The first moves towards forming an Old Pocklingtonian Lodge were taken before the Second World War by one Worshipful Brother Bown-Bown and after the war by Worshipful Brother Rev. Hilary Robinson – both without success.
For most of the original members, their first curious thoughts on Freemasonry were instilled by Brother Tom Pay, the school’s English master, who found many ways to bring masonry in his lessons. In 1960 Clive Simpson and Michael Knowles were Social Secretaries of the Old Pocklingtonian Club and, aided by promptings from Tom Pay, issued a circular letter for a dance to be held in York with an addendum enquiring whether any old boys of the school, who were also Freemasons, would be interested in the formation of a school Lodge.
The response was good and an initial meeting of those interested was held on 8th March 1961. After the Old Boys Cricket match on 1st July 1961, a meeting of interested masons made the momentous decision that an application to form a lodge should be made, if at least twenty founder members came forward. After a series of meetings, held in true masonic tradition at the Half Moon Hotel in York, a final decision to petition for a warrant was made on 21st May 1962.
Twenty one brethren signed the petition including W. Bro. Robert Brice-Smith (48 years a mason), Tom Pay (40 years) and Eric Scaife (23 years). Eight of the brethren were Past Masters, two held Provincial Grand Rank and one was a holder of London Grand Rank.
The Founders came from eighteen different Lodges as far apart as London, Abingdon, Middlesbrough, Doncaster, Wakefield and Manchester. Before Consecration Day another seven came forward and asked to be considered as joining members. There were also seven candidates ready to be proposed for initiation. Only one Founder is still alive and a member of the Lodge – who was honoured on the fiftieth anniversary meeting of the Lodge for his 60 years in Freemasonry.
Saturday 6th April 1963, Consecration Day was gloriously fine and the setting of the school Assembly Hall was perfect. Attendance was 209 brethren and 148 sat down for the meal in the evening. These brethren represented 58 sister Lodges, congregated to see the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master, the most Honourable the Marquess of Zetland, ably assisted by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Sir Charles Vernon Flitton and the Assistant Provincial Grand Master W. Bro. Wilfred Arthur Gibson, perform the Consecration Ceremony.The Deputy Provincial Grand Master then installed W. Bro. T.E. Scaife as the first master of the Lodge.
It is interesting to note that no Tyler was appointed. The Provincial Tyler remained in post for the whole ceremony.
The consecrating officers were duly elected as Honorary Members of the Lodge.
All the founders were, of course, Old Boys of or Masters at the School and the membership was restricted to those people. Membership grew rapidly in the early years with 12 members either joining or being initiated in the first year and 6 in the second year.
In 1965, W. Bro. Ken Craven, then the Senior Warden, stood down to enable W. Bro. Tom Pay to take the Chair. Tom enjoyed his year both in the Lodge and visiting, his ready wit and humour being widely appreciated. Unfortunately soon after he was called to the Grand lodge above.
The membership was widened to include Fathers and Grandfathers of pupils and Friends of the Old Pocklingtonian Lodge in 1992. An influx of joining members served to swell the ranks and following the turn of the millennium, initiates were found from younger Old Pocklingtonians. Other Old Pocklingtonians and non-old boys soon followed. The Lodge has maintained its “School Lodge” identity. It cannot be doubted that it would have given great satisfaction to the Founders that on the 50th Anniversary of Consecration in 2013 when the Installing Master and the newly installed Master were Old Boys (2001 and 2005 respectively). The newly installed Master was the youngest member , with the oldest (also the remaining Founder Member) in attendance to receive a certificate to commemorate 60 years as a Mason and participating in the Installation.
In a Lodge with Founders drawn from eighteen Lodges all with their own rituals, a decision is recorded in a Founders’ Minute that “the ritual should be standard emulation…”. However, as those who have attended the Lodge will appreciate, individuality will out!!
Developed over the course of the fifty years of the Lodge, we are now proud to present the Old Pocklingtonian version of the emulation ritual, including variations which to us are now traditional!
