In the bright sunshine, Exeter Cathedral was the picturesque setting as 800 Devonshire Freemasons, dressed in regalia, made their way to the Tercentenary Service of Thanksgiving with their families to celebrate 300 years since the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge
The Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire RW Bro Ian Kingsbury and his Executive were accompanied by the Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton and the Grand Chancellor Derek Dinsmore, as well as the Lord Lieutenant of Devon, the Lord Mayor of Exeter and Vice Chairman of the County Council.
The Tercentenary Service of Thanksgiving was held on the anniversary date of the formation of the United Grand Lodge of England on June 24th 1717.
Masonic bell ringers led by James Kirkcaldy heralded the service, as 32 lodges displayed their beautiful banners while the full choir of Exeter Cathedral took them through a truly masonic service of Thanksgiving.
There were many highlights including the readings by the PGM and Executive and the Tercentenary Oration given by W Bro Reuben Ayres which detailed the exciting journey Freemasonry has made in the last 300 years.
Please scroll through the gallery at the top to view all the photos from the service
United Grand Lodge of England seeks a Senior Assistant to work in the Grand Chancellor’s Office.
Grand Lodge recognises nearly 200 Grand Lodges around the world. This role will work in the Grand Chancellor’s Office which manages relations with Foreign Grand Lodges on behalf of the Board of General Purposes. The role will suit someone with a keen interest in international relations.
- Organising meetings and taking minutes of the External Relations Committee
- Researching and drafting speeches for the Grand Chancellor
- Preparing reports and policy papers
- General day-to-day management of the office
- Building a network of overseas contacts and welcoming senior members of foreign Grand Lodges when they visit London
Must have skills
- Candidates should be graduates with a good command of English and possibly other European languages
- Good communication skills are essential together with the ability to work as part of a dedicated team
- Knowledge and practical experience of Freemasonry essential
Competitive salary and terms package applies.
To apply please send your CV and covering letter to:
Head of HR
United Grand Lodge of England
60 Great Queen Street
CV’s received without a covering letter will not be considered.
Closing date for applications is 24th March 2017
The guardian of regularity
Treading a fine line between advice and interference, Derek Dinsmore’s position as Grand Chancellor is akin to that of Foreign Secretary when it comes to working with Grand Lodges around the world
When did you become a Freemason?
I was initiated in 1970 in the Midlands at Chevron Lodge, No. 6021, where I was also involved with rugby. I played for a club up there and the president of the Worcestershire and Herefordshire Rugby Union proposed me into his lodge. I was in the fashion business and had to come back to London, where I was starting my own business, and I was then asked to go through the Chair. I had control of my own diary, so I was able to go up to their meetings on a Friday. My wife was from Birmingham, so it matched up with weekends when she would go back to see her mother.
In London, I joined the Rose Croix in 1980 and was Grand Director of Ceremonies for 10 years. By that time, I was working with a German company, looking after the promotion of their products in the UK and Ireland. I retired when I was 58 and started to focus more on my Freemasonry. I was then offered the position of Grand Chancellor at Grand Lodge, taking over from Alan Englefield, who was my predecessor, in 2012.
Why was the position of Grand Chancellor created in 2007?
The relationship between our Provinces, Districts and all the overseas Grand Lodges that we recognise used to come under the responsibility of the Grand Secretary. However, with things like the break-up of the Eastern Bloc in the 1990s, the Grand Secretary had to spend an increasing amount of time dealing with urgent external relations as more Grand Lodges sought recognition, sometimes to the detriment of other matters under his care.
The Rulers and the Board of General Purposes therefore decided to relieve the Grand Secretary of the pressure of external relations and created the office of Grand Chancellor in 2007. I’m responsible for overseas relations, not our Districts, and with Grand Lodge now recognising 197 Grand Lodges around the world, there is a lot to deal with.
Of course, I always knew through my days in Rose Croix at Duke Street [in London] of the regard in which the United Grand Lodge of England was held. However, it wasn’t until I started doing this job that I realised quite how high a position we have in the world as the ‘Mother Grand Lodge’. Each Grand Lodge is sovereign, but we do get asked for advice a lot and we have to be very careful in the way that we conduct ourselves.
