Bradford

[TheoSocUK Symbol]
Theosophical Society
Bradford Theosophical Society
(Promoting understanding and respect for spiritual lifestyles in the Bradford Area.)
(Founded Feb. 1891)
President: Cynthia Trasi.    Email
: info@ts-bradford.org.uk    www.ts-bradford.org.uk
A Branch of The Theosophical Society in England
50 Gloucester Place, London W1U 8EA.
( Click here to see a map.)
Tel: 020 7563 9817
   Email
: info@theosoc.org.uk     www.theosophicalsociety.org.uk

HISTORY OF THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT IN BRADFORD
(1891 - 1941)


CONTENTS

1. Introduction
2. Foreword
3. The Beginnings
4. Athene Lodge
5. Bradford Lodge
6. Minerva Lodge
7. Ladies' Sewing Guild
8. Round Table Group
9. Appendix

INTRODUCTION

This history is offered to those Fellows of the Theosophical Society who are interested, as a small token of appreciation of unstinted service selflessly devoted to the propaganda of Theosophy in Bradford during the past fifty years.
The idea of a History of the Theosophical movement in Bradford was first suggested to the compiler by the late F. D. Harrison, and owing to his insistence during his years as president of the lodge that full and accurate records should be kept, the work of compiling has been facilitated.
Acknowledgment is here made to those who wishing to remain anonymous have considerably helped me in this undertaking; and thanks are due to Mrs. Clayton for her article on the Ladies' Sewing Guild, to Miss Dorothy Gill for her contribution on the Minerva Lodge, to Miss Mitchell for the paragraph on the Round Table Group, and to Mrs. Adelaide Gardner for the Foreword.
Robert Clayton, February 1941.
Go to top of page


FOREWORD

Bradford is one of the oldest lodges in the English Section, and its history is that of the Section in miniature. This history of Theosophy in Bradford since 1891 has been carefully compiled and pleasantly written. It will be of interest both to older and more recently joined members of the Society and we congratulate those responsible for this publication.
Adelaide Gardner, General Secretary of the English Section
London, 1941.
Go to top of page


THE BEGINNINGS

For many years prior to the founding in Bradford of a Lodge of the Theosophical Society a group of earnest students of Theosophy had met regularly week by week at the house of one of them at Baildon and Frizinghall, and later at the Alexandra Hotel, Great Horton Road, so that when the decision to apply for a charter of incorporation from the British Section of the Theosophical Society was made, there was a nucleus of students prepared to give to the public the results of their varied and special studies.

A charter was granted to them on February 4th, 1891, and the first members of the lodge as recorded in the minute book were J. Clayton, J. S. Douglas, E. J. Dunn, Dr. B. E. J. Edwards, O. Firth, W. Grason, F. D. Harrison, Prof. Hatfield E. S. Jastrzebski, E. Mackay, J. Midgley, T. H. Pattinson, F. Rhodes, W. Williams, T. W. Wilson, Mrs. F. M. Firth, Mrs. Pattinson and Miss K. Spink.

A room was rented at Osborne Buildings, 9, New Kirkgate, for the use of the lodge, and was furnished by the members with chairs, table and other articles for the convenience of themselves and the public.

The first business of the lodge was to make rules for the conduct of its affairs, and it was decided, amongst other things, to make a charge of sixpence per week for membership. Lodge nights were devoted alternatively to study and conversation - refreshments being provided on the latter occasions.

In those days it was the custom to appoint an officer to be in direct contact with both Headquarters and the lodge, and who should keep the lodge informed of the activities of the General Council of the Society. Mrs. Cooper-Oakley undertook that task prior to and during the early days of the lodge. On one occasion Dr. Wynn Westcott deputised for her.

It is interesting to note this minute recorded on Wednesday, April 15th, 1891: " No meeting was held, on account of riotous disturbances in the town." Those disturbances were caused as the outcome of work-people from Lister's mill, being on strike, and crowds had gathered opposite the Town Hall, where the Mayor of Bradford read the Riot Act before soldiers were called to help quell the disturbance.

At the lodge meeting on Wednesday, May 12th, 1891, the following resolution was passed:
"That this lodge hereby desires to express its sincere regret, occasioned by the death of that inestimable woman, named Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, and deeply laments the loss, which, the world in general, the Theosophical Society in particular, and most especially her private students, will thereby incur. But as it is not the fleeting personality of an individual, but the love of Eternal Wisdom which ought to attract and sustain us, the lodge is further resolved to abide loyal to the Theosophical Society, as being the best custodian of, and channel through which, that wisdom may be obtained."


At the cremation the lodge was represented by T. H. Pattinson.

A visit by Annie Besant and W. Q. Judge was made to Bradford on Monday, June 15th, 1891, and they delivered lectures to the public, but details are not given in the minute book as to place or subject. It was considered more important, apparently, to record that "tea and refreshments should be provided at the Central Coffee Tavern and that W. P. Byles and Prof. James Hanson should be invited."

For the first nine months of the lodge's career no real attempt had been made to interest the public in Theosophy (though visitors were allowed at the meetings), the members being content to study portions of "The Secret Doctrine" and articles from "Lucifer," etc. But as new members were steadily made it was considered desirable to take a larger room from time to time and invite the public to attend. On Wednesday, October 7th, 1891, a room was hired in the Church Institute and "20 to 30" people attended. This arrangement was carried on for only two months, the attendances dropping considerably.

Another effort to interest the public in Theosophy was made in November, 1892, when a series of five lectures was given in the lodge rooms. The meetings were poorly attended.

