When did the Festive Board start?

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When did the Festive Board start?

Postby JohnXRV » Mon Dec 10, 2018 7:50 pm

Now I'm raised I've begun my research into our wonderful fraternity. Among the questions arising from this is when did the Festive Board in it's current very structured form start?

All my reading to date has better informed me about the formation of the first Grand Lodge, the division between the Moderns and Ancients, the late entry of the Hiramic degree and comeback of the Mark degree.

But nowhere yet have I found reference to the significance that is now the Festive Board seeing that it takes up almost half of any lodge night.

Can anyone point to some books that might enlighten me?

Very grateful thanks if you can

S&F

John

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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Trouillogan » Tue Dec 11, 2018 12:14 am

Depends on what you mean by 'current very structured form'! That could be last month, as the whole of freemasonry has continually evolved over the years and centuries. In the early eighteenth century Grand Lodge was basically an annual assembly and feast. Somewhat later, private lodges were held around a table, alternating between working 'lectures' in Q & A form and eating, drinking and smoking. In some parts, notably Ireland and Scotland, there's a light supper/snack after the lodge work. You will find some information about this in Bernard E. Jones Freemasons' Guide and Compendium and in Harry Carr The Freemason at Work.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby russellholland » Tue Dec 11, 2018 1:35 am

Here is the earliest representation that I have seen. It is Mithraic - much of Freemasonry is directly patterned on the Mithraic lodge and ritual including 3 working tools per degree.

The Mithraic brethren were known as "the brotherhood of the grip"

Note the 2 pillars and to the left is the candidate from the first degree - still with the raven's head mask and what looks like a cable tow.


Image

There is another candidate on the right with the mask of the lion degree - the first of the higher degrees.

Both candidates seem to be acting as stewards.

Mithras is often depicted with a leonine head. Were the brethren raised with the lion's grip?
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Lazza21 » Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:41 pm

Andersons Constitutions of 1723 covers the Festive Board as follows so it's nothing new.
2. BEHAVIOUR after the LODGE is over and the BRETHREN not gone.
You may enjoy yourself with innocent Mirth, treating one another
according to Ability, but avoiding all Excess, or forcing any
Brother to eat or drink beyond his Inclination, or hindering him
from going when his Occasions call him, or doing or saying anything
offensive, or that may forbid an easy and free Conversation
for that would blast our Harmony, and defeat our laudable Purposes.
Therefore no private Piques or Quarrels must be brought within
the Door of the Lodge, far less any Quarrels about Religion, or
Nations, or State-Policy, we being only, as Masons, of the Catholick
Religion above-mention’d ; we are also of all Nations, Tongues,
Kindreds, and Languages, and are resolv’d against all Politicks, as
what never yet conduc’d to the Welfare of the Lodge, nor ever will.
This Charge has been always strictly enjoin’d and observ’d ; but especially
ever since the Reformation in BRITAIN, or the Dissent
and Secession of these Nations from the Communion of ROME.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby JohnXRV » Sat Dec 15, 2018 8:50 am

Trouillogan wrote:Depends on what you mean by 'current very structured form'!


I didn't phrase the question very well did I?

By "very structured" I meant the meal, followed by the toasts and the 10 o'clock toast.

I suppose I can't see or imagine all this being done in 1717 and wondered when it out came about. That also led me to think about when dedicated lodge buildings took over from inns and taverns

Thanks

John
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby russellholland » Sat Dec 15, 2018 10:01 am

Here is a Mithraic temple with Master's pedastal at the end, brethren sitting along the sides and the twin pillars in the mosaic floor

Image

and here is the ladder in the floor. There are 7 rungs/degrees with 3 working tools per degree and a fixed star at the top of the ladder

Image

The same 7 rung ladder appears in the local version of the 18th degree but the 3 working tools per rung are replaced by 3 roses.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Trouillogan » Sat Dec 15, 2018 1:42 pm

JohnXRV wrote:
Trouillogan wrote:Depends on what you mean by 'current very structured form'!


I didn't phrase the question very well did I?

By "very structured" I meant the meal, followed by the toasts and the 10 o'clock toast.

I suppose I can't see or imagine all this being done in 1717 and wondered when it out came about. That also led me to think about when dedicated lodge buildings took over from inns and taverns

Thanks

John

I've not found a great deal of detailed study on the subject though there is a little. The structure itself seems to have evolved into what we have in most English and Welsh lodges these day, which is not surprising since the early eighteenth century London meetings were often little more than dining clubs. Elsewhere there are some lodges which give the loyal toast and perhaps one to the GM.

Dedicated buildings started to take root during the great upsurges in membership after the first and second world wars. Neville Barker Cryer's books on The Masonic Halls of England have some information on this subject. Such buildings are by no means universal in England and Wales. Many meet in village halls, scout huts, and hotels - I've been to plenty. It is arguable that some large buildings are far from cost-effective, now that the nature of conflicts has changed so dramatically and the need by ex-servicemen has consequently diminished.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Lazza21 » Sat Dec 15, 2018 3:28 pm

JohnXRV where do you have a 10 o'clock toast? There is a reason for 9 o'clock but I can't see one for 10. (40)
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby eric384 » Sat Dec 15, 2018 6:23 pm

Lazza21 wrote:JohnXRV where do you have a 10 o'clock toast? There is a reason for 9 o'clock but I can't see one for 10. (40)


Probably got something to do with thevstart time of the Lodge.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Richard George » Sun Dec 16, 2018 8:59 am

