Celebrating 300 years

Four good reasons to join this Order are put forward by John Hamill

In line with the fashion of the day, I should perhaps begin with a declaration of interest. At the age of 23, and only three months after becoming a Master Mason, I was exalted into the Royal Arch. That is something I have never regretted.

On joining the Grand Lodge Library staff in August 1971 like all keen young historians I looked for a subject on which little work had been done. Knowing the seniority of the Royal Arch and its indissoluble link with the Craft I was amazed to find that little was available on its origins, history and development and I spent a fair amount of my 28 years in the Library and Museum trying to repair that loss.

In the best sense of the word, I am an enthusiast for the Royal Arch and find it difficult to understand why more brethren do not seek membership in it.

Why should anyone join the Royal Arch rather than any of the other Masonic degrees and Orders available to us? My first reason would be that indissoluble link, which is peculiar to English Freemasonry.

For historical reasons, when the two Grand Lodges came together in 1813 to form the United Grand Lodge of England they adopted a definition of “pure ancient Masonry” which stated that it consisted “of three degrees and no more, viz., those of the Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme order of the Holy Royal Arch.”

As a result the two became indissolubly linked administratively and thematically.

Unfortunately that definition was open to misinterpretation and until relatively recently the general view was that the Royal Arch was the completion of the Master Mason degree. Indeed, so widely held was that view, that in the ritual the candidate was informed that he must not think that he had taken a fourth degree but that he had completed his third.

I always had a problem with that statement. It was both illogical and rather insulting to those who remained solely in the Craft. Illogical, because the Third Degree is complete in itself, and insulting in that it implied that those who did not go into the Royal Arch were somehow incomplete or second class Master Masons.

Completion in a different form would be my second reason for joining. Our progress through Freemasonry is a journey of selfdiscovery and self-knowledge. In the Craft we are presented with eminently practical principles and rules which, if we follow them in our lives, we would hope to live a life of service to our fellow man and pleasing to God, however we worship Him.

But we are not simply practical beings.

We have a vital spiritual aspect to our natures which is addressed in the Royal Arch. In essence the Royal Arch, without transgressing the bounds of religion, invites the candidate to consider the nature of God and his relationship with Him.

In that way the Royal Arch completes the man by leading him from the practical to the spiritual, and the Craft and Royal Arch form “pure ancient masonry”.

My third reason would be the ceremony and the ritual itself. Done well, the exaltation ceremony is one of the most beautiful and thought-provoking in Freemasonry.

More dramatic than the Craft, the climax of the ceremony forms a vivid memory for all who go through it. Done “by the book” the ritual lays a heavy burden on the principal officers. Sadly, that has been used in the past to deter candidates from coming forward, suggesting that they should concentrate on getting through office in the Craft before joining the Royal Arch.

That should no longer be the case, as for more than 20 years Supreme Grand Chapter has been encouraging Chapters to share the work. This has three advantages: it lessens the burden on the principal officers, it enables more Companions to take part in the ceremony rather than sitting as spectators, and it allows newer members to learn the ritual at their own pace and to fit in with what they are doing in the Craft.

My fourth reason would be companionship and enjoyment. It is rare for a Chapter to draw its membership from only one Lodge. By joining a Chapter you will increase your Masonic acquaintance beyond the membership of your own Lodge, which, in turn, can lead to an increase in your Masonic experience and knowledge.

But, above all, joining the Royal Arch should increase your enjoyment of Freemasonry. It brings with it new experiences, new insights and new Companions, all of which add to our pleasure and our enjoyment of Freemasonry.

Published in Features

Nigel Brown, the new Grand Secretary, is interviewed by John Hamill

With Grand Lodge agreeing the resolution empowering the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Chancellor to oversee Grand Lodge’s Masonic external relations, the role of the Grand Secretary has been freed up to enable him to concentrate primarily on the huge task of administering the Craft and the Royal Arch both at home and in our Districts, Lodges and Chapters overseas.

