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Warrant No 246 - the early years
The lodge number 246 predates the Broughshane lodge. The warrant for lodge no 246 was issued by the Grand Lodge of Ireland on 10th April 1754 to soldiers in the 9th Foot (later Norfolk Regiment). This regiment was formed in 1685 and had originally been known as Henry Cornewall's Regiment. The regiment saw much service in Ireland during the Williamite wars, failing to lift the Siege of Derry under the command of John Cunningham early in 1689. However, he was replaced by William Stewart and later that year the regiment played a successful role in relieving the Maiden City. Battle honours were further gained at the Battle of the Boyne, Siege of Limerick, the Siege of Athlone and the Battle of Limerick.
The Regiment went on to serve during the Seven Years War (1754–1763) and took part in the capture of Havana, moving to Florida in 1763 after hostilities ceased and remained there for six years. Only 300 men remained in 1763 of the 1,000 who had set out a year earlier; only 20 had been killed in action, the remainder were casualties of malaria and yellow fever which ravaged all of the Regiments in the West Indies at the time. During the American War of Independence the Regiment were part of Major General John Burgoyne’s ill fated force until 1777 when he surrendered his whole army Saratoga and they remained prisoners of war for three years.
It was possibly just before the regiment sailed for France in 1754 that three soldiers were granted a travelling warrant to raise a lodge, the Grand Lodge of England not willing to grant such warrants at that time. Records show that there were over 80 members by 1770, freemasonry playing an important role in providing stability and fraternal care in difficult times.
The Regiment is perhaps best know outside of military history through the famous poem "The Burial of Sir John Moore at Coruna" by Charles Wolfe. It was this Regiment that is described as being responsible for the final resting place of the leader of the British forces on the Iberian peninsula in the Napoleonic Wars in 1809; monuments were erected to him both in George Square, Glasgow and St Paul's Cathedral. The text of the poem can be found here.
It was in 1809 that a member of 246 applied that to Grand Lodge in Dublin that jurisdiction of the lodge move to the Grand Lodge of England, a wish that was granted, with the lodge number eventually cancelled in 1817.
Broughshane no 246
Broughshane lodge 246 dates back to 1805, where it initially met upstairs in the Thatch pub using the warrant number 964. Ironically, a renovation of the pub found an old wayside sign depicting English soldiers in 18th century uniforms wearing masonic aprons; this can be viewed today in the front lounge area of what remains a beautiful hostelry to visit.
The warrant was exchanged for 246 in 1819. Numbers seemed steady, with a total number of 125 members being registered up to 1858. It was a lodge not without controversy, though, and Grand Lodge was not happy with they were one of a number of lodges conferring the Royal Arch degree without permission. This issue was resolved by members attending other Chapters in neighbouring towns and villages before the formation of Wm Mehaffy Royal Arch Chapter No 246 in 1919
The foundation stone for the new permanent hall was laid on 9th March 1904, with a report in the Belfast News Letter. Numbers continued to be healthy, with a total of 226 members by 1923.
One feature of the lodge was hosting and attending church services, many of which were reported on in local and regional papers.
Despite the formation of other local lodges sitting in the Broughshane Hall - Patrick No 493 in 1920 and Thiepval No 1020 in 1991 - the Broughshane lodge continues to thrive.
Broughshane is a buoyant lodge, bucking the trend elsewhere by attracting a stream of new members who are attracted to the warmth of welcome, genuine friendship and attention to fundraising for local charities. The social life is very important, with many meeting up to visit other lodges or have days out. We are glad to have close ties to our local lodges and many further afield, particularly Victory No 689 in Omagh.
In recent years, our ties with Bucknaw No 194 have led to members joining in the famous "Giro d' Buckna" charity bike ride form Buckna to Carnlough, which in three years raised money which provided three community defibrilators and allowed for substantial donations to a range of charities.