The Mother Lodge
History Part 1
The Lodge of Amity No.283 is a Great-Great Grandmother, having three
Daughter Lodges, seven Grandaughter Lodges, five Great Grandaughter Lodges and three Great-Great Grandaughter Lodges.
The Lodge of Amity received its Charter in the reign of King George III from the Grand Lodge of England on 14th June 1791 AD, (5791 AL - Masonic calendar) and has most consistently and regularly met from that time onward to perform its Masonic mission, and has thus handed on its work from Master to Master to the present day.
In the Eighteenth Century there were several ruling bodies of Freemasonry in England, each holding authority in its own sphere, known respectively under the titles of the Grand Lodge of England, the Athol Grand Lodge, the York Grand Lodge, and the Grand Lodge South of the Trent. Of these Grand Lodges, the Grand Lodge of England and the Athol Grand Lodge were in 1766 the two authorities by which the Craft was governed.
From the Charter we learn that the Lodge was to be opened at the house of John Percival, known by the name of the"Swan Inn" (White Swan Hotel), Rochdale, in the county of Lancaster, by the name of the Lodge of Amity, being numbered 579 in the list of Lodges on the register of the Grand Lodge of England; and should meet on the Tuesday next to the full moon. The only means of travel available to our ancient Lodge Founders at that time was on foot, horse-back, stage-coach, or other horse-drawn vehicles, therefore, the full moon gave them light to travel by. Whilst this is not readily applicable today; nevertheless, the Lodge has retained one of its ancient landmarks, being a "Lunar Lodge".
However, at the Lodge meeting of 17th March 1803 a motion was made by Bro. Rutter that he recommends that the Lodge meets on the FULL MOON. The closest he got to his proposal was that the Lodge agreed to meet on the first Wednesday after the FULL MOON. Bro. Rutter who proposed this change to the Lodge 'Luminary' calendar was the Vicar of Littleborough. One can understand how the importance of the moon's assistance would not only help him in making his pilgrimage to and from his Mother Lodge 'Amity' at Rochdale, but would also benefit other members on their Masonic travels. Bro. Rutter was an active member of the Lodge being its WM in the years 1803, 1807, 1809, 1810 and 1811; however, it is recorded that he was expelled from the Lodge in December 1814, for not attending the Lodge and being five payments in arrears with his subscriptions.
The year 1813 saw great changes to Freemasonry as this was the year that saw the coming together of two Grand Lodges.... the Antients (Athol Grand Lodge) and the Moderns (Grand Lodge of England) to form the United Grand Lodge of England. The two Grand Lodges put aside their differences and concentrated on the things they had in common and became a unified body representing all of Freemasonry. Until this date the Lodge of Amity was under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England.... Moderns.
In March 1815 three members of the Lodge of Amity, Bros.Sutcliffe, Smith and Bates went to London to attend the Lodge of Reconciliation to receive instruction in the revised form of working. During the rest of the year Bro. William Bates was very active in 'Lodges of Promulgation', disseminating the new ways of working to numerous Lodges in this Province and even to Lodges in Yorkshire. Bro.William Bates was Worshipful Master of the Lodge of Amity in 1816 and 1817, but resigned that Office in June 1817 in favour of Bro. Luke Barker, in consequence of the journey to Haslingden being too trying for him, we believe he resided in Halifax, Yorkshire. Freemasonry in general and Local Freemasonry in particular, stands deeply indebted to Bro.William Bates for his industrious work in those early days of Union.
The Lodge met at the "Swan Inn"(White Swan Hotel), Rochdale, from 1791 until 1815 some 24 years and half a month, when the Lodge members being reduced to six, clearly concluded that the Light of Freemasonry was flickering to its extinction in this place. In consequence the Lodge moved from Rochdale to Haslingden where another Lodge resided, the Lodge of Harmony, No.511 on the "Modern" list of Lodges (now No.288). The Lodge of Amity held its June meeting at the house of Thomas Wilding, the "New Inn", Bury Road on Thursday the 13th day of June, 1816. Why the Lodge at that time decided on Haslingden is not known, but we are very glad they did. However, in 1817 Harmony moved from Haslingden to Todmorden, so Amity was left as the only beacon-light of Freemasonry in Haslingden. Amity continued to meet at the New Inn until January 1819, when it was resolved that the Lodge should be removed to a "Private Room", the reason for the move and the whereabouts of this "Private Room" is not recorded.
