Celebrating 300 years

The members of the Lodge of Unanimity No.113 celebrated a very special landmark on 20 March 2012 in their long and distinguished history by reaching their 200th year as an active Masonic lodge.

This unique meeting attracted a capacity audience with many distinguished visitors attending from around the country to share in and contribute to the celebrations. The Provincial Grand Master, Peter John Hosker, and his Provincial team headed up the West Lancashire contingent.

Dr Mike Woodcock, the President of Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, attended from London, together with John Hamill, the Director of Special Projects at UGLE, along with the Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies, The Hon. Andrew Wigram. They all contributed to a highly polished ceremony.

At the beginning of the evening and to set the scene for the celebrations, Dr Richard Johnson gave a brief history of the Preston Group of Lodges and the historical development of Freemasonry in the City. This was followed by Peter Watson’s potted history of the Lodge of Unanimity itself and how it was founded at the height of the Napoleonic War. It was developed from the 3rd Regiment of the Royal Lancashire Militia who, although on duty in Dover during the Napoleonic War, obtained a re-assigned warrant on 13 March 1812 from the Antient Grand Lodge to enable them to operate as a military lodge.

The bicentenary warrant was then read by John Hamill and presented to the lodge by Mike Woodcock.  Following the presentation the Provincial Grand Chaplain, Rev Graham Halsall, gave a delightful narration and re-dedication prayer.

The Lodge of Unanimity is an Atholl Lodge and to mark this special occasion Geoffrey Abraham, the national chair of the Atholl Lodges Association, presented an inscribed gavel to the lodge.

To further highlight this special event the lodge gave a number of generous donations to charities. They gave £1,000 to the West Lancashire Freemasons’ Charity and a total of £900 to non-Masonic charities. These included £300 to the Lancashire and South Cumbria Kidney Patient Association, £300 to the Lymphoma Association and £300 to the neo natal care unit at Royal Preston Hospital.

The Bi-centenary History Booklet of the lodge reveals the significant part played by the lodge and its members in the development of Freemasonry in Preston. In particular, 113 has created five daughter lodges in Preston, and one in Garstang, and from these lodges, numerous granddaughter and great granddaughter lodges have been founded in the Province.

This bicentenary celebration has highlighted that Freemasonry has a breadth that appeals to those who are seeking friendship and moral guidance; an opportunity to be of service within the community; a quiet haven for a few hours from the troubles of the world; or just the pure, simple enjoyment of being in the company of like-minded people. These enduring qualities of Freemasonry help to ensure that it continues to give to future generations the pleasure and experience that our predecessors and along with this generation have found in it.

Monday, 19 March 2012 17:00

The Lord Blayney mystery

As the bicentenary of the inclusion of the Royal Arch chapter into ‘pure antient masonry’ draws near, John Hamill examines the mystery behind its formation

On 22 July 1766, the first Grand Chapter in the world came into being when members of an independent chapter met in London to draw up what is now known as the Charter of Compact, converting their chapter into the Excellent Grand and Royal Arch Chapter, with Cadwallader, ninth Lord Blayney, at its head. We know this because the chapter’s minute book, which commences with a meeting held on 22 March 1765, stills exists. Until as recently as the late forties, however, masonic historians believed that the Grand Chapter had been formed in 1767.

The mystery can be traced back to the charter itself, which concludes with the statement that it was signed at the Turk’s Head tavern in Gerrard Street, Soho, on 22 July 1767. It wasn’t until masonic historian J R Dashwood examined the document in 1949, while preparing a paper on the first minute book of the original Grand Chapter, that evidence of tampering was discovered. Dashwood noticed that at the top of the document, in the recitals of the styles and titles of Lord Blayney, a capital P (standing for Past) had been inserted clumsily before the words Grand Master of Free and Accepted Masons. At the other end of the document, it was equally clear that the original final digit of the year had been scraped off and been substituted in all cases, except the Anno Lucis (AL) date, with a seven. In the AL date the final digit had become a one.

One explanation is that despite the fact that many of its senior members were involved in the Royal Arch, the Premier Grand Lodge was not well disposed towards it and would not recognise it as part of its basic system. Dashwood argued that it would have been a huge embarrassment to them to have their current Grand Master, Lord Blayney, as a member. As head of the order, Blayney would have been one of the prime movers in turning a private chapter into a governing body as well as being the principal signatory to its founding document. On 22 July 1766, Blayney was still Grand Master, but by 22 July 1767 he had retired from that high office. Hence, Dashwood argued, the alterations were made to suggest that the events all took place after Blayney ceased to be Grand Master.

That theory appeared to meet with general acceptance until, in 1998, Freemason Yasha Beresiner gave a short talk on the charter in Supreme Grand Chapter. He queried whether, as most of them were involved in the chapter, the hierarchy of the premier would have been embarrassed by the events in July 1766. Beresiner theorised that it was more likely that once news got around that a new masonic order had been formed, and the Grand Master was at its head, their members would have flocked to join it.

A pious fraud

Another mystery is the twenty-one signatures on the left of the charter who attested that they accepted the terms documented ‘on the Day and Year above written’. Dashwood described this as ‘a pious fraud’. He had good reason for doing so as of the twenty-one signatories only the Earl of Anglesey was present in the chapter on 22 July 1766, having been exalted that evening. Of the remainder, more than two thirds had not been exalted at that date. The majority of them were exalted between 1767 and 1769.

While it is always satisfying to solve a mystery, in the great scheme of things does it really matter that the document was tampered with? Surely what is important is that the events of July 1766 took place and gave birth to the Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter, enabling members of the premier Grand Lodge to become involved in the Royal Arch.

Had it not existed, it could be argued that the ‘antients’ would not have had the numerical strength to persuade the premier Grand Lodge, in the negotiations leading to the of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, to accept the Royal Arch as a part of ‘pure antient masonry’. Had that not happened we would not have had our indissoluble link between the Craft and Royal Arch. And, very importantly, would have no reason to have a party in October 2013 to celebrate its bicentenary.

Published in SGC
Thursday, 15 March 2012 00:00

The essence in change

Freemasonry has thrived for centuries because it adapts while staying true to its principles, as Director of Special Projects John Hamill explains

As we begin the countdown to the tercentenary celebrations of Grand Lodge in 2017, a great deal of research is being undertaken to establish how Freemasonry has developed and what we have contributed to society. Despite nearly one hundred and fifty years of serious masonic research, we have yet to answer the questions of why, when and where Freemasonry as we understand it originated. Even with the great amount of work going on now, I doubt if those answers will be found by 2017.

There is another question, to my mind, as important and interesting as that of our origins: why has Freemasonry survived on the scale to which it exists today? Those four London lodges that came together in 1717 cannot in their wildest imaginings have thought that three hundred years later their Grand Lodge would have in excess of 250,000 members in more than 8,000 lodges across the world.

We regard Freemasonry as being something special and different. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, however, it was only one of a myriad of fraternal and benevolent societies and associations. Many of them copied Freemasonry in their organisation and use of ceremony and regalia. For the majority, the benevolent and charitable aspects predominated and the ritual became less important. Most of them completely disappeared in the twentieth century as the developing welfare state began to offer the safety net they had provided. Freemasonry, however, flourished.

For much of the eighteenth century Freemasonry was not so different from many other organisations. The ceremonies, while they attempted to instil a basic moral code, were often seen as simply a curious means of entering what was basically a social and benevolent association. The watershed came in the aftermath of the of the two Grand Lodges on 27 December 1813. A great deal of reorganisation and standardisation took place that resulted in the ceremonies, and above all the meaning behind them, becoming the basis of the institution itself.

This fundamental shift in emphasis was the first step in ensuring the survival of Freemasonry. It demonstrated an ability – sometimes deliberate and almost accidental at others – to adapt Freemasonry to its era. Changes were always made to the outward customs and never to the basic principles, tenets and landmarks of the Order. These are rightly seen as the essence of Freemasonry and are inalienable.

deeper reasons

There are, however, deeper reasons as to why we are still a living organisation. Grand Lodge has always refused to define or explain the meaning of the several ceremonies. This has prevented the rise of any form of dogma. It is up to the individual to make their own journey and to find their own understanding. Hence, the membership forms a wide spectrum, from those who simply view it as a social opportunity to those who, wrongly, believe it will provide the answer to all of life’s questions!

