Celebrating 300 years
Friday, 16 September 2011 11:45

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HRH the Duke of Kent explains why Freemasons need to not only act as mentors but also ambassadors

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 the Metropolitan, Provinces and 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 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.

On a visit to 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 events industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non-masonic visitors to our events. This included London Fashion Week and an after party for the latest Harry Potter world premiere! 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.

This is an excerpt from the Annual Craft Investiture address by the MW The Grand Master HRH the Duke of Kent, KG, given on 27 April 2011.  To read the speech in full, press here.

Published in UGLE
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, 01 September 2010 13:18

A Top Secret Machine That Solved An Enigma

Bletchley Park Guide John Jackson Looks At The Project To Rebuild The Bombe, The Machine Used To Break Wartime German Enigma-Enciphered Messages

Britain’s greatest secret of the Second World War – its codebreaking headquarters at Bletchley Park near Milton Keynes – remained on the most highly classified list, known among only a handful in the corridors of power as TOP SECRET ULTRA – until 30 years after the war.

Among Bletchley Park’s most ingenious hush-hush wartime inventions was an amazing electro-mechanical machine called the ‘bombe’, which was used to break secret messages transmitted on the German Enigma cipher machine, which allowed the Allies to read the most important secrets of the Third Reich.

Developed by Cambridge mathematicians Alan Turing and Gordon Welchman, the bombe broke some two and a half million Enigma messages during the war and historians have said Bletchley Park probably shortened the conflict by two years.

But, at the end of the war, everything at Bletchley Park was ordered to be destroyed to ensure that the secret work carried out by the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS) – now called GCHQ – was maintained. All 211 Bombes built by the British Tabulating Machine Company (BTM) at Letchworth in Hertfordshire were broken up. Of the 145 bombes built by the Americans, one still exists and is on display at the National Cryptologic Museum in Maryland.

But, in 2007, the whirring sound of the bombe was heard again, more than fifty years after they had been silenced by peace in Europe, following a twelve-year project to rebuild the machine by a group of dedicated engineers led by Bedfordshire Freemason, John Harper. His team had to look through around 4,000 documents handed to Bletchley Park by GCHQ. In July 2007 the bombe rebuild was officially opened by Bletchley Park Trust Chief Patron, the Duke of Kent.

Now, the bombe is run for the benefit of visitors. Using wartime Enigma-encyphered messages, the rebuilt bombe can today find the original settings of the German operators in around eleven minutes.

When Bletchley Park (BP) was faced with redevelopment as a housing estate in the 1990s, the local historical society stepped in to save it as part of Britain’s national heritage and it opened to the public in 1993, the year in which local masons came together to form Bletchley Park Lodge, No. 9518. Two lodge members play key voluntary roles at ‘BP’, including John Chapman, who runs the Post Office – one of the top ten in Britain for First Day Covers – and Brian Mead, one of the duty managers. Two volunteer guides, Nick Miers and John Jackson, are also masons.

Another masonic connection to the historic site is Hubert Faulkner, who bought Bletchley Park in 1937 when the part of what became the codebreaking section – Lot 1, comprising the mansion (now a Grade II Listed building) and fifty-five acres of land – failed to reach its reserve price of £7,500!

However, Faulkner subsequently sold it on to Admiral Hugh Sinclair, head of the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6), who had overall responsibility for GC&CS. Faulkner’s building company erected the famous huts which housed the codebreakers.

Faulkner was an active Freemason during the war and from April 1942 until February 1945 was Master of Cowper and Newton Lodge, No. 2244, which meets at Olney in Buckinghamshire. In May 1946 he became a founder member of Cowper and Newton Chapter.

Bombe rebuild project leader John Harper, a Lewis, comes from a line of masons. Initiated in Old Cedarians Lodge, No. 8078, Province of Bedfordshire, in 1987, of which he was Master in 1999. He explains:

‘I did not come into Freemasonry until I felt that I could give the time it deserved. I had to travel a lot during my early career. This was a disappointment to my father, as he had died by the time I was invited to join my old grammar school lodge.’

Initially his father was a Middlesex mason but found when he moved to Buckinghamshire that attending Brent Valley Lodge, No. 3940, was difficult, so he joined Wineslei Lodge, No. 2435, in Winslow and Cheiron Lodge, No. 7775, in Aylesbury. John Harper’s grandfather was also a Middlesex mason as were his uncle, godfather and a cousin who is a current Leicestershire mason.

