Celebrating 300 years
Wednesday, 08 June 2011 21:46

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2011

Quarterly Communication 
8 June 2011
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren,

It is very good to see such a good attendance here today and I particularly want to welcome those Master Masons who are attending Quarterly Communication for the first time and I hope this experiment may turn into normal practice.  I trust it will be a memorable occasion for you.  

The past year has been a busy time for the Craft.  I have selected one or two examples to give you a flavour of what I mean. On the ceremonial side, the Rulers have installed five new Provincial Grand Masters and a Grand Inspector.  In addition there have been six Installations of Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch.  I had the pleasure of presenting two medals for the Grand Master’s Order of Service to Freemasonry to both Brothers Sir John Welch and Simon Waley.  And with the Grand Lodge team, of consecrating the new Grand Lodge of Monaco. The consecration was a marvellous success and was extremely good for international relations.

On the business side, I met all the Provincial Grand Masters at my Regional Business meetings and attended the eighth regional conference of District Grand Masters of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic.  Additionally, we successfully ran, for the second year running, a business meeting specifically for District Grand Masters and Grand Inspectors before the Annual Investitures.

Regarding communication, I spoke about this at the September Quarterly Communication explaining how the strategic communication plans supported our open approach. I took the opportunity to encourage members to talk about their Masonry as appropriate and I have recently set up a working party to look closely at how best to mentor at Lodge level.  You will have also recently received the newly designed issue of Freemasonry Today.  The magazine will continue to evolve and the key reason for this is to encourage you and your families to enjoy it and to talk more about Freemasonry. You have heard from the President about the timing for the publication of future issues.

On the charitable side, we had a very timely talk from the head of the Disaster Management at the British Red Cross at the March Quarterly Communication.  Timely because of, for example, the plight of our Brethren in Christchurch New Zealand with the earthquakes and in Rio de Janeiro, with the devastation after the mud slides. We gave generously through the Red Cross.

Brethren, I am sure that Father Jonathan Baker’s resignation from his Lodges and Chapters was read with great sadness by all masons and many non-masons. This was as a result of tremendous outside pressures brought on him after his appointment as Bishop of Ebbsfleet.  For the time being I shall just say that our feelings on this subject have been made.

Brethren, with the exception of the last item that I have mentioned, we have had a good year and the Craft is in good heart. It only remains for me to wish you all a most enjoyable summer.

Published in Speeches

ROYAL ARCH INVESTITURE

28 APRIL 2011

An address by the ME Pro First Grand Principal Peter Lowndes

 

Companions

I know that you would want me to congratulate the Grand Officers whom I have invested on behalf of the Most Excellent the First Grand Principal. At the same time I remind them that their new ranks are not the culmination of their Chapter careers. In accepting appointment or promotion, they have committed themselves to increased activity in the Royal Arch, especially with regard to recruitment and retention.

 At this investiture meeting last year I announced that as part of the Royal Arch celebrations in 2013 it had been decided that a donation be made to the Royal College of Surgeons. The Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal was launched at the November Convocation of Supreme Grand Chapter. Our donation will help to fund the College’s successful surgical research fellowship scheme, which supports surgeons to undertake a surgical research project.

Freemasonry has had a long and close association with the College and we are their major benefactor. We were pleased to have several surgeons - who had been beneficiaries - come and present to us at the November Convocation. Although I was unable to be at that meeting, I have heard from many Companions how fascinating it was to hear about their research in surgical care for current and future generations. The Grand Scribe Ezra has written to all Grand Superintendents informing them how to request similar presentations from the College in their Provinces.

The information for donating to the Royal Arch Masons 2013 Bicentenary Appeal is on the Grand Charity website and donation leaflets are available by request. We are grateful to those who have already donated.

Companions, as you are well aware changes were made to the general practice of the Royal Arch in 2004 affecting the ritual, together with certain permitted ritual alternatives. As a result, I wonder how many of you are like me and get thoroughly confused when deciding which version of the ritual to use. With this in mind, it is proposed to use 2013 as the catalyst to publish new ritual books, which would have the permitted alternatives as the main version and the original version printed out separately. For clarity, this is not a change to the ritual. It is intended to be helpful to Chapters by simplifying the printed material and to avoid any confusion the 2004 changes may have caused.

