Celebrating 300 years
Monday, 01 October 2007 01:00

Jersey: Local Masons guard the Duke

Earlier this year, HRH The Duke of Kent visited the island of Jersey to commemorate the liberation of the islanders from the German occupation forces in 1945.

The hospitality of the Governor of Jersey was at his disposal and it fell to the honorary police force – the ‘centeniers’ – to assist in his protection at Government House in the Parish of St. Saviour, covering continuous duties for 48 hours. 

The Duke was representing the Queen, but the Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England was being guarded by three fellow Masons, all centeniers. 

The role of the centeniers is a long and honourable one, having been mentioned in 1502. The force provides support to the States Police, yet the centenier has greater powers, in that only they can charge an accused and bring them to court. 

They, along with their vingteniers and constables, are the front line to the community, and it is the centenier who acts as parish magistrate, offering words of advice and issuing cautions, fines and eventually prosecutions. 

The centeniers have carried out such functions recently as protection to the Queen, Prince Charles, the Princess Royal and regular Government House community functions, which are all part of their responsibilities. 

In 2003, the greatest honour bestowed on the honorary police was to receive the Queen’s Jubilee Award for the vital role of voluntary service within the community.

For further details go to www.jerseyhonorarypolice.org and the Jersey Masonic website at www.jerseymason.org.uk and learn of the many years of service given by the local masonic community, its charitable work and history, which includes the sacking of the island’s temple by German forces during the Second World War.

Published in UGLE
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

A day's fishing for disadvantaged youngsters at the home of Lord Northampton was attended by the Grand Master, as Michael Imeson reports

A stiff breeze played down the lake from west to east. The Arctic terns revelled in it as they soared with ease over the ruffled water and made their diving bid to catch lunch.

Dozens of fishermen, young and old, eagerly lined the banks, not so much to catch lunch, but simply to try their hand, in almost every case for the first time, at getting a fish on the hook.

One youngster and his caster caught a staggering 56 perch, roach and bream, another 50. But a lot of others didn’t get a bite. Blame the wind, said some. That is fishing, we were told by others.

It was also fishing with a massive difference: it was a Masonic Trout and Salmon Fishing Club day at glorious Castle Ashby, home of the Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton, the patron, who also sponsored the event.

And it was a day when the club’s aim of bringing fishing and countryside experiences to mentally and physically disabled people was perfectly illustrated to another most welcome guest, the Grand Master, the Duke of Kent. Both the Duke and Lord Northampton happily donned the club’s cap and meandered along the lake bank, speaking to everyone, young and old, Mason and non-Mason.

The MTSFC, which in turn has spawned the Lodge of Opportunity No. 9777, has in just a few short years extended its reach to give more than 2,000 disabled young people (and some older from day centres) an experience they will surely talk about for many years to come.

Fishing days for the disabled began in Hertfordshire and Middlesex. Now they are spreading across more Provinces. Up to the close of their season in October, the club will have organised 23 fishing days in 10 different Provinces from Essex and London to Berkshire and North Wales.

While the Castle Ashby day was mainly course fishing, the club’s roots are in fly fishing for trout. There were trout – a lake was specially stocked with 200 of them for the day, and several fly fishermen and their young charges – but only 199 of them got away!

So, with Castle Ashby literally as the backdrop on a June day, young Danny from St Neots was casting his line like a veteran in the capable hands of Steve Moule from Southgate, north London. Just along the bank was school friend Stephanie who, it has to be admitted, did have a bit of a habit of casting her line over Danny’s. But they stayed friends, and Stephanie and her caster, Gerry O’Driscoll from the Square and Level Lodge in Ealing, landed five perch.

Gerry summed up his day: 'I have worked all my life and you just plod on and you take no notice of some of life’s challenges… doing this for the children makes my day. Sometimes you go home and have a tear in your eye. Just to see their faces at the end of the day makes it very important. There are some people who take the day off work to come to a fishing day like this. We are giving something back.'

