Celebrating 300 years

The Tercentenary celebrations of Freemasonry in Leicestershire and Rutland culminated in a Service of Thanksgiving at Leicester Cathedral on Sunday 29th October 2017

Before the service, the Freemasons processed in glorious sunshine from Jubilee Square to the Cathedral. This was the first the time in 94 years that a public procession by the Freemasons has taken place through the streets of Leicester.

Upon arriving at the Cathedral, the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger was welcomed outside by the Dean, Very Reverend David Monteith. They both then welcomed the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Lady Gretton and the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, Sir Laurence Howard. Other guests present included Civic leaders Councillor Rashmikant Joshi, Lord Mayor of Leicester, Janice Richards, Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, Craig Mitchell, High Sheriff of Rutland, Councillors Pauline Ranson, Mayor of Charnwood, Tejpal Singh Bains, Mayor of Melton Borough Council, Ozzy O’Shea, Mayor of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, Graham Spendlove-Mason, Chairman of Harborough District Council, and Trevor Matthews, Chairman of Blaby District Council.

The service began with a rousing rendition of the Old Hundredth Psalm supported by the Junior Girls and Songmen of the Cathedral Choir accompanied by David Cowen, Assistant Organist. The Provincial Grand Master gave the first lesson, Old Testament 1 Kings 8.22-30, and after the congregation sang 'Now thank we all our God', the Master of Granite Lodge No. 2028, Richard Barnett, gave the second lesson, New Testament Matthew 5.1-16.

The Reverend Cannon Michael Wilson, Canon Emeritus Leicester Cathedral and Grand Chaplain gave a thought provoking Sermon on the contribution of Freemasonry in the local communities.

Over many years, Freemasons and their wives, families have taken an active role in Leicester Cathedral and have made significant gifts, both financially and otherwise. Those gifts have included the Coronation Bell of King George VI in 1937, a silver cyborium, two stained glass windows, and more recently, to a large donation to The Richard III Reinternment Appeal.

To mark the Tercentenary, the Provincial Grand Master then presented the Dean with a sliver Verge, to be known as the Dean’s Verge saying: ‘I present to you for Leicester Cathedral’s blessing and use this Deans Verge to mark with Thanksgiving 300 years of the Grand Lodge of England.’

The Verge consists of a dark wooden staff with a ribbon of silver winding decoratively down it that portrays the four mystical creatures that denote the gospels of St Mathew, St Mark, St Luke and St John, together with the Masonic Square and Compasses, and also together with the arms of the United Grand Lodge of England. It was crafted by contemporary designer silversmith, Phil Jordan, who is based in Leicestershire.

The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘Four Lodges met on the 24th June 1717 in the Goose and Gridiron Public House adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral in London and formed the first Grand Lodge in the world. Little could they have realised at that time, we would be celebrating this event 300 years later all across the world including today’s service of thanksgiving in Leicester Cathedral.’

The service concluded with 'God be in my head' and the National Anthem before the Ecclesiastical, Civic and Masonic Processions retired from the Cathedral. Many guests returned to Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, for a wonderful afternoon tea served with plentiful sandwiches and cake.

As part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s 300th Anniversary celebrations, Freemasons from across Leicestershire and Rutland took part in a historic parade through the streets of Leicester – which last occurred in 1923

In glorious sunshine, over 100 Freemasons of all ages gathered in Jubilee Square wearing their Masonic Regalia and subsequently paraded to Leicester Cathedral via the High Street, Gallowtree Gate, Market Place, Grey Friars and on to St Martins prior to a Service of Thanksgiving. 

During the 18th and 19th Century, Freemasons regularly took part in public processions including assisting with the laying of many foundation stones for buildings such as the Town Hall and the Children’s Hospital at Leicester Royal Infirmary. The last occasion was on the 24th June 1923, when a special Masonic Service was held at St George's Church to commemorate the Centenary of the laying of the first Foundation Stone in 1823.

A 20-piece brass band, consisting of members from Croft Silver Band, Wigston Band, Kibworth Band and Foresters Band, began to play at precisely 2pm and proceeded on the route. The Freemasons, including several Masters of Lodges, were lined up in two rows, and followed the band in procession and a steady pace. At the rear was the Provincial Standard Bearer bearing the Leicestershire and Rutland Banner, who was leading the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and the UGLE’s Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman.

