Celebrating 300 years

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

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

9 DECEMBER 2009

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

GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, in the early part of 1809, the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge, apart from authorising expenditure totalling £177–6s–0d for the Erection of a Throne and presenting or resolving to present three Brethren with gold medals in testimony of their services to the Craft, seems to have been preoccupied with the arrangements for a Masonic Procession, Sermon and Festival in celebration of St. John’s Day (24th June).

 

The Church Service, procession and Festival of St John the Baptist was an annual event. In 1809 it was variously proposed that the event should take place in Islington, Hackney, Lambeth or Camberwell. The service actually took place at Camberwell Church following which the brethren processed to the Grove House, Camberwell for dinner. The Grand Treasurer reported that the day’s costs had been £210–5s–3d leaving a shortfall of £29–1s–6d to be taken from Grand Lodge Funds.

Nor was Charity neglected. In March 1809 £100 from Grand Lodge funds was voted to the Masonic Charity for Clothing and Educating the Sons of Indigent Freemasons. To this, later in the year, was added 200 guineas to celebrate the coming Golden Jubilee of King George III. This special grant would enable the Boy’s Charity to take on another ten boys, bringing the total under their care to fifty.

GFR: In September of that year the Minutes record that:

Bro Jeremiah Cranfield, Past Master of 255 again brought forward a motion presented and afterwards withdrawn at the meeting of Grand Lodge 7th June last, that a committee be appointed from the Grand Lodge to consider of and adopt such prompt and effectual measures for accomplishing so desirable an object as a Masonic .

The RW Bro Charles Humphreys, PSGW objected to the motion being received as tending to annihilate the Antient Craft. Hereon a very long debate and conversation ensued.
The RW Deputy Grand Master in the Chair, after maturely considering thereon and as at present advised and according with his duty as Deputy Grand Master conceived it incompatible with his situation in the absence of the Grand Master to receive such Motion. And thereupon the Grand Lodge was closed at past 12 o’clock at night.

In December, Bro Cranfield returned to the charge, by objecting to the adoption of the whole of the minutes of the September Communication, whereon a long and interesting debate upon the minutes of the 6th September last took place. After some time it was moved by Bro Charles Humphreys, PSGW and seconded that the said minutes be read separately and the sense of the Grand Lodge taken thereon paragraph by paragraph and the question being put thereon the same was carried in the affirmative.”

The minutes were severally read and confirmed unanimously except for the last minute and the motion therein mentioned and moved by Bro Cranfield for a Committee to be appointed to consider and adopt prompt and effectual measures for accomplishing a Masonic .

Upon this the debate recommenced and thereon it was moved by Bro Charles Humphreys and seconded that the said motion made by Bro Cranfield and refused to be put by the Deputy Grand Master be expunged from the minutes of the RW Grand Lodge and the question being thereon put passed in the negative.

Afterwards Bro Cranfield’s motion of the 6th September was again read and the question thereon put the same was carried in the affirmative.

JMH: This momentous resolution, brethren, I shall return to in a few moments.

GFR: In February 1809, the Moderns Grand Lodge was opened in due form and – as usual – the Laws relating to the behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge were read.

The Special Committee appointed in November 1808 to enquire into the charges preferred against the Royal Naval Lodge reported. A number of Brethren had laid eleven charges against the Master, Officers and Brethren of the Lodge, then numbered 57 and now No. 59, and three charges against one of its members, Bro Francis Columbine Daniel. The charges included unjustly and unconstitutionally erasing the names of two of the complainants from the Lodge books without their consent and thereby terming them expelled members; not keeping a set of Bye Laws in the Lodge for the internal government thereof; not regularly registering the members and the Brethren initiated there in the books of the Grand Lodge; not regularly and justly paying the Liquidation fee at the Grand Lodge; irregularly admitting a joining Member who had on a former Lodge night been black balled by nine; and publishing and inserting false statements concerning the transaction of the Lodge. Apart from his having been implicated in several of the charges against the Lodge, and in particular the last, the principal complaint against Bro Daniel was that he illegally presided over the Lodge under the assumed title of ‘Acting Master’.

