Freemasonry is flourishing in Mauritius with a new Grand Lodge as Michael Allan discovered
On 12 March 2005, the 37th anniversary of National Independence Day, the first Grand Lodge of Mauritius was consecrated and RW Brother Lindsay Descombes was installed as Grand Master. MW Brother Jean-Charles Foellner, Grand Master of the Grande Loge Nationale Française, carried out the Installation. This was the pinnacle of the island’s distinguished history of Freemasonry stretching back more than 200 years.
The week of celebration that followed in the presence of Grand Masters and delegations from four continents, laid the foundation of what is set to be an outward-looking fraternity whilst observing the true traditions of the Craft.
At present, the seven Lodges previously under the banner of the Grande Loge Nationale Française have been transferred to the new Grand Lodge of Mauritius and consequently re-numbered 01 to 07.
The Grand Lodge has defined its Vision, its Mission Statement and its Objectives. The Action Plan’s first priority has been to seek recognition from, and exchange Lodge Representatives with, Grand Lodges in friendly countries. To date some 50 countries have been contacted and recognition received from a dozen.
As a Freemason born in Mauritius, but who has resided in England for the past 45 years, I was delighted and astounded to be made an Honorary Founder Member and a Very Worshipful Brother as Past Grand Deacon. This was in recognition of my recently published historical book, Freemasonry in Mauritius – A Chronological Compilation of Lodges 1778 – 2004, the only complete account of the Craft on the island.
Although when I started my research I had no idea that the formation of a Grand Lodge was under discussion, the book’s publication fortuitously coincided with the consecration. However, it was six months later, in September 2005, that I was at last able to attend my first Lodge meeting in Mauritius.
I was invited to Lodge Louis Auguste Ormières No. 1 and to Friendship Royal Arch Chapter No. 160. This is the only Chapter on the island and is on the Roll of the Supreme Grand Royal Arch Chapter of Scotland.
At Lodge No. 1 they performed a third degree, and I found that it is often customary in Mauritian Lodges for visitors to be announced and admitted well after the minutes of the previous meeting have been read and approved.
The Rite Emulation was the order of the day and it was a pleasure to hear the ceremony in French. Furthermore, I was astonished to find out that it was exactly the way we do it in England, virtually a literal translation. Being bilingual I felt I could easily have stood in for one of the officers.
For the Chapter Installation, the whole procedure was new to me. It was the first time I had witnessed a Scottish Ritual. The Friendship Royal Arch Chapter No. 160 was Chartered on 16 June 1875 and inaugurated in 1879. It became dormant between 1896 and 1918. Amongst the Founder Members and those on the Roll of First Principals were many well-known local Brethren, including early British administrators on the island.
I will forever remember and be most grateful for the warmth and friendship I received on both occasions, and the Festive Board was exceptional. At the end of the meeting a table full of gajacks (Mauritian for tit bits e.g., chilli cakes, samoussas, etc) and drinks greet you, then follows a three-course meal including wine, all for £6!
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.
QUARTERLY COMMUNICATIONS OF GRAND LODGE
WEDNESDAY, 12 SEPTEMBER 2012
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF GENERAL PURPOSES
Meetings in 2013
The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2013 on 12 February, 19 March, 14 May, 16 July, 17 September and 12 November.
Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges
The Board drew attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to Secretaries of Lodges.
Attendance at Lodges Overseas
Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate Masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.
Brethren should not attempt to make any Masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.
The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated verbally in open Lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and in print once a year in a Lodge’s summons. Brethren should also be aware of the Masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries.
Prestonian Lecture 2013
The Trustees of the Prestonian Fund have appointed W Bro P.R. Calderwood as Prestonian Lecturer for 2013. The title of his Lecture is "As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry".
Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from Lodges.
Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries. The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge.
It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by Lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.
Grand Loge Nationale Française
Statements made by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor are available here.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
Conditional Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge
The Grand Lodge of Ireland currently has 20 Lodges meeting under its Provincial Grand Lodge of Nigeria and the Grand Lodge of Scotland has 45 Lodges meeting there under its District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.