Many shoppers in the area were intrigued at the unusual sight of the Masonic procession and stopped to watch as it went by. The Procession arrived promptly at Leicester Cathedral at 2.15pm and was welcomed by the Dean, Very Reverend David Monteith who conducted the Service of Thanksgiving. 

The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘This was a wonderful occasion to mark the Tercentenary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge in the world. I sincerely thank all the brethren who took part in this historic procession, the likes of which Leicester hasn’t seen for nearly 100 years.

‘I hope that it will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic society which has been an integral part of our local communities for 300 years.’

A new and exciting exhibition opened in Leicester on Friday 6th October 2017, as local Freemasons marked the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the formation of their governing body, the United Grand Lodge of England

The exhibition provides insights into what Freemasonry is all about and how it has become a significant social institution that is supportive towards local communities.

Freemasonry, What’s it all About? explores the intriguing relationship between present, past and the future of Freemasonry across Leicestershire and Rutland. The exhibition covers well known historical figures and Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland through the years and showcases current into Freemasonry and its members, as well as featuring a look into the future of Freemasonry.

This welcoming local journey through Freemasonry shares personal stories and insights of Freemasons across the ages, particularly those that have affected the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland.

The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, said: ‘Freemasonry provides a unique environment for people from all backgrounds to learn skills, make lasting friendships and achieve their potential. This exhibition is an exciting project and I hope it will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.’

The exhibition is a collaborative project between Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, Newarke Houses Museum and the Leicestershire and Rutland Record Office, bringing together a varied and engaging exhibition for all. The exhibition has been kindly constructed by volunteers at the WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Coventry with printing by Gartree Press Ltd, Leicester.

Freemasonry, What’s it all About? has been developed and created by a young and exciting local curator, Sophia Kyprianou in conjunction with local Freemasons. She commented: ‘Throughout my time working on the exhibition I have been amazed at how much Freemasonry is supportive, committed and involved at the heart of so many local communities across the counties. Unearthing stories from past and present Freemasons has been incredibly interesting and is something I am keen to share with the public in a creative way throughout the exhibition; giving an insight into what Freemasonry is and how it continues to be an integral part of modern society.’

The exhibition was formally opened by the Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, Peter Lowndes on a visit to the region.

Freemasonry, What’s it all About? is at Newarke Houses Museum, The Newarke, Leicester, until the 31st January 2018. The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday from 10am-5pm, and Sunday from 11am-5pm.

For further information about the exhibition and venue, please click here.

Older people who have never learned to use the internet are to be helped online thanks to a £66,000 grant to Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons

Age UK will recruit at least 20 “Digital Champions” who will support and guide 2,000 older people to use communication tools like email, Skype and FaceTime, which younger people take for granted. 

The Digital Champions project is aimed at helping these older people to access online information on everything from benefits to bus timetables. With many services becoming digital by default, older people who are not online face more hurdles in their daily lives to access both private and public sector services. There will also be an emphasis on online safety and protection from viruses and fraud.

The project is supporting older people across Leicestershire and Rutland, with a focus on people in rural areas. It aims to combat loneliness and isolation by helping these budding “silver surfers” to keep in touch with family and friends online.

Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland’s Digital Champions will be holding up to four sessions a week across Leicestershire and Rutland. They will be for around 15 people each and be held in community settings such as libraries, village halls and residential homes, whilst there will also be one-to one sessions available.

Tony Donovan, Executive Director at Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, said: 'We are very grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their generous grant which will improve the quality of life for thousands of older people.

'More than four million older people nationally have never used the internet and we need to help them to benefit from all the advantages of a digital world that most of us take for granted.'

The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Age UK’s Digital Champions.

'As well as fighting loneliness and depression, getting older people online has great practical benefits. A household without internet access is on average £650 a year worse off.”

Thanks to support from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, along with Leicestershire County Council and The Woodland Trust, the Bradgate Park Trust has been able to dedicate an area for quiet reflection known as the Memorial Wood which was officially opened by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes on 5th October 2017

In glorious autumnal sunshine, over 200 people witnessed the Pro Grand Master unveil a bronze plaque at the entrance of the Memorial Wood which was followed by a suitable short dedication by the Grand Chaplain Michael Wilson. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger then called upon Peter Osborne, Chairman of the Bradgate Park Trust, to formally accept the Memorial Wood into the care of the Trustees.