Reconstructing the Bombe
About the bombe rebuild project, Harper explains: ‘I worked for ICL at Stevenage, the successor to British Tabulating Machines (BTM). I had heard of a project built by BTM during the war which was hush-hush. Eventually the secret came out in the 1970s and I was fortunate in being able to recruit expert volunteers.

‘The research began in 1996 after GCHQ returned the drawings to Bletchley Park, and in September 1997 we delivered the first part of the frame, the final section being completed three years later. By April 2002, all the moving parts were active under DC power.

‘By April 2006, the construction was finished except for a complete set of drums, which replicate the rotors on an Enigma machine. That year we also completed a rebuild of the checking machine, which took the information from the bombe to see if it had come to a correct decision. We also had a Typex machine – the British cipher machine, some of which were specially modified during the war to replicate the workings of the Enigma machine – to actually decipher the original German message.’

Both the rebuilt checking machine and the modified Typex – along with an Enigma machine – can be seen alongside the one-ton bombe rebuild at Bletchley Park. The rebuild project finally saw the official switching-on ceremony in September 2007 by Bletchley Park’s Chief Patron, HRH The Duke of Kent.

Working for the film, Enigma
John Harper and his team also helped the makers of the film Enigma, based on Robert Harris’s best-selling novel, by providing many specifications and drawings to enable Asylum Models and Effects to build six replica bombes, which the film-makers insisted should be as real as possible.

John Harper explains the problems that arose over the Enigma replicas: ‘The bombe rebuild team were called in rather late in the proceedings and this put us under great pressure to provide existing drawings and to produce new ones.

‘One thing that added to the pressure was that we had been carrying out our research and had been producing new drawings from the inside-out. Asylum wanted the outside drawings first so that they could make the main boxes first.’

This was a problem, as John Harper’s team had planned to leave the covers until last, as was the case with the original machines. One of these mock-ups is now also on display at Bletchley Park, while another is at the Letchworth Heritage Museum. Go to www.jharper.demon.co.uk for more information about the bombe rebuild and to www.bletchleypark.org.uk for more general information about Britain’s wartime code-breaking centre.

Sinking the Scharnhorst
In their public demonstrations the bombe operators break a real wartime message – the last signal sent from the battlecruiser Scharnhorst – which was encyphered on the ship’s Enigma machine, intercepted, transmitted to Bletchley Park, where the codebreakers provided a ‘menu’ to be run on the bombe, whose results were passed on to the checking machine. The information went to the codebreaking hut, the rest of the key found and the message deciphered using a modified Typex machine, the British equivalent of Enigma.

Published in Features
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 11:51

Grand Master’s address - April 2010

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

28 APRIL 2010

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

Brethren,
I want first to congratulate very warmly all those that I have had the pleasure to appoint or promote this afternoon and to welcome all those of you who are here to support them. Grand Rank is only conferred after much consideration and is a rare accolade given both in acknowledgement of good work done and , more importantly, in anticipation of future endeavours. Be assured that the rest of the Craft members will be looking to you both for leadership, particularly in the important area of mentoring, and to set the highest standards in all your activities at all times. There are many situations when these attributes will be called for and humility will be a common thread in all of them.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 11:08

Grand Master’s address - March 2009

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

11 MARCH 2009

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

Brethren,
First thank you for re-electing me as Grand Master and let me say a very warm welcome to you all at this historic Quarterly Communication. Historic, as I have just had the pleasure of installing Most Worshipful Brother Peter Lowndes as the Pro Grand Master, and Right Worshipful Brother Jonathan Spence as the Deputy Grand Master. This is a major event in our Masonic history that will long remain in your memories. I know that you will want to join me in offering these two distinguished Brethren our heartfelt congratulations. I am delighted that Right Worshipful Brother David Williamson has agreed to continue as Assistant Grand Master and I thank him for all he has already achieved in this important office. This team, with their wealth of experience will, I know, build on our recent successes and lead the Craft with inspiration towards 2017 - our three hundredth anniversary.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 13 June 2007 09:47

Pro Grand Master’s address - June 2007

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

13 JUNE 2007

An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren, today it is exactly 40 years since HRH the Duke of Kent KG was elected as our Grand Master. On behalf of all our members I have written to congratulate him on such a remarkable achievement and expressed our wish that he will enjoy good health to enable him to continue as our Grand Master for many years to come.