The aim is also to encourage those Chapters who have not yet made the change to the alternative form, to more easily adapt what is already widely practised and enjoyed. This alternative ritual involves more companions in the ceremony and I believe encourages greater delegation of the work. Interestingly, the 2013 Committee is proposing that a demonstration of the alternative exaltation ceremony form part of the bi-centenary celebrations, to be performed by the Metropolitan Grand Stewards demonstration Team in the Grand Temple on the morning of the special celebration Convocation in October 2013.

Finally, Companions, I must on your behalf and mine, thank the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for conducting today’s proceedings so successfully and the Grand Scribe E and his staff for all the arrangements for this important day. Most of you will be aware that the Grand Scribe E and his Secretary were working here on Monday to ensure the smooth running of yesterday and today.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 11:26

Grand Master's address - April 2011

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

27 April 2011

An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Brethren,

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture and I should like to congratulate all those who have become Grand Officers or who have been promoted in Grand Rank. This is a special day for you. At the same time I thank those other Grand Officers who, reappointed from year to year, do so much to ensure continuity in the direction of the Craft.

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in Metropolitan, the Provinces and the Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their Masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each Lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the Lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced yesterday to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

Brethren, in July I visited the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects. I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize-money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non Masonic Charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the Unique Venues of London we are highly respected within the event industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non Masonic visitors to our events. Events that included the London Fashion Week and the after party for the latest Harry Potter world premier! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a Masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

I understand that the head of Disaster Management at the British Red Cross came to speak at the March Quarterly Communication. This was timely as I am particularly mindful of our Brethren in Christchurch, South Island New Zealand with the earthquake, and those north of Rio de Janeiro in the District Grand Lodge of South America, Northern Division with the mudslides and flooding. Both these Districts received immediate help from the Grand Charity through the British Red Cross. I am pleased to report that though there was considerable structural damage none of our members were lost.

In conclusion I should like to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies and the Grand Secretary and his staff for all they have done to make this meeting such a success.

 

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 09 March 2011 16:19

Pro Grand Master’s address - March 2011

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

9 MARCH 2011

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, 
In February, accompanied by a Grand Lodge team, I consecrated the Grand Lodge of Monaco. It was an enormously successful occasion with representation from many Grand Lodges from around the world - all meeting in harmony.

The Lodges that make up the new Grand Lodge are from the English, French and German constitutions and we were delighted to be asked, as the mother Grand Lodge, to run the Consecration assisted by the Grand Master of Germany and a past Grand Master of France. On behalf of the Grand Master, I presented them with a fine sword. For the rest of the day we found ourselves on the receiving end of countless handshakes and heartfelt congratulations on the ceremony, which had been superbly organised by the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team.

I am delighted to tell you that Freemasonry Today, due in early April, will be the first of the newly designed issues to reflect the magazine as the official journal of the United Grand Lodge of England. The editorial side will evolve to align the content more closely with our communications strategy, as the magazine is an ideal way for us to communicate our key messages to our members, their families and potential members.

To that end the Strategic Communications Committee, which I told you about in my September Quarterly Communication speech, has asked the Board of General Purposes to agree a clear policy on editorial content for the future. Our aim is that you enjoy the magazine, are proud to show it to your family and that it becomes an award winning journal.

It was very timely to have the head of Disaster Management at the British Red Cross talk to us today. Most particularly we are mindful of the plight of our Brethren in Christchurch, New Zealand. Although there has been terrible damage to many of their homes none of them are amongst those who have been killed. The District Grand Master’s home is in ruins but they are doing the best they can to maintain morale. It is suggested that at least one third of the buildings will have to be destroyed.

When I attended the one hundred and fiftieth celebration of their District in Christchurch at the end of 2009 we changed in the Cathedral before our street march to the civic centre where the celebrations were held. The following day The Dean invited us to attend their Holy Comm service in regalia and I read the lesson. It is particularly distressing to see on the news that the Cathedral spire has collapsed and I am informed that the civic centre, where we held the main celebration, has been completely destroyed. The Grand Charity immediately sent £30,000 via the Red Cross to Christchurch.

But Brethren, there have also been, for example, the floods in Brazil where another emergency grant of £20,000 has been made to the District Grand Lodge of South America, North Division, to assist with the devastation after the mudslides and flooding north of Rio de Janeiro. The key is that the Grand Charity sends the money through the Red Cross and we know that they will use the money properly at the beginning of these disasters.

