Celebrating 300 years

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2001

Wednesday, 12 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.

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