A Masonic Mystery
There is much in Mellor that is ‘special’ – the views, the church, Mellor Mill – but very little that is genuinely ‘unique’. One feature that is truly unique is the Masonic grave of Thomas Brierley, an eccentric printer from Brookbottom, near Strines. A very enthusiastic, though somewhat eccentric, mason, he arranged for a gravestone to be prepared for him in anticipation of his death. Parts of the inscription were written in cipher and other parts left blank because information of the date of his death were not known when the memorial was made.
He used a very old, yet simple, cipher known as the pigpen cipher. Used by mystics as early as the sixteenth century it was later used by the Freemasons but for purely cryptic purposes. Beginning in the early 18th century, they used it to keep records of their history and their rites private and for correspondence between lodge leaders. From there some masons decided to inscribe it on their tombstones.
Thomas Brierley’s tombstone is the only one known in the UK. The tomb can still be seen against the south wall of Mellor Church though it is sadly deteriorating. Some of the letters are now eroded but we have a drawing made in 1899 by Joel Wainwright which is clear enough.
So, what does it say? Although the cipher is quite simple, Thomas used several variations on the idea to make it rather more difficult. The first line of code immediately under the name “Thomas Brierley” can be read by using these substitutions.
The second line, underneath “July 16th 1785”, uses a different configuration of substitutions:
With the third line, underneath the word “Years” he uses yet another variation, a straightforward letter substitution. However, just in case you think it is too easy, he uses different substitutions for each of the three words:
Finally, the symbols inscribed around the coffin at the base of the memorial use the first substitution shown above.
So, have you worked it out by now? I hope so. It would be a tribute to an unusual and interesting person. He died in 1854 but sadly, after his death, no one was sufficiently interested to fill in the details. perhaps it is just as well. It is a nice touch that something can remain unsolved.
For those who don’t have the patience nor the time to work out the full text, you can find the answer below.
Neil Mullineux, Marple Local History Society
Mellor Society Annual General Meeting 28th March 2019
1. Bob Humphrey-Taylor welcomed everyone and delivered apologies including those of Local Councillors who were attending a Council Meeting.
2a. The minutes of the last AGM were accepted as correct by those members at the meeting.
2b. Report of the Committee
In undertaking its role to protect and conserve the
environment and amenities of our area the Mellor Society and its committee members have been involved in the following:
Supporting the efforts of the Mill Brow residents in continuing to upgrade their local childrens play area.We have also had meetings with our Local Councillors, Environmental Officer from SMBC and concerned residents regarding vegetation spreading over Church Road and Gibb Lane and further restricting the width of these already narrow lanes. We’ve discussed interpretation board signs in the Mellor Memorial Park and repairing the road surface of Parkside, Old Hall Lane and associated areas of unsurfaced lanes near the Memorial Park.
In Summer 2016 the Committee proposed the setting up of a local Neighbourhood Plan which would give residents and those working in our area a say in the development and conservation of our area for the next 20 years. We are pleased to report that the Mellor, Marple Bridge, Mill Brow and Compstall Neighbourhood Plan achieved registration in January this year and earlier this month held its inaugural AGM. We will continue to report on the Neighbourhood Plan process in newsletters and our website and encourage people to become involved.
The Society continues to support the Walklate Trust, Royal British Legion and is a member of the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
We have continued to receive support from Annandale Solutions with regard to our website costs and administration, the Parish Centre for printing and meeting room facilities and Margaret Simpson representing the Society on Remembrance Sunday. Our Local Councillors regularly attend our committee meetings and promote our issues and concerns with SMBC. We thank all the above for their efforts.
Our newsletter deliverers deserve a special mention and thanks including Alan and Kitty Watt who have “retired” from this role after many years.
The Society can’t continue without your support and we need members to serve on the committee, deliver the newsletters and contribute to your website and newsletter.
If anyone would like further information on any of the above please contact any committee member.
For the last ten years or so, all our minutes have been stored electronically. We also have six large boxes of paper records going back to the Society being formed. These paper records have never been accessed by the committee during the last ten years and we have decided to re-locate them to the records of the local history society at the Parish Centre.
2c. The cost of the annual subscription is to be maintained at £1 per member.
2d. The Hon Treasurer, Adam Stevens presented and reviewed the Society accounts. The Society’s positive cash balance at the end of December 2018 was £2,588:03. The details of the accounts were passed to the membership and M. Williams and A. Papageorgiou proposed and seconded their acceptance. This was accepted by the membership. If any member requires further details of the accounts please contact Adam Stevens.
