A Warm Welcome to the Leigh Group from Jonathon Heaton, Group Chairman.
Welcome to the new website for the Leigh Group of Lodges and Chapters in the Province of West Lancashire.
May I thank you for visiting our website and I hope that it will be useful and informative both to Masons and non-Masons who wish to expand their interest in all aspects of Freemasonry.
Freemasonry has enjoyed strong links with Leigh for more than 285 years dating back to the founding of the first lodge to be formed, No 87, founded in 1732, which met at the Kings Arms, then on Market Street, Leigh. However, although some traditions have been upheld over the years, we are continuing to move with modern times which is clearly seen here on our new website
The Leigh Group includes seven lodges, four chapters and other Masonic Orders which meet throughout the year in Leigh Masonic Hall: Ellesmere Street, Leigh.
The group is one of 21 groups within the administration of the Province of West Lancashire which ranges from Barrow in the north, Warrington in the south and as far east as the A6 road which runs the length of the county. The Leigh Group has a singular claim to fame that it is “the smallest group in the largest province in the world”.
Our lodges meet once a month, up to eight times a year and have a break in the summer months. In our meetings we learn about Masonic principles and their application in daily life for the betterment of ourselves and society in general. Meetings are followed by a good meal with our friends and guests.
Being a Mason is not restricted in terms of cost or occupation and is open to all men who are over 21 years of age, who share our moral and social values and can afford the modest annual fees. In Leigh, there are in excess of 200 men involved in Freemasonry, meeting at the Masonic hall.
A core belief of Freemasonry is charitable giving. Lodges hold socials for our enjoyment and to raise funds for national and local good causes. Last year, lodges in Leigh Group raised over £4,000 of which over £2,000 was to non-Masonic charities, including hospices, medical research and other local and national charities.
The Group along with a social committee organise various activities; a dinner and ball in nearby Blackpool, New Year’s Eve celebrations; golf and bowling competitions and a sportsman’s evening. These events when added to lodges’ own social activities amount to a large social programme for which we are grateful for the support of our wives and partners who play an important part in our Freemasonry.
Early Masonry in Leigh started when the first Lodge to be formed, No. 87, founded in 1732, and met at the Kings Arms, then on Market Street, Leigh. The lodge closed in 1768. The next Lodge to be associated with Leigh was the Lodge of Prudence, founded in 1774. It continued to meet in Leigh until 1847, when it moved to Todmorden. The Lodge of Antiquity founded in 1776, and met at the Fox Inn, Market Place, Leigh. In 1786 it moved to Bolton. After the Lodge of Prudence left Leigh for Todmorden, there was no Masonic Lodge in the town, and this state of affairs continued for many years.
This was rather strange, in view of the fact that Masonry was flourishing in neighbouring towns such as Wigan, Warrington and Bolton. There is proof that Freemasonry was taking place in Warrington as early as 1646. Elias Ashmole wrote in his diary on 16th October that year that he had been, ‘made a freemason at Leigh in Lancashire with Colonel Henry Mainwaring of Karnicham in Cheshire.’ This is the earliest known record of anyone being initiated into an English lodge. The oldest lodge now meeting in Leigh is the Marquis of Lorne lodge which has been meeting since 1871.
We are lucky in Leigh to be able to hold our meetings and socials in such a well-appointed building as the Masonic hall. It provides the perfect venue for Masonic meetings and various socials, dinners and events both Masonic and otherwise. The hall is available to hire for weddings, conferences, meetings and social events during the day as well as at night. It has achieved awards for its standards of hygiene and the high quality of its catering.
I hope this has given you a flavour of Freemasonry in Leigh. Should you be interested in finding out more about our activities please go contact Aiden Murphy our group membership officer who will be pleased to provide you with further information.