On June 3rd, 1893, the inaugural meeting of the Northern Counties Federation (now the Northern Federation of the Theosophical Society) was held in Manchester. Oliver Firth (the president of the lodge) and F. D. Harrison had been largely responsible for the formation of the Federation, so that it was fitting that these members should act as delegates from the lodge.

It was evident that the lodge was divided in its attitude to propaganda, and this probably accounted for the failure of any scheme to interest the public. Though visitors came once to the meetings they seldom came again, it is recorded.

On Wednesday, April 4th, 1894, the lodge removed from Osborne Buildings to a room at the Central Coffee Tavern, at the junction of Kirkgate and Westgate, and made a further attempt to attract the public. This time lecturers were invited from other towns, and as these were older students of Theosophy some measure of success was attained. The names of the lecturers were J. H. Fletcher, W. A. Bulmer, - Kitchen, Miss Shaw, - Corbett, A. D. Cheyne, R. Jevons, Mrs. Bell and B. Hudson. On each of these occasions there were satisfactory attendances.

It was on Wednesday, August 30th, 1893, that another Theosophical lodge, known as the Athene Lodge, commenced its activities in Bradford. Whether that lodge's method of conducting its meetings was more attractive than that of the original Bradford Lodge is not known, but many resignations from the latter lodge were recorded, and the names of those members were subsequently found in the register of the Athene Lodge.

An attempt to unite the two lodges was made in February, 1895, but the Athene Lodge would not entertain the idea. However, when any special function connected with the Theosophical movement took place, both lodges united in organising and attending them. This was always the case when Mrs. Besant came to lecture; and when C. W. Leadbeater paid a visit on January 25th, 1896, and also when he paid another visit on November 25th, 1896, and spoke on "Our Relation to Children."

Another removal of the Bradford Lodge was made in April, 1896, this time to a room in the Royal Hotel, Darley Street. Another visit was made by Mrs. Besant to Bradford on the 31st August, 1896, when she spoke at the Central Hall, Manchester Road, on "The Life after Death"; Oliver Firth presiding.

For some time it was seen that interest in the lodge was on the wane. Many meetings were abandoned because of the few members or visitors attending, and there were periods when the same half-dozen met on the lodge night to discuss the same subjects. This was so discouraging that on Wednesday, November 17th, 1897, a decision was taken to suspend the meetings until the Annual Meeting in February, 1898.

This meeting took place in the board room of the Bradford Coffee Tavern Company's Offices at 8 o'clock on February 2nd, 1898 at which were present: O. Firth, J. Midgley, J. Gibson, E. Hardcastle, Mrs. Firth, Mrs. Midgley and Miss Spink. F. D. Harrison sent an apology for his absence. The question as to whether the lodge should continue to function was thoroughly discussed, and it was finally resolved: "That the lodge be dissolved, but the library kept together under Mr. Midgley's care." It is interesting to know that many of the books in our present library were subscribed by this original lodge and subsequently handed to the Bradford Lodge by J. Midgley on its resuscitation.

Thus ended the first chapter in the annals of the Theosophical movement in Bradford. In any attempt made to form a judgment upon the work of the Bradford Lodge one muse not overlook these facts: Theosophy presented to the thinker an entirely new conception of life, and people were naturally prejudiced against any teaching calculated to upset their ease and complacency. The idea of reincarnation and karma were both revolting and revolutionary. The spiritualists misunderstood the teaching and reviled it; and orthodox religion ridiculed it. Added to this was the fact that the books available to members for study were few and difficult to understand. If account is taken of all these and other circumstances, one gratefully realises that the members were true pioneers. The loyalty to the lodge and devotion to the cause of Oliver Firth and John Midgley, who remained as president and secretary respectively during the whole time of the lodge's existence, must be acknowledged with warm appreciation.
Go to top of page


ATHENE LODGE.

This lodge commenced its activities on Wednesday, August 30th, 1893, a charter having been granted by headquarters in London.

The following were the first members: B. E. J. Edwards (President), J. Clayton, J. S. Douglas, J. Dunckley, T. H. Pattinson, H. Saville, W. Williams, A. H. Woodcock, Mrs. Pattinson, Misses Clayton, M. Pope and E. Ward.

It is interesting to note that of these, six had been founding members of the Bradford Lodge. It is difficult to understand why another lodge should have been considered necessary in Bradford seeing that the already existing lodge was having difficulty in keeping its doors open. One can only surmise that there was a lack of cohesion among the members. However, the Athene Lodge started auspiciously by inviting Dr. Herbert Coryn, of Brixton, to officially open the Lodge on September 20th, 1893, and to give a public lecture in the lodge rooms at Eldon Buildings, Manningham Lane. The Lodge seems to have been very successful in attracting visitors to the fortnightly meetings which were open to the public. Meetings for members only were held on alternate weeks.

In the early stages of the lodge public meetings were held in one of the small rooms of the Mechanics' Institute, and as the three then existing Bradford newspapers each sent a reporter, valuable publicity was obtained. On one occasion ten members and 33 visitors attended a lecture on "The Kabbala." The first annual report of the lodge stated that for the greater part of the year the membership had been 14, but in July, 1894, seven members had resigned. This serious reduction necessitated a reorganisation of the committee, and Miss Edith Ward, who up to that time had been the secretary was elected the president. There is evidence that the lodge now had difficulty in continuing its useful propaganda work, but with resolution and grit, under the stimulating organising abilities of the president, assisted by such stalwarts as Miss Mary Pope, Henry Saville, A. H. Woodcock and other new members it continued its career.

