While Stonehenge’s history has inspired many outlandish theories linking masonry and druids, Freemason Cecil Chubb in fact bought the ancient landmark on a whim 100 years ago
Considering its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is intriguing to reflect that until 1918, Stonehenge was private property. Interest in it was stimulated in the early 1700s through the writings of early Freemason Dr William Stukeley, a clergyman and archaeologist. The connection between Stonehenge and the druids is usually ascribed to Stukeley, who not only made a study of the order but was also one of those responsible for its revival in 1717.
By the early 1800s, Stonehenge was owned by the Antrobus family, but when the heir to the baronetcy was killed in action in 1915, the family decided to sell the stone circle and its 35 acres of land at auction.
The sale took place at the New Theatre in Salisbury on 21 September 1915. The purchaser was Cecil Chubb, who paid £6,600 (about £460,000 in modern terms) for the site. He had gone to the auction to buy some chairs but having lived near Stonehenge for much of his life, decided to make the purchase to save it from a foreign buyer. Chubb bought the landmark as a gift for his wife, for which he was apparently not thanked.
FOR THE PEOPLE
In 1918, knowing there was government interest in the stone circle, Chubb contacted what was then the Office of Works and offered to give the site to the nation as a gift. He had three provisos: Salisbury residents should have free access to it; the entry charge should never be more than a shilling; and no building should be erected within 400 yards of the ancient stones.
The government accepted the gift with alacrity, and to mark his generosity, created a baronetcy: in 1919, Chubb took the title Sir Cecil Chubb, Baronet of Stonehenge in the County of Wiltshire.
Cecil Herbert Edward Chubb came from modest beginnings. Born in 1876 in the village of Shrewton, Wiltshire, he was educated at Bishop Wordsworth’s School in Salisbury, earned a first in science in 1904 followed by a Bachelor of Laws degree in 1905, before he began to practice law.
A PHILANTHROPIC SOUL
In 1902 Chubb married Mary Finch, and after her uncle died, she inherited the Fisherton House Asylum psychiatric hospital near Salisbury. Chubb gave up law to run the asylum, which was one of the largest in the country, introducing innovative treatments to make the patients’ lives easier and return them to their families.
Chubb’s financial management made him a rich man, enabling him to buy Stonehenge almost on a whim. He came into Freemasonry in Salisbury, where he was made a mason in Lodge Elias de Derham, No. 586, on 26 October 1905. He never sought office in the lodge or took part in any of the other orders of Freemasonry, being content to simply enjoy the company of his fellow lodge members as a backbencher, and remaining a subscribing member until his death.
There have been attempts to link Freemasonry with both the stone circle at Stonehenge and the druids who were reputed to have worshipped there. In reality, the only masonic connections are the figures of Stukeley, who did so much to bring Stonehenge to public notice, and Chubb, who had so much love for the stone circle that he bought and presented it to the nation so it would be preserved as a part of our national heritage.
Did you know?
Family legend has it that Chubb only went to the auction to buy chairs, but returned home the new owner of a stone circle.
With a bit of ritual, special outfits and a strong sense of camaraderie, northern soul is a music and dance passion that perfectly complements Dave Stubbs’ Freemasonry
Like so many, he first came to the genre as a teenager in his local youth club, drawn to the soul music and its athletic dance style.
Northern soul fashion is dictated by the need for practicality, with loose-fitting clothes such as baggy Oxford trousers, Ben Sherman-style shirts and sports vests the accepted uniform of devotees. Dave looks every inch the genuine article in Wrangler Blue Bell jeans, a check shirt and a flat cap. The only incongruity in his outfit is the masonic ring on his right hand.
As a member of Salopian Lodge of Charity, No. 117, Dave balances his time between northern soul and Freemasonry. ‘My great grandfather was a Freemason, so it has always interested me,’ he explains.
Dave soon introduced his brethren to the belting world of northern soul. Every month, he organises a northern soul night at the masonic hall on Crewe Street, Shrewsbury, the proceeds of which go towards maintaining a World War I memorial.
It’s not just members who benefit from Dave’s musical interest. ‘My wife Polly is a Freemason and a northern soul fan too, so it’s close to both of our hearts,’ says Dave. ‘It’s not surprising that so many people who enjoy northern soul are Freemasons too. I find the two interests very complementary.’
