Two Master Masons share their experiences of using Solomon, the new online learning resource from the UGLE Learning and Development Programme
Launched in December 2018, Solomon has a straightforward goal: to help members, lodges and chapters learn more about Freemasonry. And with over 10,000 members visiting solomon.ugle.org.uk in the first month after its launch – and over 4,000 transactions being made each day – it appears that Freemasons all over the world are sharing Solomon’s wisdom. But how does it work? We spoke to two Master Masons who have been using it, Mike Milner and Ben Mowatt, to find out.
What are your early impressions of Solomon?
Mike Milner: I’m impressed with the range of content on the website – and pleased to hear that there will be more resources in the future. I’ve browsed the material myself and our lodge has already started using some of the ‘nuggets’ [five to ten-minute ‘items of interest’ that can easily fit into lodge evenings]. The website is easy to navigate and has a professional quality in its presentation.
Ben Mowatt: I’m still new to Freemasonry, so having a place to go and discover content relevant to my own interests has been a great help. It’s something I can refer to when needed: a single reference point for authentic facts and knowledge – kind of like an encyclopaedia for Freemasonry.
How’s the website?
MM: At first, it seems a little different, but it’s actually straightforward. There are different ways to navigate the website if you’re looking for something specific. However, it’s been easy to find articles of interest by simply browsing the complete list in each section. The titles of the resources are clear and helpful, too.
BM: It’s easy to use and understand. The layout and navigation made searching really simple and I could find related topics based on my initial search. It’s what you’d expect: well-structured pages, easy-to-read text and fast loading times. The site’s very accessible, and the content is displayed in a PDF format, which makes it easy to read.
'Solomon provides a quick and easy way to access information to help you make advancements'
Does it work on all of your devices?
MM: Yes, I usually use my iPad as it allows the content to be read easily without needing to print. However, I can also view the site on my computer screen and – at a push – on my smartphone!
BM: I’ve used both my laptop and my smartphone. I found the website responsive and it adapts to each screen seamlessly, which is really great.
How has Solomon helped you so far?
BM: Being a candidate can be overwhelming, making it difficult to take everything in on the night, but with Solomon, I was able to revisit my previous ceremonies and gain a better understanding of what I’d experienced. I remember not fully understanding what a ‘cowan’ was, so I decided to see what Solomon had to say about it.
MM: I have a fairly busy life, which means that finding time to read long books can be difficult, so I like that the information is presented in short chunks, which I can dip into when I have a spare moment. Some of our lodge members have found interesting items for discussion on Lodge of Instruction nights, which has enriched the evening, while I’ve found some of the longer papers on Freemasonry’s history particularly stimulating.
So your Lodge uses the resource too?
MM: That’s right. The ‘nuggets’ are great for the Lodge of Instruction, as well as regular meetings, and there are items of interest for most meetings. Our next step will be starting to use the longer papers to help newer members develop an interest and a better understanding of what we do. The nuggets are also useful in adding additional explanation to the published ritual, or in helping the candidates to understand a little more about what they have experienced.
BM: Our Worshipful Master has asked brethren to present information about Freemasonry on selected practice nights, so we’ll be using Solomon to research topics of interest to help form these presentations. We also use the nuggets on lodge nights to enhance the ceremony.
What specifically have you learned thanks to Solomon’s help?
MM: The Royal Arch material has been helpful, as I’m fairly new to that. The history is a bit more complicated than Craft Freemasonry, but Solomon has given me the ability to learn more about it without spending money on books!
BM: It’s introduced me to topics that I might not have otherwise come across or thought to ask about. One example is the ‘forget-me-not’ pin. I hadn’t realised that it had a significance in Freemasonry, but I saw a nugget about it and decided it was time to learn more about its history.
Would you recommend it to other Freemasons?
MM: Absolutely. We’re often reminded to try and make advancements – Solomon provides a quick and easy way to access information to help this. For lodges that have new initiates joining, it will help support them and provide answers to their questions. But there’s so much material, more experienced Freemasons will be able to find items of interest too.
BM: I’d recommend it. If you’re new to Freemasonry and want to get to know new words and concepts or understand lodge matters, it’s a fantastic place to start. Plus it’s all in one place so you can learn about the degree relevant to you without being overwhelmed. For Freemasons looking to refresh their understanding and continue their daily advancement, it’s a convenient place to discover more, and you can even track your reading progress, so I’d recommend it to anyone.