On the subject of charity, many of you may be aware that the Attorney General has referred to the Court questions directed to clarify the law relating to some Charities for the relief of poverty among those who fall within a particular class or category and the public benefit requirement following the coming into effect of the Charities Act 2006.

The Reference has potential implications for Masonic Charities at various levels although it would seem that it will not affect our four main Masonic Charities.

I wish to assure you that both the Rulers and the Board of General Purposes are treating the Attorney General’s Reference seriously. A leading firm of solicitors specialising in Charity Law have been retained and we are in the process of instructing Leading Counsel to advise and represent us. The initial advice that we have received is that any of our Lodge Benevolent Funds which have been established using the Objects Clauses in the Model Trust Deed we have been promulgating for over sixty years are unlikely to be affected.

We intend to apply to be joined as a party to the Reference Proceedings and hope that our vast experience of charitable activities for the public benefit will be of assistance to the Court, the Charity Commission and all who will be participating in the Reference.

To keep this in perspective, the Attorney General is looking at Charities in general, and although in the Schedule to the Reference they have named over one thousand of our Charities we do not believe this to be in any way discriminatory. On the contrary – and it is very good that there are so many Masonic Charities –we should look at this as a reflection of the extent of our Charitable activity. There are few organisations who can boast such a large number of Benevolent Funds.

Published in Speeches

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
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 10:44

Pro Grand Master’s address - December 2010

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 DECEMBER 2010

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren,
Since the September Quarterly Communication I have completed my regional conferences seeing all the Provincial Grand Masters. These conferences have been very useful and an opportunity to discuss a large range of interesting issues. I am confident that we are continuing to work closely with the Provinces and that we have good communications between us.

I also have attended, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, the eighth regional conference of District Grand Masters of the Caribbean and Western Atlantic in Barbados. The conference was a great success. However, early the following morning we were hit by Hurricane Tomas damaging houses, knocking out power lines and blocking roads with flooding and debris. The District planned to hold their District Meeting that afternoon. This could not take place, but by using great ingenuity they manage to rearrange the Meeting for later in the evening followed by an impromptu drinks party.

I can only say that our experience with volcanic ash and the ensuing problems of returning home from South Africa in April this year stood us in good stead, as we eventually made our way back to England via the tender mercy of the Miami Immigration Authorities!

I have been looking at opening up, on a regulated basis, those who can attend Quarterly Communication. The changes we have brought in, in this regard, for Supreme Grand Chapter seem to have been popular. Currently the meetings of Grand Lodge are attended by Wardens and above. This has purely been to control numbers.

Keeping numbers in mind, I am interested in giving the opportunity to Master Masons to attend. This, very probably, would mean allocating numbers to Provinces on a rotational basis and it would also mean that we would need to be told, via the relevant Provincial Grand Secretary, the numbers attending on any one occasion. The Board has agreed to look at ways of enabling Master Masons to attend certain of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge.

We are all delighted about the engagement of His Royal Highness Prince William to Catherine Middleton. They have chosen the 29th April as their wedding day, which will be a bank holiday – two days after the Craft Investiture and the day after the Royal Arch Investiture. I wanted to confirm that both Investiture days are unaffected by the Royal wedding.

I wish you and your families a very Happy Christmas and New Year.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 00:00

Second Grand Principal's address - November 2010

Regular Convocation 
10 November 2010 
An address by the ME Second Grand Principal George Francis, Acting First Grand Principal 

Companions, it is now five years, give or take a day, since I was installed as Second Grand Principal here in Supreme Grand Chapter in November 2005, by the then Pro First Grand Principal, the Marquess of Northampton, DL, and it continues to be a most enjoyable and rewarding office. During that period, I have officially visited all but one of our forty-six Provinces and, of course, London on several occasions (and I hope to visit that last Province shortly). On each and every visit I have been struck by the enthusiasm and commitment of all Companions, and I sense everywhere a new confidence and an awareness of our future; the decline in our membership numbers over many years has slowed considerably, and in some Provinces our numbers are gradually increasing again; more importantly, the number of exaltations is holding steady and I believe they will also begin to increase, reflecting the hard work being put in by many Companions, Chapters and Provincial teams.