Young Michael from St Neots said: “The fish seem to like the red maggots best. Is it true that some fishermen put the maggots in their mouth to warm them up before they put them on the hook?” 

Another fisherman casting his line from a wheelchair said he had enjoyed the fishing – “but I like the people who are helping us to do it.”

Club member Gary Ferris of Friendship Lodge No. 8357 in St Albans, Hertfordshire, is a golfer. Now he is also a fishing fan. “This is my 10th or 11th event like this in the last two years. I have never had a bad experience. We go home with a warm feeling because we know the children have enjoyed themselves.”

After lunch the Duke of Kent handed every participant a certificate, passed to him in turn by the Pro Grand Master, sometimes plunging into the excited crowd of participants to reach a smiling, satisfied, wheelchair-bound person. As the “young guests left in their community coaches, the Club president, Gordon Bourne, reminded us: “All our casters and helpers gain hugely from their experiences during these days.

“Many have not had the experience of witnessing first hand the problems that many of our participants face in their everyday lives, and it is a real education to us all when we spend time with them. We have all become much more aware of the great amount of work that goes on in the specialist schools and centres.”

Freemasonry’s charitable giving is well known, but the club represents the other side of our lives – the time given to worthy causes. When you’ve spent a day like that at Castle Ashby, you’d be hard pressed to find a more worthy cause!

The Club, a registered charity, is entirely organised and financed by Freemasons, and help to fund their activities is always needed. It costs around £50 per head for each participant. The club hopes to expand into more Provinces and is looking for new organisers to start the ball rolling to “catch some more smiles”.

There is more information on the website at www.mtsfc.co.uk or via Ken Haslar (01923 231606) or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

And while the Lodge of Opportunity may be rooted in Hertfordshire, meetings will be held wherever in the country there is an interest. The Lodge can be contacted via its secretary, Warren Singer, on 0208 958 7652.

Michael Imeson is the Provincial Information Officer for Hertfordshire

Published in UGLE
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, 27 April 2005 10:33

Grand Master’s address - April 2005

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

27 APRIL 2005

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

Brethren,
I begin as always by welcoming you all to our meeting this afternoon, and I offer my warmest congratulations to those brethren I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank today on their preferment.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 10 March 2004 00:00

Grand Master's address - March 2004

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
10 March 2004
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG

Brethren,

I am delighted to see so many of you here this morning for this Quarterly Communication and I bid you all a very warm welcome. I thank you all for the honour you have done me by re-electing me as your Grand Master and I look forward to another busy and challenging year at the head of English Freemasonry.

I should like to start by expressing my thanks and that of the Craft to two distinguished Brethren who have just retired from high office.

RW Bro Iain Ross Bryce has been a Grand Officer for 21 years, which includes 8 years as Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings and 12 years as Deputy Grand Master. In addition to the extensive duties attached to the offices he has held, Bro Bryce has spent a considerable amount of his time working with and co-ordinating the Masonic charities. His chairmanship of the Committee which decided the future of the Foundation for the Aged and the Sick in 1988, and of the Sick fund in 1989 which later developed into the New Masonic Samaritan Fund, was followed by his work on creating the Charity Festival matrix in 1992. More recently he chaired the Committee looking at the allocation of Grand and Provincial Ranks. He intends to remain active, you will be pleased to know, in Masonry and is currently the founding Master of Bridlington Bay Lodge, No 9778, which was consecrated in November 2003. Bro Bryce will continue in office as Second Grand Principal in the Royal Arch so his experience and advice will not be lost to us.

RW Bro Earl Cadogan has been a Grand Officer since 1969 when he served as Senior Grand Warden. His 34 years as a Grand Officer include 11 years as President of the Masonic Foundation for the Aged and the Sick, 6 years as President of the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys and 4 years as President of the Board of General Purposes. Bro Lord Cadogan first joined the Board as an appointed member as long ago as 1983. He served on the Finance Committee from then until he became its Chairman in 1991, and relinquished this office only when he became President in 1999, having also acted as Vice-President of the Board in 1991 and 1992.

