Mark Lodge 100 Years
Howe Mark Lodge is affectionately named throughout the Province of Warwickshire as ‘The House of Lords’ and a look at a list of the Past Masters in 1950 will show why, for most senior Masons in Birmingham who were Advanced into the Degree inevitably chose Howe Mark. Often two or three years would elapse without a candidate. I was only accepted upon the strong recommendation of R.W; Bro. Leslie Seymour who insisted that the Lodge needed younger blood.
Of the list of Past Masters in 1950, eight out of 22 were already Grand Officers, five more subsequently gained that distinction. In addition the Junior Overseer, Brc. Alan Holden who became Asst. Prov. G. Master (Craft) also became a Grand Officer as did a
brother not then in office, Bro. A. M. Hendry. Shortly before he died the late W. Bro. Leslie Burnett remarked to me that a paper
giving details of Past Master of Howe Mark Lodge would make very interesting reading. I immediately offered to collaborate with him but sadly he died before any progress could be made. ‘However I do have quite strong recollections of those Past Masters
who were members of the Lodge when I was Advanced in 1954, and I think some will still be remembered by members present today.
I now reproduce without further comment the address by W. Bro. Leslie Biddle.One Hundred Years
A hundred years may seem a very short time in the long history of Freemasonry, but the past hundred years has made fundamental changes in the position of the Mark Degree. One hundred years ago there was no. Grand Mark Lodge, no Provincial Grand Mark Lodge, and no standardized ritual of the Degree. Scattered over England, Scotland and Ireland-were Lodges and Chapters which claimed the right, by immemorial custom, to confer the degrees of Mark Mason and Mark Master according to rituals of their own which differed widely in form and intention, and also the further right to constitute other Lodges which could in turn confer the same degrees.
In August, 1650, certain enthusiastic Brethren in the then newly created borough of Birmingham, being engaged in the formation of a new Craft Lodge, and feeling that their new Lodge should have the power and authority to confer the Mark Degrees upon their members, applied to the Newstead (Craft) Lodge No. 55. of Nottingham, for the constitution of a Lodge of Mark Masons in Birmingham. The Newstead Lodge readily acceded to this request andL on’ 15th October 1850, sent a deputation of twelve Brethren to Birmingham, where they advanced fourteen candidates into the Mark degree and constituted them into a Lodge of Mark Master Masons.
The Lodge was temporarily placed under the superintendence of the St. Paul’s Lodge,
The request was acceded to and a deputation from Howe appointed to meet the request on such a day as they may appoint. During the next 5 years it would seem that many members of the now dormant Howe Mark Lodge joined the new Bedford Mark but they obviously must have worked behind the scenes for they came together again at a meeting on 29th January 1878 when the Prov. G. Master for Warwickshire and Staffordshire, R.W. The Rev. Isaac Bedford accepted office as Master and the Lodge was reconstituted under a Warrant from Grand Lodge its previous Warrant having been issued by Newstead Lodge. Thus having been in existence since 1850 our unbroken working dates from 1878 and to celebrate a centenary from the latter date would make us junior to our daughter lodges Athol and Bedford.
A Centenary of our consecration was celebrated in 1950 and I would like to refer to the booklet which was printed for that occasion
The Toast List was
The King (King George VI) & Mark Masonry
The M.W. The Grand Master Brig. Gen. W.H.V. Darrell
The R.W. Dep G. Master Rev. Canon Halsey
The R.W. Prov. G. Master Percy H. Jackson
The Dep. Pro-v. G. Master Bro. D.G. Price
The W.M. W. Bro. C.H. Blackford
The Newstead Mark Lodge Time Immemorial
The Tylers’ Toast
The second page states “We commemorate the visit to the Town of Birmingham on 15th October, 1850 of a deputation from the Newstead Lodge of Mark Masters, Nottingham, there then follows the names of the deputation further followed by a list of the brethren
who were Advanced to the Degree of Mark Master Mason and who were constituted a Lodge of Mark Master Masons now known as The Howe Lodge of Mark Master Masons, Time Immemorial.
The middle pages of the booklet contain an address entitled ‘100 years’ by the late W. Bro. Leslie Biddle which is later reproduced verbatim.
Upon the issue of the Warrant for the Howe Lodge. No.857, the Mark Lodge was handed over to that Lodge, which continued In manage its affairs for the next twenty years.
For the next three years the Brethren were very busy with the organization of the new Craft Lodge, and the first meeting of the Mark Lodge was therefore not held until February 1854. The union with the Howe Lodge No. 857 was affirmed and the authority of that Lodge recognized in its management. The Warrant which had been granted by the Newstead Lodge was altered by erasure and interlineation to serve as the Warrant for “The Howe Mark Masters Lodge, No.857,U as it was called. Thee position of the Mark Lodge as an adjunct of the Craft Lodge is clearly illustrated by the fact that all candidates for the Mark Degree were balloted for in the Howe (Craft) Lodge, No. 857 to whom their fees were also paid. There was no annual subscription of any kind, and the ordinary running expenses of the Mark Lodge were covered by the advancement fees.
The Mark Lodge proved all immediate success and candidates came forward from Craft Lodges throughout the Midlands. The Lodge also gave Its support to the formation of other Mark Lodges, including the Shakespeare (now No 40); the Bedford (now No. 115),
and the Athol (now No. 174). It actually granted a warrant of Constitution to the Athol Mark Lodge on the 16th June 1862.
In 1863, in consequence of the revision of the numbers of the Craft Lodges, the Howe Lodge received the new number of 587, and the Mark Lodge accordingly adopted the title of the Howe Mark Masters Lodge. No. 587.
In consequence of the refusal of the Grand Lodge of England to recognize the Mark Degree many of the Mark Lodges combined, in 1857, to form a Grand Mark Lodge with Lord Leigh, the Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire as the first Grand Mark Master. After a number of discussions over more than ten years, the Howe Mark Lodge in 1868 appointed a deputation to wait upon the Howe (Craft) Lodge to obtain approval to the affiliation of the Mark Lodge to thetGrand Mark Lodge. The Craft Lodge appears to have been too busy to see the deputation and there was no further meeting of the Howe Mårk LOdge until March. 1873, when the members passed a formal resolution to affiliate with Grand Mark Lodge. The Worshipful Master informed thee Craft Lodge of this decision and received a reply to the effect that the Mark Lodge only existed to serve the needs of the Craft Lodge and any thought of a separate existence was intolerable. The Mark Lodge was the property of the Craft Lodge and had no power to discuss anything, but only to advance Brethren into the Mark Degree. This snub dealt the Mark Lodge a deathblow and the meeting of April 1873, at which this answer was read is memorable as the last meeting of the Howe Mark Lodge, No. 587.
During the next five years the former members of the Lodge retained their loyalty and affection for their old Lodge and Worked steadily to achieve its revival. At length, on 29th January 1878, a meeting of the Provincial Grand Mark Lodge was held at which the Howe Mark Lodge was re-constituted as a Time Immemorial Lodge under the Grand Mark Lodge. R.W.Bro. Isaac Hawker Bedford, a founder of the Lodge and Provincial Grand Master in the Mark Degree for Staffordshire and Warwickshire, became the first Worshipful Master under the new warrant. So, after perishing in the flames of fraternal strife the Howe Mark Lodge, Time Immemorial, rose like a phoenix from the ashes of its former self, reconstituted and rejuvenated, and took its rightful place at the head of the Province where we trust, it will ever remain.