Thirty years in the making, a replica of the Ark of the Masonic Covenant is being crafted to serve as a permanent memorial of the Union of the two Grand Lodges. John Hamill explains its history
Sir John Soane (1753-1837) was one of England’s greatest architects. He became a Freemason in 1813 and, after the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, was the first 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 he produced for Grand Lodge was what became known as the Ark of the Masonic Covenant. To bring the Union of the Grand Lodges into being, both parties had agreed Articles of Union that laid the foundations of the United Grand Lodge of England. As an important document, it was to be carried into each Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge by the Grand Registrar. Soane 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.
It was an impressive piece of furniture, triangular in shape with an Ionic, Corinthian or Doric column at each corner and surmounted by a dome topped by Soane’s signature lantern. It 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, 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 Soane’s Ark was not replaced.
One of Soane’s 20th-century successors as Grand Superintendent of Works was architect Douglas Burford. He became interested in Soane’s masonic work and did a great deal of research in the archives at Sir John Soane’s Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London. There he discovered Soane’s original plans for the Ark.
Burford wrote the subject up in a paper for Quatuor Coronati Lodge, No. 2076, and hoped to persuade Grand Lodge to have a replica constructed. It has taken 30 years for that dream to become a reality.
Burford was delighted to learn that, as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, Soane’s Ark was to be reconstructed. He was even more pleased to have an opportunity to travel to York to see the work underway.
The project has been 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.
The Factum Foundation is an organisation that uses digital technology to accurately record heritage items for conservation purposes, to enable facsimiles to be produced and, as in the case of this project, to reconstruct lost items.
Houghtons of York is an old family firm that uses traditional methods and materials to produce new architectural woodwork or furniture, as well as to restore and reconstruct damaged and lost items. The combined efforts of these two firms have produced a superb and accurate reconstruction of one of the lost treasures of Grand Lodge.
On completion, the new Soane’s Ark will be the centre of an exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum opening on 11 October. Under the title Soane’s Ark: Building with Symbols, the exhibition will discuss Soane’s membership of Freemasonry and include other masonic items from his collections.
The Ark will then be transported to the Royal Albert Hall for the great Tercentenary celebration, where it will be dedicated by the Grand Master. Afterwards it will, like the original, take its place in the Grand Temple as a permanent memorial.
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
14 June 2017
Report of the Board of General Purposes
The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 8 March, 2017 and of the Annual Investiture of 26 April, 2017 were confirmed.
Rule 153 – Cheque Signatories
Rule 153 was amended in June 2013 to require that every cheque drawn on a Lodge’s bank account be signed by two duly authorised members of the Lodge, of whom the Treasurer must, unless it is impracticable, be one. The Rule had previously permitted a Lodge to resolve that a single signatory should suffice.
The object of the amendment was to reduce the risk of misappropriation of funds, by requiring a second signatory in every case. The Board still considers that to have been an appropriate objective, but has noted that Lodges have experienced difficulty in relation to bank mandates in respect of a second signatory. The Board recommended that Rule 153(b) be amended to enable cheques to be authorised on the sole signature of the Treasurer. Notice of motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the paper of business.
Annual Dues 2018
The Board recommended, in accordance with Rule 269, Book of Constitutions, that the annual dues (including VAT) payable to Grand Lodge in respect of each member of every Lodge for the year 2018 shall be:
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
The Board recommended, in accordance with Rule 270, Book of Constitutions, that the fees (exclusive of VAT) payable for registration, certificates and dispensations should be increased in line with inflation to:
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Contribution to the Masonic Charitable Foundation
Under Rule 271, Book of Constitutions, Grand Lodge must fix each year the annual contribution payable to the Masonic Charitable Foundation. The Trustees of the Masonic Charitable Foundation have requested that for 2018 the annual contribution remain at £17 in respect of each member of a Lodge in a Metropolitan Area or a Province, or in England and Wales that is unattached.
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
2016: Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England
The Lecturer, W Bro Dr R.A. Berman, has informed the Board that in addition to the three official deliveries to Zetland and Hong Kong Lodge, No. 7665 (London), Bristol Installed Masters Lodge, No. 8168 (Bristol) and Temple of Athene Lodge, No. 9541 (Middlesex), the Lecture was also delivered on twenty-three other occasions throughout the Constitution. The Board expressed its thanks to Bro Berman for the considerable time and effort he has spent in this connection.
2017 The Grand Design
The Prestonian Lecturer for 2017 is RW Bro Dr J.W. Daniel, PSGW. Four official Prestonian Lectures for 2017 have been or will be given under the auspices of Lodge of the Grand Design, No. 6077 (Surrey); Worcestershire Installed Masters’ Lodge, No. 6889 (Worcestershire); Old Elizabethans’ Lodge, No. 8235 (East Lancashire) and The London Grand Rank Association.
The Board had received reports that the following Lodges had resolved to surrender their Warrants:
(a) Lodge of Dedication, No. 7428, in order to amalgamate with Excelsior Lodge, No. 1155 (London); and
(b) Lodge of Concord, No. 7233, in order to amalgamate with Holloway Lodge, No. 2601 (London).
A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that twenty Lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The Lodges are:
Addington Lodge, No. 1937 (KwaZulu-Natal); Lord Charles Beresford Lodge, No. 2404 (East Kent); Gwalia Lodge, No. 4213 (South Wales); Rosarium Lodge, No. 5147 (London); Horselydown Lodge, No. 5384 (London); Danson Park Lodge, No. 5700 (West Kent); Lodge of Assembly, No. 5747 (Warwickshire); Curfew Lodge, No. 5891 (London); Diligence Lodge, No. 5954 (Middlesex); Wilcumestou Lodge, No. 6090 (Essex); Lodge of United Friendship, No. 6284 (East Kent); Trident Lodge, No. 6407 (Nottinghamshire); Cowley Lodge, No. 7571 (Middlesex); Latton Priory Lodge, No. 8402 (Essex); Gayton Lodge, No. 8640 (Cheshire); Lodge of Good Report, No. 8646 (Middlesex); Oakfield Park Lodge, No. 8671 (West Kent); Manor Abbey Lodge, No. 8873 (Worcestershire); Lewes Priory Lodge, No. 9201 (Sussex) and Sure and Stedfast Lodge, No. 9365 (Worcestershire).
Over recent years, the Lodges have found themselves no longer viable. The Board was satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore had no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
As required by Rule 277 (a) (i) (B), Book of Constitutions, eight Brethren had recently been expelled from the Craft.
Grand Lodge Accounts 2016
The Audited Accounts of the Grand Lodge for the year ended 31 December 2016 were adopted.
