Celebrating 300 years
Friday, 16 September 2011 12:40

PERFECT MATCH

As the Rugby World Cup returns to New Zealand after 24 years, Patrick Kidd traces the origins of the game to see why it sits so well with the values of Freemasonry


The Maori chieftain threw back his head and roared. ‘Ka mate! Ka mate! Ka ora! Ka ora!’ he shouted, advancing towards the Welsh players. ‘Tis death! ’Tis death! ’Tis life! ’Tis life!’ Standing in front of the sportsmen, quaking slightly, was Des Barnett, president of the Welsh Rugby Union at the time of the first Rugby World Cup in 1987. The team had been invited to a traditional Maori welcome in Hamilton, on the North Island of New Zealand.

As president, Barnett was told that he had to face the haka war dance – ‘because I was their chief’ – and so there he stood, as the Maori rolled his eyes and flopped his tongue, wondering how to reply. ‘I was admiring his beautiful outfit, when suddenly there, swinging on his chest, I saw a square and compasses,’ Barnett, a mason since 1967, recalls. ‘I gave him a sort of hailing sign, putting my hand on my heart and said, “I bring you fraternal greetings.”’

The chieftain stopped. ‘You mason?’ he smiled. And then he gestured towards his tribe, all of whom, it turned out, were members of a Maori lodge.

Now, 24 years on, the World Cup has returned to New Zealand. The sport has changed immensely, moving in the 1990s towards a fully professional game. In 1987, the Home Unions were not keen on the World Cup, fearing it might destroy their own Five Nations Championship – it began under a political cloud because of the expulsion of South Africa over apartheid, and a military coup in Fiji.

Wales, Ireland and Scotland flew out on the same plane. Barnett recalls that the Welsh squad had spent just one weekend together, while New Zealand had trained for months. Little wonder that the All Blacks demolished Wales in the semi-finals 49-6 on their way to winning their first and, so far, only World Cup.

Yet the tournament was a success for Wales. They beat England in the quarter-finals (always the result that matters most), and came third in a play-off match against Australia, with Paul Thorburn striking a late conversion from out wide to seal a 22-21 win.

‘A New Zealand brewer gave the Welsh players four bottles of lager a day, left untouched,’ Barnett says. ‘Until the third-place play-off , and then they partied.’

SHARED IDEALS
Rugby may have changed, but the theme of camaraderie, teamwork and post-match enjoyment endures. They are tenets most Freemasons share.

‘Rugby was known as the Freemasonry of the world,’ says Barnett, who was initiated in Hen Bont Lodge in South Wales, and was Junior Grand Deacon in 2004. Alan Grimsdell, the president of the English RFU in 1987, is also a mason, but they only discovered this bond sometime after the World Cup.

Rugby, like Freemasonry, developed over a long time before finding the form we know today. In the earliest days, villages played different versions of a football game with their own rules, much like the early lodges developed individual rituals.

BREAKING AWAY
In 1863, meetings were held to form a Football Association at the Freemasons Tavern, attached to Freemasons’ Hall. It was split between supporters of the version of the game played at Rugby in Warwickshire, in which almost any violence was acceptable, and the Cambridge rules, which banned catching the ball and hacking your opponents.

‘It would do away with all the courage and pluck from the game,’ said Francis Maude Campbell, of the Blackheath club. So, rugby and football parted.

Rugby remains the more manly – some might say thuggish – game. Peter Larter, a former second row forward who played 24 times for England, as well as touring South Africa with the 1968 Lions, has seen enough violence to qualify him to sit on the citing panel for this year’s World Cup, as he did in 2007.

‘I’ve been there, seen it and done it,’ he says. ‘When I played, there were certain crafty players. My job at the World Cup is to provide evidence of foul play.’ He admits, though, that since the game went professional, it has become cleaner. ‘A lot of boots in the back or high tackles are accidental,’ he says.

Larter was initiated into Freemasonry in 1977, when he was stationed in Germany with the RAF, joining Saxony Lodge. Through the late Don White, the former England flanker and, from 1969 to 1971, the first England national coach, he was encouraged to join Cumton Lodge in Northamptonshire.

In 2001, White and Larter were founder members of William Webb Ellis Lodge, which, like the World Cup trophy, is named after the schoolboy who, ‘with a fine disregard for the rules of football... first took the ball in his arms and ran with it’.

