The banner of the St Andrew Order of Ancient Free Gardeners, Olive Lodge, Partick.
Scotland's first Gardeners' lodge is believed to have been founded in Haddington in the 17th century. The lodges originally promoted and regulated the gardening profession but also acted as friendly societies, providing members with financial support in times of need and paying funeral expenses to ensure a decent burial. Many adopted the trappings and rituals of masonic lodges, with ceremonial regalia such as the square and compasses shown here resting on the Bible, accompanied by a gardener's pruning knife. Membership was not usually confined to gardeners, and non-gardeners (known as "Free Gardeners") came to dominate most lodges. By the mid-19th century most lodges were, primarily, mutual benefit societies.
The first lodges were independent, but in 1849 there was a meeting in Lasswade to set up a Grand Lodge which would lead the organisation. The spirit of unity did not last, however, and by 1859 there appears to be an Ancient Order of Free Gardeners based in Glasgow and another based in Edinburgh. The Glasgow organisation was known as the St Andrew Order of Ancient Free Gardeners or, alternatively, the Western Grand Lodge.
Reproduced with the permission of Glasgow City Council, Glasgow Museums
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