The Masonic Ladies Festival consisted of three events, a celebration of 25 years of Lancaster Lodge, which was to be held in the Hotel Clube do Lago Cascaise, on the 2nd May 2016. This was the original meeting place of their very first meeting. A Royal Arch meeting to be held at the Cidadela Hotel, their current home of Masonic meetings, on the 3rd May 2016, and the Ladies Evening itself held on the 1st May 2016.
The 2016 Pendle Lodge party comprised Bob Summers, Bryon Lingard and Jim McNally plus their ladies, it was unfortunate we didn’t have the company of John Hudson and Harry Lord on this trip as their company and banter were missed.
Several days were spent unwinding in the Cidadela Hotel and exploring the lovely town of Cascaise, sampling the wide range of restaurants and bars on offer. We even managed a train trip into Lisbon for the day and had a fabulous time.
The 25th Anniversary Lodge meeting involved an initiation ceremony for a Mr Suvi and was conducted astonishingly well by the young Worshipful Master Bro Jose Luis de Valle-Flor. He was in excellent form and delivered not only the entire initiation ceremony but also explained the North East Corner to the candidate. I didn’t hear a single prompt and heard every work clearly and with feeling. Jose did an amazing job.
The Festive board afterwards was held in the Cidadela Hotel in one of the smaller dinning rooms, and what a wonderful meal we had. On arrival back at the hotel we had free drinks at the bar and then into the dinning room for the usual meal and toasts. The food was excellent and we had a never-ending supply of rather good Portuguese wine.
The candidate responded well to his toast and the festive board was well received by the visitors and members alike. I have no recollection of who responded to the visitors toast but no doubt someone did.
We retired to the Hotel bar after the festive board and sampled a few more drinks, It was all rather civilised and very well done. We never did catch up with the ladies that evening as it was a bit late when we retired to our rooms.
Not all the members of Lancaster Lodge are in Lancaster Chapter and accordingly it was held in a smaller room within the Cidadela Hotel. Kick off was 11:00 am and from past experience we knew where to sit in the room to avoid direct sunshine and the heat of the day. cleverly taking up seats against the back wall underneath the air conditioning. Lovely!
The Chapter lay out is immediately recognisable and didn’t look out-of-place in the Hotel meeting room at all. The business of the Chapter was to Exalt a new companion Bro Jose Carlos de Londres who is a member of The Lodge of the oldest Ally No 9524 in Lisbon.
The Exaltation was delivered by E. Companion Robert Levitt, the Grand Inspector for Portugal, and a fine job he did too. The meeting was a very pleasant mornings work with well qualified masons in a relaxed location. No doubt a lot of planning and hard work had gone into delivering such a smooth ceremony but you didn’t see any of the joins and everyone looked quite comfortable with what they had to deliver.
The Chapter Social Board was a rather laid back affair with a buffet in the bar including drinks etc. It appeared that several members had to leave early so the feast was indeed huge with lots of food available for everyone. The open bar continued throughout the afternoon making it a rather good social event. The ladies had spent the morning shopping and on their return where thankful for the rations still on offer and the drinks from the bar. Although it seemed a bit odd experiencing Royal Arch Masonry at 11:00 am in the morning it all worked out very well and a big thank you must be extended to those few Companions who made us feel very welcome and did all the hard work.
The Ladies Evening was a very special event. Held in the gardens at the home of one of the members of the Lodge and forgive me for not remembering your name sir. The gardens were beautiful with water features and ornamental trees and flowers of every kind in abundance. A finger buffet and bar were provided along with a Portuguese duo performing Fado music which in itself is very inspiring.
Our meal was served in a large Marquee which had been furnished with chandeliers and candelabra for the evening. The tables being dressed all in white, it looked very impressive. The five course meal was excellent but by the time we had finished it was getting quite late in the day and we still had a few toasts to propose and responses to hear.
The Toast to the Ladies was well received and the WM partner responded in English which wasn’t her native language at all, but she did really well and received a standing ovation from the Gentlemen. I don’t think we did get time to have a dance before we had to get back on the coach for the return trip to the Hotel. However the Ladies Evening had no doubt been the highlight of the week and it had certainly made a huge impression on all of us.
Although we had enjoyed a week in Portugal the Masonic part of the festivities takes part over a weekend or three days at most, making it quite a cost-effective way to enjoy Masonry in other parts of the world, and I would recommend this trip to everyone. We will certainly be attending in 2017 as the WM is likely to be my friend Bro Richard Barrett. If you want to join me just let know.
Enjoy the pictures