It is the intention of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, following consultation with this Grand Lodge, to constitute from their Province and District respectively a Grand Lodge of Nigeria on 3 November 2012.
To date none of the 33 Lodges under our own District of Nigeria has indicated a desire to participate in the formation of the new Grand Lodge, but nevertheless the Board of General Purposes has agreed that an English deputation should attend the Inauguration in order to lend support to the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland.
By the time this Grand Lodge meets in December, the Grand Lodge of Nigeria will already have been constituted. The Board would prefer that the new Grand Lodge be recognised from the moment of its creation, rather than after a delay, and accordingly recommended this course.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Installed Masters’ Lodges
Since 1 January 2006 Installed Masters’ Lodges have been exempt from paying dues to Grand Lodge and the contribution to the Grand Charity, except in respect of those members who belong to no other Lodge.
From time to time the Grand Secretary receives a request from a Lodge such as a Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge or a research Lodge, all of the Members of which are Installed Masters, to be considered an Installed Masters’ Lodge, and therefore entitled to the exemption.
The Board wishes to remind Brethren that the exemption was introduced to recognise the special role traditional Installed Masters’ Lodges play in education and communication, and to make it plain that the exemption will not be granted to Lodges which are merely de facto Installed Masters’ Lodges.
At the same time the Board recognises that there exist certain Installed Masters Lodges which operate as such but are open to the Masters and Past Masters of a particular category of Lodges only, such as the City of London Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 8220.
The Board has hitherto considered itself to be acting within the spirit and intent of Rule 269 and Rule 271 in determining such Lodges to fulfil the requirements of the proviso to those Rules. It considers, however, that the time has now come to regularise the situation by making such Lodges clearly the subject of the exemption.
Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.
The Board had received a report that Hiraeth Lodge, No. 8834 had resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Wenallt Lodge, No. 9082 (South Wales).The Board accordingly recommended that the Lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 15 Lodges had closed and voted to surrender their Warrants. The Lodges are: Portland Lodge, No. 637 (Staffordshire), Dalhousie Lodge, No. 860 (London), Cosmopolitan Lodge, No. 917 (London), John Hervey Lodge, No. 1260 (London), Clapton Lodge, No. 1365 (London), Victoria Park Lodge, No. 1816 (London),
Raymond Thrupp Lodge, No. 2024 (Middlesex), Sheraton Lodge, No. 3019 (London), Westminster Hospital Lodge, No. 5292 (London), Priory of Lambeth Lodge, No. 6252 (London), Caslon Lodge, No. 6303 (London), Nile Lodge, No. 6476 (West Lancashire), Phoenix Lodge of Hanwell, No. 7317 (London), Lodge of Felicity, No. 7509 (Middlesex) and Rivermead Lodge, No. 8444 (Nottinghamshire).
The Board recommended that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Report of Library and Museum Trust
Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust .
Assuring the Future of Freemasonry
Grand Lodge received a talk entitled 'Assuring the Future of Freemasonry: making the Craft relevant to all generations'.
List of new Lodges for which Warrants have been granted
26 April 2012: No. 9874 Terpsichore Lodge (Stamford, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire).
13 June 2012: No. 9875 Armed Forces Lodge (Newport, Monmouthshire) and No. 9876 Cambria Meridian Lodge of Installed Masters (Rhyl, North Wales).
Meetings of Grand Lodge
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge will be held on 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013, 24 April 2013 (Annual Investiture), 12 June 2013, 11 September 2013 and 11 December 2013.
Meetings of Grand Chapter
Supreme Grand Chapter will meet 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013 and 16 October 2013.
12 September 2012
United Grand Lodge of England has voted to withdraw recognition from Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
A full statement will follow shortly.
At its Quarterly Communication in September 2011 the United Grand Lodge of England resolved that relations between it and the Grande Loge Nationale Française (“GLNF”) be suspended.
During the intervening months the situation within the GLNF has deteriorated rather than improved, and the continuing turbulence makes it impossible to determine the true state of affairs.
