English Lodges

First Lodges in England

When William Prince of Orange landed at Brixham in 1688 the Protestants of Britain flocked to support him, and in an attempt to organise the followers his Chaplain, Gilbert Burnet, later Bishop of Salisbury, founded the Orange Association in Exeter Cathedral. The British people joined William’s cause which became known as the Glorious Revolution, and King James was forced to flee to France. The Association spread throughout the country, the membership being largely confined to the gentry and holding allegiance to the Whig Party and the Established Church. But over the next century it fell into decline. In Ireland the Protestants had often needed to band together in self defence and in County Armagh in the 1790’s they were subject to violent attacks by a papist secret society called the Defenders. Following the Battle of the Diamond at Loughall in 1795 the system of Orange lodges was organised for mutual defence, and these quickly spread throughout the British Isles and abroad.
The first Orange Lodges to be established in England were formed by military regiments on their return from service in Ireland during the rebellion of 1798. In November, 1798, Colonel Stanley’s First Regiment of Lancashire Militia returned to Manchester after service in Ireland, bringing with them Warrant No.220. The troops were disbanded shortly afterwards, but the lodge, assisted by Irish members of the Order who had moved to Lancashire in search of employment, continued to work in the town, and increased in numbers and influence. In 1799, the second battalion of the Manchester and Salford Volunteers returned with Warrant No.1128, which also became established in the town. Other regiments acted likewise and the system was rapidly expanded throughout Lancashire and across the Pennines into Yorkshire. From an early time the English lodges wished to emulate their Irish brethren and parade on notable anniversaries, particularly the 12th of July. A parade took place in Oldham as early as 1803. On July the 12th, 1807, Orangemen joined with a parade of Friendly Societies to attend divine service at the Collegiate Church in Manchester. On returning, the parade was violently attacked by a mob of Irish Roman Catholics and a serious riot ensued. This led to a rapid expansion of the Order throughout the country and in May 1808, the Grand Orange Lodge of England was formed at the Star Hotel, Deansgate, Manchester. Colonel Taylor of Moston was the first Grand Master and Rev.Richard Nixon of the Collegiate Church the first Grand Secretary. Old warrants were cancelled and new ones issued, the first of these, Lodge No.1 being dated 26th October 1808, and a set of rules and regulations made which kept within the laws concerning the administration of illegal oaths.