Celebrating 300 years

Warrington masonic museum officially opened

Tony Harrison, Provincial Grand Master for West Lancashire, has opened the Warrington Museum of Freemasonry at Warrington Masonic Hall. Vic Charlesworth started the collection in 2010 with just one cupboard in the hall, but over the past few years many more exhibits have been donated – including rare and unusual jewels that were unknown to the Library and Museum in London.

There is now an impressive collection of jewels from every Warrington lodge on display, and volumes of masonic books and literature – which Vic is in the process of documenting – are available for research.

Varsity scheme is 10

Universities Scheme President David Williamson, Chairman Edward Lord, and past and present members of the committee came together in January with Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes and many other senior Freemasons to celebrate the scheme’s first decade of existence and hard work.  

With the initiative having grown from two lodges to 62 since its inception, and currently expanding into the Royal Arch, it has achieved much, with some lodges now being specifically consecrated as Universities Scheme lodges. Its fifth National Conference will be held in Leicester in November.

Published in Universities Scheme

In the spotlight

Opening in June, the Library and Museum’s latest exhibition looks at the longstanding links between Freemasonry and entertainment

 The association between Freemasonry and the entertainment profession during the Victorian period is well known. The connection was embodied by men such as Sir Augustus Harris (1852-1896), actor and theatrical impresario, lodge founder and Grand Treasurer. 

He and his circle of theatrical figures feature in a revealing press cartoon from 1891 (above). 

Harris was particularly associated with the Drury Lane Theatre, where he staged elaborate pantomimes. He was a founder of Drury Lane Lodge, No. 2127, in 1885, which met in the theatre itself. After his death in 1896 at the age of 44, his wife married Edward O’Connor Terry, another actor, theatre proprietor and Freemason. Terry’s initials are shown entwined on the founder’s jewel for the lodge that was formed in 1898 and named after him. 

Terry was a Past Master of Lodge of Asaph, No. 1319, which formed in 1870 and met in the afternoons to permit its membership of musicians and actors to continue with their regular jobs in orchestras and theatre in the evenings. 

Spotlight: Freemasons and Entertainment 

The exhibition runs from 8 June 2015 to 13 February 2016, Monday–Friday, 10am–5pm. 

Admission is free

Published in More News

Helping the Hindu community

The Hindu Community Plymouth received a donation from the William Alexander Kneel Endowment (WAKE) Fund to purchase an effigy (not pictured) of the Lord Shiva, for use in the Plymouth crematoriums. The WAKE Fund was set up in memory of a former Devonshire Provincial Grand Master to deliver aid to local organisations. Members of Victory Lodge, No. 4189, were invited to attend and participate in the blessing of the effigy, which has a brass plaque stating that it has been donated by Devonshire Freemasons.

Grand organ rings out again

The final part of the renovation of the Willis organ in the Grand Temple has been completed, with the front panel of the console now in place. The refurbished organ was played for the first time at the two Investiture meetings in April.

The organ was renovated at the Harrison & Harrison workshop in Durham before being reinstalled in the Grand Temple in January 2015. In the meantime, the new case was built over the console on the east wall. Project Manager Charles Grace thanked the craftsmen who worked on the organ and said: ‘I hope it will be used for many recitals in the years ahead.’ The inaugural concert will be given by the celebrated organist Thomas Trotter on 30 September.

Tickets for this event are now sold out.

Published in More News

Helping with sight loss in the uk

Hampshire and Isle of Wight PGM Michael Wilks presented a cheque for £50,000 from The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to the Macular Society to roll out the Daily Living Champions volunteer scheme across the UK. Daily Living Champions demonstrate high- and low-tech equipment that can help people affected by sight loss to complete tasks that others take for granted. 

Age-related macular degeneration affects central vision and is the most common cause of sight loss in the UK. The Macular Society helps anyone affected by central vision loss, and its 15,000 members make it the largest patient group in the sight loss sector.

