The brethren of Vale of Skelmersdale Lodge No 8719 at their last meeting before the summer break, had the pleasure of holding on behalf of the lodges and chapters of Ormskirk and Bootle Group, a performance of ‘A Timeline Drama and Pageant’ presented by the members of the St Helens and Prescot Group, at Ormskirk Masonic Hall as part of the groups tercentenary celebrations.
The lodge was honoured for the pageant evening with the presence of the Ormskirk and Bootle Group Chairman Frank Umbers, group vice chairman John Marsden and the many brethren from within the group, with the halls temple room, being filled to capacity. The WM Michael Cawley started the evening’s proceedings off by warmly welcoming all the guest and visitors to the lodge. Michael then opened and closed the lodge, following which the lodge room was then quickly transformed into the set for the drama.
Once the room was ready the drama started with a loud knock on the door. The Herald, played by Dave Burgess entered the room dressed in authentic period attire, he was followed by Norman Lay portraying John Stones the operative Mason, where you could hear him chiselling and working on a piece stone in the background. This represented the hands of a more experienced workman or stonemason, who for many centuries using a set of compasses, a marked staff or rope, a set square and an understanding of basic geometry and proportion, were able to construct some of the most amazing and iconic buildings, Gothic cathedrals and castles, which we can still see today.
The Herald, commenced by giving an explanation of the differences between speculative Masons and operative Masons, where an operative Masons builds stone structures and a speculative Mason is how to become a better person. Before starting the timeline drama, beginning in 1646, where Allen Yates entered the room, Allen played Elias Ashmole, who was the first recorded speculative Freemason in England, which took place in the town of Warrington, in the County of Lancashire in October 1646.
It was at this point the rest of the players entered the room, all dressed in their costumes and proceeded to sit at one side, each player stood up from their seats and walked around the room saying their lines, when their parts were required for the pageant.
The drama progressed in its timeline to 1717, to the formation of the newly formed Grand Lodge of England and the introduction of Anthony Sayer, the first ever worshipful master of Grand Lodge, played by Don Fraser. Before moving on to 1722 with the constitutions drafted by James Anderson are accepted and printed, the pageant swiftly moved onto events several years later, where it showed Samuel Pritchard, played by Alan Jones being credited for printing and exposing the secrets of Freemasonry.
The pageant moved forward to its next time period the 1750’s, to the formation of a rival Grand Lodge called the ‘Ancients’, formed by Laurence Dermott, an Irishman who was a painter and decorator by trade, who went to some of the audience handing out business cards for Laurence Dermott’s business, with the focus of the pageant now showing the Grand Lodge meeting to discuss the problem of having a rival.
The next part of the pageant was focused on William Preston, whom was twice expelled from Grand Lodge for perceived misdemeanours and was eventually re-admitted. William had set up a legacy to finance study and lectures, which is known as the annual Prestonian Lecture and still runs today.
With the drama now moving to 1813, to the unification of the two Grand Lodges, where the Duke of Sussex and the Duke of Kent, where the heads of the two Grand Lodges, the Modern and Ancient, with the Duke of Sussex becoming the first Grand Master of United Grand Lodge.
As the performance finished the herald asked Michael to resume his seat as WM. Michael then offered his appreciation on behalf of the audience for the very well delivered and humorous performance from the players. The festivities continued long after the performance where everyone retired to the dining room for an ‘Old English Night,’ ensuring a most enjoyable meeting before the summer break.