Duns masonic lodge one of oldest in world

As Lodge Dunse No 23 fast approaches the 250th Anniversary of the granting of its Charter of Confirmation (February 1761), an open invitation is being extended to anyone interested to join in the celebrations.

Never before to their knowledge has Lodge Dunse No. 23, one of the oldest Lodges in the world, opened its doors in this manner and invited in the general public.

Current Master of the Lodge Davie Scott extends an open invitation to anyone who may be interested in attending, to join them at 7.30pm in the Lodge in Newtown Street, Duns, on Wednesday, January 26.

Perhaps perceived for over two and a half centuries as a ‘Secret Society’, the aim is to openly cement Lodge Dunse No. 23 as an integral part of the local community.

Davie said: “Our sincere thanks are conveyed to Dunse History Society for permitting us to present our Lodge and our membership to the outside world in regular fashion at their January meeting.

“People who come along who are not currently Freemasons, and we hope that there are many who take this opportunity to attend, will not leave the hall as members of the Craft. We do, however, hope that they will leave better informed as to what is required to ‘become a Mason’, what Masons actually do, how we are regulated and what contribution local Freemasons have made to the Duns community over the last 300 years or so.

“Having been here for so long it is our intention to remain for a while longer and as such we will outline our hopes and aspirations for the future too.”

This year is destined to be a busy year for Lodge Dunse No. 23. Few clubs survive for such a long time. It is right therefore to celebrate this milestone and to share their experience with the rest of the community as best they can.

The ‘Year of Celebration’ commences on Saturday, January 22, in the Volunteer Hall when Lodge Dunse No. 23 act as hosts to the Depute Grand Master Mason of Scotland Bro Hugh Bryson and a deputation from the Grand Lodge of Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons of Scotland as well as RWPGM Bro George Donnelly, his office-bearers from the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lothian and Berwickshire and many Masons from all over the United Kingdom.

The Depute Grand Master will preside over a solemn Ceremony of Re-Dedication of The Lodge.

There will immediately thereafter be an Anniversary Dinner held in the Lodge Rooms.

Davie added: “In 1911 Lodge Whiteadder 1350 from Chirnside was formed as a Daughter Lodge of Lodge Dunse 23 and on the evening of the second Tuesday in February they will, having accepted our Invitation, descend the hill from Chirnside and come along to Dunse No 23 and ‘work a degree’ of their choice. Likewise, our other Daughter Lodge from Greenlaw, Lodge Blackadder No.1245 have been invited to ‘work a degree’ in Dunse No. 23 on the evening of the third Monday in April.

“Duns Parish Kirk boasts a very fine church organ and Lodge Dunse No. 23 has within its membership one of the finest Cathedral organists in the country, if not the World in Bro Simon Nieminski. We are linking arms and working towards an ‘Evening of Music’ involving an organ recital by our grand organist with perhaps some able support from our local ultra-talented bairns.”

An Exhibition in the local library is planned for May and will feature the Lodge artefacts and historical documents stretching back to around 1726.

Davie continued: “The Lodge is also looking to enter into a project with the green-fingered pupils of the greatest wee primary school in the world (Duns PS) whereby the large garden at the rear of the Lodge premises is given over to the bairns and their teachers so that they can carry out their various environmental and gardening projects over many years to come.

“The Masonic Ball will be held in the Volunteer Hall on Friday, March 18.

“The Ladies Committee of the Lodge have issued the Office- Bearers a formal challenge to a Carpet Bowls match in May. We would hope that no fatalities will ensue but there can be no guarantees that ‘naebody wull be taen prisoner’.”

Three office-Bearers from the Dunse Masonic Lodge travelled to Edinburgh in 1736 and assisted with the formation of The Grand Lodge of Scotland, namely David Home, Master; James Wylie and Alexander White, Wardens. It is said that the order one’s name appeared in the Attendance Book on that historical evening dictated the number allocated to the Lodge. There were approximately 100 Masonic Lodges in Scotland at that time. There are approximately 1,000 Lodges working under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 2011.

Davie concluded: “It is ironic in some ways that Lodge Dunse is acknowledged as being a founder member of our ruling body yet our Charter was not issued until 1761 some 25 years after the formation of Grand Lodge. The theory centres on ‘paperwork going missing’

“That too is ironic because Dunse No 23 believes itself to be a ‘daughter’ Lodge of ‘Mother Kilwinning’ the famous Lodge numbered ‘0’ yet there exists no paperwork either in Duns or in Kilwinning which can support that assertion.

“None of these ‘technical glitches’ will prevent us from welcoming Grand Lodge, Mother Kilwinning and everybody else to our 250th Birthday party and enjoying an historic year.”