The Freemasons' Grand Charity has donated £50,000 to the Red Cross in response to the earthquake that has devastated Nepal this weekend

So far it has been reported that over 3,700 people have been killed and over 6,500 are injured. The earthquake, the worst to have hit in 81 years, measured 7.9 on the Richter Scale and struck the Kathmandu Valley at 6am on 25 April. More than 70 aftershocks have been felt and are still continuing, with further damage still a threat. It is estimated that 2 million people have been affected and 1.6 million displaced.

As search and rescue efforts continue, hospitals in the capital continue to function but are stretched to the limit. The humanitarian situation in towns and villages closer to the epicentre and beyond the Kathmandu valley is a major concern. Accessibility to and information from remote affected areas are major challenges, hampering search and rescue and relief efforts.

More information about the Red Cross relief efforts: http://www.redcross.org.uk/About-us/News/2015/April/After-the-earthquake-appeal-launched-for-Nepal 

Published in The Grand Charity

The members of the Lodge of Concord No. 343 celebrated the bi-centenary of its consecration

The lodge was honoured by the attendance of the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence, accompanied by other distinguished brethren, including the Provincial Grand Master, Tony Harrison who was supported by his Provincial team. Also in attendance were 130 members and visitors.

After welcoming the assembled brethren, the lodge was opened in due form by the WM, Ray Thompson, following which, the dispensation calling the meeting was read by the lodge secretary.

Following transaction of the normal business, the lodge was raised to the third degree. The PrGDC, Keith Kemp entered the lodge to announce the attendance of the PrGM, Anthony Harrison. Tony, accompanied by an entourage of acting Provincial grand officers, was admitted and formally welcomed into the lodge by the WM. Salutations were then given under the direction of Keith Kemp.

The Acting Grand Director of Ceremonies, Stephen Blank entered the lodge to announce the presence of the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence, who entered the lodge accompanied by a Provincial escort of distinguished brethren and other grand officers. Salutations were then given under the direction of Stephen Blank.

The lodge returned to the first degree before lodge member, Melvyn Carter, rose to give a short history of the lodge. The presentation proved both interesting and informative and was well received by the brethren.

Stephen collected the bi-centenary warrant from the secretary’s table and presented it to Jonathan for confirmation of its validity. The brethren were invited to rise as the warrant was read to the assembled brethren by the Assistant Grand Secretary, Shaun Christie, who concluded by returning the warrant to Jonathon for him to make the official presentation to the worshipful master. Having accepted the warrant, Ray was then presented with a centenary jewel embellished with the bi-centenary bar.

There then followed a captivating oration, delivered without notes, by the Acting Grand Chaplain, Rev Harry Ross. He began by referring to his school motto, translated as: “Look to the past, look to the present and look to the future.” He reminded brethren that many things change with time and we as individuals should look to avoid repeating the bad things that have happened in the past and seek to improve on the good things that have also occurred. What we do today sets things for the future. Harry concluded his oration with solemn prayer.

The WM then had the pleasure of presenting Tony with a cheque for £2,343 in favour of the West Lancashire Freemason’ Charity. He commented that the cheque was the culmination of a number of years of charitable collecting and giving in the name of that charity that has been carried by the lodge since it announced its intention to begin planning for the bi-centenary. Ray continued by saying that during the last 10 years the lodge had become a Grand Patron of the 2010 Festival donating in excess of £22,500 to the WLFC and, in addition, had passed monies to the Preston Masonic Fellowship and the Masonic hall. A further £7,200 had also been donated to non-Masonic charities that included the North West Air Ambulance, the Girl Guide Association and the Rosemere Cancer Foundation. In summing up, Ray announced that, excluding the cheque that had just been presented, over the last 10 years the lodge had collected and dispersed a grand total of £31,700 to worthy causes.