Election of Grand Lodge Auditors
Crowe Clarke Whitehill LLP were re-elected as Auditors of the Grand Lodge.
Talk: 1717 – Foundation and Formation
A talk was given by VW Bro J.M. Hamill, PGSwdB, Deputy Grand Chancellor.
List of new Lodges for which Warrants have been granted by the MW The Grand Master showing the dates from which their Warrants became effective:
8 March 2017
9944 Lodge of XV (Braintree, Essex)
9945 Buckinghamshire Classic Car Lodge (Beaconsfield Buckinghamshire)
27 April 2017
9946 Berkshire Lodge of Enlightenment (Berkshire)
9947 Constructors’ Lodge (Berkshire)
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
A Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge is held on the second Wednesday in March, June, September and December. The next will be at noon on Wednesday, 13 September 2017. Subsequent Communications will be held on 13 December 2017; 14 March, 2018; 13 June, 2018 and 12 September, 2018.
The Annual Investiture of Grand Officers takes place on the last Wednesday in April (the next is on 25 April 2018), and admission is by ticket only. A few tickets are allocated by ballot after provision has been made for those automatically entitled to attend. Full details will be given in the Paper of Business for December Grand Lodge.
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter are held on the second Wednesday in November and the day following the Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge. Future Convocations will be held on 8 November, 2017; 26 April, 2018 and 14 November 2018.
10 December 2014
A speech by WV Bro Graham Redman, Deputy Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill, Assistant Grand Chancellor
GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, a year ago we left the United Grand Lodge of England duly constituted on 27 December 1813 with elaborate ceremonial, and the Brethren recruiting themselves at the Crown and Anchor tavern where a grand banquet was provided.
As might be expected, 1814 was a year of consolidation in which many of the details of the Union fell to be worked through. At the Quarterly Communication of 2 March the Board of General Purposes in its report set out the “Duty of the Board”:
1st To propose for the sanction and adoption of the Grand Lodge such Laws and regulations as may appear necessary or expedient for the Government of the Craft and to draw up and arrange the same….
2dly To propose for the consideration and adoption of the other Masonic Boards such measures as appear to this Board to require their consideration.
3dly To hear and determine all subjects of Masonic Complaint or irregularity respecting Lodges or Individual Masons, To proceed to admonition or suspension if judged necessary, and where the case shall appear of so flagrant a nature as to require the Erasure of a Lodge or expulsion of a Member from the Fraternity to make a special report to the Grand Lodge with their Opinion thereon.
That all the other powers and duties heretofore exercised and belonging to the former Stewards Lodge or Committee of Charity now belong to this Board, except only such powers and duties as are specially vested in or properly belong to the several other Boards now constituted
The Board then promulgated the Rules and Regulations proposed for its Government
JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, the Duke of Sussex was keen that there should be no slacking once the festivities were over and the Union achieved. He had round him a close circle of advisers to push forward his aims. The new Boards were immediately set to their tasks. The Board of General Purposes was a combination of the former Committee of Charity of the premier Grand Lodge and the Stewards Lodge of the Antients. Both had originally been set up to manage the central charitable affairs of their respective Grand Lodges but had gradually accrued both policy making and disciplinary powers and were more like general committees. In the twenty years after the Union the Board of General Purposes slowly absorbed the other Boards set up in 1814, except for the Board of Benevolence which continued until 1980 when its duties were taken over by the Grand Charity.
GFR: The Board went on to represent
that various irregularities having been communicated to this Board in the practice of initiating of Members as well as in that of granting Certificates and other Matters, It is recommended that in the Conferences which are to take place between this Grand Lodge and the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland a general understanding be established on every point of communion between them that perfect unity may be established.......
JMH: Because the Union had, in the end, been so hastily arranged neither the Grand Lodge of Ireland nor that for Scotland had been able to send delegates to the great meeting on 27th December 1813. The Grand Master, however, was keen to have their support and to try and achieve unanimity of purpose between the three Grand Lodges. Although not referred to in the Grand Lodge Minutes the Grand Masters of Ireland and Scotland and other of their senior brethren met with the Duke of Sussex in the early summer of 1814 and agreed and signed what became known as the International Compact which has governed relations between the three Home Grand Lodges ever since and brought into being what is now an annual tripartite meeting where the three get together to discuss common problems.
GFR: The Board also reported on Charges preferred before them by the Officers of the Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2 against Brother Charles Bonner … for having printed part of the Proceedings of the Lodge of Antiquity, and its Permanent Committee, without the consent of the Grand Master or his Deputy. Grand Lodge Resolved unanimously that the report be confirmed and the paper printed by Brother Bonner be referred to the consideration of the Board of General Purposes and that in the meantime Bro Bonner be suspended from all Masonic Rights and Privileges.
Reports were also delivered by the Board of Works (which had been considering jewels and aprons), the Board of Finance and the Board of Schools.
JMH: Brother Bonner we will return to a little later. The Board of Works had been given the remit of looking after the real property, furniture and regalia of Grand Lodge. They immediately set to designing standard regalia and it is to them that we owe the design of the aprons, collars and jewels we still wear today. The only differences since 1814 are the addition of emblems for new officers as they have been introduced at Lodge, Metropolitan, Provincial, District and Grand Lodge levels and the wearing of chains by active Grand Officers. Until 1836 active Grand Officers wore their jewels pendent to embroidered collars, as Past Grand Officers do today. Amazingly the Minutes of the Board of Works still survive. Infuriatingly, whilst they list the designs chosen they give no indication as to why they were chosen – which has left the field wide open to Masonic symbologists to give more and more abstruse meaning to the various symbols used! Having presented their ideas to the Grand Lodge in March, they were formally approved at the Installation of the Grand Master on 2nd May.
GFR: At the Quarterly Communication held on 1 June, the Board of General Purposes reported that Bro Bonner had been summoned to answer
“for having printed and circulated amongst some Members of the Craft a certain paper purporting to be the Copy of an address proposed in the Lodge of Antiquity to be presented to His Royal Highness The Grand Master together with remarks and observations thereon, in which said printed Paper the conduct of the M.W. Grand Master and others was spoken of and animadverted on and that in a way highly improper unmasonic and unjust and to bring with him to the Board such witnesses and evidence as he might think necessary in his behalf”
JMH: Charles Bonner was the Acting Master of the Lodge of Antiquity, of which the Grand Master was the permanent Master. Claiming to act with the agreement of the Past Masters and other members of the Lodge, Bonner had issued a printed letter in which, like his mentor in ritual matters William Preston almost forty years earlier, he claimed that the immemorial rights of the Lodge of Antiquity were being set aside by the Act of Union. In particular he referred to the Lodge having lost its No. 1 status on the Register, lost its right to carry the Book of Constitutions on a cushion immediately in front of the Grand Master in all Masonic processions and the right of its Master or Acting Master to sit at the right hand of the Deputy Grand Master at feasts after Grand Lodge meetings. His case might have been listened to had he simply made these claims, but he was guilty of two major errors. First, admittedly in the most carefully polite language, he chided His Royal Highness the Grand Master as Master of the Lodge of Antiquity for not having done more to safeguard the rights of the Lodge and, secondly, despite claiming to speak on their behalf had not gained the agreement of the Lodge to his complaint before having it printed and circulated. At its meeting the Lodge formally rejected the letter and informed both the Grand Master and the Grand Secretary that it did not represent the views of the Lodge.