The members of the Committee had found themselves hampered in their investigations, particularly that into the non-payment of fees to Grand Lodge, by a lack of co-operation on the part of the Lodge. The matter was deferred to the April Communication, then to November and eventually stood over to the following year.

JMH: The tribulations within the Royal Naval Lodge took up an inordinate amount of the time not only of the premier Grand Lodge itself but of its Committee of Charity (which in addition to its charitable function worked as a sort of Board of General Purposes) and the special Committee set up to investigate the charges laid against members of the lodge. The reason Grand Lodge took such an interest was money. The premier Grand Lodge had large debts resulting from the building of the first Freemasons’ Hall in 1775 and its later extension and renovation. To reduce the debts they introduced a Liquidation Fund and required lodges to pay a levy to the fund in respect of each of the members of their lodge. The investigation committee found that Royal Naval Lodge owed £168 – 4s – 6d in registration fees to Grand Lodge, had paid nothing into the Liquidation Fund in the years 1799, 1805 or 1807 and had made no returns of names or monies since April 1807.

As so often happens, the problems in the lodge centred around one character: Francis Columbine Daniel. A successful surgeon and apothecary, Daniel was a strong minded character of decided views who brooked no opposition. He was a member of lodges under both the premier and the Antients Grand Lodge and had a great interest in charity. He persuaded members of the Royal Naval Lodge to set up and fund a charity to clothe and educate the sons of indigent or deceased Freemasons, which in 1816 united with the similar charity under the Antients Grand Lodge to become the Royal Masonic Institution for Boys. Outside Freemasonry, Daniel is remembered for two things: inventing an inflatable life vest for sailors, which won him gold medals from both the Royal Humane Society and the Royal Society of Arts, and gaining a knight hood by accident. Attending a garden party at Buckingham Palace he joined what he thought was a queue waiting to be presented to the King and was somewhat amazed when he was asked to kneel and had each shoulder tapped with a sword! Having been dubbed he could not be “un – dubbed” but his accident caused a major review of the procedures for the installation of future knights.

GFR: At the April Communication another topic was raised:

The minutes of the Committee of Charity were read and confirmed, whereupon it was resolved that the Grand Lodge do agree in opinion with the Committee of Charity that it is not necessary any longer to continue in force those measures which were resorted to in or about the year 1739 respecting irregular Masons and do therefore enjoin the several lodges to revert to the Ancient Land Marks of the Society.

JMH: Reporting of Masonic meetings in the press in the 1720s had led to great public curiosity about Freemasonry. This, in turn, led to enterprising journalists producing articles and pamphlets claiming to reveal the secrets and rituals of Freemasonry. In 1730 one Samuel Prichard produced a pamphlet entitled “Masonry Dissect’d” which for the first time gave details of all three of the Craft degrees. He must have been reasonably accurate as a significant number of individuals used his work to gain access to lodges and make claims on the lodge charity box. This panicked the premier Grand Lodge which, in the late 1730s, to catch out these impostors, reversed the first and second degree pillar words. Unfortunately they appear not to have informed the Grand Lodge of Ireland of the change, which was to have a significant effect on English Freemasonry.

In the 18th century, as today, there was a significant Irish population in London. Many of them had become Freemasons before leaving their native land but after the ritual change in the late 1730s were rejected as impostors when they attempted to visit lodges. After a decade of such rejections, on the basis that if you cannot join them beat them, a group of mainly Irish brethren in 1751 met at the Turks Head Tavern in Greek Street, Soho, and formed themselves into a Grand Committee until such time as a noble brother could be elected to serve as their Grand Master. Thus was the Antients Grand Lodge born. They were proud to accept the epithet Antients as they claimed that the original Grand Lodge had departed from the ancient landmarks and they alone were working “Masonry according to the ancient institutions”.

The decision by the premier Grand Lodge to reverse the 1730s changes was the first step towards negotiating an equable with the Antients. In October 1809 they set up a special Lodge of Promulgation whose brief was to ascertain that their ceremonies were in accord with those practised in Ireland, Scotland and lodges over the seas and to establish the landmarks of the Order. That was the public reason, the reality was that they wished to bring themselves more into line with the practices of the Antients lodges to ease the road to .

