Who are we?
Lambton Lodge is one of the longest established in the Province of Durham, being consecrated at Chester-le-Street in April 1824. It was the brainchild of RWBro John George Lambton, First Earl of Durham and Provincial Grand Master for Durham from 1818 until his death in 1840. Lord Lambton was supported in forming the Lodge by his very good personal friend, the first Duke of Sussex, MWBro Prince Augustus Frederick, who was the first Grand Master of United Grand Lodge of England and the sixth son of King George III and his wife Queen Charlotte.
The First Duke of Sussex was Grand Master from 1813 until his death in 1843 and bestowed on members of Lambton Lodge the honour of wearing his Medal, a distinction awarded to just one other Lodge in the English Constitution, Lodge of Antiquity No 2. Lambton Lodge Members who hold this medal are entitled to wear it at all masonic occasions and the wearing of this prestigious medal is a privilege held in high regard. The members of the Lodge do everything in their power to protect it and its significance and honour for future generations of members.
Lambton Lodge is unusual in having changed the location of its meetings three times during its long life of almost 200 years. Having been consecrated in Chester-le-Street, the Lodge moved to Durham in 1900, but, during World War II, it met in Sunderland, moving back in 1945 to Durham its current home.
Those living in County Durham will no doubt be familiar with what is widely known as Penshaw Monument, a Parthenon-style edifice standing on the top of Penshaw hill, between Sunderland and Chester-le-Street. The correct name of the monument is “The Earl of Durham Monument”, for it was raised to the memory of John George Lambton, founder of Lambton Lodge. Lord Lambton was generally regarded as an enlightened industrialist, who made considerable efforts, for the beginning
of the 19th century, for the care of his workforces in the Lambton collieries, by providing housing and welfare provision and, following his death the Monument on Penshaw Hill was built in his memory by public and Masonic subscription. Lord Lambton died in 1840 and his friend and Mentor, the First Duke of Sussex lived only until 1843, a year before The Earl of Durham Monument could be started. Its Foundation Stone was laid in 1844, by the succeeding Grand Master, the Second Earl of Zetland.
In 1844, The Grand Master of United Grand Lodge of England, Lord Zetland, accompanied by Officers of Grand Lodge, travelled to Penshaw, presumably mainly by train, as a service from London to County Durham was operating by that date. A meeting of United Grand Lodge was opened in a marquee at the foot of Penshaw Hill, following which, the Masons present, in full Masonic regalia, marched up Penshaw Hill and laid the Foundation Stone of the Monument with full Masonic ceremony and the Monument was opened some months later.
What we do
Because the Lodge usually meets only four times each year, the members look forward with great anticipation to meeting their friends and performing the rituals of Masonic ceremonies, which are delivered with enormous pride and great effort to make a lasting impression on those entering Freemasonry. For a number of years, the membership has stood at around 50 Brethren, several of whom have been Masons for over 50 years and one will celebrate 70 years’ membership in 2023.
Apart from a short period, during the Covid19 pandemic, Lambton Lodge has, for approximately the past 25 years, adhered to a regular programme of ceremonies, with new members being admitted in March, for the First Degree in Freemasonry. They are passed to the Second Degree in May and raised as Master Masons in October. This has been a most successful policy, because the various ceremonies are taken in the correct order and everyone knows what is coming next. The meeting in November is the Installation Meeting, when a new Master is installed to hold Office for the following 12 months.
The foregoing possibly sounds very formal, but, in fact, there is no unnecessary formality, either in the Lodge Room or at Dinner after each meeting, where the emphasis is on a happy social discourse between members and their guests. Formal toasts are kept to a minimum and lengthy responses are frowned upon. In keeping with Masonic tradition, there is always a toast to The King and to the Grand Master. For almost 200 years, Lambton Lodge has set great store by the style and quality of the Dinner held after every meeting, with members and guests dressed in dinner jackets. The dinner after the Installation Meeting replicates, as nearly as possible, the menu of the banquet after the consecration of the Lodge, in 1824: one cannot serve real turtle soup these days!
Whilst attendance at Lodge Meetings is open to all Freemasons, attendance at the Festive Board (Dinner after meetings) is possible only by invitation from a member of the Lodge.
