Because the Chester Gala weekend had been such a success in April, it was decided to move the Lodge to York for the Installation of the new Worshipful Master, W. Bro. A.E. Coveney, P.P.G.W. York had great historical significance for Freemasons as well as the fact that the reigning Master, W. Bro. R.F. Gould, the eminent Masonic historian, had been an Honorary Member of York Lodge (236) for some thirty years. However, it would appear that the idea to visit York was that of W. Bro. A.J. Shelley-Thompson and was to extend from Friday 20 October to Sunday 22 October 1911; ladies were again invited for the weekend. Special excursions were arranged from London, Liverpool, Manchester and ‘other places’.
York, from the standpoint of Masonic history does have a number of interesting features. The body of monks known as the Culdees became involved with the working masons who, from time to time, were engaged in building York Minster at the time of King Athelstan. The monks were renowned for their charity work and were said to have had mysteries of their own, of a Masonic type, which were derived from Egyptian sources; these Eastern myths were blended with the doctrines of Christianity. It seems likely that the monks became familiar with the masons’ tools (square, compasses, chisel etc) treating them as symbols of higher things and taught the operative masons a spiritual meaning or interpretation of them; how to mould lives as well as stone. The York monks were probably responsible for the local setting of the ‘Edwin Legend’ – to the effect that after the death of St Alban there were wars in England which resulted in the destruction of the ‘good rule of Masonry’ until King Athelstan’s reign ‘who loved well masons’. Edwin, the supposed son of Athelstan, obtained from his father a Charter for the masons to hold a yearly meeting at York, where Edwin himself presided as Grand Master and ‘made Masons’ (926 AD).
It is said that Queen Elizabeth I on hearing that Masons had secrets sent an armed force to York to find out what the mysteries were. The Grand Master was nonplussed by this and took the sagacious course of initiating the officers sent by the Queen who on their return managed to persuade her that the secrets were not worth knowing and that Masons were loyal subjects who should be left alone.
Symbolic Lodges in York are also of great antiquity; W. Bro. R.F. Gould in his History of Freemasonry mentions the existence of a mahogany flat rule or gauge containing the names of three Brethren, the Seal of Solomon and the date 1663 (a photograph of this is in the Lodge Album).
A Dispensation was granted by The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of Cheshire, Lord Egerton, to allow the Lodge to temporarily leave Chester and a Dispensation was also granted by The Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master of North and East Ridings of Yorkshire, The Most Honourable The Marquess of Zetland, allowing the Lodge to hold a temporary meeting at the Masonic Hall, Duncombe Place, York on Saturday 21 October 1911.
The Brethren and their ladies assembled at 2.00 pm on Friday 20 October to visit the ancient city walls where they were able to observe Mason’s Marks on the exterior face of the stones and at 3.00 pm they moved on to the Manor House or Palace of the Stuarts. At 3.30 pm they toured St Mary’s Abbey, St Leonard’s Hospital and the Museum Garden whilst finally ending up at the Hall of the Merchant Adventurer’s Company at 4.30 pm. Dinner was at 5.30 pm at Harker’s Hotel.
An Emergency Meeting of the York Lodge (236) was summoned at 6. 30 pm by the Master to welcome the visitors and the Brethren were allowed to examine the ancient manuscripts and other masonic curiosities held by the Lodge. This was followed at 8.00 pm by a smoking concert whilst suitable alternative arrangements had been made for the ladies during the absence of the Brethren. According to the Yorkshire Herald for Saturday 21 October 1911:
‘Bro. Alfred Proctor (of York) afterwards proposed the health of Sir William Hesketh Lever … Sir Wm. Hesketh Lever acknowledged the toast in a witty speech. He referred to the antiquity of the York Lodge, but he claimed that his descent was even more ancient than the York Lodge. It was quite true that the York Lodge went back several centuries into the past, but by removing the first and last letters of his (Sir William’s) name it at once proved his descent (Laughter). Then by simply removing the first letter it showed that his family went on for ever (Loud laughter). Sir William proceeded to invite the Master and members of the York Lodge to the annual installation of the Randle Holme Lodge (3261) on the first Saturday in December, and kindly offered to provide a special train from York to Liverpool, to entertain the members at Port Sunlight, and afterwards to invite them as guests to the installation of the Randle Holme Lodge (Applause).’
On Saturday 21 October, breakfast was at 9.00 am at Harker’s Hotel and at 11.00 am the guests assembled at the Minster when the Very Reverend the Dean of York, P.G. Chaplain escorted them around and gave a talk on the Minster’s history.
Lunch at Harker’s Hotel at 1.00 pm was followed by a visit at 2.00 pm to the Mansion House and Guildhall. At 3.30 pm the ladies had tea whilst the Brethren proceeded to the Installation Meeting at the Masonic Hall.
