Celebrating 300 years

Made in England

As more events are announced in the build-up to 2017, Coordinator of Tercentenary Planning Keith Gilbert finds out how the commemorative jewel was made

Where do you think the Tercentenary Jewel was made? When this question was posed to 25 brethren from different lodges, 18 answered ‘China’, five said ‘India’ and one chose ‘Poland’. Only one person guessed right: both the jewel and ribbon were made in England.

Following a competitive tender, the United Grand Lodge of England commissioned Toye, Kenning & Spencer to take the ideas of the jewel committee, which sits within the Tercentenary Planning Committee, and produce the Tercentenary Jewel.

Established in 1685, Toye, Kenning & Spencer is one of the oldest family businesses in the UK, manufacturing for more than 300 years.

I visited its Bedworth factory near Coventry to see the ribbon woven and the hand stitching of this ribbon on to the jewel. I also saw one of the Jacquard looms still operating and weaving the material for the sash to be worn by Royal Arch Companions. The loom was made by a Coventry firm in 1890 and still works efficiently today.

The metalwork manufacturing of the four versions of the Tercentenary Jewel took place in the heart of Birmingham’s jewellery quarter. I had made an assumption that the gilt metal jewel was pressed out in three pieces and enamelled in an oven, with the ribbon stitched by machine. I was astounded to see the 50-plus processes used to make this basic version. The six-piece silver and gold versions involved even more processes.

To date, about 6,110 gilt metal, 597 silver gilt and 14 gold versions of the Tercentenary Jewel have been ordered and it is anticipated that with the start of the new masonic season further orders will flood in.

Event planning

Arrangements for the celebrations at the Royal Albert Hall and Battersea Evolution are progressing well. Metropolitan, Provincial and District Grand Masters now know their allocation of places at both venues.

It is for them to decide who will obtain places and there is plenty of time for this, as we do not need to know until the end of the first quarter of 2017.

The theatrical extravaganza being choreographed for the day, which will then be streamed for those not lucky enough to obtain a seat, will be a special part of the day. More information on all aspects of this event will be circulated nearer the time.

There have been many more Metropolitan, Provincial and District events added to the calendar. There are exhibitions at Reading Museum and the Museum of Norwich, as well as the opening of the Surrey Travelling Exhibition of Freemasonry in Woking; the District of Madras is celebrating Freemasonry in India; a 300-mile bike ride is starting from the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, finishing at Freemasons’ Hall, London; a musical/gala dinner in The Hong Kong Club is being organised by the District of Hong Kong and the Far East; there will be services in Salisbury, St David’s in Pembrokeshire, Leicester and Chelmsford cathedrals; there will be an Essex musical gala in the Grand Temple; and a gala dinner in Sindlesham.

Lodge celebrations indicate how our brethren wish to show their support for the Tercentenary. The Master of the Lodge of Good Intention, No. 6927, meeting in Barnstaple, has chartered MS Oldenburg, a beautiful seagoing vessel that regularly makes the journey between the mainland and Lundy Island.

Brethren and their families are being invited from the 12 lodges that meet in north Devon for a river cruise out of Bideford in August 2017. The ship has been tastefully modernised, but retains her original panelling and brass fittings below decks. The Worshipful Master of Mercury Lodge, No. 7289, is holding his Ladies Festival in Bournemouth on 24 June 2017, and is raising funds for Marie Curie and Combat Stress. And Paynters Stainers Lodge, No. 4256, will hold a White Table with families and friends. The celebrations will be held at Painters’ Hall in November 2017 with entertainment provided by The Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

I am sure there are many more local and lodge-centred celebrations planned, so please email updates to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The new Craft tie

At Quarterly Communication in June, the Pro Grand Master announced the introduction of a new Craft tie. The introduction of a tie very different from the present Craft tie could have been seen as an imposition so soon after the introduction of the current version. However, the only change being made is the replacement of the square and compasses with the new logo, making this a seamless move to the adoption of the new logo. The old Craft tie is no longer being made, and the new tie is now available. However, both are acceptable for wearing in Grand Lodge or elsewhere as worn previously.

Published in UGLE
Thursday, 06 March 2014 00:00

A University Lodges' Ball to remember

Social highlights

Held at the end of 2013, the University Lodges’ Ball not only harks back to a bygone era of masonic tradition but also shows the modern face of Freemasonry 

Recalling a time when the masonic lodges of the universities of Oxford and Cambridge staged lavish social events, the University Lodges’ Ball, sponsored by Aerice, was held on 23 November in the glamorous surroundings of the Honourable Artillery Company’s Armoury House. Hosted by the university lodges in conjunction with Freemasons from across London, the night proved to be a glittering celebration of masonic social tradition. 