Such is the adrenaline rush of the northern soul all-nighter that often, Dave returns home at 7.30 am only to head back out to an all-dayer by noon. ‘It becomes a lifestyle,’ says Dave. ‘Just like Freemasonry, it’s not about money, and it’s not about connections. It’s about camaraderie, and living in a way that makes you feel good.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘The Tercentenary has been well celebrated in the Province of Shropshire. Crucially, it has really put Freemasonry in the public eye and raised awareness of our enduring support for local charities.’
To bring the union of the Grand Lodges into being, Articles of Union were agreed that laid the foundations of the United Grand Lodge of England. As such an important document, it was to be carried into each Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge by the Grand Registrar. Sir John Soane (1753-1837) offered to produce an ‘ark’ to stand in front of the Grand Master’s throne into which the document could be safely placed while the meeting was in progress
Soane was one of England’s greatest architects. He became a Freemason and, after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, was the first person to hold the new office of Grand Superintendent of Works. As such, he was the professional adviser overseeing the maintenance and development of Freemasons’ Hall in London.
The first work Soane produced for Grand Lodge was what became known as the Ark of the Masonic Covenant. It was an impressive piece of furniture, triangular in shape with an Ionic, Corinthian or Doric column at each corner and surmounted with a dome topped by Soane’s signature lantern.
The ark stood in front of the Grand Master’s throne from 1814 until 1883, when disaster struck. A fire broke out in the old Grand Temple, gutting its interior and destroying the portraits of former Grand Masters, as well as most of the furniture and Soane’s ark. Much was done to reconstruct the interior of the room and reinstate the paintings and furniture, but the ark was not replaced.
One of Soane’s 20th-century successors as Grand Superintendent of Works was architect Douglas Burford, who hoped one day to persuade Grand Lodge to have a replica constructed. It took 30 years for that dream to finally become a reality, and Burford was delighted to learn that, as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, Soane’s ark was to be reconstructed.
The project was one of cooperation between The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation and master wood carvers Houghtons of York. Their combined efforts produced a superb and accurate reconstruction of one of the lost treasures of Grand Lodge.
After appearing in an exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum, the ark was transported to the Royal Albert Hall for the great Tercentenary celebration, where it was dedicated by the Grand Master. Afterwards, like the original, it took its place in the Grand Temple as a permanent memorial.
From the Grand Secretary
Welcome to this Tercentenary souvenir edition of Freemasonry Today, which celebrates the achievements of 2017 while looking to the future with a quiet confidence. I say that in the knowledge that I will retire at the April Investiture and hand over to David Staples, our current dynamic CEO, which will bring back together all of the departments within Freemasons’ Hall under one head.
Clearly the Sky TV programme and the many events organised across the Provinces and Districts last year, which are commemorated in this special edition, considerably raised the profile of Freemasonry. It is now important that we maintain that momentum by promoting our values and relevance to society at every appropriate opportunity.
In this unique issue, we feature the events that helped make the Tercentenary so remarkable – from the especial meeting at the Royal Albert Hall to the teddy bears’ picnics, cathedral services and masonic parades held. These celebrations not only show what Freemasonry has achieved in its long history, but also demonstrate its ongoing commitment to communities and causes, both at home and overseas.
With this in mind, we draw from the masons we’ve interviewed in Freemasonry Today whom we feel represent the core values of Freemasonry. From Wayne Ingram, the mason who has been raising money in order to fund facial reconstructive surgery for a child he met in Bosnia, through to Sean Gaffney, who lost his leg in an accident only to win gold at the Invictus Games – these are the type of individuals taking Freemasonry forward for the next 300 years.
FATHERS OF FREEMASONRY
We also feature inspirational masons from history who have helped make the Tercentenary an anniversary worth celebrating. These are masons who worked tirelessly in their local communities, broke down social barriers and challenged the status quo in order to improve the lives of those about them – from the Duke of Sussex, who helped shape modern Freemasonry, through to Augustus John Smith, who brought education and hope to the residents of the Isles of Scilly. Reflecting the spirit of the Tercentenary as an ongoing journey, we call this issue Past, Present & Future.
Brethren, it has been a great privilege and pleasure to have been your Grand Secretary for the last two years, and I wish you well for what I know will be a bright future.
‘It is important that we maintain momentum by promoting our values and relevance to society’
A renewal of pride
For Director of Special Projects John Hamill, the Tercentenary celebrations have been an opportunity to reflect on the past, enjoy the present and plan for the future
One thing that I hope will come through to readers of this special souvenir edition of Freemasonry Today is that not only were the celebrations successful, but also that the brethren, their families and friends who attended them had a great deal of enjoyment in taking part – whether it was at the dramatic performance and ceremonial at the Royal Albert Hall or one of the many smaller local events.