After long and careful consideration the Board of General Purposes will, in the absence of any dramatic change in circumstances, recommend in its Report to the September Communication of the Grand Lodge that it is in the best interests of the United Grand Lodge of England that recognition be withdrawn from the GLNF.
If that recommendation is accepted by Grand Lodge, a consequence will be that those members of Lodges under the United Grand Lodge of England who are currently also members of Lodges under the GLNF will be forced to choose whether to resign from all such Lodges or to resign from their Lodges under the UGLE.
President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson made a statement concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) at the September Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
Having previously expressed concern over the turbulence within GLNF, the President said the situation has subsequently deteriorated. ‘There appears to be no sign of it improving,’ he confirmed. ‘We cannot ignore the lack of harmony. Nor can we overlook the fact that a significant proportion of the membership of the GLNF apparently no longer recognise the leadership of its Grand Master.’
While the present situation continues, the recommendation of the Board is that relations with the GLNF be suspended. ‘I should emphasise that the suspension of relations does not force any of the brethren who are currently also members of lodges under the GLNF to resign from those lodges,’ he added. Anthony Wilson did, however, draw attention to the possibility that for so long as the GLNF is recognised by UGLE as the sovereign Grand Lodge, any UGLE brethren who are also members of a French lodge that formally repudiates that jurisdiction (even temporary) may find that Rule 176 in the Book of Constitutions requires them to make a choice, in the future, between severing their links with that lodge and remaining members of the Craft in the UGLE constitution.
The full statement by Anthony Wilson, President of the Board of General Purposes, can be found here.
14 September 2011
A Statement by the RW President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française
Right Worshipful Deputy Grand Master and Brethren,
At the June Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge I expressed the Board’s concern over the turbulence and discord within Grande Loge Nationale Française, including the appointment of an Administrative Receiver over its legal entity.
Since then, as stated in the Board’s Report, the situation has deteriorated. There appears to be no sign of it improving. On the contrary the disharmony within the Membership and the substantial number of Lodges, representing over one-third of the Membership, who appear to be distancing themselves from the leadership of their Grand Lodge continues to give cause for concern.
We cannot ignore the lack of harmony. Nor can we overlook the fact that a significant proportion of the Membership of the GLNF apparently no longer recognise the leadership of its Grand Master, which does not offer much hope for an end to the disharmony and turbulence. It is clear, therefore, that while the present situation continues our Members should not be in Masonic contact with our Brethren in France. Hence our recommendation that relations with the GLNF be suspended.
Set out in the Board’s Report is what we mean by the suspension of relations. I may add that the Board has consulted the Grand Registrar who is satisfied that the Report accurately describes the effect of a suspension of relations; and that the terms of the Resolution which appears at item 5 on the Paper of Business achieve the desired objective.
I should emphasise that the suspension of relations does not, of itself, force any of the Brethren who are currently also members of Lodges under the GNLF to resign from those Lodges. But I should draw attention to the possibility that – for so long as the GNLF is recognised by Grand Lodge as the Sovereign Grand Lodge having jurisdiction over freemasonry in France – those of our Brethren who are members of a French Lodge which formally repudiates that jurisdiction (even on a temporary basis) may find that Rule 176 in the Book of Constitutions requires them to make choice, in the future, between severing their links with that Lodge and remaining members of the Craft in our constitution. The Board will need to keep this issue under review as matters develop in France.
QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION OF GRAND LODGE
14 SEPTEMBER 2011
REPORT OF THE BOARD OF GENERAL PURPOSES
Board of General Purposes
The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2012 on 14 February, 20 March, 15 May, 17 July, 18 September and 13 November.
Attendance at lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges
The Board draws attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the UGLE, published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to lodge secretaries.
Only Brethren who are members of lodges under recognised jurisdictions may visit English lodges. They must produce a certificate (i.e. a Grand Lodge certificate or other documentary proof of masonic identity provided by their Grand Lodge), should be prepared to acknowledge that a personal belief in TGAOTU is an essential Landmark in Freemasonry, and should be able to produce evidence of their good standing in their lodges. It is the Master’s responsibility to ensure that the requirements of Rule 125 (b) are met.