My co–presenter referred a few moments ago to Brother Cranfield’s motion in the Antients Grand Lodge to form a committee to look at a possible . It rather begs the question of why a simple Past Master rather than a senior member of the Antients Grand Lodge should raise such an important resolution. Cranfield was a member of Oak Lodge No. 255 (still in existence as Oak Lodge No. 190). Another member of that Lodge was one Francis Columbine Daniel, whom we have seen was active in both Grand Lodges. Daniel was well known to Thomas Harper, who despite being Deputy Grand Master of the Antients Grand Lodge was also active in the premier Grand Lodge and like Daniel had served as a Grand Steward and was a member of the Grand Stewards Lodge. Harper and Daniel were both advocates of a of the two Grand Lodges. Would I be laying myself open to accusations of being a conspiracy theorist were I to suggest that Cranfield was possibly a stalking horse acting for Harper and Daniel?

GFR: We now fast-forward one hundred years to 1909. In March, after the adoption of various reports, the Pro Grand Master declared:

Brethren, I have been sorry to hear within the last few days that the Resolution which I have now to propose is giving rise to difference of opinion, and even in some quarters, I grieve to hear, to a feeling which almost approaches resentment, but I trust that the explanation which I have to offer will succeed in removing misunderstanding, for it is to misunderstanding, I venture to think, that difference of opinion is due.

The resolution proposed by the Pro Grand Master, which followed the grant of an honorarium to the Grand Registrar of 1,000 Guineas in 1906, was:

“That in view of the Resolution of the 6th June, 1906, affirming the principle that the duties of the Grand Registrar ought not to be rendered gratuitously, and in view of the great and growing importance to Grand Lodge in her relations with the colonies and with foreign countries of the correct and authoritative interpretation of Masonic Law, it is desirable that the remuneration of the Grand Registrar should take the more satisfactory and regular form of an annual retaining fee of such an amount as may fairly be tendered to distinguished counsel.”

The Motion was seconded by a Past Grand Chaplain, but opposed by the Vice-President of the Board of General Purposes. The Deputy Grand Master spoke in support of the motion, concluding his remarks with:

I am convinced that whenever the time comes … for a new Grand Registrar to beappointed, if we are to have the man we ought to have, we shall have to pass this Motion. I do submit it would be much more graceful and gracious to pass it now.

The Motion was put and declared to be lost.

JMH: When one looks at the Grand Lodge finances and sources of income in 1909 it is not surprising that the suggestion that the Grand Registrar be paid a retainer of at least 500 guineas was negatived. Grand Lodge’s income came from registration fees for new and joining members, fees for warrants, patents, dispensations and appointments to Grand Rank, rents for the use of Freemasons’ Hall and from the Tavern and investment income. Lodges paid quarterage in respect of each member but this went to the Fund of Benevolence. Grand Lodge dues as we know them were not introduced until 1930! There was also the matter of principle. If the Grand Registrar were to be remunerated what about the Grand Superintendent of Works, who freely advised Grand Lodge on all property matters, and even the Grand Director of Ceremonies who was regularly called on to rule on matters of protocol and ceremonial?

The debate was – to be polite – robust, despite the motion having been proposed by the Pro and supported by the Deputy Grand Master. When the Rev JT Lawrence rose to support the motion there were cries from the floor of “Time, Time”!

GFR: How different from the proceedings of the Grand Lodge in the 21st century!

This time last year we left off at that part of our history which mentioned the problems with the Freemasons’ Tavern. In December 1909, the Board of General Purposes which had been giving progress reports throughout the year reported that the work connected with the reconstruction and enlargement of “Freemasons’ Tavern,” hereafter to be known as “The Connaught Rooms, Freemasons’ Hall,” is approaching completion, and will be ready for occupation by the end of the year.

The Board has concluded an arrangement with Bro George Harvey, at one time a manager of the Hotel Cecil, for granting him a lease of the premises for seven, fourteen, or twenty-one years; and looking to the high esteem in which he is held by very many members of the Craft, to whom he is well known, and to his great experience in connection with establishments of a similar character, the Board confidently believes that the arrangement is one which will be as beneficial to the Craft as it hopes it will be to Bro Harvey.