With the central administration for over 283,000 brethren in 8,357 Lodges (of which 792 are overseas) organised in 47 Provinces, 33 Districts and five Groups under Grand Inspectors to oversee, to say nothing of the organising of Grand Lodge meetings and those of the Board of General Purposes, Strategic Working Party, ad hoc and permanent committees (and their equivalents in the Royal Arch) as well as organising and co-ordinating the paperwork for each, ensuring that the Rulers and Board members are properly briefed on all topics of the day, and dealing with questions from Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and their secretaries, the Grand Secretary’s role is no sinecure!

Nigel Brown, appointed Grand Secretary from 1st February, brings a wealth of professional and Masonic experience to his new office. Born in Lusaka, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he was educated in Southern Rhodesia before entering the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in which he served for ten years, retiring as a Captain.

Then followed 15 years in senior management in which he earned a high reputation for his administrative and planning skills and attention to detail, leading to his setting up a consultancy advising clients on winning competitive global tenders.

Although not the first in his family to be involved in Freemasonry, it was through his Service connections that he entered the Craft, being initiated in the Household Brigade Lodge No. 2614 in 1985. After being Master, he continued to serve the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies, Charity Steward and, currently, Secretary.

He has also been active in Prince of Wales’s Lodge No. 259 and other Lodges and Chapters. His liking for ritual and ceremonial brought him to the attention of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his appointment in April 2005 as a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The GDC and his Deputies are key players in serving the Grand Master and the Rulers, and in maintaining the high reputation that the United Grand Lodge of England has in the Masonic world for the excellence of its ceremonial at Grand Lodge and other major Masonic gatherings.

The new Grand Secretary sees close co-operation between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District authorities as being vitally important to the good administration of the Craft and Royal Arch.

Over the last few years pressures from other areas – particularly foreign relations and dealing with the outside world – have led to there being less of a focus on Freemasonry at home and in our overseas Districts and Groups, but the Grand Secretary sees the strengthening of ties between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges as his first and ongoing task.

'I am very much looking forward to the end of April when I shall have the good opportunity of informally meeting the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters when they attend the Pro Grand Master’s business meeting.

'As a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies I have had the privilege of visiting a number of Provinces as part of the Grand Lodge team for the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent and have begun to get a feel for how a Province works.

'Equally, I look forward, with my senior management team, to my first meeting with the Provincial and District Grand Secretaries and Scribes E when we get together on the morning of the Annual Investiture. Later in the year I shall be accompanying the Pro Grand Master when he meets the Provinces in groups for more detailed discussions.

'I sincerely hope – if invited – that over a period I shall be able to attend the annual meetings of the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges. Communication is of vital importance and should be a two-way process from which we can all learn and benefit the Craft as a whole.

'The same thoughts apply to our Districts, Groups and Lodges overseas, though there is the additional dimension of distance involved. However, just as with groups at home, communication is the key. With the ease of today’s electronic communications I believe that ‘distance’ should not be a problem in providing a high quality of service from the centre.

'Thought is being given as to how we can increase personal contact, possibly by once again meeting Districts in groups as was done a number of years ago, and of striking a balance between visits to our own people overseas and those to foreign Grand Lodges and major international Masonic gatherings.

Published in UGLE

With Grand Lodge agreeing the resolution empowering the Grand Master to appoint a Grand Chancellor to oversee Grand Lodge’s Masonic external relations, the role of the Grand Secretary has been freed up to enable him to concentrate primarily on the huge task of administering the Craft and the Royal Arch both at home and in our Districts, Lodges and Chapters overseas.

With the central administration for over 283,000 brethren in 8,357 Lodges (of which 792 are overseas) organised in 47 Provinces, 33 Districts and five Groups under Grand Inspectors to oversee, to say nothing of the organising of Grand Lodge meetings and those of the Board of General Purposes, Strategic Working Party, ad hoc and permanent committees (and their equivalents in the Royal Arch) as well as organising and co-ordinating the paperwork for each, ensuring that the Rulers and Board members are properly briefed on all topics of the day, and dealing with questions from Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters and their secretaries, the Grand Secretary’s role is no sinecure!

Nigel Brown, appointed Grand Secretary from 1st February, brings a wealth of professional and Masonic experience to his new office. Born in Lusaka, in what was then Northern Rhodesia, he was educated in Southern Rhodesia before entering the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, from which he was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards in which he served for ten years, retiring as a Captain.

