Today Northumberland Freemasons celebrate half a century since the consecration of Vanbrugh Lodge No.8412, which meets at Shiremoor Masonic Hall.
The Consecration of the Lodge took place on Friday 17 March 1972 at Shiremoor Masonic Hall and and was conducted by the then Provincial Grand Master, R W Bro. J M S Coates and a team of Consecrating Officers selected for the event.
The Warrant for the new Lodge was granted by United Grand Lodge with the First Master agreed as W Bro J.Gordon, the First Senior Warden as W Bro N Young, and the First Junior Warden as Bro. T James. In total there were 23 Founders, taken from some 15 different Lodges. One of the Founders and the first Director of Ceremonies , W Bro. G. N Fletcher, was later to become well known as the Provincial Grand Master for the Mark Master Masons of Northumberland.
There were 76 guests present at the Consecration, and the Provincial Grand Master and his team were all elected Honorary Members of the Lodge.
As always, the events leading up to the Consecration were taken up with Founder’s Meetings, when no doubt, many things had to be decided and discussed, with one of those issues being to decide what the new Lodge would be called. Perhaps because of the Lodge’s close proximity to Seaton Delaval, it was decided to name it after the architect who designed the famous – or infamous – depending on how one viewed it – Seaton Delaval Hall.
It is a matter of interest that several other Lodges in the immediate area were named after, or had connections with the Delaval Family; Astley Lodge, Delaval Lodge, Lodge Vandeleur, Hastings Lodge, Seaton Delaval, and Seaton Valley.
Sir John Vanbrugh, 1664 to 1726, was one of Britain’s foremost architects and he designed the plans for many stately homes, including Castle Howard, Blenheim Palace and our very own Seaton Delaval Hall. It was destined to be the last, and some say, greatest of all the buildings Vanbrugh had built. He had somewhat of a colourful life, he had been a soldier, and had been captured by the French and denounced as a spy. On his return home, he became a playwright, turning out ‘spicy’ farces. He was a contemporary of Christopher Wren, and worked with him, becoming an architect of fame in his own right.
The commission to build the Hall at Seaton Delaval was given to him by Admiral Delaval, one of the notorious Delaval Family, who had a reputation in Georgian Society for playing reprehensible practical jokes on unwary visitors. Both Admiral Delaval and Sir John Vanbrugh died before the Hall was completed in 1729, but the memorial to this man still stands, lovingly restored after a disastrous fire, and in the name of the new Lodge – Vanbrugh Lodge No 8412.
The Lodge is still going strong, celebrating 60 years of existence in 2022, while Seaton Delaval Hall is also still standing – at the end of its long avenue, aloof and austere, in solemn splendour, and no longer echoing to the wild laughter of the ‘Gay Delavals’.
Congratulations once again from everyone at Northumberland Freemasons to the brethren of Vanbrugh Lodge and we wish you well for the next fifty years.
Many thanks to W.Bros Ian Brown and Stuart Cairns for the submission of this article.
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