GFR: The Quarterly Communication of 7 September saw the reappearance of a character we have previously met in these historical presentations. The Board of General Purposes reported
that Brother Francis C. Daniel a Member of the Lodge of Felicity No. 75 late No. 54 having attended on the 22d Decr last at one of the Meetings of the Lodge of Reconciliation previous to the day of Union….. it was stated by some of the Brethren present that he had been expelled from that part of the Fraternity of which His Grace the Duke of Athol was formerly Grand Master and as the Rules Orders Regulations and Acts of the two Grand Lodges previous to the Union ought to be maintained subject to the reconsideration of the United Grand Lodge Brother Daniel must be taken and considered to stand expelled the United Fraternity.
JMH: Those who have been attending this Quarterly Communication for the last few years will remember that Francis Columbine Daniel was the Brother who, joining a queue at a garden party at Buckingham Palace was surprised when asked to kneel and had a sword tapped on his shoulder, thus gaining a knighthood by default! He had indeed been expelled by the former Antients Grand Lodge and, as a tit for tat, had engineered the expulsion of Thomas Harper from the premier Grand Lodge, which actions delayed any discussion of the Union for nearly seven years.
GFR: There were a few fireworks at the December Communication. After the Grand Lodge had been opened in ample Form and the Laws relating to the Behaviour of Masons in Grand Lodge had been read, the Minutes of the previous Communication were put for confirmation, whereupon:
Robert Leslie Junr Master of the Lodge No. 9, rose and addressing himself in the most disrespectful, disorderly and unmasonic manner to the Grand Master then presiding over the Grand Lodge which had been opened in ample form, demanded to know whether he had been regularly initiated and passed the several Degrees of Entered Apprentice and Fellow Craft. This outrageous act of indecorum committed in the Grand Lodge towards the Fraternity at large in the person of the Grand Master by Bro. Leslie Junr excited a general indignation in the breast of all the Brethren present; who had most of them witnessed the joint and solemn Obligation taken by the two Grand Masters of the respective Fraternities on the day of Union.……
Eventually a motion was carried
“That the said Robert Leslie Junr should lay aside his Masonic Insignia and Quit the Grand Lodge”
which upon his refusal he was compelled to do.
JMH: Robert Leslie Jnr was the son of Robert Leslie who since 1790 had been Grand Secretary of the Antients Grand Lodge. Father Leslie had been wholly against any idea of a Union of the two Grand Lodges and did all he could to hinder matters. He continued to rail against the event and refused to hand over the books and papers of the Antients Grand Lodge until he was guaranteed a pension of £100 p.a., which had been his salary from the Antients Grand Lodge. It would appear that the son was even more abrasive than the father!
GFR: Later in the meeting a Letter addressed to the Most Worshipful Grand Master by Bro Charles Bonner was by His Royal Highness laid before the Grand Lodge and read …….. After which on a Motion duly made it was Resolved that Bror. Charles Bonner be restored to his functions as a Mason and a Member of the Grand Lodge.
JMH: Bonner’s letter was suitably abject and apologetic and he was enabled to return to the fold and continued his interest in ritual matters. He had been Secretary of the Lodge of Promulgation, which had paved the way towards the Union and gave much advice to the Lodge of Reconciliation in its attempts to bring about a standard form of ritual after the Union.
GFR: It was “Ordered that a Special Grand Lodge be holden on Wednesday the 1st of February next”… The purpose of the meeting was to consider the new Code of Laws and Regulations for the Government of the Grand Lodge, and of the Craft in general, which had been deliberated on by the Board of General Purposes.
The Board’s report had also dealt with the case of Bro Francis Columbine Daniel, and he
being in attendance two Stewards conducted him into the Grand Lodge without his Masonic Clothing when His Royal Highness the Most Worshipful Grand Master addressed him on the circumstance of his Restoration to his Masonic Privileges and on the conduct which it was the duty of every Mason to observe after which he was reinstated with his Apron and directed to take his Seat as a Member of the Grand Lodge.
JMH: Daniel, you may be pleased to hear, caused no further problems, was never referred to again in Grand Lodge and will not appear again in these talks, should we be asked to continue them! The new Code of Laws was issued as unbound sheets for anyone to make comment on their content. Comments there were aplenty and it was not until 1819 that the final text was agreed and published.
GFR: The Quarterly Communication of 4 March 1914 was held at Central Hall, Westminster, in order to accommodate the large numbers attending, and opened on an amicable note with a unanimous vote in favour of a contributory pension scheme for the clerks in the Grand Secretary’s office in receipt of salaries of under £400 per annum. Alas, controversy set in immediately afterwards with the Motions Pursuant to Notice. In December 1913 Grand Lodge had directed that a special report of the Board of General Purposes putting forward significant constitutional proposals for the reorganisation of the Grand Lodge and London be circulated to Lodges in order that all Brethren might vote on the proposals. This provoked a flurry of Motions for March 1914.
A preliminary skirmish was launched by W Bro Samuel Green, who objected to the order in which the various motions were set out in the paper of business. He quoted the then Rule 55:
“Notices of motion shall be set down for consideration in the order in which they were given, and.... shall stand on the paper of business in precedence of all subsequent notices.........”
He went on to submit that it was
a matter of extreme importance that the resolutions shall come on in the order in which the notices were given, because it may be a matter of considerable interest to the Brethren that certain resolutions should be dealt with before others. I have little doubt about that. Many Brethren sent in their resolutions earlier in order that they might be dealt with in accordance with the Book of Constitutions, and the point I make is, that if whoever is responsible for altering the Agenda Paper now does so on a future occasion it may create considerable difficulty. I submit that the Book of Constitutions binds, not merely the Initiate, not merely the Master Mason, but also the Board of General Purposes. Therefore, Most Worshipful Pro Grand Master, I ask your ruling as to whether the notices of motion shall be taken in the order in which they are on the Agenda Paper to-day, or whether they shall be taken in the order in which they were given, and comply with the Book of Constitutions?
The Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, after consultation with the Grand Secretary replied:
Brethren, I hold myself most particularly bound by the Book of Constitutions, but this matter is capable of a very natural and simple explanation, which, I am sure, will give satisfaction to all and cause offence to nobody. …. It is this. The Grand Secretary showed the motions of which notice had been given to the President of the Board and asked him what would be the best order in which to take them? The President did not recollect for the moment that there was Rule 55 – any of us may forget the existence of a Rule – and, as it was put to him in that way, he naturally only regarded it from the point of view of the convenience of Grand Lodge and suggested a particular order. It was only after that had happened and the notice had been printed, that he was reminded of the Rule. That is the explanation, and I hope you regard it as a sufficient one….
Nevertheless, Bro Green’s resolution “That the original order of the motions, as they stood on the Agenda on the 18th February of this year, be adhered to” was put to the meeting and declared carried.
After passing an amendment to the Book of Constitutions to allow Honorary Members an unfettered right to attend the Lodges that had elected them to honorary membership, the first Motion relating to the reorganisation of Grand Lodge was called. Its proposer, VW Bro R.A. McCall, KC, PDepGReg, was detained in Court, so it was put back in the agenda and W Bro Norman Armitage rose to propose on behalf of W Bro Keogh Murphy (who was absent through illness)
That this Grand Lodge expresses its regret at the action of the Board of General Purposes in circulating two letters dated the 18th December, 1913, and the 24th January, 1914, respectively, inaccurately stating the effect of the Resolution passed in Grand Lodge on the 3rd December, 1913, which authorised the reception and circulation of the Report of the Board of General Purposes containing nineteen proposals.
JMH: The Board had a very paternalistic attitude towards the Grand Secretary’s Staff and the new pension scheme was a generous one, which, it was admitted in introducing it to Grand Lodge, would in the long run save Grand Lodge money, which the then existing ad hoc provisions would not!
The rest of the meeting was one of those rare occasions when the management of Grand Lodge was caught on the wrong foot! The rather acrimonious debate which followed, and went on for most of the evening, was on technicalities: who had said what and if they had been correctly reported in the official published records, whether or not the procedural rules for debate in Grand Lodge had been followed to the letter (they had not), complete with statements implying that the Pro Grand Master, President of the Board and Grand Secretary did not appear to be as well acquainted with the Book of Constitutions as persons of their eminence should be. The evening was taken up with motions, counter motions and amendments that make reading the Proceedings of the event something of a towel round the head task.
GFR: VW Bro McCall, now released from Court, spoke to his motion “That this Grand Lodge do now proceed to discuss and consider the Report of the Board of General Purposes relating to the Reconstruction of Grand Lodge.” The debate became heated and eventually boiled over when another PDepGReg, VW Bro. J.V. Vesey Fitzgerald, KC, weighed in with
except from Bro. McCall, I have never heard anyone suggest it is beyond the power of Grand Lodge to accept a scheme for devolving some of its powers… and Brethren, although Bro. McCall asserted that with great emphasis, he has given no reasons why we should accept his statement on that point as a sound one….. I do not know whether the members of Grand Lodge wish to be addressed as common jurymen or Judges. Brother McCall's speech struck me as very much like what we hear from him in the Law Courts when addressing a Common Jury. (Cries of “Withdraw.”) I am very sorry if my opinion is not that of others. I am quite sure that anyone who is used to the Courts as Bro. McCall is, will not take objection to what I say, If he does I am sorry. (Cries of “Withdraw.”) If Bro. McCall feels I have said anything to hurt him, and he objects, I will do so.
From the Pro Grand Master: Bro. Fitzgerald has said that if Bro. McCall feels hurt he apologises. Is not that sufficient?
From VW Bro Fitzgerald: If Grand Lodge feels aggrieved I apologise to Grand Lodge.
JMH: Tempers were evidently fraying and the tenor of the debate was certainly descending. To the possible relief of the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, Brother Samuel Green suggested the setting up of a Committee to go into all the matters, which was agreed to and the meeting closed. Lord Ampthill had obviously been affected by the ferocity of the debate and that some of the attacks had come from senior Grand Officers. When he addressed the assembly after he had invested the new Grand Officers in April 1914 he quoted the first paragraphs of the Address to the Brethren given at the installation of every Master of a Lodge, modifying it to refer to Grand Lodge and stated his hope that if in the future Grand Officers disapproved of the agenda or any other matter they would approach him or some other senior officer to discuss them rather than to launch them on Grand Lodge without notice. He reminded Grand Lodge that its meeting were not a Parliament or a political meeting but a meeting of Freemasons and that there should not be factions or an opposition party but that they should be able to have informed debate and respect each other’s views as Freemasons were taught to do.
GFR: In June, again at Central Hall, Westminster, Grand Lodge gave its unanimous approval to two resolutions: “That there be appointed by Grand Lodge a Special Committee of seven Members, to consider the question of making a further grant to the Royal National Life-Boat Institution, and report to Grand Lodge;” and “That the sum of three hundred guineas (£315) be granted to the fund now being raised in Newfoundland, and assisted by the District Grand Lodge, for the relief of the widows and orphans of the 250 sealers who recently lost their lives in the ice-fields.”
The Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill then spoke:
Brethren, I beg to move, “That the Board of General Purposes be requested to prepare a scheme for the fitting celebration in 1917 of the Bi-centenary of the foundation of Grand Lodge, with due regard to the fact that genuine Freemasons in every part of the world are looking forward to the occasion with deep interest and with the hope that it may be the means of strengthening the bonds of the fraternity and conforming the true principles of our Order.” It is high time that we should commence preparations for the celebration of our Bi-centenary, an occasion when English Freemasonry will be expected to prove its worth to all the world. .…. For some time past letters have reached me from different parts of the world asking me what the Grand Lodge of England is going to do, and whether other Grand Lodges will be invited to participate in the celebrations or allowed to co-operate by simultaneous celebrations in their own territories. I regret to say that I have not yet been made aware of any similar interest or intelligent anticipation of the event among Brethren in England…… You cannot do better than test the ability of the Board which you have just elected by calling upon them for proposals…. I daresay that a special Committee of a more representative character may be suggested, but it will be time enough to set up Special Committees when there is special work to be done. For the present, all that is necessary is to draw up a general scheme and to promulgate it for discussion in the Craft, so that there may be general approval of anything that is eventually decided I beg to move.
The Deputy Grand Master seconded the proposal, which was declared carried unanimously.
Grand Lodge then moved on to the business of debating at almost interminable length the composition and mode of selection of a special or representative Committee to consider the proposals for constitutional change.
