Twelfth parades July 2024: English Orangemen who love coming to Northern Ireland for the season

Members of LOL 848 Sussex Crown Defenders on the Twelfth morning in Co Tyrone, led by Worshiful Master Peter Williamson, (second from left).Members of LOL 848 Sussex Crown Defenders on the Twelfth morning in Co Tyrone, led by Worshiful Master Peter Williamson, (second from left).
Members of LOL 848 Sussex Crown Defenders on the Twelfth morning in Co Tyrone, led by Worshiful Master Peter Williamson, (second from left).
Orangeism is increasingly popular in South East England because people there are feeling somewhat “bereft” of their own culture, a local Orangeman says.

Peter Williamson, who is originally from Castlederg but now lives in Horsham in West Sussex, was not a member of the order until he moved to England 12 years ago.

However a chance encounter with an English Orangeman led to him joining a lodge and he is now the Worshipful Master of lodge No 848, Sussex Crown Defenders.

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Eight or nine of his lodge members are travelling with him to parade in the Twelfth at Newtownsewtart in Co Tyrone.

They will parade with their Sussex Lodge Bannerette along with Castlederg Lodge LOL 379 Bridgetown, led by the Castlederg Young Loyalists Flute Band.

"When members of our Sussex lodge come to Northern Ireland for the Twelfth for the first time they think it is absolutely amazing, and the best two days of their life," Peter told the News Letter.

"Any of them that do come over and always continue over from then on.

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"They're actually quite surprised at how well received they are. And this is especially true when they head down to the rural areas where the lodges are not used to having anyone outside their own areas visiting.

Peter Williamson says the Orange Order parades in London several times a year and that membership is increasingly attractive to people in the south east of England where he lives.Peter Williamson says the Orange Order parades in London several times a year and that membership is increasingly attractive to people in the south east of England where he lives.
Peter Williamson says the Orange Order parades in London several times a year and that membership is increasingly attractive to people in the south east of England where he lives.

"When they hear an English accent, it does bring a lot of local interest, and a lot of conversations happen."

Although Orangeism would not be anywhere near as popular in England as Northern Ireland, he does see growth.

"We started off with six in our lodge and we have more than doubled to 17 in the last two or three years."

He also sees growth across the wider order in his area.

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The banner of the Sussex lodge will also be coming to Northern Ireland where it will be seen on parade in Newtownstewart.The banner of the Sussex lodge will also be coming to Northern Ireland where it will be seen on parade in Newtownstewart.
The banner of the Sussex lodge will also be coming to Northern Ireland where it will be seen on parade in Newtownstewart.

"Yes in south East England it is definitely increasing. I think a lot has to do with the fact that the English probably feel a little bit bereft of their own culture, like they are a little uncertain what it is to be English anymore.

"So they see like a loyal institution like this and it really interests them.

"People see us on the streets, and don't really know who we are. But they see us as patriotic, and they normally get behind us."

They parade through the streets of London on St George's Day and Remembrance Day, usually with about 300 Orangemen.

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Peter laughs at his own journey into the order. He moved to England 12 years ago to work as a quantity surveyor.

"I didn't even know the Orange Order even existed in England, until I went to Remembrance Sunday, and I was chatting to local councilor who was actually in the Orange Order.

"He asked if I was a member, and I wasn't at that point. I used to watch the parades, but was never actually in anything."

He joined up soon after.

Now, for him and his lodge there is nothing like coming back to NI for the Twelfth.

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"It is the biggest day of the year, and I understand it is the biggest combined parade event in Europe, with around 18 parades around Northern Ireland. For some of our brethren, this will be their first taste of rural grassroots orangeism.

"For me, I'm looking forward to all the different types of bands, world class pipe bands, accordion bands and flute bands".

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