The Craft owes both these Brethren an immense debt of gratitude for their hard work, which they have undertaken over so many years, and their dedication to Freemasonry. We thank them for everything they have done for us and wish them many more happy and rewarding years in Freemasonry.

Brethren, you will know that I normally attend the Craft Annual Investiture and take the opportunity of addressing Grand Lodge. This year however I shall attend the Annual Investiture of the Royal Arch on 29th April and it is my intention to address Supreme Grand Chapter. I want to take this opportunity, therefore, of dealing with some important issues which affect the Craft in particular.

It was a great pleasure for me to be able to take part in the splendid ceremonies at the Royal Albert Hall last October, setting up both the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London. It was a magnificent occasion and reflects great credit not only on the staff of London Management who worked long hours over many months in preparation for the event, but also the volunteers of the London Grand Rank Association. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those in the Grand Secretary’s office without whose dedication and support no great occasion of Grand Lodge would be possible, and in particular to the Assistant Grand Secretary for his work on the complex changes to the Book of Constitutions. Praise is also due also to Bro John Wright who acted as overall Project Manager, and his team of Stewards under the leadership of Bro Andrew Wigram, and of course to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies, who conducted the ceremonial activities of the day so smoothly.

It will take time for the new structure to bed down because this is the biggest change in Freemasonry for almost 200 years, but there are already welcome signs that a new spirit of co-operation and companionship is beginning to transform the newest Masonic venture into something of which we will be very proud.

The Strategic Working Party, set up by the Pro Grand Master to review the Royal Arch, has worked hard on the proposed revisions, and Grand Lodge has already taken an historic step by adding a paragraph to the “1813 Declaration.” This allows us to recognise, formally, that the Royal Arch is a separate Order of Masonry and will strengthen the status of Supreme Grand Chapter without affecting the relationship of the Royal Arch to the Craft. I know that some of you have expressed concern that this change may tend to weaken those historic ties, but I want very strongly to endorse the phrase used by the Pro Grand Master in his speech last September, when he emphasised that the Royal Arch is to remain “indissolubly linked to the Craft”. There is no compromise here, Brethren: that bond is to remain as strong and as close as ever, and the Royal Arch should be regarded by all as the important final step in pure Antient Freemasonry. I shall have more to say about the future of the Royal Arch at the Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter, but in the meantime I wish to thank all the members of the Strategic Working Party for their hard work.

Support of our Masonic charities has always been one of the Keystones of Freemasonry. It is very important, I believe, that in addition to the great Masonic causes we also reach out to the public and ensure that our charitable giving also extends as well to non-Masonic causes, which indeed is a necessary part of our duty to society. It is vital, nevertheless, that our Masonic Charities have the funds they need to fulfil their primary purpose of looking after our beneficiaries, and that is why I welcome today’s initiative to increase the contribution which we all pay to the Grand Charity.

I have been reflecting on the changes in Masonry since you honoured me 36 years ago by electing me as your Grand Master. Membership during this period has declined, it is true, from its post-war boom back to the levels seen in the interwar years. At the same time the almost obsessive secrecy of the thirty years from the 1950s onwards has been followed by a policy of increasing openness which has encouraged us to be more outward looking.

The consequence of this has been a greater desire to defend ourselves against unwarranted external attack and a willingness to correct malicious falsehoods about the Craft spread by those who do not wish to hear the truth.

The Craft has shown in recent years that it is prepared to adapt itself to the changing circumstances of modern life to a greater degree than ever before in its history. Only thus, as the Royal Arch ritual tells us, can it ‘survive the wreck of mighty empires and resist the destroying hand of time’, and I welcome the flexibility which enables us to react so positively at a time of unparalleled changes in society at large. 