JMH: Grand Lodge support for the Royal National Life-Boat Institution had begun in 1871 and it was a cause dear to many members of the Craft. Those who wish to know more can read about the long association between the Craft and the RNLI in the new issue of Freemasonry Today. Support for Newfoundland was because the majority of the Lodges there were under our Grand Lodge, there being no local Grand Lodge. Interminable the discussions on the proposed Committee certainly were and sight appears to have been lost of what the Committee’s purpose was to be. The proposal to start planning a major celebration to mark the bi-centenary of the formation of the premier Grand Lodge and the interest being shown in it by Grand Lodges overseas certainly resonates today when plans are being hatched to celebrate our tercentenary in 2017 and those same sister Grand Lodges are showing great interest in what might be being planned. Although it is ahead of the time we are talking about today, it should be noted that despite the War over 7,000 brethren, many of them in uniform, gathered in the Royal Albert Hall in June 1917 to celebrate our bi-centenary.
GFR: When Grand Lodge next met, on 2 September, the country was at war. MW Pro Grand Master, in your Presiding Officer’s Remarks this September you quoted the words used by the then Deputy Grand Master, Bro Halsey, and we do not propose to repeat them now. The Grand Secretary read a letter, expressing deep fraternal concern, from the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, which described itself as our eldest child in the Western Hemisphere, and similar sentiments were echoed by a Past Grand Master of South Carolina and two Past Grand Masters of New Zealand who were present as Visitors at the Quarterly Communication.
JMH: Support from the Grand Lodges in Australia, Canada and the United States of America was to be a constant throughout the War, which in a very real sense brought those Grand Lodges closer to us, particularly when troops from those areas began to go through London, the Brethren amongst them taking an opportunity of visiting Lodges. The Board showed its paternalistic side once again by announcing that those of its Clerks who responded to the “call to the Colours” would continue to have their salaries paid throughout the hostilities and would be guaranteed to resume their labours at Grand Lodge once hostilities ceased. More than half of the clerks answered the call and happily only one of them did not return.
GFR: The following resolution marked an early casualty of the conflict:
That further proceedings in regard to the election of the Representative Committee on the question of the re-organization of Grand Lodge, under the resolution of Grand Lodge of June 3rd, be postponed.
JMH: Mercifully the war put an end to the endless argument over the re-organisation of the administration of the Craft. The intention had been a good one of bringing the Provinces more actively into the central administration of the Craft but the scheme that had been produced was an unwieldy one of multiple layers of Committees at both local and central levels, the division of London into ten Provinces and so much would have been devolved to committees before coming to a central Council and then the Board that it would have been almost impossible to get any policy or changes through in less than eighteen months! Some changes were made during the War, the most important of which was elected Provincial representation on the Board of General Purposes to give the Provinces a voice in central administration.
GFR: In December an amendment was made to the Book of Constitutions to prevent the automatic exclusion of Brethren from their Lodges if the arrears of subscription arose while they were serving their country.
JMH: The amendment was an example of Grand Lodge at its pragmatic best, almost making policy and change “on the hoof” amending a recommendation within Grand Lodge to bring into effect a rule change recognising the difficulties that members on active service would face during what was being slowly realised was not going to be a short war. The year, however, ended as it had begun with a very lengthy and somewhat nit picking debate on the actual wording of the proposition. There was also an attempt to persuade Grand Lodge to make a donation of 1,000 guineas towards the funding of a Masonic Nursing Home to care for members of the services injured on active service. There was a certain amount of support but two major figures questioned whether this was a good use of Grand Lodge’s limited finances as experience had shown that running a private hospital was an enormous economic undertaking. The proposition was negative but in 1917 the Freemasons’ War Hospital and Nursing Home was opened in London, eventually becoming the Royal Masonic Hospital. As time was to show the comments made in 1914 proved correct and the Hospital eventually had to go. But that, as they say, is a story for another day.
11 December 2013
A Speech By VW Bro Graham Redman, Deputy Grand Secretary, And VW Bro John Hamill, Assistant Grand Chancellor
GFR: RW Assistant Grand Master and Brethren, a year ago we left the Moderns Grand Lodge resolving unanimously to give a dinner to The Earl of Moira, Acting Grand Master and to present him with a Masonic Jewel of a value not less than 500 Guineas in token of the Craft’s esteem for his most valuable services from 1790 to 1812.
At a Special Grand Lodge held on Wednesday the 27th January 1813:
The Grand Lodge was opened in due Form by His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, Deputy Grand Master and the Minutes of the last Grand Lodge relating to the Masonic Dinner… and the Jewel… were read. The Grand Lodge was then adjourned and the Grand Officers went in procession into the Hall…………..
After Dinner His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, … in the Name and on behalf of the Grand Lodge and the Masons of England invested The Earl of Moira with a most superb Past Grand Master’s Jewel, richly set with Brilliants and suspended from a Collar composed of seven Rows of Gold Maltese Chain intersected by five gold parallelograms with Brilliant Centres, on the reverse of which Jewel [an] inscription was engraven……..
JMH: Special is hardly a strong enough word to describe this meeting. Six Royal Dukes, foreign visitors, the present and 19 Past Grand Wardens and almost all of the Provincial Grand Masters attended. Those who were present here last year might remember that in modern money the jewel and chain cost £22,500. The jewel can be seen in the Museum here.
GFR: At the Quarterly Communication held on Wednesday the 7th of April 1813
A letter from Brother Colonel McMahon, Private Secretary to His Royal Highness The Prince Regent addressed to Brother Bayford, Grand Treasurer was read communicating the Pleasure of His Royal Highness to decline on the present Election the Situation of Grand Master as he should be unable under his present circumstances to attend to and discharge its important Duties.
After voting a humble and dutiful Address to The Prince Regent, praying His Royal Highness to allow himself to be designated Patron and Protector of the Craft, a little later in the meeting
Brother J. Joyce, R.W.M. of the Bank of England Lodge, No. 435 proposed His Royal Highness Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex etc etc etc to be elected Grand Master for the present year which was seconded by Brother Bayford G[rand] T[reasurer] and on the Question being put it passed unanimously in the Affirmative and was accompanied with the most animated demonstrations of Joy, Affection and Respect.
JMH: The reason given to Lord Moira for the Prince of Wales’s resignation was that it was believed that 'the monarch, or his Regent, should not be the subject of an annual election in which there was a possibility he might lose'! The Prince had been a popular Grand Master regularly attending the premier Grand Lodge and its Committees and the Lodges of which he had been elected permanent Master. He had also appeared as Grand Master in public on a number of occasions, laying foundation stones with Masonic ceremonies. He was not, however, too keen on paying his lodge subscriptions. The letter still survives in the Royal Archives in which the Grand Secretary gently reminds the Prince’s Treasurer that he is more than five years in arrears with his subscriptions to the three lodges of which he was permanent Master.
