Clocking up the miles in the name of charity
For most 86-year-olds, taking it easy might be par for the course, but for Yorkshire Freemason Jeffrey Long MBE, a veteran paratrooper and serial fundraiser, it’s a different story
Jeffrey has been a busy man in 2017, as a chance encounter with a stranger called Paula Modeste at Windsor train station saw his latest adventure of walking 86 miles go viral, with a ‘selfie’ photograph grabbing the attention of comedian Jason Manford and helping his fundraising for the Royal British Legion go beyond the £120,000 mark – not bad considering his original target was to reach £1,000.
Alongside interviews with the BBC and ITV, national newspapers have also helped Jeffrey gather plenty of deserved headlines as he clocked up the miles. Jason Manford even drove down to Jeffrey’s hometown of Bingley, West Yorkshire, to meet him, whilst he was invited by Chelsea Football Club to be a special guest and introduced on the pitch before their match against Manchester United on 5th November.
Following walks of 84 and 85 miles the previous two years to coincide with his age at the time, Jeffrey’s latest venture of 86 miles saw him start out at the Thames Barrier and eight days later finish in the dark in Caversham, Reading. He estimates that the time spent walking 86 miles took him a full five days to complete, as along the way he also celebrated his 86th birthday with a meal on the 32nd floor of the Shard and visited the Embassy of Switzerland to meet their Ambassador Alexandre Fasel and Guildhall to meet Chief Commoner Wendy Mead.
Jeffrey, who is on chemo treatment because his body is producing too many platelets, admits that his latest walk was not without its challenges. He said: ‘I also suffered a problem with my hamstring a few months before and by the time I started the walk, it had still not recovered. I didn’t have too much of a problem walking as long as I didn’t stride out, but when it came to going down steps, it really pulled on my hamstring and hurt like mad.
‘I loved the challenge of walking 86 miles and even though many people have said it’s extraordinary to be completing it at my age, it doesn’t really seem extraordinary to me.
‘The truth is that I’ve never really been much of a social walker. I don’t have time to train, so when it came to first preparing for these challenges, I just remember putting on some boots, walking for around an hour outside and then going ‘I’ll be fine!’
So how do you go about topping an 86 mile walk? Simple – Jeffrey is already looking ahead to the challenge of walking 87 miles next year. Not only that, he’s considering walking another 100 miles for a separate challenge and looking for a sponsor as he considers swapping the walking boots for a bike and cycling from London to Paris!
Jeffrey Long was featured in the Summer 2017 of Freemasonry Today – read his interview here.
Hello and welcome to this tour of three of the historic masonic sites in the City of London that are inextricably linked with Freemasonry and its development. We start our journey on the spot where once stood the entrance to the Goose and Gridiron Ale-house, some fifty metres north of the last step leading to St. Paul’s Cathedral. It is here that the foundation of the undisputed first Grand Lodge in the world took place on 24 June 1717.
Unfortunately, and rather surprisingly, there appear to be no mementos of this historic tavern situated in what was St. Paul’s Church Yard and the only surviving item, now in the Museum of London, is the pub sign. Up until the Great Fire of London in 1666, the Goose and Gridiron was known as the Mitre. After being devastated in the blaze, it was rebuilt and renamed The Lyre, on account of the tavern’s musical associations (a musical society met on its premises), and took as its sign Apollo’s lyre surmounted by a swan. However, this image was often unrecognised and misinterpreted and a new name was born from the error: Goose and Gridiron.
battle for the blue plaque
It was in this tavern that four London lodges came together to launch Freemasonry, electing Anthony Sayer (1672-1741/2) – the ‘oldest Master Mason and then Master of a Lodge’ – as its Grand Master. It must be noted here, however, that the only source for all the information we have about the premier Grand Lodge in 1717 is from James Anderson’s reports that were published more than two decades later in 1738.
Moving on now, if you look to your right you will see, on the last column of the building you are facing, the official blue plaque commemorating the foundation of the Grand Lodge. It simply states:
Near This Site
The Grand Lodge
First Met in 1717
Nonetheless, after eight years of perseverance, on 15 June 2005, the then Lord Mayor, Alderman Very Worshipful Brother Michael Savory, finally unveiled the blue plaque that we are now so proud of.
foundations of freemasonry
It is interesting to consider how amazed our founding forefathers would no doubt be at the spread of Freemasonry through the four quarters of the globe. You see, the four lodges did not originally meet with the aim of forming a Grand Lodge. Rather, their decision to unite stemmed from a need to strengthen each individual lodge’s membership. Indeed, in unity they found this strength and it was at the initiative of other lodges wishing to join the group that a Grand Lodge was declared and formed as a controlling body. Freemasonry has never looked back.
Follow me now please, past Paternoster Square, Goldsmiths, The Saddlers’ Hall and Guildhall Yard, and let us make our way into the passage entrance of Mason’s Avenue. Now, once we move twenty metres into the alleyway, we are standing in front of the Select Trust Building.
Let me first point out that the whole of this two- hundred-yard-long avenue has not changed in four centuries. The imitation Tudor-style buildings are recent, of course, but the shape and size of the alley has remained identical and right here, on what is now 12-15 Mason’s Avenue, stood the Hall of the Worshipful Company of Masons, one of the City of London Livery Companies with which our society is closely, and at times quite wrongly, identified.
The Masons Company has its earliest record dating to 1356 and received its Grant of Arms in 1472. By then the building on this site was already functional and it was only demolished in 1865, some four hundred years later. As a reminder of the old days, the present building, which was completed in 1980, has the beautiful stained-glass windows with masonic emblems incorporated into the design. A gilded inscription embedded into the wall serves as a further reminder. It reads:
On This Site Stood
The Hall Of The
A 1463 – 1865 D
For our third and sadly last stop on this tour, let us walk the short distance to the Royal Exchange. From this vantage point you have a particularly good view of the main entrance to the Bank of England, which is popularly known as ‘The Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’.
The Bank of England has been situated in this area since its inception in 1694, with three bank buildings rising on this same site since 1734. As an interesting aside, did you know that the Bank of England was the first purpose-built bank in the British Isles? Another notable, and quite surprising fact is that the Bank of England remained a private entity until the Parliament Act of 1946, after which it was finally nationalised.
soane’s speedy advancement
Returning to the building, Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was the bank’s third architect and worked on it for forty-five years (1788-1833). However, the only part of his work that still remains is ‘the curtain wall’, which is the elongated windowless screen wall that you can see along the front. This wall encloses the whole of the block, which consists of an area of three and a half acres containing the premises of the bank.
The Duke of Sussex, who was elected as the new Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, favoured Soane’s architectural work. As such, when the Duke of Sussex directed the extension of the Grand Lodge premises in Great Queen Street, one of his many dynamic and innovative activities, it was Soane who undertook and completed the task.
On 25 November 1813, an emergency meeting of the Grand Master’s Lodge, No. 1, under the Grand Lodge of the Antients, was held at the Crown and Anchor Tavern in the Strand. At this meeting Soane was initiated as an Entered Apprentice, passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft and raised to the degree of a Master Mason. In addition, following the inauguration of the United Grand Lodge of England, Soane was formally appointed President of the Board of Works and given the appropriate high masonic rank of Grand Superintendent of Works – both a well-deserved and speedy advancement by any standard.
This brings us to the end of our tour in which I hope to have shown you the significance of the City of London to the history of Freemasonry, along the way unearthing a few masonic gems that you may not have known existed. Thank you very much for joining me – I hope you have enjoyed your trip and I wish you a safe journey home.