Palestine Preceptory History

Palestine Preceptory was the seventh Preceptory in Cheshire and North Wales to be founded in 1921, following on from;

Royal Edward No. 76B Stalybridge in 1806
St. Salem No. 15, Congleton in 1808
Geoffrey de Bouillon No. 9, Birkenhead in 1867
DeTabley No. 100, Knutsford in 1868
Grosvenor No. 132, Chester in 1875 and
St. Hilary No. 184, Birkenhead in 1906

The Preceptory's early progress was good but shortlived. By 1925 there were just six officers. However two names of early installees are worthy of note. Em.Kt Arthur Sharp Jnr (his father was one of the founders) was an authority on Masonic music and later became Master of the Quarruor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. This being the premier lodge of Masonic research and membership being limited to forty Masonic History experts at any one time. - a real honour.

Em.Kt Balfour Williams, a surgeon, was installed in 1926. He was a member of the University of Liverpool Lodge No. 4274 and frequently led a team to give the rarely heard Craft Lectures. He was something of an eccentric, but a sound ritualist.

Palestine's problems continued however and at the Annual Provincial Meeting in 1931 a proposition was put by Arthur Ash, seconded by Balfour Williams that:

"The Very Eminent Provincial Prior be informed that, in the opinion of the Knights of Palestine Preceptory No.217 that there is no future for the Order in Wallasey. Further that the said Knights pray the Very Eminent Provincial Prior that he will be pleased to grant his approval for the removal of the said Palestine Preceptory to the Masonic Hall, Oliver Street, within the Borough of Birkenhead in the County of Chester"

The wheels were set in motion but Oliver Street could not accommodate us. The Treasurer was asked to make enquiries at the Victoria Hotel but in the end the authorities at Manor Road dropped the rent and we stayed here. By 1935 the corner had been turned and we were again able to boast a full list of officers.

In September 1939 all Masonic activity was suspended on the outbreak of the war but soon afterwards the stability returned. One characteristic of Palestine then was that a number of Salvation Army Officers were installed. One of them, Arthur Sutton, became Eminent Preceptor. The present position of the Salvation Army though forbids membership of Freemasonry because Jesus is not given exclusive preeminence in our prayers.

Despite these additions this was another lean period for Palestine when it was necessary to call upon members of Geoffrey de Bouillon to fill our offices so that meetings could be held. Geoffrey's numbers were also low at the time so a reciprocal arrangement was made.

In 1971 though, Palestine celebrated its Golden Jubilee in the presence of 27 of its Knights and 15 guests including the Provincial Prior V.Em.Kt J.L.B. Leicester-Warren, his Sub-Prior Major F. Osmond, Chancellor, Dr Horace Ingham (later to become Provincial Prior) and Marshal, Frank H Ashcroft (later to become Provincial Grand Master). So all was well with Palestine Preceptory at this time.

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The centenary of Palestine Preceptory was celebrated in 2022