Though Anchor Lodge was formed on 23 March 1871, it is thought that an older Masonic Lodge met at an Inn called the ‘Pack Horse’, situated on the site of the present North End Methodist Church, Northallerton. The lodge was probably an itinerant lodge as no record of a charter having been granted can be found in the records of the United Grand Lodge of England. However, two very old Masonic aprons, possessing tool pockets at the right and left hand corners near the tip, and bearing the inscription ‘Masons’ Lodge, Pack Horse, Northallerton’ were, at one time, in the possession of the landlord of the Pack Horse Inn. It may be that the Masons working on the earlier chancel at the parish church in 1778 held their meetings at this Inn.

Masonic brethren resident in Northallerton normally attended Lennox Lodge 123 in Richmond and in 1870, after a successful petition to Grand Lodge to form a Masonic lodge in Northallerton, a warrant was granted on 26 November that year. The petition was signed by six members of the Lennox Lodge and five other brethren, two of whom were Irish Masons, who were to become the founders of Anchor Lodge, whose names were as follows:

Though successful, all was not plain sailing for the founders of Anchor Lodge and whilst the warrant was ultimately granted, it was not before the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, Dr John Pearson Bell, had expressed some doubts about the feasibility of establishing a Lodge in Northallerton and was concerned whether the Lodge ‘would stand the test of time’. Anchor Lodge still thrives in Northallerton 140 years later!

Anchor Lodge was consecrated on Thursday, 23 March 1871, by none other than W. Bro. Dr John P. Bell, the Deputy Provincial Grand Master. The first Worshipful Master was W. Bro. Dr John Walton, a General Practitioner in the town, a tablet to whose memory is to be found in the parish church, and he was supported by the following officers:

There was no lack of initiates and joining members during the period 1871–74, inclusive, the number of initiates being twenty-six and joining members six. One particular initiate, in the year 1871, was Eli Wilkinson, who served as Tyler of the lodge for fifty years.

Of the joining members, one worthy of mention was Bro. George William Elliott, who was the last Member of Parliament, elected in 1874, to represent Northallerton at Westminster prior to the coming into force of the Redistribution of Seats Act of 1885, under which the township was incorporated into the Richmondshire Division. Later, he was to become Provincial Senior Grand Warden and a Deputy Lieutenant of Monmouthshire.

As was the custom in those days for Masonic lodges to meet in Hotels, Anchor Lodge was no exception, and three rooms at the Golden Lion Hotel in Northallerton were offered to the Anchor brethren. The Golden Lion was used for four years and it was in 1874 that the important decision was made to vacate it. Anchor Lodge members purchased premises called ‘Durham House’ for a princely £900. The Lodge held regular meetings at Durham House up to 1956 before moving into its current location in Friarage Street.

During this period, Durham House was let at £37. 10s. per annum and the first floor was used for Masonic ceremonies and for dining. Later, in July 1876, a decision was made to establish a billiards room on the second floor, and this was the beginning of what we now know as the Anchor Lodge Club.

It was only a year after Anchor Lodge was consecrated that members of the Lodge signed a petition recommending the issue of a warrant for the foundation of a lodge at Thirsk, to be known as the ‘Falcon Lodge’.

On 5 October 1882, the Provincial Grand Lodge of the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire was held under the banner of Anchor Lodge in the Town Hall, Northallerton, erected in 1873. The 3rd Earl of Zetland presided, and he was supported by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, W. Bro. Dr. John P. Bell. Following the ceremony the banquet was held in the Market Hall, and the Anchor Brethren honoured and invested by the Provincial Grand Master were W. Bro. Charles Waistell as Provincial Grand Registrar and W. Bro. Joseph Fairburn as Provincial Assistant Grand Pursuivant. In July 1884, the Provincial Grand Lodge again visited the town on the occasion of the laying of the chief cornerstone of the new chancel at the parish church.

It was in 1896 that the lodge again supported a petition for the issue of a warrant for a new lodge. In this instance the petition came from Masons living in the Bedale district and ultimately the warrant was granted for the formation of the Beresford-Peirse Lodge.
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