Celebrating 300 years
Wednesday, 08 December 2004 09:48

Pro Grand Master’s address - December 2004

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 DECEMBER 2004

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

Brethren,
you may remember that in 1998 my predecessor, the late MW Bro. Lord Farnham, set up a Strategic Working Party to review the structure of English Freemasonry.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 08 September 2004 10:49

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2004

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

8 SEPTEMBER 2004

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

Brethren,
I welcome you all to Grand Lodge this morning for the start of another Masonic season, which promises, once again, to be a busy one. 

The final version of the proposed changes to the Royal Arch rituals were circulated to all relevant parties at the beginning of July, and apart from a few minor amendments that may become necessary, they will be included in the paper of business for Grand Chapter in November.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 09 June 2004 10:52

Pro Grand Master’s address - June 2004

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

9 JUNE 2004

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

Brethren, because we do not normally have very much business at the June Quarterly Communication, I thought you might be interested to know something about the overseas visits that the Rulers have made to our Districts during this past year.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 28 April 2004 10:54

Pro Grand Master’s address - April 2004

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

28 APRIL 2004

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

Brethren, it is good to see so many of you here today for this annual investiture, which must surely qualify as the happiest Masonic event of the year and I bid you a warm welcome. On behalf of the Grand Master, I congratulate all those whom I have invested with their new ranks. These have been given in part for what you have already done for the Craft, but more importantly in the hope that you will continue, with your new status, to do your utmost for the good of Freemasonry for many years to come.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 10 September 2003 11:09

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2003

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

10 SEPTEMBER 2003

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

You will all recall the unfortunate occasion last November when the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was reported as having suggested that he had doubts about the compatibility of Freemasonry and Christianity.
Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 June 2003 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2003

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
11 June 2003

Brethren,

At this time last year we were preparing for our Freemasonry in the Community week. This involved opening the doors of our meeting places to the general public and taking the opportunity of explaining what we do. Although it is too soon to repeat the exercise again this year, nevertheless I hope that Brethren will continue to hold open days as they undoubtedly have a positive effect and add greatly to our public relations.

There is some confusion among Brethren that this alternative tie [indicated the Craft tie] can only be worn in Grand Lodge and not on other occasions. This is not the case; the tie can be worn by any member of a Lodge under the United Grand Lodge of England on any Masonic or non-Masonic occasion.

I am told that the tickets for the Constitution by the Grand Master of the new Metropolitan Grand Lodge of London on October 1st in the Royal Albert Hall are going very well, and a good number of Brethren and Lodges are becoming founder members. This will be a truly historic occasion, and if you wish to be present I recommend you apply for tickets as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Finally, Brethren, I wish you all a very happy summer break with your families and I look forward to seeing you again in September at the start of another busy Masonic year.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 December 2002 10:13

Pro Grand Master’s address - December 2002

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

11 DECEMBER 2002

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

When I was appointed Assistant Grand Master in December 1995, London Masonry consisted of over 1,600 Lodges and nearly 700 Chapters, which were administered by the then Grand Secretary through the London Department in this building. As Assistant Grand Master, a substantial part of my duties incorporated a special responsibility for London.

In 1995 I inherited 900 liaison officers, most of whom reported on the Lodges of which they were the senior members, and in many cases were the only personal contact the London Department had with the majority of our London brethren. 

Only 300 of the original liaison officers were able to become active Visiting Grand Officers, and over the next two years more Grand Officers were added, so that every Lodge and Chapter had a visit from someone who could advise, support and encourage its members. I was warned there were as many as 200 Lodges that were unlikely to survive in the short term, so doing nothing was not an option, and I therefore started the active Visiting Grand Officers scheme. The system of allocating ranks, including Grand Rank, was changed and became more transparent so that everyone now knew where he stood. Ranks were now based solely on merit and ability. 

The next step was to disentangle London Masonry from its dependence on Grand Lodge, and give it a structure both autonomous and above all caring. London Management was created and London was divided into 22 groups with a chairman at the head of each. For five years London Management, originally chaired by me but now by Rex Thorne, has run London Masonry with the Assistant Grand Master retaining that so-called 'special responsibility'. The final step will be voted on in Grand Lodge next March. 

The London Committee was set up by the Board and it was agreed that a long period of consultation would follow, and this is happening. 

Uniquely, London Masonry has its own honours system, London Grand Rank being its only appointment and Senior London Grand Rank its only promotion, with no past ranks. Having listened to the views expressed by Lodges and Chapters, the London Committee has withdrawn the recommendation that a Junior London Grand Rank be introduced, and this has been accepted by the Grand Master. The London honours system, Craft and Royal Arch, will remain exactly as it is. However, the proposals for active offices, which will not be Ranks but appointments, will remain, as these are needed for ceremonial and administrative purposes. 