The activities that took place around the country and in our Districts overseas were worthy of such a notable anniversary. But the celebrations were not limited to our own members. Many of our sister Grand Lodges around the world regarded the anniversary not just as being the Tercentenary of the Grand Lodge of England, but also the Tercentenary of the start of the organised, regular Freemasonry of which they now form a part.
Throughout the year there was a steady stream of visitors from other Grand Lodges who came to Freemasons’ Hall in London, simply to be here during a very special year and to say thank you to the ‘Mother Grand Lodge’.
PLACE FOR HUMOUR
Sometimes we take ourselves a little too seriously and forget that Freemasonry is to be enjoyed. We take great pride in our work and carry it out with dignity and decorum, but even within the confines of a lodge meeting there are times when humour and gentle banter has its place.
We should keep in mind that part of the Address to the Brethren, given at each Installation meeting, in which we are reminded that we should ‘unite in the Grand Design of being happy and communicating happiness’. A great deal of happiness was communicated during the Tercentenary celebrations. That is something we should preserve and build on in the future.
When attending major celebrations as Pro Grand Master, the late Lord Farnham would often say that there were three things we should do at special anniversaries: reflect on the past, celebrate the present and plan for the future. Were he still with us, I think he would agree that we have followed his wish list during the Tercentenary year.
A RICH HISTORY
During the lead-up to the celebrations, we certainly reflected on the past. The history conference in Cambridge organised by Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, in September 2016; the new exhibition gallery at the Library and Museum in London; the splendid celebratory book The Treasures of English Freemasonry 1717 – 2017 and the amazing performance at the Royal Albert Hall will all be permanent records of that reflection. To this we should add the exhibitions that were mounted in masonic premises and public museums around the country, and the many talks given by masonic historians.
We celebrated in style, as the events recorded in this issue show. Our grateful thanks should go to everyone at both national and local levels who put so much work into making the celebrations a success. It was hard and, at times, exhausting work, but not without its moments and well worth the effort given the obvious enjoyment of those who attended.
As we reflected on our past, so we looked forward, too. The Membership Focus Group and its successor the Improvement Delivery Group, the University Lodges Scheme and the growing network of young masons groups across the country are all focused on the future.
As the Pro Grand Master said in his review of the year in December, we can now move forward from here with enormous self-belief. One of the intangibles that the Tercentenary celebrations has produced is a renewal of pride in Freemasonry among the members. These are all things that we should foster and build on so future generations can enjoy Freemasonry, as we and our predecessors have done.
‘The activities that took place around the country were worthy of such a notable anniversary’
Three hundred years ago, in a room in a pub, history was made. Were it possible to travel in time, it would be fascinating to bring back the brethren who came together at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in London on 24 June 1717, when they elected the first Grand Master and brought into being the first Grand Lodge in the world, writes John Hamill
According to James Anderson in the 1738 Constitutions of the Free-Masons, four lodges met at the alehouse in St Paul’s Churchyard. Named after the public houses where they usually met, the lodges were Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St Paul’s Church-yard; the Crown Ale-house in Parker’s Lane off Drury Lane; the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden; and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.
The Goose and Gridiron survived until the 1890s, and just before it was demolished, a masonic historian drew sketches of its exterior and measured the room in which the Grand Lodge was formed. The room would have held fewer than 100 people, who would have had to stand very close to each other to fit inside.
‘In their wildest imaginings, these brethren could not have envisaged what their simple and small meeting would give birth to’
FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS
In their wildest imaginings, these brethren could not have envisaged what their simple and small meeting would give birth to: a fraternity of Freemasonry spread over the whole world. They would find some things they would recognise from their practice of Freemasonry, but would also find much that was very different.
Over the last 300 years Freemasonry has developed and expanded. What English Freemasonry has demonstrated is that it is a living organisation capable of changing its outward forms and adapting itself to the society in which it currently exists.
Of the four lodges that came together on that summer’s day in 1717 to elect a Grand Master, three are still working today – the Crown Ale House ceased meeting circa 1736. From Anderson’s account, in its first years the Grand Lodge met only for the Annual Assembly and Grand Feast to elect the Grand Master and Grand Wardens. From two other sources, we can deduce that the Grand Lodge began to act as a regulatory body in 1720.