Before closing, I would like as usual, to express our thanks once again to all those who make our meetings run so smoothly, the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team who have conducted today’s proceedings with their customary calm competence, and the Grand Secretary and his staff who ensure that our organisation is administered and serviced so efficiently. Finally Brethren I would like to thank all of you who have attended in such large numbers today.

Published in Speeches

London Masonry's historic day

In one of the most historic meetings in the history of English Freemasonry, the MW the Grand Master HRH the Duke of Kent inaugurated the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London and Metropolitan Grand Chapter of London at the Royal Albert Hall on 1st October 2003.

The two glittering ceremonies were attended by a full house that packed the stalls, balconies and galleries of the Royal Albert Hall as the Grand Master installed Lord Millett as both Metropolitan Grand Master for London in the Craft and Metropolitan Grand Superintendent for London in the Royal Arch.

Russell Race was installed as Metropolitan Deputy Grand Master and Deputy Grand Superintendent.

Brian de Neut was installed as Second Metropolitan Grand Principal and Ronald Cox as Third Metropolitan Grand Principal in the Royal Arch.

Ten Group Chairmen and ten Deputies were appointed in both the Craft and Royal Arch.

Rex Thorne, formerly Chairman of London Management, which has now been superseded by the new arrangement, was installed by the Grand Master as Past Metropolitan Grand Master and Past Metropolitan Grand Superintendent.

Royal Arch Ceremony

The First Grand Principal, HRH the Duke of Kent, said:

"Companions, in exercise of the power conferred on me by Royal Arch Regulation 26, I have decided to form a Metropolitan Area of London, to comprise those Chapters which until today have been London Chapters as defined in Rules 128 and 129 of the Book of Constitutions, and I have appointed E Comp. the Rt. Hon. Lord Millett, to be the first Metropolitan Grand Superintendent.

"I am confident that he possesses both the ability and the vision required to lead the Metropolitan Grand Chapter as well as its Companions during what will be its formative years.

"Companion Millett is distinguished in public life as well as in the Craft. He was called to the Bar in 1955, took silk in 1973 and was appointed a High Court Judge in the Chancery Division in 1986, receiving the customary knighthood.

"Thereafter he became a Lord Justice of Appeal and Privy Councillor in 1994 and a Lord of Appeal in Ordinary (or Law Lord) in 1998.

"In the Craft, he was made a Mason in the Chancery Bar Lodge No. 2456 in 1968 and in 1977 was exalted into the Royal Arch in the Chapter of Felicity No. 58, becoming its First Principal in 1985.

"He served as Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 1999. He has also found time to be a Member of the Panel of the Commission for Appeals Courts since 1991".

E. Comp Lord Millett, Grand Superintendent in and over London said:

"Companions, this ceremony marks the start of a new era for the Royal Arch in London.

"It is incumbent upon all of us who are Companions of the Metropolitan Area to play our part in taking this Order forward under the new structure, while at the same time preserving and maintaining London's long established and valued traditions.

"I am confident that under the new Metropolitan Grand Chapter, there will be opportunities for many more Companions, as well as the Metropolitan Grand Officers I have invested today, to serve London Royal Arch Masonry and to participate more fully in its future government and direction.

"I know, Companions, that I have your goodwill and support. I know that I have the enthusiastic commitment of the members of my team. I pledge myself to maintaining and promoting the interests of Royal Arch Masonry in London".

Luncheon speeches

In reply to the toast "The MW The Grand Master" and proposing the toast "The Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London and the Metropolitan Grand Master," the Grand Master said:

"This is an historic occasion as we meet today to constitute the first - and perhaps it will be the only - Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Metropolitan Grand Chapter in the history of English Freemasonry.

"How fitting it is that we should be meeting today at the Royal Albert Hall, which has been the venue over the years for so many Especial Meetings of Grand Lodge, and has therefore a very special place in the hearts and affections of English Freemasons.

"It has a particular resonance for me because the last time Grand Lodge met in this building was the occasion, in 1967, of the 250th anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge, when I was also installed as Grand Master.

