Little Mesters Corks is a new Cork Lodge with its home at
Dore Freemasons' Hall, Sheffield.
Whilst respecting the rituals of Ye Ancient Order of Noble Corks, Little Mesters Corks is also a celebration of the Sheffield area with local dialect incorporated into the Cork ritual as well as some Sheffield iconography.
Uniquely placed at Dore, just as the Old English word ‘dore’ denotes a passage between two kingdoms, Little Mesters Corks straddles the boundary of two Masonic Provinces, Derbyshire and Yorkshire West Riding and will be the first Cork Lodge in the Masonic Province of Derbyshire and the first, geographically, in Yorkshire.
The Ye Ancient Order of Noble Corks also known as ‘The Cork’, is an informal degree allied to Freemasonry. It is described as a “fun” degree and the ritual is distinctly nautical in form and although the origins of the degree are unknown, the ritual is satirical and based around the era of Noah and the great flood.
The ritual and initiation part takes up the first part of the evening, followed by festivities that are “closer to a Scottish Harmony than an English Festive Board”. Hats are worn during the meeting, with head-gear style being of personal choice - the sillier the better.
The Cork is derived from the organisation's emblem of a cork with a corkscrew inserted at an angle.
The main aim to raise money for children's charities… and with ‘Corkies’ having fun in so doing.
The origins of the term ‘little mesters’ are uncertain. Mester is the Sheffield dialect variant of master, thus a Little Mester refers to a master craftsman working on a small scale and is a self-employed worker who rents space in a factory or works from their own workshop.
They were involved in making cutlery or other smallish items such as edge tools (i.e. woodworking chisels).
The term is used almost exclusively to describe the craftsmen of the Sheffield area, and is mostly archaic as this manner of manufacture peaked in the 19th century and has now virtually died out.
Little Mesters either worked alone or employed a small number of workers and/or apprentices.