In addition to its formal meetings, Lambton Lodge has a social calendar with an annual Cocktail Party and Luncheon, for members, their spouses and partners, along with widows of former Lodge members. There are also celebrations at various times for various reasons, to which families and friends are invited.
Why join us?
Joining any organisation brings responsibilities and obligations and before considering joining Lambton Lodge, or any other Masonic Lodge, prospective candidates must ensure that the commitment they are about to make is not inconsistent with others in their life, particularly those to their family and to their employment. Equally, Lambton Lodge does not wish to invest time and effort, the work of over a year, in initiating, passing and raising to the rank of Master Mason, a Brother who is subsequently unable or unwilling to contribute conscientiously to the life of the Lodge for a number of decades into the future. Over almost two centuries, there have been some remarkable examples of dedication and commitment to Lambton Lodge.
Meeting just four times each year, Lambton Lodge is perhaps less demanding of its members than many Lodges and there is a great deal to be gained from membership of the Lodge and Freemasonry as a whole, an institution that has stood the test of ages, for over 300 years in its present form. Becoming a member of Lambton Lodge immediately introduces a new member to a new circle of friends, who come from a very varied selection of backgrounds, and attending Lodge meetings, in a calm relaxed atmosphere, is an antidote to many of the daily pressures everyone experiences in life. Once the status of Master Mason is achieved, usually at Lambton after seven months of membership, a Brother is free to visit other Lodges, both within the Province of Durham and throughout the Masonic world.
Becoming a Freemason makes one a member of a worldwide institution. United Grand Lodge of England has branches in most areas of what used to be the British Empire. In Hong Kong, for example, there are 18 English Constitution Lodges, as well as seven and six connected to the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland respectively, all meeting at Kennedy Road, Hong Kong Island. Throughout the world, there is Masonic activity formally approved of by United Grand Lodge of England. Every state in the United States of America has its own sovereign Grand Lodge and many famous Americans are or have been Masons.
Through membership of Masonic Lodges, Brethren have a vehicle for their own development, with the possibility of stretching and honing their own skills and confidence through the delivery of passages of the rituals, which are given from memory: the members of Lambton Lodge set high standards in this area of Masonic membership and the ceremonies are almost always happy and joyous occasions. Although high standards are expected, a light-hearted view is taken of the odd lapse of memory!
As newer members become more experienced, they often find that there is another area in which they wish to contribute, perhaps in the operation of Masonic charities, both locally and nationally, or in the administration of Masonry itself, either at individual Lodge level, or regionally or nationally. Given the caveat expressed in the first paragraph of this section, there are endless possibilities, each with its own avenues to introduce members to a new circle of friends and acquaintances and possibilities for rewarding activity. These outlets for personal endeavour are often a lifesaver in certain circumstances, such as when a Brother in the early months or years of retirement loses a spouse or partner of long standing.
In joining a Masonic Lodge in England, a Brother automatically becomes a member of The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), one of the largest grant-making charities in the United Kingdom, which is funded entirely through the generosity of Freemasons and their families. You do not see Freemasons on street corners shaking tins! The MCF builds better lives by enabling opportunity, advancing healthcare and education, as well as promoting independence. The MCF is also dedicated to supporting Freemasons through emergencies and difficulties they might face in life, by assisting, when necessary, with the education of children, timely healthcare provision and retirement living.
Parking is on the street outside the building, and it can on occasions be busy but it is free and generally available.
The approach is level off the pavement.
Wide wheelchair accessible doors.
The Hall is also equipped with a defibrillator and has Emergency exits across all floors of the building.
The hall is accessible for those with limited mobility with a combination of lift and stair lifts.
Many of our meeting places were built before disabilities were fully considered; many have protected status making major adaptations difficult. But Freemasons in themselves will adapt and assist Brethren, and visitors, to fully participate and enjoy the facilities.
The Hall is equipped with Male/female and disabled toilet facilities.
A grand entrance leads into a hallway which runs through the heart of the building past the grand staircase to the great hall. The Hall itself has a modern bar, fully functioning commercial Kitchen, a three-tier garden ideal for summer socials and functions as well as a first-floor committee room and Temple room to seat 100.
There is lift and stair lifts in the building.