten members to ensure “reserves” and no two members come from the same Lodge. The ritual took about six months to put together and a similar period to rehearse.
    The rehearsals were not easy to arrange due to the Masonic commitments of many of the Brethren, and it was only on one occasion that all the players were present – but progress was made.
    Why September 1759? Well, in that month news from overseas at that time was very interesting.
    There was a lengthy hunt for costumes – leggings, jackets, tricorn hats etc – plus swords, quill pens, clay pipes, pistols, tankards. Many were loaned or purchased, while neck cloths and aprons of the period were made, lace attached to sleeves, gaudy buttons attached to jackets – a major task.
    So, everybody is in authentic dress, but how accurate is the storyline? John Cornish explains: “All the many Lodges mentioned by name, number or location, are as they appear in Masonic records such as Lodge histories.”
    The various items of news arriving at Lodge – what today we would call local, national or international – are also correct for the period. Much additional information was gleaned from a number of Masonic compendiums, encyclopaedias, minute books, Lodge by-laws etc.
    But there is one piece of fiction – the Lodge to which the demonstration team “belong” is fictional, but is deliberately allied to Marine Lodge No. 237, whose warrant was issued on 2nd January 1759.
    Marine Lodge – known today as The Lodge of Fortitude No. 105 – initially met at the Red Lion in Plymouth, later that year moving to the Three Crowns at Sutton Harbour – where it remains to this day.
    The re-enactment is as if it was taking place at a room in the Three Crowns as used by Marine Lodge. No Masonic occasion would be complete without a raffle for a local charity, and the Demonstration team has raised large sums throughout Devon and Cornwall.
    Looking to the future, the Demonstration Team hopes to perform a 1761 First Degree ceremony in the Spring of 2006, a further “daily advancement in Masonic knowledge” to which all Freemasons should strive.
    The team travels widely and in February were hosted by Tudor Lodge No. 1792, Province of Warwickshire, which meets in Birmingham. Organised by Tudor Lodge Immediate Past Master John Thomas, who has moved to Devon but remains an active member, the Lodge celebrated its 125th anniversary last year and has also hosted the Prestonian Lecture.

John Cornish is a member of the Devonshire Demonstration team.

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