So as to relieve the financial strain the lodge meetings were held at 25 Hanover Square, the house of Mrs. Atkinson until that lady left the district, when the meetings were held at the Central Commercial Hotel, Westgate.

Another blow came to the Lodge in June, 1896, when Miss Ward and Miss Pope left Bradford to take up work in London. Miss Ward subsequently became treasurer of the society in London.

Public propaganda by this time had almost ceased, except at such times as when the leaders of the movement came from London.

Under the presidency of Henry Saville the Lodge held meetings for study until Wednesday, January 18th, 1899. Although there are no records available as to the activities of the lodge after that date, it was later disclosed that the Lodge "agreed to amalgamate" with a second Bradford Lodge which was formed in September, 1902.

Considering the set-back the Athene Lodge sustained before it had been in existence a year, it speaks well for the tenacity of the remaining members that they continued the work for another eight years. By doing so the Athene Lodge forms a link between the original Bradford Lodge and the present one, and in this way Theosophy has been kept in front of the public continually for fifty years.
Go to top of page


BRADFORD LODGE

The meeting at which a second "Bradford" Lodge agreed to apply for a charter was held on Tuesday, September 30th, l902, in the Yorkshire Penny Bank Chambers, North Parade, Bradford, and Oliver Firth presiding. The following officers were elected: President, Percy Lund; Secretary, Mrs. Firth; Treasurer, Henry Saville; Librarian, Mrs. Firth; Bookseller, J. Dexter. Others present at the meeting were: Miss Atkins, Miss Spink, Miss G. Spink, Miss Gale, Mrs. Wooller, - Waddington, John Midgley and W. Brook.

There is no doubt that the valuable experience gained in the conduct of the two previous Lodges stood the new Lodge in good stead. Most of the discordant elements that developed in the previous lodges were absent, and as time has proved, this was to the benefit of the movement.

At first the lodge devoted special attention to public lectures, of which 21 were given during the first year. In addition, "at homes" were held on Friday afternoons and evenings, at which Theosophy was discussed with any enquirer who came along. The members met fortnightly to arrange the business.

At the end of the first year the membership stood at 25.

A change of policy took place during the second year of the lodge's existence. The weekly (Tuesday) meetings were devoted to public lectures, enquirers' meetings, and study classes for members of the society, and social evenings. This variety of activity was much appreciated and was the means of bringing together many earnest enquirers and thus strengthening the Lodge.

At the annual meeting on Wednesday, September 6th, 1905, under the presidency of F. D. Harrison, the Lodge decided to devote more time to study, and the first book chosen was ''A Study in Consciousness"; also from time to time the members gave papers on "The Secret Doctrine."

The Lodge continued to function very smoothly, and to enrol more members, so that in March, 1908, it was decided to look round for more suitable meeting rooms, and if possible to share the tenancy of a house with a kindred society. Twelve months, however, elapsed before that decision was put into operation. In March, 1909, the lodge joined forces with the Loft Arts Club at 81, Manningham Lane. This was only a temporary home, for in the following September the Lodge again removed to 11, Belle Vue, sharing the house with the Bradford Arts Cub.

The rooms were officially opened on Wednesday, September 29th, 1909, by Miss Maud Sharpe (General Secretary of the parent society), who gave a lecture to the public on "The Bodies we Wear." J. Dexter, who had become president, occupied the chair. Prior to the opening a reception was held, when about 50 members and friends enjoyed tea and conversation.

About this time an effort was made amongst the members to cultivate public speaking, and once a month the Lodge meeting was given over to that object.

In October, 1909, the first of a series of Sunday evening lectures was instituted, and these have continued to this day.

Miss Pattinson (secretary) paid a visit to Pudsey in November, 1910, and addressed about 40 persons on "What is Theosophy?'' This is the first recorded propaganda work outside Bradford undertaken by the lodge. Other towns subsequently visited were Stanningley, Keighley, Skipton, Huddersfield and Halifax, at all of which reading circles were formed. A Lodge at Baildon was commenced after a series of public lectures had been given by Miss Pattinson, W. Gush, and J. Midgley. Four lectures were given at Ilkley by Miss Pattinson, with F. D. Harrison as chairman, during July, 1912.

It was on September 3rd, 1913, that the Lodge removed to its present home at Unity Hall, Rawson Square, after three years' tenancy of Belle Vue had expired. The membership at that time was 39.

The Sunday public lectures and the Wednesday Lodge meetings had become an established institution.

A few facts extracted from the minutes of the first annual meeting held in the new rooms are of interest: President, F. D. Harrison; Vice-President, J. Dexter; Secretary, Miss Pattinson; Treasurer, W. Stringer; Book Steward, Miss Cuff; Assistant Book Steward, J. Burrows; Musical Director, H. Stone; Librarian, E. Halstead; and Assistant Librarian, J. W. Gill. During the year 50 worth of literature was sold. The treasurer had in hand the sum of  1 3s. 2d.

With such a meagre financial backing the members displayed great courage in venturing to take so bold a step as the tenancy of Unity Hall, especially as the rent involved an increase of 30 per year, but there seemed no doubt in their minds that it was the best thing to do. Times have proved they were right. No doubt they were encouraged by the fact that the average attendance at the public lectures was 50, and on occasions there were many more present. This was definite evidence that the presentation of Theosophy was proving helpful to many people, for during the first year in the new rooms the average attendance of the public jumped to 80.

At this time also, the members were asked to give lectures at Bingley, and a travelling box of books was sent to S. Greenwood, of Keighley, who sought to help the work in that town.