From January 1819 until
October 1822 inclusive, the Lodge is recorded as being "held in the"
or "in a Private Room at Haslingden". The month after, the
Lodge is recorded as having removed to the "Bull's Head Inn",
Church Street, Haslingden; with its first meeting there being on Thursday, 28th November,
1822. The Lodge remained at this venue for a further 50 years, 3½ months until
It was whilst the Lodge was at the Bull's Head Inn that a Lodge of Emergency was called by the command of the RW.Bro. John Crossley on Tuesday 26th September 1826.
RW.Bro.Crossley was the Provincial Grand Master of East Lancashire and was the first to occupy this position, as prior to this date the Province had included the whole of the County. The County was now divided into two divisions...East and West. The Lodge of Amity now came under the Province of East Lancashire. It was at this meetings Festive Board that the new Provincial Grand Master declared that he had never been so highly entertained in any Lodge he had visited. This was a great complement and testimony to the hospitality of the Lodge, which has been well followed by their successors even up to the present day.
In December, 1830, Haslingden was once again restored to a dual-Lodge town by the arrival of another Lodge, warranted in the year 1796, possessing a so-called "Antient" or "Athol" Charter, bearing the No.297, the Lodge of Commerce having removed from Manchester. From this time we have had our two "Old Chartered Lodges", Amity and Commerce working most harmoniously together for the good of Freemasonry and the community in general.
On the 14th June 1832....thirteen Brethren of the Lodge joined with one hundred and one other Brethren from eleven Lodges in the area on the occasion of the 'Corner Stone Laying of the New Scotch Church', Ramsbottom. The procession was in Masonic Regalia, (not permitted these days). Our Lodge minutes remain silent on this matter but a full record appears in the "Historical Review of Commerce Lodge" by WBro R V Houghton:
By Dispensation from the Grand Lodge, London, for the purpose of laying the Foundation Stone of the New Scotch Church intended to be built by Messrs, Grants and Brothers.
- 15 from Commerce No.378
- 10 from Hope No.70
- 4 from Faith No.655
- 1 from Harmony No.545
- 1 from Perseverance No.255
- 25 from Prince Edwin No.209
- 13 from Amity No.530
- 6 from Tranquility No.515
- 3 from Harmony & Industry No.804
- 1 from Fortitude No.87
- 30 from Relief No.57
Unattached Brethren: James Haigh, Samuel Wilson, Thos. Vicers, Daniel Murry, and John Schofield.
The lodge was opened in ample form and with solemn prayer.
The Dispensation from the Grand Lodge was read in the presence of all the Brethren.
The Brethren assembled at 11 o'clock in the forenoon at the Grant's Arms Inn and dressed uniformly alike in black with white gloves and aprons. About 12 noon the procession commenced through Messrs. Grant's Works to the Hall at Nuttall Hall, at which place they were joined by William Grant, Esq. and Brothers, with the Minister of the intended Church, and by several other Gentlemen. On reaching the ground the Rev'd McLene commenced by a very suitable and solemn prayer on the occasion, which was heard with great attention by the Brethren and all present. William Grant Esq. then placed in the cavity of the Corner Stone a copper plate with the inscription of the names country and family of Grants, the Reign of our King, the year of our Lord, the current coins of the Realm, one or more newspapers enclosed in glass bottles. etc.
Repeating at the same time, that it had been his intention for some time to build a place of worship to the true and ever living God, for the many favours and blessings he and his family had received from Him, and he declared that this was the happiest day of his life, that God had been pleased to enable to undertake the same, with the assistance of his Brothers the intended structure dedicated to his service alone.
Brother Lynch, from Manchester, delivered a very suitable address on the occasion, an anthem was sung by the Sunday Scholars, and God Save the King, by Brother Tomas Wilding.
The procession returned the same route to the Inn, where the Lodge was closed in ample form and with solemn prayer.
Afterwards the Brethren sat down to an excellent Dinner, which was given by Messrs. Grants to all the Brethren and several Gentlemen. The day was spent in Peace, Harmony, and friendship.
