Author Francois de la Rochefould (1613-1680) once said that “The only constant thing in life is change”. One gains this impression when you examine the first 75 lodge names and numbers in the list of Craft lodges in the Masonic Guide. The Guide indicates that these 75 lodges were Consecrated before 1880 and were from the English, Scottish and Irish Constitutions uniting to form The United Grand Lodge of Victoria. However, there have been some changes since then. Do these changes matter? We say we are an ancient institution and talk about monarchs of the past taking an active role then we seem to have allowed more change than necessary to the foundation lodges of our Constitution.
A concerning number of foundation lodges have been allowed to return their Warrant and I wonder just how much effort was made by the lodge members themselves to save the lodge and how much help and influence was exercised by Grand Lodge. How does a Lodge get on the list to be allocated candidates processed by the Centre: is the Craft at large told where they go? Were the rules too rigid? Could there not have been a provision for a lodge to go into abeyance during a difficult period rather than having to return a Warrant? Is there a mechanism for a foundation lodge to be re-Warranted with its old number and name if, for example, descendents of the lodge members so desired? Are these matters ever discussed or debated or don’t they matter? I am one who thinks that they do matter. I would not issue new names to foundation lodges on amalgamations and require re-consecrations after 100 years of operation only using the name associated with the original number. There is no reason why the amalgamation history cannot just be published on the notice paper.
I have witnessed competent Grand Directors of Ceremonies stumble over a simple lodge name during a proclamation. What a challenge some of the names of amalgamated lodges present – double barreled names, triple barreled names, preambles before the aforesaid like “the unity lodge of ….” and so on. The added name that stands out to me is Letchworth. Kilwinning was the name of the mother lodge of the Scottish Constitution, established in Ayrshire in 1140. It became the No 2 Lodge in the Victorian Constitution. Letchworth to me is undistinguished, adding nothing but detracting from the historic name of Kilwinning. It is best known as the name of a city in North Hampshire, UK, renowned for its gardens and the manufacture of ladies’ corsets. And who knows, who cares, who remembers why and who think all these honourable mentions in the new title are important, as innovative or cute as they may be to some? I suggest very few, if anybody, care today.
Past Masters of Foundation Lodges need to remember that they are simply the transitory custodians of their lodge and allowing it to close simply because things got a bit difficult in its long history is irresponsible.
Fraternal best wishes to all