The election of the Duke of Sussex as his successor was to prove a masterstroke. Not only did he ensure the Union taking place but as Grand Master for thirty years did much to ensure that it would be permanent and laid the ground plan for Freemasonry as we practise it today.
GFR: At the Quarterly Communication held on Wednesday the 23rd June 1813, the new Grand Master reported that he had duly presented the address to the Prince Regent by whom it was most graciously received.
Then, in accordance with the Grand Master’s expressed wish it was
Resolved that His Royal Highness the M.W. Grand Master be fully empower[e]d to take such measures as to him may seem most expedient for arranging an Union between this Grand Lodge and the Society of Masons under His Grace the Duke of Athol and if necessary to agree and conclude the same: with power to His Royal Highness if he find occasion to convene such Members of the Grand Lodge as he may think fit to be a Committee to assist in effecting this object and to give such Instructions and Orders to the Committee as the circumstances may in his opinion require.
JMH: Negotiations towards the Union had virtually stalled, largely because of the continuing insistence by the Antients of re-debating every point of agreement at one of their Quarterly Communications. The premier Grand Lodge in giving Sussex full power to decide obviously wished to see matters brought to a head. Sussex had been given similar carte blanche by the Excellent Grand and Royal Chapter, of which he had just become First Grand Principal, to settle the place of the Royal Arch in whatever relationship he thought best with the new Craft arrangements.
GFR: At an Especial Grand Lodge held on Wednesday the 1st December 1813
The Most Worshipful the Grand Master … announced that by virtue of the power delegated to him by the Grand Lodge on the 23rd June last he had selected [three senior Brethren] to assist him in the negotiation for an Union with the other Fraternity of Masons in England. That they had several conferences with His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent assisted by three Grand Officers…, the happy result of which was that Articles of Union between the two Grand Lodges of Masons of England had been signed and sealed in duplicate at Kensington Palace on the 25th November. H[is] R[oyal] H[ighness] The Grand Master then laid the same before Grand Lodge. The announcement of this great event was received with Masonic acclamations and the said Articles were read by the Grand Secretary.
After which [ten] resolutions were passed to put into effect a Union between the two Grand Lodges, and a vote of most sincere and grateful thanks to His Royal Highness The Duke of Sussex was moved for all his work towards this end
thereby erecting the Edifice of the Masonic Union on a Basis constituted of such materials as must be rendered more firm and compact by revolving years and on which the Hand of Time can work only to prove that Masons possess the art of raising a Structure which Storms cannot destroy.
All business being ended the Grand Lodge was closed in solemn and ample form and adjourned to Monday the 27th Instant at eleven O’Clock in the Forenoon.
JMH: The Minutes just quoted take us a little ahead of ourselves. The observant will have noticed that a change had occurred within the Antients Grand Lodge and that Sussex’s brother, the Duke of Kent has entered the story with powers to arrange matters for the Antients. It says a great deal for the power and authority of Princes at that time that in a short period of weeks Sussex and Kent had knocked heads together, drafted the Articles of Union between the two Grand Lodges and had them agreed by both parties. Sadly for historians most of the meetings between the Dukes and their aides took place in private and no Minutes were taken.
GFR: The other half of the story is to be found in the Minutes of the Atholl or Antients Grand Lodge.
At a Special Grand Lodge on Wednesday 4th August 1813 the following letter from the Grand Secretary of the Moderns Grand Lodge was read:
I am commanded by His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of the Society of Free and accepted Masons, under the Patronage of the Prince Regent, to acquaint you that the Grand Lodge of that Society, feeling with its Royal Grand Master the fullest conviction that the Union so long contemplated of the two Societies of Masons in England would be of the greatest advantage to the Craft in general, has requested and empowered His Royal Highness the Grand Master to take such steps as may appear most proper for arranging and concluding so desirable an object upon terms that may be equal and honorable [sic] to both parties trusting that a correspondent disposition continues on the part of the Society, acting under his Grace the Duke of Atholl.
I am further commanded to request you will make this communication known to the proper authorities of your Grand Lodge, and state the wish of His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, to have a meeting as early as possible on the Subject, should the proposal accord with the sentiments of your Society.
The Duke of Atholl, being unable at that time to give his personal attention to the matter, had suggested that His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent might be prevailed on to act in his stead, and that course of action was approved by the Grand Lodge
JMH: HRH Edward, Duke of Kent was one of the most prominent of the brethren who had a foot in both Grand Lodges. He had been initiated in Switzerland, joined Lodges under the premier Grand Lodge and been appointed a Past Grand Master of that Grand Lodge. In 1790 he had been appointed their Provincial Grand Master for Gibraltar when on military duties there. When he took up command of the forces in Canada the Antients appointed him their Provincial Grand Master and he did much to revive Freemasonry in Canada and strengthen the position of the Antients there. A special meeting of the Antients was held on 18 May 1813, ostensibly to celebrate the anniversary of their Boy’s Charity but also an opportunity for the Duke of Atholl to present the Duke of Kent to them and thank him for all his work in Canada. In responding to their welcome the Duke of Kent promised his full support to the Antients in the negotiations with the premier Grand Lodge so that it could be 'accomplished on the basis of the Antient Institutions, and with the maintenance of all the rights of the Ancient Craft'.
GFR: At another Especial Grand Lodge held on Monday 8th November, a letter from The Duke of Atholl was read intimating his desire of resigning the office of Grand Master in favour of His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent. Resolutions were moved accepting the Duke of Atholl’s resignation, tendering a vote of thanks to him for his services as Grand Master, requesting that the Duke 'permit his portrait to be taken by an artist of celebrity that it may be placed conspicuously in the Grand Lodge as a perpetual memorial of their love and reverence of his virtues and of their gratitude for his services to the Craft.' The Duke of Kent was unanimously elected Grand Master and, he having already signified his acceptance of the said office, his 'solemn installation as Grand Master with all the ancient forms and ceremonies' was fixed for high noon on Wednesday the first day of December next, with the details for the ceremonial delegated to a Committee of Present and Past Grand Officers
JMH: Kent’s installation as Grand Master on 1st December was quite a day! It began with a meeting of the Grand Master’s Lodge at which the Duke of Sussex and other senior members of the premier Grand Lodge were made Antient Masons to enable them to attend the installation. The Duke of Kent entered in procession and was duly installed by the Duke of Atholl with 'ceremonials which cannot be written or printed' after which the new Grand Officers were invested. Then a special Ode was sung followed by an 'exhortation on the Principles of Antient Masonry '. The Grand Lodge was then closed and those present moved to the next room where 'a sumptuous dinner' had been prepared and the afternoon was 'spent with high masonic conviviality'. But that was not the end of the day…
GFR: After the afternoon 'spent with high masonic conviviality', a Quarterly Communication was held with the newly installed Grand Master in the Chair. The Duke of Kent announced that after several conferences with His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, Grand Master of the other Fraternity, who was also assisted by three of his Grand Officers…. articles of Union had been signed and sealed in duplicate in Kensington Palace, on the 25th November last, and His Royal Highness laid the same before the Grand Lodge. The announcement of this Great Event was received with masonic acclamation, and the said articles were read.