At this the third Regular Meeting of the Lodge there were 22 members and 63 visitors present. The 41 Brethren proposed at the last meeting were balloted on and proved unanimous – one of these was Bro. J.B. Thompson who was on the official Lodge list as a Founder! Also, Count Goblet D’Alviella, Senateur de Belgique, Past Grand Master of Belgium was made an Honorary Member even though his name did not appear on the list of Brethren proposed at the previous meeting.
The Bye-Laws of the Lodge proposed at the last meeting were adopted.
W. Bro. A.E. Coveney P.P.S.G.W. was then installed as Worshipful Master by the retiring W.M., W. Bro. R.F. Gould P.G.D. A Past Master’s Jewel was then presented to R.F. Gould and a replica of it presented to W. Bro. Sir William Hesketh Lever ‘in token of his great assistance and deep interest in the Lodge as the acting Immediate Past Master’.
After the installation and the investiture of the Officers, W. Bro. R.F. Gould, who was an Honorary Member of all four of the York Lodges gave an interesting and instructive address on the history of the Lodge of King Solomon’s Temple and Freemasonry generally, paying particular attention to the rise and progress of the craft in York.
The following 45 Brethren were then proposed as Joining Members:
His Royal Highness Prince Frederick Leopold of Prussia, Jagdschloss Klein-Glienecke, Grand Protector of Freemasons in the German Empire and Most Worshipful Past Grand Master of England.
W. Bro. Theodore Roosevelt, Ex-President of the United States of America.
The Right Honourable the Earl of Derby, G.C.V.O., R.W.P.G. Master for East Lancashire.
Bro. Achille Celestian Girard, (Artiste)
W. Bro. Joseph J. Gilbeart, A.R.S.I. (Gentleman)
Bro. Alfred M. Ledermann, (Gentleman)
Bro. John B. Barton, (Artiste)
W. Bro. Eustace G. Parker (Tower Works, Altrincham)
W. Bro. Wolfe Simon Lyon, P.A.G.P., Eng., (Gentleman)
Bro. Lionel Carson, (Editor of The Stage)
Bro. William Lord, (Artiste)
Bro. Gustavus Granby Watt, (Blackie, Black and White Artist)
Bro. Walter T. Blake, (Actor)
The Rev. Charles E.L. Wright, M.A., P.G.D., (Clerk in Holy Orders)
The Rev. H.E. Cart de Lafontaine
W. Bro. Charles Vickers, P.P.A.G.D.C.
W. Bro. George Eaton-Shore, P.P.A.G.D.C. (Civil Engineer)
W. Bro. George Swallow, (Manager)
W. Bro. George Atkin
Bro. E.W. James, (Manager)
The Rev. S. Gasking, P.Prov.G.Chaplain
W. Bro. Andrew Ellor, P.P.G.Treasurer
Bro Ernest Hallsworth
Bro. S.B. Bell, (Secretary and Superintendent of the Sailors’ and Boatmen’s Mission)
Bro. Fred Penlington, (Gentleman)
Bro. Captain Francis E. Vincent, (Master in the Mercantile Marine)
W. Bro. Edwin Hurditch Hewlett,
W. Bro. William Matthews Jones, (Borough Engineer and Surveyor of Chester)
Bro. Horatio Robinette Wood, (Managing Director)
Bro. George Stretch, (Merchant)
W. Bro. Frederick Wooldridge, (Engineer)
Bro. Joseph Thomas Warren, (Gentleman)
Bro. Harry Slingsby, (Manager)
Bro. W. Richards, (Gentleman)
Bro. Charles Frederick Grundy, (Gentleman)
Bro. Eduard Krause, (Illusionist)
Bro. Arthur Chapman-Durrant, (Gentleman)
Bro. Francis E. Morse Stephens, ‘C. Douglas Stuart’ (Secretary Music Hall Artistes Railway Association)
W. Bro. Harris Fineberg, (Gentleman)
W. Bro. George Henry Clarke, P.G.D.W. of the Argentine Republic (Merchant)
W. Bro. William Henry Le May, (Mayor of Lewisham)
Bro. Joseph Brewster Hamilton Green, ‘Bruce Green’ (Artiste)
Bro, Ernest Heaton, (Merchant)
Bro. William Cromwell Knox, ‘Will Cromwell’ (Artiste)
Bro. Arthur Aiston, (Artiste)
The W.M., W. Bro. R.F. Gould, proposed that W. Bro. Arthur P. Purey-Cust, the Dean of York, P.G.Chaplain, Eng., be elected an Honorary Member of the Lodge; this was seconded by W. Bro. Sir William Hesketh Lever, P.P.G.W. The resolution was unanimously carried. W. Bro. The Rev. Canon J. Watson M.A, the Sub-Dean of York, Bro. Fox Thomas, P.G.Secretary, N. and E. Yorkshire and Bro. A.H. Barron, W.M. of York Lodge were also elected Honorary Members.
The Lodge was then closed after solemn prayer.