"In 1967 we celebrated a quarter of a millennium since the beginning of organised Masonry in London and indeed in the world. Today we mark the beginning of a new era for London - an era of separate existence: still an essential part of the English Craft, but no longer directly administered under my direction.

"Today London is 'leaving the nest' and taking wing on its own. The event is bound to be accompanied by feelings of trepidation, but I know that it is also accompanied by the sincerest good wishes of all those who are gathered here to witness it.

"In its new existence London will be better able to respond to the views of its members, who will thus acquire a greater say in their own Masonic affairs than it had been possible for them to enjoy until now.

"I congratulate Brother Lord Millett on taking over the controls from the Assistant Grand Master, RW Brother David Williamson, who will now be free to devote more of his time in future to the affairs of Grand Lodge and the whole of English Craft Masonry.

"For many years it has been the custom to present each new Provincial or District Grand Master or Grand Superintendent with what has come to be known as 'the Kent Cube'.

"It is a paperweight consisting of a gilt medallion, which was first struck in 1967 for my Installation, set in a cube of clear plastic. On one side of the medallion are the arms of the United Grand Lodge of England in low relief, on the other side is my signature.

"Brother Lord Millett, I am delighted to present you with your own Kent Cube - and I say "your own" deliberately: it is my personal gift to you as the first Metropolitan Grand Master.

"Brother Lord Millett has, I know, the understanding and the vision to enable him to lead London at this critical time so that it will flourish and prosper under his direction".

Lord Millett, replying to the Toast, said:

"Most Worshipful Grand Master, thank you for so kindly proposing the toast to my health and to the success of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London.

"I am proud that the second Masonic gathering you have attended at the Royal Albert Hall should be the Inauguration of London and my own Installation.

"I wish to thank those Brethren who have contributed - in many cases behind the scenes - to the arrangements for today. In particular I wish to mention:

"RW Bro. Rex Thorne, Chairman of London Management, his Deputy, VW Bro. Brian de Neut, and W Bro. Andrew Henderson and the staff of London Management for the work they have done in bringing London to this stage in its development;

"W Bro. John Wright, who has acted as "Project Manager" for today and VW Bro. Andrew Wigram who has organised the Masonic Stewards;

"VW Bro. Jonathan Spence, Grand Director of Ceremonies, and his Deputies for overseeing the splendid ceremonial;

"VW Bro. Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, for co-ordinating the necessary changes to the Book of Constitutions as well as Grand Lodge's ceremonial and other arrangements for this meeting;

"VW Bro. Andrew Pearmain, the Craft and Royal Arch Grand Organists and the Choir, for providing the music which adds so much to our enjoyment of today's meetings;

"VW Bro. Russell Race, my Deputy, for his quiet and effective support over the last few months;

"and not least the MW Pro Grand Master, the Marquess of Northampton, for being the guiding inspiration behind the formation of the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and Chapter.

"I should also like to express my thanks to all those individuals and Lodges who have contributed to the Lodge and Chapter furniture and regalia, which have helped to make this such a splendid occasion.

"These, and all who are here at the Royal Albert Hall have seen to it that we receive a rousing send-off. Our task is now to carry forward the work into the future, and that I and my team will endeavour to the best of our ability to do".

The Grand Master said:

"Brethren, in exercise of the power conferred on me by Rule 60 of the Book of Constitutions, I have decided to form a Metropolitan Area of London, to comprise all but five of those Lodges which until today have been London Lodges as defined in Rules 128 and 129, and I have appointed RW Bro. the Rt. Hon. Lord Millett to be the first Metropolitan Grand Master.

"The Lodges which I have decided should not be included in the new Metropolitan Area are the Grand Stewards' Lodge, Lodge of Antiquity No. 2, Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge No. 4, Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland No. 12 and Royal Alpha Lodge No. 16.

"This is a singular and most important occasion, because the formation of a Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London is unique and represents a departure from the way that Freemasonry in London has been organised for over 280 years.