It is particularly noted that the hazard of admitting a member of an unrecognised constitution arises not only in connection with overseas visitors (or individuals resident in this country who belong to an unrecognised constitution overseas). There are Lodges of unrecognised constitutions meeting in England, and care must be taken that their members are not admitted to our meetings.
Attendance at Lodges Overseas
The continuing growth in overseas travel brings with it an increase in visits by our Brethren to lodges of other jurisdictions, and the Board welcomes this trend. From time to time, however, Brethren become involved with masonic bodies which Grand Lodge does not recognise, e.g. in visiting a jurisdiction which, quite legitimately so far as it is concerned, accepts as visitors Brethren from Grand Lodges which are not recognised by the UGLE.
In this connection, Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.
To avoid this danger, and potential embarrassment to hosts, Brethren should not attempt to make any masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.
The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated verbally in open lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and in print once a year in a lodge’s summons.
Brethren should also be aware of the masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries. They should therefore not attempt without permission to make direct contact with the Grand Secretary of another Constitution. This does not preclude direct contact on a purely personal level between individual Brethren under different Grand Lodges.
Grande Loge Nationale Française
At the June Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge the President made a statement relating to the turbulence existing in the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) and indicated that the Board would continue to monitor the situation closely.
The Board regrets that the situation within the GLNF has deteriorated. Notwithstanding the letter its current Grand Master wrote to our Pro Grand Master, he failed to relinquish his mandate on 27 June. This has done nothing to ease the discord.
Some 600 lodges or more have dissociated themselves from the Grand Lodge or have indicated that they will be doing so. This means that their members, unless they have dual membership with lodges that remain under the GLNF or a lodge in another jurisdiction with whom this Grand Lodge is in amity, would cease to be able to visit our lodges. It would be an impossible task for our lodges to know which French masons could visit us and which could not.
Harmony within lodges and with fellow masons has always been one of the customs and usages of Freemasonry. This is a fundamental principle urged upon candidates at their initiation. Indeed, it is so fundamental that it has never been considered necessary to enshrine it as a Rule in the Book of Constitutions, though the Antient Charges which are published as a part of the Book of Constitutions urge the cultivation of brotherly love, ‘avoiding all wrangling and quarrelling, all slander and backbiting’.
The Board considers that the GLNF may be in breach of paragraph 8 of the Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition –‘That the principles of the Antient Landmarks, customs, and usages of the Craft shall be strictly observed’ – which are also included with the Book of Constitutions.
The evidence of substantial disharmony within the GLNF is overwhelming. However, the Board is reluctant at present to recommend withdrawal of recognition from a Grand Lodge with which the UGLE has been in amity for nearly 100 years. It therefore recommends that with immediate effect relations with the GLNF be suspended, that is to say that:
1. Our Brethren should no longer be permitted to join or to visit Lodges under the GLNF; and
2. Our lodges should no longer be permitted to elect as a joining member or admit as a visitor any Brother who is a subscribing member of a lodge under the GLNF, unless he is also a subscribing member of a lodge under UGLE or under a Grand Lodge, other than the GLNF, recognised by UGLE.
This suspension would not force any of our Brethren who are currently also members of lodges under the GLNF to resign from any such lodges, nor would it prevent such Brethren from continuing to exercise, as members of lodges under the GLNF, such rights, including those of visiting, as they enjoy under the GLNF.
A Resolution to give effect was approved.
The Board hopes that it will not be too long before harmony is restored within the GLNF so that we may resume normal relations with our Brethren in France.
Sir James Martin Lodge No. 4255 has resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Semper Vigilans Lodge No. 3040 (London).