As an additional aid to interesting the casual attendees at the lectures, an "at home" with conversation and refreshments was held on Wednesday, January 14th. 1914, at which 130 persons attended. This was such a gratifying success that other similar functions followed at intervals. The personal contact gained in asking and answering knotty problems, particularly as regards enquirers who were naturally shy, was most helpful, and many members were made as a result.

On Wednesday, February 2nd, 1916, the Lodge celebrated its Silver Jubilee. About 60 members and friends attended, including members from neighbouring lodges and centres. Music and refreshments formed part of the entertainment. A review of the work of the previous 25 years was given by F. D. Harrison and J. Midgley. A letter was read from Hodgson Smith, of Harrogate, apologising for not being able to accept an invitation to attend and thanking Bradford for having introduced Theosophy to Harrogate. "It was in St. George's Hall, in November, 1891, that I and others first heard Mrs. Besant lecture on 'What is Theosophy?' After that lecture we determined to have a Lodge of the Theosophical Society in Harrogate," he wrote.

During the War period 1914-18 the Lodge was faced with a real difficulty. Lecturers from a distance could not come because of traffic dislocation, so the president persuaded every available member to prepare and deliver lectures. The public attended in ever-increasing numbers and their thirst for knowledge had to be satisfied or a golden opportunity to spread Theosophy would be lost. The Unity lecture room was crowded every Sunday evening, and on occasions people had to be turned away. Members who had joined only six months before gave lectures which met with much appreciation. By this means interest was sustained and the Cause advanced. Enthusiasm and service were the key-notes of that memorable period, every member being imbued with both these commendable qualities.

In addition to all this, members went out enthusiastically on lecture tours to Keighley (where during 1916-17, 24 addresses were given); to Baildon (15 addresses); and to Bingley (eight addresses). These activities were part of a scheme which had been outlined to the Lodge on Wednesday, November 29th, 1916, by the president and it was only the beginning of more ambitious projects later. Whilst Miss Clara Codd (National Lecturer) was paying a two-weeks' visit to Bradford in September, 1917, the fullest use was made of her services, and she spoke at Shipley, Keighley, Halifax and Spen Valley. The success of those lectures prompted the president to follow it up by extending the scope of the Lodge work, and with that idea in mind he put forth the characteristic suggestion of forming centres and lodges in those towns, to be assisted by the members of the Bradford Lodge. Already study groups were being held in Keighley (for a period of three months) in charge of Miss Read at first, and later Miss Clara Robinson and J. T. Wolstenholme. Then Mrs. Clayton and T. W. Holmes took charge, with Miss D. Hargreaves as assistant. Bingley was in charge of Mrs. Hargreaves and R. Clayton and Shipley in charge of J. T. Wolstenholme and Mrs. Gill. Cleckheaton was in charge of J. Briggs and Miss A. Chew; later J. W. Gill took the place of Miss Chew. It is interesting to record that during her two weeks' visit, Miss Codd delivered 15 lectures at Bradford and the four towns mentioned above, about 3,000 persons hearing her. On two occasions at Unity Hall the upper room would not hold all who sought admittance, and overflow meetings were subsequently addressed by Miss Codd in the lower room.

Another visit was paid by Miss Codd from April 7th to 28th, 1918, when the Picture House, Thornton Road, was taken for Sunday lectures and Mechanics' Institute for Tuesday lectures. Crowded audiences listened with rapt attention to her discourses. It was during this visit that Keighley, Bingley, Cleckheaton and Shipley were constituted official centres of the Theosophical Society.

Miss Codd paid yet another visit in November and December, 1918, when the same Picture House was taken for nine Sundays and Unity Hall for seven Thursdays. Crowded audiences assembled.

The Lodge's greatest activity and numerical prosperity was in 1918-1919, no fewer than 38 members being admitted during that year, making a total of 120 with 32 associates. Many of those members were associated with the newly-formed Centres which had developed out of the lodge's propaganda effort, and as it was a ruling at Headquarters that only existing members of the society could form a new Lodge, it followed that when these were raised to the status of Lodges, those who had joined in Bradford transferred their membership to the Lodges of their own district. Therefore when in the following years the membership of the Bradford Lodge fell considerably, the reason was this inevitable transfer.

During 1918-1919, 57 public lectures were given in Unity Hall, the Picture House and the Mechanics' Institute by Miss Codd and members from Bradford and other Lodges, with a total attendance of 17,880 (an average of 303 per meeting). During the same period the average attendance at the 47 Lodge meetings was 73. The number of books loaned from the library was 647 and books to the value of 206 were sold. It had been the custom to devote the profits from the sale of literature to purchasing books for the library. Miss Cuff had done this in the past, and F. Brooman, who was book stall steward at that time handed over 41 volumes, to the value of 10 2s. 0d. Many more books have been given in this way in subsequent years.

On Wednesday evening, July 2nd, 1919, the Bradford Lodge had the unique experience of participating in a ceremony of "Dedication of Members' Infant Children to the service of the Masters." The president (F. D. Harrison) at a very impressive ceremony gave names to Marjorie, the daughter of Arthur and Mrs. Clemo; and to Derek, the son of Fred and Mrs. Brooman. A Theosophical seal was presented to each of the children.

In response to an advertisement placed in a Halifax newspaper the secretary of the Bradford Lodge, E. C. Bolt, met four interested enquirers about Theosophy on Thursday, June 6th, 1918. This meeting was destined to be the forerunner of many years' Lodge and propaganda work in that town, under the presidency of A. Jackman. Halifax became a Lodge on November 29th, 1919.

