Aemulantes Lodge History

As the only founder not present at the consecration of the lodge on Monday 4th September 1978, it is fitting that I should have been invited to have the privilege of preparing this brief history of Aemulantes Lodge No 8827.

The Three original founders were Bro David Blenkinship, W Bro Eric Bingham PPrGD and Bro Derek Crampin, all members of the Fylde Group Lodge of Instruction No 65, the new lodge would work the emulation ritual strictly in accordance with that as practiced in the Fylde Group LOI and modeled on the strict Emulation working of the London Emulation Lodge of Improvement.

Discussions having taken place with other brethren including W Bro Peter Walker PPrGW and W Bro John Funk PAGDC the first meeting of the proposed founders of the proposed new lodge took place at the home of W Bro Funk on Sunday 13th March 1977. Six brethren (all members of the FGLOI) attended, namely: - W Bro Funk (in the chair), W Bros Walker, Bingham, Hudson and Bros Blenkinship and Crampin.

During the weeks and months that followed that first meeting, many more potential founders were recruited. The final number of founders was 25. Between them they represented 18 different lodges.

Quadrant Lodge No 8044 offered to sponsor the new lodge to be named AEMULATUS. Aemulatus, meaning ambitious, rare, to strive to equal. After much painful but patient waiting we learned in February 1978 that the Most Worshipful the Grand Master, had acceded to our prayer of petition, but Grand Lodge were reluctant to accept the name Aemulatus… However on the advice of an eminent scholar of Latin in our Province, Bro Noel Wylie, recommended that the name of the lodge be changed to AEMULANTES. (It seems that a man by the name of Aemulatus was not a very nice man). The Lodge emblem and motto ‘MORE MAJORUM’ (after the manner of our or their ancestors) was designed and suggested by the late W Bro Paul Peter Paul, whom we will always remember with thanks and affection.

The Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro R K Leigh, PGChap, assisted by our own Assistant Provincial Grand Master, W Bro William Salthouse, PJGD, installed our first Master, W Bro John Funk PAGDC.

At the first meeting following the consecration. RW Bro Knowles Edge, VW Bro R K Leigh and W Bro W Salthouse were all elected to Honorary membership Also at that meeting three joining members were elected, Bros Alan Walton Bill Fitchett and Tony Stone. A ballot for two candidates proved in favour of Mr Harry King and Mr David Kenworthy, Bro King was initiated on that same evening.

At the November meeting Bro Kenworthy was initiated and this set the pattern for the next several months and years, when many brethren have been pleased to join or were initiated in Aemulantes Lodge.

The standard of the work in the Lodge has been consistently high. For this we owe much to our Founding Master and Founding Senior Warden, W Bro Eric Bingham, PPrSGW. But of course when in the Fylde and speaking about Emulation ritual, one name comes to the fore … that of W Bro Peter Stuart Walker PSGD, our first Director of Ceremonies. That the Lodge has been and continues to be successful in matters of ritual is a direct result of his untiring, unselfish and frequently unthanked efforts. Sadly Peter is no longer well enough to attend the lodge. We were though delighted when he accepted our offer to elect him to honorary membership. It is perhaps appropriate at this point to record that no less than four members of the Lodge have been awarded a ‘silver matchbox’. That being an award from the Emulation Lodge of Improvement for the delivery of a ceremony without correction. They are W Bros Peter Walker (whose matchbox has a ‘scratch’ for an additional degree ceremony), John Nicholls, Chris Perfect and Gary Wright (whose matchbox also has two ‘scratches’ for an additional degree ceremonies), The Lodge is extremely proud of this singular achievement that further underlines one of the aims of the Founders “providing the opportunity for those masons who feel strongly about emulation working to work that ritual”.

Aemulantes Lodge has maintained its close links with the Fylde Group Lodge of Instruction. Once each year, the Festival Lecture Team has been invited to work lectures in this lodge.

Aemulantes Lodge counts amongst its many achievements a remarkable ability to raise substantial funds for charity – both Masonic and Non-Masonic. During the year of consecration Province was in the middle of a major festival – The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution 1981 Festival. On the day of consecration the Worshipful Master presented a folio containing covenants from every founder member to the Chairman of the festival appeal, VW Bro Alan F Ferris GDC, APrGM. The approximate value on maturity was £3,750. The Lodge continues to be very generous in support of charity and further demonstrated this attribute when the approximate maturity value of the contributions to the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys 1997 Festival was £18,233.

Aemulantes Lodge has been pleased to host several celebrations for our first Master W Bro J E Funk, those of his 50th, 60th and 70th anniversaries of his initiation into Freemasonry and 18 months ago his 100th birthday.