Freemasonry has a breadth that appeals to those who are seeking friendship and moral guidance; an opportunity to be of service within the community; a quiet haven for a few hours from the troubles of the world; or just the pure, simple enjoyment in being in the company of like-minded people.

After forty years of study I remain convinced that, whatever fate may throw at Freemasonry – and provided we remain true to our principles yet adaptable to our times, and retain the breadth of our membership – the Order will survive. It will continue to give to future generations the pleasure that we and our predecessors have found in it.

Letters to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.18 - SUMMER 2012

 

Sir,
I would like to comment on John Hamill’s ‘Reflection’ article in your Winter 2011 edition. If I may, I would like to put an opposing view. I suspect very few would like to return to earlier days of meeting in halls and pubs and not having a home for Freemasonry. Perhaps the real problem is that rather than spending money on the buildings, every penny has gone to charity.

 

There is nothing wrong whatsoever in maintaining a building and using lodge non-charitable funds for this end. I believe that if a particular building suddenly requires major expenditure then that lodge should be allowed to say to the Province that their charitable donations for a short period of time may well be diminished while they give attention to whatever problem has arisen. This should be perfectly acceptable because it secures the lodge building for future generations. The lodge can return to charitable giving in due course and this further ensures that future generations also give to charity.

 


Keith Metcalfe
Lodge of St Marychurch, No. 5148

Torquay, Devonshire

Published in Features

As UGLE’s Communications Advisor, Susan Henderson’s job is about managing relationships – from dealing with unusual enquires to overseeing information flow

How did you come to work for UGLE?

I’d just moved back to London and popped into an agency looking for a job. They sent me for an interview around the corner at ‘a charity’. As I walked along the road, I realised it was Freemasons’ Hall, as I had recently been reading about Freemasonry. I was interviewed by Director of Communications, John Hamill, for the role of his PA and got the job. This was in 2002 and it couldn’t have worked out better in that I’d been wanting to find out more about Freemasonry and there I was sitting with one of the foremost experts.  

Did your previous experience prepare you for your new job?

Before UGLE, I worked in different areas – from social services, to model agencies and advertising. I last worked for the BBC on news and before that on Comic Relief, sharing an office with Richard Curtis, who wrote Four Weddings & A Funeral. These experiences gave me a good overview of how organisations work and where to find information.

How did you become a female Freemason?

I’d been here a few years before I realised there were regular women’s grand lodges and I wondered if I should join. The Grand Secretary at the time knew I was interested and introduced me to the master of a female lodge who put me forward as a candidate. I already had preconceptions of Freemasonry’s ancient traditions, the rituals and origins and the idea of the knowledge that could be imparted, and the experience was pretty near to what I’d imagined. I’m now a junior warden and am steadily learning more. With Freemasonry, you’re thrown in with varied people who you wouldn’t be otherwise – it’s good for you.

How does your relationship with the Provinces work?

We were doing MQ Magazine and I started helping more with the editorial. That merged with Freemasonry Today to make the magazine we have now and I took on the duty of liaising with the Provincial information officers in gathering stories. They have an important role in bringing to our attention anything that might be of interest in terms of local events or any problems. They also disseminate information from Grand Lodge and have been doing a great job in getting our message out to the local press and communities.

How do you deal with negative press?

National newspapers are in the habit of making slurs about Freemasonry, which it’s very difficult to do anything about. We are an unincorporated organisation, so have no protection under the libel laws. If they make a statement that is untrue or defamatory we can write to them to make a correction but they’re under no obligation to print it. The best way to counter these perceptions is therefore to put out lots of positive information about Freemasonry and hope that it will enable more people to recognise the negative remarks as nonsense.

Where does this negativity come from?

In the Second World War, Freemasons were being sent to concentration camps in Germany and it was decided that Freemasonry should keep a low profile in the UK in case of invasion. Before this, the sight of Freemasons laying foundation stones or participating in parades was common. After the war, the low profile became a bit of a habit. The Cold War also made spy novels popular and these would sometimes cast Freemasons as key characters, so the idea caught light in the public imagination that Freemasonry was a secret organisation. We became aware of this and tried to counter it but the image portrayed in fiction is – to some people – more interesting and exciting than the truth.

What else do people believe?

We get some crazy questions asked through the website – for example, if I join Freemasonry, will I gain magical powers or will it make me rich? A few people have the bizarre idea that Freemasons are reptilian aliens. The more sane anti-masonic ideas tend to be that Freemasons use their membership to gain personal advantage in their careers. When you think about it, that’s the daftest of all because if people want to conspire or do each other favours, they can do that at any time and at any place – in the pub, the golf club, or across the garden fence.

So there are still big misconceptions about Freemasonry?

People misunderstand what the obligations are and what should be kept private. There is no obligation to favour other Freemasons and the only tangible privacy relates to the signs and passwords that give you the right to be present in a particular degree ceremony. They are no more sinister than pin numbers and are used only in the lodge. The passwords and signs are believed to have originated through medieval stonemasons who travelled around the world looking for work and needed to prove their level of competence when they arrived at a distant lodge.

Can Freemasons help counter these opinions?

Some members are overly defensive about Freemasonry because of anti-masonic attitudes. We need to help our members deal with this, to help them calmly explain that it’s not just an organisation for white Anglo Saxon Protestants. In Ireland it used to be said that there were only two things that united them – rugby and Freemasonry. There’s always been one United Grand Lodge with Catholics and Protestants attending without a problem and it’s little things like this that members can tell their friends.

Is your job largely about countering negative opinions?

Not at all. Most questions are from people who want to know about Freemasonry and I spend a lot time answering those. If I answer 30 emails a day that’s 7,800 people a year who will have received a good response, which is invaluable. People don’t think M&S or Selfridges are good companies because they have a nice leaflet or website, they like them because they know they’ll get good service and that’s the best form of publicity. People are too sophisticated these days to be influenced by public relations spin. They go on word of mouth or direct experiences. Days, weeks, years later a casual conversation in a pub about that experience will mean a good impression of Freemasonry is being spread.

Does Freemasonry need to change?

Organisations that follow the whims of the day tend to lose their identity and, to use a marketing term, Freemasonry’s unique selling point is its ancient traditions and its symbolism is its branding. We would be fools to tamper with that. Our strength is that we have remained much the same through many political changes and fashions. I’d personally like everyone to understand that we are not even allowed to discuss politics or religion in the lodge, so can hardly be colluding; that there have been established female lodges for over 100 years; and that we’re not just recently jumping onto some politically correct bandwagon, but have always been a welcoming universal brotherhood.

Published in UGLE

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
14 December 2011
A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill


GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, the Minutes of the Premier or Moderns Grand Lodge for February 1811, record that

The Most Worshipful Acting Grand Master the Earl of Moira having expressed his intention of being installed previous to the Business of the Quarterly Communication this day and having signified his directions to the R.W. Master and Officers of the Lodge of Promulgation for that purpose they assembled at Free Masons’ Hall, at half past seven o’clock and required the attendance of all the Members of the Grand Lodge in the Committee Room to assist in the ceremony of installing the Acting Grand Master. The Lodge was then opened in the First Degree … The Earl of Moira was thereupon introduced … to receive the benefit of installation when the Ancient Charges and Regulations were read … to which His Lordship was pleased to give his unqualified approbation and assent. Such members of the Grand Lodge as were not actual installed Masters were then desired to withdraw and the Lodge was opened in the Third Degree and the Right Hon. The Earl of Moira was installed according to Ancient Custom Acting Grand Master of Mason[s] and duly invested and saluted on the occasion: after which the Lodge was closed in the Third Degree and subsequently in the First Degree and the usual procession being then formed the Acting Grand Master was conducted into the Hall where the Grand Lodge was opened in due form and the Laws relating to the behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge were read.


JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, it might seem odd to us today that the Acting (or as we would say Pro) Grand Master had not been properly installed. One of the ritual differences between the Moderns and Antients Grand Lodges was that in the Lodges of the former the installation was simply the ceremonial placing of the Master in the chair with no additional signs, tokens or words. Possibly due to their Irish origins, Lodges under the Antients Grand Lodge did have an inner working limited to Installed Masters. The Lodge of Promulgation, which had been set up by the Premier Grand Lodge in 1809 to bring its rituals into line with those of other Grand Lodges, recognised the Installation Ceremony as one of the true landmarks of the Order. Lord Moira’s very public installation was in a sense pour encourager les autres, for the Lodge of Promulgation continued to meet over the next few months to enable Masters and Past Masters of Lodges under the Premier Grand Lodge to receive the benefit of Installation.

GFR: As the final item of business that evening:

The Grand Treasurer moved That the Tickets for the Grand Feast be in future delivered by the Stewards at One Guinea each instead of half a Guinea, which being seconded, an amendment was duly moved that the Tickets should be fifteen shillings: and the Question being put on the said amendment. It passed in the affirmative.

JMH: It says much for the economic stability of the last half of the 18th century that the cost of tickets for the annual Grand Feast had been set at half a guinea (52½ pence in our terms) for more than forty years! Then, as now, the Grand Stewards had the privilege of making up the short fall between monies received from ticket sales and the actual cost of the Grand Feast. Clearly the difference had become onerous by 1811 and this motion by the Grand Treasurer John Bayford, himself a Past Grand Steward, sought to redress the situation. Grand Lodge, as was to often happen in the 19th century, agreed the rise but only at half of the rate requested!

GFR: The only other matter of interest that year was at the April Communication, when

The Grand Lodge proceeded to take into consideration the following motion which was duly made and seconded at the last Grand Lodge, vizt: “That the Thanks of the Grand Lodge be given to Brothers James Earnshaw, James Deans, William Henry White and Charles Bonnor the Officers and to the several other members of the Lodge of Promulgation for their labors respectively; and that a Blue Apron be presented to Brothers Deans and Bonnor, Officers of that Lodge who do not at present possess the same and that they be requested to wear such Apron in all future meetings of the Society. And also that they be considered Members of the Hall Committee.

And the Question being put thereon it duly passed in the Affirmative.

JMH: The work of the Lodge of Promulgation brought the ceremonies of the Premier Grand Lodge into line with those of Ireland and Scotland and thereby with the Antients Grand Lodge, removing a number of potential obstacles to the proposed . Blue lined and edged aprons were restricted to the actual Grand Officers and those who had served in those high offices. As there was no concept of appointing Brethren to past ranks, with the exception of Princes of the Blood Royal who were usually appointed Past Grand Masters within a short time of their being initiated, James Deans and Charles Bonner were singularly honoured by this motion. Deans became the actual Junior Grand Warden in 1812.

GFR: Rather more was going on – though perhaps not much more being achieved – in the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge. To remind you, in May 1810 that Grand Lodge had passed a threefold resolution setting out its requirements for a with the Moderns: first uniformity of Obligation and Rules; secondly, the Grand Lodge to consist of the Masters, Wardens and all Past Masters of the respective Lodges; thirdly, a monthly disbursement of Masonic benevolence. At its meeting in March 1811, the report of the Committee appointed to meet the Moderns’ Committee was received, setting out the Moderns’ responses to the threefold resolution:

To the First resolution ... That the [Moderns] Grand Lodge had resolved to return to the Ancient Land Marks of Masonry and in order to a perfect of the two Grand Lodges they will consent to the same Obligations and continue to abide by the Ancient Land Marks of Masonry when it should be ascertained what those Ancient Land Marks and Obligations were.

To the Second resolution the Committee of the [Moderns] Grand Lodge submitted .... That a true representation of all the warranted Lodges in and adjacent to London and Westminster should consist of the Master and Wardens with one Past Master from each Lodge that to admit all Past Masters would be inconvenient and if admitted could not be said to be a true and prefect representation of all the Lodges …

To the Third resolution, ... The Committee of the [Moderns] Grand Lodge agreed with the resolutions of the Antients Grand Lodge, the whole of this and all other minor concerns to be nevertheless discussed by a joint Committee of Masters to be chosen and appointed by the two Grand Lodges respectively to meet thereon and finally to conclude and arrange all matters relating to an of the two Grand Lodges.

A resolution that the Antients’ Committee be empowered to accede to such modification or alteration of the second resolution, respecting Past Masters, as might appear to them expedient and necessary for fully accomplishing a between the two Grand Lodges was, after a long and protracted discussion, defeated by a very large majority.

JMH: As I remarked last year when the three resolutions were first proposed in the Antients Grand Lodge, the second resolution regarding the composition of the United Grand Lodge was to cause problems leading to an almost childish reaction on the part of the Premier Grand Lodge. Membership of the Premier Grand Lodge was limited to the present and former Grand Officers, the Master and Wardens of each Lodge and representatives from the Grand Stewards’ Lodge. Membership of the Antients Grand Lodge encompassed present and former Grand Officers, Masters and Wardens of Lodges and all subscribing Past Masters. Not surprisingly, the Antients were not willing to deprive Past Masters of their Lodges of a privilege they had held from the start of that Grand Lodge. When asking the Premier Grand Lodge to explain their stance, the only response they got was that if all Past Masters were included there would not be a room large enough in which to hold meetings of the proposed United Grand Lodge!

At the meeting of the Antients in May a compromise was suggested, whereby those who were Past Masters at 24 June 1811 would continue to have the right to be members of the proposed United Grand Lodge, but after 24 June 1811 only the actual – or as we would say Immediate – Past Masters of Lodges would qualify as members of the new body. As the Minutes record, however, “After some discussion and long debate thereon and the question being put passed in the negative by a large majority”. Back to square one!

GFR: At the September Communication of the Grand Lodge a letter dated 5 June from the Grand Secretary of the Moderns was read, which reported that he had laid before the Earl of Moira and the Moderns’ Committee a letter reporting the decision of the Antients Grand Lodge and continued:

I am directed by his Lordship and the Committee to acquaint you for the information of the Grand Lodge under His Grace the Duke of Atholl that it appears to them wholly unnecessary and nugatory, that any further Meeting between the two Committees should take place at present in as much as the Committee of the Grand Lodge under the Duke of Atholl is not furnished with any sufficient powers to enter into the discussion or arrangements of the various subjects necessary to the proposed as is sufficiently manifest from the circumstance of the Grand Lodge under His Grace the Duke of Atholl having at different times negatived propositions which its Committee had acceded to thereby annulling and frustrating concessions which the Grand Lodge under the Prince Regent had professed itself upon certain points willing to make. I am further directed by his Lordship and the Committee to acquaint you that whenever the Committee from your Grand Lodge shall be invested with the powers specified in my letter of 26th January last the Committee of the Grand Lodge under His Royal Highness the Prince Regent will be most ready to meet and confer with them in the hope and expectation of finding a cordial and sincere desire correspondent with their own, for effecting a of the two Societies upon terms honorable and equal to both.

The matter was then deferred to a meeting of the Grand Lodge held on 9 October, when a Committee was at last appointed – and by a large majority – with full powers to carry into effect the measure of a Masonic , subject to a specific Instruction on the entitlement of Past Masters to attend Grand Lodge.

JMH: Correspondence between Lord Moira and Grand Secretary White shows that his Lordship was becoming increasingly angry at the delays caused by the Antients Commissioners for not having full power to decide matters but having to report back to a quarterly meeting of their Grand Lodge on every small decision. He was conscious that his time was limited as in 1812 he was being posted to India as Governor and Commander-in-Chief at Bengal and wanted matters settled before he departed. It took all of White’s diplomatic skills to dissuade Moira, writing direct to the Duke of Atholl demanding action or a complete cessation of the negotiations. Instead, White wrote the letter we have just heard and in October the Antients agreed a compromise and allowed their Commissioners full powers.