The Memorial Wood is an area of woodland to the side of the accessible carriageway that crosses the Park. It offers a tranquil setting overlooking Cropston Reservoir and is reached by a natural stone path. Rich in native wildlife species, the area is bound by traditional metal deer fencing, has seating and a central cast iron deer sculpture, set on a natural stone plinth.

Peter Tyldesley, Director of the Bradgate Park Trust, said: 'Bradgate Park is a special place for many people and one that is held close to the hearts of visitors and their families. We have been able to dedicate an area for quiet reflection as the Park’s Memorial Wood next to the main carriageway that crosses the Park.

'Bradgate Park’s Bronze Oak Leaves are inspired by the ancient trees of the Park and are a perfect way to celebrate weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, or to remember someone special. They are individually cast in bronze and displayed as a lasting memento on distinctive feature wooden pillars, made from oak from the Estate, within the natural setting of Memorial Wood.'

Bradgate Park, consisting of 900 acres, is the historic home of Lady Jane Grey, the nine day Queen, and was presented in Trust in perpetuity in 1928 by Charles Bennion to the County of Leicestershire and City of Leicester, as an open or Public Park for the purposes of recreation.

The generosity of Charles Bennion has ensured that generations of the local and wider community have had access to the beautiful park, which also supports the protection of wildlife, particularly the herd of deer that freely roam the park. It is the eighth most visited park of its kind in the country. Charles Bennion was also a prominent local Freemason, a Master of four Lodges and was Provincial Grand Treasurer.

RW Bro David Hagger: 'This Memorial Wood will leave a lasting legacy for the people of Leicestershire and Rutland as part of our 300th anniversary celebrations. We therefore felt that with the connection of Charles Bennion with both Bradgate Park and Freemasonry, that this Memorial Wood was a perfect project to fund.

'I must also thank the members of my Tercentenary Committee for their help and assistance, in particular W Bro Andy Green and W Bro Dale Page. It would also be remiss of me not to mention Peter Tyldesley, the Director of Bradgate Park, and his staff, for without their considerable efforts and assistance this project would literally would not have got off the ground.'

If you have any questions about Bradgate Park’s Bronze Oak Leaves and how to inscribe them with a message of your choice, please call 0116 2362713 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cliff jump raises over £1,000 for Masonic Charitable Foundation

Tony Andrews and Digby Lund, both from Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 in Loughborough, made a jump off a cliff in Malaga on Sunday 3rd September 2017 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation 2022 Festival

The 2022 Festival aims to raise £1.8 million by Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons over the next five years.

The pair have so far raised over £1,200, and Digby’s wife Yvonne also jumped for charity with Tony's wife Elanor providing moral support. 

Having arrived at Alumnecar, the group were met by their paraglider pilots, Antonio and Jose, who arrived by air demonstrating how best to land. The intrepid paragliders were taken up into the hills along a single track road via numerous hairpin bends to the take-off site. The launch site was on the south side of a sharp ridge offering wonderful views out to sea.

Having arranged the wing, the pilots set about strapping themselves and their guests into their harnesses after which a full safety briefings were delivered. They were then given take-off instructions to simply to run down the slope until the ground fell away.

The flights down were very smooth and offered amazing views out to sea and along the coast. Digby's flight showed the advantage of being so much taller than Antonio when taking off from such a steep slope, a couple of steps and then off into the blue yonder. 

Tony said: ‘We were all lucky enough to have relatively good landings, though I did collect a lot of the beach in my shoes and some in my knees.’

Digby said: ‘Having all safely returned to terra firma, we exchanged feelings about our flights, the heightened heart rate before and during take-off, the gradual relaxing as the flight continued and then the increasing tension as the ground rapidly approached. We all agreed the venture had been well worthwhile and hope the donations will fully reflect our efforts.’

Leicestershire and Rutland Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘Congratulations to Digby and Tony for their fundraising efforts and I'm pleased to learn they landed safely without harm.’