On the whole, everybody wants to be on side and wants to keep it that way. Generally, that’s the role of the Grand Chancellor – to be seen, to be spoken to, to give advice when asked, and to promote regular Freemasonry worldwide. The biggest problem we’ve got is not regular Freemasonry but irregular Freemasonry. That’s becoming more and more of an issue with things like the internet. With so many voices on the web, people don’t know the difference between regular and irregular Freemasonry.
So is your role to make sure Grand Lodges stick to the rules?
There are principles in our Book of Constitutions that we would call ‘regularity’. If somebody asks me why does UGLE recognise another Grand Lodge the answer would be because we are happy with its regularity and that we would be content for our members to inter-visit with their members. However, there are lots of Grand Lodges, or bodies calling themselves Grand Lodges, around the world that don’t comply with our rules of regularity. They might have mixed lodges, not believe in the great architect of the universe, get involved in politics or religion – things that we would call ‘irregular’.
I’m convinced that the reason that we are going to celebrate our Tercentenary this year is because we’ve not got involved in politics and religion over time; otherwise I think it would have been the end of English Freemasonry. So we have to be careful, and that’s what we’re really trying to do, trying to promote regular Freemasonry. If there is more than one Grand Lodge in a jurisdiction that applies to us for recognition then, provided that the two agree to share the territory or jurisdiction, we would consider recognising them as regular bodies.
‘It was always a question of when, rather than if, we would re-recognise the Grand Loge Nationale Française’
How do you approach your role?
The best bit of advice I was ever given when I first started travelling for Duke Street, around 16 years ago, was that once you’d flown over the Isle of Wight, forget what goes on in English Freemasonry. It’s not about implementing or taking a set of working practices out to other Grand Lodges. Every single one is entirely sovereign and nobody can tell it what to do.
After every trip as Grand Chancellor I make a report. There is also a group of people behind me, I’m not pushed out there on my own. I report to the External Relations Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Board of General Purposes, and I’m also on the Board of General Purposes itself.
If we consider that a Grand Lodge’s practices are irregular, then we’ve only really got two courses of action. One is to suspend relations and the other is, as a last resort, to withdraw recognition. Because of the respect and recognition that UGLE has, just being able to do that does give it power, which is why there is a fine line between advice and interference – you’ve got to tread a fairly careful road.
What happened in France in 2009?
The Grand Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) was formed more than a 100 years ago, and we never considered its members or lodges to be irregular. It was only the behaviour of the then Grand Master that we felt was bringing Freemasonry into disrepute. We made representations, but nothing changed. We then suspended relations, so members of lodges under UGLE and lodges under GLNF could go to their own lodges but there wouldn’t be any inter-visitation.
We hoped that this suspension would fire a warning shot across the bows, but after 12 months we had to withdraw recognition. This meant that those members who belonged to lodges under the GLNF and UGLE had to resign from one or the other. There was a lot of movement within Europe trying to create a confederation within France, and some were trying to open Districts within France.
We said to everyone, ‘Look, stand away, it’s a problem for the GLNF’s members. It’s for them to resolve, and outsiders should not get involved.’ For us, it was always a question of when, rather than if, we would re-recognise the GLNF. A new Grand Master was elected by the French brethren, a new executive appointed, and peace and harmony returned. After a period of about two years recognition was restored.
‘I’ve been in Freemasonry for 46 years and I’ll never be able to put back in as much as I’ve got out of it’
How do you interact with other Grand Lodges?
We have open invitations to our sister Grand Lodges to come to our Quarterly Communication meetings. We just ask them to give us four weeks’ notice, and we restrict the visitations to three senior members because of space. There’s a dinner the night before for the visiting Grand Masters, usually in Freemasons’ Hall, where we can talk about any issues, although we try and keep it social rather than business-led.
I also go to annual meetings at overseas Grand Lodges. It gives you the opportunity to talk to everybody and we can resolve most of the issues that come up through face-to-face meetings.
