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
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
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.
Web site created by Mark Griffin