Then followed 15 years in senior management in which he earned a high reputation for his administrative and planning skills and attention to detail, leading to his setting up a consultancy advising clients on winning competitive global tenders.

Although not the first in his family to be involved in Freemasonry, it was through his Service connections that he entered the Craft, being initiated in the Household Brigade Lodge No. 2614 in 1985. After being Master, he continued to serve the Lodge as Director of Ceremonies, Charity Steward and, currently, Secretary.

He has also been active in Prince of Wales’s Lodge No. 259 and other Lodges and Chapters. His liking for ritual and ceremonial brought him to the attention of the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his appointment in April 2005 as a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

The GDC and his Deputies are key players in serving the Grand Master and the Rulers, and in maintaining the high reputation that the United Grand Lodge of England has in the Masonic world for the excellence of its ceremonial at Grand Lodge and other major Masonic gatherings.

The new Grand Secretary sees close co-operation between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District authorities as being vitally important to the good administration of the Craft and Royal Arch.

Over the last few years pressures from other areas – particularly foreign relations and dealing with the outside world – have led to there being less of a focus on Freemasonry at home and in our overseas Districts and Groups, but the Grand Secretary sees the strengthening of ties between the centre and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Lodges as his first and ongoing task.

“I am very much looking forward to the end of April when I shall have the good opportunity of informally meeting the Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters when they attend the Pro Grand Master’s business meeting.

“As a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies I have had the privilege of visiting a number of Provinces as part of the Grand Lodge team for the installation of a new Provincial Grand Master or Grand Superintendent and have begun to get a feel for how a Province works.

“Equally, I look forward, with my senior management team, to my first meeting with the Provincial and District Grand Secretaries and Scribes E when we get together on the morning of the Annual Investiture. Later in the year I shall be accompanying the Pro Grand Master when he meets the Provinces in groups for more detailed discussions.

“I sincerely hope – if invited – that over a period I shall be able to attend the annual meetings of the Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Lodges. Communication is of vital importance and should be a two-way process from which we can all learn and benefit the Craft as a whole.

“The same thoughts apply to our Districts, Groups and Lodges overseas, though there is the additional dimension of distance involved. However, just as with groups at home, communication is the key. With the ease of today’s electronic communications I believe that ‘distance’ should not be a problem in providing a high quality of service from the centre.

“Thought is being given as to how we can increase personal contact, possibly by once again meeting Districts in groups as was done a number of years ago, and of striking a balance between visits to our own people overseas and those to foreign Grand Lodges and major international Masonic gatherings.

“Even in the short time I have been in office I have experienced the warmth of welcome received overseas, when the GDC and I joined the MW The Grand Master in Ghana for a brief Masonic meeting whilst he was representing The Queen at the 50th anniversary celebrations of Ghana’s independence.”

The Grand Secretary will continue to lead the Communications team at Grand Lodge and would like to see a more pro-active policy.

“Openness and a steady flow of good, factual information about Freemasonry are key to restoring Freemasonry to its proper place in society, and the Craft at all levels has a vital part to play in the process. The Grand Lodge team and the network of Provincial Information Officers have made significant changes to public attitudes over the last few years and we need to build on their successes.

“We need to find ways of giving individual brethren the tools and the confidence to talk about Freemasonry with their families, friends and colleagues and, above all, with potential good candidates.

“I have no doubt that negative public attitudes have had an effect on potential candidates and that in some professions joining Freemasonry has not been seen as a smart career move. These are attitudes we must change if we are to continue to attract professional men.

“Talking about Freemasonry is not always easy, as I have found from recent experience! Before becoming Grand Secretary, at social events, when the conversation inevitably turned to what people did, I would talk about my various business and personal interests.

“Now, as Grand Secretary, I am having to learn how to talk succinctly and clearly about Freemasonry! Talking about something which we all clearly enjoy is surely one of the best ways of dispelling some of the myths that have grown up around the Craft. Enjoyment is one of the keys to the future success of Freemasonry.

“We must be efficient and professional in how we organise our Masonic affairs at all levels, but if we do not make it an enjoyable experience there seems little point in doing it. I think that whoever put together the Address to the Brethren got it so right when they exhorted us ‘to unite in the Grand Design of being happy and communicating happiness’”.