The third difference inherent in London Masonry, and probably the most important, is that it has never been in control of its own destiny. It is only very recently that the Board of General Purposes has delegated some of its powers to London Management. But its finances are still included in the accounts of Grand Lodge, and there are many instances where it is not allowed by the Book of Constitutions to make decisions for itself. London Management has done a good job looking after its members for the past five years but it has no authority within the Book of Constitutions, and is headed only by a chairman and not by an officer of Grand Lodge with Masonic authority ratified by the Constitution. Its byelaws have never been approved by Grand Lodge, and remain in a state of limbo - still an integral part of Grand Lodge, but responsible in part for its own affairs. The time has now come to regularise this unconstitutional structure. 

The Grand Master could, under Rule 62 of the Book of Constitutions, turn London into one or more Provinces. This was considered by the Committee, but swiftly rejected, even though it would have been a much simpler change. Exercising powers under Rule 62 would probably have entailed the loss of the special features that London enjoys, like the London Grand Rank system. 

It is an anomaly that many relatively minor decisions concerning London Masonry have to be approved by the Board of General Purposes and Grand Lodge, of which the majority of members are brethren from the Provinces. If London Masons had their own Grand Lodge they could decide much about their future for themselves. 

Masonry's future depends on training our younger brethren to become tomorrow's leaders, but when does one get the opportunity of seeing the potential of future leaders in London? Not in Grand Lodge - which is the only forum at present for London Masons who are Wardens and above - but solely at private Lodge level, where many go unrecognised. 

The London Committee recommended the creation only of active officers needed to service a Metropolitan Grand Lodge, with no past ranks. The 71 annual Craft appointments represent approximately one for every 750 Masons. Such a small number will have no impact at the grass roots, but a Metropolitan Grand Lodge will give London Masons a self-regulating Masonic structure for the first time. 
The recommendations have not been suggested lightly. It is a big step, which is acceptable to the Grand Master and has been approved by all the bodies entrusted by our members to manage the Craft on their behalf. The world is very different from what it was even ten years ago, and unless Freemasonry adapts, as it has always adapted throughout its long history, it will not survive and grow. Some have suggested that these proposals will lead to a decline in the numbers of London Masons. I believe exactly the opposite. We have already seen a considerable decline in numbers over the past 30 years, and unless we rise to the challenge, there is no reason why that decline will not continue. I am confident that once a new structure is established, we will all see great and exciting advantages, and it will prove to be an asset to English Masonry. 

You will be aware of the unfortunate and ill-advised remarks concerning Freemasonry made by the new Archbishop of Canterbury. A very large number of our members wrote to him at Lambeth Palace to express their dismay, and in some cases outrage, at his insensitive and inaccurate comments. The Grand Secretary has written to him officially on behalf of Grand Lodge (see P4). His letter is on the UGLE website. Although, all of us, whatever religion, can only be appalled at the implications of the Archbishop's allegations, I believe that we should, for the time being at least, assume that his comments were based simply on ignorance of the truth, and not malice. The Archbishop has been invited to Freemasons' Hall to learn a little about Freemasonry, as all his predecessors have done over many years. We can then only hope that he will revise his opinions and have the grace to admit just how wrong he was about the compatibility of any of the great religions with Freemasonry.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 September 2002 11:15

Pro Grand Master’s address - September 2002

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

11 SEPTEMBER 2002

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

Lord Northampton said that, as a public relations exercise, Freemasonry in the Community week was undoubtedly a great success with much positive coverage from local press and radio, albeit very little in national media.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 12 June 2002 01:00

Pro Grand Master's address - June 2002

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
12 JUNE 2002
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL

Brethren,

Next Tuesday we are celebrating ‘Freemasonry in the Community’ week which is fast becoming ‘Freemasonry in the Community three weeks’, with a service in St Paul’s Cathedral at 11a.m. There are still a few places available and if you have not already done so please apply for tickets today using the form provided. You might be interested to know that we have well over 1,000 events taking place all over the country during this initiative.

On Wednesday, 26 June, the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys are holding a Grand Choral Celebration here in the Grand Temple. The choir will largely comprise choristers from all over the country who have been supported by the Charity. Tickets at £10 each are available outside the Grand Temple.

Many of you may have seen the recent series on television called ‘Spooks’, some of which was filmed in this building. Filming here has proved a useful source of income for Grand Lodge, and we are grateful to the London Film Commission for supporting us. In return we are sponsoring part of the costs of a free public showing which they are arranging of the film ‘Singin’ in the Rain’. This is due to take place next Saturday evening at the Paddington Recreation Ground at 7p.m. and is open to the first 3,000 people to arrive. I don’t know what the weather forecast is for next Saturday but if you like ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ do give your support.

Brethren, we have received 400 hundred possible designs for the tie competition from 124 applicants and I hope this summer will give an opportunity for the judges to suggest a short-list for consideration.