The focus of our attention is now moving to the celebration of the Bi-Centenary of the Royal Arch in 2013; to mark the official recognition of the Royal Arch as “the completion of pure and Antient Freemasonry”, at the of the two great English Grand Lodges in 1813, which also created the United Grand Lodge of England. We therefore celebrate our official birthday, or to put it another way, the full emergence of the Royal Arch as we know it, 200 years ago.

A key item is the programme for a celebratory Convocation on 16 October 2013 (to replace the normal November Convocation that year). There will be a lunch in the Grand Connaught Rooms beforehand, followed by the Convocation to be held later in the afternoon here in the Grand Temple, in the presence of the First Grand Principal, followed by a guest dinner to be hosted by him at The Savoy in the evening. Details of who will be able to attend each event will be communicated to you by your Grand Superintendent, in due course.

Another important element in the programme is a fund raising exercise over the next three years to provide a permanent reminder of our celebrations. The amount raised will be used to create a Research Fund for the benefit of the Royal College of Surgeons, to be administered at no extra cost alongside the Craft’s 250th Anniversary Fund for the purpose of research by the Royal College. As soon as this Convocation is closed, and before the outgoing procession, we will be hearing a presentation by members of the Royal College about their research work, so their presence here today gives me the opportunity officially to launch The Royal Arch Masons’ 2013 Bi-Centenary Appeal for the benefit of their Surgical Research Fellowship Scheme.

Grand Lodge has always supported the Royal College since its foundation in 1800 and, more specifically, since the 250th Fund was set up in 1967 to provide support for the Fellowship Scheme. As you will see from a leaflet you should all have received this morning, our Appeal will reinforce our support for this vital work, bearing in mind that the Royal College is a registered charity, receives no direct funding from the NHS, and relies heavily on voluntary contributions; it is fair to say that this is how they prefer to operate.

We have opened a Relief Chest with the Grand Charity into which all donations will go. The aim over the next three years or so, is to raise a minimum of £10, plus Gift Aid, from every Companion; that is a little over £3 a year, but this would raise more than one million pounds. You will appreciate that Gift Aid is worth nearly 30% added value to your individual donation, so we hope that Chapter donations will incorporate this additional amount. The leaflets will be distributed through Freemasonry Today, and to every Companion by London, the Province or District.

As I have already mentioned, the final Fund will be overseen by us, through Trustees appointed by the Royal Arch, and used to provide specific Research Fellowships in the same tried and tested way as the 250th Fund and at no extra cost.

This cannot in my view fail, in due course, to benefit all Royal Arch Masons, or those near and dear to them.

Finally, Companions, I would like to take this opportunity to thank every one of you for your attendance today, and for all you do for your Chapters and Provinces, to keep the Royal Arch flourishing and in great heart.

Companions, as time is marching on, I will move on to the announcement of appointments made by the ME The First Grand Principal before we close, and then hear from the Research Fellows of the Royal College of Surgeons. Thank you Companions.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 17:36

‘The Library & Museum of Freemasonry’

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 September 2010

A speech by Mrs Diane Clements, Director, The Library & Museum of Freemasonry

I am pleased to report that in the four years since I last spoke in this forum, the Library and Museum has continued to make good progress in meeting our objective of making the library, museum and archive collections here at Freemasons’ Hall available to as many people and to the widest possible range of audiences as we can, to try to improve the understanding of freemasonry and its role, past and present, in society.

The most obvious way that we do that is for the Library and Museum to be open free of charge every weekday. People join the regular guided tours of the ceremonial areas of the building. They are also attracted by our range of temporary exhibitions. Over the last four years the subjects of these exhibitions have included Freemasonry and the French Revolution, London Grand Rank and Masonic Charity. As someone who regularly has to respond to visitors’ comments such as “I didn’t know they allowed women in”, which is probably not something that any of you encounter, I was particularly pleased by our exhibition on Women and Freemasonry in 2008- even if it didn’t necessarily explain why I am here!. Our current exhibition The Masonic Emporium looks at the development of the commercial market for Masonic regalia and furniture. Visitor numbers have increased by 40% over the last four years. We have been able to cope with these additional numbers with our existing staff of guides thanks to working closely with other teams within the building especially security and maintenance.