In my business life working for a German company, the common language was English, but sometimes I would be talking at a board meeting and they’d be saying ‘yes’, but when I looked at them I knew they hadn’t understood what I’d said. So I’d go another way to try to get the information across. That’s very important for my role, where I am talking to people whose first language isn’t English. It’s about face-to-face contact and getting a feeling about people.
What does Freemasonry mean to you?
I’ve been in Freemasonry for 46 years and I’ll never be able to put back in as much as I’ve got out of it. I believe very much in the principles of Freemasonry and I’m happy to promote them. They are as relevant today as they ever were, particularly to younger people.
Freemasonry is a personal journey for the individual and we hope that the lessons he learns will affect his public and private life. But for different people it means different things. I’ve met plenty of Freemasons who’ve become quite esoteric and spiritual but on the other hand you also get those people who meet four times a year with the same group, have dinner afterwards, go home and that’s that. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, it just depends on what the individual wants to get out of it – after all, it is a fraternal organisation.
For me, it’s been about being introduced to some great people who I would never otherwise have had the opportunity to meet. The nice thing about Freemasonry is that, irrespective of who you meet, we’ve all gone through the same process: we’ve all been initiated, we’ve all been passed, we’ve all been raised, and we’ve all gone through the rituals. That gives you a level and such a strong base.
11 September 2013
A statement by the Grand Chancellor Derek Dinsmore on the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, Grand Lodge will recall that twelve months ago it voted to withdraw recognition from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF). Since then the Board and its External Relations Committee have continued to monitor the situation in France.
Last December the GLNF installed a new Grand Master, MW Bro Jean Pierre Servel, as a result of which the mandate of the Court appointed administrator ceased so that the GLNF is once again in full control of its affairs. His predecessor as Grand Master, having failed to attend a disciplinary hearing, has been expelled. The new Grand Master has already made changes welcomed by his brethren and is setting in train constitutional processes to return to the Grand Lodge and its constituent lodges powers and authority removed by his predecessor. His actions appear to be restoring harmony within the GLNF.
Five Grand Lodges in Europe – Austria, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg and the Swiss Grand Lodge “Alpina” – have been in discussion with four other Grand Lodges in France with regard to the formation of a “Federation of Regular French Grand Lodges”. The four Grand Lodges, none of which has ever been recognised by this Grand Lodge, are: the Grande Loge de France, the Grande Loge de l’Alliance Maçonnique Française, the Grande Loge Traditionnelle et Symbolique Opéra and the Grande Loge Indépendante de France. In June they agreed a charter outlining the basic principles on which the Federation will be founded but have not yet given any details as to how it will be organised and administered. So far the discussions have not included the GLNF, despite its having been internationally recognised for almost one hundred years as the only representative of regular Freemasonry in France.
Whilst the five European Grand Lodges have kept us informed of the progress of the discussions it is important to note that this Grand Lodge has not been a party to them nor has it given any sanction to the project. It is equally important to note that, should the Federation come into being, before we could consider extending recognition this Grand Lodge would have to be wholly satisfied that each of its constituent Grand Lodges fully complied with our Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition.
The “blogosphere” is, as usual, full of rumour and misinformation, particularly regarding what the United Grand Lodge of England is supposedly planning in relation to France. We continue to believe that the problems in France are internal to that country and that the French brethren should be allowed to sort out their problems without interference from outside. Whilst we welcome the changes taking place within the GLNF we do not have under active consideration any plan to recognise or re-recognise any Grand Lodge in France. We will continue to monitor the situation and, in doing so, will not enter into any formal discussions with any of the Grand Lodges in France. As a consequence of this position, we shall not be participating in any way in the centenary celebrations of the GLNF to be held later this year.
Derek Dinsmore has taken over the role of Grand Chancellor, in succession to Alan Englefield, who has been appointed Sovereign Grand Commander of the Ancient and Accepted Rite (Rose Croix). Alan was the first person to be appointed to the new post of Grand Chancellor in 2007. As Grand Chancellor, one of his duties was to assist the Grand Master and the Rulers representing Grand Lodge on formal visits overseas and at international gatherings.