Visit solomon.ugle.org.uk to access Solomon.
United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) is delighted to announce that it has been awarded Investors in People accreditation
Investors in People is the Standard for people management and UGLE has been accredited at ‘Developed Level’ until 2021, which is based on a tried and tested framework and a rigorous process of assessment.
Work has gone on throughout the year to implement a number of strategies to improve communication and consistency in the way people are led, managed and developed at UGLE.
In part, accreditation has been awarded as a result of a wholesale restructure at UGLE centred on delivering for its members, alongside new organisational values, appraisal system and pay structure, recognition and reward scheme and improved internal communications.
Dr David Staples, Chief Executive of UGLE, said: ‘When I was appointed Chief Executive last year, I was charged with making UGLE a fit for purpose and efficient central headquarters, and this is a significant milestone towards achieving that overall goal. We have worked hard to create a positive working environment where people enjoy coming to work, driving excellence and enhancing the support we give to our 200,000 members – being awarded this accreditation underpins that commitment.
‘This is an enormous achievement in such a short space of time, and I am rightly proud of all those who have played a part in achieving it.’
Investors in People works with thousands of top businesses across the country. With a community of thousands of organisations across 58 countries, successful accreditation against the Standard is the sign of a great employer, an outperforming place to work and a clear commitment to sustained success.
The District Grand Master of Cyprus, Michael Hadjiconstantas, has presented a cheque for €15,000 to the Grand Lodge of Greece to help the people of Mati, who suffered from Greece's worst wildfire last summer
The District Grand Master was accompanied by the Assistant District Grand Master, Leandros Zachariades, District Officers and other members of the District, who visited the Grand Lodge of Greece on 6th December 2018 to present the donation to their Grand Master Constantinos Politis.
On arriving to Athens, they were welcomed by the Grand Treasurer Pavlos Sarof before the Grand Master of Greece hosted a luncheon in their honour. In the evening, they then attended a joint meeting of Asklipios Lodge No. 159, Pistis Lodge No. 71 and Vyzantion Lodge No. 60, at the newly erected magnificent Masonic Centre at Kifissia.
The Temple was filled to its capacity with over 180 members in attendance. The original delegation of nine from Cyprus was further enhanced by the arrival of a dozen members of King Tefkros Lodge No. 9786, who reside in Athens, headed by the Master of the Lodge and his Wardens, as well as Past Masters of the Lodge and holders of District Grand Rank.
After the lodge was opened, the Grand Master of Greece took to the Chair and in a most powerful and eloquent address, acknowledged the international senior and prestigious position of the United Grand Lodge of England and the symbolism of the District Grand Lodge of Cyprus’ visit, and recognised this as the beginning of a new chapter in their relations and a strengthening of the fraternal bonds.
Cyprus’s District Grand Master Michael Hadjiconstantas then presented the cheque for €15,000 to Constantinos Politis who thanked the Brethren from Cyprus and assured them that this sum would be faithfully applied to the worthy cause for which it was given. He then announced that the Council of the Grand Lodge of Greece had unanimously decided to proclaim Michael Hadjiconstantas an Honorary Member, in recognition of his efforts to bring about the unity of the members in Cyprus and those in Greece.
Michael Hadjiconstantas was presented with the Certificate of the Grand Lodge of Greece, confirming this honorary membership and a gold coin bearing its insignia.
The meeting then continued with a lecture presented by Greece’s Past Senior Grand Warden, Theodosios Tasios, on the symbolism of the Opening of the Lodge in the First Degree before those present retired from the lodge for the Festive Board held in the Masonic Centre at Kifissia.
A new, specialist bereavement service for families who are dealing with the grief of losing a child is being launched at Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice in Wales, thanks to a £20,000 grant from South Wales Freemasons
Tŷ Hafan, based in Sully, Vale of Glamorgan, offers comfort, support and care to life limited children, young people and their families throughout Wales. Care in the hospice focuses on making the most of the time families have together. The charity provides support and care for many years, from admission to bereavement and beyond, and ensures the child’s siblings, parents, carers and extended family are considered.