The exhibitions may be temporary but we work to ensure that there is a legacy. This may be a book, an exhibition guide or an addition to the permanent museum displays or to the catalogue record for an item. For the exhibition on Freemasons and the Royal Society earlier this year- to mark the 350th Anniversary of the Royal Society- we worked with a freemason in North Yorkshire to produce a list of more than 350 freemasons who were also Fellows of the Society. This added significantly to our knowledge of “famous” freemasons. The list is available on the Library and Museum website. Amongst the names included are Sir George Everest of mountain fame, the psychologist Charles Myers who is generally credited with the first use of the term “shell shock” and the zoologist Edward Hindle who, during a long and distinguished scientific career, can also claim to have introduced the golden hamster as a domestic pet.

But not everyone can or wants to come to central London and so we have found a number of ways of taking knowledge of the collections and sometimes items from the collections to them. Cataloguing of the collections continues on all fronts and the information is available on our electronic catalogue on our website. We have now catalogued all our sheet music- over 1500 items- archive material including the records of erased lodges and thousands of prints and photographs of individuals. We have undertaken a detailed analysis of what is required to catalogue and photograph all the items in the museum collection – that is 40,000 objects and includes everything from a lodge jewel to the 1790 Grand Master’s throne which stands over 3 metres high - and are working towards completing that by 2017.

Research resources can be provided electronically- the charts of lodge family trees and an electronic version of Lane’s Masonic Records listing all lodges warranted by UGLE and its predecessors are already available on line and we are bringing the latter list up to date. We will be starting a two year project to digitise English eighteenth and nineteenth century Masonic periodicals this Autumn. This will enable this material -which is a rich source of Masonic history but sadly lacking in comprehensive indexes – to be searchable.

Although the Centre for Masonic Research at Sheffield University has now closed, we have found that researchers from many academic bodies in the UK and abroad now use the collections. Recent publications on individuals as diverse as an eighteenth century French journalist and a nineteenth century Jewish humanitarian as well as a study of the development of Blackpool as a seaside resort have all used information from our records.

Those researchers would be amongst the 2,000 or more readers who are registered to use the library and archive collections- it’s just as well that they don’t all visit at once!

Library and Museum staff provide an enquiry service for letters and emails and I estimate that we answer over 3000 queries a year. Recently we have assisted the Victoria and Albert Museum identify a Masonic ring, we have helped the Swindon Local Studies Library find out more about the history of an important building in the town- the Mechanics’ Institute, not the Freemasons’ Hall- and we have researched the Masonic career of a Victorian photographer for English Heritage. Over the last ten years we have researched over 15,000 names for family historians.

As well as talks to lodges and chapters, staff have given presentations at conferences organised by the Canonbury Masonic Research Centre and the International Conference on the History of Freemasonry in Edinburgh. Papers have been given to professional and specialist groups including the Decorative Arts Medals Society, the Social History Curators Group, the Families in British India Society, the Halstead Trust Family History conference and to academic conferences in Liverpool, Leiden and Bordeaux.

Material from the collections is lent to other museums and items have been lent recently to the People’s History Museum in Manchester, the Helena Thompson Museum in Workington and to museums in Austria and Corsica.

The loan to the Helena Thompson Museum was organised with the Province of Cumberland and Westmorland as part of their local awareness campaign. Our work with provinces and districts has, over the last two years, focussed on the Historical Records Survey- although I am aware that there were some light hearted local variations in that name. The HRS project aimed to survey the extent and condition of all lodge and chapter records in England and Wales. The 60% or so response rate, which was a fantastic achievement by local co-ordinators and thousands of lodge secretaries and chapter scribes, will ensure that local Masonic history makes a considerable contribution to freemasonry’s tercentenary.

Those lodges and chapters that took part in the survey are able to apply to the Library and Museum for a small grant to help with the conservation of their records. We expect this to be a competitive scheme as we will not have enough funding to meet all the demands but I would encourage all eligible lodges and chapters to have a go. Even a small amount of funding can assist with the purchase of more appropriate boxes or packaging which can really make a difference to improving the way records are kept. Details are available from the Library and Museum or from provincial secretaries

We have also provided support for provinces for their charity festivals and for members’ education.