John Hamill is Director of Communications at Grand Lodge

Published in UGLE
Saturday, 01 April 2006 01:00

Public relations: hottest spot in town

Freemasonry is now receiving much better media coverage, as John Hamill reveals

In 1985, when Freemasonry seemed to be constantly under attack in the media, the writer and journalist Bernard Levin wrote two very supportive pieces on Freemasonry in his regular column in The Times. As he was not a Freemason he was invited to have lunch with a small group of senior Freemasons at Freemasons’ Hall. It proved a most valuable occasion.

He saw our problem as being that Freemasonry had been taken out of the public consciousness in the post-World War II period, resulting in the public not knowing what Freemasonry was.

As he put it – it is part of human nature to be suspicious of things we have no knowledge of, and suggested that the best way of altering public suspicion was a return to the openness of the pre-war period, to work with the media and to bring Freemasonry to the public’s notice – in a positive way – on a regular basis.

Grand Lodge took the advice to heart, but quickly realised that the centre could not deal with all the media. In the late 1980s, Provincial Grand Masters were invited to appoint Information Officers, who would have much better local knowledge than the centre, and could establish personal links with their local media.

As a result we now have a network of volunteer Information Officers who, with support from the centre and a great deal of hard work, have had an effect. In many Provinces, Freemasonry is now reported in the local press as interesting local social and charitable news.

The national media is a different game. National newspapers are only interested in stories with a 'that day news' content, which will give them an edge over their competitors. The Grand Lodge Communications Team regularly meets with journalists and have found that the Craft’s belief that there is a strong anti-Masonic element in the media is untrue.

Most journalists, like the public, have little knowledge of Freemasonry. Many of those we have met have become fascinated and keen to write, but hit the problem of their editor wanting a 'that day' news angle on which to hang the piece.

In that, Freemasonry is in a similar position to the many other voluntary organisations, such as Rotary, Round Table, Women’s Institute, Guides, Scouts etc, whose activities are rarely noticed in the national media.

That said, there have been references to Freemasonry in the national media over the last three years showing it in a positive light. As examples: The Guardian interviewed Anne Kent in the Grand Secretary’s office for their series 'Women in a man’s world'; The Independent did a two-page spread on Freemasons’ Hall as a gem of Art Deco architecture; The Times produced a half page on Freemasons’ Hall as a film location; The Daily Telegraph carries brief notices of the meetings of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter; obituaries of major figures now include reference to their Masonic activities.

Activities with the national and local media all fulfil Bernard Levin’s advice of keeping Freemasonry in the public consciousness, but a more direct way of influencing public attitudes is by inviting them into, and to use for non-Masonic purposes, our Masonic buildings. 

In the last few issues of MQ we have reported on various non-Masonic events at Freemasons’ Hall. In addition to bringing income to Grand Lodge, these events are a major opportunity to let the public see our buildings and have an opportunity of asking questions.

Filming for television or feature films involves a lot of standing around for the actors and technicians. They get curious about the building, we are on hand to answer their questions and usually pass on to them the square booklets and copies of MQ Magazine.

When next somebody says anything to them about Freemasonry, they will have something positive to say about it. Some of the film shoots have even produced candidates.

The fashion shows, film premiere parties and other events have not only introduced a lot of people to Freemasons’ Hall who would not otherwise have visited, but have also generated press coverage.

The recent Julien Macdonald fashion show, which always gets heavy media attention, not only got Freemasons’ Hall mentioned on all the major television news channels, but also in all the reports in the next morning’s papers and in the fashion and gossip magazines.

The coverage by Sky and GMTV included stunning visuals of Freemasons’ Hall all clearly identified. Nothing was said about Freemasonry, but coverage like this gradually gets it over to the public that there is another side to what they have previously been told.

Bernard Levin warned that destroying myths and changing public opinion was a long term job. He was certainly right. But a lot of hard work has been done by a lot of people over the last 20 years and the signs are there that attitudes have changed.

The best example of that is in the local media where, on occasion, the Information Officer has not had to act when someone (usually a local politician) has had a go at Freemasonry in the local press because a local non-Mason (often one who has attended an open day) has written in to challenge what the detractor had said. That certainly is a change!

