Ref NoD504/188
TitleThe Provincial Grand Lodge of Ancient Free and Accepted Masons of Derbyshire
Date1909-1910
DescriptionOrganised Freemasonry officially began with the founding of the Grand Lodge of England in 1717. These early lodges were generally held in hostelries from which they tended to take their names. The first Masonic lodge in Derbyshire met in 1732 at the Virgins Inn in Derby.

In 1762 one was founded at the Three Cranes Inn in Chesterfield was founded but only lasted a short time. In 1777 the Virgins Inn Lodge ceased to exist and it was not until 1785 that the Tyrian Lodge in Derby, which emanated from the Union Lodge in Nottingham, was formed. Masons from as far distant as Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Loughborough, Mansfield and Southwell often attended.

Lodges were formed in 1793 in Chesterfield, in 1610 in Buxton and in 1817, the Royal Sussex Lodge was founded in Repton. This meant that Freemasonry gradually became available to all parts of Derbyshire.

In 1789 Rt Hon. Thomas Boothby Parkyns was appointed the first Provincial Grand Master (PGM) of Derbyshire. He was an MP, a friend of King George III and had already been appointed PGM of Nottinghamshire. He in turn appointed his officers for a single meeting only. Tyrian Lodge provided the location for these early meetings. The first real meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge (PGL) was held in 1826 when the officers were appointed from all lodges in the Province. Later, Provincial Grand Masters were the Dukes of Devonshire, and they and their families provided inestimable support and encouragement, but much of the running of Provincial Masonry was left to their deputies.

The growth of Freemasonry in Derbyshire was erratic and by 1833 only four lodges survived with a total membership of 100. The first written record of a meeting of the PGL refers to one held in 1857. By 1863 membership in the county had grown to 400. In 1870 a significant step was taken with the establishment of the Provincial Charity Committee of Derbyshire to coordinate the charitable activities of the Province. In 1876 the PGL received its banner from the Marquis of Hartington, and the first Annual Masonic Calendar and Directory giving details of meetings and other information was published. In that same year the foundation stone for the Free Library and Museum was laid by Brother Bass, the donor, in full Masonic regalia, in conjunction with the PGM and his officers.

By 1885 the Tyrian Lodge had existed for 100 years and Masonry was well established in the Province. By 1910 there were 29 lodges and 1,614 brethren. In 1899 the charitable efforts of Derbyshire Masons were helping in the local community, with 25 guineas being donated to the County Fund. This was set up to provide relief for the wives and families of soldiers and sailors involved in the war in South Africa. In 1911 PGL, having given donations, was involved laying the foundation stone of the Buxton and District Cottage Hospital. In 1916 there is the first recorded cricket match, subsequently to be an annual event, between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire Masons.

After the war effort when numerous brethren had been involved with the various services, many new lodges were formed. By the centenary of the first meeting of PGL held in the ballroom of Chatsworth House in 1926 there were 41 lodges and 2,960 members in Derbyshire. For that year's charity festival over £25,000 was raised. In 1910 just over £4,000 was raised. The following year there was a parade of brethren in their full Masonic regalia to the All Saints Church in Derby in connection with the Hallowing of the Diocese and Cathedral and the presentation of a choir screen and altar provided by the brethren.

During the years of the Second World War, many lodge meetings were suspended due to petrol shortages, blackouts and pressures of the war effort. Meetings tended to be small gatherings, as many Derbyshire Masons saw service during this war. The Royal Masonic Hospital in London treated almost 3,000 servicemen.

After the war Masonry expanded as it had done after the first world war and by 1948 there were 50 lodges and 4,003 members. During this period the Provincial Grand Masters tended to be leaders in the literal sense. The next few years were dominated by the improvement of Masonic buildings throughout the county as lodges purchased and built new temples. In 1954 the new temple at Long Eaton was dedicated, followed in 1957 by Buxton and 1959 by Ripley. Further dedications of temples were held at Ashbourne in 1965, Alfreton in 1970 and the Spencer temple at Glossop in 1971.

The following year the Grange at Littleover replaced the old Gower Street temple. This is now the home of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Derbyshire and the meeting place for many Derby lodges. In that same year Derbyshire brethren raised over £274,000 for the charity festival.

Membership numbers have changed little over recent years although the number of lodges has increased to 80. This has enabled more members to become actively involved in their lodge activities and in 1988 a total of £1,344,663 was raised for the Charity festival. The larger number of lodges has made it possible for them to reflect the interests of their individual members more closely. Once lodges formed on a geographic basis had covered most of the county, additional ones were formed. This ensured that each one remained small enough for all members to take an active part if they wished to do so. In time lodges were founded based on the common interests of the members. These included members of the Round Table, ex-members of boys' clubs, and sporting activities such as fishing and golf. These 'themed' lodges meant that members had something in common which would help them to socialise and form friendships with others who shared their interests.

Within the Province of Derbyshire, there are: 80 craft lodges; 30 Royal Arch Chapters; 22 Mark Master Mason Lodges; 11 Royal Ark Mariners Lodges; 18 Chapters of the Rose Croix; 25 other side degrees.

The main offices of the Province are: Provincial Grand Master; Deputy Provincial Grand Master; Assistant Provincial Grand Masters; Provincial Grand Secretary; Provincial Grand Charity Steward; Provincial Grand Charity Secretary; Provincial Grand Almoner; and Librarian.
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