A special open day will take place at Blenheim House, Batley, to mark the tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE).
On Saturday 24 June the UGLE celebrated the 300th anniversary of formalised Freemasonry.
It was on that date in 1717 that four lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron ale house in St Paul’s Churchyard, London and agreed to form a Grand Lodge. Freemasonry had been in existence as a secular organisation for many years before that with the first recorded initiation being of one Elias Ashmole in October 1646 at Warrington. On his death most of his antiquarian library and priceless manuscripts were donated to the University of Oxford to create the Ashmolean Museum. In 1751 a rival Grand Lodge was formed in London and it wasn’t until 1813 that the two finally came together as the United Grand Lodge of England.
The UGLE has responsibility for over 200,000 Freemasons and 7,000 Masonic Lodges in England plus over 6m Freemasons world- wide who are affiliated to the ‘mother’ Grand Lodge in England.
Coincidentally 2017 sees the bi-centenary the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding which has responsibility for over 200 lodges and some 6000 members out of which around 200 meet at Blenheim House, Batley.
The provincial name does not reflect its geographical extent, which covers the whole of West and South Yorkshire and parts of North and East Yorkshire, an area of 2,350 square miles, from Ripon in the North to Sheffield in the South and Bentham in the West to Goole in the East.
Blenheim House as a Masonic centre was established in 1925 when it was purchased by Scarborough Lodge and Chapter from Alderman David Stubley JP.
It was described at the time in the ‘News’ as ‘a substantial building occupying a commanding position at the top of Field Hill which stands in its own grounds in a quiet and salubrious area of the borough’.
It became the home for other Lodges and in January 1967 co-ownership was established when Trafalgar Lodge and Howley Lodge each bought a one third share in the building. Fifty years on this ownership structure is still in place. Currently the building is home to three other Lodges, including a Ladies Lodge (who are responsible to their own Grand Lodge) plus many other orders that run alongside the main craft Lodges.
Over the years the building has seen many changes, primarily the addition of a substantial dining/ball room together with full catering facilities. Major upgrade of the public areas took place in 2014 and the toilet/disabled facility in 2015 making the building attractive as a wedding venue, as well as being ideal for dinner dances, whilst being equally suited to the needs for smaller functions.