Ray then announced that although the lodge charitable giving was complete for the evening, the lodge donations were not. He understood that the Masonic hall was about to launch an appeal for funds to help cover the cost of a major and necessary refurbishment of the hall roof. He then invited the Masonic Hall chairman, Terry McGill, to step forward and accept a cheque to the value of £1,000 as the starting donation for the appeal.

At the risings, prior to the formal closing of the lodge, Jonathan responded on behalf of the grand officers, Tony on behalf of the Provincial officers and the WM of the Setantia Lodge of Installed Masters No 7755, Bob Poole, responded on behalf of all the visitors all, of whom commended the lodge on its achievements over the last 200 years.

Later in the evening at the celebration banquet, in response to the toast to the grand officers, Jonathan began by relating some of the events occurring in 1814, the year of the lodge’s consecration; a year when the Times of London was first printed on steam driven presses. He went on to say that this was his first visit to West Lancashire as a ruler in the Craft. He also congratulated Shaun Christie for the excellent manner he had read and delivered the contents of the warrant. Thanks also went to Stephen Blank for his control of the proceedings as the Acting Grand Director of Ceremonies and to the Rev Harry Ross for his extremely powerful and thought provoking oration.

Jonathan continued by reminding brethren of the need to get younger men involved in Freemasonry and that lodges need to recognise and be sympathetic to the demands placed on young men as they develop their working careers. He emphasised that there is no such thing as a Masonic career. As members progress they may be asked to take on a responsibility that they would hopefully carry out to the best of their ability. This may lead to further opportunities within the Masonic community that should in no way be considered as a career path.

Jonathan concluded by saying he was delighted to be with Tony and his Provincial team on this auspicious occasion and wished him and the Province of West Lancashire well for the future. He closed by proposing a toast to the health of Tony that was followed by sustained applause from the brethren.

In his response, Tony thanked Jonathan for his kind words saying he was pleased to welcome him to West Lancashire. He thanked Jonathan and his colleagues, Stephen and Shaun for sparing the time to travel to Preston to attend and take part in the ceremony, a ceremony that represented a special day for the Lodge of Concord.

Tony continued by saying the brethren in 1814 could not have foreseen the future leading to this bi-centenary event. He congratulated the lodge on its achievement thanking the lodge for the support it has given down the years and continues to give to the Preston group today.

He suggested that, in this age of electronic communication, all Freemasons should communicate with Grand Lodge with suggestions and ideas to enable Freemasonry to keep up with the times.

He went on to thank the lodge members for the charitable donation made in the lodge and thanked the Provincial team for their support and attendance.

Tony concluded by wishing everyone all the best for the future and above all to continue to enjoy their Masonry to the full. He closed by proposing a toast to the Lodge of Concord No 343.

In his response, Ray, as the WM, thanked Jonathan for his attendance and the Provincial team for their support with particular thanks to the Provincial Grand Secretary, Peter Taylor, for his response to the numerous lodge requests for information during the build up to the celebration.

Turning to the lodge members he expressed special thanks to Bob Dickinson who, despite recently retiring as the lodge secretary, continued his work in organising the event. He reminded brethren that, excluding Setantia, Concord is the largest lodge in the Preston group and concluded by thanking all the visiting brethren for their attendance.

During the banquet proceedings, to serve as a memento of the occasion, hard backed bound copies of the 200 year lodge history were distributed to all those present.

The evening closed with the Provincial Grand Tyler, Frank Kennedy, proposing the Tyler’s toast.

 

Friday, 06 March 2015 00:00

Creating a new charity for Freemasonry

Helping together

In an open letter, the presidents and chief executives of the four masonic charities explain how combining their efforts under a single entity will enable better support for masons, their families and the wider community

‘The future of the charities is fundamental to the existence and success of Freemasonry,’ commented then Assistant Grand Master Lord Cornwallis following the 1973 Bagnall Report into the work of masonic charity. 

Cornwallis’ statement remains as true today as it did then, and it has been firmly in the minds of the presidents, trustees and chief executives of the four central masonic charities as they have undertaken a further major review. 