It could hardly be expected that, in spite of the hard work put in by our members, all the centres started by the lodge would evolve into lodges. Shipley and Bingley, being only a short tram-ride from Bradford did not seek Lodge status, those interested preferring to throw in their lot with Bradford and share in the many more attractive activities that the city could offer. Cleckheaton, however, became a Lodge in December, 1918, with J. W. Gill as president; and Keighley in April, 1921, with Mrs. Clayton as president. Huddersfield also received attention, and whilst Miss Codd was on one of her frequent visits to Bradford, this town was allocated three public meetings in October, 1919. A centre was formed in due course and a Lodge was established under the presidency of R. Clayton.

In April, 1921, F. D. Harrison resigned the presidency of the Lodge after having continuously held that office from - 1910 though he had occupied the chair for twelve months some years previously. Looking back at those years, one is impressed with the fact that the great success of the lodge was due to F. D. Harrison's sagacity in making the most of that attractive propagandist, Miss Codd; to the 1914-18 war, when people sought comfort from Theosophy; and to there being a body of enthusiastic members who were determined to make a success of propaganda effort by unreservedly placing themselves at the disposal of the president. One cannot pass over the work of E. C. Bolt without recording sincere appreciation of the valuable work he did as secretary of the Lodge. Tribute to his splendid services was paid by the lodge when it appointed him president in 1921.

Ever since the Lodge has met at Unity Hall it has been happy in having such loyal and earnest workers as F. D. Harrison, T. W. Holmes, H. Saville, J. Midgley, and Miss Pattinson, and it can truthfully be said they helped considerably to lay the foundation of that long period of successful work. The magnitude of the task F. D. Harrison performed for Theosophy can in some measure be realised when it is stated that during his presidency, by gentle persuasion and encouragement, he introduced to the Theosophical Movement no fewer than 57 lecturers, most of whom were younger members of the Society.

With a change of president came a change of policy and less attention was paid to outside propaganda and more to consideration of the relationship of Theosophy to science, economics, sociology and astrology. The Lodge was divided into different sections for specific research into these subjects and the results incorporated in the lodge study as a whole.

In September, 1921, the Lodge commenced a separate group for beginners and interested friends, which met at a different time to the usual Lodge meeting. Whilst C. R. Groves resided in Bradford a well-attended science group was held at his home and continued for some time. An astrological group was also formed with Miss Pattinson and Miss Cowie as leaders. Other groups inaugurated were: Economics (J. F. Harvey); Press and Publicity (W. Gledhill); Social service (Mrs. Edith Hopkinson); Theosophical Fraternity in Education (Miss G. Whitley); Guild of the Citizens of Tomorrow (Miss F. M. Mitchell); and Philosophy (J. S. Wooller). In addition to the above some of the members corresponded with F.T.S. in other countries, under the auspices of the International Correspondence League. The Theosophical Order of Service also had workers among the members.

These numerous activities convinced the council of the Lodge that the rooms available at Unity Hall were not adequate, so in May, 1922, "consideration was given to the question of acquiring new lodge premises to be rented or bought for the sole use of the Lodge and its activities." In 1926 the Lodge considered the purchase of the Temperance Hall, Chapel Street, Leeds Road, but the price the Lodge offered was not sufficient. In 1933 the hall was again offered to the Lodge, but decreased attendances at public lectures did not then warrant the idea being entertained.

Whilst the members were filling the roles of lecturers at the Sunday and Lodge meetings the office of chairman at the public meetings was often shared by the members. This was an innovation introduced during the presidency of A. Jackman and it gave members the opportunity of becoming accustomed to speaking from the platform. Later, in 1929-30, when the Lodge took the unusual step of dividing the duties of the president for twelve months amongst the principal officers of the Lodge, this practice proved of great advantage.

A fund, known as the Lodge Benevolent Fund, was opened for the purpose of financially helping any member whose circumstances needed assistance and this functioned for many years.

A. Jackman resigned the office of President in 1929, having occupied that position from 1923. Much useful work had been done during his presidency, and gratifying results came from the various auxiliaries that were organised at that time.

Headquarters paid the Lodge the compliment of sending down its most gifted speakers, and the Picture House was often filled with audiences thrilled by the inspired messages delivered. As statistical records have not been retained, it cannot be stated what the permanent results were. It could not be expected that the high-water mark reached in 1918-19 would be maintained for a very long period - even if the same set of circumstances had obtained as then existed. Members left the district in pursuit of their business, and though this impoverished the Lodge, it enriched the districts into which those members settled, as they invariably commenced Theosophical activity or augmented the existing lodge by their presence and service.

After a visit from L. W. Rodgers (U.S.A.), and at his suggestion, an invitation was given to all those who were sufficiently interested, to form a study group, and this was accepted. Later, when Miss Codd visited Bradford, similar classes were started. These classes always commenced well, but gradually the attendance diminished and finally the classes ceased. At no time was the numerical result in membership commensurate with the energy put forth by the leaders. Still, it would not be correct to say these efforts had not been worth while-for pioneers do not look for results (though they are encouraging when seen), but rather hope that in some future life the seed sown will come to fruition.

The following served short terms as president of the lodge 1929-30: C. G. Solomon, Mrs. Withill, Mrs. L. Rhodes, F. Brooman, A. Jackman, W. Gledhill, Miss K. Mercer, Mrs. Clayton, J. H. Harvey, and R. Clayton.

