Bridgegate Lodge No. 5961 in the Province
of Cheshire was consecrated in 1944, meets at
the Masonic Hall, Cheshire View,
Christleton, Chester and continues to attract
candidates at the rate of about two a year.
Until 1993, Bridgegate, like so many other
Lodges, held Ladies Nights, looked after their
widows and supported the Provincial
Festivals and local charities.
Then, in 1993, Mrs. Sheila Cowell
decided that if the men could go out and
enjoy themselves, then so could the Ladies
and, what is more, they could challenge their
men’s charitable donations with donations of
their own, so she founded the Bridgegate
At first, the Circle met at Sheila’s home,
but as the interest grew, and space became
restricted, they had to move to the new
Masonic Hall at Christleton.
Starting a Ladies Circle has been done
many times before, but Bridgegate Lodge’s
Ladies Circle quickly became friends and
discovered they had lots of fun doing their
own thing, while at the same time fundraising
for the charities, both local and Masonic, by
arranging a variety of activities to suit all tastes.
In a surprisingly short period, membership
had grown to around 40 and has remained
about this level ever since. The membership
comprises not just the wives of Bridgegate
Lodge members, but also their friends, ladies
of the brethren of other Lodges visiting
Bridgegate and their friends.
It says a lot that such a disparate group
should survive for so long and their
programme of dining, fashion shows,
jewellery displays, speakers, discussions and
other social functions is obviously so well
pitched that they neither become bored with
it, nor feel themselves to be in any sort of a rut.
Each year since 1993, the ladies have
donated between £800 and £1,200, usually
to the Lodge Charity Steward on the
occasion of the annual Ladies Evening. While
the Lodge is the final arbiter of what happens
to the money, the ladies have been given the
opportunity by the Charity Steward to have
their say in making donations.
This has benefitted such bodies as the
Samaritans, the Breast Cancer appeal, Riding
for the Disabled, the Multiple Sclerosis
Society etc., as well as the Masonic charities
supported by the Lodge.
The unique thing about all this is that this
Ladies Circle are well aware that there is no
mechanism from within the Masonic
organisation for any formal recognition of
their efforts and achievements, but they do it
anyway and deserve a great big “well done
and thank you” from us all.
After 13 years, Sheila has decided to retire
from the Chair of the Ladies Circle and has
handed the tiller over to Anne Reynolds and
Diane Crank. Both Anne and Diane have
been part of the development of the Ladies
Circle for many years and there is no doubt
that they are well able to carry on the good
work started by Sheila. Both Anne and Diane
have a vested interest in raising money
because both their husbands are the current
Master and Charity Steward of the Lodge.
Perhaps it is time for Freemasonry to be
more inclusive of its women for, as
Bridgegate Lodge have seen to their
advantage, fund-raising of this sort has kept
them up to the mark and helped the task of
the Charity Steward.
Bridgegate Lodge Ladies Circle
arranges activities to suit all tastes
Web site created by Mark Griffin