Tateshall Lodge No. 7645 was founded in 1959 by Pontefract Freemasons who wanted an additional Lodge to grow the membership. Many of the founders were members of De Lacy Lodge 4643 which also meets in Pontefract.
Our Lodge meets at Pontefract Masonic Hall on the 3rd Friday of September, October, December, February, April & May. Meetings commence at 7.00 pm and conclude by around 10.00 pm. Rehearsals are held on a Thursday the day before a regular meeting.
We have about 40 members, ranging in age from 20’s to the 80’s. The family orientated membership has seen many join us who are the fathers, sons, cousins, etc and this adds to the convivial nature of our Lodge. Of course, there are members who are simply friends of friends of members or who have been encouraged by the nature of our membership to ask to join us, and they are made welcome too.
Our meetings are well attended, and we regularly receive visitors, from other Lodges, who are attracted to our friendly atmosphere. We are always open to be contacted by potential re-joining members and especially by new members and through our active mentoring scheme, we ensure all new members are made welcome.
Our regular Lodge meetings are dignified and conducted in a warm and friendly manner. All our members are encouraged to aspire to participate in our ceremonies for which they are provided with instruction and information and can practice when attending Tateshall Junior Lodge of Instruction, which is held on the first Thursday of September, October, December, February, April & May at 7.30pm.
These meetings are informal and are designed to enable new members to start very simply get to know what we do, and over time build their confidence from experience.
In time all members come to enjoy the challenge of Freemasonry and are happy and willing to contribute. Members are encouraged to attend regularly, but there is no detriment, and we understand, when life and circumstances take precedence.
Following each regular Lodge meeting there is a meal, or “Festive Board”, which is formal but has a convivial and lively atmosphere, with plenty of conversation, toasts, and speeches. After which we retire to the Bar to continue our evening. Once a year, with the family friendly
Factual History of Freemasonry
In the 10th/11th Centuries castles, buildings and churches were being built around Europe. Operative Freemasons (FM’s) were the doctors and engineers of their time in terms of the value of the jobs they did. They tended to be illiterate so developed a system of signs and words to recognise each other by as they travelled the country building things. The more skilled they were the more they were paid. They started off as Entered Apprentices, then Fellow Crafts and finish as Master Masons. These are the 3 degrees that make up current FM. Each degree had different ‘secrete’ signs to ensure they were paid for the level of their skill. These secrete signs continue today. They used to meet in pubs and ‘lodges’ hence the words, Freemason Lodges, and would eat and socialise together
These were operative masons, but clearly demand for stonemasons fell and in the 18th Century groups of ‘intellectuals’ and ‘free-thinkers’ etc. met and took the old Operative FM’s and created the body of men we know today as Speculative FM’s. They became a close knot group of friends, they called each brother, and this continues to this day.
There are 200,000 FM in the UK, 4 million in US, and various countries around the world (Numbers have declined significantly over the last 100 years) FM is governed by a Grand Lodge (England is in London, each American state has its own Grand Lodge and other countries have their own). In England lodges are grouped in Provence’s, with each Provence having its own Provisional Grand Lodge (PGL) and a Provisional Grand Master. Our Provence is Yorkshire West Riding. These Provinces report into the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). The Grand Master of UGLE has always been a royal, currently Prince Michael of Kent. There is a senior mason known as the Pro Grand Master who ‘runs’ the day-to-day business of UGLE. There are many famous masons and 7 out of the last 11 monarchs were masons.
4 years ago was the 300th anniversary of the founding of the Grand Lodge of England
In England all major towns and cities have at least one lodge building. In Pontefract 4 craft lodges (these are the main lodges with the 3 degree’s) meet on various days of the year, as well as 6 other side orders (Freemasonry has many other organisations closely related to it)
FM is a society with secrets not a secret society – pretty well everything is on the internet or Netflix. However if you decide to do some research don’t spoil your degree ceremonies by researching them too much. Enjoy the element of surprise that some of our ornate and historical ceremonies involve. .
Royal Arch FM
Royal Arch is often called the 4th Degree. It is closely aligned to FM and they tend to meet fewer times a year. You can join Chapter any time after you have taken your 3rd degree however most tend to wait a while. Chapter is considered to be the ‘final’ piece of the masonic ‘jigsaw’. It is separate to main lodge but has its own meetings, ritual and set up. Of course a lot of the people you meet in Chapter you already know through FM.
Once you are a FM you can effectively be in any town in the world and invite yourself to a meeting and a meal and you will be welcomed like a ‘brother’. For example Tateshall has a friendship with a lodge in Holland and we visit regularly.
You will be surprised by the number of people who you didn’t know were FM are. And when you meet them in work, business or social you straight away have something to talk about. And before you know it you are guest visiting their lodge.