At the annual investiture this year, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, said that Alan had made ‘an invaluable contribution to bringing us closer to other Grand Lodges around the world, as well as to maintaining our position as the Mother Grand Lodge’.
Derek was initiated into Chevron Lodge, No. 6021, in 1970 and is a member of the Grand Master’s Council, the Board of General Purposes and the Committee of General Purposes. He is a member of the Royal Arch, Rose Croix and other Orders. He spent much of his childhood on a family farm in West Wales and later joined Debenhams. In 1974 he started an agency to market products of European fashion houses in the UK and Ireland and spent the last 11 years of his working life as chief executive of Betty Barclay (UK) Ltd. Married with two sons and five grandchildren, he retired in 2000.
12 September 2012
Statements by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
The President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Anthony Wilson:
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, I believe that there is nothing in the Board’s Report that calls for comment, except for the paragraphs relating to the National Grand Lodge of France, and even they are largely self-explanatory. Since this Grand Lodge suspended relations with the GLNF twelve months ago the Board has continued to monitor the situation. It is clear that the GLNF is not in full control of its own affairs. For well over a year its administration and finances have been under the control of a Court appointed administrator, Maitre Legrand. She, although not a Freemason or a member of the GLNF, is currently organising the nominations for and election of a new Grand Master.
To complicate matters further, we understand that at the end of April a group of members of the GLNF and their Lodges broke away and formed a new Grand Lodge which now claims over 10,000 members and more than 500 Lodges. It has just been announced that a further group has broken away and is intent on forming yet another Grand Lodge. It is, therefore, becoming impossible to know who are and who are not bona fide members of the GLNF, which at this moment remains the only Grand Lodge in France recognised by this Grand Lodge.
The Board is aware that, if its recommendation is accepted by Grand Lodge, a number of our members who have joint memberships will need to decide with which constitution they will remain. The Board regrets this but it has a duty to have regard to the best interests of the whole English Craft and in the present circumstances believes those interests will be best served by withdrawing recognition from the GLNF. One hundred years ago members of this Grand Lodge were materially involved in the formation of the GLNF and the return of regular Freemasonry to France: for this and other reasons, the Board’s recommendation was not reached lightly but only after considerable discussion and consultation.
It is important to emphasise that in making this recommendation the Board is not stating that the GLNF or its members are in any way irregular, nor will the withdrawal of recognition of itself make them so. They will, however, become unrecognised though capable of being re-recognised at some future point. For that reason the Board has not entered into discussion with any of the other bodies claiming to represent regular Freemasonry in France nor does it have any intention at the present time of recommending to this Grand Lodge the recognition of any other Grand Lodge in France.
Indeed, we have just learnt that in the last few days a candidate for the Grand Mastership has been nominated. His name will go forward for approval by a General Meeting of the GLNF. The Board will continue to monitor events in France and hopes that this may be the first step – and I emphasise the words “the first step” - towards normalising relations between our two Grand Lodges. In the meantime, however, this event does not change the Board’s recommendation to withdraw recognition.
The Grand Chancellor, VW Bro Derek Dinsmore:
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, in moving the resolution standing in my name at item 3 of the Paper of Business may I add to the President’s comment on the regularity of the GLNF. Although it has serious internal problems we believe that the Lodges and members of the GLNF are working in a regular manner. Withdrawal of recognition will not of itself affect the GLNF’s regularity and it will be capable of re-recognition. There is a long established, fundamental principle of Masonic international relations that where Freemasonry exists within a territory, whether or not it is formally recognised, that territory is closed to other Grand Lodges, and the latter should not set up lodges there. Despite the growing number of Grand Lodges which are withdrawing recognition from the GLNF, France remains closed territory and this Grand Lodge would not look kindly on any other Grand Lodge which attempted to invade French territory by setting up Lodges there or taking into its jurisdiction Lodges warranted by the GLNF.
MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, for the reasons given in the Report of the Board of General Purposes, I move that recognition of be withdrawn.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.