You can still sponsor Digby and Tony by clicking here

In an unprecedented move, Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons opened the doors to several of their Masonic Halls across the region on Saturday 9th September 2017 for everyone to see inside as part of the National Heritage Open Days and to celebrate the 300th anniversary of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England

Over 600 people wanted to see and know more about Freemasonry and took the time to visit one of the Halls.

At Freemasons’ Hall, London Road, Leicester, Dale Neal from BBC Radio Leicester did a live outside broadcast as part of the Monica Winfield show. His reaction when he saw the decorative Holmes Lodge Room live on air was priceless, similar to those of other visitors and was just simply “Wow!” Dale spoke on air to the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger about Freemasonry and organiser of the event David Turner, who described some of the history surrounding the historic building which has been the Provincial Headquarters since 1910.

Other Masonic Halls which opened their doors were Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Hinckley, Lutterworth, Market Harborough and Syston.

At Hinckley Masonic Hall, amongst the many visitors was the Deputy Mayor of the Borough, Councillor Jan Kirby with her consort Mike Kirby, who were delighted to learn about the building and its historical past. After the visit the Deputy Mayor said: 'It was a pleasure to be shown around your lovely Masonic rooms and told the history of the Masons within Hinckley.

'It was explained to us that you are all just people who are like minded from all parts of our community who want to help others. Many people do not realise the charitable works that the Masons do for our community.'

Another visitor was Mrs Shirley Ashmore who was only too pleased to view the large board recording the names of the Past Masters of the Knights of Malta Lodge No. 50 which occupies a prominent position within the Lodge Room. This board was presented to the Lodge in 1967, by her mother, Mrs Hipwell, in memory of her late husband Cecil Hipwell who was the Master of the Lodge in 1948.

Andy Hardy-Smith, organiser at Market Harborough, said: 'The reaction from the public was good and it has been suggested that perhaps we should open our doors again in the future. It was an opportunity for one of our potential new members to come along and is now intent on joining.'

Malcolm Talbot from Ashby-de-la-Zouch said: 'The day proved a great success and started with visitors queuing outside before we even opened our doors. We had a steady stream of visitors appearing throughout the day.'

Victor Petrie from Lutterworth said: 'We had several visitors including a couple who were passing through Lutterworth while on holiday and two members from Rugby, Warwickshire. All the visitors were greatly impressed with the facilities available at the centre and asked many questions when they were shown round the Lodge Room.'

The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: 'We are thrilled that so many took the opportunity to come and have a look around our Halls and we hope that it helped them better understand the history of our Halls and Freemasonry in general.'

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons will mark the 300th Anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, by throwing open the doors to their Masonic Halls across Leicestershire - some for the first time - as part of the national Heritage Open Days

For anyone who has any interest in Freemasonry, has any questions they want answering, or just wants to see inside the buildings, these Open Days are the perfect opportunity to find out more.

Throughout the day, escorted tours of the building will be conducted, allowing visitors to access the lodge room where masonic meetings are held and hear of the symbolism, history and practice of Freemasonry.

Ashby-de-la-Zouch

Masonic Hall, Lower Church Street, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire LE65 1AB

The Masonic Hall (Lyric Rooms) in Ashby was opened in 1981 after the former Cinema on Lower Church Street was purchased and refreshed for over £100,000.

Hinckley

Hinckley Masonic Hall, St. Mary's Rd, Hinckley, LE10 1EQ

The Masonic Hall in Hinckley, also known as the Green Rooms, was built in 1927 in St. Mary's Road. The original construction of the building was of a single storey with a Lodge room, dining room and kitchen. 

In 2011, an additional storey was added to house a new Masonic Lodge Room. The lower floor was opened out to create a large function suite with an integral bar but maintaining much of the former architectural and aesthetic appeal. The Hall continues to host the lodges that meet in Hinckley along with serving the local community.

Leicester

Freemasons’ Hall, 78 London Road, Leicester LE2 0RA

The first Masonic Hall in Leicester was situated on Halford Street and was built in 1859. It moved to its current location on London Road in 1910 after the initial hall was deemed too small when the popularity of Freemasonry saw a significant increase. The original lodge room in the Hall, the Holmes Lodge Room, is deemed one of the finest in the country with a stunningly decorated barrelled ceiling.

