To mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday last November, the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) projected images of falling poppies, poems and silhouettes of soldiers onto Freemasons’ Hall. The display was live from 00:01 on 11 November to 23:59 on 14 November. Images included four famous war poems: In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, The Soldier by Rupert Brooke, Dulce et Decorum Estby Wilfred Owen, and On Somme by Ivor Gurney. The event also included footage of a wreath being laid at the Roll of Honour by The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG and other serving Freemasons, including Victoria Cross recipient Colour Sargent Johnson Beharry VC, COG
Dr David Staples, Grand Secretary and Chief Executive of the UGLE said, ‘The history of Freemasons’ Hall is directly linked to the Great War. More than 3,000 Freemasons were killed in action during World War I. In honour of those members, Freemasons’ Hall was rebuilt as a peace memorial to all the Freemasons who gave their lives for their country. To us, it is an honour to remember their ultimate sacrifice.’
Freemasons have always had a strong relationship with the armed services, and the UGLE has worked with the Remembrance Penny initiative, which has donated a bronze poppy in a case, inscribed with the words: ‘They shall not grow old. For those Freemasons who died for their country’.
Funds raised from the sale of the Remembrance Pennies support Combat Stress, a charity that delivers life-changing specialist services to veterans across the UK. The bronze poppy will be permanently situated in the vestibules at Freemasons’ Hall as a symbol of reflection and contemplation for those men and women who have served their country.
In October 2021, the Freemasons signed the Armed Forces Covenant, led by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Kent, KG. The partnership supports members of the armed forces community to ensure they have the same access to government, commercial services and products as any other citizen.
By signing the Armed Forces Covenant, UGLE will be able to demonstrate its help to members of the armed forces in areas such as education, family wellbeing, finding a home, starting a new career and access to healthcare, financial assistance and discounted services.
To find out more about the role Freemasons have played during periods of national war, members of the public can view the Brothers In Alms website at www.brothersinalms.org.uk. This exhibition of rare photographs spans the period from the Second Boer War through to the end World War II, and features those who led and those who served on land, sea and in the air. It portrays the landscape of conflicts across all continents and the diversity of the participants.