The lodge meets in Rugby, just 250 yards from the field where Webb Ellis played, twice a year, with the December installation always coinciding with a home match played by Rugby Lions – the National League Three Midlands team who recently appointed Neil Back, the former England flanker, as head coach, with a mission to take the side into the Premiership. The meeting, which starts at 9.30am, is concluded in good time for lunch, followed by an afternoon watching rugby. Conviviality remains something sacred to rugby and Freemasonry.

‘In rugby, as in Freemasonry, you make friends for life,’ Larter says. The same spirit inspired the foundation of Rugby Football Lodge six years ago in Huddersfield, the town where rugby league split from rugby union at a meeting in 1895.

HOUSEHOLD NAMES
One of the most enduring connections between the Craft and rugby is in the name on the trophy for which Australia and New Zealand compete every year. The Bledisloe Cup is named for Charles Bathurst: Lord Bledisloe, the Governor-General of New Zealand in the 1930s, who was also Grand Master of the country’s Grand Lodge.

Many illustrious players have been Freemasons, including several members of the dominant 1970s Wales team. At least two England captains have been masons: Eric Evans, the hooker, who led England in 1957 to their first grand slam in the Five Nations for 29 years, was a member of Lodge of Unanimity, No. 89. Ron Jacobs, the prop who led England in 1964, was initiated in St Andrew Lodge in Cambridgeshire, and was a member of William Webb Ellis Lodge until his death in 2002.

The connection exists among modern players, too. Richard Hibbard, the Ospreys hooker who has played many times for Wales, was initiated into Celtic Eagle Lodge in Port Talbot three years ago. Having served as a steward, he is now Inner Guard, although says that he will wait until his rugby career is over before trying to go through the chair. ‘I love freemasonry,’ Hibbard explains. ‘It’s similar to rugby because of the friendships you make.’

Another rugby-playing mason is John Freedman, the Australia prop who managed the national side in 1973 and is in Lodge Vaucluse in New South Wales. At a 40-year reunion, Freedman spoke of ‘a pleasant ethos in rugby socially, not dissimilar to Freemasonry’. Brotherly love, relief and truth: they are the three principles that bond the Craft together – as closely as the three rows of a scrum.

Patrick Kidd is a writer for The Times. His book "The Worst of Rugby" is published by Pitch
Published in Features
Friday, 16 September 2011 11:45

The external image

HRH the Duke of Kent explains why Freemasons need to not only act as mentors but also ambassadors

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in the Metropolitan, Provinces and Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

On a visit to the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects, I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non-masonic charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the unique venues of London we are highly respected within the events industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non-masonic visitors to our events. This included London Fashion Week and an after party for the latest Harry Potter world premiere! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

This is an excerpt from the Annual Craft Investiture address by the MW The Grand Master HRH the Duke of Kent, KG, given on 27 April 2011.  To read the speech in full, press here.

Published in UGLE
Sunday, 01 May 2011 16:31

The Masonic Museum In Brighton

Yasha Beresiner visits the Sussex Masonic Centre

Standing at the entrance to the Sussex Masonic Centre in the heart of Brighton, you can catch the smell of the sea just a few hundred yards away. This centre, containing both masonic temples and administrative offices, was established in 1898 and must be one of the most convenient in England; it is only a two-minute walk from Brighton Station.
The museum is under the capable administration of the curator and librarian, Reginald Barrow, who takes great pride in the artefacts that are displayed in the various rooms on three floors of interconnected buildings.

MEISSEN MOPS
Among the numerous important items in the museum’s extensive collection is an eighteenth century Meissen porcelain figurine representing Augustus II of Poland and Elector of Saxony (1670-1733). He is wearing a simple masonic apron and holding a scroll of the masonic constitutions in his right hand, indicating his authority. By his left arm, on a pedestal, stands a mops (pug dog). This dog represents symbolically how Freemasonry survived in Germany, Prussia and elsewhere in Europe under the adverse conditions following the Papal Bull of April 1738 forbidding Roman Catholics from joining the fraternity.
The secret Order of the Mopses was founded in 1740 by German Roman Catholics with the support of Augustus II, who became its Grand Master. Because his favourite animal was the mops, this became the symbol of the Order and gave it its name; the Order worked an elaborate, if somewhat outlandish, ritual which imitated Freemasonry. This rare and attractive figurine was made in the Meissen factory around 1740 and is attributed to the German sculptor Johann Joachim Kaendle (1706-1750), who sculpted exclusively for the Meissen factory and was known for his representations of animals.