Lutterworth

Freemasons’ Hall, George Street, Lutterworth, Leicestershire LE17 4ED

Freemasons’ Hall in Lutterworth, also known as the Wycliffe Rooms, was converted from the old Ritz Cinema in George Street in 1963. The former circle/balcony was converted in the Lodge Room. More recently, further refurbishment and an extension has been undertaken. The Wycliffe Rooms now acts as both a Masonic Hall for the two lodges and also a Community Centre for a wide range of activities.

Market Harborough

Masonic Hall, Kings Road, Market Harborough, Leicestershire LE16 7JU

St Peter’s Lodge was granted a Warrant in 1870 to meet at the Three Swans Hotel in Market Harborough. As Masonry began to expand its popularity, a building fund was established in 1967 to build a permanent home. Land was purchased in Kings Road and the current Masonic Hall was built and opened in 1968, where currently two lodges continue to meet today.

Syston 

Masonic Hall, Broad Street, Syston, Leicestershire, LE7 1GJ

The Masonic Hall in Syston was built in 1905 on a site of an old school in Broad Street which was enlarged in 1915 and a second floor added in 1930. A total of seven lodges meet at the hall today which makes it one of the largest halls outside of Leicester.

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger said: 'We are really excited about this opportunity, as part of the national Heritage Open Days, to open the Masonic Hall in Syston for the very first time. We look forward to welcoming the community to show them around and help better inform them about the history of the Hall and Freemasonry in general.'

Everyone is welcome, with free tours on Saturday 9th September 2017 starting at 10am until 3.00pm and no booking required.

Other Masonic Halls in Leicestershire opening as part of the Heritage Open Days are in Leicester, Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Hinckley, Lutterworth and Market Harborough. More details can be found on the Heritage Open Days website here.

RW Bro Gayton C. Taylor completes 70 year milestone

On 28th June 2017, Provincial Grand Master RW Bro David Hagger of Leicestershire and Rutland visited Cornwallis Court, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution Home at Bury St Edmunds, to present a 70 year certificate of service in Freemasonry to RW Bro Gayton C. Taylor

RW Bro Gayton C. Taylor, who is 95-years-old, was Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland from 1978 to 1989.

The Provincial Grand Master was accompanied by Provincial Assistant Grand Master VW Bro Peter Kinder and Past Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Derek Buswell.

RW Bro David Hagger commented: 'Despite Bro Gayton being 95 years of age and having to use a wheelchair, he was in remarkably good health.

'He was delighted to receive the certificate which recorded not only the Lodges of which he was a subscribing member, but also the 43 Lodges of which he had been made an honorary member.'

Nearly 300 Freemasons, family and friends from 33 different lodges across the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland gathered in Leicester to celebrate 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge on Saturday 24th June 2017

The Grand Summer Ball was held on the exact date that 300 years ago in 1717 four masonic lodges gathered together at the Goose and Gridiron ale house in London and formed the first Grand Lodge in the world which continues to govern Freemasonry in England and Wales today.

Held at the Athena, guests were welcomed by the Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger who wished everyone a wonderful evening celebrating the Tercentenary.

After dinner, the Provincial Grand Master took to the stage to draw the winners of the Tercentenary prize draw. Prizes included villa accommodation in Antigua, Florida and Devon, a hot air balloon ride and light aircraft flights – all very generously donated by Brethren from the Province.

The Provincial Grand Master also paid tribute to the 23 cyclists who had recently completed an epic 300 mile cycle ride raising over £21,000 for the Masonic Charitable Foundation and Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough. The seven riders who attended the ball were asked to stand up and were applauded by everyone on their great achievement.

During the evening, a silent auction offered a multitude of exclusive items, including a signed montage from Leicester City Football Club's Premier League winning season, a private hospitality suite to see Micky Flanagan and VIP trips to Las Vegas to see The Who and to Paris to see the Rolling Stones.

Further entertainment was filled by Black Jack and Roulette tables and guests filling the dance floor for well over an hour and a half, as they were taken back to the 1960’s by a Beatles tribute band.

Not only was the evening a celebration of Freemasonry, it was additionally successful in raising over £10,000 for the 2022 Masonic Charitable Foundation Festival which will go towards the target of £1.8 million to be raised by the Province over the next five years.

RW Bro David Hagger commented: ‘What a wonderful way to commemorate the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England by bringing many Brethren and their families together to celebrate this special night.’

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