R. Clayton was elected president of the Lodge in 1930 and continued in that office for two years.

The year 1932 saw the presidential chair occupied by a lady for the second time in the history of the Lodge-Mrs. Withill. The first lady president was Miss Kate Ward, in 1894. An innovation in the form of study week-ends was introduced at this time and they proved not only interesting but augmented the general knowledge of the members. After Mrs. Withill (now Mrs. Groves) had left Bradford to take up her residence in Middlesbrough, J. S. Wooller was elected president, which office he held till April, 1938. At the present time Miss J. Slingsby is the president.

The history of the past ten years is too close to be judged accurately. The "glory" which the Bradford Lodge attained a quarter of a century ago has gradually failed, through circumstances over which the officials had no control, so that now with a much smaller membership it is found difficult to carry on. In spite of adverse conditions, however, a few workers are bravely holding the fort, and with faith in their hearts look forward to the time when interest in spiritual matters will revive and predominate over things material. Fortitude and determination are still the qualities and characteristics of those who administer the affairs of the lodge, and stimulated by the memory of the stalwarts of the past they are resolved that the work shall continue and deserve, if not attain, success.

During the whole fifty years of Theosophical activity in Bradford, it has always had the valued assistance of the leaders of the movement, who have freely given their services. The following are among the more prominent who have visited the city and addressed public meetings: Mrs. A. Besant (30 times), C. W. Leadbeater, G. R. S. Mead, Mrs. Maud Sharpe, Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, Lady Emily Lutyens, J. I. Wedgwood, Dr. Hayden Guest, Miss E. Bright, H. Baillie-Weaver, C. Jinarajadasa, Miss C. Codd, B. Keightley, W. Q. Judge, Col. Olcott, A. P. Sinnett, B. P. Wadia, D. Graham Pole, Geo. Arundale Miss Charlotte Woods, Prof. Marcault, and we here record our indebtedness to them for the impetus that their visits have given to Theosophy and the Lodge work.
Go to top of page


MINERVA LODGE.

In the Spring of 1917 a Charter was granted for the forming of the Minerva Lodge in Bradford. The first secretary of the lodge was Miss J. S. Pattinson, who will be well remembered by all Bradford theosophists, and by a much larger circle. Miss Pattinson continued as secretary to the time of her death, some 16 years later. The president of the Lodge from the start to the close in 1937, was Percy Lund. Other founder-members were Mr. and Mrs. Dunn, and Mr. and Mrs. Martin. The Lodge meetings were held in the president's study at his home in Southfield Square on alternate Thursdays. Never very large numerically, the intimate atmosphere necessary for study was always maintained, and for very many years most of the members never missed a meeting. The study was based on Percy Lund's own research work and scholarship, and was largely connected with the Christian Scriptures, particularly the Genesis story and the Gospel of St. John. Percy Lund in his turn was indebted to two Frenchmen, Fabre d'Olivet and St. Yves del Veydre for being able to retranslate the first chapters of Genesis according to the original Hebrew language, each proper noun of which is a hieroglyph and contains a wealth of occult meaning. This was fascinating study, and truly and literally the "Divine Wisdom."

On the death of Miss Pattinson, Miss F. I. Clayton became secretary, who in turn was succeeded by Mrs. L. Osborn. The Lodge was wound up in 1937, owing to the failing health of the president, but those who were privileged to be members of the Minerva, will never cease to be grateful for those many years of study and fellowship.
Go to top of page


LADIES' SEWING GUILD.

At the Lodge meeting held on March 25th, 1914, Mrs. Noakes proposed that "this lodge agrees to form a scheme for the making and distributing of garments." Many of the members agreed to join in this work and by the following September 50 garments had been made and distributed-the materials for these having been given by four gentlemen. Under the guidance of Mrs. Noakes who was appointed secretary and treasurer by the lodge this effort was continued the following year and in December, 1916, a party was held at which fifty children of poor parents were entertained to tea and games, etc., at Horton Lane Congregational Schoolroom. 113 garments had been made and these were distributed at the close of the evening. In May, 1917, Mrs. Noakes left Bradford and the work of the sewing guild was continued under the guidance of Mrs. F. D. Harrison, Mrs. Clayton and Mrs. Mitchell, these ladies also organising the parties for the next four years.

In 1921 the secretaryship passed to Miss A. Richardson and parties were held up to 1927. Eventually the Lodge decided that a more useful way of using the funds of the guild would be by passing them on to one already devoted to children in the Miners' Distressed Areas.

Go to top of page


ROUND TABLE GROUP.

It should be remembered that whilst the lodge was vigorous in its pursuit of satisfying the adult mind in Theosophy, the thought of helping children had not been overlooked. In August, 1912, a suggestion was made that "we interest children of the members in Theosophy by initiating a Round Table Group." No steps, however, were taken to form such a group, but the matter was again mentioned in June, 1916, when Miss Cuff gave details to the Council regarding the formation of a group in Bradford. In May, 1922, after a visit from Mrs. Herbert Whyte, Miss Mitchell was appointed and remained leader of the Order of the Round Table and the Golden Chain in Bradford, which met at the house of Mrs. Booth in Grove Terrace. The Round Table met once a month on Wednesday evenings and the Golden Chain on Sunday afternoons.

At the opening meetings nine children joined the Round Table and eight the Golden Chain. The activities were continued regularly for seven years, during which time 39 children were associated with the movement. Each year in the early summer an open meeting was held in Unity Hall, which was usually attended by the Senior Knight for England, Mrs. H. Whyte. The performance of plays for the Christmas Socials of the Theosophical Society was one branch of the activities of the movement. Active assistance in the opening stages of the groups was given by Mrs. Lilian Groves and Bernard Gregsten; and in the later years by Miss Mercer. Go to top of page


APPENDIX
LIST OF MEMBERS.