Resolutions were carried, providing amongst other things:
That the articles of union now read be Ratified and Confirmed.
That brotherly application be made to the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland, enclosing them a copy of the above articles, when ratified, and entreating them to delegate two or more enlightened members of their respective bodies to be present at the Assembly of Union on Monday, the 27th December instant, pursuant to Article IV.
That a special dispensation, under the great seal, be issued to … [nine Brothers, and their Secretary], to hold a Lodge of Reconciliation, in conjunction with an equal number to be appointed and empowered by His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, to fulfil the duties set forth and enjoined in the said Articles of Union.
JMH: The Articles of Union required the Lodge of Reconciliation to meet with the Masters, Wardens and Past Masters of Lodges under both Grand Lodges to obligate, certify and register them as being entitled to attend the great celebration to be held on 27th December 1813 to ratify the Union and bring the United Grand Lodge into being. If we are allowed to continue our duologue in future years, we will see that the Lodge of Reconciliation was to take on a much greater role and was to establish the basic ritual to be adopted by all lodges under the United Grand Lodge. A further special meeting of the Antients Grand Lodge was held on 23rd December at which the Minutes of the various meetings on 1st December were confirmed, allowing the Union to go ahead. The Duke of Sussex was again present and thanks were given to him and the Duke of Kent for their work in ensuring the Union. Thanks were also given to Thomas Harper, the Deputy Grand Master and to Robert Leslie, accompanied by a medal valued at £10, for his thirty years of loyal service, including twenty as Grand Secretary of the Antients.
GFR: The Grand Assembly of Freemasons for the Union of the two Grand Lodges of England was duly held on Saint John’s Day, 27th Dec[ember] 1813
An order of proceedings which had been previously settled, was strictly observed.
The platform on the East was reserved for the Grand Masters, Grand Officers and visitors.….
The Masters, Wardens and Past Masters of the several Lodges to the number of six hundred… were arranged on the two sides [of the Hall], … and the Lodges were ranked so that the two Fraternities were completely intermixed….
The Grand Masters, Past Grand Masters, Deputy Grand Masters, Grand Officers, and distinguished Visitors of the two Fraternities, assembled in two adjoining Rooms in which they opened two Grand Lodges each according to its peculiar solemnities and the Grand Procession moved towards the Hall of Assembly……
On entering the Hall, the procession advanced to the Throne, and opened and faced each other, the Music playing a March composed for the occasion by Brother Kelly.
The two Grand Masters then proceeded up the centre [and]….. seated themselves, in two equal chairs, on each side [of]the Throne. ….
The Director of the Ceremonies, Sir George Nayler having proclaimed silence.
The Reverend Dr. Barry, Grand Chaplain [of the Antients] delivered a prayer.
The Act of Union was then read by the Director of Ceremonies….
The Reverend Dr. Coghlan, Grand Chaplain to the [Moderns] proclaimed aloud, after sound of trumpet
‘Hear Ye This is the Act of Union, engrossed in confirmation of Articles solemnly concluded between the two Grand Lodges of Free and Accepted Masons of England, signed, sealed and ratified by the two Grand Lodges respectively by which they are to be hereafter and for ever known and acknowledged by the Style and Title of The United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England. How say you, Brothers, representatives of the two Fraternities ‘Do you accept of, ratify and confirm the same?’ To which the Assembly answered ‘We do accept, ratify and confirm the same’. The Grand Chaplain then said ‘And may the Great Architect of the Universe make the Union perpetual!’ To which all the assembly replied, ‘So mote it be’.
JMH: The Articles of Union were then signed by the two Grand Masters and their Commissioners after which the Grand Chaplain, Dr. Barry proclaimed the United Grand Lodge of England and Brother Wesley performed a symphony on the organ. The Grand Masters then moved to the floor of the Lodge and were, in sequence, provided with square, level, plumb and mallet to try and approve the Ark of the Masonic Covenant a wonderful edifice in mahogany designed by Sir John Soane, only recently made a Mason in the Grand Master’s Lodge, which was to be the repository for the Articles of Union whenever the United Grand Lodge of England was to be opened. Sadly the Ark and the many portraits of Past Grand Masters which adorned the old Grand Temple were destroyed in a fire which destroyed the Grand Temple on 3rd May 1883. Fortunately the Articles of Union had been placed in a safe and are still with us today.
GFR: After the Grand Officers had resumed their places a prayer was offered by The Revd. Dr. Coghlan.
Letters were read from Grand Lodge of Scotland and the Grand Lodge of Ireland, neither of which was able to send a deputation.
The distinguished visiting Grand Masters pronounced that the forms settled and agreed on by the Lodge of Reconciliation were pure and correct.
This being declared, the same was recognized [sic] as the forms to be alone observed and practised in the United Grand Lodge and all the Lodges dependent thereon until time shall be no more.
The Holy Bible spread open with the square and compass thereon the ark of the covenant and the two Grand Chaplains approached the same.
The recognized [sic] obligation was then pronounced aloud by the Revd. Dr. Hemming one of the Masters of the Lodge of Reconciliation, the whole Fraternity repeating the same, with joined hands and declaring ‘By this solemn obligation we vow to abide, and the regulations of ancient freemasonry now recognized [sic] strictly to observe’.
The assembly then proceeded to constitute one Grand Lodge, in order to which the Grand Masters, Deputy Grand Masters, Grand Wardens and other Acting Grand Officers of both Fraternities divested themselves of their insignia and Past Grand Officers took the chairs……
His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent after an eloquent address proposed His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex to be Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of Ancient Freemasons of England for the year ensuing. This was seconded and was unanimously carried in the affirmative with Masonic honours.
His Royal Highness was placed on the throne and solemnly obligated. The Grand Installation was fixed for St. George’s Day. After being proclaimed the Grand Master nominated his Grand Officers.
It was then solemnly proclaimed that the two Grand Lodges were incorporated and consolidated into one and the Grand Master declared it to be open in due form according to ancient usage.
The Grand Lodge was then called to refreshment and the cup of brotherly love was delivered by the Junior Grand Warden to the Past Deputy Grand Master who presented the same to the Grand Master; he drank to the Brethren ‘Peace, goodwill and brotherly love all over the world’ and he passed it. During its going round the vocal band performed a song and glee.
