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.

The United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall saw over 4,000 Freemasons in attendance

And across Twitter, Provinces, Districts and other Grand Lodges from around the world shared their experiences and highlights of the theatrical extravaganza.

We wanted to share a few below:

Published in UGLE

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.’

East Kent Freemasons have given a grant of £31,000 to the Canterbury Cathedral Trust to support the fourth year’s training for a young apprentice stonemason at the Cathedral, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation

At a recent ceremony, Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing, presented the donation to the Dean of Canterbury, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, saying how pleased the fraternity was to be able to continue their support for the scheme.

In reply, the Dean thanked him and all who had contributed saying how much it meant to the Cathedral and to the young apprentices who were just coming into 'these wonderful crafts here at the Cathedral'.

The apprenticeship programme at the Cathedral offers vocational training to young people that is truly life-changing. Seven apprentices are currently employed at Canterbury – four stonemasons, one painter and decorator, one scaffolder and one chef.

Apprentices are recruited through Kent schools, colleges and advertisements in the local press. Coming from varied backgrounds, they are encouraged to explore their creative talents within the inspirational setting of the Cathedral as well as developing the technical and life skills needed for a career in their chosen trade or craft. Whilst these training placements are exceptional opportunities in their own right, the Cathedral also makes every effort to provide subsequent employment for the apprentices.

Heather Newton, the Head of Conservation at the Cathedral, explained how the donation would be used: 'We are incredibly grateful to the Freemasons of East Kent and to the Masonic Charitable Foundation for this continuing support. There are lots of expenses associated with training Craft apprentices.

'We need to cover everything from travelling costs to and from College, to tools, specialist clothing and the time of more experienced Masons who act as trainers and mentors for our young people.'

This latest grant is in addition to the gift of over £300,000 presented to the Cathedral by the Provinces of East and West Kent, Surrey and Sussex, as part of the celebration of the Tercentenary of the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1717. It continues a long and much valued relationship with the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion which dates back over 150 years.

Grand Masters from around the world come bearing gifts

When Grand Masters from around the world came to Freemasons’ Hall as part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations last week, many of them also came bearing gifts

Around 90 gifts were presented to the UGLE’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, who spent time inspecting this wonderful selection which ranged from a ceremonial sword and bronze stag, through to a collection of Russian dolls depicting the Grand Master himself.

The gifts have now been put on display in The Library and Museum of Freemasonry for anyone who visits Freemasons’ Hall to see.

As you can see from the gallery at the top, the array of thoughtful gifts was vast.

Published in UGLE
Friday, 03 November 2017 11:18

Letters exchanged with Buckingham Palace

At the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary celebrations, the Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence read a letter of loyal greetings sent to Her Majesty The Queen and the reply received

Deputy Grand Master: MW Grand Master and Brethren, I hereby read the text of a letter sent today to Buckingham Palace:

To The Queen’s Most Excellent Majesty

May it please your Majesty -

We, the representatives of over 200,000 Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England, most respectfully express our continuing loyalty to Your Majesty’s Throne and Person in this, the sixty-sixth year of your long and distinguished reign.

Today we celebrate the 300th anniversary of the foundation of the premier Grand Lodge and the 50th anniversary of the installation of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent as our much loved and greatly respected Grand Master. WE humbly thank God for preserving our Order and fervently pray His blessings on your Majesty, so that our loyal devotion to your Majesty may long continue.

Given at the Royal Albert Hall this thirty first day of October AD 2017.

Signed Jonathan Spence
Deputy Grand Master

Deputy Grand Master: Her Majesty has been pleased to reply in the following terms:

Dear Mr Spence,

The Queen has asked me to thank you for your kind letter of loyal greetings on behalf of the Representatives of the Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England, on the occasion of the Three-Hundredth Anniversary of the foundation of the premier Grand Lodge and the Fiftieth Anniversary of the installation of The Duke of Kent as your Grand Master, which are being celebrated on 31st October at the Royal Albert Hall.

Her Majesty appreciated your thoughtfulness in writing as you did and, in return, has asked me to send her warm good wishes to you all for a most successful event.