The charities each offer a specific area of support to Freemasons and their families. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity supports Freemasons and their dependants in financial need; the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys helps children and young people from masonic families in distress; the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution provides residential care; and the Masonic Samaritan Fund offers access to a range of health-related services.

Change and cooperation

Throughout their long history, the charities have supported hundreds of thousands of Freemasons and their families. They have also demonstrated their willingness to embrace change as both society and Freemasonry have evolved. 

Since co-locating to Freemasons’ Hall, the divisions between the four charities have lessened. However, the presidents remain focused on considering a more effective way of providing the best possible support to the Craft. 

Following an extensive review, the presidents are proposing that all charitable activities should be consolidated to form a new, single charity to support Freemasons, their families and the wider community. 

The charities have a positive record of working closely together. They have already aligned some of their charitable support activities, and created a unified advice and support team to assist those seeking help. The amalgamation of many administrative functions has also reduced duplication, creating a more streamlined service for beneficiaries and donors without compromising their full range of support. 

Despite increased cooperation and cross-charity initiatives such as Freemasonry Cares, the continuing existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – has hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. This causes problems for those who need to apply to more than one charity, as they may be required to meet differing criteria and receive separate payments for each type of support. 

The presidents’ recommendation for a single charity will further reduce duplication and move towards the provision of a ‘whole-family, cradle-to-grave’ approach. Freemasons and their families will continue to benefit from the current full range of assistance through a simpler and more readily accessible process. 

The presidents and trustees are committed to maintaining the valuable contribution that the charities make to the wider community. Collectively, millions of pounds are awarded each year to a huge range of local, national and international causes, yet masonic generosity remains a largely untold story. Combining the non-masonic activities of the charities would enable a more effective way of demonstrating that Freemasons care about the wider world.

Fundraising impact

The presidents also considered the impact that a single charity would have on fundraising. Through successive generations, support has been received from masonic donors, Festival Appeals and in many other ways, such as legacies. The charities continue to rely on the generosity of Freemasons for the majority of their income and are extremely grateful for every donation. 

Maintaining four separate charities, however, means that funds are ring-fenced for individual charitable purposes. For example, funds raised for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys can only be used to support children and young people. A single charity with a combined, wider remit could channel support to where it is most needed. 

The recommendations confirm that Festival Appeals will continue to be the principal mechanism for raising funds. Appeals concluding up to and including 2021 will continue to benefit the existing charities. Festivals concluding from 2022 onwards will benefit the new single charity and its wider remit. 

As Festival Appeals are typically held for five years, a period of transition will be necessary with appeals for the existing charities and the new charity running simultaneously. Donors can be reassured that all donations to the existing charities will continue to be used solely for the purpose for which they were originally given. 

As reported by the Pro Grand Master at the Quarterly Communication in December 2014, the Grand Master and Provincial Grand Masters have received a comprehensive briefing on the review. The Grand Master and all those who have been briefed have given their full support to the proposal. The next step is for each charity to invite their members to consider the proposals. 

Over the coming months, each of the charities will make its own plans to ensure that its members are fully consulted on the proposals. The presidents and trustees hope that members of their charities will share the enthusiasm for the proposed way forward. 

The presidents are determined to retain the involvement of members of the Craft in governance arrangements. The final membership structure is yet to be confirmed, but the vision includes an effective means for the Craft to play a part in the future of the charity. 

Should the proposals be approved, it is envisaged that the new charity will become operational during 2016, beginning a new chapter in the long and proud history of masonic charity. 

The proposals: a singular vision

· The presidents of the central masonic charities have recommended that the charities be consolidated into a new, single organisation. 

· The new charity will provide the full range of support currently available to Freemasons and their families. 

· A new name (yet to be determined) will be given to the consolidated charity, which will support both masonic and non-masonic giving. 

· The new charity will become operational in 2016. 

