History of Phoenix Lodge No. 368
The Phoenix, according to Ancient Greek mythology, is a bird that is reborn after death, rising from its own ashes. Unsurprisingly it has come to represent resurrection and rebirth, and a number of Lodges have borne the name ‘Phoenix’. Kenneth Mackenzie’s Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia suggests it is named after Enoch or Phenoch, which means ‘initiation’. Enoch’s virtue was such that he was transported directly to heaven without undergoing the fate of other mortals.
On 12 February 1817 a group of disenchanted Masons from the Rodney Lodge No. 451 met at the Paragon Inn on Chariot Street in Kingston-Upon-Hull. The Rodney Lodge had fallen into financial troubles and so an emergency meeting had been called to discuss the matter. At this meeting it was motioned by the members who were solvent trustees and shareholders in the property that the remaining Rodney members should not have a vote and simply should support any decision the shareholders made ‘unconditionally’. Several Rodney brethren felt that their exclusion from any decision making was un-masonic and chose to resign from the Rodney Lodge and form a new Lodge.
The brethren met again to consolidate their actions on 20 February at the American Tavern, down Lowgate. The meeting was chaired by Bro. Joseph Lister, formerly of the Rodney Lodge, and an exciseman by profession. It was resolved by the assembled Brethren that Bro. Henry Levett, a 25 year old merchant would stand as the Primus Master. Whilst 27 year old Bro Henry Hall, a Customs Clerk, was elected as the Founding Senior Warden, and Bro. Richard George Terry, a 29 year old ship-owner was elected to the position of Founding Junior Warden. Their new Lodge would be one that would figuratively ‘rise from the ashes of the old’, and so the brethren settled on the apt name of the ‘Phoenix Lodge’. Viewing the records the thirteen founders ranged in age from 25 to 36, they may have been young, but were professional working men, who were also passionate about their masonry enough to want to found a new lodge.
Enquiries were made to the Grand Secretary, to arrange the purchase of the 1773 Warrant, the 1779 Royal Arch and Knights Templar constitutions and the jewels of the dormant Apollo Lodge No. 368 in York which had by 1817 become obsolete. Bro. Henry Levett, one of the chief masterminds behind Phoenix Lodge, travelled to York to purchase them. Whilst the Brethren petitioned Grand Lodge with regard to the founding of the Phoenix Lodge they also gained the approval and support of Lawrence Lord Dundas, the future 1st Earl of Zetland, the new Provincial Grand Master of the newly formed Province of Yorkshire North and East Ridings.
The consecration was at the Yorkshire Arms Tavern, No. 16, Bishop Lane, adjacent to the High Street. On Monday 30 June 1817, towards the end of the ‘Age of Enlightenment’ and echoed the sentiments of many of their day. The Tavern has long since been lost to history, the site is now occupied by the Estate Agents Larrard’s whose main entrance is on Lowgate. Within the tavern the Lodge had temporary use of a single room, which was often a back room or attic. The Brethren conducted the lodge business and dined at the same table. The division of labour and the dining into separate rooms was a Victorian innovation. However, no further beverages were allowed to be brought into the Lodge once it had been tyled. The layout generally consisted of a long table in the centre of a room, which could seat about eight or more people on chairs placed around it. The Senior Warden sat at the West end, the Junior Warden at the long side in the South and the Master at the East end of the table, in a large armchair. The working tools and globes were placed in the centre of the table, and drinks were set out. It was time when hats were worn indoors, even during meals. It was only in the presence of a social superior that the hat was removed, which is why the Master wore a hat as a symbol of his status. Tracing boards had yet to come into being. Chalk and charcoal were used to draw lines and symbols on the floor. The new initiates had to clean it up after the meeting with a mop and bucket.
The Brethren were fully committed to the ideals of the Enlightenment practised in their Lodges calling for “liberty, fraternity and equality”. The first regular meeting took place on 21 July 1817 at the slightly smaller location of 14 High Street, Kingston-Upon-Hull. This meeting saw nine members in attendance along with thirteen visitors, a very good number considering that workings were done around a table that could seat about a dozen in a small tavern room.
The first anniversary of the formation of the Phoenix Lodge was held on 30 June 1818 at the Dog and Duck Tavern in Scale Lane thanks to the landlord, Bro. Deans, at a total cost of 10/6d, which is approximately £22 in today’s currency. At this celebration eighteen members were present along with ten visitors.