A resolution that the lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 23 lodges had closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are: Athenaeum Lodge No. 1491 (London), Lombardian Lodge No. 2348 (London); King George V Lodge No. 3529 (East Lancashire), Providence Lodge No. 3697 (London), Doric Lodge No. 4073 (Yorkshire, West Riding), St Helen’s Lodge of Integrity No. 4151 (West Lancashire), Portman Lodge No. 4747 (London), Pandora Lodge, No. 4966 (London), Winckley Lodge No. 5438 (West Lancashire), Woodland Lodge No. 5478 (East Lancashire), Estreham Lodge No. 5494 (London), Eureka Lodge No. 5505 (East Lancashire), Temple of Friendship Lodge No. 5886 (Surrey), Magnum Bonum Lodge No. 6613 (London), Fellowship and Peace Lodge No. 7002 (London), Hackney Brook Lodge No. 7397 (London), New Era Lodge No. 7400 (Hertfordshire), Teddington St Mary’s Lodge No. 7469 (Middlesex), Brookmans Park Lodge No. 7655 (Hertfordshire), Summa Petens Lodge No. 7682 (London), Tavistock Lodge No. 8376 (Surrey), Bi-Centenary Lodge of Nottinghamshire No. 9070 (Nottinghamshire) and Star and Phoenix Lodge No. 9286 (London).
The Board recommendation that they be erased was approved.
In 1993 a Warrant was granted for Lodge of Shankar No. 9526 (Bombay) and in 1996 a Warrant was granted for Universal Lodge No. 9644 (Guyana). Both Warrants were issued, but neither lodge has been, or is now likely to be, consecrated.
The Board recommendation that the lodges be formally erased was approved.
Masonic Communications in an Electronic Age
The Grand Secretary gave a talk to Grand Lodge on the above subject.
List of Approved New Lodges
28 April 2011: No. 9866 Abuja Lodge, Abuja, Nigeria and No. 9867 The Leeds Lodge, Leeds Yorkshire, West Riding.
Expulsions from the Craft
Twelve members have been expelled from the Craft.
Quarterly Communication meetings
The Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge will meet on 14 December 2011, 14 March 2012, 25 April 2012 (Annual Investiture), 13 June 2012, 12 September 2012 and 12 December 2012.
Supreme Grand Chapter meetings
The Supreme Grand Chapter will meet on 9 November 2011, 26 April 2012 and 14 November 2012.
Report of the Council of the Library and Museum Charitable Trust for the year ended 31 January 2011
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Freemasons’ Hall in London is open to the public, free of charge, Monday to Friday 10 am–5 pm. The book, object and archive collections are available for the enjoyment of visitors of all ages by way of the permanent displays and increasing online resources which are also available for those who cannot visit in person. Temporary exhibitions highlight aspects of the collections.
During 2010 the Library and Museum organised two exhibitions: Freemasons and the Royal Society and The Masonic Emporium. Both exhibitions drew extensively on the Library and Museum’s own collections.
The Royal Society exhibition marked the 350th anniversary of its founding. Work related to the exhibition resulted in the online publication of a searchable biographical listing of nearly 400 Freemasons who were also Fellows of the Society. Loans to the exhibition were made by Alma Mater Lodge, No. 1492, in Cambridge. The Royal Society provided images from their collections.
In The Masonic Emporium the Library and Museum explored the growth of a commercial market for masonic items and the businesses which developed to supply it in the 19th century. The exhibition was supported by Toye, Kenning and Spencer, who kindly lent photographs and documents from their archives and specimen items from the manufacturing process. A number of objects were lent from private collections. A free illustrated exhibition guide was published for this exhibition.
A record number of more than 30,000 visited the Library and Museum during the year (2009–2010: 25,622) of whom approximately 60% were not Freemasons. For many visitors the highlight was the tour of the ceremonial areas provided by Library and Museum staff. The Library and Museum and the ceremonial rooms of Freemasons’ Hall were opened on Saturday, 18 September 2010 for London Open House. More than 2,500 visitors were received that day.
Provision of research resources
Increasing use is being made of the Library and Museum as a research resource with over 170 new readers registered during the year (2010: 200). The issue of books and documents has continued to increase steadily. Many enquiries are dealt with by mail or increasingly electronically.
A new version of the Library and Museum website was launched in November 2010 designed with easier navigation and with more images to convey the variety of the collections. This provided the opportunity to reissue the series of downloadable Information Sheets on a range of frequently requested topics. Also included on the site is guidance for lodges and chapters about the care of their records.