"I know that those chosen to lead the new Metropolitan Grand Lodge are united in determination that the enterprise shall thrive and prosper, and I know that you will support them today with your good wishes and, at the appropriate times, with your voices".

Lord Millett, Metropolitan Grand Master, said:

"Most Worshipful Grand Master, I am deeply conscious of the honour you have done me by appointing me as the first Metropolitan Grand Master for London, and I thank you not only for that appointment but also for finding time in your very busy schedule to install me today.

"My thanks extend also to your team of Grand Officers - and in particular the Grand Director of Ceremonies - who have supported you so ably and helped to make today an occasion which I, and I am sure all here for this and for this morning's ceremony, will remember for the rest of our lives.

"We have many other visitors from England and Wales as well as overseas, and they are far too numerous for me to be able to welcome them individually.

"But I should like to express my personal appreciation to the District Grand Lodge of Hong Kong, who have shown me such great hospitality on my annual visits to the territory and have made me an Honorary Member of a local lodge.

"London has always been at the very heart of English Freemasonry, and as a London Mason for some 35 years I am very conscious of the trust that has been laid upon me to preserve and maintain it in that position along with its long-established and valued traditions.

"To that trust has been added the challenge of developing Freemasonry in London, to ensure that it fits comfortably in this 21st century both with the whole of the English Craft and also with society at large in London. "The greatest challenge will be to open up the Craft so that it is no longer seen by outsiders as a secret and sinister society. We should be proud to acknowledge that we are Masons - and London Masons at that.

"The establishment of this Metropolitan Grand Lodge will, I am confident, give opportunities not only to me, my Deputy and the ten Metropolitan Group Chairmen, but to many others as well - not least the Metropolitan Grand Officers I have invested today - to serve London Masonry and to participate more fully in its future government and direction.

"I do not pretend that the task before us will always be an easy one, and I know that all of us will need to adapt and adjust to our changed status under the United Grand Lodge of England, and that will take time, and perhaps patience as well.

"We have been given a tremendous send-off today in this great gathering; it is now for us ourselves to build upon that sure foundation, to carry forward the work and to produce an edifice of which we may be justly proud.

"I know, Brethren, that I have your goodwill and support. I know that I have the enthusiastic commitment of the members of my team. I pledge myself to see that the work be duly and faithfully executed".

Wednesday, 30 April 2003 01:00

Grand Master's address - April 2003

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE
30 APRIL 2003
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG

Brethren,

I start by welcoming you all to our meeting this afternoon and I offer my warmest congratulations to all the Brethren I have had the pleasure of appointing to or promoting in Grand Rank today. I know they have all worked hard to further the interests of the Craft, but in recognising their achievements we do of course look to them for even greater exertions in the future.

I turn first to the most important issue to have exercised Grand Lodge during the past twelve months, namely the future of Masonry in London. The process of providing a new constitutional structure for London Masonry, which has been in progress for some years, culminated in an historic vote in Grand Lodge last month, following the most extensive consultation exercise ever undertaken in English Freemasonry. This process is not yet complete because Supreme Grand Chapter still has to make its decision on these proposals tomorrow. I recognise the widely differing opinions held on this matter, but have been impressed by the wholly Masonic spirit in which the debate was conducted. I am certain that the increased opportunities offered to London Masons by the new structure will enable them to play a more active part in their Masonry in the future.

Our “Freemasonry in the Community” week, which was such a success throughout the country, was more than the additional effort to raise money for charity which in some areas it became. It gave our Masonic centres and individual Lodges an opportunity to reach out to the “popular” world and put our strategy of openness into practical effect, so bringing Masonry closer to the communities in which our Lodges function and flourish, and from which we draw our members.

This special week showed clearly that Masons are part of their local community and that they work for it in many different ways. It also demonstrated to the country that we are a society with principles which we are determined to put into action for the good of our fellow men, and especially the less fortunate.