It was perhaps as a result of this, and to limit the number of future Past Masters, that at its meeting on 4th December 1811 the Antients Grand Lodge adopted two regulations which still stand today: that no one could be elected to the Master’s Chair until he had served for twelve months as a Warden, and that no Brother would be entitled to the privileges of a Past Master unless he had served a full twelve months as Master of his Lodge. Previously to this it had been the custom in both Grand Lodges for the installation of the Master to take place twice each year, on the two feasts of St John, and the Warden qualification did not exist. Indeed, under both Grand Lodges it was constitutionally possible for a Fellowcraft to be elected Master, the reasons why today we still say the Master is elected by “his brethren and fellows in open lodge assembled” and why he takes the obligation as to his duties as Master in the second degree.


GFR: 1911 was a relatively uneventful year. In March the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, announced that he was

Commanded by the Most Worshipful Grand Master to inform you that he intends to preside over the Festival of Grand Lodge on the 26th April. I believe that the opportunity which will be afforded by His Royal Highness’s gracious intention is one that anticipates the heartfelt desire of all Freemasons.

JMH: The reason was that at the request of His Majesty the King, the Duke of Connaught had accepted the Governor Generalship of Canada, which would lead to his protracted absence abroad. To meet the expected demand from those wishing to attend, the Investiture was moved to the Royal Albert Hall. A huge amount of work went into the preparation of the meeting, attended by over 6,000 Brethren. Disaster struck! The Grand Master was struck down by bronchitis and held prisoner by his doctors! A loyal address was moved expressing disappointment, wishing him a speedy relief and a safe journey to his onerous duties in Canada. At the June Quarterly Communication a further message was received from the Grand Master in which, inter alia, he said: “It has been a source of deep gratification to me to have held for eleven years that post of Grand Master of English Freemasons, in which my dear brother King Edward VII took such pride, and while I have considered it a solemn duty to carry on his work I have not been forgetful of the great advantage to myself of my association with the Craft. Wherever I have been I have felt that proud assurance that I had you watchful sympathy and interest in my welfare. I know that scarcely a day has passed on which bodies of Freemasons, all over the Empire, have not wished me well at their Festive assemblies and listened with sympathetic attention to kind words which have been said about me. I can assure you Brethren, that I have not regarded all this as mere formality and that I have attached the highest value to your personal and fraternal goodwill.”

GFR: In June the Board of General Purposes reported that, acting on the recommendation of the Officers and Clerks Committee, it had resolved

to recommend to Grand Lodge that the salary of the Grand Secretary be increased to £2,000 a year, as from the 1st January last, on the understanding that such increase shall not be considered as a permanent endowment of the office of Grand Secretary but solely as a personal recognition of the services which have been rendered to Freemasonry by the present Grand Secretary.

The Report of the Board was taken as read and confirmed, the recommendations contained therein adopted, and the Report entered on the Minutes.

JMH: Until 1909 the appointment of staff from the Grand Secretary downwards, their terms, conditions and salaries had all been debated in Grand Lodge. The setting up of the Officers and Clerks Committee of the Board in that year removed much of the debate, except for additional finance, out of Grand Lodge. The Grand Secretary, Sir Edward Letchworth was indefatigable and much liked, hence the ready agreement to the motion. The present Grand Secretary might be interested to know that the purchasing power of £2,000 in 1911 equates to over £150,000 today!

GFR: The year ended with some sad news: the death of W Bro Henry Sadler, first the Grand Tyler and then the Librarian and Curator of the Grand Lodge, and therefore in the latter capacity one of the predecessors of my co-presenter, who can pay a far more eloquent tribute to him than I could hope to do.

JMH: My co-presenter is, as always, correct! (Laughter) Henry Sadler is one of my Masonic heroes. Indeed it could be argued that had he not worked at Freemasons’ Hall I might well not be standing before you today. Sadler joined the staff in 1865 as an assistant to the Grand Tyler, being appointed to that office in 1879. As Grand Tyler, in addition to ceremonial work, he was responsible for the running and letting of Freemasons’ Hall and was provided with an apartment in the building. Fascinated by history he spent most of his spare time searching cupboards and cellars locating all the archives of the two previous Grand Lodges, the United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter. When in 1887 the Board revived the moribund Library and Museum with the Grand Secretary as nominal Librarian, Sadler was appointed sub-Librarian and quickly set to, expanding the collections. He quickly became known to the growing group of Masonic historians both at home and abroad, all of whom acknowledged his help and knowledge. When the house next door to Freemasons’ Hall was acquired in 1904 for additional office space, such had been Sadler’s work that the main rooms were set aside as a Library and Museum. His work was crowned in 1910 when he was appointed the first Librarian and Curator of Grand Lodge and was elected Master of the renowned Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076. The many tributes to his memory praised his kindness, helpfulness and great willingness to share with others what he had learned from the treasures under his care. He was certainly one who “lived respected and died regretted” and, one hundred years later, Masonic historians still revere his memory.

Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
14 December 2011
Report of the Board of General Purposes


Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge of 14 September 2011 were confirmed.

HRH The Duke of Kent KG was nominated as Grand Master for the ensuing year.

Annual Investiture of Grand Officers (25 April 2012)
So that sufficient accommodation can be reserved for those Brethren who are to be invested and their friends, admission to the Annual Investiture is by ticket only. Brethren to be invested for the first time may invite to be present with them three qualified Brethren, and those to be promoted two qualified Brethren. Allowance having been made for such an issue and for those whose presence in the Grand Lodge is essential, a few seats will remain. Written application for these seats may be made to the Grand Secretary between 1 March and 31 March by Brethren qualified to attend Grand Lodge.

Masonic Year Book
The next edition of the Masonic Year Book, 2012–2013, will be available next summer. The charge remains at £12 per copy, plus postage and packing where appropriate. It is proposed to produce a new edition of the Directory of Lodges and Chapters during 2012 at a charge of £12 per copy. Copies of the current edition are still available and may be ordered in the meantime in the same way.
Every Lodge will receive one copy of the Masonic Year Book and the Directory free of charge. The Board emphasises that these copies should be available to all the members of private lodges and not regarded as for the exclusive use of the secretary to whom, for administrative reasons, they are dispatched.
As in previous years copies will be dispatched direct to secretaries of lodges. Sufficient copies will be dispatched to District Grand Secretaries for distribution to lodges in the Districts. Lodges abroad not in a District will receive their copies direct.

Prestonian Lectures for 2012
The Board has considered applications for the delivery of the official Prestonian Lectures in 2012 and has decided that these should be given under the auspices of the following: Humber Installed Masters Lodge, No. 2494 (Yorkshire, North and East Ridings), Authors Lodge, No. 3456 (London) and North Notts. Masters Lodge, No. 9525 (Nottinghamshire).
The Lecturer, W Bro A.D.G. Harvey, states that the title of the Lecture will be: Scouting and Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?

Mentors
Following the presentation on mentoring given in Grand Lodge in March 2008 very many lodges, as well as the Metropolitan Area of London, Provinces and Districts have adopted a mentoring scheme. In recognition of this the Book of Constitutions was changed in the following year to allow for an office of Provincial or District Grand Mentor, and the Metropolitan Grand Master was given the power to make a similar appointment in London.
At that time the Board did not contemplate a formal office at the level of a private lodge, taking the view that mentoring was an informal role: the choice of a Brother to undertake that role would be determined in each case by the needs of the individual candidate, so that in any lodge several, if not many, members would be acting as individual mentors.
It has been represented to the Board that in order to give impetus to the scheme a formal office is desirable, and the Board, having considered the matter, accordingly recommends that the Master of a lodge should have the option of appointing a Brother as Mentor, to rank immediately before the Senior Deacon, to co-ordinate mentoring within the lodge.
It is intended that where an appointment is made the Brother appointed to the office should ensure that every candidate (and any other Brother within the lodge requiring mentoring) is allocated a personal mentor, and that the work of the personal mentors so allocated is co-ordinated and organised. He should be able to provide guidance to the personal mentors on their responsibilities.
While he would not be precluded in an appropriate case from acting as a personal mentor himself, that should emphatically not be his primary function, which is to act in a co-ordinating role. The Board hopes that when the Mentor is invested the new Master will remind him of the duties attached to the office. The emblem (to be designed) would be two chisels in saltire.
Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the paper of business.

Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska and its Jurisdiction was consecrated by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington on 6 September 1969, from three lodges operating in Alaska, which it had warranted in 1965. The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Washington was recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England on 10 December 1997.
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Alaska shares jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Alaska, which has already granted it recognition and has also confirmed that it would have no objection to our doing so.
A Resolution was accordingly approved.

AMALGAMATIONS
The Board has received reports that the following lodges have resolved to
surrender their Warrants: Salisbury Lodge, No. 3228, in order to amalgamate with Lodge, No. 767 (Hertfordshire); Rossendale Forest Lodge, No. 4138, in order to amalgamate with Lodge of Amity, No. 283 (East Lancashire); Lodge of Good Companions, No. 6091, in order to amalgamate with Jordan Lodge, No. 201 (London); Ionic Lodge, No. 6983, in order to amalgamate with Jubilee Lodge, No. 9475 (Hertfordshire); Triton Lodge, No. 7738, in order to amalgamate with Peace and Friendship Lodge, No. 7414 (London); and Lodge of United Brethren, No. 9529, in order to amalgamate with Owen Falls Lodge, No. 9447 (East Africa).
The Board accordingly recommended that the lodges be removed from the register in order to effect the respective amalgamations. A Resolution to this effect was approved.

Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 28 lodges had closed and surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are: St John’s Lodge, No. 673 (West Lancashire), Mount Edgcumbe Lodge, No. 1446 (London), Viator Lodge, No. 2308 (London), Marcians Lodge, No. 2648 (London), Harlow Lodge, No. 2734 (Essex), Assheton Egerton Lodge, No. 2793 (Cheshire), Whitley Lodge, No. 2821 (Northumberland), Saltwell Lodge, No. 3000 (Durham), Brooklands Lodge, No. 3671 (Cheshire), Paton Lodge, No. 3738 (West Lancashire), St Mary’s Lodge, No. 3987 (Northumberland), Astley Lodge, No. 4370 (Cheshire), Elfrida Lodge, No. 4497 (London), Filia Unitatis Lodge, No. 4658 (London), Remus Lodge, No. 4760 (London), St Mildred Lodge, No. 5078 (South Wales) and Oliver Goldsmith Lodge, No. 5924 (London).
Lodge of Companionship, No. 6270 (London), King Arthur Lodge, No. 6593 (Surrey), Poseidon Lodge, No. 6815 (London), Lodge of Stability, No. 6985 (Northumberland), Ewloe Lodge, No. 7447 (North Wales), Croydon Lodge of Integrity, No. 7730 (Surrey), Beverley Brook Lodge, No. 8137 (Surrey), St Lawrence Lodge, No. 8205 (Surrey), Harrock Lodge, No. 8233 (West Lancashire), Hyde Abbey Lodge, No. 8241 (Surrey) and Lodge of Academe, No. 9377 (Warwickshire).
Over recent years, the lodges had found themselves no longer viable. The Board was satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore had no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.

Yet More Of Our Yesterdays
There was a presentation on the Proceedings of Grand Lodge 200 and 100 years ago by VW Bro J.M. Hamill and VW Bro G.F. Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary.

Expulsion From The Craft
There was one expulsion from the Craft.

Meetings of Grand Lodge
14 March 2012, 25 April (Annual Investiture) 2012, 13 June 2012, 12 September 2012, 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013.

Meetings of Supreme Grand Chapter
25 April 2012, 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013, 16 October 2013 (subject to the approval of Supreme Grand Chapter).

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 14 December 2011 09:54

Historical millstones

Director of Special Projects John Hamill wonders if resources spent on maintaining masonic buildings would be better used elsewhere

Recently I was accused of betraying my principles as a historian and supporter of the preservation of our masonic heritage. I had had the temerity to suggest that, sadly, there were times when we had to be hard-headed and pragmatic, particularly so when it comes to the huge heritage of masonic buildings.

In the context of the long history of the Craft, the idea of purpose-built lodge rooms and halls is a relative innovation. Originally, lodges, and even the two eighteenth-century English Grand Lodges, met in private rooms in inns and taverns. There were, of course, exceptions. In 1775, the premier Grand Lodge built the first Freemasons’ Hall in Great Queen Street, London. The oldest purpose-built Provincial Hall – still in use by the lodge that built it – appeared in Sunderland in 1778. In the early nineteenth-century, halls appeared as far apart as Bath and Newcastle upon Tyne but none survived the economic problems of the 1830s and 1840s.

The great period of masonic building was in mid-Victorian and Edwardian times. Freemasonry was rapidly expanding, and was seen by the public as a respectable association. To the growing middle and professional classes, who were the core membership of the Craft at that time, inns and taverns were not respectable places and so began the move to having specific premises limited to masonic activity.

The development of masonic buildings mirrored what was happening in ecclesiastical and civic circles, with the building of huge parish and free churches and palatial town halls. Just as they were expressions of Victorian religious and civic pride so the new masonic halls were an expression of the integrity and stability of the brethren who built them. Many of them were built in the new districts of the expanding towns and cities and reflected Freemasonry’s position as one of the pillars of the local community.

Life, however, moves on and changes. In the fifty years after the Second World War this country experienced the greatest economic and social upheaval since the industrial revolution. One of the effects in urban areas was that the former prosperous districts became subject to dereliction and decay as businesses and industries failed or downsized and moved out. The masonic halls became almost like islands in a sea of dereliction – islands which no one wanted to visit, especially on a dark winter’s night.

Combined with a contracting membership regularly asked to dig deeper into their pockets to cover ever rising costs and what at first had seemed a glorious heritage soon became an increasingly heavier millstone around the necks of those who used them.

To my mind, the purpose of Freemasonry is to bring together men from disparate backgrounds and traditions, to instil in them the principles and tenets of the Craft and to explore what we have in common and build on that commonality for the good of society as a whole. It is not the purpose of Freemasonry to act as a sort of National Trust to preserve a heritage of buildings which, while they have served the Craft over a long period, are no longer fit for purpose. The time, energy and finance which is spent in trying to preserve them could be put to much better masonic effect.

The major concern for the Craft in recent years has been attracting and retaining new members. The fall in membership appears to be bottoming out and in some areas there are real signs of growth. I would argue that the next major area of concern will be the problem of our heritage of property. In some areas it is being addressed and schemes have evolved – like the events business at London’s Freemasons’ Hall – to share masonic buildings with others to bring in additional income. But there will be times when hard decisions have to be taken, and on those occasions it is the head that should rule rather than the heart.

Letter to the Editor - FreemasonryToday No.17 - Spring 2012

 

Sir,
I was extremely interested to read the ‘Historical Millstones’ reflection by John Hamill in the Winter 2011 issue of Freemasonry Today. This is a subject on which I have long held strong convictions.