The 'interesting' History
Take your pick of any of the many theories that relate to the origins of FM. After you have joined do a bit of historical research, read a few books, and make up your own mind:
Its stems from the Egyptians, the worship of Sun Gods and secretes of eternal life and resurrection
It stems from the Knights Templar. A body of Christian warrior monks. Protectors of Crusaders and Holy land pilgrims and they became the world’s first bankers. They were set upon by the King and France, who owed them lots of money, but one of the many fascinating rumours is that some escaped on boats with a hoard of artefacts and treasures and fled to America and/or Scotland and with all this secrete knowledge and eventually established FM
They are the illuminati – Not really
They control the world – Not really
We know nothing about the real origins of the FM, and you have to be a 33rd degree
mason to see the true picture
They have the secretes of religion and everything else under lock and key at Rosslyn Chapel
They wanted to establish America as this perfect FM country
And the list goes on!
One of the hardest thing for prospective FM’s to understand is the lodge temple ritual, but to fully appreciate FM as more than just a social & charitable organisation you have to appreciate FM ritual. Centred on the building of King Solomon’s temple in around 500BC and the main man who designed it, a master mason called Hiram Abiff.
It’s basically a serious of ‘plays’ that you have to memorise various parts of and over the course of many years you will learn it all, if you want to. The ritual is performed in a ‘temple’ laid up with Masonic references around it. The ritual we perform will seem weird at first (no animals I promise!) but it is essentially a lot of morals and being a better man interlaced with Old Testament religious stories and linked to morals of the story of Hiram Abiff. As you progress through FM you learn certain pieces of ‘floor work’ ritual and then you get set positions in the lodge where you have specific ritual to learn. These positions in the lodge are related to it both being a club with by-laws and rules (i.e. Secretary and Treasurer) and to the history of FM’s being builders
The Festive Board
Once the ‘ritual’ and official business of lodge meetings is concluded in the masonic temple we all head for drinks and a sit down meal. To many their favourite part of the whole night. There is a formal side to this in terms of the way it is run and there are official toasts and speech’s throughout the whole evening.
Effectively as a FM you take a 1st, 2nd and 3rd Degree and that’s all you need to be considered a ‘Master Mason’ but there are lots of other FM orders. My personal favourite are the Knights Templar – they get to wear the big white crosses and get a sword! Royal Arch is also another part of FM
Being a FM at Tateshall
It will cost you about £350 to join as a one off (joining fees, apron etc) after that it is currently £185 a year. Tateshall meet on the 3rd Friday of the month for 6 months a year (Feb, April, May, Sept, Oct, Dec). On top of this there is Junior Lodge which meets on the 1st Thursday of the month were we practise ritual for taking part in future ceremonies, and finally practise lodge which meets on the Thursday before the main lodge where people with ‘parts’ in the Friday ceremony practise.
So effectively it is three times a month (2 short ones and one full evening session) 6 months a year
Main Lodge starts at 7pm and finishes with a meal and some drinks in the evening. The other two lodges start at 7.30 and generally last an hour and a half and we don’t tend to stay afterwards. We have socials. You call a FM Brother.
Once initiated your first role in lodge is as Steward and you are expected to serve meals to more experienced masons. I have seen some people struggle with its concept but I have never had a problem with it. Normally lots of other members get up to support the stewards anyway
You then progress through various roles in the lodge, learning specific ritual related to each role as you go, rising to top dog Worshipful Master. You hold each position for a year. After you have served your time as a steward you can if you wish drop off the ‘ladder’ and not progress any further. Some do, most don’t. But the order is Family, Work and then FM, if life and work are stopping you learning ritual then you are free to drop off permanently or temporarily. The important thing is to enjoy being a FM.
Learning ritual – Do it on your own terms – driving or walking the dog, and maybe a bit on holiday instead of reading a book. Spend 2 to 3 hours a week on it over many years. There is a commitment required to learn it. Some learn it easy, others have to work hard at it.
If you join you have an interview and have to be proposed and seconded You will be asked if you believe in God or something ‘out there’ over and above nothing. Commonly referred to in FM as the Great Architect of the Universe. If you say no to this question the interview ends. You are asked if you know how much it costs and when we meet and if you will attend regularly. You are told that masons are expected to give to charity. You are asked it you have a criminal record. You are interviewed, you are proposed in lodge, your name is circulated to local lodges to you to see if they know of you, and finally you have your INITIAITION to be an Entered Apprentice FM. An important ceremony to all FM’s.
If you join you must want to for the right reasons:
A belief in ‘The Great Architect of the Universe’ (you cant be a FM without this belief, however there is a little flex in what the Great Architect of the Universe is’). However a lot of our ‘ritual’ relates to references to the Old Testament and God so you need some sort of belief or you will struggle with it all.
Regular attendance is a must, learning the ritual takes time out of lodge, you need some commitment.
Socialising – An important part of FM, we do not call each brother for nothing, it means something. You will get a whole new group of friend/brothers through FM
Support from wife/family, I have seen people drop out without this. We have socials where wives/family join us for a ‘party’