· All Festivals concluding in 2022 and beyond will support the new charity, with existing Festival Appeals continuing as planned. 

· A single president, trustee board, chief executive and staff will administer the new charity, with members of the Craft included in its governance.

‘Throughout their long history, the charities have demonstrated their willingness to embrace change as both society and Freemasonry have evolved.’

Letters to the Editor - No. 30 Summer 2015

Charitable support

Sir,

I found the initiative [the proposal of a single masonic charity] of the presidents and chief executives of our four charities very encouraging. As a fumbling almoner, I have struggled from time to time deciding as to where I should be directing my enquiries. I have always found the staff very helpful, but I am sure that an efficient single enquiry channel must be of benefit, not only to us, but to the cause of efficiency within the organisation.

We all love our charities and will, I am sure, continue to support them in whatever form they eventually finish up, but times change and we have to change with them. 

I wish the charities a happy and successful outcome to their deliberations.

Peter Dodd, Old Epsomian Lodge, No. 3561, London

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Rochdale’s temple to Freemasonry

The Church of St Edmund is the only known church building in England overtly dedicated to masonic symbolism. John Hamill profiles Albert Hudson Royds, the Rochdale Freemason who made this possible

The growing industrialisation of the nineteenth century allowed many men to make fortunes. Some then looked for ways of putting something back into their communities, taking on voluntary positions and involving themselves in charities. 

One such individual was Albert Hudson Royds (1811-1890).

The Royds family traced their ancestry back to the Halifax area of West Yorkshire in the 1300s. They developed as yeoman farmers, became involved in the wool industry, and had comfortable livings. In the 1780s Albert’s grandfather, James, moved to Rochdale in Lancashire where he bought the Brownhill estate and later built his own house, Mount Falinge, with an eighteen-acre park, on the outskirts of Rochdale. 

James became involved in the planning and financing of the Rochdale canal and the family prospered to the extent that in 1827 Albert’s father, Clement Royds, was able to buy the Rawson & Co. banking house, also known as the Rochdale Bank.

Albert Royds was born at Mount Falinge in 1811 and educated in Rochdale and London. His long connection with Freemasonry began in 1847, when he was initiated in Lodge of Benevolence, No. 226, meeting at Littleborough. Promotion was rapid and he became Master in 1849, serving for two years. Promotion in the Province of East Lancashire was equally swift as he served as Provincial Junior Grand Warden from 1850 to 1856, then Deputy Provincial Grand Master from 1856 to 1866. 

On moving to Worcestershire in 1856, Royds joined Worcester Lodge, No. 280, and in 1857 was appointed Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Worcestershire, holding office until 1866 when he was appointed both Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch. 

In 1878, Royds had to resign his high offices in Worcestershire after he became incapacitated as a result of losing the use of his legs. This was the long-term result of an attack he and his brother suffered when returning on horseback to Rochdale late one evening. Both sustained serious injuries, resulting in their attackers being transported to a penal colony. A combination of this and the death of his daughter caused Royds’ removal back to the family in Rochdale.

A monument to morals

It is clear from his diaries and letters, along with comments from those who knew him, that Royds was a man of great faith and high moral standards. His monument is the Church of St Edmund at Falinge, a memorial to his parents and described by art critic Sir Nikolaus Pevsner as ‘Rochdale’s temple to Freemasonry, a total concept as exotic as Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland’.

Built between 1870 and 1873 in the Gothic Revival style to designs by Manchester architects James Medland and Henry Taylor, St Edmund is replete with masonic symbolism. No expense was spared in the building, which cost Royds about £25,000 at a time when the average cost of a church was £4,000. Built at a crossroads on the highest point in Rochdale, it dominated the town. 

The exterior stonework, capitals of the interior supporting pillars and hammer-beam roof all have masonic symbols, but the glory is the stained glass. The windows on the south side are dedicated to building and Freemasonry, culminating in the east window, a depiction of the building of King Solomon’s temple at Jerusalem. 