John Hamill is Director of Communications at the United Grand Lodge of England

A favourite location

Charlotte Clark, a director of Inca Productions, which staged the Julien Macdonald fashion event at Freemasons’ Hall, speaks about her love for the building as a spectacular venue:

Inca Productions has a very long history with Freemasons’ Hall. I first came through the doors to the Grand Temple in 1999 and apparently was the second woman through the doors after Princess Diana. I was instantly seduced, smitten and star struck by the space. Having worked in events for over 15 years now, it is very rare to be rendered speechless by a location, I was instantly star-struck.

The Grand Temple had the same effect on Julien Macdonald when we showed him the space for the first time. As creative director of Givenchy, he has had the opportunity to show his collections in some of the most beautiful venues in the world – he was the first designer to show in the Grand Palais after its refurbishment – in his opinion the Grand Temple is his favourite location to date.

Working in Freemasons’ Hall is a joy from beginning to end. From an event producer’s point of view it does not get much better. The space is never ending, your events team are a joy and nothing appears to be too much trouble. We were even allowed to use a glitter bomb that sent showers of gold into the air and tumbling down onto a sea of supermodels.

One of my favourite memories of Julien’s show was walking out of the Grand temple doors with Paris Hilton after the event. She climbed into her limo, rolled down the window and pointed to the building, smiled and drawled, ‘that’s hot.’ Freemasons’ Hall is now officially London’s hottest venue.

Published in Features
Sunday, 01 January 2006 00:00

Grand Lodge of Macedonia consecrated

Freemasonry is flourishing in eastern Europe, as John Hamill reports on developments in Macedonia

The Consecration of the new Grand Lodge in the Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia by the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, and a team of Grand Officers on 30 September was the culmination of nearly ten years work.

There had been no Masonic presence in Macedonia for nearly 80 years when a group of Macedonians approached the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) in 1996 with a request to be made regular Freemasons in Lodges in London.

They had done their research and had realised that there was both regular and irregular Masonry, and were determined that the new Masonic presence in their country would be of unimpeachable regularity.

After due diligence, the group were introduced to a number of London Lodges and, they having decided that the candidates were “fit and proper persons”, arrangements were made for each of the Lodges to have a dispensation to meet on the same day on three occasions in 1997 and the group became Master Masons under the UGLE.

Not only were they regular in their attendance at their Lodges in London, but they were also given permission to hold a Lodge of Instruction in Skopje, and a number of English brethren, in particular Brother John Matthews, regularly visited them and helped them in their work.

Regular visits to London were a major commitment in time and money, so in 2001 the brethren petitioned to have a Lodge meeting in Skopje, which was agreed, and a team went out from England and consecrated the Skopje Lodge No. 9721 on 1 October 2001.

The Lodge worked in English, which became a small problem, as many potential good candidates had no English. In 2001, Unity Lodge No. 9749 was consecrated with special permission to work the ritual in Macedonian. It was followed, in 2003, by White Dawns Lodge No. 9765, also working in Macedonian.

By 2005, the three Lodges had demonstrated that they were capable of running their own affairs and the decision was taken to form them into a Grand Lodge.

The Consecration was one of the largest international Masonic meetings in Europe this year, in which 15 Grand Lodges were represented, 11 by their MW Grand Masters in person, the remaining four by special representatives.

The new Grand Master for Macedonia, Brother Vladimir Sukarov, in his address, paid special tribute to the Pro Grand Master and his team not only for the superb ceremony, but also for all the support and fraternal affection that had been shown to his Brethren from their first coming to England.

The new Grand Lodge had been granted prospective recognition by England at the Quarterly Communication on 14 September, which became effective immediately the Consecration was complete. It was accorded immediate recognition by a number of the Grand Masters present at the ceremony and is now seeking recognition throughout the regular Masonic world.

The Consecration was followed by a Festival Banquet, to which the ladies had been invited. It was a fitting end to a very happy and exciting day. As Lord Northampton remarked in proposing the Toast to the new Grand Lodge, the day had been the culmination of nearly ten years of hard work, but the real work would begin the next day when they would begin to set the standards and traditions of the Grand Lodge of Macedonia.

