Companions,

 

I look forward to seeing you all at The Masonic Centre, Donaghadee at 2.00PM on Saturday the 23rd October 2010, when we will all have an opportunity to visit this magnificent Hall and view the many items of Masonic interest preserved therein. Later on, in the Convocation, we will have the opportunity to listen to a fascinating history of Royal Arch Masonry in and around the town of Donaghadee.

 

Sitting here, on a large corner site, looking onto the Millisle Road, is a beautiful red brick, single storey, purpose built building, with a large number of Masonic themed, stained glass windows. The main windows around the walls of the Hall all have the six pointed Seal of Solomon as their centrepiece, finishing with a piece of clear bull-nosed glass, surrounded, in multi coloured glass. In the East, located over the Master’s Chair is a triple circular window again with the six pointed Seal of Solomon motif in the centre. This time it has the All Seeing Eye, symbol surrounded in light at the centre and three separate circular representations of The 3rd Degree Compasses and Square; The Level; and The Keystone.

 

Right underneath these windows is the old canopy style Master’s Chair, known to all as “The Seat of Solomon”. This particular example is very ornate with a series of golden urns along the top and a raised pediment around the outside. The front of the canopy bears the legend “ St John’s Blue Lodge No 675” and has golden heralds complete with trumpets on each corner of the canopy. Surmounted in the centre of the canopy, on the underside is the five pointed star of Venus and along the back are a series of further symbols and motto. In the top or spiritual half of the chair are the symbols for The Sun, Moon and Seven Stars accompanied by a representation of The All Seeing Eye, as a representation of Deity.

 

The lower two thirds of the chair back is marked out as emblematic of stonework coursing, and here the main symbol shows the workman’s hand complete with trowel, applying the cement of Brotherhood. On one side is the Compasses & Square emblematic of the Order and on the other is the Level. Below is the Masonic motto “Amor Honor et Justica” – Love Honour and Justice. The front of the canopy is supported by a pair of Pillars emblematic of Jachin and Boaz and the seat of the chair, hides the old Lodge drawer or cavity underneath.

 

Set in the wall, beside the Master’s Chair is a very old and well preserved

Foundation stone, associated with the original Hall located in the town of Donaghadee. Reading round the edge, the legend reads – “Built by the Massonics of No 625 Anno Domm 1827”. The stone has been carved with a number of symbols including The Royal Arch complete with Keystone from which is suspended by ribbon the letter “G” or Glory.` Under the Arch is a further legend “ We help the Poor in their time of need, the naked cloath the hungry feed”. Around the Arch are symbols representing :-

 

1/. The Pascal Lamb bearing the Banner of Christ.

2/. The Scull and Crossbones symbols of Mortality.

3/. The 3 armed candelabra representative of the three Craft Degrees.

4/. The Level and Plumbline representative of Senior and Junior Wardens.

5/ & 6/ The figures of two Men in Aprons either side of The Royal Arch.

 

On the Arch itself, engraved on the centre of the keystone is the figure of a beating heart, a sign of Fidelity and across the top of the Arch is the motto “D.dee No 675”. On the Western wall, facing te WM’c chair are two old Lodge flags. The smaller, un-named has a representation of the Arch, as previously described in the back of the Master’s Chair and at t5he top of the Arch is the Sun, Moon and Seven Stars and the All Seeing Eye. On the left of the Arch are the Trowel and Maul and on the right is the seven runged ladder. Under the Arch is a second degree Compasses and Square.

 

The larger flag bears the legend “St Johns Blue Lodge No 675” along the top and the name “Donaghadee” along the bottom of the flag.Here again the main feature on the flag is the Royal Arch and keystone. However this time the Open Volume of the Sacred Law sitting on an Alter is the main feature under the Arch along with the All Seeing Eye supporting the letter “G”. Around the perimeter of the Arch is the Sun, with a beam of light striking the open Volume of the Sacred Law. Also present are the Moon and Stars, Noah’s Ark with the Dove over, The Pascal Lamb, The Cockerel, The Three Runged Ladder, representitive of Faith, Hope and Charity and the symbols of Mortality – The Skull and Crossed Bones.