The central panel shows the three Grand Masters studying the plan of the temple, the head of Hiram Abiff, its chief architect, being a portrait of Royds himself. The side panels show operative stone masons preparing the stone for the temple and the dedication of the completed building. In the Royds Chapel, windows show the scribes Ezra and Nehemiah and a lodge Tyler.

Royds’ two sons had followed him into Freemasonry and presented the font and lectern, both carved with masonic symbols, to the church. The lectern is formed of three brass pillars of the Doric, Ionic and Corinthian Orders, the bases of which are decorated with the jewels of the Master and Wardens of a lodge: the square, level and plumb rule. The Bible is supported on a large square and compasses enclosing a five-pointed star.

Sadly, the congregation of the Church of St Edmund declined and it was closed in 2007. Originally a Grade II* listed building, its importance was recognised when it was raised to Grade I status in 2011. There was considerable concern as to its future but that became assured when the building was acquired by The Churches Conservation Trust. With a major restoration project now under way, the church can be visited on the first and third Saturday of the month.

To support the restoration, please go to www.visitchurches.org.uk/savestedmunds

 ‘Rochdale’s temple to Freemasonry, a total concept as exotic as Rosslyn Chapel in Scotland.’ Sir Nikolaus Pevsner

Royds of Rochdale

1827: Aged sixteen, Albert Hudson Royds joined the family bank and, as his father’s public and political career took off, gradually took over its management. He became part of the Rochdale Development Commission and used his own and the bank’s resources to invest in roads, waterways and the early railways. 

1839: Married Susan Eliza, heiress to Robert and Susan Nuttall of Kempsey House near Worcester. 

1844: Joined the Duke of Lancaster’s Own Yeomanry, raising its Rochdale troop and commanding them for seven years. He founded the Lyceum, an educational establishment in Rochdale.

1853: Became a Justice of the Peace for the County Palatine. 

1855: Left the bank and bought an estate, Crown East, near Worcester, and began life as a landowner and gentleman farmer. He rebuilt the house and provided cottages and a church for the estate workers. 

1856: Petitioned for Rochdale to be incorporated and was elected the first representative for the Spotland Ward, as well as  one of the first Aldermen. He narrowly missed out on being elected the first mayor.

1865: Became High Sheriff of Worcestershire. 

1869: Sold Crown East and moved to another estate, Ellerslie, near Malvern. 

1878: Moved back to Rochdale where he remained until his death, except for a period in the 1880s when he moved to Lytham for health reasons.

Letters to the Editor - No. 30 Summer 2015

A temple to Freemasonry

Sir,

Readers who enjoyed John Hamill’s article on St Edmund’s might be interested in some additional background. After long conversations when The Churches Conservation Trust first took over St Edmund’s, we were able to visit it. 

At this time the trust was not aware of the depth of masonic overtones in the fabric and history of the building.

When we pointed some of these out they were very interested and allowed us to take photographs. Dawn Lancaster from the trust was impressed with our work and paid for us to go to London to give a talk at one of their events. We later received a letter from Loyd Grossman, chairman of the trust, thanking us for our work.

We decided to do an event for the church and after delivering our lecture four times in one day, we were amazed to note from the visitors’ book that all the locals, including many from the Muslim community of the area, had shown interest in what the church is about. The local interest, with the help of the parishioners, meant artefacts and banners that had been missing started to reappear and the church is now beautiful.

We have since promoted the church throughout Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Scotland and elsewhere with the support of the Provincial Grand Master and Assistant Provincial Grand Master in both Craft and Mark Degrees.

A Friends of St Edmund’s Church group has also been formed, attracting interest from around the world, and on open days we give our lecture. At Christmas we delivered our lecture to a full church with a 21-piece brass band.  

Albert Blurton, Lodge of Peace, No. 322, Stockport, Cheshire; and  Bernard Rourke, Lewis Lodge, No. 4371, Stockport, Cheshire

Published in Features
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