is the oldest surviving Freemasons Lodge in the City of York.
Our Warrant is dated 7th July 1777, issued by the Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire, and is signed by Sir Thomas Tancred Bart, who was the Provincial Grand Master ‘for the County of York’.
The Lodge was originally established under the name of Union Lodge, with the first meeting being held at 9.00pm at Lockwood’s Coffee House on Brigate in York.
The name of the Lodge was later changed to York Lodge in Feb 1870.
The Lodge’s founder members were :-
Joseph JONES, the first Worshipful Master, who was a Plane maker
Thomas DENTON the first Senior Warden, who was a Bookseller
John STEPHENSON the first Junior Warden, who was a Mariner
William THOMPSON the first Secretary, who was a Whip Maker
John PRESTON a Musical Instrument Maker
William WALKER a Farmer and John STOW, a Mariner.
At the first meeting of the Lodge, a further 4 members were initiated, Alexander SMITH, Thomas RICHARDSON, George LAWTON, and Christopher LOCKWOOD, being the proprietor of Lockwood’s Coffee House.
Early Meeting Places :- In its early years the Lodge had no permanent meeting place, and had to change its meeting venues on a number of occasions until its current permanent home was established at Duncombe Place Masonic Hall in 1863, where it has been meeting ever since.
During its long history its various meeting places, all in York were :-
1777-1786 Lockwood’s Coffee House, Brigate 1786-1789 Theatre Coffee House, Lop Lane (Now Duncombe Place) 1789-1790 Private House of Bro. Michael Coultate 1790-1821 Golden Lion, Thursday Market 1821-1824 Provincial Grand Lodge Room, Blake Street (Now Duncombe Place) 1824-1838 Falcon Hotel, Micklegate 1838-1842 York Hotel, St Helen’s Square 1842-1848 Elephant & Castle, Skeldergate 1848-1854 Merchants Hall, Fossgate 1854-1862 Old Masonic Hall, Blake Street (Now Duncombe Place) 1862-1863 Poor Law Board Room, Museum Street 1863- Masonic Hall, Duncombe Place (Formerly Blake Street)
The Lodge has had the privilege over the years of sponsoring a number of new “daughter lodges” as follows :-
Lodge of St Germain 566 Selby Established 1850 Camalodunum Lodge 660 Malton Established 1856 Meridian Lodge 9597 York Established 1996
Change of Name
In January 1870 a Memorial was sent to the Grand Master to request a change of name of the Lodge from “Union” to “York”, with the request being supported by a number of arguments, amongst which included :-
“That it should be more closely connected with that of our Ancient City, and with the Masonic glory with which it is associated”.
“The importance of York, as having a prominent place in the “History of English Freemasonry”: The Charges and Regulations it has formed under the title of the “York Constitutions”; and the present appellation still given to those working under them, of “Ancient York Mason”, entitle us to your consideration to make the required change”.
The Grand Master, the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Zetland was pleased to accede to the request on the 7th February 1870, and first meeting held under the new name was held on the 21st February 1870.
Lodge Number changes In the early years of Freemasonry, the United Grand Lodge of England often undertook “closing up” of lodge numbers, to reflect the numerous changes in lodges, and over the years the lodge has had 7 numbers, the last change being made in 1863, prior to the change of name from Union Lodge to York Lodge in 1870, so “York Lodge” has only ever had the number 236.
On the occasion of the Lodge’s Centenary celebrations in 1877, a warrant was received
The Worshipful Master at that time was Bro. William Cowling, and he was supported by The Earl of Zetland, the Provincial Grand Master, and W.Bro. T.W. Tew, Deputy Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire West Riding.
In view of the numbers of members & visitors attending, the Banquet was held in the De Grey Rooms in St Leonard’s place instead of the Lodge Banqueting Room.
The previous day a Silver Loving Cup was presented to the Lodge, with 100 members of the Lodge having subscribed to its purchase, and their names were engraved on the Cup. The Cup is still a proud possession of the Lodge, and is used at the Installation Banquet of each newly installed Master to this day.
BiCentinery On the occasion of the Lodges Bi-Centenary celebrations in 1977, a further warrant was received, signed by H.R.H. the Duke of Kent authorising members of the Lodge to wear a Commemorative bar on the ribbon of the Centenary Jewel.
The Worshipful Master at the time was Bro. Robert Leslie Wood, who completed a work entitled “York Lodge No. 236 – The Bi-Centennial History, 1777 – 1977” with the assistance of W.Bro. Will Read of Wakefield, a Past Provincial Grand Warden. It is from this work that the bulk of the preceding history and other information has been based.
Past Masonic Processions through York
In the early 19th century a number of processions took place through the streets of York in full or partial Masonic dress.
Lord Nelson. On 16th December 1805, the Master of the Lodge, John Seller, proposed a public procession should take place on the date of the internment of Lord Nelson,“a departed Brother and National Hero”.
Bro. The Reverend J Parker, Grand Chaplain was invited to preach a suitable sermon at the Parish Church of St Helens following the procession.
A black silk banner, as above, was carried in the procession, and now hangs in the Banqueting Room.
Peace – 1814. The Government appointed 7th July 1814 as a Day of Thanksgiving for the return of Peace following the Napoleonic War. On this day the Lodge held a public procession, again to the Parish Church of St Helens, where again Bro. The Reverend J Parker, Grand Chaplain was invited to preach a suitable sermon.
Princess Charlotte of Wales. One of the largest processions in which the Lodge took part was made on the 19th November 1817, by torch-light to St Michael’s Church, Spurriergate, on the day of the interment of Princess Charlotte of Wales.
Long serving Tylers :-
Over the years the Lodge has had two members who have both served over 30 years as Tyler.
Bro. T Wright undertook this role for 32 years from 1786 to 1818. At the meeting held 1st June 1818, he was presented with a Tobacco Box made of Yew-tree and silver, and inscribed “A.D. 1818. A.L. 5818.From the Union Lodge of York to Bro. T. Wright. A token of high respect for his having discharged, during 32 years, the duties of Tyler with Masonic exactness and uniform satisfaction”.
Bro. S E Howe undertook the role for 41 years from 1950 until his death in 1991. Bro. Howe also held the position of Provincial Grand Tyler for many years. In memory of his achievement a brass plaque was affixed to the door of the Tylers room, and is inscribed as follows :-
“To the memory of Bro. Stanley Ernest Howe, PPSGD Tyler Initiated into York Lodge No. 236 19th April 1948 Elected Tyler of York Lodge No. 236 17th April 1950 Served as Tyler for over 40 years until his Death on 16th November 1991 Remembered with affection by all the Members of the Craft.”