HARRIS DESIGNS
The museum also preserves a folder containing the original proofs and completed drawings by the famous John Harris, whose tracing boards continue to decorate many lodge rooms throughout the country. John Harris, a painter of miniatures and an architectural draughtsman, came on the scene in 1815, two years after the union of the two Grand Lodges. He was initiated in 1818 and from the beginning was fascinated by the symbolic portrayals on tracing boards. He soon revolutionised the concept of the designs, which ultimately led to the standardisation of tracing boards throughout the constitution.
In 1823, somewhat business minded, Harris dedicated a set of his miniature tracing boards to the Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England. This act naturally popularised his designs and his tracing boards soon became fashionable and in demand by the majority of lodges. A true breakthrough, however, came in 1845 when an invitation by the Emulation Lodge of Improvement was made for artists to submit designs for tracing boards. John Harris’ designs won hands down and he never looked back.
In the same folder are several pages of printer’s proofs and hand-coloured manuscript designs of Harris’ efforts. Among the most striking images are two third degree miniature boards with evocative mortal emblems. These printed boards indicate on their margin that they won the third prize and were published in 1849.
The realistic rendering of the skull and bones within the coffin is decorated by a multicoloured ribbon brim which is further enhanced by the dark black shadow of the coffin. A scroll on the lower half depicts an intricate setting of the innermost shrine of the tabernacle, the Sanctum Sanctorum. Seven branched Menorahs decorate the aisles, whilst three figures – Hiram King of Tyre, Hiram Abiff and King Solomon – stand in front of the Ark of the Covenant on the chequered floor of the Temple. The reversed ciphers and Hebrew letters are characteristic of third degree tracing board. The question as to why Harris depicted the ciphers ‘3000’ in reverse has never been satisfactorily explained; he may have misunderstood the Hebrew tradition of writing from right to left. In any case, these tracing boards were never formally adopted.

MASONIC SCRIMSHAW
One object in the museum that brings to mind the widespread nature of Freemasonry is a scrimshaw drinking horn. The word immediately creates the vision of ancient mariners intent on painstaking and delicate etching on ivory or bone. The genre covers an enormous range of themes and it is only natural the symbolism of Freemasonry should also be represented. This excellent example of a horn, from around 1845, is in pristine condition with its intricate masonic emblems clearly visible.
Central to the design is an arch which appears supported by the square and compasses and headed by the all-seeing eye. In the centre the three masonic candlesticks are placed on the chequered floor and below are representations of the third degree coffin and the pentagram. Along the sides, emblems of various orders beyond the craft are identifiable; they have been carefully and clearly engraved. The detail of the carving is enhanced by crossed lines and deeper etching which creates shadows and contrasts further beautifying this rare object.
A prominent piece we saw on display is the apron worn by HRH the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) whilst attending meetings in Brighton. It is mounted in a lavish and heavy oak frame and above it is the unusual twisted Tyler’s sword, popularly referred to as ‘the flaming sword’, in allusion to the weapons carried by the cherubs guarding the entrance to Eden.

For those who may be interested in visiting the museum, the curator and librarian Reginald Barrow can be contacted at the centre on 01273 737404

Published in Features

A Greek Orthodox Palestinian Arab, Nadim Mansour, has been installed in Tel Aviv as Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel, a position he will hold until 2013

Israel has had two previous Palestinian Arab Grand Masters – Yakob Nazee (1933-1940) and Jamil Shalhoub (1981-1982).

Nadim Mansour, who was born in Haifa but moved to Acre aged five, was initiated – as a Lewis – into Lodge Akko in 1971, of which his father Elias was a founder, and in 1980 became its Master. He also has the rank of 33rd Degree in the Ancient and Accepted Rite.

Currently, the Grand Lodge has about 1,200 members in 56 lodges, working in ten languages – Hebrew, Arabic, English, French, Hungarian, Rumanian, Turkish, Russian, German and Spanish – and five different religions.

Published in International
Wednesday, 27 April 2011 11:26

Grand Master's address - April 2011

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

27 April 2011

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

Brethren,

I welcome you all to this Annual Investiture and I should like to congratulate all those who have become Grand Officers or who have been promoted in Grand Rank. This is a special day for you. At the same time I thank those other Grand Officers who, reappointed from year to year, do so much to ensure continuity in the direction of the Craft.

