I’ve been invited to some excellent lodges this year to give talks, and the Shakespeare & Equity Lodge No. 1018 was no exception. I presented my paper on the Lost Rites and Rituals of Freemasonry in the famed Egyptian Temple at Hoyle Court, Otley in West Yorkshire, and was made most welcome. A book signing was followed by a festive board that included some local cuisine.
It was resolved to form the Shakespeare Lodge on Shakespeare’s birthday 23rd April 1864, on the 300th anniversary of his birth no less, at the Talbot Hotel in Bradford (just a few miles away from where the lodge now meets). The lodge’s eight founders were members of the Lodge of Harmony No. 600, which had a large number of German brethren who conducted their ritual in German. The English brethren had a desire to work the ritual in English, so the idea of the Shakespeare Lodge was about as English as it could get. The lodge was consecrated on the 15th June 1864, and in 1866, the date of the installation was changed to reflect a closer association with Shakespeare’s birthday.
In 2003, the Shakespeare Lodge merged with the Lodge of Equity No. 6119, Equity being a lodge formed in 1945, one of the many lodges formed after World War II. I’ve given a talk previously at the Criterion Chapter that also meets at Hoyle Court, and this can be seen here. I hope to be visiting again soon.