John Hamill is Director of Communications at the United Grand Lodge of England

Published in International

Michael Baigent speaks with John Hamill and Christopher Connop

The masonic "Week of Action" next summer which will highlight the benefits Freemasonry brings to the community, is drawing ever closer.

Provincial organising committees have been formed, ideas for events are being compiled, masonic websites around the country are flagging local events, and a central "Command Centre" at Freemasons’ Hall in London has been set up to coordinate efforts, answer queries, send out information, compile a database, and deal with the Press. Remember the date: 26th June to 2nd July 2002. Once the idea for the "Week of Action" was approved, a group was formed at Freemasons’ Hall, London, to plan and inspire events: the Central Steering Committee. Chairman is John Hamill, Director of Communications, and secretary is Christopher Connop, Media Manager. Other members are the Grand Secretary, Jim Daniel; London representative, David Wilkinson, member of the General Council; Provincial representative Keith Madeley, Chairman of the Yorkshire West Riding media committee; Ben White, Information Officer Province of Somerset; Jane Reynolds, former Chief Executive of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution together with MDA Public Relations chief, Col. Mike Dewar and his colleague, Liz Sokoski. The function of the Central Steering Committee is, in the words of John Hamill, "to facilitate, offer advice, and to make sure that the central programme happens…". This central programme is the heart of "Week of Action" and opens, on Wednesday 26th June, with a concert in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, London, centred around nineteen cathedral choristers, all of whom receive bursary assistance from the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. On Saturday 29th June there will be an "open house" at various masonic meeting places in London, all will have displays and other events. The week will finish on Tuesday, 2nd July when Freemasons’ Hall is hosting the Annual General Meeting of the London Topographical Society; a demonstration to them of how the building is part of the London community. On every other day there will be a free lunch-time public lecture on an aspect of Freemasonry held in one of the lodge rooms. There will be two exhibitions at Freemasons’ Hall, the Library and Museum plans a display showing the community aspects of Freemasonry, while, in conjunction with the Royal Photographic Society and George Eastman House in New York, there will be a display of the extraordinary photographs of Freemason, Alvin Langdon Coburn. Outside London, events are being prepared by provincial committees and all have nominated local coordinators. John Hamill explained that, "We are not asking for anything new but for all to draw together, in this one week, events which would normally be done during the course of a year. This week is not a fund-raiser". 

Planned events 
Many masonic Provinces plan open days and local thanksgiving services. Some will be held not only in Churchs, but also in Synagogues, Mosques and Hindu Temples with multi-faith services based around hymns and readings from the Holy Books of several faiths, in the presence of leaders of those faiths. Every Province will hold events involving local charities to show the general public how often Freemasonry contributes to their general benefit and how often masonic buildings are used by the public. Masonic Centres will be inviting local civic and business leaders to a lunch or dinner so that they will have the opportunity to meet Brethren and learn more about Freemasonry and its contribution to the community. Concerts and theatrical events are planned – one Province will have an "evening" with actress Prunella Scales. Many original ideas are being mooted: a masonic centre in the west country is sponsoring a photographic and art competition among school children on the theme of the local community. There will be twelve winners; each winner will have his or her art-work published in a masonic calendar which will be sold for charity. Freemasons in another Province have the agreement of all local public libraries to mount an exhibition in each during this week. Media coverage is another avenue to be explored: the Provincial Grand Master or Information Officer could do a "phone-in" on local radio or interviews with local Press. Charitable events, usually spread across summer, could be drawn together in this week: days out for disadvantaged children, or a funfair set up in the grounds of a Masonic Centre. A lunch could be held for the elderly, for war veterans, a variety show might be performed, evening concerts arranged, even a disco for the young teens at a Masonic hall! Sports events can be arranged, especially at secondary schools – a "Masonic Cup" could be donated for the winner. Masonic exhibitions might be arranged in the local museums – how many Brethren and Lodges have antique regalia and jewels which could very easily and effectively be loaned for an interesting display? 

