Freemasonry on the march
John Hamill, Deputy Grand Chancellor, on how the shared values and camaraderie found in Freemasonry have appealed to members of the British armed forces through history
Retirement has enabled me to spend more time at my home in the Fens. I have been surprised by how often the peace and tranquillity have been disturbed by aeroplanes from the Royal Air Force and American air bases that still exist in East Anglia flying over the area. Given the recent celebrations marking the centenary of the formation of the Royal Air Force and the commemorative events to honour the closing months of the First World War, I began to reflect on the enormous contribution that members of the services have made to the development and spread of Freemasonry over the last 300 years.
It was the Grand Lodge of Ireland that, in the early 1730s, introduced the practice of issuing travelling warrants to form lodges in regiments of the British Army, enabling the lodge to meet wherever the regiment might be stationed. The idea was quickly taken up by the Premier and Antients Grand Lodges in England and the Grand Lodge of Scotland. The travelling military lodges of the Home Grand Lodges took Freemasonry around the globe; its development mirrored that of the development of the British Empire.
The travelling lodges did a great deal to help establish Freemasonry in the North American colonies, Canada, the West Indies and Caribbean, and India.
Constitutionally, the English Grand Lodges would only issue travelling military warrants in regiments in which the commanding officer agreed to there being a lodge. Equally, they were only supposed to take in members of the particular regiment and not initiate civilians. Inevitably, when a travelling lodge was stationed overseas in an area where there were no lodges, they would take in locals. When the regiment moved on, those civilians would usually apply to a Home Grand Lodge for a warrant to meet as a stationary lodge to enable them to carry on their Freemasonry.
Although there are anecdotes of lodge meetings held on board ships, there is no evidence that the Home Grand Lodges issued travelling warrants for lodges to be held on ships. There is, however, a great deal of evidence in the membership registers, from the earliest registers, of many members of the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and merchant navy being involved in Freemasonry and helping to spread it overseas.
Indeed, lodges in the ports around the English coast in the 18th and 19th centuries became cosmopolitan in their membership, holding meetings when foreign ships were in port and taking in officers and crew members, often putting them through all three degrees on the same day. Equally, lodges in the colonies would hold meetings or social events when ships came into port. Admiral Nelson himself recorded being entertained at a masonic ball in the West Indies.
One of the problems for seafaring brethren was that being at sea for long periods meant that their masonic progress could be rather slow, as it would be dependent on being on shore at a time when their lodge met. Many naval officers had to wait until they retired before they could fully participate, but others appear to have taken full advantage of every opportunity to do so.
One such officer was Admiral Sir Albert Hastings Markham, KCB (1841–1918), who appears to have joined a lodge in every port he spent any time in or visited regularly. Being stationed in the Mediterranean, he rose to the rank of District Grand Master of Malta. In today’s slimmed-down navy, it is even more difficult for serving members to become fully involved in Freemasonry unless they receive a shore-based appointment.
The attraction of Freemasonry to members of the services appears to be a combination of shared values; the ideals of service and tradition; and the continuation of the camaraderie they have experienced within the armed forces. It was certainly the latter that led to the huge expansion of Freemasonry in the English-speaking world at the end of both World Wars. Long may the connection continue.
‘The travelling military lodges took Freemasonry around the globe’
13 June 2018
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, I really believe that during the early part of this year we have built on the euphoria of our Tercentenary year.
In March, 149 brethren were invested with their special Tercentenary ranks and, of course, in April, we had the usual Annual Investiture presided over by the Grand Master. I felt both meetings had a wonderful atmosphere.
It was hoped that the DVD of the Royal Albert Hall event would be circulated with the next edition of Freemasonry Today, however the Board have come to the conclusion, I think quite rightly, that the chances of a significant number of the DVDs being damaged in transit was too great a risk and it is therefore the intention to distribute them to active members through individual masonic halls. I am sure that this is something that we will all be proud to watch time and time again, but, perhaps, not boring our friends and families too much along the way.
Brethren, I have lost count of the number of times that I have been asked why Freemasonry is relevant in today’s society. I think it would be right to turn this round and ask how today’s society cannot fail to be improved by Freemasonry?
I have said in the past that I believe that the Charge after Initiation explains very clearly what is expected of a Freemason throughout his life; at home, at work, in lodge and in the community at large. If the world lived their lives in accordance with that Charge, how much better a place it would be?