Some have questioned why there were no press reports of the event in 1717, but they have been looking at the past with the eyes of the present. In 1717 Freemasonry was largely unknown. The late 17th and 18th centuries were a great age of societies and clubs, many of them meeting in taverns and the growing network of fashionable coffee houses in the cities of London and Westminster.
If noticed at all, the formation of Grand Lodge would have been seen as just another society or club of the time. As no one of social consequence of the day appears to have been involved, it is not surprising that the event was not recorded in the primitive press that existed back then.
It was not until the early 1720s, when Past Grand Masters George Payne and Dr Desaguliers began to attract members of the nobility and the Royal Society into Freemasonry, that the press of the day began to notice it, reporting on the initiations of prominent men and the annual Grand Feasts of the Grand Lodge.
The more I study our ancient Craft, the more I am convinced that whatever problems we may face, provided we maintain that delicate balance between managed change and not altering our basic principles and tenets, Freemasonry will meet those challenges. Future generations will be able to enjoy its fellowship and privileges as we have done since that happy day at the Goose and Gridiron where Grand Lodge was born.
With vision, energy and, above all, a sense of tolerance, the Duke of Sussex played a pivotal role in shaping modern Freemasonry
The Duke of Sussex, Grand Master from 1813 to 1843, is a towering figure in the history of English Freemasonry. Playing a pivotal role in the unification of the Premier and Antient Grand Lodges to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of his influence on Freemasonry.
Augustus Frederick was born a royal prince on 27 January 1773, the ninth of the 15 children of George III and Queen Charlotte. On 27 November 1801, at the age of 28, he was made Duke of Sussex by the King.
Augustus had a reputation for open-mindedness and was considered the most liberal of his siblings, being something of a social reformer. In opposition to the views of some of his older brothers, in particular the Duke of Cumberland, Augustus favoured Catholic emancipation. He was, despite his devout Christianity, a strong supporter of the Jewish community, too. He also lent his influence to promote various benevolent schemes and was once referred to as ‘the most charming beggar in Europe’.
Augustus was initiated into the Lodge of Victorious Truth in Berlin in 1798 while studying in Germany. He took rapidly to masonry, eventually occupying the Chair of his German lodge. Back in England, in 1800, Augustus joined his brother George’s Prince of Wales Lodge, now No. 259. The Duke joined the Lodge of Friendship, No. 6, in 1806 and Antiquity, No. 2, in 1808. In 1814, he was instrumental in the resuscitation and, later, amalgamation of several lodges to form Royal Alpha Lodge, No. 16 – which was the Grand Master’s personal lodge and remains so to this day.
BRINGING THE LODGES TOGETHER
In 1813, Augustus was elected Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge while his elder brother, the Duke of Kent, became Grand Master of the Antients, and they became involved in the completion of the negotiations for the unification of the two Grand Lodges.
The Articles of Union were finalised at the end of 1813 and on 27 December 1813, the Duke of Kent graciously stood aside for his younger brother to take the reins of the new Grand Lodge. Augustus remained Grand Master for 30 years until his death in 1843. He referred to the union of the two Grand Lodges as ‘the happiest event of my life’.
Augustus was a very hands-on Grand Master, resolving ‘to rule as well as to reign’. He attended meetings of the special Lodge of Reconciliation (1813-1816), personally chaired the Board of General Purposes and was involved in the detail of all of the major Board decisions. The Union did not proceed quite as smoothly as it might appear from our vantage point, 200 years further on. Indeed, Augustus faced significant resistance to the changes necessary to bring together two proud organisations with similar aims and ceremonies, but with important differences.
Demonstrating his independent thinking, he was the first royal to be buried in a public graveyard. After his death on 21 April 1843, and following the instructions recorded in his will, he was laid to rest in Kensal Green Cemetery in North London. Such a humble choice of burial place by a royal prince required the permission of Queen Victoria. He had been the Queen’s favourite uncle and gave her away at her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. The Spectator of 29 April 1843 wrote: ‘Her acquiescence in his selection of a place of burial may be received as an indication that she understood as well as loved him.’
Did you know?
The Duke was famed for his open-mindedness and liberal attitude, and he supported people of different religions
Did you know?
He was the first member of the royal family to be buried in a public graveyard – Kensal Green Cemetery in London
Words: Dr Lawrence Porter
When Augustus John Smith signed a lease to run the Isles of Scilly, he created an infrastructure that would transform living conditions for the poor
While the Victorian era produced countless well-educated young men from wealthy British families, Augustus John Smith stood out. Provincial Grand Master and Chapter member of both Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Smith saved the people of the off-islands of Scilly from starvation.