The Lodge of Amity attended another FOUNDATION STONE LAYING OF HELMSHORE RAILWAY VIADUCT on 24June 1847.
The Viaduct had 15 arches, 30 feet span, length of 400 yards, and a height of 50 feet. The contractors were Torkington and Davison.
Extract from the press:
Five hundred masons and labourers with two banners, one "Operative Masons Friendly Society", the other banner "Success to Messrs. Torkington and Co., Contractors".
- Band of Music
- Gentlemen and Directors
- Commerce Lodge of Free Masons, headed by William Turner, Esq. and Rev'd Geo. Dowty of Walsden
- Provincial Grand Chaplain of East Lancashire
- Amity Lodge - Haslingden
- Bank Terrace Lodge - Accrington
- Tranquility Lodge - Newchurch
- Samaritan Lodge - Bacup
The Lodge attended the Laying of the Foundation Stone of St Thomas' Church, Musbury, Haslingden on the 29th March 1850. The ceremony of Laying the foundation Stone was carried out by Mrs. Turner of Flaxmoss House and was assisted by John Ormerod and the Rev'd Gilmore Robinson Deputy Provincial Grand Master of West Lancashire. The ceremony being finished the Brethren withdraw in procession to partake of an excellent Dinner etc., (gratuitously provided by the late Bro. Wm Turner of Faxmoss House) at Turner's Arms Inn at Helmshore, near Haslingden. The proceedings being concluded the Brethren retired in full Masonic procession, accompanied by two Bands of Musicians to their respective Lodges.
It is worthy of note that the East Window of Musbury Church, which is in memory of Bro. Wm Turner contains some very interesting Masonic Symbolism.
1859 saw another Lodge involvement in the Laying of a Foundation Stone; this time with the Lodge of Commerce No.215, Newchurch and Accrington Lodges in laying the Foundation Stone of the Haslingden Mechanics Institute. Bro. Thomas Nittall was the Director of Ceremonies.
13th March, 1873, the Lodge
met at the " Bullock's Swan Hotel", Market Place, Haslingden where it remained there for a further 14 years 9½ months until December, 1887.
1887 saw another Corner Stone Laying at the Church Institute, Blackburn Rd, Haslingden which was laid with full Masonic ceremony by Bro. John Hall, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire (son of our late much respected Treasurer, Bro. Jonathan Hall, of this Town), assisted by Brethren of the Lodge of Amity and the Lodge of Commerce. After the conclusion of the ceremony, the Brethren returned in procession to their respective Lodges.
From 29th December 1887 until
1921 the Lodge continued to meet at the "Grey Mare Hotel", Regent
In 1891 the Lodge received a Centenary Warrant permitting the Brethren to wear a commemorative Jewel and a Centennial Bar on the Past Masters Jewel.
The Lodge continued to meet as best it could through the period known as the 'Great War'.... 1914 -1918 as Brethren were called to active service.
Recorded in the Minutes 17 October 1918:
"The WM moved and the Rev. Bro. Capt. T. Miller Johnson, Chaplain, seconded, that we place a record on the Minutes of our appreciation of Bro. Gabriel Bullock, (aged 30) who gave his life in action in the Great War, at Rowel, in France, on September 15th 1918, and who was buried at Vincent Military Cemetery, near Peronne, France. Also that a Photo of the deceased be procured, framed and hung on the wall of the Lodge."
It is strange that an internet search for a place called Rowel and Vincent Military Cemetery could not be found, it is possible that these could have had name changes, however, see tribute to Bro Gabriel Bullock for more information.
After the War the Brethren of Amity and Commerce joined together on Saturday 23rd August 1919 and went in processional order (no regalia) to the site on Blackburn Road, Haslingden of a New Memorial Gateway to St. James Parish Church (Church founded before 1284) which was being erected in conjunction with a larger scheme as a Memorial to our Fallen Heroes in the Great War.
There was laid on that day with full Masonic Honours, Four Corner Stones, situated NE, SE, SW, and NW of the building. Full particulars and order of procession and proceedings are fully chronicled in the Minute Books of the respective Lodges.