Over and above this, Freemasonry provides continuity and reliability – qualities so often missing in the lives of so many. We all know when our lodges meet. We all know that Grand Lodge meets on set dates every year. We all know the format that our meetings will take, and there is perhaps solace to be drawn from that comfortable regularity of the masonic year. We are all confident that those needed at our meetings will turn up, usually on time, unless there is a very good reason. We all know that our Lodge Secretaries will produce the minutes and that the Treasurer will have prepared the accounts and had them audited for the appropriate meeting. Of course, there can be slip ups, but these are rare and are almost always quickly rectified.
Brethren, surely in a world where there is so much disharmony and a general lack of agreement, an organisation that can provide so much unanimity and concord should be welcomed with open arms.
Brethren, if I may use a cricket analogy where the MCC is considered to be the Custodian of the Laws of the game, UGLE in conjunction with the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland are looked on by the majority of the masonic world in rather the same light. It is important that we live up to that responsibility in all aspects of our behaviour, from the individual mason up to the Grand Lodge.
There is an annual meeting between the three ‘Home Grand Lodges’ and I have recently returned from this year’s meeting in Dublin. We are agreed that Freemasonry is going through a good phase at the moment, but we are equally agreed that there is no room for complacency. It is of great importance that we, as individuals, set an example of behaviour in our lives and in our lodges. Lodges must give a good account of themselves in their communities, which should be backed up by the Provinces and Districts in a wider context. It is Grand Lodge’s duty to monitor all this and, at the same time, ensure that we exemplify all that is good in Freemasonry to the world at large.
Brethren, if we are all successful in this, the world will be a better place, and a better place for the positive influence we bring to it. Long may that continue.
Och Aye the Blue
The Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club started their 2016 with a visit to Scotland and to two of the oldest masonic lodges in the world and to top it all off a visit to the beautiful Rosslyn Chapel.
On Tuesday 26th January 2016 the group left Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester by bus to travel to Kilwinning in Ayrshire to visit the Lodge Mother Kilwinning. The lodge is said to date back to the building of the abbey in 1140 and up until the formation of the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1736 Kilwinning Lodge was in itself a grand lodge, issuing warrants and charters and is the reason that many Scottish lodges still hold the name Kilwinning in their name.
The Light Blue Club were warmly welcomed by the brethren and had a look around their fascinating museum, followed by an excellent Passing ceremony. Once the lodge had closed, they were treated to an informal festive board, known as a harmony, of pie and beans in the bar and finally a talk about the history of the lodge which is something that is usually incorporated into their first degree ceremony for all new Initiates.
The next day, the group left for Edinburgh to visit Canongate Kilwinning Lodge No. 2. After a short ceremony to confer Honorary Membership on Bro David Begg, Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of Scotland the annual banquette to Burns and Hogg was held. In attendance was the Grand Master Mason Bro Charles IR Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont, who was very welcoming of the Light Blue Club and even joined them for a late night selfie!
The banquette itself was excellent from an initial parading and address to the haggis, complete with piper, to some wonderful singing and fiddling of traditional Scottish songs from Jess Conway as well as an entertaining and humorous talk from Bro David Venard entitled ‘The Immortal memories of Robert Burns and James Hogg’.
The final part of the Scottish tour was a visit to Rosslyn Chapel where the Light Blue Club enjoyed a talk on the history of the chapel followed by a masonic tour that pointed out all its masonic references, which was described by Bro Bob Reay as, 'a fascinating experience'.
Joint statement from the United Grand lodge of England; the Grand Lodge of Ireland; and the Grand Lodge of Scotland on the "Berlin Declaration"
We have received a copy of the Berlin Declaration and welcome the fact that the five Grand Masters who have signed it are proposing to follow the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, and others, by restoring recognition to the Grande Loge Nationale Française.
The question of granting recognition to the new Confederation of French Freemasonry is an entirely separate matter. It is a long standing principle of international Masonic relations that where a Grand Lodge exists a second Grand Lodge cannot be recognised, no matter how regular it might be, without the agreement of the existing Grand Lodge to share territorial jurisdiction with it. As the Grande Loge Nationale Française has not agreed to share its territory with the Confederation, and having re-recognised the Grande Loge Nationale Française to then unilaterally recognise the Confederation without their blessing would constitute a breach of this long standing principle, and even be thought to be interference in the territorial jurisdiction of a Grand Lodge.
Since the idea of a Confederation was first floated England, Ireland and Scotland have consistently stated that a "blanket" recognition cannot be given to such a body and that we would require solid evidence that each of the Grand Lodges which are part of the Confederation individually complies with the generally accepted principles for Grand Lodge Recognition. Should one of them not comply with those generally accepted principles then recognition cannot be extended to the Confederation.