Grand Rank should be regarded as a challenge to greater effort and as an incentive to shoulder greater responsibilities. Some of you already hold executive appointments in Metropolitan, the Provinces and the Districts. All of you, whether you hold these appointments or not, must remember the importance of training the next generation, which is precisely why the Mentoring Scheme has been set in motion.

The Mentoring Scheme is designed eventually to mentor members at all stages of their Masonic progress. Initially this will be especially for candidates during the three degrees and to encourage them to continue their progress into the Royal Arch. All Provinces now have a Provincial Grand Mentor who will be responsible for ensuring the selection of a mentoring coordinator in each Lodge. The mentoring coordinator, in turn, will select the member in the Lodge with the right personality and knowledge to actually do the mentoring of each individual. The Pro Grand Master announced yesterday to the Provincial and District Grand Masters the formation of a working party, under the chairmanship of the Grand Secretary, to look at for example, the selection of coordinators and mentors as well as guidelines to make sure that the messages are consistent.

The aim is to have as many members as possible as ambassadors for Freemasonry. By ambassador I mean a member who not only lives as honest a life as possible, but also understands the meaning of the ritual and, importantly, is able and willing to talk about Freemasonry to family and friends. Talking openly about Freemasonry, as appropriate, is core to my philosophy, central to our communications strategy and essential to the survival of Freemasonry as a respected and relevant membership organisation. As Grand Officers I shall of course be relying upon you to give your full support to the Mentoring Scheme as it develops.

Brethren, in July I visited the Province of Buckinghamshire to see their Freemasonry in the Community projects. I was particularly impressed with their iHelp youth competition – involving young groups competing for prize-money to show the positive side of young people – and the Rock Ride covering a 1,500 mile bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School to raise funds for non Masonic Charities within the Province. These projects are supported by the local dignitaries and are enormously important for our external image.

Another important example of our external image is the very successful event business run here at Freemasons’ Hall. As one of the Unique Venues of London we are highly respected within the event industry. I was pleased to hear that, last year, we had 53,000 non Masonic visitors to our events. Events that included the London Fashion Week and the after party for the latest Harry Potter world premier! Many of our visitors did not know that they could come into a Masonic building and all of them I believe left having had a very happy experience.

I understand that the head of Disaster Management at the British Red Cross came to speak at the March Quarterly Communication. This was timely as I am particularly mindful of our Brethren in Christchurch, South Island New Zealand with the earthquake, and those north of Rio de Janeiro in the District Grand Lodge of South America, Northern Division with the mudslides and flooding. Both these Districts received immediate help from the Grand Charity through the British Red Cross. I am pleased to report that though there was considerable structural damage none of our members were lost.

In conclusion I should like to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his Deputies and the Grand Secretary and his staff for all they have done to make this meeting such a success.

 

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 15:20

Shropshire Anniversary Helps Local Hospice

Shropshire has celebrated its 125th anniversary as an independent province. In 1852, the Grand Master, the Earl of Zetland, appointed Sir Watkin Williams Wynn as Provincial Grand Master for the joint Province of North Wales and Shropshire.
HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master, paid an official visit in July to the Province of Buckinghamshire, accompanied by the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown, and the Grand Director of Ceremonies, Oliver Lodge.
     The Duke spoke to everyone present and saw the work of the province in its ‘Freemasonry in the Community’ projects, particularly the iHelp youth competition and the Rock Ride 1,500-mile charity bicycle ride from Gibraltar to Stowe School.
     The former project has involved heats of young groups in Buckinghamshire competing for prize-money worth £13,500 to show the positive side of young people, while the latter project has raised around £70,000 so far, including funds for several non-masonic charities - the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), the Royal British Legion, Air Ambulance and the Pace Centre, Aylesbury, who provide an education for life through programmes which incorporate all daily living activities and address the needs of the whole child. In addition, the Rock Ride also raised £22,000 for the province’s RMTGB 2010 festival.
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 11:51