Yours sincerely,
David Ryan
Director, Private Secretary’s Office

Published in UGLE

The spectacular theatrical extravaganza to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary and 300 years of Freemasonry may be over - but you can still watch this global event

Over 4,000 Freemasons from around the world were present at the Royal Albert Hall, coming together to witness a production which embraced Freemasonry's rich heritage and relevance today.

For those who were unable to attend, or would like to watch it back, you can view a screening of the Tercentenary celebrations by clicking here

Published in UGLE

Over 4,000 Freemasons from Provinces, Districts and 136 Grand Lodges around the world were present as the Royal Albert Hall was centre stage for the United Grand Lodge of England’s Especial Meeting and Tercentenary celebrations on Tuesday 31st October

This gala event marked 300 years since four lodges met at the Goose and Gridiron Tavern in St Paul’s Churchyard on St John’s Day, 24th June 1717, to form the Premier Grand Lodge. The spectacle was also streamed live to audiences from around the world, including UGLE’s headquarters at Freemasons’ Hall.

With Grand Lodge having been opened and called off in a convenient room, the procession of Grand Officers entered the Hall, before the Grand Master, MW Bro HRH The Duke of Kent, took his place in the Queens’s Box. He was accompanied by the Pro Grand Master MW Bro Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master RW Bro Jonathan Spence and Assistant Grand Master RW Bro Sir David Wootton. 

He was also joined by a number of special guests, which included RW Bro HRH Prince Michael of Kent, VW Bro HM King Tutu II of Ashanti and RW Bro HE John Kufuor, Senior Grand Warden.

The audience was wowed by a theatrical extravaganza showcasing the history and heritage of Freemasonry and featuring a cast of renowned actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Sanjeev Bhaskar. The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra provided the musical accompaniment against the backdrop of a colossal 55ft gold Square and Compasses and dramatic light show incorporating the ‘All Seeing Eye’.

After the performance, the Grand Master was processed on to the stage and all the Rulers were seated in their normal thrones. The Deputy Grand Master then read a letter of loyal greetings sent to Her Majesty The Queen and the reply received sending ‘warm good wishes to you all for a most successful event’.

The Grand Master, as Permanent Master of the three Time Immemorial Lodges (Lodge of Antiquity No.2, Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No.IV, and Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland No.12), then called upon his three Deputy Masters and was presented with the Volume of the Sacred Law, the Square and Compasses and the Wren Maul.

Other highlights included the return of the Soane Ark – the Ark of the Masonic Covenant – as the Deputy Grand Master announced that following 30 years in the making, a replica had been made to the original design. This was brought onstage where it was dedicated by the Grand Master.

The finale was the most rousing singing of the National Anthem, before the procession of Grand Officers retired from the Hall. 

Following the meeting, Grand Lodge was called back on in a convenient room, and this Especial Meeting to celebrate UGLE's Tercentenary was closed.

Find out how to watch a screening of the Tercentenary celebrations here

Published in UGLE

The Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall was the setting for the largest gathering of Grand Masters from all corners of the world on 30th October

For the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations, Grand Masters from over 130 foreign Grand Lodges were welcomed by UGLE’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent.

HRH The Duke of Kent then addressed all those present: 'Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren, I am delighted that so many of you have been able to come to London to celebrate our Tercentenary anniversary with us. Indeed, I am advised that this is the largest gathering of Grand Masters that there has ever been.

'I am so pleased to have this opportunity to greet you all this morning in the relative peace and tranquillity of our magnificent Temple within Freemasons’ Hall, and it is most important to me that I meet you all.

'May I also thank you for your gifts which we will have the chance to see in the Museum after this meeting. Thank you again for your support.'

Dressed in their formal Regalia, they bought kind words and greetings – and some brought gifts to commemorate the Tercentenary – for the Grand Master, which the Library and Museum of Freemasonry will soon be putting on special display for visitors to see.

Events were then set to continue into the evening when the Grand Masters, along with their guests, attend a reception held at the Mansion House, with a welcome by the Lord Mayor of London Andrew Parmley and Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes.

Published in UGLE

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.

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