ROYAL YORK L.O.L. No. 145
York is a very old Lodge having been formed from the ranks of the York Fencible Regiment in 1796. The Regiment was stationed in Ulster to protect Britain from French invasion. During the 1798 uprising the York Fencibles played a major role. In June 1798 the Regiment took part in the Battle of Saintfield and lost 56 officers and men [out of a total strength of 270]. The Regiment was disbanded in 1802 when some of it’s members joined the newly formed Rifle Brigade and fought with Wellington against Napoleon’s armies in Spain, France, and at Waterloo. However the Lodge remained in existence and the Lodge warrant (signed by the future King of Hanover, hence ‘Royal’) made its way back to Belfast where LOL145 has met on the first Wednesday of every month ever since.
York has always been very active in the support of Orangeism and the ideals of the Glorious Revolution. Over the years the Lodge has supplied a number of Orange leaders in Ireland and worldwide. The Lodge has also sponsored two successful daughter Lodges. In recent years the lodge has sought to develop and expand the cultural and community side of Orangeism. The Lodge has always been very proud of its origin in the York Fencibles. The Lodge has explored the history of the 1798 in Ulster and especially the Battle of Saintfield. The Lodge was the driving force in the creation of the York Island Arts and Heritage Association [York Island is a small area of ground just outside Saintfield where the dead of the York Fencible Regiment are mainly buried]. The Assoc. has gone from strength to strength and set up a film company, which produced a much-acclaimed film about the Battle of Saintfield, “Brethren in Arms”. Many Lodge members took part in the film and wore the red and gold uniform of their brothers who originally created LOL 145. The Assoc. has also produced an original play about the 1798 entitled “Who dares speak”. Arising from the Association’s work on the film the Down Council asked them to organise the Saintfield Festival, which has now become an annual event. This January the Lodge held a York Fencible Regimental dinner in honour of the members who died at Saintfield.
York is also the only private Lodge to have held a meeting and dinner in the Palace of Westminster (by invitation of Lodge members Lord Rogan and Lord Laird). This historic event was held to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee and was attended by many prominent guests including the Grand Masters of England and Scotland. York Lodge has been very active in support of the Grand Lodge of Belfast’s efforts to make the Twelfth of July parade even more attractive to the community generally and to tourists in particular. The Lodge has had a float or similar attraction in the procession for the past three years. These included a large scale model of a seventeenth century emigrant ship, a horse drawn brake containing Lodge members in the uniform of the York Fencible Regiment, and a float displaying the talents of the only English Lambeg drumming Club, “Luton and Bedford”.
The Lodge has ambitious plans for the future including an “Orange” picnic at the Boyne which will have re-enactment displays, a variety of top stage acts, and extensive catering including a hog roast. It has also been involved in academic ventures, working with the Queen’s LOL 1845 and The Queen’s University Ulster Society to produce a definitive online record of Orange and Loyal Songs and Poems. We have also been a t the forefront of entering the online arena with the creation of our own lodge website, with histories, events and photographs of Royal York.
The future is Orange and LOL 145 intends to be there.