The greater part of the building has been entirely re-modelled. The principal Banqueting Hall has been enlarged to an extent sufficient to accommodate 800 diners. Additions and improvements have been made to the smaller dining rooms, and the kitchen and service arrangements have been entirely reconstructed, greatly enlarged, and in every way adapted to the most modern requirements.

JMH: When last December I quipped that “like the poor, problems with the Connaught Rooms were always with us” I had no knowledge of what would happen next door during 2009! In 1809 and 1909 problems with the Freemasons’ Tavern were happily settled and with the installation of new managements lengthy periods of good management and service to Freemasonry followed. With the installation of the Harvey family in 1909 the Tavern became the Connaught Rooms, as a compliment to the then Grand Master. A Brother Lewis Ferguson queried the rents and the costs of the refurbishment. The President of the Board informed him that the rent was £500 for the first year rising by increments to £3050 and the refurbishment of the building had cost Grand Lodge nearly £30,000. The present Board of General Purposes did rather better. As the President announced in September the new lessees, Principal Hayley, were to invest in excess of £5 million refurbishing the Connaught Rooms and a commercial rent was being paid to Grand Lodge. We can only hope that the new incumbents will have the same flair and care as the Harvey family in 1909 and that the Grand Connaught Rooms will live up to its new name!

Published in Speeches
Minutes
The Minutes of the Regular Convocation of 30 April 2009were confirmed.

Committee Meetings 2010
23 March, 28 September and 1 December.

Petitions For New Chapters
Petitions were granted for a new Chapter to be attached to Edward Holiday Lodge No. 7997, to be called Edward Holiday Chapter No. 7997, Dewan Freemason, 15 Jalan 18/16, Taman Kanagapuram, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia (Eastern Archipelago); for a new Chapter to be attached to Lodge of Enlightenment No. 9550, to be called Chapter of Enlightenment No. 9550, Masonic Hall, Deyncourt Gardens, Upminster (Essex).

Charters of Confirmation
Charters of Confirmation were granted for the following Chapters, the original Charters having been either lost or destroyed: Commercial Travellers Chapter No. 2795 (London); Amicus Chapter No. 3772 (London); Mount Kenya Chapter No. 5638 (East Africa) and Square Mile Chapter No. 9352 (London).

Centenary Charters
A Centenary Jewel has been granted to Hauley Chapter No. 797 (Devonshire), Sir Watkin Chapter No. 1336 (North Wales), Eldon Chapter No. 1755 (Somerset), Chiswick Chapter No. 2012 (Middlesex), Astley Chapter No. 2997 (Northumberland, Fairfax Chapter No. 3255 (Yorkshire, West Riding).

Transfer
Grants of transfer were approved as follows: Peace and Friendship Chapter No. 7414 (London) to be detached from Peace and Friendship Lodge and attached to Highgate Lodge No. 1366 (London) and be known as Highgate Chapter No. 1366.

Amalgamations
The following Chapters have surrendered their Charters: Imperial Vitruvian Chapter No. 87, in order to amalgamate with WilliamPreston Chapter No. 766 (London); Fraternity Chapter No. 1697 and Cribden Chapter No. 7285, in order to amalgamate with Chapter of Fidelity No. 274 (East Lancashire); London Scottish Rifles Chapter No. 2310, in order to amalgamate with Scots Chapter No. 2319 (London);Cavendish Chapter No. 2620, in order to amalgamate with Æsculapius Chapter No. 2410 (London) and Israel Chapter No. 6824, in order to amalgamate with Carnarvon Chapter No. 1735 (South Africa, Western Division).

Erasures
The following Chapters have surrendered their Charters: Acacia Chapter No. 1309 (Middlesex), Addiscombe Chapter No. 1556 (London), Guelph Chapter No. 1685 (London), Raymond Thrupp Chapter No. 2024 (Middlesex), Shurmur Chapter No. 2374 (Essex), Concordia Chapter No. 2685 (South Africa, North), Eltham Palace Chapter No. 2980 (London), Chapter De Aar No. 3198 (South Africa, Central Division), Chapter Puerorum, No. 3377 (London), Seymour Bell Chapter No. 3635 (Northumberland), St Ann's Chapter No. 3691 (London), Georgian Chapter No. 6752 (Hampshire and Isle of Wight), White River Chapter No. 7082 (South Africa, North), Thomas Telford Chapter No. 8029 (Staffordshire) and Centre Chapter No. 8568 (Middlesex). The Chapters have been erased from the register of Grand Chapter and the Charters cancelled.