Singing in regular lodges was a common practice, and whilst many songs were jovial drinking songs, not all the songs were drinking songs. Many of the songs praised the craft and expressed loyalty to the state and in particular the monarch and some were simply popular folk songs of the time. ‘The Boy of Biscay’ and ‘Paddy Carey’ were sung at the following year’s anniversary dinner on 30 June 1819, which had forty brethren in attendance as noted in the minutes taken at the festive board. Whilst ‘come ye masons hither bring’, ‘let wine and mirth and song prevail’, and ‘stewards song’ are examples of masonic songs sung according the Lodge minutes. Phoenix dinners had gained a reputation in the Province for not being for the faint hearted and generally ran from 3pm to midnight. At its Installations there were twenty-nine toasts and twenty-two songs which resulted in more than a few Brethren staggering home through the cobbled streets in the early hours of the morning. Amongst the toasts at the dinner one Henry Levett, the primus master stated “May the fire of the Phoenix Lodge blaze till the whole Masonic world is dazzled with its splendour”. Another raised a glass to their ‘wives and sweethearts’, and was followed by a brother quipping the hope that they should never meet.
In 1820 King George III died, and the Prince Regent, ascended the throne as George IV. On the occasion of the proclamation of the new King, the Phoenix Lodge, along with other masonic lodges marched with the Mayor of Hull and other civic dignitaries in procession. A dinner followed the occasion which was well received and the toasting and masonic singing in particular were noted as being very enjoyable and highlights of the occasion.
According to the Lodge minutes 14 High Street was deemed too ‘dangerous’ by 1827 and so the Phoenix brethren moved their meetings to the Freemasons Hall in Mytongate. Had 14 High Street been condemned? Were the brethren been targeted by marauding footpads? Were brethren pestered by too many wenches? Or worse… was the beer was off? Unfortunately what was meant by ‘dangerous’ was not expanded upon in the minute books. However, 14 High Street is not included in Pigot’s Directory of 1829, which would suggest that the building was now unoccupied.
The very first meeting in their new premises was interrupted and adjourned as news reached the Brethren that Bro. Henry Blundell’s house was on fire as noted in the Lodge minutes. The members were summoned to help tackle the blaze as during this period there no municipal fire service in the area and any assistance in tackling a fire was done by friends and neighbours. The Lodge was lowered and closed in due and ancient form, and once the brethren had assisted in extinguishing the fire they returned to the Lodge, and resumed the labour. Henry Blundell (1789 – 1865) is perhaps the most renowned of the original Phoenix of Hull’s members, and served as its Master in 1827. He is still remembered today as a colour manufacturer, for his civic work and as a social reformer within the City. Blundell’s factory occupied the corner of Spring Bank and Beverley Road. The site is still known by many locals as ‘Blundell’s Corner’.
The Phoenix Lodge struggled financially in the early 1830s, and was in considerable debt, most of which was owed to W.Bro. Henry Levett. Tragedy further struck when on 6 April 1831 W.Bro. Henry Hall the Worshipful Master was found dead in bed. He had been the Founding Senior Warden, and Master four times during the Lodges short history, and his death was a great loss to the Lodge and masonry.
Phoenix finally closed in 1834; the majority of the Brethren moved to Humber Lodge No. 57 and took with them the minute books and few remaining documents, where they have remained for almost two hundred years.
The memory of the Phoenix Lodge rose again when in 1919 Kingston Lodge 1010 was presented with an antique Sheraton ballot box dated 1780 which had belonged to the late Phoenix Lodge. This last remaining piece of movable lodge furnishing that had belonged to the Lodge remained in the possession of Kingston Lodge until 1941 when during the Blitz it was consumed in fire.
|Phoenix Lodge No. 368Founding Brethren in 1817|
|John Duncan Dawson||33||Currier and Leather Seller|
|Nicholas Kelly||36||Artist and Comedian|
|Henry Hall||27||Clerk to Customs House|
|William Lagon Page||27||Notary Public|
|Thomas Turner||31||Merchant’s Clerk|
|Richard George Terry||29||Ship Owner|
|William Dawson||30||Maker of Ink|
|John Tall||27||Merchant’s Clerk|
|Joseph Samuel Howard||29||Doctor of Medicine|
|Joseph Lister||31||Excise Port Gauger|
|William Harland Ford||29||Merchant|
|John Frederick Terry||26||Ship Owner|
On the obverse central to the design is a relief depiction of a beehive framed on each side by relief figures of a seated female. The woman on the right rests on tiered steps and is holding a branch in relief in her right hand. The woman on the left is holding a cornucopia with fruit falling onto the floor. Encircling this is a relief border mounted with relief text reading ‘PLENTY & PEACE ARE THE FRUITS OF INDUSTRY & SUBORDINATION’. On the reverse central to the design are engraved tiered steps surmounted by a chequered pavement on which sits a plinth surmounted by a ball, all engraved. In front of the plinth is an engraved shovel. Surrounding the plinth are three engraved columns. On the left is an Ionic column and on the right is another Ionic column behind a Corinthian column. An engraved crow bar rests against the column on the left and an engraved pick rests against the Corinthian column on the right. Surmounting the columns is an engraved arch with a space for a key stone, from which rays are depicted. This is mounted by engraved text reading ‘HOLINESS TO THE LORD’. To the left of this central design is a depiction of an engraved Pythagorean star (five pointed). To the right is a crescent moon surrounded by seven stars. Encircling above the arch is engraved text reading ‘PHOENIX No. 368’.