George W. Thornton 1900, Harry Perry 1901, William W. Kebble 1924, Peter Meldrum 1925
© Palatine Lodge - 1893 - 2023 - In se ipso totus teres -
The early decades….of Palatine Lodge are truly remarkable for the rapid growth they produced. The records in the Minute Books for those days, show a Lodge of hardworking Freemasons - a vibrant spirit of almost feverish activity - and which resulted in the membership of the Lodge growing from the original 12 Founders to over 70 in the first ten years, which included 53 initiations (resulting in 49 Passing’s and Raisings) and over 8 joining members. In some years 11 meetings were held - some being Emergency meetings - and January always only the Installation of the new Worshipful Master. Four ceremonies, with Tracing Boards, in one evening were not uncommon - The Worshipful Master and Past Masters sharing the work in an evening. All three Tracing Boards were given by W.Bro. Perry at one meeting in 1902. The turn of the century ….witnessed a continuation of this busy Masonic activity, and it continued likewise throughout the first decade. 1903 was really noteworthy. In April that year 5 Passing’s were worked between 5pm and 8.45pm, with a short period of Calling Off/Calling On, and with explanations of the Working Tools in each session. Next month - May 1903 - between 4pm and 9pm, 5 Raisings were worked - 3, before Calling Off for tea – followed by 2 more Raisings, and other items such as presentation of Grand Lodge Certificates etc. The ceremonies were each worked by the Worshipful Master or a different Past Master in each case. Attendance at this meeting was 34 members and 10 visitors Throughout the first two decades….regular attenders generally numbered about 30, sometimes up to 40, supported by visitors and on Installation nights about 60 members/visitors were present. What a feast of Masonic activity - one which is not permitted nowadays under rule 168 of the Book of Constitutions. In the years leading up to the First World War intake continued at quite a high level. As the war developed there was a small drop in membership due to the deaths of some of the earliest members, and, during the war the demands of the armed forces, some losses in action and resignations. Work continued at quite a high level – for example in November 1915, 3 initiations were recorded in two meetings in that one month. Two ceremonies in one meeting were still quite common, sometimes Tracing Boards were explained, or the Traditional History explained after a ceremony. In April 1917 an Initiation and a Raising, with Traditional History were worked at that meeting. An Initiation and a Passing were worked before the business and elections in the December meeting in 1917. This was no exceptional event, in March 1918, 2 Initiations and 2 Passings were worked by the Worshipful Master and Past Masters. So, to January 1920, when 30 members and 31 visitors were present at the Festival of St. John. In December 1920, the following Notice of motion is recorded in the minutes, and subsequently approved in Open Lodge, that; “So long as the membership of the Lodge is fifty or more, there should only be one ceremony – Initiation, Passing or Raising, at each regular meeting, except November, December, January (Installation) when NO ceremony shall be performed, but the Worship Master of each year shall have the privilege of nominating one candidate for Initiation in precedence of the other candidates on the waiting list” (Note the reference to Waiting List) Surely a Lodge is in a strong position to adopt such a policy.
The Lodge continued at a healthy level throughout the 1920’s with often up to 40 members present at a meeting, and 60/70 (including visitors) present at Installation meetings, over 70 being present in January 1924. Each year still saw 2 or 3 initiations, with joining members, which more than compensated for bereavements and resignations, although there are recorded attempts still being made to slow down the intake – with consequent growth of the waiting list. The coal strike in 1921 caused a meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge to be postponed but it did not interfere with any of Palatine Lodge meetings. Palatine Lodge’s reputation grew. It was referred to more than once as one of the foremost Lodges in the Province, receiving much high praise, duly recorded in the minute Books. The Minutes even record a Passing being worked in November 1927 before the subsequent Ladies Evening (which was usually held after the November meeting in those days) and often a ceremony before the business and Elections of the December meeting. Still the concentration on work, when the Ladies Evening in 1928 was cancelled due to the death of the Worshipful Master, the Lodge met as usual and worked a Passing and a Raising. The minutes record frequent explanations of the Grand Lodge Certificate, all three Tracing Boards being given, on one occasion all three at one meeting. In the 1920’s despite the economic situation, 20 initiations are recorded obviously exceeding the 1920 resolution, and, with Joining members exceeding losses so that membership still continued at a high level, certainly exceeding 60 brethren. The national slump in the 1930’s did not seem to materially affect numbers, but later in that decade, as the storm clouds of World War II gathered, membership and attendance fell, with few Initiations, none in 1940, 1941 and 1942. The very difficult times during World war II seriously disrupted Lodge activities. In the middle 1940’s intake and membership picked up, 4 initiations were recorded in 1943, membership in 1945 being 35. With the cessation of hostilities membership levels reached a new impetus. Initiations in the later 1940’s totalled 13. Membership in 1946 was 37 and grew to 44 at the end of 1949. Views were expressed that once again intake should be slowed down. A provincial Communication in 1946, however referred to the healthy renewed influx of brethren into the Order. In the early 1950’s attendances number 25/35 members, with many visitors, on one occasion there were 32 visitors. Eric Bentley is recorded as the 48 th member when initiated in 1952. Throughout this decade attendance continued at 30/35 members and often more than 30 visitors. Membership reached 51 in 1958. In the 1960’s attendances averaged 26/30 members, visitors19/29 and membership continued at a high level. The early part of the 1970’s saw a healthy continuation of the Lodges Masonic activity, with 15 Initiations during the decade keeping abreast of losses due to resignations, bereavements etc. Nearly every meeting witnessed a ceremony or a demonstration ceremony, different sections of the various lectures, explanations of Tracing Boards and the Traditional History, a momentum maintained under a very active Director of Ceremonies W.Bro. Harry Dye P.Prov.S.G.W. Continued

The First 100 Years