'Lest We Forget'
Some thoughts for Armistice Day on Freemasonry in the First World War and the Masonic Peace Memorial of those who fell, was given by D.W. Burford and J.M. Hamill.

Meetings of Supreme Grand Chapter
Future Convocations will be held on 29 April 2010, 10 November 2010 and 28 April 2011.
Published in SGC
Wednesday, 11 June 2008 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2008

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
11 JUNE 2008
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER THE MOST HON THE MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON, DL

On the nineteenth of July, this very fine building – created as a Masonic Peace Memorial – will be seventy-five years old. At the June Quarterly Communication in 1933, held seventy-five years ago last Saturday at the Central Hall Westminster, Lord Ampthill, the then Pro Grand Master, thanking Lodges for their generous response to the appeal for the erection of this building said that, “it would be an outward sign of our pious memory of the Brethren who fell in the Great War and, at the same time, a fulfilment of the duty we owe those who came after us.”

I believe that the building remains today as a fitting memorial for the Brethren who fell in the Great War. And a fitting fulfilment of the duty the planners and builders owed to those who came after them. I am confident that that fulfilment will continue for many generations of future Masons.

Referring to the building the then Pro Grand Master continued, “it is a duty we owe to the cause of Masonry, and to Freemasons all over the world, that the headquarters of the English Constitution should be worthy of the honour and reputation that we enjoy, and that the place of assembly of the Grand Lodge of England should be fully significant of our faith and cause, our confidence in the future, and our determination to make Freemasonry more and more a potent influence for the good in national life.”

Shortly afterwards, the Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn held an especial meeting in connection with the dedication of this Masonic Peace Memorial at the Royal Albert Hall, followed the next day – 19 July 1933 – by the dedication itself, here at Great Queen Street. So, the first Quarterly Communication was held here on 6 September 1933. To commemorate that, at our next Quarterly Communication in September, I have asked Brother John Hamill, Director of Communications, to talk about the history of the building.

Towards the end of last year I launched a survey of Lodge and Chapter records. This survey will be an important building block for the book on Masonic history which we are planning to publish in 2017 as part of the Tercentenary celebrations of the formation of the first Grand Lodge. Undertaking this survey within an organisation of this size and age is ambitious. But I am confident that, with your help, it will be successful and that the results will also be important in encouraging further research into our history.

I have been following the results very closely and I am pleased that the project has been enthusiastically supported. All our Provinces have now appointed a volunteer co-ordinator to organise the survey. Most of these co-ordinators have taken the opportunity to attend a briefing meeting here at Freemasons' Hall, and have already started the survey in their Provinces. We hope to have completed the survey by the summer of 2009.

At the end of May the Deputy Grand Master opened the Women and Freemasonry Exhibition in the Library and Museum. It covers the development of Freemasonry for Women in the early years of the last century. At the preview guests included lady representatives from the various women’s organisations including the Order of Women Freemasons and the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Freemasons. We maintain our independence from the women’s organisations and they are happy to maintain their independence from us. Apart from the historical interest, the Exhibition has a valuable public relations benefit. It will help to dispel the commonly held myth, among non-Masons, that there are no women in Freemasonry! I commend the Exhibition to you.

The Hampton Court Flower Show in July will feature a garden with a Masonic theme which I hope will encourage some of you to visit, if you have an interest in gardens. It is sponsored by the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and twelve Provinces in the south of England. I am looking forward to attending and the dates and details can be found on the UGLE website. Brethren, returning to the words of the Pro Grand Master in 1933, and comparing those words with the situation today: this fine building is fully significant of our faith and cause; we have confidence in the future and we remain determined to make Freemasons more and more a potent influence for good in our national life. In fact, I believe that the Craft is in a much stronger position now than it has been for many years, and I end my remarks by wishing you and your families a very happy summer.