I wholeheartedly support his thoughts. There is, in addition to John’s comments, one aspect that I have put forward many times in the past. Smaller, more local masonic meeting halls lend themselves to involving Freemasons in the communities in which they reside, which are the sources of their Entered Apprentices. The doors of small, local masonic halls should be opened to the local community to demonstrate that Freemasons are part of it and that their halls are not places to be frowned upon. Indeed, the very idea of a masonic centre militates against the concept of openness. If communities of non-masons continually see men in black suits with black cases driving or walking into large, sometimes forbidding, old buildings with large gates closing behind them, often in the dark, it becomes the breeding ground for the unfounded suspicions that have hounded our meetings for many years.
In my experience, limited as it is, it is the small, local halls which prove to have few if any financial problems, and the masonic centres that do. Masonic centres can be an excellent means of providing a home for a large number of lodges. But if the upkeep is beyond the means of the membership who use the building, then it seems very pertinent to actively consider using a small local hall, as was the case for most lodges 100 to 150 years ago.
Martin Dowrick
Fernhill Lodge, No. 7707
New Milton, Hampshire and Isle of Wight



Published in Features
Friday, 16 September 2011 15:00

Centenary celebrations

As Letchworth marks its one-hundredth year, John Hamill reports on the centenary of a very special lodge

On 28 March 2011 in Lodge Room No. 10 at Freemasons’ Hall in London, almost 150 brethren gathered for an emergency meeting. Nothing unusual in that – until you look at the signature book and discover that those present included the Pro, Deputy and Assistant Grand Masters, the Metropolitan Grand Master for London, the President and Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, the Grand Chaplain, Grand Secretary, Grand Director of Ceremonies, Presidents of the Grand Charity and the Masonic Samaritan Fund, and other senior brethren.

What, you might wonder, other than a Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, would bring such illustrious company together in one tyled meeting? The reason is a joyous one – to take part in the centenary celebrations of Letchworth Lodge, No. 3505. But why such eminent brethren for a Hertfordshire lodge? The answer, to paraphrase Shakespeare, is all in a name. The ‘Letchworth’ after which the lodge was called is not the delightful Hertfordshire town, but Sir Edward Letchworth who was Grand Secretary from 1892 to 1917. As for why the celebrations were in London, when the membership of the lodge was formed in 1911, it was restricted to the permanent clerks in the Grand Secretary’s Office. And even today is limited to those employed in the capital’s masonic headquarters.

LODGE HISTORY

Although a Secretary to the Grand Lodge was appointed in 1723 (becoming Grand Secretary in 1734) and the premier Grand Lodge had a permanent building in Great Queen Street from 1775, it was not until 1838 that the Grand Secretary’s Office came into being. From the of the two Grand Lodges in 1813 until 1838, the Grand Secretaryship was a joint office shared by William White, who had held the same office in the premier Grand Lodge, and Edward Harper, who had been Deputy Grand Secretary of the Antients.

In 1838, Harper ‘retired’ and White was asked to take on the role of Grand Secretary. He agreed but on one condition: that Grand Lodge employed two full-time clerks to assist with paperwork. As a result of the expansion in members and lodges in the Victorian period, by the time Letchworth became Grand Secretary in 1892 the office had grown to seven clerks. As they had to be Master Masons it was suggested they should have a lodge. There was one problem: nine was the minimum number of petitioners and there were only seven clerks.

By 1911, there had been an expansion of the Craft and clerk numbers grew to 15. They approached Letchworth to petition for a lodge, and the consecration took place on 28 March 1911. Sir Edward himself was the Consecrating Officer, assisted by the President of the Board of General Purposes, the President of the Board of Benevolence (now the Grand Charity), the Grand Chaplain and Grand Director of Ceremonies and the Chairman of the Board’s Officers and Clerks Committee.

Sir Edward stated that the lodge’s purpose was ‘to meld the clerks into greater harmony’. It would also assist Grand Lodge by bringing into Freemasonry suitable candidates that might become clerks in the office; and get brethren through the Chair in a reasonable time for additional duties. The latter was important, as many lodges had more than 100 members and it could take 15 or more years to reach the Chair.

RAPID EXPANSION

The lodge’s first year was a busy one with two candidates and three installations. The Master designate had been installed at the consecration and at the July and November meetings two of the senior clerks were installed. In 1913, the lodge began a practice that was to continue until the 1970s – that of initiating as serving brethren members of the portering and maintenance staff of the Hall. They were to assist the Grand Tyler by laying up the lodge rooms and acting as Assistant Tylers whenever Grand Lodge met.

The First World War halted progress of the lodge and office, as half the staff were on active service. Only one did not return, Ponsonby Cox, and another, Guy Mercer, was awarded the Military Cross. Those too old for military service kept the lodge and office going. To help in the office, the rule requiring clerks to be Master Masons was put into abeyance and three lady clerks and two ‘lady typewriters’ were taken on. The latter, Miss Haigh and Miss Winter, proved far from temporary, spending the rest of their working lives as private secretaries to Grand and Deputy Grand Secretaries.

The huge increase in the Craft four years after the war, and the plan to rebuild Freemasons’ Hall as a permanent war memorial, led to an increase in office size. Between 1925 and 1927, five boy clerks were taken on as ‘temporary’ staff ; each of them eventually becoming members of the lodge. There were similar problems during the Second World War, when again the rule on clerks being Master Masons was set aside and women were taken on. They proved so popular and useful that in 1949 the rule (No. 33 in the current Book of Constitutions) was put into abeyance. The lodge had difficulties meeting and reduced its wartime gatherings to two per year. The only ceremonial work was the annual installation of the Master.

The immediate post-war years saw an enormous growth in the Craft. This led to expansion of the office and an increase in the membership of the lodge. Much of the work was in making serving brethren, as the portering and maintenance staff had also grown, and many took on additional work as Tylers for lodges meeting at Freemasons’ Hall.

By the late 1960s, however, things were slowing down and doubts were expressed about the future of Letchworth Lodge. Membership had been limited to Permanent Clerks, but in 1977, Grand Secretary James Stubbs was approached about opening the lodge to the full office, to which he agreed. In the early 1980s, under Grand Secretary Michael Higham, the lodge was opened to the whole of the male staff at Freemasons’ Hall and the staff of other masonic headquarters in London. This has resulted in a vibrant lodge with a steady stream of candidates. The changes have also brought the staff of the various masonic offices in London closer together. Sir Edward Letchworth’s hopes at the consecration can truly be said to have been achieved.

ILLUSTRIOUS MEMBERSHIP

As the Grand Secretary’s lodge, Letchworth has had great support from Sir Edward and his successors. Sir Philip Colville Smith became an honorary member when he became Grand Secretary in 1917. (Sir) Sydney White joined the lodge when he was appointed Chief Clerk in 1918, was its Master in 1920, and was a regular attendee even after election as an Honorary Member when he became Grand Secretary in 1937. (Sir) James Stubbs was elected an Honorary Member when he was appointed Assistant Grand Secretary in 1948, while Michael Higham became a joining member when appointed Deputy Grand Secretary in 1978, and is still active. Nigel Brown joined when he was appointed Grand Secretary in 2007 and members are delighted to have him as their Centenary Master. He was thrilled to have been installed by Michael Higham.

Being involved in central masonic administration, the members of the lodge were only too aware of the privilege extended to them to have the Pro Grand Master present the Centenary Warrant. The happy occasion was followed by a reception and banquet in the Grand Temple vestibules.

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 DECEMBER 2010

A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill

GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, in February 1810, the Premier or Moderns Grand Lodge, which in 1809 had been exercised with the affairs of the Royal Naval Lodge, then numbered 57 and now No. 59, was opened in due form and the Laws relating to the behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge were read.

The three Brethren who had been appointed to attend Royal Naval Lodge to ensure the reinstatement of certain Brethren

reported that they had attended at the House where the said Lodge is held in Burr Street, Wapping on Wednesday 3rd January last being the usual evening of meeting of the Lodge and notice of which meeting had been advertised in the newspapers and on enquiring whether the Lodge was opened they were informed by a person who said he attended there to answer any one who might come, that there would not be a Lodge held that evening. That they again attended this evening being likewise one of the usual days of meeting of the said Lodge when they were also informed that the Lodge would not meet.

