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Welcome to Lodge 32

St. George's Lodge of Harmony No. 32 is one of the oldest Masonic lodges in the world
It has met in Liverpool, England, continually since 1755
We hope to introduce you to our history and traditions

The background image is our "tracing cloth" Explore it in more detail

About Freemasonry

Dining table
The 32 dining table before dinner

Freemasonry is a fascinating combination of solemn ritual, moral aspiration and good fun. It has an ancient history, based upon the practices of medieval stonemasons but filtered through the inquiring minds of the Age of Enlightenment into language and symbols which portray man's search for what is good and truthful.

Our lodge, born only a short time after the establishment of 'modern' Freemasonry, has practised its Freemasonry through more than two and a half centuries, without interruption, here in Liverpool. We therefore do have more than a little antique tradition, which brings us pleasure and attracts people to want to visit us, but we are nevertheless a modern group of men, young and old, from a spread of professions, devoted to maintaining our traditions, putting Freemasonry into practice (particularly by charity) and, above all, by having a very good time in each other's company.

We invite you to peruse this website, where we will try to depict for you those elements of Lodge 32 of which we are supremely proud, and indeed in which you may yourself be interested. Welcome, and enjoy!

Origin of the Lodge

Our Worshipful Master's chair
Our Worshipful Master's chair

St George's Lodge of Harmony No 32 (its number on the register of The United Grand Lodge of England) has had an extraordinary history. From probably quite humble beginnings it rose, in the nineteenth century in particular, to become one of the most eminent lodges in the country. Its members have included merchants, lawyers, landowners, farmers, peers, politicians, academics, doctors and more recently also young men involved in the modern cyber-world and its associated industries.

It has met (and was founded) in public houses, Liverpool's grandest hotels and clubs, and on one memorable occasion, a fish and chip shop! (Our normal meeting place caught fire half-way through our meeting and Harry Ramsden's took us in!) Its members have been involved in all the historic rough-and-tumble commerce of a major port, and at one point in the American Civil War.

In the year of our foundation, 1755, Liverpool was a small port growing fast. Established by Royal charter in 1207, and blessed with a tidal, sheltered and deep 'Pool' just off the Irish Sea, the location developed gradually over the ensuing centuries until it was internationally important by the eighteenth century in which time the population had increased from its medieval figure of 6,000 to 77,000.

Castle Ditch in 1756
Castle Ditch in 1756

So by 1755, Liverpool was still, in shape and size, very much a medieval town with narrow streets and overhanging houses with narrow passages, much squalor and overcrowding; but it was here, in the Bird in Hand tavern, Castle Ditch - now James Street, the site of the moat of the old castle - that Lodge 32 was born on 27th December.

Like many lodges of our antiquity, we have changed our meeting place many times over the years, taking with us our own unique furniture, in particular our dining table made up of a number of large mahogany leaves fixed to a framework, round which we dine. The full extent of the table determines the finite number of those who can dine. We dine by candle-light, and unusually for a present-day lodge, we dine in our regalia. We have met in the heart of the city and at some distance outside it, in a dozen locations, but at present our home is the Adelphi Hotel on Lime Street, whose splendid public rooms are appropriate to the antiquity and tradition of our history and heritage.

After Our Work, We Dine!

Toast card
A wine-stained 32 toast card from the Victorian era - still in use today

Lodges regard the ritual they perform in their lodge rooms as 'work'. It certainly calls upon the energies, and memories, of the members and their participation in the making and advancing of candidates through their 'degrees'. The ceremonies are serious and meaningful as well as enjoyable and fulfilling for all involved.

But after 'work', the lodge members will close their lodge, put down their tools and relax, usually at a substantial dinner where fun and good fellowship are shared, and the events of the evening celebrated.

And so it is in 32, except that our traditions blur the distinction between 'labour' and 'refreshment', because in common with a very small number of ancient lodges, we do not close the lodge when we go to dinner and we dine in our regalia, closing the lodge round the candle-lit dinner table only when the evening is ended.

The earliest lodges met in tavern rooms (as did 32 – see our history section) and they did their work around the same table upon which they would later dine, and it is no doubt from this tradition that our present practice has come down to us. The officers of the lodge sit around our single table, in the same positions as they do in the lodge room, with the Master at its head, and once the dinner is underway, the brethren are free to take 'the pleasure of wine' with others present, which they do by calling (loudly!) upon the brother concerned wherever he is situated around the table, and raising their glass to him. This can be noisy, but it's great fun.

Candles
In 32 we dine by candle light

There follow formal toasts (again rather different from the usual Masonic toast list) and with them come songs, sung by brethren chosen more or less at random, accompanied by our organist (always known simply as 'Brother Pipes') on his portable harmonium, all of which have rousing choruses with which everyone joins-in. Instead of applause at particularly happy moments (which is frowned on as it is in the House of Commons!) each brother has a traditional glass with particularly strong characteristics called a 'firing glass' which he bangs on the table in celebration. While all this is going on, of course, good food and wine are enjoyed, and the port circulates.

When we have finished dinner, we briefly return to calm formality while the lodge is called to order (by brethren withdrawing three feet from the table) and the lodge is ceremonially closed.

For many Masons, and of course all our members, dining at 32 is like glimpsing the past through the candle light, and the centuries of tradition which make up this order of which we are all so proud.

So what is Freemasonry?

Master Mason's apron
The apron of a Master Mason

Because Freemasonry has such ancient origins and is unique in its nature, it is not easy to explain it briefly. It is in essence, however, an association whose 'modern' origins lie in an era (the awakening of the 'Enlightenment' in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries) when thinking men turned to seeking the 'truth' about their own lives and how they should rightly behave towards others.

It is therefore essentially, and undeniably, a moral organisation, which developed its thoughts into ritual form; a series of dramas enacted in our lodges, to help the ordinary man to inquire into the mysteries of life.

Masonry today does not have the same philosophical intensity as in the past; it has evolved with the ages, but the thoughtfulness (and beauty) of our ritual, almost entirely unchanged through time, still forms the first element in our meetings as we bring new candidates into our lodges solemnly and ceremonially. And later, when that is done, they also join in the friendship, celebration, sense of tradition and sheer fun at dinner, which being a member of a lodge, particularly one as old as ours, inevitably encourages.

The existence of modern Masonry is transparent and open and we are encouraged to acknowledge membership.

So, if you wish to learn in more detail what we are in essence, read on... though nothing can replace the actual experience of membership...

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Lodge 32 can be contacted by e-mailing [email protected]