Canons / Priors Close

The ELMBF are responsible for the administration of the two groups of flats and bungalows in East Lancashire, one in Bolton called Canons Close and the other in Blackburn named Priors Close.

The properties were provided to give affordable accommodation to elderly Masons, their Widows and dependents.

R.W.Bro Canon Taylor, Provincial Grand Master 1948 -61 had been conscious for many years of the burden of upkeep on large old houses on elderly Masons and wanted to find a way of providing rented accommodation for them at a reasonable cost. He discussed it with Thomas Sharples Barlow & George Franworth Nuttall, both later Provincial Grand Masters in East Lancashire, and after the death of Canon Taylor in 1961 they  pressed on with the project. With the help of many other brethren and the gift of land from R.W. Bro T.S. Barlow eight flats were built at the Canons Close site in 1963/64 and work was started on a further eight bungalows.

Canons Close is situated in the Smithills district of Bolton, about two miles from the Town Centre. The site has nine bungalows, eight flats and eight apartments set in pleasant gardens with a service road and car parking facilities. Each unit is self-contained with gas central heating and double glazing.

In 1984 the property adjoining Canons Close came on the market and was purchased by the Fund. The property was demolished and a block of eight apartments, appropriately named Barlow House, was erected and opened by the Grand Master, His Royal Highness, Prince Michael of Kent in December 1987.

Priors Close, The East Lancashire Mark Benevolent Fund was incorporated in 1966 and shortly afterwards Mrs Whittaker, widow of the late W.Bro. Henry Whittaker who had been a close friend of R.W. Bro. Barlow conveyed land and property in Preston New Road Blackburn to the Fund. It was decided to provide similar facilities to the Canons Close site. The property was demolished and sixteen flats built in the grounds, and so Priors Close was born. It is situated about one and a half miles from the town centre and comprises of six two bedroom flats, ten single bedroom flats and two cottages situated in pleasant well-maintained gardens. Each unit is self-contained, has gas central heating and double glazing.

Over the years Lodges have been most generous and members have given and covenanted gifts towards the upkeep and maintenance of the properties. The London based Mark Benevolent Fund has also made grants so that the fund has been able to increase the number of units of accommodation which are available the elderly Mark Master Masons and their Widows.

The day to day management of Canons Close and Priors Close is carried out on behalf of the Committee of Management by local House Committees.