I wanted to take the opportunity here to mention the work of the Masonic Libraries and Museums Group which is run by representatives of provincial libraries and museums and which Library and Museum staff support. Many of these collections have been featured in Freemasonry Today over the years. Not only do these provincial museums hold items of national interest, many are also significant in terms of the local history of their area. Over the last ten years this group has helped to foster new museums and libraries in several provinces so that the heritage of freemasonry can be preserved at a local level. If you haven’t been to visit your provincial museum recently I think you will be surprised!

As I have mentioned on previous occasions, the Library and Museum has been awarded grants from external sources. This has continued with one recent grant enabling us to establish a properly racked paintings store and another contributing towards the conservation of our world class collection of Old Charges. The next few years will be challenging ones for cultural and heritage bodies as for many other groups and competition for more limited external funding will be intense. We monitor our cost base. The Library and Museum Council regularly reviews the performance of our professionally managed investment portfolio. The profits from the Shop here at Freemasons’ Hall are gift aided to the Library and Museum. Since 2003, the Shop has sold nearly 120,000 books- not all of them written by the Assistant Grand Secretary, more than 90,000 craft ties and 1,247 miniature Masonic teddy bears. Thank you for your support and do keep buying!

The Library and Museum already benefits from the support of Grand Lodge and Grand Chapter, the Friends of the Library and Museum and many individual lodges and chapters. As a registered charity we will be monitoring how the government encourages the development of charitable giving to make sure that we can take full advantage.

We are looking forward to making a major contribution to the Royal Arch bicentenary celebrations in 2013 with an exhibition and of course to the tercentenary in 2017. Before then, and probably along with every other museum and cultural institution in the country, we will be marking the 2012 Olympics in London. Our plans include an exhibition on Freemasonry and Sport which will cover the important role played by leading freemasons in the first London Olympics in 1908 as well as the Masonic involvement of sportsmen generally. We have already made contact with some sportsmen members to see how we can work together but I am always keen to hear about other initiatives and plans. We really would like our exhibition to reflect the personal sporting achievements of individual members.

In his recent interview in The Times the Grand Secretary’s role was described as “explaining the inner workings (of freemasonry) to a largely uncomprehending world”. I like to believe that a desire to comprehend is a factor in attracting more and more visitors to the Library and Museum and that our displays, exhibitions, guided tours and responses to enquiries can all help improve understanding. We in the Library and Museum are very happy to work alongside the Grand Secretary and the membership generally in that common cause.

Thank you.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 17:05

OSM citation for RW Bro Simon Francis Norman Waley

Quarterly Communication

8 September 2010
Order of Service to Masonry citation for RW Bro Simon Francis Norman Waley, Past Provincial Grand Master for West Kent, Past District Grand Master for Cyprus

Bro Simon Waley was made a Mason in November, 1957, at the age of 23, in Surrey Lodge, No. 416, at Redhill in Surrey and became its Master in 1967. In 1970 he joined the Lodge of Peace and Harmony, No. 60 (London) becoming its Master in 1973 and serving, on its nomination, as Grand Steward the following year. He has been a joining member or a Founder of nine other Lodges, and has served as Master of most of them, including The Grand Stewards’ Lodge. He was exalted into the Royal Arch in Castle Chapter of Harmony, No. 26 in 1975.

Bro Waley was appointed a Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in Craft and Royal Arch in 1978 and served in those offices for three years. In 1987, when the office of Provincial Grand Master for West Kent fell suddenly vacant along with that of Grand Superintendent, he was appointed to fill the vacancy and ruled the Province with distinction for the next nine years. In the meantime, as one of the Grand Master’s advisers, he served on two committees looking into charitable matters and in particular the uneasy relationship between the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Royal Masonic Hospital under the umbrella of the Masonic Foundation for the Aged and the Sick. In 1993 he became President of the latter, continuing in that role when it ceased to be a formal Grand Office down to the present time. A few months after he relinquished the Province of West Kent he was appointed District Grand Master for Cyprus and Grand Inspector of the Group of Royal Arch Chapters there, becoming Grand Superintendent the following year when the Royal Arch Group became a District in its own right. Although he relinquished both offices in 2001 he has continued to interest himself in Freemasonry in Cyprus and more recently became the first Sovereign Grand Commander of a new Supreme Council in that jurisdiction.