At the present time the United Grand Lodge of England and the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland are not considering recognising any other Grand Lodge in France and will not do so in future without the agreement of the Grande Loge Nationale Française.
It is stated that the Confederation is a means of bringing together regular Grand Lodges in France and that it will act as an "umbrella" to represent regular French Freemasonry on the international stage, as the United Grand Lodges of Germany does for regular German Freemasonry. For one hundred years the Grande Loge Nationale Française has been internationally recognised as the representative of regular French Freemasonry. A Confederation claiming to represent regular French Freemasonry which does not include the Grande Loge Nationale Française or in any way have its blessing, can have no credibility on the international stage.
|Charles Iain Robert Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont||Peter G. Lowndes||Douglas T. Grey|
|Grand Master Mason||Pro Grand Master||Acting Grand Master|
Grande Loge Nationale Française
In 2012 the United Grand Lodge of England, the Grand Lodge of Ireland and the Grand Lodge of Scotland (the Home Grand Lodges), because of internal problems within the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF), each withdrew recognition from the GLNF. This action was undertaken in the belief that it was in the best interests of the Home Grand Lodges to distance themselves from the problems within the GLNF and to give the GLNF time and space to resolve their problems without external interference.
The Home Grand Lodges continued to monitor the situation and believe that the actions taken by the current leadership of the GLNF have actively and comprehensively addressed the problems which led to the withdrawal of recognition, with the almost unanimous support of the Brethren of the GLNF, and that peace and harmony have now been restored.
Accordingly, at their respective Quarterly Communications held on 5th June (Ireland), 11th June (England) and 12th June (Scotland) 2014 the Home Grand Lodges each moved resolutions to restore recognition to the GLNF, which resolutions were accepted.
|Charles Wolrige Gordon of Esslemont||Peter Lowndes||Douglas Grey|
|Grand Master Mason||Pro Grand Master||Deputy Grand Master|
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge
12 September 2012
Report of the Board of General Purposes
Meetings in 2013
The Board of General Purposes will meet in 2013 on 12 February, 19 March, 14 May, 16 July, 17 September and 12 November.
Attendance at Lodges under the English Constitution by Brethren from other Grand Lodges
The Board drew attention to Rule 125 (b), Book of Constitutions, and the list of Grand Lodges recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England, which is published in the Masonic Year Book, copies of which are sent to Secretaries of Lodges.
Attendance at Lodges Overseas
Brethren are reminded that it is part of their duty as members of the English Constitution not to associate Masonically with members of unrecognised constitutions, and should such a situation occur, they should tactfully withdraw, even though their visit may have been formally arranged.
Brethren should not attempt to make any Masonic contact overseas without having first checked (preferably in writing) with the Grand Secretary’s Office at Freemasons’ Hall, Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5AZ, that there is recognised Freemasonry in the country concerned and, if so, whether there is any particular point which should be watched.
The Board recommends that the terms of this warning should be repeated verbally in open Lodge whenever a Grand Lodge Certificate is presented, and in print once a year in a Lodge’s summons. Brethren should also be aware of the Masonic convention that communications between Grand Lodges be conducted by Grand Secretaries.
Prestonian Lecture 2013
The Trustees of the Prestonian Fund have appointed W Bro P.R. Calderwood as Prestonian Lecturer for 2013. The title of his Lecture is "As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry".
Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from Lodges.
Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries. The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge.
It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by Lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.
Grand Loge Nationale Française
Statements made by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor are available here.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
Conditional Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge
The Grand Lodge of Ireland currently has 20 Lodges meeting under its Provincial Grand Lodge of Nigeria and the Grand Lodge of Scotland has 45 Lodges meeting there under its District Grand Lodge of Nigeria.
It is the intention of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland, following consultation with this Grand Lodge, to constitute from their Province and District respectively a Grand Lodge of Nigeria on 3 November 2012.
To date none of the 33 Lodges under our own District of Nigeria has indicated a desire to participate in the formation of the new Grand Lodge, but nevertheless the Board of General Purposes has agreed that an English deputation should attend the Inauguration in order to lend support to the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland.
By the time this Grand Lodge meets in December, the Grand Lodge of Nigeria will already have been constituted. The Board would prefer that the new Grand Lodge be recognised from the moment of its creation, rather than after a delay, and accordingly recommended this course.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Installed Masters’ Lodges
Since 1 January 2006 Installed Masters’ Lodges have been exempt from paying dues to Grand Lodge and the contribution to the Grand Charity, except in respect of those members who belong to no other Lodge.
