ISSUE 16, January 2006
Editorial
Historic: Sherlock Holmes incarnate
Travel: In the Footsteps of the Incas
Sport: Batting for England
Grand Lodge: Pro Grand Master's speech and Quarterly Communication
Supreme Grand Chapter: First Grand Principal's speech and Committee of General Purposes
Royal Masonic Girls' School: Stories in windows
Specialist Lodges: Brotherhood of the Angle
    Napoleonic Wars: A Mason's Word
International: Macedonia: New Grand Lodge consecrated and Enthusiasm unbound
Grand Lodge: Development of Freemasons' Hall
Masonic Rebels: Rise and fall
Bristol Museum: A Phoenix from the Ashes
Freemasonry and Religion: United in diversity
Library and Museum: Most glorious of them all
First Aid: Masons learn to shock
Education: The Third Degree and Forthcoming events
Masonic Charities, Letters, Book Reviews, Gardening

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The original rebels, Gage in particular, were still held in high regard, seen as the founding fathers of the Wigan Grand Lodge, and Robert Bolton’s reply to Gage’s resignation, though tinted with expectation and hinting at Gage’s lack of interest, effectively left the door open for his return. Gage, however, never came back, and increasing the isolation, Thomas Page and John Robert Goepel, two of the last remaining original rebels from Liverpool, returned to the UGLE in 1858.
    The minute book for the Wigan Grand Lodge ends in 1866, though James Miller, who wrote his memories of the Lodge of Sincerity in the 1950s, stated that the Grand Lodge of Wigan survived, supervising the Lodge of Sincerity, its last Grand Master being John Mort, who served from 1886 until the Lodge returned to the UGLE in 1913.
    James Miller was a young man when he was initiated into the Lodge of Sincerity in 1908. He followed his father, grandfather and great-grandfather in becoming a Freemason under the Wigan Grand Lodge, and would become instrumental in the survival of its memory.
    Miller discusses in his ‘memoirs’ the Festival of St. John, which was celebrated by all Lodges before the Union, and mentions the practice of the Royal Arch, the apron of that Order being worn by the Grand Master, John Mort, at all times.
    The Knights Templar was also practised, and Miller mentions a sickness and burial society within the Lodge, which may be a continuation of the ‘funeral fund’ which was mentioned in the minutes of the Wigan Grand Lodge in 1839.
    John Mort seems to have held the Grand Lodge of Wigan together during its final years, and he appears in its minutes for the first time in 1866, when Peter Seddon was Grand Master.
    Mort, like Miller, passed on his memories of the Wigan Grand Lodge, enabling Eustace Beesley to write his history in 1920.
    According to Miller, Mort was initiated in 1864, and became the last Grand Master of the Wigan Grand Lodge in 1886, serving in the position until its end in 1913. Mort was a member of Sincerity Lodge, and Miller paints a cosy picture of an isolated Lodge filled with friends and family members.
    Mort’s son, also called John, was a member, and Miller’s uncle, Richard Warburton, was initiated on the same day as Miller. Miller recited the merriment of the Lodge festive board, where each member was allowed one drink from the Lodge funds.
    When the drinks had been consumed, the Master would call out ‘mortar’, and a steward would take the trowel around so each Brother could give his contribution to the next round of drinks. After these funds had been exhausted, a cry for ‘more mortar’ would ensure further drinks, accompanied by the fine tenor voice of John Mort junior, who was also a member of the Wigan Parish Church Choir.
    These eccentricities reflect the Lodge as an apparent time capsule, surviving in isolation, having an independent and inward-looking attitude. The drinking and socialising seemed to have created a deep bond between the brethren, keeping the last remaining Lodge alive.
    The Grand Lodge had met at numerous inns and taverns around Wigan, some meetings taking place in the centre of the town, such as the infamous Dog Inn at Wigan Market Place, where it met on a number of occasions in 1839.

Below
The Queen’s Head, Wigan Market Place, supposedly the original meeting place for the Lodge of Sincerity in 1786




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