    More good news … I have just announced the remarkable sums raised by four Provinces for our Masonic charities. That makes a total of £14.6 million. I attended the festival in Nottingham on Sunday when a new record was set of over £1,000 per member in the Province. These are very large sums of money indeed and our thanks go to all those who have been responsible for such outstanding generosity.
    Brethren, I am looking closely at our marketing and public relations. I believe that this is a very important area when it comes to attracting and retaining quality candidates. However, it needs a new dynamic approach. There are many initiatives taking place around the country, including open days and stands at county shows, all of which play a useful part in spreading our message to a wider audience.
    At the Centre we are particularly looking at improving our website and MQ magazine. This will all help to underpin our open approach on communication.
    Open communication is important to the way we are perceived and therefore crucial to the future health of the Craft.
    I have said it before, but it is worth repeating, that this is best achieved by Masons talking openly about the Masonry they enjoy to their families, friends and anyone who shows an interest in knowing more about us.
    I have started my regional conferences with Provincial Grand Masters, accompanied by the Grand Secretary.
    The first of these was held at Sindlesham at the end of May, with three more to be held in Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham.
    I am also visiting our brethren overseas, beginning with a trip to our Districts in India in November accompanied by the Grand Secretary.
    In July, the Assistant Grand Master is visiting the District Grand Lodge of Sri Lanka for their centenary and the installation of their new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent.
    In early November we are hosting a special meeting of European Grand Masters to discuss the issue of regularity. The Masonic world has expanded with the creation of new Grand Lodges in Europe, and as the mother Grand Lodge it is time to restate our fundamental beliefs when it comes to regular Freemasonry.
    Finally, brethren, I wish you all a very pleasant summer and look forward to our next meeting in September when we shall hopefully all have benefited from some rest and relaxation.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 16:18

Grand Master's address - April 2007

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

25 APRIL 2007

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

Brethren,
I start by saying a very warm welcome to everyone attending our Grand Lodge meeting today and I congratulate all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. 

As Grand Officers, I would remind you that you have an important leadership role to play in the Craft. As well as continuing to set high standards for the Craft to follow, I hope you will also be active in promoting greater openness about our Freemasonry, which I consider essential.

Together with helping us to understand our own place in Freemasonry, this more open approach should also ensure we are better prepared to explain our Masonry to our family, friends and acquaintances.

There is no doubt in my mind Brethren, that with today’s rapidly changing society, Freemasonry is more relevant than at any other time.

Many of you will be aware that the four main Masonic charities, the Grand Charity, the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution and the Masonic Samaritan Fund will shortly all be under one roof here at Freemasons’ Hall.

This move will, I believe, bring enormous benefits. I have in mind, for example, increased liaison between the charities themselves and between them and the United Grand Lodge of England, as well as shared resources.

The Rulers’ Forum had its first meeting in December, and from all the comments I have had, it has got off to a good start. I will be happy if it achieves three things.

First, there are many excellent initiatives coming out of London and the Provinces which, because of geographical reasons and lack of communication, are only taken up by a few and not disseminated to a wider audience. The teddy bear children’s hospital scheme is an example of how slowly a good idea percolates through our organisation.

The Rulers’ Forum should act as a central exchange for new ideas.

Secondly, much effort is wasted duplicating things which could be used uniformly by us all. Many Provinces, for instance, have their own booklets for Initiates, Fellow Crafts and Master Masons.

Then there are booklets on the work of the Almoners, Charity Stewards and other Lodge Officers as well as on mentor schemes and our charities.

I believe a lot of effort and cost could be saved if we took the best points from all of them and created something uniform which we could all use.

One group in the Rulers’ Forum is doing just that for mentor schemes, and it will be interesting to see how that develops.

Thirdly, it must act as a forum for grass roots Masons to debate issues, which concern us all, with the Rulers and other senior members of the Craft, and act as a conduit for disseminating the results through their groups to the Lodges.

In the course of the memorable and most enjoyable meeting of the 150th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, where I was present as a guest of their Grand Master, my brother Prince Michael, I had the opportunity to see also many other long established, well-known and respected Orders of Masonry to which many Craft members belong. I believe this may be a good moment for me to say something about them.