Good progress continued to be made with over 650 museum items catalogued (2010: 509). This included the collection of 18th century plated and pierced metal Masonic jewels. In addition, 2,755 books (2010: 4,810) and 1,835 detailed archive records (2010: 1,385) were added to the catalogue. Work has continued on cataloguing the print and photograph collection and over 1,500 images are now available.
Following the Historical Records Survey which was undertaken in 2008–2010, the Library and Museum co-ordinated a grant scheme to support conservation work on lodge and chapter records. The scheme attracted 35 applications from lodges and chapters in 18 Provinces and 12 grants were made. It is intended to administer a similar grants scheme in 2011. Library and Museum staff also gave several presentations at Provincial offices on conservation.
Donations of regalia, books and artefacts have continued to enable the Library and Museum to expand its collections and the Council is grateful for the generosity of all donors.
Raising awareness of the Collections
Members of staff spoke at lodges around the country and at meetings of family history societies and local and specialist history groups. The Curator, Mark Dennis, presented a paper on masonic regalia at the International Costume Conference in Athens in April.
Director Diane Clements and Archivist and Records Manager Susan Snell, presented papers at the Women and Freemasonry conference organised by the University of Bordeaux in May and these will be published in 2011-2012.
Susan Snell also spoke to the Jewish Genealogical Society of Great Britain and gave a paper to the British Records Association conference in December on Masonic charity.
In November 2010 a joint event, Freemasonry and Ancient Egypt, was run with the Petrie Museum at University College, London. Due to the success of this event it was repeated early in 2011.
Plans for future periods
One of the most important resources used by the Library and Museum are the membership registers maintained by UGLE for the century or so after the 1880s. These exist as unique volumes. During 2011 the Library and Museum is undertaking a project to microfilm these volumes to assist with their future preservation.
For 2011 the temporary exhibition programme will include Building Solomon’s Temple and The Patriot Freemason: Freemasonry in American Society. Work continues on documentation, cataloguing and re-storage.
As at 31 January 2011 the consolidated net assets of the Library and Museum Charitable Trust were £2,719,700 (2010: £2,634,699).
The activities of the Library and Museum are funded by donations, fees charged for genealogical research and booking fees for Saturday tours. The Friends of the Library and Museum established in 2001 enables individuals (whether Freemasons or not), lodges and chapters to support the Library and Museum by way of an annual subscription.
Friends receive regular Newsletters and can attend special events. The Friends scheme is open to all those interested in developing their understanding of the varied collections of the Library and Museum and who wish to contribute to their development and care.
The Library and Museum’s trading subsidiary, Letchworth’s (Freemasons’ Hall, London) Limited made a Gift Aid contribution to the Library and Museum of £92,202 (2010: £75,740).
This Report comprises extracts from the Annual Report and Accounts for the year ended 31 January 2011. For a copy of the full Annual Report and Accounts please write to the Director.
Many readers will know that from time to time the United Grand Lodge of England recognises and very occasionally withdraws recognition from another Grand Lodge. Peter Roberts explains why this affects us all
In September, the United Grand Lodge of England adopted the resolution to recognise the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Indiana, bringing the total now recognised to 136. This may sound just like high-level masonic diplomacy, but in fact it can make a very real difference to our members if they travel abroad. When another Grand Lodge is recognised it means that United Grand Lodge of England members can visit its lodges and their members can visit ours.
Freemasonry over the centuries has had plenty of imitators and splinter groups which have established their own self-styled forms of Freemasonry. Some of them allow or even encourage their members to become involved in politics or ethically dubious practices which are unacceptable to the United Grand Lodge of England.
Some people might argue that there is no real harm in quietly visiting a lodge under an irregular or unrecognised body. But just as in football, where it only takes one player to bring the game into disrepute, so someone visiting an unrecognised body could be misinterpreted as the United Grand Lodge of England tacitly approving the irregular body and, by extension, the rest of its members condoning it too. The United Grand Lodge of England is rightly scrupulous about not allowing this to happen.