While Smith was in his 20s, his father gave him a very large sum of money. With such serious funds in a bank account, many young men would have embarked on the grand tour, seen Europe end to end and thoroughly enjoyed themselves. But Smith, a studious and serious young man, toured Britain, studying the working class – their living conditions, employment, finances and education.
Raised in Berkhamsted, Smith established two schools in his home town at his own expense, where ‘the three Rs’ were taught alongside instruction in industry. He suffered abuse from his peers for his support of the poor, with wealthy industrialists fearing that education would make workers unwilling to slave for the pittance they were paid. It was this opposition to progress that caused him to search for somewhere he could turn his dream of reformation into reality. Smith toured England and Ireland looking for such a place before setting his heart on Scilly.
A SCENE OF POVERTY
The needs of the islands, owned by the Duchy of Cornwall and deemed ‘unprofitable’ by their previous tenant, were summed up in a Duchy Report that stated, ‘No corner of Great Britain stood in greater need of help than Scilly.’ A similar comment was voiced by the Rev George ‘Bosun’ Smith, who stated in 1818, ‘Oh, that some of our wealthy and benevolent countrymen, whose hearts are as generous as their means are ample, could but witness these things.’
After signing a lease for 99 years at an annual rent of £40, Augustus Smith was asked by the owners to pay a fine of £20,000 – a refundable surety, he was told. The off-islands were in a deplorable state; the Duchy wasn’t prepared to invest in its own property, yet it demanded this sum.
Smith also spent £5,000 building a new quay, and £3,400 on the parish church. A lesser man would have walked away, but not Smith. He arrived on Scilly in 1835 as Lord Proprietor and began a huge construction plan, offering employment and paying wages out of his own pocket.
EDUCATION FOR ALL
Smith set out a policy that cut to the quick of the old Scillonian ways. In future, every child would attend school until the age of 13. New dwellings went up, quays and roads were repaired, and new ones created, all at his own expense. He banned smuggling, introduced a magistrates’ court and upset a lot of people who were reluctant to change.
With no property on Scilly sufficiently large enough for his own personal needs, Smith built Tresco Abbey as his private residence, overlooking two lakes in the grounds of the old St Nicholas Priory.
One of Smith’s great passions was Freemasonry. He was initiated into the brotherhood in Watford Lodge, No. 404, in London in 1832 at the age of 27, and later became a member of numerous other lodges. In 1855, when he was aged 51, the Phoenix Lodge of Honour and Prudence, No. 331, in Truro sponsored his election as Deputy Provincial Grand Master; by 1863 he was chosen as the sixth Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall.
In 1872, Smith died aged 67 from gangrene of the lungs in Plymouth. Buried in St Buryan, Cornwall, he had in his lifetime worked tirelessly for the benefit of Scilly’s inhabitants. A hero to many, he got the post office to connect the islands to the mainland by telegraph cable, established a regular packet service, mail collection and delivery, and encouraged new enterprise including the island’s burgeoning flower industry.
Did you know?
Smith’s support of the poor was scorned by his wealthy peers, as they felt education would lead to demands for fair wages
Words: Richard Larn OBE
Best remembered for bringing soap to the masses, William Lever was driven by Freemasonry’s strong philanthropic values
On 19 September 1867, 16-year-old William Lever received a birthday present that was to not only influence his future profession, but also his entry into masonic life. Later labelled ‘the bible of mid-Victorian liberalism’, Self-Help by Samuel Smiles (published in 1859) was a moral treatise on the promotion of self-improvement and the denouncement of materialism.
William Lever had humble origins that were to provide a springboard for his eventual success. Born in Bolton in 1851, Lever was the seventh child of local grocer James Lever and Eliza Hesketh. His education at Bolton Church Institute and membership of the Congregationalist Church were later reflected in his life’s work and politics. In 1867, Lever was recruited into the family grocery business, where one of his chores was to cut large blocks of soap into slices and wrap them so they were ready to be sold to customers.
A HEAD FOR BUSINESS
Echoing his rigid yet productive personal routines, Lever’s business model was one of meticulous planning, canny advertising and, in some ways, overbearing paternalism. He was a perfectionist who insisted on managing all aspects of business, much to the chagrin of his co-workers. Nevertheless, this drive would take him to the pinnacle of international success. Not content with the rapid expansion of his father’s business, Lever wanted to create his own.