The Preliminary Declaration of the Act of of the two Grand Lodges in December 1813, says that it was ‘declared and announced that pure Antient Masonry consists of three degrees and no more’, that is to say ‘Entered Apprentice, the Fellow Craft and the Master Mason, including the Supreme Order of the Holy Royal Arch’.

This has been the position for nearly 200 years and will remain unchanged.

However, since many members of the Craft are members of these Orders, I am pleased to acknowledge formally their existence and regularity, and in particular their sovereignty and independence.

The best known of these orders are:

Mark, Ancient and Accepted Rite, Knights Templar, Royal and Select Masters, Royal Ark Mariner, Red Cross of Constantine, Allied Masonic Degrees, Order of the Secret Monitor and Knight Templar Priests.

I also accept the valuable role they play in providing additional scope for Brethren to extend their Masonic research in interesting and enjoyable ways.

The Orders I have just mentioned are simply the best known and largest of those practised in London, the Provinces and Districts overseas. I am aware that there are in addition others that have a valid place in Freemasonry and with whom we enjoy a good relationship. What is important is that Brethren who join these other Orders still retain their membership of a Craft Lodge, and I am pleased that the Orders will be encouraging their members to do so.

In early March, Brethren, I was in Ghana to celebrate the 50th anniversary of that country’s independence. During my visit I also attended the 75th anniversary of the District Grand Lodge of Ghana. At the meeting, attended by nearly 500 Brethren, I appointed Brother His Majesty Osei Tutu, King of the Ashanti, to Past Senior Grand Deacon and I am pleased to have invested him here today.

Finally, Brethren, I know you would all want me to express our thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the meticulous way in which they have run this meeting, as well as to the Grand Secretary and his staff for their careful and thorough organisation behind the scenes.

Published in Speeches

The Grand Master attended the celebrations of the Mark Degree as John Hamill explains

History was made at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 October when the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, and the Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, in their Craft capacities and regalia officially attended the celebrations of another Masonic Order

The occasion was the 150th anniversary of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons, of which HRH Prince Michael of Kent is Grand Master. Over 5,000 attended the ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall, but such was the call for tickets that over 600 others met in the Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall to watch the proceedings on giant television screens directly linked to the Albert Hall. 

In addition to many Mark Masons, the ceremony was attended by non-Masons and ladies, including the Mark Grand Master’s wife, HRH Princess Michael of Kent, and HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. 

The latter was present as President of the National Osteoporosis Society, to which Mark Grand Lodge, as a tangible celebration of its anniversary, gave a cheque for £3 million. This is to fund a major project to provide mobile diagnostic and treatment facilities to cover areas where reasonable access to hospitals is lacking. 

The ceremony also included a PowerPoint presentation on the history of the Mark Degree by Brother James Daniel (Past Grand Secretary of the Craft), the dedication of special banners for the five Lodges which had formed Mark Grand Lodge in June 1856, and a musical interlude provided by the choir of the Royal Masonic School for Girls and two gifted instrumentalists from the school. 

The ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall was the culmination of a week of celebratory events including a special exhibition mounted at the Library and Museum of Freemasons’ Hall, a dinner at the Guildhall, and a reception for overseas visitors at the Drapers’ Hall. 

A collection of papers was published on various aspects of the Mark by leading Masonic historians under the title Marking Well, edited by Professor Andrew Prescott, of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry at Sheffield University. 

Published in Features
Wednesday, 26 April 2006 10:11

Grand Master’s address - April 2006

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

26 APRIL 2006

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

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture today and I offer my congratulations to all those brethren I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. Your appointment today is not however simply the recognition of the service you have given Freemasonry in the past but, just as importantly, an earnest of the work we expect you to undertake for the future.

The Craft has embraced the policy of openness with increasing optimism and the benefits are becoming ever more visible. 

Nowhere has that openness been more apparent than in our charitable activities. 

The amount of money raised and the donations made to both Masonic and non-Masonic charities has been remarkable, and has contributed significantly to the raising of our profile and our increasing acceptance in the wider community. 

Nevertheless, charity is not just about raising money and making donations to good causes, valuable though these are. It has a broader and deeper purpose. Apart from giving alms and providing help by liberality to those in need or distress, charity is also defined as love of one’s fellow man, as kindness, and as leniency in judging others. 

Some of our more thoughtful members have commented recently that our charitable activities are in danger of becoming onedimensional, whereas real charity, as I have just defined it, is multi-faceted. Many of our brethren and their Lodges already give much of their time to practical charitable work, which is entirely laudable, and must continue. 