The profile of Freemasonry 
The purpose of this week is to raise the profile of Freemasonry. Both John Hamill and Christopher Connop stressed that they did not believe that there is a public opposition to Freemasonry, rather, they felt, the general public know very little about us. The aim then, is to demonstrate to the public that we are not only an interesting organisation but that we make a very positive contribution to the local community. One major change observed over the last year or two is the increasing amount of favourable coverage which Freemasonry is getting from local newspapers. Many are running supportive articles and many Provincial Information Officers are now forging good relationships with the regional Press. Christopher Connop noted that, "We are beginning to be seen as interesting local news in provincial newspapers". Building upon this evident goodwill, Information Officers need to ensure that the newspapers to know about the events planned for this week, and for them to be well briefed so that they might cover them sympathetically and with interest.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs
Tuesday, 01 April 2003 01:00

Henry Sadler: the first Grand Librarian

Henry Sadler was a great Victorian Mason to whom Masonic researchers owe a great deal, says David Peabody

Masonic historians are familiar with the name of Henry Sadler, but many brethren of today are unaware of the debt of gratitude that all Freemasons owe him.

Henry Sadler was born on 19th October 1840 in the Village of Shalford, Essex, just north of Braintree. Little is known of his early life, but he became a merchant mariner at the age of 15, and by 1862 he was in London, where he spent two years as a commercial traveller.

It was at this time that Sadler's connection with Freemasonry began, when he was initiated in the Lodge of Justice No. 147. In 1865 Freemasons' Hall was greatly expanded, and Sadler was employed by the Grand Secretary's office as assistant to Charles Bryant Payne, the Grand Tyler, where he assisted in the arrangements for the quarterly meetings of United Grand Lodge and Supreme Grand Chapter.

Sadler's other duties at Freemasons' Hall included that of housekeeper, for which living accommodation was provided. He would arrange the letting and the booking of rooms, and maintain the Hall in general.

The census for 1881 confirms there were 12 people listed as residents in the Hall - Sadler, his wife Elizabeth, their six children, Elizabeth's older sister Ann, a servant, Eliza, the Irish door porter Nan Stanton, and Caleb Last, the house porter.

In 1879 Sadler became Grand Tyler and Grand Janitor, in which positions he assisted in many consecrations of Lodges and Chapters, thus becoming a well-know figure in London Masonry.

About this time, Sadler began his interest in the 'doings' of our Masonic predecessors, as he referred to it. As Grand Tyler and housekeeper, he had the ideal opportunity to look through all the old bookcases and cupboards and familiarise himself with their contents. At the same time, he started to catalogue the archives and collections that he came across.

He also began to make regular contributions to the Masonic press such as The Freemason and The Freemason's Chronicle.

This enabled him to share the information that he had found, and brought him into contact with the likes of leading Masonic figures such as R.F. Gould, G.W. Speth and John Lane, thus Sadler's reputation began to grow.

However, in 1883 a calamity affected Freemasons' Hall. In early May of that year a fire broke out in the main Temple, completely gutting the roof, with the loss of the magnificent portraits of the Rulers of the Craft.

The statue of the Duke of Sussex that stood at the back of the dais was recovered and repaired. Fortunately, it had only been affected by smoke and water. A report in The Daily Telegraph and reprinted in The Freemason dated 13th May 1883, read: 'It should be added that the regalia of Grand Lodge have escaped destruction as well as the throne used on special occasions when the Prince of Wales presides.

"As to the origin of the fire, there appears to be little doubt that it was owing to a high beam which ran through a flue communicating with the kitchen of the tavern, becoming ignited.

"It is due to Bro Henry Sadler, Grand Tyler, who resides on the premises, to say that but for his early discovery of the fire the whole of the buildings would in all probability have been destroyed."

On 6th February 1986, John Hamill, then Librarian, received a letter from a Miss Florence Watt, one of Sadler's granddaughters, informing him that she had been left some photographs of the fire by her mother.

She then made a visit to the Grand Lodge Library and Museum and donated three photographs, one of which was taken after the fire. Miss Watt then recalled a story of her mother remembering being carried down the main staircase by her father on the night of the fire.