And finally, Brethren, on Thursday, 27 June, I shall be opening the exhibition of the works of the Artist-Photographer, Alvin Langdon Coburn, who was also a prolific Mason. It is being organised by the Library and Museum Charitable Trust, will be the first major exhibition of its kind that we have sponsored and I recommend a visit. Brother Coburn had a long and distinguished Masonic career in North Wales and Freemasonry was central to his life. He wrote an explanation of it which seems appropriate for our Freemasonry in the Community initiative. He said “that Freemasonry is not a thing apart, cut off from life, it is interwoven with it, and the more it is studied with a view to spiritual progress, the more enlightened one becomes, and the richer in consequence are our lives!”

Brethren, this is the last time I shall be able to address you before the summer break, but I wish you all a very time with your friends and families and look forward to seeing you again in September, when the new Masonic season starts.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 12 December 2001 00:00

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2001

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION
12 December 2001
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER THE MOST HON THE MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON, DL

Brethren,

In November 1999 the Grand Master’s Council appointed a Committee to consider the basis on which appointments to Grand Rank were allocated to Provinces and Districts and various related matters, and to make recommendations to my predecessor as Pro Grand Master, the late MW Bro Lord Farnham.

The Committee, under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Grand Master, RW Bro Iain Bryce, reported its interim findings to Lord Farnham in the middle of last year and those findings were considered by the Grand Master’s Council in September 2000 and have already been implemented.

In April 2001 I requested the Committee to carry out the second phase of the review, dealing principally with the basis on which appointments to London Grand Rank, Overseas Grand Rank and Provincial and District Grand Ranks are allocated. At the same time certain changes were made to the composition of the Committee. The Committee submitted its report and recommendations on 21st November and I have already authorised its distribution for comment by 1st February 2002 to the Grand Master’s Council, Provincial and District Grand Masters, Grand Superintendents, Grand Inspectors, the Board and Committee of General Purposes.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Committee for its work and, in particular, the Deputy Grand Master for his Chairmanship of it and to the Assistant Grand Secretary, Bro. Graham Redman for his excellent and painstaking work as the Clerk to the Committee.

Speaking of my predecessor, Lord Farnham, I am pleased to announce that the Grand Charity, at the next opportunity in March, is to propose two grants of £25,000 each in memory of Lord Farnham. The first is to the Cancer Vaccine Institute with the Division of Oncology at St. George’s Hospital Medical School to continue the development of the kidney cancer vaccine. The research has now reached the stage of clinical trials and the grant will allow thirty patients to be treated over the next two years.

The second grant is the Palliative Care Research Fund of the Royal Marsden Hospital. This grant will provide funding to investigate the clinical uses of cannabis and the effectiveness of morphine for the treatment of cancer pain.

Lord Farnham also was, of course, an Irish Mason and I had the pleasure of representing the Grand Master at the Installation of the new Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Ireland, MW Bro Eric Waller, in Dublin on 22nd November. It was a very happy occasion and we all wish him and his Grand Lodge every success for the future.

A few days later I was in Edinburgh for the re-Installation of the Grand Master Mason of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, Bro. Archibald Orr Ewing, now in his third year in that office. This was my first visit in my present capacity and I can report that both our two sister Constitutions are in very good hands.

From Edinburgh I flew to Paris for the Installation of the new Grand Master of the Grande Loge Nationale Française, MW Bro Jean Charles Foellner. He too received from me a personal gift from our Grand Master, a medallion struck by the Royal Mint bearing on one side the Arms of the United Grand Lodge of England and on the other the signature of His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent, as Grand Master. Brethren that was a remarkable occasion, with more than forty Grand Lodges represented, many of them recent creations in Africa by the GLNF. I took the opportunity to stress that the GLNF is the only regular Grand Lodge in France and to express the hope that it will soon be able to overcome the difficulties it has been facing from within and without.

Brethren, it has come to my attention that a reconstruction of an 18th Century variation of our ceremonies, including the opening and closing of a Lodge has been demonstrated by members of this Constitution when non-Masons, including ladies, have been present. This cannot be right. The essential parts of our ceremonies have hardly changed over the centuries and although they were exposed more than 250 years ago we have individually promised not to reveal them. I believe that the guidelines the Board of General Purposes has laid down for demonstrations of rituals, other than those practised by our own Lodges stand equally to historical reconstructions, but I have asked the Board to look into the matter and, if necessary to bring guidance before Grand Lodge at a future meeting.

Brethren, I would like to add my thanks to Bro Daniel for his work as Grand Secretary over the past three and a half years. His re-organisation of the staff structures in this building and the introduction of systems of management, both financial and administrative have helped ensure that the Craft is better run and his contribution to our external relations, with his wide experience of Freemasonry overseas has ensured that the voice of the United Grand Lodge of England is once again being heard as a force for common sense and stability. I am sure you will all join me in wishing him a very happy retirement in Cornwall and more time to spend with his wife Jenny and sailing his boat. 

Finally Brethren, I am pleased to tell you that we will be holding a service of celebration to launch the Freemasonry in the Community week on June 18th next year in St Paul’s Cathedral. While it will be a predominantly Christian service, Brethren of all faiths will be included and further details will be provided in due course.

Published in Speeches
Page 15 of 15

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