The following is a list of those persons who had joined the Theosophical Society during its first 50 years of activity. In each case the name that is given is that in which those persons were accepted as members.
Alderson, Miss F. Andrews, Mrs. E.
Astbury, Mrs Atkins, Miss R.
Atkinson, R J. Atkinson, Mrs. J.
Aykroyd, H. E. Aykroyd, Mrs. B.
  Bancroft, Mrs.
Barfoot, Miss Barmforth, Miss
Barraclough, S. P. Bateman,-
Bateman, Mrs. Beadle, Miss
Belfield, Mrs. H. R. Berry, Dr. P. N.
Bolt, E. C. Bolt, Mrs. A.
Booth, Mrs. E. Bort, Miss
Bottomley, Miss E. Bottomley, Miss C.
Bower, Miss M. Bradley, Miss M.
Breden, Mrs. F. Briggs, J.
Briggs, Mrs. A. E. Briggs, Miss E. M.
Broadley, Miss J. Brook, W.
Brook, Miss E. Brook, Miss M.
Brooksbank, Mrs. E. Brooman, F.
Broughton, Mrs. A. Buckley, Miss A.
Bulmer, L. T. Bulmer, Mrs. M. A.
Burrows, J. Bushell, Miss
Bushell, Miss E. Bushell, Miss M. E.
Butterfield, Mrs. Buttle, Mrs. A. M.
  Carver, Miss E.
Cherry, Mrs. I. Chesterman, Miss F.
Chew, Miss A. Clayton, J.
Clayton, R. Clayton, Mrs. A.
Clayton, A. Clayton, Miss F. I.
Clayton, Mrs. M. Clemo, A.
Clemo, Mrs. H. Coe, Miss E. E.
Cook, Miss F. C. Cook, Miss B.
Cook, Miss E. M. M. Cottam, C. G.
Coulthard, Miss M. A. Cousins, J. H.
Cowie, Miss M. Crabtree, Mrs. M.
Crabtree, Miss M. A. Craven, H.
Craven, Miss A. Craven, Miss C.
Crowther, - Cuff, Miss E.
Culverwell, Nurse  
Dawson, R. Dawson, Miss H.
Dewhirst, Miss D. M. Dexter, J.
Dexter, E. Dickinson, W.
Dixon, Miss C. Dobby, Miss A.
Douglas, J. S. Drake, Miss L.
Dunn, E. J. Dunn, Mrs. E. M.
Duncan, N. Dunckley, J.
Dunnett, Miss B. Duxbury Mrs. I. W.
Dyer, W. H. Dyer, Mrs.
  Edmonds, R.
Edwards, B. E. J Edwards, Mrs.
Elsworth, A. Elsworth, Miss L.
Emerson, Mrs. M. H. Emmott, Mrs. L.
  Farrer, J. E.
Faulkner, E. Fawcett, Miss A
Fearnley, Mrs. Fearnley, Miss
Fearnley, Miss A. Fearnside, Miss G. M.
Fieldhouse, Mrs. M. Fieldhouse, Miss
Findlayson, Miss M. Firth, O.
Firth, Mrs. F. M. Firth. Miss A.
Firth Miss E. Fitchett, Miss M.
Fletcher, Miss L. Forshaw, Mrs. A.
Foster, R. J. Foster, Mrs. V. I.
Fowler, Miss A. Garbutt, G. E.
Garforth, Miss I. Garnett, Mrs. E.
Garrod, Miss L. Garrod, Miss E.
Garth, Miss I. Gellatly, Miss A.
Gibson, C Gibson, Mrs.
Gibson, Mrs. M. Gill, J. W.
Gill, Mrs. P. Gill, Miss D.
Gill, Miss M. Gilson, Miss M. E.
Gledhill, W. Glover, Miss
Goodwin, J. Gordon, Miss I.
Gorrell, J. Graham-Bell,-
Graham-Bell, Mrs. Grant, Miss J.
Grason, W. Grason, C. H.
Greenman, Miss H. Greenwood, W.
Greenwood, S. Greenwood, Mrs. A.
Gregsten, E. B. Grenet, Mrs. V.
Groves, C. R. Groves. Mrs. L. M.
Gush, W. Gwillim, Miss E. M.
  Hainsworth, B.
Hainsworth, Mrs. E. Hainsworth, H.
Hall, Mrs. Hall, Miss
Halstead, E. Halstead, Mrs. E.
Halstead, Miss C. Hardcastle, E.
Hardcastle, F. Hardcastle, Mrs.
Hardman, Mrs. B. Hargreaves, Mrs. H.
Hargreaves, Miss D. Hargreaves, Mrs. K.
Hargreaves, Mrs. Harper, Mrs.
Harrison, F. D. Harrison, Mrs.
Harrison, Miss R. L. Harrison, G. F. L.
Harrison, Mrs. S. E. Harrison, Mrs. H.
Harrison, Miss E. Harrison, Miss G.
Harison, Miss G. S. Harrison, Miss N.
Hartley, Mrs. Hartley, Mrs. E.
Hatfield, Prof. Harvey, J. F.
Hird,- Holden, A.
Hollingsworth, Miss A. Holmes, C. E.
Holmes, T. W. Holroyd, Miss E.
Hope, Miss J. G. Hopkinson, Mrs. A. A.
Hopkinson, Mrs. E. Hudson, V.
Hudson, Mrs. E. Hudson, Miss M.
Hudson, Miss L. Hudson, Miss A.
Huntley, Miss A. M.  
Ingham, Miss E. Ives. Miss S.
