A masonic milestone is reached

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MEMBERS of Lodge Forfar Kilwinning are celebrating a major masonic milestone this weekend as the organisation marks 250 years since becoming a chartered member of the Grand Lodge of Scotland.

The anniversary allows the lodge to claim it is the oldest continuous organisation in Forfar.

The Ancient Lodge of Forfar Kilwinning was officially chartered on December 23, 1762.

The decision was signed off by the then Grand Master Mason, the Earl of Elgin at the time, and was acknowledged 200 years later by his direct descendant, Lord Bruce, in a rededication ceremony in 1962.

Lodge Secretary Doug Nicol explained: “A group of men, freemasons, met together, as they had been doing so for many years, with the objective of petitioning for membership of a new body which had started to form in 1736 - The Grand Lodge of Scotland - submitting as the Lodge’s charter name the Ancient Lodge of Forfar Kilwinning (a name coming from Kilwinning in Ayrshire where the mother lodge of freemasons had been in existence from before 1598).

“The signatories to this petition were John Dickson, master; John McLean. deputy master; John Mitchell and John Nave, wardens; John Taylor and Alexander Speid, treasurer and secretary; Robert Fletcher, Esq., of Ballinshoe; Robert Wedderburn, Esq., of Pearsie; John Ure, Esq., Provost of Forfar and other citizens of the Royal Burgh of Forfar. The petition being sent by fast coach to Edinburgh.

“Late in December 1762, a charter was received bearing the signature of the Grand Master Mason - the Earl of Elgin and Kincardine, dated the 23rd day of December, 1762. The Lodge was chartered.”

As this year marks the 250th anniversary of that charter, it will be noted first at a special gathering of the members on the actual date, and by the present Grand Master attending a special meeting on Saturday, April 20, 2013.

Lodge members met on Saturday prior to this weekend’s celebration when two distinguished service awards were presented.

Making the presentations were the Provincial Grandmaster for Forfarshire, Sandy Christie and the Master of the Lodge, Andrew Moultrie

They were presented to Jim Stewart for 16 years and Doug Nicol for 35 years in office.

Doug continued: “This Sunday we will have a very informal gathering to mark the date - December 23, 1762 - when the lodge got its charter and we will remember those who applied for it. They included the Provost at that time.

“The Ancient Lodge of Forfar Kilwinning can well claim the honour of being the oldest continuous organisation in the town - they share this with all the generations who have made it so.”

Members are also keen to track down artefacts relating to the lodge and its history.

They include an engraved slate designed by watchmaker W. Don of Forfar, used to make prints of invitations to meetings of members between 1760 and 1780.

The engraved slate featured a number of Masonic emblems headed with “In the Lord Is All Our Trust”.

It reads: “Brother, you are desired to attend the meeting of the Lodge Forfar Kilwinning on the (date).

“I am Brother your most humble servant” which would be signed by the then secretary.