2e. The existing committee was voted in for a further year by the membership.
2f. There was no new business brought to the meeting by the committee.
2g. A Papageorgiou’s proposal detailed in the Spring 2019 Newsletter that the Mellor Society Committee, with help from the membership, organise a Public Meeting on the subject of road safety in Mellor and Mill Brow was seconded by J Graves and accepted by the membership. (Further information on the progress to-date is given later in this newsletter).
3. The AGM was closed by the Chair and refreshments were served prior to the commencement of the Great Mellor Quiz (proceeds from which were donated to the Mellor March Fund).
Mellor Country House Charity
Our last event was the Plant sale and we wanted to say a massive thank you for all that gave us their support over the weekend. We sold even more than last year, over £21,000, which is remarkable! The new card machine for contactless payments was very popular, at one time we had a queue around the garden of people waiting to pay. Sorry, next year we will improve this for you all.
We have been successful with a funding application to the Postcode Lottery Local Fund which is to extend the rear playground area and erect a much-needed bike shed for all the many bikes our visitors use during their stay. We now have a new campaign called “Buy us a Bike” as all the bikes donated over the years are now well past their sell by dates. We are asking the community and business to help with either new bikes or if you have a bike that is no longer needed but in good repair we would be very grateful if you would consider donating it to us. We will now have somewhere secure to store them and protect them from the winter. We have had one company pay for two brand new bikes and a very generous person went all around his family and serviced five bikes before sending them to us and we are thankful for his generosity. We need bikes for all ages and any colour as long as they are roadworthy and fit for purpose. We do not have the facility to repair any donated bikes. If you can help in any way you would be making a young person very happy this summer as they will enjoy riding the bikes or scooters up and down the driveway and around the gardens with their friends.
If you want to help by volunteering if you have a couple of hours to spare perhaps doing a bit of weeding in the garden, then please do not hesitate, get in touch by ringing 0161 427 193 or popping in to have a chat with Sharon. Thank you all again for your continued support, we cannot do what we do without you, have a great summer,
Margaret Powell, Chairperson.
Mellor Country House Charity Gets Royal Recognition
Mellor Country House charity that offers holidays for those most in need, has received a Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service, the equivalent of getting an MBE.
Mellor Country House close to Marple in Stockport hosts approximately 650 people a year and up to half are children. Anyone on low income and in desperate need of a break who would otherwise not be able to afford one, is welcome to book at the house which can accommodate up to 26 people in 12 bedrooms including a disabled suite with spa bath, at any one time. People can stay up to seven nights for as little as £12 per night for adults and £6.50 for children on a self-catering basis.
Chair of the charity, Margaret Powell and house manager, Sharon Adamson, were invited to Buckingham Place to a royal garden party to celebrate their organisation’s achievement. Completely self-funding and with only one paid member of staff, the charity is run by an army of more than 40 volunteers. On receiving the award Margaret Powell said: “We’re really proud to receive this award and it’s fantastic recognition for all the time our volunteers give us to ensure this house so welcoming for our guests.
As Lord Hallam Tennyson, eldest son of the renowned poet, said at the opening of the house in 1907, he hoped “a blessing would fall on this house of rest which would invigorate not only the flagging pulse but send the light of day into a darkened heart”.
Mellor Country House is a very special place and it’s our shared passion for it which drives us, as we can really make a huge difference to people’s lives. it is down to the hard work of our team of volunteers. Sharon Adamson, who has been Mellor Country House’s house manager for more than 20 years added: “In all this time the charity has not changed its ethos and, this wish still rings true today. There’s an increasing number of people in Greater Manchester who cannot afford to put food on the table let alone have a holiday. We provide a restful, relaxing and recreational retreat for some of the region’s most vulnerable people. The historic home offers a safe, secure and uplifting environment in a stunning location. The holidays promote health and well-being and can have a lasting impact on people’s lives. While children play, parents interact and share their experiences, knowledge and sometimes even their food. This helps them to solve problems, gives them respite from often a chaotic, unstable and stressful life at home and prepares them to cope better with any difficulties that lie ahead.”
The house was purpose-built in 1907 to provide relaxing and restful breaks in the beautiful countryside of Mellor for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to get away anywhere. Funds were raised by mill owners’ wives and originally intended for mill workers. The holiday home has continuously offered accommodation for the poor and vulnerable in the wider community for more than 110 years.
