March 7, 2008
The Loyal Ripon Lodge of Oddfellows, Dunston
The Loyal Ripon Lodge of Oddfellows, Dunston, c1835-1915
The Loyal Ripon Lodge was part of the Friendly Society movement which flowered and flourished after the Napoleonic wars in response to the greater understanding of social responsibility which grew with the Industrial Revolution particularly across the north of England.
The Lodge was founded some time between 1833 and 1854 and was honoured with the name of the Earl of Ripon whose seat was at Nocton Hall. The Earl, as Viscount Goderich, was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Ireland for less than five months in 1827 between those two great worthies George Canning and the Duke of Wellington.
The members of the Lodge came from the four villages of Potterhanworth, Nocton, Dunston and Metheringham and from surrounding fens and farms.
By 1854 the Lodge had become affiliated to the Independent Order of Oddfellows, Manchester Unity Friendly Society but nevertheless remained largely independent both of this society and seemingly of the register General appointed under various government edicts to control the growth and conduct of the societies.
Here are some entries from their minutes
Resolved: - "That the accounts of the fund and effects of the Lodge be not returned to Tidd Pratt" (The register General of Friendly Societies), - Carried (presumably unanimously) (minute of 19 Dec 1857)
Thus it was recorded in the minutes of the management committee of the Loyal Ripon Lodge of Oddfellows meeting in the Red Lion public house in Dunston in 1857.
The main reason for the birth, existence and consequent expansion of the Friendly Society movement was to provide a form of local and immediate insurance against unemployment, accident, sickness, death.
Resolved: - "That ten shillings and six pence (52½p) be allowed Bro. G. Franklin towards defraying the surgeon's account, he having sustained an injury from the kick of a horse" Carried (Minute of 19 Oct 1861)
Resolved: - "That ten shillings (50p) be given from the funds for presenting to the widow of P.G.M. (Past Grand Master), James Rose to alleviate her sorrow and distress" - Carried (Minute of 18 Oct 1862)
Resolved: - "That one pound ten shillings (£1.50) be subscribed to the fund for the distressed cotton operatives in Lancashire" - Carried (Minute of 13 Dec 1862)
However to the younger members of the Lodge, who constituted the majority, the main reasons for belonging would appear to have been socialising at Lodge meetings, at Feast Days and at Anniversaries.
Resolved: - "That we have an annual Feast Day and that we employ the Horncastle Band and provide them with the usual requisites" (liquid one presumes) - Carried (Minute of 25 Apr 1868)
There was a considerable number of marching bands available locally, from Horncastle, Saxilby, Metheringham and Dunston, Billinghay and from Lincoln, the Lincolnshire Rifles Band.
It was a great honour to be asked to carry the Lodge banner in procession, perhaps conditioned by the apparently quite generous reward.
Resolved: - "That the banner be carried by P.G. (Past Grand) Thomas Taylor and Bro. Joseph Nicholls and them (sic) to have the usual allowance of ten shillings and six pence (52½ p) for their trouble" - Carried (Minute of 25 Apr 1872)
It was presumably an even greater honour to carry the Lodge sword as no allowance was given for the "trouble"
Resolved: - "That Bro. Tether carry the sword" - Carried (Minute of 25 Apr 1872)
The banner now hangs in All Saints Church, Nocton, The sword, sadly, has been lost.
No charge was made by the landlord of the Red Lion public house for the use of his rooms as the Lodge House. The landlord more than recouped his costs from the considerable consumption of his ale. At one meeting in 1862 over 100 "Brothers" were in attendance.
Resolved: - "That the Lodge remove to the Butchers Arms, the beer is better there". Passed by a majority of one, ten voted in favour of removal and nine against. Carried (Minute of 2 June 1860)
It was not to be:-
Resolved: - "That the resolution to remove the Lodge to the Butchers Arms be rescinded". Passed by a majority of three, eight voted in favour and five against. Carried. (Minute of 20 Oct 1860)
Of these two public houses in Dunston in 1860 the Butchers Arms is now a private residence whilst the Red Lion still welcomes the tired and thirsty travellers.
The Lodge remained totally independent until 1913 when financial difficulties overcame committee pride and the Lodge was absorbed within the Manchester Unity Friendly Society of Oddfellows. Was it not ever thus?
One of the great interests in the minutes which cover over 50 years of the nineteenth century is reading of members starting as initiated "brothers" slowly being promoted through the white, green and purple degrees and through the hierarchy to V.G. (Vice Grand), G.M. (Grand Master) and N.G. (Noble Grand). It was like so many similar village committee's then and now, a self fulfilling and self perpetuating oligarchy.
My Great Grandfather, Luke Tether (1819-1896) was Lodge Secretary for the greater part of the period covered. The minutes were written by Luke in his Victorian hand which was not easy to read. I have copies of the minutes, the originals I believe are in the Lincolnshire County Archives.
Peter S. Tether - Sandy, Bedfordshire