Daventry Masonic Centre threw open its doors as part of the annual Heritage Open Days event at the weekend.
The aim of the event was to make people aware that Freemasonry not only exists in Daventry, but that it is thriving.
Mike Sheppard, of Daventry Freemasons, said: “It also gave the local public a chance to have a guided tour of the lodge rooms and have the symbolism of the many curious objects used at it’s meetings explained and to view an exhibition and video providing information on Freemasonry and its achievements both worldwide and locally.
“Despite the wet weather, dozens of visitors turned out and many said they thought it was fascinating and had found that the information presented had dispelled many of the myths and wild accusations cast at Masonry and it had certainly altered their opinion of how they would view Freemasonry in future.”
He added: “Freemasonry’s origins are not clear, possibly dating back to the medieval stonemasons who built many of our great cathedrals, but it is known that this year celebrates the 300th anniversary of the formation of the official Grand Lodge of England in 1717.
“Freemasonry is one of the world’s oldest and largest non-religious, non-political, fraternal and charitable organisations and its 6 million members worldwide, come from all walks of life and meet as equals whatever their faith, ethnic group or position in society.”
He said for many, this spirit of fellowship is what is valued most, whilst making new friends, helping others, following a family tradition and participating in the ceremonial are also important.
Mike added: “Charity is at the heart of the organisation, but Freemasonry does not undertake any external fundraising, all money donated comes from voluntary donations and through our own efforts. Contributions of over £33 million a year means we are one of the UK`s largest charitable givers, supporting individual members, local communities and global emergencies.”
Within England & Wales there are over 6,000 lodges, located within 47 Provinces, which are based on the old County lines. Daventry lies within the Province of ‘Northamptonshire & Huntingdonshire’, which today contains 93 lodges, meeting at 24 Masonic Centres and consisting of over 3,500 Masons. The first record of a Lodge in Northamptonshire is in 1730 - the George and Dragon Lodge No 62, however the Province of Northamptonshire was not formed officially until 1798, when George Fermor, the 3rd Earl of Pomfret, became it’s first Provincial Grand Master, (the same year that the country celebrated Rear Admiral Nelson’s victory over the French Fleet at the Battle of the Nile).
Freemasonry’s continual growth meant that Masonry to spread to Daventry in 1891 when Beneventa lodge was consecrated and which met at the Wheatsheaf hotel at the top of Sheaf St (now a residential care home) - prior to this, Daventry Masons had to ride or walk to lodges in Towcester or Northampton.
The local membership continued to expand, such that when in 1973 the ‘Daventry Working Men’s Club’ moved to new premises where Homebase and Halfords now stand, the lodges took out a mortgage and purchased the building at their present masonic halls in the High Street.
There are now over 250 brethren meeting in five lodges at Daventry Masonic Centre, which in recent years have donated over £34,000 to many local charities and good causes, including Helping Hands, DACT, Friends of Danetre Hospital, Reach for Health, Daventry Food Bank & the Air Ambulance.
For further information on Freemasonry in Daventry, please contact the Secretary of the centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Provincial Website at http://www.northants-huntsmasons.org.uk/