A stay at Mellor Country House can make a real difference to people’s lives. It can help build confidence and engender a renewed sense of purpose. When the house was opened over 100 years ago, it was designed to be an unpretentious place for working people to rest and restore their health in beautiful surroundings. This has not changed. In addition to the bedrooms, the house also has a disabled suite on the ground floor, a well-equipped shared kitchen, dining room, lounges and children’s playroom. The grounds include a secure play area for toddlers, a paved patio with barbecue, and a private lawn area with benches and seating for quiet reflection. The house is open until the 31st October 2019 then reopens on 1 March 2020.
Anyone in serious need from Greater Manchester who would like to stay at heavily subsided rates (£12 per night for an adult and £6.50 for a child) should call 0161 427 1893 or email email@example.com to check availability and book.
For more information visit https://www.mellorcountryhouse.co.uk
On August 28th volunteers from Mellor Country House will collect an engraved, commemorative crystal trophy and a certificate signed by Her Majesty the Queen at a special ceremony at Gorton Monastery. They will be presented by Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Warren Smith and the Vice Lord-Lieutenant, Paul Griffiths DL.
Mellor Country House is one of 35 Queen’s Awards for Voluntary Service to be handed out to Greater Manchester voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises, in a record year. Commenting on Mellor Country House, The Lord-Lieutenant of Greater Manchester, Warren Smith, said: “This charity is a very worthy recipient. Mellor Country House flings its doors wide open for those most in need in our county. These include individuals and families who are financially and socially disadvantaged, as well as groups with learning difficulties, mental health problems and school children from the most deprived parts of Greater Manchester. They offer a homely retreat tucked away in a beautiful part of the region, right on the edge of the peak district. With the support of volunteers, I hope they continue to offer this valuable service for another hundred years.”
Margaret Powell, Chairperson.
Speed Limits – a Health and Safety Issue
Following the proposed action recorded at the AGM a small group met on the 8th May 2019 to discuss the way forward. It was agreed that we approach local experts with specialist knowledge about road safety and planning issues to secure their support at the proposed Public Meeting. It is hoped to hold the meeting at Mellor School in the Autumn of this year and further details will be given closer to that time.
Meanwhile Councillor Allan has obtained the results of the speed monitors placed on Longhurst Lane last year. Up-ward speeds were recorded between 30th August and 6th September with the average speed being 29mph. Forty six percent of the traffic was travelling between 30 and 40mph and one percent (93 vehicles that week) were over 40mph, the fastest being 50mph. The down-ward traffic was slightly slower averaging 28mph with sixty one percent travelling between 20 and 30mph, thirty four percent travelling between 30 and 40mph and point seven percent travelling faster. Between 1,053 and 1,414 vehicles travelled up-wards daily with slightly lower numbers at weekends. Mornings tend to have more down-wards traffic and afternoons tend to have more up-ward traffic. Moor End residents held a meeting at the Oddfellows pub on 20th March to discuss their particular traffic issues especially the ineffectiveness of the 30mph speed sign in its current location.
Other Society Members attended the inaugural meeting of the WalkRide Marple Group which met at the Navigation pub on 24th April. This group is part of a Greater Manchester initiative to make roads safer and more attractive for walkers and cyclists and to encourage people to get out of their cars for health and environmental benefits.
Three of our Local Councillors have discussed the designation of Gibb Lane as a “Quiet Lane” and a report is being prepared for approval by SMBC. “Quiet Lane” designation means that walkers, cyclists and horse riders have equal rights to the road as cars. There is more information about Quiet Lanes on the CPRE website. An existing Quiet Lane in our area is the Windlehurst end of Torkington Lane.
It will be helpful if Society members can send details of any near misses and other traffic/road safety issues to the Mellor Society website. Such data will help identify dangerous areas and situations and if available before the proposed Autumn Public Meeting could be addressed at that meeting. Any correspondence will be treated as confidential. Safer roads in our area can only be achieved with your help. If you have any ideas on how this objective can be achieved and can help in any way please contact the following or the Mellor Society website. Ann Papageorgiou (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A Mellor Mystery …solution
Made his Ingress
July 16th 1785
His Progress Was
And his egress
Holiness to the Lord
Unfortunately this unique feature is deteriorating over time and needs some TLC. Do we have any stonemasons who could give help and advice? Are there any Freemasons who could interest their local lodge in restoring this grave? Would anyone volunteer to weed and look after this memorial on a regular basis? Please contact www. melsoc.org.uk