Monday 10th October witnessed a, never before seen, ceremony when Seahouses Masonic Hall, in North Sunderland, played host to the first ever Amalgamation Ceremony between Heart of Glendale Lodge No.4005 and Farne Lodge No.5228, thus preserving the history of both of these Lodges and ensuring continued Freemasonry in the area under the new auspices of the Farne and Glendale Lodge No.5228.
A contingent of Provincial Officers, led by Ian Craigs, the Head of Northumberland Freemasons, along with a packed to the rafters building containing assembled members and guests, were treated to a spectacularly unique ceremony.
It is unknown what the impetus to form a new Lodge at Wooler was, but it was just after the Great War, and Freemasonry was generally experiencing a great revival. Alnwick Lodge No 1167 was asked to be the sponsoring Lodge of Heart of Glendale Lodge, which they readily agreed to.
After the usual preliminary meetings of the Founding Committee, it was agreed that the first Worshipful Master would be W H Sitwell, the first Senior Warden, R Bolam, and the first Junior Warden, F H S. Sitwell. There were 46 Founders in total, all members of various Lodges, with the majority coming from Alnwick Lodge, Waterloo Lodge No. 3438, and Croft Lodge No 3310.
The First Master, Brigadier-General William Henry Sitwell, was born in India in 1860, and served with great distinction in the Army, seeing action in Egypt and Omdurman, as well as the Boer War. In the Great War, he commanded the 34th Infantry Brigade, and took part in the Sulva Bay landings, finally retiring from the Army in 1919, at the age of 58, and moving to Barmoor.
In addition he was active in Mark Masonry in Northumberland, being appointed Deputy Provincial Grand Master in 1924, and taking on the office of Provincial Grand Master, following the death of Colonel Napier-Clavering in 1931, however his was to be a short tenure, as he died suddenly in 1932, a few months after his Installation.
The consecration of Heart of Glendale Lodge, took place at the Archbold Hall, Wooler, on 21 November 1919, with the Provincial Grand Master, Colonel C.W. Napier-Clavering in charge of the proceedings, assisted by his team of Officers. It appears that the Lodge continued to meet at this location until 1956, when its meeting place is recorded as the ‘Masonic Hall, Wooler’, however the Lodge eventually relocated to Alnwick Masonic Hall by 1998, and in 2015 to Berwick Masonic Hall. On 21 November 1969, the Lodge celebrated its Golden Jubilee in the presence of the then Provincial Grand Master, J M S Coates.
Freemasonry in this part of Northumberland again gained a new Lodge when the Farne Lodge came into being, again sponsored by Alnwick Lodge. The Petition for this new Lodge was dated 6 August 1930, signed by three Past Masters of Alnwick Lodge and approved by the Provincial Grand Master on 12 August 1930. There were 33 Founders names on the Petition and the Warrant was granted by Grand Lodge on 3 September 1930, with the Consecration, undertaken by the Provincial Grand Master, Colonel C W Napier-Clavering, taking place at the Church Institute, North Sunderland, Seahouses on 2 October 1930.
The need for a new Lodge in the area was apparent as can be seen in the enthusiasm for new members and candidates, and the Lodge celebrated its Silver Jubilee on 20 October 1955, when the then Provincial Grand Master, J M S Coates unveiled a new Founder’s Board. Subsequently the Golden Jubilee was held on the same date in 1980, when the then Provincial Grand Master, J S Stephenson heard that the Lodge now had 152 members.
W.Bro Paul Cassidy, the Master of the former Heart of Glendale Lodge, explained “Undertaking the amalgamation was essential to ensuring we secured nearly 200 years of combined masonic history, in the Seahouses and Glendale areas, for future generations of Freemasons. More importantly we have ensured the preservation of the memory of all the Past Masters and Founder Members of both Lodges. I would highly recommend members of Lodges, who find themselves in similar circumstances, consider the route of amalgamation, rather than surrendering their warrants.”
R.W.Bro Ian Craigs, the Head of Northumberland Freemasons said “Having just presided over the first Amalgamation Ceremony to take place in the Province of Northumberland, I am greatly encouraged by the way in which these two Lodges have worked hard and come together as one .The new Farne with Glendale Lodge No.5228 was formed last evening in a wonderful celebration which saw the Seahouses Building packed out .I am sure the Brethren of the new Lodge will set an example to other Lodges who wish to follow the same path .We all wish them well.”
Congratulations to everyone concerned from Northumberland Freemasons and we wish you many more happy years of Freemasonry.
Many thanks to W.Bros Ian Brown, Paul Cassidy and George Skipper for the submission of this article.
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