It would be difficult to find a Brother – other than among those who have been Rulers of the Craft – who has a record of Masonic service covering so wide a spectrum of activity; Bro Waley has been a notable influence in English Freemasonry both openly and behind the scenes for so many years. It is to be hoped that the benefit of his experience will continue to be available to the Grand Master and the other Rulers of the Craft for many more years.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 September 2010 17:03

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2010

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 SEPTEMBER 2010

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren,
I hope you have all had a good summer and have come back refreshed to start the new Masonic season.

In July we hosted the annual Tripartite meeting with the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland. This is always a particularly important meeting, not only to maintain our excellent relations, but because it gives an opportunity to liaise on mutual issues to do with our respective Constitutions around the world. For example – and this is of specific significance to our Districts – the topic of precedence, when the English, Irish and Scottish Constitutions are present, in all scenarios, was discussed in detail. The result is that the Grand Secretary will shortly be writing to all our Districts to give the mutually agreed clarifications.

The Board of General Purposes has set up a Strategic Communications Committee to agree the content and design of the various initiatives to successfully achieve the new communication strategy up to our tercentenary in 2017. The Committee consists of the Craft Rulers, the President and Deputy President of the Board and the Grand Secretary.

One of the core objectives of the communication strategy is to help members to describe Freemasonry openly to anyone who is interested. I know that most Provinces have made advances to help this objective. Although openness has been a feature of our Masonic lives for some time now many members are still not clear about what they can talk about – either because they have not been told or because they have been incorrectly briefed. It is therefore very important, as we set out with this new communications strategy, to give clarity to the important question of ‘what can I talk about?’

The short answer is that there is very little in our Freemasonry that we cannot share with our families, friends and colleagues. Our principles and tenets, our traditions, our charitable activities and our history are all subjects we can share with others – acknowledging that each of us is likely to see freemasonry in slightly different ways because our reaction to it is a very personal one. We can all be helped to talk sensibly about the aspects which attract us. But in sharing them we must have clarity and not use Masonic jargon.

Like most specialist groups Freemasonry has developed its own language, jargon and shorthand phrases. Catch phrases from our ceremonies trip easily off the tongue and in few words convey a wealth of meaning to those who are members – but are meaningless to those who are not. We need to learn to talk about Freemasonry in simple terms without jargon – particularly as its use tends to mystify non-Masons and can, in their minds, strengthen some of the myths that have grown up around Freemasonry. An element of the communications strategy is to dilute the many myths that abound – myths that are still believed by many to be fact.

One of the great myths we need to overcome is that a so-called Masonic “handshake” is given to get business or to do underhand deals. But Brethren, do remember that the signs, grips and words were never intended for casual use in everyday life – they have always been meant to be used deliberately and only in a formal way in Lodge. It is therefore wrong to describe them as recognition signals. Indeed, calling them such simply perpetuates the myth.

Brethren, we are rightly very proud of our Charities and I am strongly in favour of stating publicly all the tremendous good work that emanates from them. However it would be wrong for us to make out that it is our raison d’être. By all means bring them in to any discussions about Freemasonry, but let us not forget that are many and varied other very good reasons for our existence.

The one area we still regard as being private is the detail of our ceremonies. They are not “secret” – the books covering these ceremonies are available for purchase by anyone - nor, as you all well know, do they contain anything untoward. We regard them as being private simply to preserve that “shared experience” we all underwent when we joined Freemasonry, and which is an essential part of our system. Were we to publicly discuss our ceremonies or allow demonstrations of them we would spoil their effect on those who join us in the future and they would be deprived of that “shared experience”. The late Lord Farnham likened the discussing of our rituals with non-Masons to pulling up a prized plant to see how the roots are growing – you will find the answer but in doing so you damage the plant.

As it develops, Brethren, you will hear more about the new communications strategy because the whole Craft will have a part to play in it. It is not simply for Grand Lodge and the Metropolitan, Provincial and District executives to deal with but is one for the whole Craft and, we hope, will help define the future health and happiness of the Craft.

Brethren, you will be aware of the earthquake in New Zealand. Unfortunately it has had a disastrous effect on our Brethren in South Island, many of who have either lost their homes or have had them substantially damaged. Our brethren there need our support and I am pleased to say that the Board of General purposes have agreed to send significant financial assistance, on top of anything the Grand Charity feels that it is able to give, once details of the requirements are known.

Published in Speeches
Page 9 of 16

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