From time to time the Grand Secretary receives a request from a Lodge such as a Provincial Grand Stewards’ Lodge or a research Lodge, all of the Members of which are Installed Masters, to be considered an Installed Masters’ Lodge, and therefore entitled to the exemption.
The Board wishes to remind Brethren that the exemption was introduced to recognise the special role traditional Installed Masters’ Lodges play in education and communication, and to make it plain that the exemption will not be granted to Lodges which are merely de facto Installed Masters’ Lodges.
At the same time the Board recognises that there exist certain Installed Masters Lodges which operate as such but are open to the Masters and Past Masters of a particular category of Lodges only, such as the City of London Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 8220.
The Board has hitherto considered itself to be acting within the spirit and intent of Rule 269 and Rule 271 in determining such Lodges to fulfil the requirements of the proviso to those Rules. It considers, however, that the time has now come to regularise the situation by making such Lodges clearly the subject of the exemption.
Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.
The Board had received a report that Hiraeth Lodge, No. 8834 had resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Wenallt Lodge, No. 9082 (South Wales).The Board accordingly recommended that the Lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 15 Lodges had closed and voted to surrender their Warrants. The Lodges are: Portland Lodge, No. 637 (Staffordshire), Dalhousie Lodge, No. 860 (London), Cosmopolitan Lodge, No. 917 (London), John Hervey Lodge, No. 1260 (London), Clapton Lodge, No. 1365 (London), Victoria Park Lodge, No. 1816 (London), Raymond Thrupp Lodge, No. 2024 (Middlesex), Sheraton Lodge, No. 3019 (London), Westminster Hospital Lodge, No. 5292 (London), Priory of Lambeth Lodge, No. 6252 (London), Caslon Lodge, No. 6303 (London), Nile Lodge, No. 6476 (West Lancashire), Phoenix Lodge of Hanwell, No. 7317 (London), Lodge of Felicity, No. 7509 (Middlesex) and Rivermead Lodge, No. 8444 (Nottinghamshire).
The Board recommended that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Report of Library and Museum Trust
Board had received a report from the Library and Museum Charitable Trust.
Assuring the Future of Freemasonry
Grand Lodge received a talk entitled 'Assuring the Future of Freemasonry: making the Craft relevant to all generations'.
List of new Lodges for which Warrants have been granted
26 April 2012: No. 9874 Terpsichore Lodge (Stamford, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire).
13 June 2012: No. 9875 Armed Forces Lodge (Newport, Monmouthshire) and No. 9876 Cambria Meridian Lodge of Installed Masters (Rhyl, North Wales).
Meetings of Grand Lodge
Quarterly Communications of Grand Lodge will be held on 12 December 2012, 13 March 2013, 24 April 2013 (Annual Investiture), 12 June 2013, 11 September 2013 and 11 December 2013.
Meetings of Grand Chapter
Supreme Grand Chapter will meet 14 November 2012, 25 April 2013 and 16 October 2013.
The merger of MQ and Freemasonry Today and the development of external relations is discussed by Nigel Brown, Grand Secretary
It is always good to hear exciting news. The announcement, by the Pro Grand Master in his speech at the September Quarterly Communication, that MQ and Freemasonry Today are to merge, is indeed exciting. The merger has been planned for some time and further underpins the positive initiatives of the Pro Grand Master to communicate with you, your families and non-masons.
You might wonder why we are using the title ‘Freemasonry Today’ for the new magazine, especially as this is a merger and will be the magazine of the United Grand Lodge of England. The answer is simply that it is a good title.
You will also be interested to know that the Grand Secretary, on behalf of the Board of General Purposes, will act as ‘compliance officer’. That means that all editorial, now to cover a wider range of topics, will be approved before publication.
This then, is the last issue of MQ. The first issue of the new magazine will be published in January 2008 with your free copy being distributed in the same way as MQ was.
At the Tripartite meeting held at Freemasons’ Hall in June I had the opportunity to meet my opposite numbers in the Grand Lodge of Ireland and Scotland, Barry Lyons and David Begg respectively. We liaise very well and it was a pleasure to meet them.
In July the Assistant Grand Master traveled to Sri Lanka to celebrate their centenary and to install the new District Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. As part of my remit to look after the Districts under our jurisdiction, I had the privilege of accompanying him.