Grand Master’s address - April 2010

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE

28 APRIL 2010

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

Brethren,
I want first to congratulate very warmly all those that I have had the pleasure to appoint or promote this afternoon and to welcome all those of you who are here to support them. Grand Rank is only conferred after much consideration and is a rare accolade given both in acknowledgement of good work done and , more importantly, in anticipation of future endeavours. Be assured that the rest of the Craft members will be looking to you both for leadership, particularly in the important area of mentoring, and to set the highest standards in all your activities at all times. There are many situations when these attributes will be called for and humility will be a common thread in all of them.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 11:08

Grand Master’s address - March 2009

QUARTERLY COMMUNICATION

11 MARCH 2009

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

Brethren,
First thank you for re-electing me as Grand Master and let me say a very warm welcome to you all at this historic Quarterly Communication. Historic, as I have just had the pleasure of installing Most Worshipful Brother Peter Lowndes as the Pro Grand Master, and Right Worshipful Brother Jonathan Spence as the Deputy Grand Master. This is a major event in our Masonic history that will long remain in your memories. I know that you will want to join me in offering these two distinguished Brethren our heartfelt congratulations. I am delighted that Right Worshipful Brother David Williamson has agreed to continue as Assistant Grand Master and I thank him for all he has already achieved in this important office. This team, with their wealth of experience will, I know, build on our recent successes and lead the Craft with inspiration towards 2017 - our three hundredth anniversary.

Published in Speeches
Wednesday, 30 April 2008 01:00

Grand Master's address - April 2008

ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE
30 APRIL 2008
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG

Brethren,

I begin as always by saying a very warm welcome to everyone attending our Grand Lodge meeting today and I warmly congratulate all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. As Grand Officers you have an important leadership part to play in the future of Freemasonry. By leadership, I mean setting consistently high standards in your own Masonic life as well as demonstrating your understanding of the meaning of the ritual and the principles and tenets of the Craft. This understanding will help you to guide others at all stages of their Masonic journey, whilst encouraging them all to talk openly about their Freemasonry to potential candidates, family and acquaintances.

There is, however, a caveat. Brethren, although you will naturally feel some personal satisfaction at achieving such offices, I know you will all remember the words we hear each year at our Lodge installations, that humility in each is an essential qualification. And I have no doubt that that injunction should apply at least as much to those who are Grand Officers as to more junior Brethren.

Last November, I hosted a reception and dinner on the eve of the European Grand Masters’ Meeting. This was the first such meeting and was thus an historic occasion for representatives of forty-four European Grand Lodges, which included no less than forty-one Grand Masters. It was the most representative gathering of the leaders of regular Freemasonry in Europe that has ever been held. The Pro Grand Master planned it as a one-off meeting so that we, as the mother Grand Lodge, could make clear our views on regularity, recognition and sovereignty.

The Pro Grand Master set out our position on regularity emphasising that it is not Freemasonry as a whole, but the individual Mason, instilled with the principles and tenets of the Craft, who has a positive influence on society. My view is that communication between us all is essential to the future well-being of regular Freemasonry, and I can see no reason why such gatherings should not occur from time to time in the future.

I spoke last year about the Rulers’ Forum, and said then that I should be happy if it achieved a focus for grass-roots Masons to debate issues, which concern you all, with the Rulers and other senior members of the Craft and to act as a conduit for disseminating the results through their Groups to Lodges. I was, therefore, happy to hear that during the year three of the Rulers’ Forum Groups were given the task of identifying and collating best practice from Mentoring Schemes across the country. The project team has seen Masons from eight different Provinces working together, sharing ideas and, importantly, learning from each other. They have now presented their conclusions both to the Rulers’ Forum and at the last Quarterly Communication.

Their ideas support the aim of recruiting and then retaining men of quality. The successful retention of these men will involve the careful selection of Mentors at Lodge level so that, once initiated, each member is fully supported throughout his Masonic journey. The Brethren selected as Mentors will be those who can provide the time and knowledge required to care for the candidate and then to develop his understanding of our Order and how it translates into his everyday life.

Brethren, there have been a number of advances since this time last year which I believe will bring substantial benefits. For example, the new magazine, Freemasonry Today, has been successfully launched, and I am confident it will become a major channel for our open communications. In addition, the four Masonic Charities have all now congregated in this building, a move which will result in cost savings as well as leading, I hope, to a better understanding by the Brethren in London and the Provinces of the roles of each of the Charities. With so many successful initiatives having been launched since I last addressed Grand Lodge, I see this coming year as one of consolidation.

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.

Published in Speeches
Page 9 of 11

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