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.
11 June 2003
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.
12 JUNE 2002
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER the Most Hon the Marquess of Northampton, DL
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.
12 December 2001
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER THE MOST HON THE MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON, DL
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.