  Jackman, A.
Jackman, Mrs. E. Jackson, E.
Jackson, Mrs. Jackson, Miss S. G.
Jastrzebski, E. S. Jessop, Miss H.
Jones, Miss E.  
Keighley, Miss L. Kendall, G.
Kitson, T. Kitson, Mrs. J.
  Langford, Miss G.
Langford, Miss L. Lansdale, Mrs.
Lee, Miss A. Leeming, Miss F.
Liversedge, S. J. Long, Miss D.
Longfellow, G. H. Lord, Miss M.
Lund, P.  
Mackay, E. Mallinson, Miss E. C.
Mann, Miss J. E. Marsden, Mrs. E.
Marshall, - Marsland, Mrs.
Martin, - Martin, Mrs.
Matthewman, G. McGuire, Miss H.
Melhuish, Mrs. M. Mellor, Mrs.
Mercer, Miss K. Metcalfe, Miss G.
Metcalfe, Mrs. M. Meunier, Mrs.
Midgley, J. Midgley, Mrs.
Midgley, J. A. V. Midgley, Miss E.
Millington, Miss M. Mitchell, J. A.
Mitchell, Mrs. E. J. Mitchell, Miss F. M.
Moss, C. E. Moxon, H.
Munro, Dr Myers, W. V.
  Naylor, H.
Nettleton, Mrs. E. Noakes, Mrs. F.
Norton, E. P. H. Norton, Mrs. C. A.
  Oates, G. F.
O'Brien, J. Oddy, Mrs. M. A. P.
Oddy, Miss A Oddy, Miss A. M.
Osborn, Mrs. L.  
Palmer, Miss A. W. Parkin, Miss H. M.
Parkin, Miss F. Parkinson, Mrs. L.
Parkinson, Mrs. I. Pattinson, T. H.
Pattinson, Mrs. T. H. Pattinson, Miss J. S.
Pattinson, Miss A. O. Payne, F.
Pearce, - Pearce, Mrs. M.
Pearson, Mrs. M. Pickles, Mrs. E. E.
Pomphrey, J. Poole, Miss
Pope, Miss M. Popplestone, Miss E.
Porter, Mrs. E. Porter, Miss L. E.
Pownall, J. H. Prcston. Miss M.
  Rawlinson, Mrs. M. J.
Rawson, Mrs. Raynor, Mrs. A.
Raynor, Miss N. Read, Miss E. J.
Reynolds, Miss S. Rhodes, Mrs. L.
Rhodes, F. Richardson, Miss A.
Richardson, Miss E. Rigg, A.
Riley, L. E. Robinson, Miss C.
Roger, Miss Rushforth, Mrs. E.
  Salmond, A. T.
Saville, H. Saville, A.
Schaub, Mrs. E. Scott, Mrs. A.
Shackleton, Mrs. I. Shapcott, Miss A.
Shaw, Mrs. C. Slater, W.
Slater, Mrs. Slingsby, Miss J.
Slingsby, Miss L. Smith, J. H.
Smith, Miss M. Smith, Miss P.
Smith, Mrs. M. Solomon, C. G.
Solomon, Mrs. W. Spink Miss G.
Spink. Miss K. Stoker Miss A.
Stone, H. Stringer. W.
Stringer Mrs. E. Suffolk A. A.
Sutcliffe. Miss. E. Swithenbank, N.
Sykes, B. H. Symes, Miss J E.
  Tait, Mrs. G.
Tempest, Miss. E. Terley, A.
Thomas, T. H. Thomas, Mrs. S.
Thompson, Mrs. E. Thornton, Mrs. A.
Tinsley, E. H. Tinsley, Mrs.
Tiplady, Miss S. C. Todd, Mrs. E.
Todd, Miss Z.  
Verity, J. Verity, Mrs. E.
  Waddington, -
Walker, Miss M. M. Walton -
Walton, Mrs. G. Ward, H. S.
Ward,- Ward, Miss E.
Warneford, Miss M. E. Waterhouse, Miss F.
Watkin, Miss E. A. Waugh, Mrs. W.
Wear, Miss F. Webster-
Whalley, Mrs. Whatmuff, Miss L.
White, A. J. Whitley, Mrs. E.
Whitley, Miss G. Whitworth, Miss E.
Wigglesworth, Mrs. Wilkinson, Mrs. M. B.
Wilkins, Miss V. E. Williams, W.
Williamson, Miss M. Wilman, Miss F. M.
Wilson, T. W. Wilson, Mrs. G.
Wiseman Miss D. K. Withill, Mrs. D. A.
Wood, J. Wood, Mrs.
Woodall, Miss L. Woodcock, A. H.
Woodhead, Mrs. A. Wooller, Mrs.
Wooller, J. S. Wolstenholme, J. T.
Wolstenholme, Mrs. Worsnop, L. S.
Wornsnop, Mrs. M. Worth, W.
Worth, Mrs. C. Wrathmell, Mrs. A.
Wray, Mrs. A. Wright, R. D.
Wright, Mrs. Wrigley, A. K.
Wrigley, Mrs. B. V. Wynn, J. J.
  Yewdall, Miss F.
Yewdall. Miss H.  
Go to top of page

Page last modified on:


Bradford Theosophical Society,
Secretary: Atma Trasi, 66 Kirkgate, Shipley, West Yorks BD18 3EL
Tel: 01274 598455.  Email: info@ts-bradford.org.uk
I would be most grateful to receive notifications of any errors or mistakes and also for any suggestions for improvement of this web site. I thank you in anticipation.