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and will allow Tŷ Hafan to create a dedicated bereavement support service, which will be based in a specially designed summer house near the hospice’s memorial garden. It will give families and individuals the support they need in their darkest hours, as they come to terms with the death of a child or with the knowledge that in the future, their child will die. The funding will also allow Tŷ Hafan to recruit a pool of bereavement therapists with specialist expertise who are the very best in their field.
Hannah Williams, Partnerships, Projects and Research Lead at Tŷ Hafan, said: ‘We’re very grateful to South Wales Freemasons for their generous grant. It will allow us to extend the care and support that families so desperately need, by creating an appropriate dedicated therapy space and recruiting a pool of experienced, specialist therapists to ensure we can offer a bespoke service based on individual need.’
Robert Payne, Charity Officer of South Wales Freemasons, said: ‘We’re very pleased to be able to help Ty Hafan, who are doing wonderful work helping families cope with the grief of losing a child. This is a hugely important project that will support people at their most vulnerable time.’
Brad Watson’s son Archie was referred to Tŷ Hafan in 2013 and sadly died when he was just two and a half. But Brad and his wife and children are still very much part of the Tŷ Hafan family.
Brad was pleased at the news of the grant from South Wales Freemasons: ‘As a father who has lost a child, it’s not easy. Coupling a visit to the garden to remember, plus having the opportunity to talk in an environment where there is total comfort will be incredible for the well-being of those who need this.’
Brad added: ‘With this funding, Tŷ Hafan can now provide an even greater support facility to ensure that we have a place to go to honour the memories we have of our children, cherish what we still have and make new memories with them. And if we need to open up, we can do so in dignity and privacy.’
Members attending the meeting of Kynaston Lodge No. 5810 in Cambridgeshire on 6th December 2018 witnessed a rare event with the twin sons of Past Master Lee Wilson both initiated by their father in a moving and memorable ceremony
The Worshipful Master, Ted Ridgway Watt, vacated the Chair to Lee Wilson for him to initiate his sons, William Lee Wilson and James Patrick Wilson. The ceremony was carried out by Lee and the Lodge Officers with precision and concluded with the Ancient Charge being presented by their uncle, Andrew Fordham.
Andrew presented them each with a scrolled and personalised copy of the Charge together with a copy of the First Degree Ritual book before introducing them to their Personal Mentor.
Lee has been a working operative stonemason since 1982 and has worked on many fine buildings across the country.
In his toast to his sons at the Festive Board, Lee said: ‘I am immensely proud to have initiated my twin sons into Freemasonry. Both William and James’ achievements have exceeded my dreams for them and bringing them into Kynaston Lodge will further strengthen their bond together and also with their new brethren in masonry.’
26 years ago both boys had spent eight weeks in intensive care after being born. After schooling at Comberton Village College and Hills Road Sixth Form College, William attended Reading University to read History and Archaeology and gained a Master’s degree in Archaeology. He now works at Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, the very place that inspired his passion for both subjects.
James’ path lead him to the University of Nottingham after a short spell working for his father and there gained a degree in Agriculture and Livestock Production Science. He is now back at Nottingham and working toward a PhD in Management of the lameness in cattle and is a member of the University Shooting Club.
12 December 2018
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, 2018 has brought many changes, not just within UGLE, but also across the masonic world. In the last three weeks there have been new Grand Masters in Scotland, France and Norway. The Deputy Grand Master was in Oslo and I went to Edinburgh and to Paris. Representing the MW Grand Master abroad fulfils and reinforces our reputation as the premier Grand Lodge and I strongly believe that the better we know our counterparts in the foreign constitutions, and the better they know us, the easier it is to have meaningful discussions on any points of mutual interest or indeed controversy that might arise.
At home, we have had 28 changes of Provincial or District Grand Masters. The Deputy and Assistant Grand Masters have been greatly involved and we have also had the benefit of the support of the Second and Third Grand Principals in the Royal Arch. We are enormously encouraged by the calibre and enthusiasm demonstrated by our new Rulers and I am pleased that we seem to have a strong team of leaders throughout our Constitution.
Some years ago, Provincial Grand Masters suggested that the Rulers got even more involved in the appointment of their successors. This rather surprised us as we felt it could be seen as unwelcome interference. However, we were encouraged to think about the qualities that a good Ruler in the Craft might possess, and how this might manifest in the success of their Province. As a result, the whole system is now more robust and we are seeing the benefits. This is not in any way meant to denigrate those who have gone before – far from it, but with decisions being more transparent, I believe the sharing of the burden of decisions has been welcomed, and the Craft is benefitting as a result.