In all probability this may have been young Florence, who would have been five at the time. In the last paragraph of the letter she states: "The Sadler family had a lucky escape when the fire broke out, which incidentally my grandfather was told was caused by the builders running a beam through the chimney of the boiler that heated the Temple, and it caught fire. The Temple almost backed on to the main building, and the family had to go down the staircase which was on that side of the building."

In 1887 Sadler was appointed sub-librarian of the United Grand Lodge of England in appreciation of all the work he had carried out in preserving the records and archives of Grand Lodge. In a 1904 publication, Sadler relates his story of the origins of the Library and Museum:

"As far back as the year 1837, the desirability of establishing a Library and Museum at the headquarters of the English Craft was enunciated by John Henderson, Grand Registrar and President of the Board of General Purposes, who at the Quarterly Communication on the 6th of September in that year, proposed 'That it is expedient to form a Masonic Library and Museum in connection with Grand Lodge.

"This motion, having been duly seconded, it was: 'Resolved that it be referred to the Board of General Purposes to consider and report on the mode of forming, preserving and regulating a Masonic Library and Museum.

"John Henderson may, therefore, be fairly designated the father of the valuable collection of books and relics of the past that form so attractive a feature of the buildings in Great Queen Street."

Sadler then informs us that it was Dr Robert Crucefix, vice-president of the Board of General Purposes, who made the first donation by presenting the Library with four volumes of The Freemasons' Quarterly Review, handsomely bound.

On 27th February 1838 the Board of General Purposes made the following statement: "That a room on the ground floor be set aside for the purposes of a Masonic Museum and Library. That a sum of money not exceeding £100.00 be placed at the disposal of the Board for the purpose of providing for the reception of books, manuscripts and objects of Masonic interest, and for commencing the formation of a Library and Museum. That for the present time it will be convenient to appoint the Grand Secretaries ex-official curators of the Library and Museum."

Dr George Oliver appears to have been the next contributor to the Library, when on 28th May 1838, he presented three volumes of his well-know works.

Sadler then tells us that on 5th September: "Brother George William Turner, Past Master of Lodges 53 and 87 had presented eighty volumes of books to the Library of Grand Lodge." The Lodges have now been renumbered Strong Man No. 45 and Mount Lebanon No. 73.

It was in 1887 that Sadler published his ground-breaking work on the origins of the Antients Grand Lodge. He had already rediscovered Morgans Register, the first register and minute book of the Antients, and the Charter of Compact.

However, it was in Masonic Fact and Fiction that he finally proved that there had been no schism with the Premier Grand Lodge, and that the Antients were mainly unattached Masons from Ireland. With the publishing of Masonic Fact and Fiction, Sadler's reputation grew, and by 1907 he had published six more books and many papers and other contributions.

On his retirement as Grand Tyler and Grand Janitor in 1910, an office he held for 31 years, he was appointed the first Librarian and Curator to Grand Lodge.

Sadler was a member of many Lodges and Chapters, and in 1903 he was elected a full member of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research, for his achievements in Masonic research, becoming Master in 1911.

Unfortunately, Sadler died on 15th October that year, and was buried in the Great Northern Cemetery, New Southgate, London.

Of all the many eulogies and written obituaries on Henry Sadler, one in particular sums up the man, and was given on 8th November 1911 by Edmund Dring.

"It is difficult on this sad occasion for one so young in years, compared to our late Master. I remember well the occasion on which I first met Bro Sadler. It was now nineteen years ago, and the brusque manner in which he chided me for an unconscious indiscretion was distasteful to me, although it was deserved.

"When, soon afterwards, I got to know him more thoroughly, I wondered however I could have resented his fraternal caution, for I quickly found that beneath his epidermis brusqueness, there was a kindliness and paternal solicitude the extreme depth of which I never fathomed.

"His writings are already historical, his life and work will become historical, but future generations will unfortunately never be able to appreciate his deep modesty, to feel his affectionate regard, or realise that in all matters of vital and most questions of Masonic interest and antiquarianism, they have lost their expositor.

"His knowledge was so far-reaching and his extreme willingness to help real students at all times so well-known, that every Brother throughout the world who was interested in Masonic history must personally mourn his loss."

David Peabody is secretary of Quatuor Coronati Lodge No. 2076, the premier Lodge of Masonic research.

Published in Features
Page 8 of 8

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