In the autumn of 2012, the Secretaries of Apollo University Lodge, No. 357, and Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Chris Noon and Alistair Townsend, both – independently – had the idea of reviving the ball tradition. ‘We used to hold balls every year or two in the nineteenth century and we realised that 2013 would be the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the greatest ball that we ever held: the Grand Ball, which was in commemoration of the wedding of the Prince of Wales and Princess Alexandra of Denmark, both of whom attended the event,’ explains Chris. 

Held by Apollo in 1863 at Christ Church, attendance at the Grand Ball was large and the catering was lavish. After World War II, however, Freemasonry followed the rest of the country into austerity and the balls fell into abeyance. Chris and Alistair decided to plan a grand event so that the masonic ball might regain its rightful place as the highlight of the social calendar.

With five hundred and fifty guests attending, the ball featured the best of British music, entertainment and hospitality, and also raised money for military charity Combat Stress and the Royal College of Surgeons. ‘We are delighted to be able to benefit from this amazing event,’ says Uta Hope, director of fundraising and communications at Combat Stress.

Shropshire’s Freemasons gave over £40,000 to 49 local and regional charities at a special presentation on Monday, 10th June

Awards included £5,000 to the Midlands Air Ambulance, £1,000 each to Shrewsbury MENCAP, SSAFA Forces Help (Shropshire Branch), Macmillan Cancer Support and the Midlands Centre for Spinal Injuries. Hope House Children’s Hospice received £1,500 and Combat Stress £1,000. The Severn Hospice at Shrewsbury and Telford, which both received major grants last year, were each given £1,500.

Many smaller grants were also made to local charities which struggle to match the profile of larger national organisations. The Shrewsbury Ark, which cares for homeless people, Shropshire MIND, local Scouts and Guides and the Movement Centre each received £500. Donations were also made to Shrewsbury Street Pastors, the Friends of Whitchurch Community Hospital and the Shrewsbury Children’s Bookfest. In most cases the cheques were received by representatives of the charities, who spoke – occasionally very movingly – of the difference these grants would make to their work.

Provincial Grand Master Peter Taylor explained the importance of these grants to Freemasons.

'All of the money distributed today has been raised from within our own membership – the majority by the 1,300 Freemasons in Shropshire. Over the years we have developed strong links with many of charities – both great and small – which benefit our community. Some of our members have very compelling personal reasons to support these good causes, and we believe that these donations show Freemasonry to be a real power for good both in Shropshire and in the wider world.'

The continuing work of Shropshire’s Freemasons can be seen on twitter by following @ShropshireMason

Having a ball

Apollo University Lodge, No. 357 (Oxford), and Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859 (Cambridge), invite all masons and friends to the University Lodges’ Ball on 23 November 2013 in the unique setting of Armoury House, London. This collaboration marks the 150th anniversary of the Grand Ball held by Apollo for the Prince of Wales (later Grand Master and King Edward VII), in celebration of his marriage to Alexandra of Denmark.

This year, the committee is raising money for the Supreme Grand Chapter Bicentenary Appeal and Combat Stress. For tickets and details, visit www.universitylodgesball.com

Published in Universities Scheme

A year to remember

With the help of Freemasons around the country, the Grand Charity provides an invaluable service to those in need

For many people 2012 will be a year to remember, from visions of bunting and the Queen’s Jubilee to the sporting excellence of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Yet many people struggled due to financial problems, illness or other difficult circumstances. The Grand Charity exists to help these people in need – Freemasons, their families or the wider community – and 2012 was no exception.

Masonic relief

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity received over two thousand applications for financial assistance and approved support of more than £5 million. The charity noted a continued increase in applications from younger members facing redundancy and business difficulties due to the economic crisis.

Support for the wider community

The charity provided £2.5 million in funding for non-masonic charitable causes. This included continued support for research into age-related deafness; support for ex-Armed Service personnel with grants for Help for Heroes and Combat Stress; and support for projects that tackle youth unemployment, which grew to 20.5 per cent in 2012.

Air Ambulances

2012 saw the Grand Charity celebrate more than £1 million in grants to the Air Ambulances and equivalent services since 2007. These grants provide funding for what is considered to be the country’s busiest voluntary emergency service. In 2012, each Provincial and Metropolitan Grand Lodge presented a share of £192,000 to its local service.

Hospice services

In 2012, £600,000 was distributed amongst two hundred and thirty-nine hospice services, bringing the total given since 1984 to £9.9 million.

We hope it is clear how valuable the work of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity is. The impact achieved through its funding might be difficult to measure, but it is immense. It is only thanks to the support of the Freemasons and their families that the charity is able to make such a contribution to people’s lives.

The grants listed above are only a small selection of charitable causes that have been assisted by Freemasons through the Grand Charity in 2012; a full list is available to view at www.grandcharity.org

Enclosed within this issue of Freemasonry Today you will find the Grand Charity’s Annual Review 2012 – we hope you enjoy reading it.

Published in The Grand Charity

ugle logo          SGC logo