The Old School Lodges
The Lodge soon joined the local group of Old School Lodges consisting of Hull Old Grammarian Lodge No: 5129, Old Bridlingtonian Lodge No: 6843, and Old Hymerian Lodge No: 6885, Old Peterite Lodge No 6412 and Mitre Lodge of York No 7321 together with the Old Pocklingtonian Lodge and we regularly take part in the joint meetings which we host every fourth year. Old Hymerians have a special relationship with Old Pocklingtonians as Hymers College was evacuated to Pocklington School during the Second World War.
The Province of North and East Ridings of Yorkshire boasts many school lodges and most are invited to the Old Pocklingtonian Lodge meetings on a regular basis. The Lodge is also a member of the Federation of Schools Lodges and indeed hosted the annual meeting of the Federation in 1983 when 260 brethren from 62 federated lodges attended. The meeting was held at the school and included a demonstration in period costume entitled ‘The meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge on 14th April 1821 – but what really took place?’. Details are being finalized with regards to the Annual Festival in 2017 to be held under the Lodge’s banner.
On 24th May 1514, Henry VIII granted John Dowman a licence to form a guild in the Parish Church at Pocklington. This guild was to contain a grammar school. Hence Pocklington School was born and has celebrated its 500th Anniversary.
For over the last 50 years of this huge time span, the Old Pocklingtonian Lodge has been linked with the School. Indeed for the first few years the annual installation ceremony and the Festive Board were held at the school. Over the years old boys of the school and members of the staff have joined the Lodge. Indeed one of the regular toasts at each masonic meeting is to “The School”. As mentioned above, the annual meeting of the Federation of School Lodges was held at the School in 1984 and once again we celebrated our 50th Installation Ceremony at the School.
Our ladies are not forgotten and from the very first year Ladies evenings were held at such venues as Merchant Taylors Hall and St. Williams College in York, the Constitutional Lodge in Beverley and various other venues.
In 1984, the then Master, W. Bro. Brian Thackray, initiated a Luncheon for the Brethren, their wives, families and friends. This was held at Duncombe Place in York on the 2nd December 1984. A similar luncheon has been held every subsequent year, though it was moved to the second Sunday in January – a tradition the Lodge is proud to maintain. W. Bro. Brian Thackray organised these Luncheons for 25 years until January 2009. It is always a very successful and happy occasion.
Mentioned in Despatches
Whilst all masons would consider themselves to be on the level, it would be remiss not to mention some of the members who have distinguished themselves in Freemasonry and in the service of the Old Pocklingtonian Lodge.
W. Bro Rex Belas – Founder member and now over 60 years in Freemasonry
W. Bro. Eric Scaife – Founder member, first W.M. of the lodge, a Grand Lodge Officer and a noted ritualist and for many years a guiding light in the Lodge.
W. Bro. Michael Carr – one of our first initiates in October 1963, PM of the Lodge, for many years secretary of the Lodge, a Grand Lodge Officer, a past ruler of the Rose Croix and a 33o mason.
W. Bro. Bob Sutherland, Almoner for many years and W. Bro. John Byass – two of the first joining members in May 1963
Bro. George Gascoyne – An Honorary Member of the Lodge who served as Tyler for the Lodge for over 25 years and a reliable and comforting presence at the door of the Lodge.
Bro. Richard Mumby – a member for 32 years, Chief Steward for 17 years, Tyler for 10 years, a Provincial Grand Steward – a true mason and mentor and friend to all new masons.
There have been many other members of the Lodge who should, no doubt, have been included in this section and they will be remembered for the attributes they brought to the Lodge. Many went through the chair and others were content to attend and unite in the grand design of being happy and communicating happiness to others.
The lodge has enjoyed over 50 years existence and looks forward with confidence to the future. May its members thrive, its links with the School remain strong and unbroken and its ethos and spirit of happy fraternity be maintained as long as Freemasonry flourishes.