Kendal’s Freemasons donned their symbolic aprons and collars to celebrate their lodge’s 250th anniversary.
King George III was on the throne when Union Lodge No. 129 was founded on July 31, 1764 at the Black Swan pub, on Allhallows Lane. Its home today is the Masonic Hall, on Station Road, The lodge is one of the oldest in existence and the 250th birthday opened with a gathering of Freemasons at the Black Swan.
Around 200 lodge mem-bers and guests then moved to the Brewery Arts Centre for a meeting, followed by a banquet at the Castle Green Hotel.
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Peter Clark, communications officer for the province of Cumberland and Westmorland, told the Gazette: “The lodge holds records which show that in 1762 eight ‘worthy gentlemen’ met at the Black Swan, at the top of Allhallows Lane, in Kendal, and discussed the possibility of forming a Masonic lodge.”
He explained: “To be able to form a lodge they needed to communicate with the United Grand Lodge of Freemasons in London, which in those days was by either stagecoach or packhorse.”
They eventually received a reply from London, and ‘Swan Lodge’ was consecrated in 1764, with Thomas Swainson as its master. A joining fee of £1 and one shilling was set, with fines of sixpence for swearing and tuppence for lateness.
Kendal’s lodge is the oldest surviving gathering of Freemasons in the province of Cumberland and Westmorland, which has around 3,000 members in its 80 lodges. Provincial grand master is Norman James Thompson, of Millom.
Kendal’s lodge has met at 12 different public houses in the town, as well as at 12 Kent Street, Albert Buildings, and an 111-year stay at Blackhall Croft, next to St George’s Hall.
Mr Clark explained that Freemasonry was one of the world’s oldest and largest fraternal societies; a not-for-profit organisation of men who try to live by the principles of integrity and goodwill, and to gain ‘a better knowledge’ of themselves.
Freemasons support charities, and serve their local communities. Their regalia marks their progress through Free-masonry, beginning with a plain apron, and moving to symbolic adornments such as golden embroidered sprigs of acacia and ears of corn.
Mr Clark said: “There is so much to talk about in modern Freemasonry; we have moved so far to become a relevant 21st century organisation. Gone are the days when we did not talk about our Masonic activities.
“A new generation is bringing Freemasonry to a wider audience; there is a lot to discuss and we are keen to do so.”