A very early abiding memory is while wearing short trousers, sliding down the staircase bannister at Willow Royd Masonic Hall, West Vale, Halifax, at Savile Lodge Children’s Christmas parties.
Dad had followed his dad Arthur into Savile Lodge. Arthur had died in his year of acting office as PrAGDC in 1948 shortly before I was born – my lack of a grandad was to be somewhat compensated by senior brethren of the Lodge whom I looked to as surrogate grandfathers. An early lesson learnt that still holds true is that there are old men of 30, and young men of 70 – it’s all a question of attitude.
Following positive encouragement from beyond either family or Savile Lodge, I went through the membership application process and was initiated into The SAVILE LODGE 1231 on Thursday, 6 August 1970 by my father, W Bro Jack Priestley, during his year of office as WM; I was subsequently to be passed on 4 February 1971; and raised on 6 January 1972.
With the exception of Inner Guard, but including Organist when I couldn’t play a note, I served in the progressive offices of the Lodge culminating in INSTALLATION as MASTER on 3 December,
1981, a ceremony attended by RW Bros Norman H Fowler PrGM, and Fred Crosland PPGM.
I was appointed DC of the Lodge in December 1984, a position to be held for 8 years, including acting as Installing DC on the occasions of his 2 visits to The SAVILE LODGE as Provincial Grand Master by RW Bro. J Trevor Broadley.
I was invested as Grand Pursuivant in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, in May 1990, fulfilling the duties as Inner Guard previously missed in Lodge. RW Bro David Welch PrGM observed that my stentorian voice was suited to the Royal Hall, Harrogate – the Pursuivant was not then provided with a microphone! During that year the Acting Officers would be involved in
consecrating a new Lodge at Otley, and the dedication of Masonic Halls at Southwood, Halifax, and The Allerton, Leeds.
Invested as Junior Grand Warden in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, in May 1994, being promoted to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in May 1995; from 1994 to 2000, I formally attended 59 Installation Ceremonies across the Province as the Personal Representative of the
Provincial Grand Master.
In April 1996, I was invested as Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in the United Grand Lodge of England at Great Queen Street, London, by the MW Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent.
Consequently was appointed as Secretary of the Halifax Grand Officers’ Panel in succession to W Bro. John Burnham upon his Installation as Assistant Provincial Grand Master. When W Bro. John was succeeded by W Bro. Robert Scorer, the Secretary’s remit was expanded to include Huddersfield and District, and Uppermill, the whole being designated as the Pennine Area of the Province. This appointment continued in total for some 10 years, latterly during the appointment of W Bro. Maurice Bendig as Assistant Provincial Grand Master. This period coincided with visiting VICTORY
LODGE, RYBURN LODGE and MEXBOROUGH LODGE, as Liaison Officer, services of 10 and 11 years to the latter two culminating in my election to Honorary Memberships.
I served on the Formation Committee of the WEST RIDING ACTING OFFICERS LODGE 9645, being inducted as its Founding Senior Warden at the Consecration and Installation Ceremonies at the Connaught Rooms, Bradford, in April 1997.
In 2013, I was inducted as Junior Warden of Mother Lodge, SAVILE; serving as Senior Warden for 2015, and being installed as Master of The SAVILE LODGE 1231 for a second term of office in December 2015. This ceremony was attended by W Bro. D Stuart Cummins PSGD, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, a courtesy returned as I had attended W Bro. Cummins’ installation as
Master of the LODGE of CHARITY 4105 in October 1994 as Personal Representative of the Provincial Grand Master. In December 2016, having installed my successor, I was invested as Secretary of the Lodge in which office I served for 2 years, moving to Charity Steward in December 2019, my current office.
A highlight of The Savile Lodge’s recent years, actively promoted by this third-generation member, was to be its Sesquicentenary, joyously celebrated in 2018. Maybe we can look forward to acknowledging Willow Royd’s century of use as a masonic hall come 2026.
With the encouragement of my father, I was to be exalted into the Royal Arch CHAPTER of
PROSPERITY 290, meeting at Greenhead, Huddersfield, on 20 December 1972. Service in the progressive offices culminated in my Installation as First Principal in March 1990. My later term of appointment as DC of the CHAPTER included the celebration of the Chapter’s Bi-Centenary in 1998 attended by MEComp The Lord Farnham, Pro First GP, and EComp. J Trevor Broadley,
Interwoven with my early Masonic career were my studies at the School of Architecture at the Manchester College of Art and Design, which would continue with periodic block releases until
1973. During one such interlude, while working in Huddersfield, I met Jenny: we became engaged in 1970 and were married in August 1971. Temporary residence in Manchester would cease in 1972 when we found we were to expect a baby in the October – we decided to return to Huddersfield to set up home. Emma duly arrived to be followed 2 years later by Hannah. The dynasty has since increased by 2 granddaughters and 2 grandsons, ages ranging from 9 to 21.
I secured employment in Halifax in 1973, finally qualifying in 1974 with election to corporate membership of the RIBA. I established my own practice in 1979, which would continue until my retirement in 2009.
As our children grew up, I found I could resume my interest in golf. I joined Elland Golf Club in
1978, was its Rabbits Captain for 1985, twice Captain in 1993 and 2002, and President for 2007-9. I was Chair of its Centenary Committee from 2003 to and through the celebrations in 2010 and served as Captain of Captains of the Halifax and District Past Captains Golfing Asociation for 2015.
Is there time for anything else? Reading, country walking, historic buildings and industrial
archaeology, DIY, selective gardening, rail and street transport (steam railways - full size and OO gauge – trams and trolleybuses), warships, travel at home and abroad…...