Brother F[rancis] C[olumbine] Daniel then addressed the Grand Lodge and said it was the determination of the Brethren of the Royal Naval Lodge not to admit again into their Lodge Brothers [John] Blacklock and [John William] Smith and he read some Resolutions to that effect but that rather than do so they would surrender the warrant of the Lodge and give to the Grand Lodge the Books of the Royal Naval Lodge to enable the Grand Lodge to pay itself what was due from the Royal Naval Lodge by collecting in the arrears due from its Members and Brother Daniel accordingly delivered to the Grand Master in the chair the Warrant of Constitution of the Royal Naval Lodge, No. 57, whereupon it was 

Resolved that the consideration of what further proceedings it may be proper to adopt respecting the Royal Naval Lodge be deferred to the next Committee of Charity.

JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, the problem with Royal Naval Lodge, or rather Francis Columbine Daniel continued to rumble! At the April meeting of the premier Grand Lodge it was reported that the books of the Lodge had been turned over to the Grand Secretary but not the jewels and furniture – they having been seized by the landlord in Wapping as surety for £200 owed to him and others in the area. The Brethren who had been refused re-admission to the Lodge had petitioned for the return of the warrant as they had not been party to its being given up or to the activities of Daniel. The Grand Lodge agreed that the warrant and books be returned to them and that the Lodge be re-instated in all its Masonic privileges. An attempt by Daniel and his friends to take over the Lodge of Felicity (now) No. 58 and rename it the Royal Naval Lodge of Felicity was refused by the Grand Master. That should have been the end of it but Grand Lodge was troubled again in November, resulting in Daniel being “suspended from all Masonic functions and privileges” until he cleared the debt he had incurred with the Grand Lodge (£300) by not sending in returns. It took Daniel until 1817 to repay the money when he was restored to all his privileges.

GFR: Earlier at that same Communication it had been:

Resolved, that in consequence of recent occurrences the Resolution of the Grand Lodge of the 9th February 1803 for the expulsion of Brother Thomas Harper be rescinded.

JMH: Thomas Harper had been expelled from the premier Grand Lodge in 1803 because he was a senior member of the Antients Grand Lodge, although it took the premier Grand Lodge more than a decade to recognise this despite the fact that Harper had been a Grand Steward (as a member of Globe Lodge) in 1796 when he was Deputy Grand Secretary of the Antients. In 1801 he became the Deputy Grand Master of the Antients, but a blind eye was taken. Enter F. C. Daniel again! He it was who brought charges against Harper in the premier Grand Lodge. It was a case of spite. Daniel had also been a member of the Antients and had been expelled from their Grand Lodge in 1801, just after Harper became Deputy Grand Master. He believed that Harper was behind his expulsion and so began to work against him, leading to his expulsion from the premier Grand Lodge. That put paid to the fledgling move towards between the two Grand Lodges. Harper’s re-admission to the premier Grand Lodge made the revival of the idea possible.

GFR: At the April Communication, at which the affair of Royal Naval Lodge was finally resolved, the minutes go on to record that

The Grand Master in the chair the Right Honourable the Earl of Moira was pleased to inform the Grand Lodge that in a conference which he had had with His Grace the Duke of Atholl they were both fully of opinion that it would be an event truly desirable and highly creditable to the name of Masons to consolidate under one head the two Societies of Masons that existed in this country. In consequence of the points then discussed and reciprocally admitted the matter came under deliberation in the Grand Lodge under his Grace the Duke of Athol and the result was a Resolution which the Earl of Moira laid before this Grand Lodge. It was as follows “That a Masonic of the Grand Lodges under the present Grand Masters H.R.H. the Prince of Wales and his Grace the Duke of Atholl on principles equal and honourable to both Grand Lodges and preserving inviolate the Land marks of the Ancient Craft would in the opinion of this Grand Lodge be expedient and advantageous to both.”

Needless to say the resolution was passed unanimously and a Committee appointed “for negotiating this most desirable arrangement”.

JMH: That resolution having been passed the ceased to trouble the premier Grand Lodge. They were quite happy for their negotiators to have full powers to discuss and move forward, without their having to come back to the Grand Lodge on every point. As we shall see over the next two years, if this double act is to continue, the Antients were not so trusting of their negotiators who had to listen and discuss but had no powers of decision. They had to report back every point for discussion in and agreement by a quarterly meeting of their Grand Lodge. It is not surprising that the negotiations dragged on for three years!

GFR: By way of contrast, indeed, the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge, at its meeting in March 1810, when it came to the reading of the minutes of the Grand Lodge Committee, to which it had been delegated “To consider of the propriety and practicability of accomplishing a Masonic with the Society of Masons under His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales and to report thereon to the Grand Lodge” was faced with an objection from Bro. Charles Humphreys, Past Grand Warden that the proceedings should not be received, being “informal and premature”. His objection was defeated on a vote and the Minutes continue:

“The proceedings of the Committee were then read and thereupon the Grand Secretary recommended to the Grand Lodge to pause and consider well before they proceeded any further upon a matter of so great a magnitude; previous to any answer being received from the Most Noble R.W. Grand Master to whom the resolution of the Committee has been transmitted and before any communication had been made thereon to any of the Country, Military or Foreign Lodges immediately under or in correspondence with this R.W. Grand Lodge, the best interests and immunities of this Grand Lodge ought not to pass nor be tendered or offered in barter without information to and consent of all parties interested first had and obtained.”

JMH: There were powerful forces within the Antients Grand Lodge who did not wish to see a . Not least amongst them was their Grand Secretary, Robert Leslie, who delayed everything he possibly could. Even when the game was up and the achieved he refused to accept it, or hand over the books and papers of the Grand Lodge, until paid off with a pension of £100 a year!

GFR: Things now moved a little faster. At a Grand Lodge of Emergency held on 1st May, there were

“Read the Minutes and proceedings of the Grand Lodge Committee of the 19th April, with the Letter and Communication received from the Earl of Moira with the resolution therein inclosed from the Grand Lodge in Queen Street under H.R. Highness the Prince of Wales.”

A threefold resolution was then passed:

1st: That as the Grand Lodges of the United Kingdom viz. The Grand Lodge of England under the Most Noble Duke of Atholl the Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Ireland are all bound by the same obligations and all work by Uniform Rules it is necessary in the first instance to be informed whether the Grand Lodge under H.R. Highness the Prince of Wales in order to a perfect will consent to take the same obligations under which the three Grand Lodges [are bound] and that they will consent to work in the same forms.

2nd: That it is essential to the true preservation of the true and ancient Land Marks that the Grand Lodge shall be a perfect representation of all the Lodges and that to this end it shall be composed of the present and past Grand Officers, Masters and Wardens of each Lodge with the Past Masters of all Lodges. That the Grand Lodge under H.R.H. the Prince of Wales shall agree that upon the the Grand Lodge of England in all times to come be composed of the present and past Grand Officers, Masters, Wardens and Past Masters of the regular Lodges under the two Constitutions the Lodges to sit under their respective banners according to Seniority of Number every Brother to speak and vote and that the Grand Lodge shall be convened and held quarterly on a given day in each quarter for communication with the Craft besides the Anniversary Meeting of St John the Evangelist and St John the Baptist.

3rd: That the Masonic benevolence shall be distributed monthly by a Lodge specially constituted and summoned for that purpose consisting as it now is of a deputation from the resident Lodges in and adjacent to London and Westminster.

JMH: The premier Grand Lodge had already gone a fair way to meeting the resolutions put forward by the Antients . As we reported last year they had set up a special Lodge of Promulgation to bring it ceremonies into line with those of Ireland and Scotland (and thereby the Antients). They had introduced Deacons into their Lodges and recognised the installation of the Master. Indeed they had spent a great deal of time holding special meetings to install those who had been Masters of Lodges without receiving the secrets of the chair, including the Duke of Sussex and the Earl of Moira. The problematical point would be the composition of the new United Grand Lodge. The premier Grand Lodge had reserved its membership to the Grand Officers, Masters of Lodges and the Master and others from the Grand Stewards Lodge. The Antients Grand Lodge had been much more democratic and was composed of the Grand Officers, Master and Wardens of Lodges and the subscribing Past Masters. This difference was to lead to long, and at times childish, arguments. The premier Grand Lodge was set against an increase in the membership, arguing at one point that their Hall was not large enough to take so many people. Happily for us the Antients won through.