The individual "Mason's marks" (Operative Masons) are carved into the top bed of the third stone above each corner stone. "Mason's Marks" are associated with the Mark Freemasonry.
(An additional Degree to Craft Freemasonry, Mark Freemasonry has its own Grand Lodge and Provincial Grand Lodges).
The Lodge of Amity and the Lodge of Commerce having had a long history of fraternal regard and co-operation since they both moved to Haslingden, even though they were at one time under different jurisdictions. Amity (Modern) from Rochdale and Commerce (Athol) from Manchester. At a Lodge meeting on the 13th February 1919 this Brotherhood was extended even further as it was decided that a Joint Meeting with Commerce Lodge Brethren be held on the 28th February 1919 to discuss the New Masonic Hall, Regent Street, Haslingden. Up until this date both Lodges met at different locations, this was the first time that a joint venture had been proposed to gather Freemasonry in the Town under one roof... a purpose built Masonic Hall.
No minutes of this meeting have been found, however, on the 24th April 1919, at an emergency meeting of the Lodge the Committee appointed on the 28th February to consider the question of the Masonic Hall, presented its report. After a lengthy discussion it was proposed by Bro. W.F.Thacker and seconded by Bro. Wm. Davis, that this Lodge joins with the Brethren of Commerce Lodge No.215, in purchasing the buildings in Regent Street, at a cost of £1,300 and proceed to the conversion of the same into a well equipped Masonic Hall for the use of both Lodges. A plan of the intended "Temple" is shown above right, the Architect Bro. Lille was a Master Mason of Commerce Lodge No. 215.
The Lodge met at the Masonic Hall on Regent Street from 1921 to 1923 when in 1920 the Lodge petitioned UGLE to form another Lodge in Haslingden to be named Rossendale Forest Lodge.
The first meeting of the Lodge of Amity at the Masonic Hall, Deardengate, Haslingden, was held by Dispensation on 20th December 1923; with 48 members and 12 Visitors present. The Lodge of Commerce No.215 and Rossendale Forest Lodge No.4138 also moved to this new venue. Later Hazeldene Lodge No.4681 joined them and Starkie Lodge No.1634 joined them in 1989, after moving from Ramsbottom. Both Hazeldene and Starkie were Daughter Lodges of Commerce. This Masonic Hall had a wood panelled Lodge Room with many Masonic features both in the Lodge Room and elsewhere in the Hall. Since 1979 this Masonic Hall had seen two major reconstruction and refurbishing programmes. Both of these improved the amenities for the benefit of all the Brethren in the five Lodges meeting there. The Hall had a wood panelled Lodge Room with many Masonic features both in the Lodge Room and elsewhere in the Hall; a Masonic Hall truly worthy of the highest ranking visitor. It was a warm and welcoming building, but expensive to run and maintain.
Members of the Lodge of Amity and Commerce Lodge formed the first Board of Director of the new Haslingden Masonic Hall Company Ltd.
In 2007 the Lodge of Amity
along with Rossendale Forest Lodge No.4138 and the Lodge of Commerce No.215 moved from
Haslingden; a Town that it had been associated with for some 191 years, to a new venue.
Clayton-le-Moors Freemasons' Hall, Mill House, Clayton-le-Moors; in the Masonic District of East Ribble. The
move was prompted by the demise of Hazeldene Lodge and Starkie Lodge moving to
Rawtenstall. The Haslingden Masonic Hall became unviable for the three remaining Lodges.
On moving to Clayton-le-Moors Amity had to move its meetings to the first Tuesday in the month (not a lunar date) and Rossendale Forest had to move its meeting night to the fourth Monday.
Over its long, honourable and chequered history the Lodge of Amity has been variously registered under the following numbers:
June 1791 - No.579
June 1794 - No.488
August 1812 - No.530
January 1833 - No.352
July 1863 - No.283
The Lodge number 283 had been allocated previously to 10 Lodges during the period from 1755 to 1863
(Lane's Masonic records).
Obviously there are many interesting items relating to the Lodge, but there isn't enough space here to do them justice. So we hope this brief history; "A tale of two Lodges - Part one"; has stimulated your desire to learn more about us and our ancient Craft, so why not join us in our eternal quest for Masonic enlightenment.
We therefore cordially invite you to contact us.