Brethren, I am sure that you will agree that it is so important that those appointed to any office within the Craft know what is expected of them. This is equally as true of those within a private lodge as it is at Grand Lodge or Provincial or District Grand Lodge level.
Believe it or not brethren, in addition to selecting those we think will do the best job and are the best fit, we now actually tell our Provincial and District Grand Masters what is required of them. About three times a year we run courses for future and new Provincial and District Grand Masters and the feedback that I have had from those who have attended has been extremely positive. I can emphasise what a success this project has been as I have had nothing whatsoever to do with it. A great deal of the credit for the quality of these courses goes to RW Bro Michael Ward, VW Bro Graham Redman and the team here at Freemasons' Hall and I thank them for their work on my behalf and on behalf of the recipients.
I sometimes wonder brethren if we take our private lodge officers for granted. Do we expect that each year the officers will automatically know what is expected of them? In the vast number of cases the main ceremonial offices are filled by those who are working their way up the lodge’s ladder and they will have benefitted from their Lodge of Instruction and rehearsals. It is the more administrative offices that may need assistance. That assistance is available from the centre or in the Provinces, particularly for Secretaries, Almoners and Charity Stewards. However, I believe there are still a large number of lodges who see the collar of the Almoner and Charity Steward as needing a pair of shoulders to sit on. Surely the offices deserve better than that, and care should be taken when making these appointments, after all they are both involved in the charitable work of the lodge, which is so dear to our hearts, and so important to the public perception of who we are and what we do.
There is one last lodge appointment that I would like to comment on, and, whilst not technically an officer of the lodge it is an important role. It is the job of the Royal Arch Representative. Many of you will have heard me advocating the encouragement of Craft masons to join the Royal Arch and I won’t go through the reasoning again today. Suffice it to say that one of the best recruiting tools is to have such a Royal Arch Representative in each lodge. It is a lodge appointment and it should be carefully thought through so that the member with right skill set has the job. It seems to me brethren that consultation with the Grand Superintendent, whether or not he is the Provincial Grand Master has merit. When a Province has separate leaders, I am sure they will both be equally keen for the right choice to be made and would welcome such consultation.
Brethren, as we come to the end of another calendar year, I really believe that we can look back with pride in what has been achieved in many aspects of our work and, equally, can look forward with great optimism to where we are going and how we are going to get there. To paraphrase the Grand Secretary at the start of the year, can we ever get enough of enough is enough.
Brethren I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas holiday and enjoy a well-deserved break.
On 10th November 2018, in a full Grand Temple at Freemasons’ Hall, Victoria Rifles Lodge No. 822 hosted an event to mark the Centenary of the Armistice
Victoria Rifles Lodge, based in London, is one of the 37 Circuit of Service Lodges which exist to promote comradeship and fraternal contact between military masons. Given the sacrifice of so many of members in the First World War it’s appropriate that such a Lodge should have hosted the Armistice Centenary Meeting.
The lodge’s streamlined Installation meeting, and subsequent theatrical presentation, was conducted in the presence of the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes. The Past Metropolitan Grand Master Russell Race and six Provincial Grand Masters were also in attendance.
The Pro Grand Master was escorted into the temple, accompanied by a banner procession featuring all the Circuit of Service Lodges. The banners and banner men filed either side of a Vickers machine gun, placed on a raised platform in the centre of the hall, manned by four Silent Sentinels, symbolising the moment ‘the guns fell silent’.
The Worshipful Master, Capt James Milne, extended a warm welcome to all present and was proclaimed as Worshipful Master of the lodge for a further year. Before the lodge was closed its members voted to donate £9,000 to the Royal Hospital Chelsea Scarlets Appeal and a further £9,000 to Veteran’s Outreach Support.
The Armistice Commemoration Event then began with the entrance of seven Chelsea Pensioners to the tune of ‘The Boys of the Old Brigade’.
The Lodge Director of Ceremonies, Jamie Ingham Clark, then asked all those present wearing Hall Stone Jewels on behalf of their lodges to rise. With over 500 members standing, he then presented the Worshipful Master with the lodge’s jewel, his address epitomising the whole occasion.
He said: ‘I now have pleasure in investing you with the Hall Stone Jewel, which was presented to this Lodge by the MW the Grand Master in recognition of our contribution towards what was then called the Masonic Peace Memorial, the building we are now in.