Could be that the lodge is in a +1 timezone so it coincides with our 9'OC for GMT/BST?
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Lazza21 » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:10 am

Sorry eric384 &Richard those don't account for 10 o'clock the hands aren't on the square then.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby JohnXRV » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:11 am

The 10 o'clock toast is to poor and distressed masons then we sing "Eternal Father Strong To Save"

Lodge starts at 6.30pm and we are normally down for the festive board around 8.00 to 8.30 depending on the ceremony


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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby JohnXRV » Sun Dec 16, 2018 9:12 am

I'm mainland UK btw

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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby eckywan2 » Mon Dec 17, 2018 7:24 pm

Four bells
are at ten o'clock
when we remember absent brethren and with marine / seafaring connections my mother lodge tries to have that toast then
no matter what it interrupts
Mind you we are not just a dining club
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby JohnXRV » Mon Dec 17, 2018 9:39 pm

I'm going to pay special attention at the next lodge night on Wednesday so I can tell you exactly what the 10 o'clock toast is as I'm not sure my decrepit memory is getting this right!


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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby JohnXRV » Thu Dec 20, 2018 12:16 am

JohnXRV wrote:The 10 o'clock toast is to poor and distressed masons then we sing "Eternal Father Strong To Save"

Lodge starts at 6.30pm and we are normally down for the festive board around 8.00 to 8.30 depending on the ceremony


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The 10 o'clock toast is to absent brethren but we sing the same song

Hope that clears it up

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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby lew finnis » Fri Dec 21, 2018 6:02 pm

One argument often put forward is that 'somewhere' the hands are on the square, as remembering absent brethren right on 9 p.m. is not always feasible. In Worcestershire we always used to sing the last verse of 'Eternal father' but that does not happen down here in Kent (at least at the Lodges I've been to).
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Walls » Tue Jan 01, 2019 6:26 pm

JohnXRV wrote:
Trouillogan wrote:Depends on what you mean by 'current very structured form'!


I didn't phrase the question very well did I?

By "very structured" I meant the meal, followed by the toasts and the 10 o'clock toast.

I suppose I can't see or imagine all this being done in 1717 and wondered when it out came about. That also led me to think about when dedicated lodge buildings took over from inns and taverns

Thanks

John

As I'm currently helping to write my lodge's history in the run up to our tercentenary in 2023 I can give you one perspective from London. A quick caveat, the Premier Grand Lodge was very aristocratic and so were incredibly formal, Globe (my lodge) spent around £100 (in today's money) per person on the festive board so they were really elaborate with some eye watering volumes of alcohol consumed.

The structure comes in two parts; first the work of the lodge and secondly formal dinners in the 1700s. We used to conduct the business of the Lodge at the table, as such, the dinner was already structured by an agenda1. The ritual of the Premier Grand Lodge was carried out in the form of catechism2 with very little walking around and so rather suited a dinner. This form of ritual may have been by design considering the Athol Grand lodge’s serious criticisms of what the Moderns had done to the ritual and why the Moderns weren’t seen as regular by the GLoS and GLoI. As they need to be properly clothed when the Lodge is at work (as well as properly tyled) this is why some Lodges (admittedly incredibly few) still dine in regalia (more often seen at the masonic charities’ festivals) and why there are serving brethren in masonry3 (but again incredibly few).

Secondly, the traditions of the time (and at formal dinners now e.g. Regimental mess nights, club dinners, etc) were to have the dinner during which wine was taken and challenging happened. While the former still occurs, challenging has nearly died out in masonry but is still going strong in the army where senior officers will challenge subaltern to drink with them which as you can imagine is really detrimental to morning parades with the RSM balling at you.

At the end of the dinner the first toast has always been to the monarch at which point the cloth is removed, port is served, and smoking is allowed. This is followed by as many toasts as a particular Lodge wishes. The nine o’clock toast is simply the toast to absent brethren and while it has always been done, a time was suggested so that in WW1 soldiers at the front might be comforted in the idea that brothers were thinking of them. It is rarely done at exactly 9, often somewhat later, owing to the time dinner starts. This is why some lodges call it the 9 o’clock toast and others the 10 o’clock.

1 We know this as when my Lodge was informed of the death of a member on 5th April 1810 the RWM “then called upon the Brethren to assist him in paying a Tribute of Respect to the Memory of our late Worthy Treasurer, which was done by drinking a Solemn Bumper [toast] to his much respected memory”.
2 Catechism is a series of questions and answers which is still present in the Royal Order of Scotland, in the opening and closing of craft lodges, and in the craft lectures. It’s almost certainly in other degrees but those are the only ones I’m a member of.
3 Serving brethren are masons who have been initiated by dispensation and passed and raised in a truncated form. They came about as the cost of initiation was a guinea for Globe which was around four weeks wages for a tradesman. So to make it affordable serving brethren only paid for their Grand Lodge Certificate, they were then able to enter even when the lodge was at work to serve food and wine.

Sorry for my answer being a touch long
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby Trouillogan » Wed Jan 02, 2019 1:57 pm

It's also worth bearing in mind that a vestige of 'table working' remains at the after proceedings of a RA Chapter. Companions will know what I mean.
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Re: When did the Festive Board start?

Postby peteste » Thu Feb 14, 2019 2:45 pm

Am I right in thinking that the reason the absent brethren toast is usually made at 9pm is because of where the hands are on the clock face i.e. at a right angle, like the square?
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