Published in Speeches

Alan Englefield, the Grand Chancellor, addresses Grand Lodge on his new role in external relations

From time immemorial – or from at least the 1750s! – Grand Lodge’s relations with our sister Grand Lodges have been managed by a combination of the Board of General Purposes (and its predecessors), the Grand Master’s advisers and the Grand Secretary.

For much of the period up to the late 20th century external relations was a gentle art which took up little time. Occasionally there were explosions of activity such as the decision in 1876 by the Grand Orient of France to drop the requirement that candidates must have a belief in a Supreme Being. 

Then there was the decision to remove all references to the Great Architect from their rituals and the proliferation of new Grand Lodges in Europe with the redrawing of the map of Europe after the cataclysm of the First World War. 

But, in general, it was simply a case of occasionally having to decide whether or not a new Grand Lodge met our standards of regularity and could be recognised as part of the world wide family of Freemasonry. 

After the Second World War the map of Europe was again re-drawn into the Eastern and Western blocs, leading to a reduction of Freemasonry in Europe when it was forced underground in the Eastern bloc countries. 

At the same time, in what was becoming an increasingly politicised world, there was a growth of irregular Freemasonry with bodies springing up claiming to be Masonic. 

But they did not accept our basic principles, in particular the bar on Grand Lodges or brethren in their Masonic capacities making public statements on matters of religious, political or social policy. 

As the oldest Grand Lodge, we have had thrust on us the role of being the guardians of regularity and in many ways are expected to police what is regular and what is not. 

Those are not roles that we have sought and we cannot be an international policeman solving problems within and between Grand Lodges. 

This role came very much to the fore in the 1990s after the demise of the Eastern bloc, the return of democratic institutions in those areas and the very welcome reestablishment of dormant, and making of new Grand Lodges there. 

This alone brought heavy pressure on the Grand Secretary. For example, in 1989 we recognised 17 regular Grand Lodges in Europe, today we recognise 34 with another four under consideration! As a result, the office of Grand Chancellor was created. 

The Chancellor’s main roles are to chair the External Relations Committee, to advise the Rulers, the Grand Master’s advisers and the Board of General Purposes. He must ensure that Grand Lodge’s policy on external relations is carried through, and to ensure that all correspondence in this area is dealt with in a timely fashion. 

As the Grand Chancellor is not a full time employee, I shall be assisted by John Hamill, Director of Communications and Peter Roberts, our long-term External Relations Adviser. 

The Grand Chancellor will also assist the Grand Master and the Rulers in representing Grand Lodge on formal visits to sister Grand Lodges and at international gatherings of regular Freemasonry. With the revolution in fast communication systems and the ease and reasonable cost of travelling today, the Masonic world is coming closer and closer together and inter-visitation and the regular exchange of information can only be good for the future of regular Freemasonry in general. 

External relations cover our relations with other Constitutions outside our own and are my responsibility. England still has over 800 Lodges meeting outside these islands under District Grand Masters, Grand Inspectors or being governed directly from London. 

Although many of them are separated from us by great distances, they are still very much an important part of the United Grand Lodge of England and will continue to come under the jurisdiction of the Grand Secretary. 

Normally, when they are visited by a Ruler, the Grand Secretary will accompany them, not the Grand Chancellor. He has already visited Ghana and in the autumn he will accompany the Pro Grand Master when he visits our Districts in India. 

There are also areas where the Grand Secretary and Grand Chancellor will work together. During the summer we had our usual tripartite meeting with Ireland and Scotland. Because that meeting involves both practical matters of Craft administration and jurisprudence as well as the discussion of relations between the Home Grand Lodges and other Grand Lodges, both the Grand Secretary and I were present. The same applies with the annual meeting of the European Grand Secretaries and Grand Chancellors. Co-operation between the two of us becomes even more important in those areas overseas in which we share territory not only with Ireland and Scotland, but also with a local sovereign Grand Lodge. 

External relations are crucial to the future harmony and stability of Freemasonry on a global level.

 

Published in UGLE
Page 7 of 8

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