Although “Freemasonry in the Community” week was not planned as a charity event, it gave Provinces and Lodges in England and Wales additional opportunities to raise funds for, and make further donations to, non-Masonic charities in their own communities. Everyone taking part in these activities throughout the country enjoyed the experience enormously and many have resolved to continue their efforts in subsequent years.

Continuing in the theme of Charity, Charitable activity, which forms such a large part of Masonic life, in the form of fundraising has continued unabated during the year with the result that we gave approximately £17m to Masonic Charities. I know how hard the Councils work which administer those Charities, and I wish to thank them for all their efforts on our behalf. I am very pleased indeed that the work of the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys has been recognised by the award of Royal status, and with effect from tomorrow it will be known as the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. It is also very good news that during the year donations to non-Masonic charities totalling in excess of £4m have been made by Masons under our Constitution throughout the world. This is a highly creditable achievement, and we can take satisfaction from it, but we must nevertheless remember that our Masonic Charities need our continued help, and should remain at the core of our charitable giving.

One of the effects of “Freemasonry in the Community” week has been to encourage many men to make enquiries about possible membership. In mentioning this I return to a topic which I last raised five years ago, namely the three “Rs,” — recruiting, retaining and retrieving. Recruiting is both acceptable and desirable, so long as it does not put undue pressure on potential candidates. Having succeeded in recruiting new Brethren it is clearly important that we make every effort to retain them. We all recognise the career and family pressures faced by younger men, so it is imperative that Lodges work to harness the enthusiasm of the new recruit and make him feel welcome. Retrieving lapsed members is initially a task for the Lodge Almoner, especially where financial or health difficulties have caused a brother to resign; but there is an increasing body of Masons who resigned from their Lodge because of business, career or family pressures, who may have found those circumstances have now eased or disappeared. Here we can all make a difference by encouraging them to rejoin their Lodge, or another Lodge, and once again become active in their Masonry.

I can assure you, however, Brethren, that in looking to you all to promote greater active membership of our Antient Institution, both new and old, I am not suggesting that we should ever contemplate the kind of mass recruitment which has recently been a feature elsewhere in the world. We are hardly going to strengthen our institution by relaxing the principles which we have established and maintained throughout our long history; rather we should respond to the challenges of a rapidly changing society, and show that our values have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they have always been. This is the example we have set to other Grand Lodges around the world, that the quality of our Masonry should always take precedence over the quantity of our membership.

In this connection I should point out that English Freemasonry recognises 156 Grand Lodges throughout the world, all of which adhere to the same landmarks as does this Grand Lodge. Maintaining good relations with them and responding to approaches from other Grand Lodges seeking recognition from us, is an important part of the work of the Grand Secretary and his staff. I was particularly delighted that, as a result of such efforts, we were able to resolve our difficulties with, and re-recognise, the Grand Lodge of India during the year. Inter-visiting is an important part of Masonic activity and I am certain that our members in India and elsewhere will be gratified that they are able to resume official contact once more with Brethren in the Grand Lodge of India.

Brethren, in conclusion, I should like to thank all those who have worked so hard throughout the year to ensure that we enjoy our Masonry. I wish to mention in particular the Grand Director of Ceremonies, who retires today after eight years. He has been a tower of strength during that time and has directed our ceremonies not only with efficiency but also with good humour and a light touch. I extend our thanks to his Deputies, who have helped him to make today run like clockwork. I also wish to thank the Grand Secretary and all the staff of this building especially the maintenance staff and porters, who look after this magnificent building so well, and finally, Brethren, I thank all of you for your attendance and support in such large numbers at this Investiture.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 24 April 2002 11:16

Grand Master’s address - April 2002

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

24 APRIL 2002

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

This has been an exciting and successful year for the Craft, which will culminate in our Freemasonry in the Community initiative. 

I have been delighted and greatly encouraged by the enthusiastic way in which the Provinces, Districts and London have taken up the challenge of communicating to the general public and the media what a substantial contribution the Craft has made to society for well over 300 years.

Published in Speeches
Page 10 of 11

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