It is with these bodies in mind that recognition becomes particularly important and why we spend a very great deal of time and effort looking into an individual Grand Lodge's wish to be recognised.
To be recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England a Grand Lodge must meet certain standards. These standards - the basic principles of Grand Lodge recognition - are published in the Book of Constitutions, the Masonic Year Book, in the booklet Information for the Guidance of Members of the Craft and Grand Lodge’s leaflet Freemasonry’s External Relations.
The most important standards are that the petitioning Grand Lodge must have undisputed authority over Craft masonry in its jurisdiction. Furthermore, its members should not be racists or atheists, nor should they practice religious intolerance. Its members must also only be men who take their obligations on a book held sacred to them. They must also not discuss religion or politics in lodge.
Important too is regularity of origin - in other words a Grand Lodge must have been formed either by a recognised Grand Lodge or by at least three regularly constituted lodges established by an already recognised Grand Lodge or Grand Lodges.
An example is the Grand Lodge of Russia (recognised in December last year) which was formed from four lodges set up in Russia by the already recognised Grand Loge Nationale Française. Although United Grand Lodge of England members were able to visit the lodges before the Grand Lodge of Russia was formed, after it was formed they were not allowed to visit until recognition had been granted.
The Grand Lodges of England, Ireland and Scotland are the exception to the principle of regularity of origin because they were formed by lodges which had already existed before any Grand Lodge (commonly known as time-immemorial lodges). These three Grand Lodges went on to form lodges all over the world, many of which later formed their own Grand Lodges.
It is also important that members of the subordinate lodges of the Grand Lodge seeking recognition can show that they were made masons under the Grand Lodge which sponsored it or a Grand Lodge which was recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England at the time of their becoming masons. One difficulty that can arise here is that the sponsoring Grand Lodge may recognise a Grand Lodge that the United Grand Lodge of England does not.
A yet further aspect is exclusive territorial jurisdiction (particularly practised in the United States) where one Grand Lodge claims masonic sovereignty within the state it covers and does not accept the existence of any other masonic body in that state. Although the United Grand Lodge of England accepts this policy, it does not conform to it itself, believing that masonic sovereignty is over members and not geographical territory.
If a Grand Lodge does not meet all of the basic principles it is considered irregular. An irregular Grand Lodge cannot by its nature be recognised but Grand Lodges and their members which fall within this category can vary in degrees of irregularity based on what is known about a Grand Lodge’s origins, practices and professions.
Regularity is sometimes confused with recognition. Although a regular Grand Lodge may meet the basic principles of Grand Lodge recognition, it can still nevertheless be unrecognised. This sometimes happens when a regular Grand Lodge works within an area where another recognised Grand Lodge already operates. The United Grand Lodge of England will usually only recognise one Grand Lodge in any one particular country, state or territory, unless with the express agreement of the Grand Lodge already recognised in that area.
France is a good example of this where there is the Grande Loge National Française (which is recognised), the Grand Lodge of France (regular but not recognised) and the Grand Orient of France (irregular).
Now and then restrictions have to be imposed on United Grand Lodge of England members visiting recognised Grand Lodges around the world. This can occur because a particular Grand Lodge has recognised another Grand Lodge which we have not and there is a strong possibility of our members attending a meeting where members from that unrecognised Grand Lodge may be present.
When granted, recognition takes immediate effect, and means that the United Grand Lodge of England believes that the Grand Lodge and its members profess and practice Freemasonry as it has been practised since its inception. The members of the two Grand Lodges can then truly regard each other as brethren and be permitted to visit each others lodges. It does not in any way mean, however, that if you find yourself talking about Freemasonry to someone in your local bar who happens to belong to an unrecognised constitution that you have to stop talking or walk away. You are obviously free to carry on talking about whatever you wish.
So if you are ever planning to going abroad and want to visit lodges of other constitutions it is therefore vital to check with Freemasons’ Hall first, otherwise you could not only end up in an embarrassing situation, but also inadvertently bring the United Grand Lodge of England and the rest of its members into disrepute.