‘The medal is suspended by the Square and Compasses, attached to a ribband, the whole thus symbolising the Craft's gift of a Temple in memory of those brethren who gave all, for King and Country, Peace and Victory, Liberty and Brotherhood.’
Actor and guest speaker Simon Callow CBE then commenced with the ‘Sound and Light show’ with readings of renowned war poetry and letters sent between a mother and a son fighting on the Western Front.
The members were then subjected to a sound and light show, with the Vickers gun at its epicentre, resembling an artillery bombardment. The barrage increased in noise and intensity becoming a completely immersive 360-degree experience. A flash and bang emanated from the gun, signalling an eerie silence and from the ceiling of the Grand Temple, a cascade of poppy petals floated gently from above.
Following the formal Act of Remembrance including The Last Post, Two Minute Silence, Reveille and Dedication, the Circuit Banners fell in and after the bugle call of ‘Men to Meal’ there was a recession in silence led by the Silent Sentinels. As the members filed out, they were each invited to place a poppy next to the machine gun as a personal tribute to the fallen. This remarkable meeting further consolidated the powerful bond that exists between English Freemasonry and Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. Lest we Forget.
On the following day, Remembrance Sunday, over 40 members of Circuit of Service Lodges participated in the official ‘March Past’ at the Cenotaph in Central London, each wearing armbands that attested to their membership.
Queen Victoria’s Rifles served with distinction in the First World War as the 9th (County of London) Battalion, London Regiment (Queen Victoria's Rifles). Its two active Battalions were awarded 27 Battle Honours.
Officers and Men were awarded: 1 Victoria Cross, (Lt Woolley was the first soldier or officer of the Territorial Force to be so awarded). 7 Distinguished Service Orders, 40 Military Crosses, 18 Distinguished Service Medals and 141 Military Medals. Of two Battalions with an average strength of some 700 all ranks each: Queen Victoria’s Rifles lost, Killed or Missing in Action, 170 Officers and 1,395 Warrant Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Riflemen.
Buckinghamshire Freemasons have donated £2,000 to buy a number of picnic benches in the Millennium Wood, which is located in Swanbourne Park
The money has come from the Bucks Masonic Centenary Fund (BMCF) and means that the area has now been transformed, having being previously overgrown, into an attractive spot for all to enjoy.
During the summer, a picnic and music event was held in the Millennium Wood, which was opened by The Hon Mrs Betsy Duncan Smith who thanked Buckinghamshire Freemasons for their donation.
A unique event took place on 22nd October 2018, as the Provinces of East and West Lancashire joined forces to create the fourth Chapter of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Universities Scheme
Palatine Chapter No. 2447, which is proud to have as honorary members the Grand Superintendents of both Provinces, Sir David Trippier and Tony Harrison, meets twice a year – once in East Lancashire and once in West Lancashire – and now has over 40 members from both Provinces.
This inaugural meeting of the Chapter worked an Installation Ceremony and then exalted into the Order three members from the Universities Scheme’s Craft lodge Old Mancunians’ with Mount Sinai No. 3140.
'A force for good,' was how Dame Janet Trotter, Lord Lieutenant for Gloucestershire, described Freemasons in the county and the wider area
Dame Janet was responding to the announcement at a celebratory gala at the DeVere Cotswolds Water Park Hotel that both national and local charities would be benefitting to the tune of £1.75 million, following a five year fund-raising drive by Gloucestershire Freemasons.
‘This money goes beyond masonic charities,’ said the Provincial Grand Master for Gloucestershire, Tim Henderson-Ross. ‘It will benefit the wider Gloucestershire community, hopefully helping to dispel the myth that Freemasons only look after themselves.
‘Gloucestershire masons have risen to the challenge, delivering a tremendous result. In so doing, you will help those less fortunate than ourselves; spreading a little happiness and, all being well, leaving the world better than we found it.’
To mark her retirement from office, the Provincial Grand Master presented the Lord Lieutenant with a cheque for £5,000, destined for a charity of her choice. Dame Janet disclosed she was currently championing a new charity – the Cyber Trust – which seeks to protect those most at risk in the area of personal cyber and online security.
Holding the cheque aloft, she said: ‘I promise this will be positively used, particularly in the county’s schools.’