Chapter 5: More Recent History to 1986
On 27th September 1974 the Lodge provided Grand Lodge Regalia for W. Bro. James Herbert Armistead, P. A. G. D. C. in appreciation of the honour conferred upon him and upon the Lodge, and this was presented to him by W. Bro. Frank Harrison, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for the Province of Yorkshire West Riding.
Craven Lodge had not been able to boast of having its own Grand Lodge Officer since the death of W. Bro. A. Harrison, P. G. D. in 1961, after being a Mason and a member of Craven Lodge for 71 years and it being 62 years since he was in the Chair. This surely must be a record.
However, so far as service to Freemasonry in general and to Craven Lodge in particular is concerned, his record is matched by that of W. Bro. Armistead who, in addition to his work in other Offices, was Secretary of the Lodge for 11 years, prominent in Craven Chapter and a Founder Member of the Craven Preceptory No. 390 of Knights Templar in 1964. He is widely known and highly regarded throughout the Province for his work in these and other Degrees.
Other stalwarts worthy of mention here, include W. Bro. Harry Adams who was W. M. in 1947, followed by a period from 1949 – 1954 and again in 1959 as Director of Ceremonies, in which position he made a great impact on the Lodge and the way in which the Ritual was carried out. He died on 7th January, 1977. The depth of his love for Freemasonry and for Craven Lodge may, to some extent, be seen in the Minutes of the Regular Meeting held on 31st March, 1978, when it was proposed by W. Bro. H. Tayforth and seconded by W, Bro. J. H. Armistead P. A. G. D. C. and unanimously approved by the Brethren that appreciation of his generous bequest to the Lodge of £1000 be recorded in the Minutes.
- Bro. Edwin Nelson was initiated 23rd February , 1934, became Worshipful Master in 1950, obtained Provincial Honours as P. P. G. D. in 1960 and promoted to Provincial Grand Warden in 1970. He served, the Lodge devotedly as Treasurer from 1956 -1979 and in the latter year was elected an Honorary Member of Craven Lodge in appreciation of his long and devoted service. No one could have served the Lodge more keenly and lovingly for, in a quiet and unassuming manner all the year round over many years, he visited the High Street premises and later our
present Sackville Street building every Friday morning, and frequently on other mornings also, to see that the cleaning and minor repairs were attended to, and on the day. of the Lodge Meeting, he set out the Regalia for the Officers and the equipment for the ceremony. An example of service and loyalty worthy of emulation. He died on 28th February, 1982.
From time immemorial it has been the custom in Craven Lodge to read a portion of Holy Writ before the Lodge is closed. When W. Bro. Rev. Harold Bacon was appointed Chaplain of the Lodge in 1971, he was granted permission, in response to his request, to give a short address on some aspect of Masonic Theology. This was so well received that his successor W. Bro. Tom Booth, P. P. G. Reg. attempted to continue this practice. The eventual result was that at the Installation Meeting in January 1984, W. Bro. J. H. Armistead P. A .G. D. C. presented the Lodge with a Collection of Chaplain’s Addresses, given over the years 1974 – 1984 by W. Bro. Booth. These had been edited and bound by W. Bro. R. J. Dyer, P. P. D. G. D. C. and were to be placed in the Lodge Archives. In May 1985, the Lodge was presented with a History of our Daughter Lodge of Castleberg 2091 which had been compiled to celebrate its Centenary 1885 – 1985. This spurred on the efforts to provide a similar detailed account of the Annals of Craven Lodge, hitherto so sadly lacking.
So many changes within the Lodge over the years have inevitably been noted and commented upon. To the older Brethren whose memories take them back over the last forty or more years, it would appear there has been a gradual but significant change in attitudes. Before World War II, Craven was an old Lodge, not in the historical sense but in the average age of its Members. Applications for membership from young men were not received with great enthusiasm as the Provincial Officers and Past Masters were reluctant to admit anyone who had not been known personally to his sponsors for upwards of 20 years. Furthermore no Junior Brother was expected to nominate anyone as a Candidate. Not that this was altogether a bad thing. The Elders had the good of Freemasonry at heart and particularly the high standing of Craven Lodge. They were certainly determined that no unworthy Candidate should gain admission. Nevertheless the Past Masters in those days constituted the Lodge Committee and seemed to rule with a rod of iron. All this has changed. First it was decided that the S. W. should have some experience of the Lodge Committee before succeeding to the Chair and was invited to join the Committee.
Subsequently the J. W. was also allowed to attend these Meetings and later, when new Bye-Laws were introduced, two Junior Brethren appointed annually in Open Lodge were elected to serve on the Committee. Finally to obviate Applicants having to face an interview before the whole Committee, it was decided that a Sub-Committee be appointed to interview Candidates. The senior Brethren to whom this responsible duty has been delegated are currently seeking ways and means to ensure that the interview is an even more effective and constructive exercise.
During this time also, it would seem that progress to the Master’s Chair was somewhat swifter. Formerly it was a matter of 15-16 years before one reached the Chair compared with a period of 10-11 years in more recent times. It is unfortunate when circumstances arise which prevent members from progressing up the “ladder” but there is no doubt it is distinctly advantageous to have had the experience of serving one year in each of the various Offices before reaching the Chair.
The older Brethren will remember too that the Alms Collection was made at the door of the Lodge as the Procession retired at the end of the Ceremony. From the Accounts, it would seem that the smallest silver coin was all that was expected by way of contribution and consequently the Almoner was restricted in his application of the fund. In the past 20 years successive Almoners have broadened the administration of the fund, have taken the W. Master with them on their visits to our Lodge Widows with gifts to comfort and enjoy, and have visited and consoled the sick. They have been able to do this with generous donations which are now collected in the Lodge with all decorum.
Progress involves change, and certainly great changes which have taken place in the social, economic and political life of the country over the past 25 years have had some impact on Freemasonry. Whilst we are obliged to advance with the march of time, the intrinsic Principles of the Craft to which we have all subscribed will remain changeless in a changing world.