GFR: To round off this subject, the Minutes for September record that:

A Motion was made by Bro. Jeremiah Cranfield, P.M. 255 ‘That all Motions made in this Grand Lodge and Grand Lodge Committees respecting a Masonic with all communications from the Committee under his Royal Highness the Prince of Wales as well as the opinions of the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland on this important subject be printed and circulated throughout the ancient Craft….Ordered.

JMH: Although he was troublesome, we should bless Jeremiah Cranfield. As a result of his resolution the Antients did regularly circulate to their members. Had they not we should have little information as to what did happen. The letter book and other records of the premier Grand Lodge for this period appear not to have survived and very little was reported to their Grand Lodge.

GFR: By contrast 1910 was a relatively uneventful year. Loyal addresses on the death of H.M. King Edward VII were approved at an Especial Grand Lodge in May, and in June an honorarium of 1,000 Guineas was voted to the retiring Grand Registrar, to coincide with his golden wedding; but the only genuinely contentious item of business was a Motion in June that:

“In the opinion of Grand Lodge it is desirable that in the next, and all subsequent issues of the Masonic Year Book, there should be printed a list of the names of all Brethren who have been honoured by appointment to London Rank, together with the name and number of the Lodge that recommended them for, and the date of, such appointment.”

JMH: Those who were present here last year may remember that there was a “robust” debate in Grand Lodge in 1909 over the proposal that the Grand Registrar be paid a retainer. Despite it being proposed by the Pro Grand Master and seconded by the Deputy, it was thrown out. They were determined, however, to reward John Strachan, who had been a very busy Grand Registrar since his appointment in 1898, as the Proceedings of Grand Lodge testify. His retirement and Golden Wedding provided the opportunity and Grand Lodge readily agreed.

The death of the King marked the passing of one who had, as Prince of Wales and Grand Master for 26 years, presided over a great period of expansion in the English Craft both at home and overseas. On becoming King he had taken the title of Protector of Masonry. At the timer of his death Grand Lodge was quietly acquiring property to the east of the then Freemasons’ Hall with idea of extending the building. A memorial fund was set up in his memory to fund the building work. The First World War intervened and the Edward VII Memorial Fund was subsumed into the Masonic Million Memorial Fund, which resulted in this building.

The resolution regarding the inclusion of list of those honoured with London Rank, as London Grand Rank was then styled, produced another of those robust debates in Grand Lodge. The year book had only as recently as 1908 been brought back under Grand Lodge control, it for many years having been published by Kenning (before they were sandwiched between Toye and Spencer). The Provinces rightly argued that if London Rank was to be included then so should Provincial honours. That seems to have clinched it and, happily for my co-presenter and his staff who edit the year book, the proposal was negatived – but the year book grew in many other ways! And those of you who have read your business paper, and in particular the Board’s Report, will note that next year’s edition, which will be replete with useful information, will be on sale at a snip of £12!

Published in Speeches
Monday, 19 April 2010 15:30

True to the data

John Hamill Plans a Fresh Look at Freemasonry’s Contribution to English Social History

As part of the celebrations marking the tercentenary of Grand Lodge a major study of masonic history is planned, one which looks at the broad impact of Freemasonry on society in England and Wales over the last three hundred years. John Hamill, former Director of the Communications Department at Freemasons’ Hall, London, has been appointed to head the team tasked with making this ambition a reality.

This challenge is formidable but, as John Hamill explains, such a project is ‘a researcher’s dream.’ He is realistic, only too aware that it is going to involve a huge amount of team work, but he emphasises that it will also be enjoyable. Historical research has long been his great interest and to now have the opportunity to plunge himself into such a project will be not only creative but a pleasure. 

Few Freemasons realise that despite the enormous amount of work to date on masonic history there is still much more to be uncovered. All too often research in Freemasonry has involved merely rearranging known data rather than seeking new sources. This is to change. 
The existing archives of the United Grand Lodge of England held at Freemasons’ Hall as well as those at many other masonic centres throughout England and Wales need to be methodically studied and analysed. Furthermore, many new sources of data remain to be discovered. Just recently, all the records of the Masons’ Company have been made available to John and he is looking forward to working through them. 

A Love of History

John grew up in Newcastle, moving south to take a degree in modern history from London University. He was fascinated by the interplay between people and politics; the way in which individuals affected events, for good or ill; the way one person could make large changes. This led him into the history of the transmission of ideas and here he realised the importance of Freemasonry. 

He joined Freemasonry easily: men from both sides of his family were members and at the age of 22 he was initiated by his father. He quickly became intrigued by the mystery surrounding the historical aspects of Freemasonry and the vagueness about its origins. At the same time he was impressed by the loyalty it commanded from its members: for example, despite the persecution suffered by many Freemasons on the Continent the idea survived turbulent times. Quite obviously there was something very special about Freemasonry which men responded to. 

Working in the Public Library Service gave John few opportunities for research so he began to explore alternatives, particularly research libraries. He heard that an assistant Librarian was needed at Freemasons’ Hall, applied and gained the position. That was in 1971. Now, in 2009, he is the longest serving member of the Grand Secretary’s staff. 


The first masonic meeting he attended in London was that of the research lodge, Quatuor Coronati, No. 2076, and he quickly joined the Correspondence Circle. He gave his first paper to the Lodge in 1973 and in 1977 was joint winner of the Norman Spencer Prize for a paper on the development of Lodge Warrants. As a result of this paper he was elected a full member of the Lodge. He was Master of Quatuor Coronati Lodge 1985-86 and during this time his book The Craft was published. 

Meanwhile, in 1983, he had been promoted to Librarian and Curator for Grand Lodge. 

Head of Communications

In 1984 he was asked by the Grand Secretary to appear on the BBC’s ‘Today’ programme: suddenly he found himself serving as a spokesman for Freemasonry. He became increasingly involved with public relations and in 1998 was asked to set up a specialised Communications Department for Grand Lodge; unfortunately, this meant leaving his post as Librarian and Curator. This was a wrench; he missed the research, the contact with people and the excitement when someone appeared with a new document or masonic artifact. 
John drew into the Communications Department people who were aware of the problems Freemasonry was having with the outside world and who understood the need for a proactive and open approach. This was important since at the time Freemasonry had considerable problems with its public image. 

John played an active role in combating this negative perception which had been allowed to flourish; he twice appeared before a House of Commons Select Committee speaking on behalf of Freemasonry. 

John was also involved in the establishment of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at Sheffield University. Initially the University authorities were sceptical about the existence of sufficient primary material to maintain such a research centre so John invited the University librarian to London to see the archives held at Freemasons’ Hall. The librarian was astonished; he and his colleagues had no idea of the riches available including early minute books, annual returns and correspondence going back to the 1750s. 

The Tercentenary research Project

The aim is not to produce a history just of Grand Lodge but something much broader: to record the contribution Freemasonry has made to the social, economic and political development of English and Welsh society since the earliest records began. 

The plan is to first discover what is available. A team of researchers is being assembled to study specific areas and to produce comprehensive research papers. Importantly, there will be no restrictions placed on the research, there will be no ‘canonical interpretation’ of masonic history to limit the team’s analysis. As these papers are completed they will be made available on both the Grand Lodge website and that of Sheffield University’s Centre for Research into Freemasonry. 

Secondly, beginning around 2013, the data in these papers will be brought together by an editorial group which will produce a book both academically sound and easily read. 

This is a courageous venture: it will not be looking at the evidence in order to support a preconceived theory of origins but it will be true to the data ‘warts and all.’ It will be looking particularly at local communities: how Freemasonry has impacted the history and life of the towns in which it existed over the centuries. 

‘For too long,’ John explains, ‘we have looked at Freemasonry in isolation but it has never existed apart from society, it has always been an integral part of it.’ 

Bringing the history of the two together again is one important ambition of this project which will make a significant contribution to understanding the true extent of Freemasonry’s impact on the development of our modern era.

Published in UGLE
Page 7 of 9

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