Lodge Life: Museum visit recalled as a day ‘fit for a king’

Grand Master Edward Stevenson (right) and County Armagh Grand Master Denis Watson pictured during yesterday's screening at Sloan's House
Grand Master Edward Stevenson (right) and County Armagh Grand Master Denis Watson pictured during yesterday's screening at Sloan's House

A momentous day in the modern history of the Orange Institution was recalled yesterday – exactly one year on from Prince Charles’ memorable visit to Sloan’s House.

To mark the anniversary, a professional video production of the Royal visitor’s tour of the Museum of Orange Heritage in Loughgall was aired for the first time at the outreach facility.

The video showcase will be made available on a permanent basis to members of the public visiting the Co Armagh museum and the Order’s headquarters in Belfast.

Among those in attendance at the special showing were the Grand Master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, Edward Stevenson, and the County Grand Master of Co Armagh Grand Lodge, Denis Watson.

During his visit to the birthplace of Orangeism last May, Prince Charles entered the original parlour where the first warrants were signed in 1795, marking the formation of the Orange Institution.

As well as learning more about the early development of Orangeism, he was shown key artefacts from the period of the Glorious Revolution. These included a pair of King William III’s riding gauntlets and a letter penned by the sovereign prior to his arrival in Ireland in 1690, ahead of the Battle of the Boyne.

Prince Charles also viewed the adjoining memorial garden, which remembers members of the Institution in Co Armagh who were killed during the Troubles. Charles then planted an apple tree in the garden of remembrance.

Mr Stevenson reflected on the Royal visit as a “truly unforgettable occasion” and a day “fit for a king”.

The grand master said: “No-one who was present a year ago at Loughgall will ever forget the uplifting experience of being in the company of His Royal Highness The Prince of Wales.

“Prince Charles and the Royal family, as we know, are held in the highest of esteem in this part of the United Kingdom – none more so than within the Orange fraternity – who proudly regard ourselves as among the most loyal subjects.

“And so in this regard, the symbolism of the Prince visiting the birthplace of Orangeism cannot be underestimated.”

Mr Stevenson encouraged others to follow in the footsteps of royalty and learn more about the Orange tradition, and so “increase understanding of our cultural heritage”.

He added: “Our short video production offers a wonderful snapshot of the proceedings, capturing the colour and atmosphere of the event. It will serve as a permanent reminder of the significance of the day, and the identity of the museum’s most high-profile visitor.”