The Lodge is extremely proud that several of its members have been and are active officers of the South Fylde Group and the Province of West Lancashire. Bro Geoffrey Lee was appointed Provincial Junior Grand Warden in 1985 and of course went on from there to become Vice Chairman and then Chairman of the Group prior to his appointment in 1996 as Provincial Grand Secretary and Provincial Grand Scribe Ezra. Bro T Hudson Vice Chairman, Chairman APGP, 2nd PrGP and presently one of our own Assistant Provincial Grand Masters: Bro Leon Tax Group Charity Delegate, Vice Chairman and Group Chairman and APGM. In 1992 Bro Arthur Page had the honour and privilege of serving our Royal Arch Province as Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah. In 2004 Bro Roger Perry also had the great privilege of serving the Royal Arch as Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah. At the January meeting in 1987 the Lodge learned that another former Vice Chairman of the Group had been invited and had accepted the position as Assistant Provincial Grand Master. The Worshipful Master, Bro Harry King, warmly congratulated Bro Peter Walker on that wonderful news which was greeted by the Brethren with acclaim. On the day that Bro Harry King was to install his successor, the Principal Guest of the evening was Bro C P Wright PAGReg, APGM. Bro P S Walker PAGDC, APGM and Bro J N Hull, PSGD, APGM accompanied him. It was with great joy that the WM was able, for the first time to offer the gavel of the Lodge to W Bro Walker. In time-honoured tradition he in turn accepted and then returned it to the WM. Perhaps he knew that as Master of Quadrant Lodge No 8044 he was to be invited to be Installing Senior Warden on that same evening.

It is worth noting here that from its inception the Founders determined that the Masters of other Lodges should fill the three Installing Offices at Installation meetings.

It is inevitable that in the first quarter century of existence the Lodge would have to endure sad times as well as happy. Five of our Founders having been called to higher Masonic duty in the Grand Lodge above, we record with sadness but at the same time thanks for their contribution, the passing of Bros Jim Reed, Jack Wright, George Paxton, Harry Judge and Arthur Whittaker. We have had too our fair share of resignations. One Founder Bro John Tinker moved away from the area and subsequently we reluctantly accepted his resignation. Others have resigned for personal reasons but we acknowledge with thanks the efforts of Bros Blenkinship, Crampin, Edmunds, Holland Baguley, Howard Ingham and John Nicholls.

The loss to the Lodge through death or resignation has not of course been restricted to Founder members. We record and recall the names of Alan Walton, Ben Ingham, Barry Nicholls and Ken Little (Senior) all of whom have been called to the Grand Lodge above. Bro Bill Fitchett is another who resigned due to relocation we will all of us long remember the cheerful and smiling way in which he as Junior Warden would close a Fellowcrafts Lodge. Neither will we forget Bros Taylor, Drummond and Rice all Past Masters of the Lodge.

In Freemasonry we attach great importance to a Brothers duty to his family, it is always wonderful when a Father can introduce his Son (or vice versa) into the Craft. The Lodge claims several family connections. At the January meeting in 1989 the Worshipful Master, Bro Barry Nicholls initiated his son, John. Likewise in February 1990, the Master, W Bro Ben Ingham initiated his son, Howard. In December 1991 The Worshipful Master invited Bro Tony Stone to take the Chair in order to initiate his Father-in-Law, Bro Peter Innes and in January 1996 Bro Barry Nicholls occupied the Masters Chair for the initiation of Ken Little (J). It is worth noting that the Working Tools on that occasion were presented and explained by Ken Little (S). Still with the family connection, Bro Andrew Lipshaw and Bro Richard Evans are Brothers-in-Law.

It is often said that a successful Lodge is one that is socially active. Aemulantes has held highly successful Ladies Evenings throughout its existence. Although by no means unique the Lodge is very proud of its annual Members and Wives Dinner. It is always a well-supported and most enjoyable occasion. One other regular social event is the highly popular Sunday Lunch held just before Christmas.

Fairlawn Masonic Home (sadly now closed) was always close to the hearts of the members of this Lodge. The long serving Chairman of the Friends of Fairlawn W Bro John Funk was our Founding Master. Founder members have also served for many years on the Friends of Fairlawn committee. It is with great pride and affection that members of this Lodge assisted with or organised coffee mornings, ‘Fair Day at Fairlawn’, Garden Parties and in particular in December 1988 the members of this Lodge had the privilege to provide Christmas gifts for all the forty residents in the home.

The occasion of the Lodges 25th Silver Anniversary held on the Tuesday 4th September 2003 was celebrated in grand style by attendance of 32 members and 61 visiting Brethren which included our Assistant Provincial Grand Master W.Bro.Steven.P.J.Reid. PSGD. The main Presentation of the evening was a review of the History of the Lodge prepared & given by W.Bro.Leon Tax.

On 17th March 2004 W.Bro.Richard.Hollingdale PPrJGW. celebrated his 50 years in Freemasonry and although he was unable to attend the April Lodge Meeting, W.Bro.Raymond Neal PJGD was in Bournemouth and on our behalf entertained him to Lunch and presented his 50year Certificate.

At our Installation Lodge Meeting on 5th October 2005 Bro.Robert.Bentwood was installed we were honoured by the presence of Three Asst Pr G Master’s namely W.Bro’s W.R.Seddon, S.P.J.Reid & H.D.Rudd.

It was at the Lodge Meeting on 6th November 2007 that the Brethren voted to return to mother and to Amalgamate with Quadrant & Kilgrimol Lodges.

Tonight is of course the Final Lodge Meeting before the Amalgamation. I know that I speak for the Founders and all members in confirming that we face the future with great optimism. The Lodge was founded on a firm structure and within the newly amalgamated lodge will continue to serve the aim of ‘providing the opportunity for those masons who feel strongly about emulation to work that ritual’.