Looking at his father’s humble empire, Lever’s gaze fell upon one thing – soap. In 1885, along with his brother James, he established the Lever Brothers company and brought soap to the masses. After much research and international travel, they began to corner the market: Sunlight Soap, the world’s first packaged and branded laundry detergent, was born.
When demand for soap began to outstrip production at the original factory in Warrington, Lancashire, it was time to expand. Thorough searching of land registry maps offered a solution in the Wirral, not far from Liverpool. Lever designed and oversaw the building of what was in effect a large-scale social experiment. Between 1899 and 1914, 800 houses were built for a permanent population of 3,500-4,000 workers, managers and administrators.
Once completed, Port Sunlight housed not only the new factory and offices, but also a hospital, church, technical institute, museum and library, auditorium, gymnasium, a heated outdoor pool and refectories for workers.
It was in Port Sunlight that Lever’s masonic career began when a group of local masons, many of whom were employees of Lever Brothers, decided to open a lodge in the village. To honour their chairman, they named it William Hesketh Lever Lodge, No. 2916. Lever was duly initiated at the first meeting of the lodge in 1902 and went on to become Master in 1907. He later formed Leverhulme Lodge, No. 4438; was a co-founder of no fewer than 17 lodges; became Senior Grand Warden of the Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England; and was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cheshire.
Lever was also a prominent Liberal MP and instigator of the Old Age Pension Bill. He was made a baronet in 1911 and a peer in 1917, taking on the title Lord Leverhulme (the ‘hulme’ in honour of his wife Elizabeth), and in 1922 was elevated to a viscountcy. His philanthropic reach was large, endowing a school of Tropical Medicine at Liverpool University, while the Leverhulme Trust today provides funding for education and research publications.
Lever died at his London residence in Hampstead on 7 May 1925. The writer and columnist AN Wilson once remarked, ‘The altruism of Leverhulme [is] in sad contrast to the antisocial attitude of modern business magnates, who think only of profit and the shareholder.’
Did you know?
As well as housing and the factory, Port Sunlight had its own hospital, museum and library, and even a heated swimming pool
Did you know?
The Lever Brothers’ Sunlight Soap was the world’s first packaged and branded laundry detergent soap
Words: Philippa Faulks
Just getting started
With the Tercentenary celebrations raising awareness and improving perceptions, Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes believes there has never been a better time to be a Freemason
It has been an enormous privilege to have been Pro Grand Master during the Tercentenary year. At the outset, Provinces and Districts were asked to concentrate on coming up with events in their own jurisdiction that their brethren could join in and enjoy. Dare I say, they all did this in spades, and I include our groups of lodges in that.
Quite rightly, there was often a significant charitable aspect to these events. I should add here that this was greatly enhanced by the imaginative input from the Masonic Charitable Foundation with its multitude of grants across the Provinces. The Rulers and past Rulers have endeavoured to meet your requests and wherever we have been, brethren have looked after us with incredible kindness and generosity. Thank you all so much.
Since our last communication, we have had the Grand Ball and our major celebratory event at the Royal Albert Hall. The events of 29 to 31 October were a resounding success, and I must single out Keith Gilbert and his team for the superb administrative arrangements throughout. Diane Clements and the museum staff managed to collect, catalogue and display the many gifts brought by the 133 Grand Masters from around the world amazingly quickly. These are now all displayed in the museum.
A JOB WELL DONE
Finally, thanks to James Long and his team, who took us all by surprise at the Royal Albert Hall with an amazing and uplifting performance of masonry across the three centuries. The whole London experience was beyond my expectations, and from the comments we have had since, it astounded all our hundreds of visitors from overseas. Well done indeed.
Brethren, has there ever been a better time to be a Freemason? I really believe that during the year we have learned so much about how to talk about our Freemasonry with non-members, helped enormously by the Sky documentary, which has opened our eyes and made the general public more receptive. I would love us to have had more editorial control over the end product, but that would, perhaps, have defeated the object. Nonetheless, I think we can go forward from here with enormous self-belief and pride.
We head now into 2018, continuing the work of the Improvement Delivery Group and capitalising on the great successes of 2017, rewarding those who have worked so hard throughout the year. We will also be remembering the fact that it is 100 years since the end of World War I, after which Freemasons’ Hall was built as the Masonic Peace Memorial to recognise the sacrifice of more than 3,000 English Freemasons who fell in that conflict.
‘I think we can go forward from here with enormous self-belief and pride’