We met many of the brethren and their wives. The Assistant Grand Master was also interviewed for the District magazine called The Banner. The interviewer was pleasantly surprised about our openness and the clear direction our Rulers have set.
I accompanied the Pro Grand Master on the third of his four Provincial meetings. These continue to be extremely successful. I cannot put enough emphasis on how important are our Provinces and Districts.
On that point, the Grand Chancellor gave an excellent talk at the last Quarterly Communication clearly confirming how successfully our respective roles were working out.
In particular, re-emphasing how his role allows the Grand Secretary to now concentrate on the Provinces and Districts, whilst he can concentrate on matters regarding Grand Lodges not under our jurisdiction.
Any thoughts that I may have had that August was a quiet month at Freemasons’ Hall London were soon dispelled. Clearly, from a ceremonial aspect, things do go quiet.
However, in all other respects it is as busy as ever. On top of this, the building works continue and we all look forward to their completion and to welcoming the Charities into Freemasons’ Hall. I am happy to report that our discussions on their move have already given us the opportunity to establish a very good relationship.
This is a wonderful and inspiring time for Freemasonry and we look forward to keeping you up-to-date with all the initiatives in the new Freemasonry Today.
Over two hundred academics and Masonic researchers attended the first International Conference on the History of Freemasonry held at Freemasons’ Hall, Edinburgh, over the last weekend in May
The conference patrons were the Grand Master Mason of Scotland (Sir Archibald Orr Ewing, Bt), the Pro Grand Master of England (Lord Northampton) and the Grand Master of Ireland (George Dunlop), who jointly opened the conference and attended many of the lectures.
Seventy-two speakers from around the world gave presentations covering an enormous range of Masonic topics from early Scottish Lodges to historical surveys of Freemasonry in Europe, the Middle and Far East, North, Central and South America. More specialist presentations covered Freemasonry and the Enlightenment, fraternalism, religious and ethical connections, symbolism, secularism, architecture, leisure, music, journalism, publishing, women and sociability.
There were five plenary lectures given by major academics. Professor Jan Snoek from Germany opened the conference with a stimulating lecture Researching Freemasonry; where are we? Professor Margaret Jacobs from California, whose writings on Freemasonry in the 1980s brought the subject back to academic respectability, spoke on Benjamin Franklin and Freemasonry.
Professor J. A. Ferrer Benimelli, President of the Centre for Historical Studies of Spanish Freemasonry presented a survey of relations between the Roman Catholic Church and Freemasonry. Professor David Stevenson of St Andrew’s University spoke on Working class Freemasonry in Scotland and Professor James Stevens Curl ended the conference with a lecture on Freemasonry and garden history: ideas, allusions, fabriques and the Enlightenment.
There was a great diversity of subjects, but there was a certain frustration that with three sessions running in parallel each day, choosing which to attend was difficult and Murphy’s law often operated – two speakers or subjects you wanted to hear being presented at the same time!
To be fair, however, the conference organisers, Supersonic Events Limited, did a tremendous job of organising over 200 people within the limited confines of Freemasons’ Hall, running sessions to time and ensuring that coffee and lunch breaks kept the body going whilst the mind was being feasted.
As with all conferences, equally important to the formal sessions was the opportunity of meeting old and making new friends and having the opportunity to sit down, or more often stand with a drink in hand, to discuss pet theories, new insights and new information provided in many of the formal presentations. It was certainly to the benefit of both the academics and the Masonic researchers to have this great opportunity of meeting together and comparing notes.
The social side was as well planned as the formal sessions, including a gala dinner followed by a traditional ceilidh at the stunning Royal Museum of Scotland.
The Conference had been preceded on the Thursday evening at the Freemasons’ Hall by the final of the Scottish Youth Orchestra’s Young Musician of the Year Competition.
Three very talented young musicians – two violinists and a clarinettist – played two pieces each and quite how the adjudicators were able to sort them out into first, second and third places, so well had each played, remains a mystery to the delighted audience. The three Patrons of the conference presented the prizes.
The Grand Lodge of Scotland is to be congratulated on promoting and supporting this first major conference. The organisers and the Local Organising Committee (Robert Cooper, Curator of the Grand Lodge of Scotland, James Daniel, former Grand Secretary of England, and Professor Andrew Prescott, formerly of the Centre for Research into Freemasonry, Sheffield University), learned a great deal about running such a major event and are not daunted by the prospect of future Conferences. Indeed, thought is already being given to having a second conference in 2009 to tie in with the 250th anniversary of Robert Burns!