THE SOMME MEMORIAL LOYAL ORANGE LODGE 842
The earliest record of an Orange Lodge operating in England was in 1798, when Colonel Stanley's regiment of Lancashire militia carried warrant number 220 to Manchester. The regiment was disbanded shortly afterwards, but some of the ex-militiamen who had been lodge members kept the warrant and remained organised as Orangemen.
Thus a civilian lodge was first established and in 1799 the second Battalion of the Manchester and Salford Volunteers returned home carrying number 1128.
After this, numerous regiments including Lord Wilton's Lancashire Volunteers and Sir Watkin Williams Wynne's Ancient Britons, brought Orange warrants to England.
Lodges were formed at Oldham, Bury, Stockport, Ashton-Under-Lyne, Rochdale, and Wigan, but Manchester, where the first lodge was formed, remained the stronghold of the movement.
At first these English lodges were little more than clubs of ex-soldiers, but gradually they began to include ordinary civilians in their membership. They operated mainly as Protestant friendly societies and took little interest in the politics of the day.
Most of the early English Orange lodges remained affiliated to the Grand Lodge of Ireland and historians believe many members were Irish Protestants who had enlisted in English militia regiments or who had come to England to work.
At about the same time many Irish Roman Catholics were moving to the Lancashire area to seek work in the cotton mills and on occasions there was conflict with the Orange lodge members settled there.
In the early part of the 19th century the Orange Order in England expanded with a county lodge set up in Lancashire and lodges formed in Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, York and Bradford.
Two lodges were formed in London in 1807 - the same year as Orangeism was introduced to Scotland.
A British Grand Lodge was founded in May 1808 and the Irish Warrants held by English lodges were cancelled and replaced by new ones.
In those early years, notables such as the Duke of Cumberland and the Duke of York, (uncles of Queen Victoria), became closely identified with the Order and many MPs of the day were members. Cumberland was for a period, Grand Master of the Empire.
However, the Order remained strongest in those English regions with large Irish populations and through the 19th century and into the 20th lodges mushroomed in the Merseyside region, with Liverpool becoming a rival to Manchester as the home of English Orangeism.
Today, there are some 250 Orange lodges functioning in England, about half of them senior lodges and the other half women's and junior organisations.
About two-thirds of the English lodges operate on Merseyside - in Liverpool city, Kirby, Bootle, and Birkenhead.
The other English regions with lodges are Manchester and surrounding parts of Lancashire; Yorkshire and the North East around Newcastle-on-Tyne; London; Bristol, Plymouth and Portsmouth in the South West; Sussex in the South East; the Midlands centering on Oxford, Birmingham, Coventry, and Corby, and the Workington/Barrow, Marypost strip along the North West.
Orangeism first started in Coventry just after the Second World War by three Belfast men, Bros. Harry Chunn, Hugh Dickson, and William Ellis, and a Donegal man Bro. Tom McBride, whose name is a legend in the Coventry District. These four men took the dormant warrant John Wesley L.O.L. 584 from Birmingham to Coventry and the flowering of this lodge was dramatic due to the large influx of Scots and Ulstermen into the city looking for employment. This lodge, after a period of recession, is now blooming again and has been the backbone of the Coventry District for many years. Out of this lodge came two other lodges, Rev. Dean Askins Memorial L.O.L. 250 and 'Sons of Donegal' L.O.L. 75.
All these lodges work under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of England, which is a constituent member of the World Orange Council.