 

There are two very early and interesting photographs on the walls of the Lodge-rooms. The first is of a Bro Daniel McPeak who died on the 2nd February 1900. Bro McPeak spent 61 years as a Master Mason in Donaghadee Lodge No 675. The second picture is of Bro Hugh Ross, a man

who received a number of degrees within the Lodge and served as a Provincial  Grand Steward of Down in 1879. Bro Ross was called to the Grand Lodge Above  on the 26th December 1892. Donaghadee Masonic Lodge No 675 met for many years in a room over Bro Ross’s Shop. Also on display over the fireplace is a nice example of Masonic Bottle Art, which contains a number of Masonic Symbols located within a sealed bottle ( not unlike a ship in a bottle ). Also on the fireplace is a fine example of an old Masonic beer-jug bearing the name Donaghadee and a fine marble memorial plaque to all those members of the Donaghadee Lodge who served in the Great War of 14-18.

 

Further up the wall, over the fireplace is another more colourful Great War Roll of Honour. In this case, bearing the flags of the Allied Nations this Roll of Honour was prepared locally in Belfast by Brothers Braithwaite and Drummond, two noted exponents of the art of Illuminating Addresses. Bro Braithweaite, the art teacher in Belfast Technical College in particular is well known for his “St Patrick’s Psalter” which is still exhibited in St Anne’s Cathedral, as well as the many examples of his Master’s boards which are found in Halls throughout the Northern Provinces.

 

In the ante room, is another memento from the Great War – the  Union Jack flown by HM Torpedo Boat Destroyer Orpelia at The Battle of Jutland. Bro Thomas Roberts of Donaghadee Lodge No 675 was the Steersman on the day of the Battle, taking his ship into the midst of the fighting and successfully  bringing her back out untouched. When he finally retired from The Royal Navy on the 30th May 1922, his Captain present him with the ensign flown on the day of the Battle of Jutland as a memento of his excellent service.

 

Then finally Companions on the Western Wall, is a magnificent example of a Pillared Priest Board illustrating the many Masonic symbols used in this old defunct Irish degree. There is a fully framed set of Pillared Priest seals associated with Donaghadee located in a frame on the fireplace and they act as a good introduction to this board. I recommend a close inspection of this item by all who manage to attend on the day, as I’m sure that you will all find the contents of great interest.

 

And just in case you are still hungry for artifacts, I would conclude this section by drawing  attention  to the  large  Royal  Arch  frame located in the

anti-room which has suspended thereon the symbols of Plumbline, Level, Square and Compasses. Companions, here we have a veritable treasure house of unusual, early interesting Masonic artifacts, and I hope that you will all enjoy looking at same on the day.

 

 

Our Ex King’s Adventure.

 

Companions, you will all be relieved to learn that our Excellent King survived some recent excitement when one of the passenger wheels nearly fell off his car, whilst he was travelling home from the village of Armoy. Fortunately, he was, as usual travelling along quite sedately and suffered no hurt when the wheel came loose. His quick thinking passenger was able, by means of a rope, was able to keep the wheel in place until they made their way slowly homewards – “Surely a case of one good wheel and a cord”

 

 

Pillars of the Earth.

 

Ken Follett’s magnificient medieval novel – Pillars of the Earth has finally been filmed and will be shown on Channel 4 on the next four consecutive Saturday nights commencing at 9.00pm on Saturday the 16th October 2010. This will be a must see for Freemason’s, dealing as it does with the story of the medieval stone mason Tom Builder and his work in constructing a new medieval Cathedral in rural England. Here you will see many of the themes familiar to Masons such as the Lodge, a temporary structure built at the side of the Cathedral where the Masons do their draughtsmanship and have their fellowship, the building techniques forming Gothic arches, flying buttresses and supports for the Cathedral Towers etc. More importantly, it very clearly sets the context for medieval Cathedral buildings, by looking at society at the time, where these Cathedrals were so far removed from normal domestic architecture. So, if you have the chance, set a series link in your dvd recorders and watch this magnificent series in its entirety.

 

Editor.