But, as Masons we should all try to involve ourselves to a greater extent in activities which bring joy and happiness into the lives of disadvantaged people, and not just assume that a cash donation discharges our obligations. 

Helping those in need or distress therefore has practical as well as financial connotations, but of course taking Masonry into the community through charitable activities means providing tangible assistance to those in need, and that requires time, a commodity that is precious to us all. By the use of time freely given we can show real liberality of spirit to those who need our help. 

We should also spend more time in our assemblies considering the excellences of charity and the lessons it has to teach us as Freemasons, remembering that no less an authority than St. Paul placed charity in front of both faith and hope as the greatest of qualities. 

We are also conscious that Freemasonry rests on the basic tenets of friendship, charity and integrity, which we know as Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth. 

Friendship is the cement which binds us together, integrity is a characteristic which should be inherent in all Freemasons, but charity in all its aspects is the practical application of Freemasonry to the rest of the world. Through our charitable work and our openness about it the world may know the happy and beneficial effects of Freemasonry. 

Brethren, in speaking at some length today about charity I want to stress that we must not fall into the trap of becoming dominated by financial charity, nor even its extension into the aspects of doing good by some practical means, if that leads us to forget that Freemasonry is a system of belief and principle that offers us a framework for the better regulation of our lives. 

Charity is one of the foundations upon which Freemasonry rests, but we must ensure that the other basic tenets are not forgotten or overlooked, and we must look to what observance of all those principles is going to achieve for us. That is the way that we will receive benefit ourselves for what we do for others. 

Brethren, I should like to express my thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies for the efficient manner in which they have conducted our proceedings today. And also to thank the Grand Secretary’s staff, who work so hard behind the scenes to maintain this magnificent building and to ensure that we all enjoy our Freemasonry.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 01 March 2006 13:25

A New Era For London Freemasonry

The streams of Freemasons converging on Kensington for this most momentous of days for English Freemasonry, left leaden-grey skies outside for the glare of the bright lights in the Royal Albert Hall. This historic building last hosted a Grand Lodge gathering in 1967, when the Duke of Kent was first installed as Grand Master. This occasion established another landmark for English Freemasonry – the inauguration of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London. But even the bright lights inside the Royal Albert Hall were eclipsed by the brightness of the enthusiasm among the thousands of Freemasons gathered there.

The Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London was opened with the aplomb that the Grand Chapter team exhibit on all occasions, and Lord Millet was installed as Metropolitan Grand Superintendent by the First Grand Principal, HRH The Duke of Kent. In his address, Lord Millett laid stress on this as the start of a new era, and the opportunities for many more Companions to serve London Royal Arch Freemasonry and to participate more fully. 
More than anything else, it was the thunderous singing of the opening hymn that set the tone for the afternoon by an attendance which had swelled to over 4,500. If it didn’t actually lift the roof off the Royal Albert Hall, it certainly provided some serious competition for the traditional last night of the proms. The ceremony of inauguration of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London was launched by spirited singing of an anthem by the London Masonic Choir, after which the Grand Chaplain delivered an Oration. He spoke of London as a city of contrasts and diversity and said that the same was true of London Freemasonry. In London, as in any masonic community, there were lodges which had allegiance of trade, profession or school. In spite of their diversity, they were all united in the masonic bonds, not only of brotherly love, relief and truth, but also of compassion, so important in Freemasonry, which was not coldly indifferent to the needs of others. He had seen how in Provinces, a Provincial Grand Lodge can add a dimension to the unity of a provincial area, giving it a sense of identity, of its own peculiarity, its own specialness, and so it would be too with London. He finished with two quotations – one from the anthem ‘Behold how good and joyful’ sung earlier, and the other ‘From the foundation laid this evening, may you raise a superstructure perfect in its parts and honourable to the builder’. 
After the Grand Master had installed Lord Millett as Metropolitan Grand Master for London, Lord Millett thanked the Grand Master and his team for the way they had carried out the ceremony. He said how London had always been at the heart of English Freemasonry, and would now face the challenge of developing Freemasonry in London. But there was also a need to adapt to the changed status of London. We had had a tremendous send-off, and it was up to us now, he said. Lord Millett’s first act was to invest and install Russell Race, already well known to many London Freemasons, as Deputy Metropolitan Grand Master.

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