Aurora History

History of Our Lodge

Aurora Lodge officially came into this world on 24th March 1920. Twenty members of Coronation Lodge No. 2922, formed the new organisation. Whatever the optimum size of a Masonic Lodge might be, Coronation had well exceeded it and was embarrassed in having to turn away suitable candidates and worse, losing members through not having enough positions to adequately employ and advance the junior brethren.

Aurora, the dawn, is a symbol of hope, and never more so than in the wake of the “war to end wars”. Indeed, the lodge crest originally featured a broken field gun, which still appears on the Masters’ jewel. This must have been an energetic hope, for, in the first year, the lodge initiated eighteen candidates, and admitted five more joining brethren.

Our first Master was Jose Rickard, aged seventy-two, and previously Master of Philanthropic Lodge in 1888, and Coronation in 1902, the year of its own founding. The above figures show that he tackled his new task with the zest of a man half his age. A master of Masonic Ritual, he also bequeathed to us our ceremonies, still in the Lodge archives in our first master’s copper-plate handwriting.

These ceremonies we have from our Grandmother, Philanthropic Lodge No 304, and were most likely inherited from the enigmatic Grand Lodge of All England, as the old lodge at York called itself before its disappearance in 1792. They were re-written by Rev. Adolphus Woodford, Rector of Swillington Church, and Master of Philanthropic Lodge in 1858 and 1859, probably to reflect the current practice of the United Grand Lodge of England, while retaining the character of our ancient rite. A respected author and scholar of Freemasonry, Woodford became Grand Chaplain in 1863, and was a founder of Quatuor Coronati, English Freemasonry’s premier research lodge, giving the oration at its consecration in 1886, and acting as Immediate Past Master for its first two years, which saw him frequently standing in as Master of the Lodge. Also in 1886, he passed to William Wynn Westcott the coded manuscripts that would lead to the foundation of the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn”, although he did not live to see its first lodge open.

For nearly a century our lodge has continued as a lively and flourishing corner of Masonry. In 1932, the Lord Mayor of Leeds was initiated, Alderman Fred Brown Simpson. In the next year, a victim of its own success, Aurora spun off the Lodge of the Morning Star as a daughter lodge. Links with both Mother and Daughter Lodges are still strong.

As another war came and went, interest in Freemasonry continued unabated. Indeed, in the 1960s serious consideration was given to forming another daughter lodge. However, since that time interest in the craft has seriously declined. Aurora’s membership remains at a little over half its level in the 1950s, which makes for a compact, friendly unit, with junior brethren quickly finding active roles within the lodge if they feel inclined to do so.

Aurora has moved twice in its life, firstly in 1969 from Great George Street to the Mansion in Roundhay Park, then in 1981 to our current home at Castle Grove, Headingley.

We have inherited the Reverend Woodford’s “York Ritual”, which we share with a very small family of lodges, and if this occasionally wrong-foots our visitors, we trust that our sincerity and the hospitality of our table will make up for it. Our own Masters’ song is still sung at every festive board. If we are a flourishing lodge, it is our love of the craft and of each other that makes it so, and a readiness to welcome honest inquirers into Freemasonry.