After the Grand Lodge was recalled to labour various addresses were moved and administrative matters dealt with, such as the appointment of various Boards.
The United Grand Lodge was then closed in ample and solemn prayer.
The Grand Officers and the brotherhood then repaired to the Crown and Anchor tavern where a grand banquet was provided. His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex in the chair supported on the right by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent and on the left by His Excellency Count de Lagardje and other distinguished foreigners. The auspicious day was concluded with the most festive harmony and brotherly love.
JMH: And so after more than four years of tough negotiation the great event had been accomplished and the United Grand Lodge of England brought into being. As I hope we will be able to show over the next few years, the foundations laid on 27th December 1813 were built upon by the Duke of Sussex and his aides and the Craft in England as we know it today became firmly established as the sole Craft authority for England, Wales and our lodges overseas. So well laid were the foundations that, with the exception of a brief rebellion in Liverpool in the 1820s, the authority of the United Grand Lodge of England has never been seriously challenged.
At this point we would normally look at the events in Grand Lodge one hundred years ago. After the tumultuous events two hundred years ago one can only say that 1913 was possibly the dullest year in Grand Lodge’s long history. So rather than waste Grand Lodge’s time, may we simply suggest that, like two hundred years ago, we raise a cup and drink to 'Peace, Good Will and Brotherly Love all over the world'.
12 September 2012
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
I have recently finished the two yearly Regional Conferences that I have with Provincial Grand Masters. These are relatively informal affairs and cover a wide range of subjects. I find them extremely useful and they are kind enough to say the same – but, of course, what else could they say!
One theme that ran through them all was a determination to see our numbers on the increase by 2017. Indeed, in one or two cases, this has already started. This means that perhaps we are getting some things right.
I have said frequently that we must not be looking for new candidates simply for the sake of increasing numbers, but if we can start this increase with the right candidates there should be a knock on effect.
Enthusing new members is of paramount importance and we heard from Brothers Soper and Lord at the September Quarterly Communication about the work of the Universities Scheme. Following that talk I have asked the Universities Scheme Committee to think about how best we can implement some of the principles that were mentioned, across the whole Craft.
Recruiting and retaining young candidates is our most important task and I am confident that those who have made the Universities Scheme successful can help us with this important challenge. However this is not just down to them and we must all pull our weight in this respect.
Brethren, in November I visited my Great Grandfather’s mother Lodge in Hertfordshire and a splendid occasion it was, with an almost faultless 2nd Degree Ceremony being performed. I can almost hear you all thinking that they would have spent hours rehearsing. Not so, as they didn’t know that I was coming.
The reason for mentioning this today is that in the Reply for the Visitors the Brother speaking referred to the Craft as an altruistic society. Altruism is one of those words that I have often heard used and possibly even used myself without having been completely sure of its meaning. The dictionary definition is “regard for others as a principle of action”. Rather a good description for a lot of what Freemasonry is about.
If we can instil this ethos into our candidates, we won’t be going far wrong. Of course it is not all that we are about, but it is not a bad starting point, as it should naturally lead to a practice of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which in itself leads on to our charitable giving, which seems to be second nature to us.
During this year the Festivals for our Charities in our Provinces have raised a total of nearly £10m, of which Leicestershire and Rutland raised £1.7m for the RMBI; Warwickshire raised £3.16m for the MSF; Cambridgeshire £1.285m for the Grand Charity and Devonshire £3.836m for the RMTGB. In these troubled economic times this, Brethren, is remarkable and I congratulate all those concerned.
I hope that our membership, as a whole, are far more familiar with the activities of all our Charities than might have been the case 20 or so years ago. The promotion of their activities by the Charities is excellent and the Freemasonry Cares campaign has enlightened many people at home and abroad about what support is available.
Whilst 3 of our Charities are Masonic in their giving, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that - quite the contrary in my view, the Grand Charity, of course, has a wide brief for giving to non Masonic bodies, provided that they are also Charities. Not everyone appreciates this aspect, or how much money is involved and we should be quick to point it out.
Brethren, since 2007 we have had excellent and amusing talks on the past at the December Quarterly Communication from Brothers Hamill and Redman and we should be proud of our history, but it is of paramount importance that we look forward and ensure that we go from strength to strength in the future in both numbers and our usefulness to the society in which we live.
Brethren, I wish you all a very relaxing break over Christmas, particularly if, like me, you will be having your Grand Children to stay.
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
12 December 2012
Report of the Board of General Purposes
The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge of 12 September 2012 were confirmed.
Nomination of Grand Master
HRH The Duke of Kent KG was nominated as Grand Master for the ensuing year.
Annual Investiture of Grand Officers, 24 April 2013
So that sufficient accommodation can be reserved for those Brethren who are to be invested and their friends, admission to the Annual Investiture is by ticket only. Brethren to be invested for the first time may invite to be present with them three qualified Brethren, and those to be promoted two qualified Brethren. Allowance having been made for such an issue and for those whose presence in the Grand Lodge is essential, a few seats will remain.
Written application for these seats may be made to the Grand Secretary between 1 March and 31 March by Brethren qualified to attend the Grand Lodge: Past Grand Officers, Masters, Wardens (not Past Wardens) and Past Masters qualified under Rule 9, Book of Constitutions.
Applications should state clearly the name, address and Lodge of the Brother concerned and under which of the four categories mentioned his application is made. If necessary, a ballot for the allocation of seats will be held in early April, and tickets will be posted to successful Brethren on or about 8 April. Brethren who have been unsuccessful will be so informed.
Masonic Year Book
The next edition of the Masonic Year Book 2013–2014 will be available next summer. The charge remains at £12 per copy, plus postage and packing where appropriate. It is not proposed to produce a new edition of the Directory of Lodges and Chapters during 2013. Copies of the 2012 edition will still be available from Letchworth’s shop.
Every Lodge will receive one copy of the Masonic Year Book free of charge. The Board emphasises that these copies should be available to all the members of private lodges and not regarded as for the exclusive use of the secretary to whom, for administrative reasons, they are dispatched.
Metropolitan and Provincial Lodges: As in previous years copies will be dispatched direct to secretaries of lodges. Lodges Abroad: Sufficient copies will be dispatched to District Grand Secretaries for distribution to lodges in the Districts. Lodges abroad not in a District will receive their copies direct.
Prestonian Lectures for 2013
The Board has considered applications for the delivery of the official Prestonian Lectures in 2013 and has decided that these should be given under the auspices of the following: Jubilee Masters Lodge, No. 2712 (London), Bowen Lodge, No. 2816 (Buckinghamshire), Torbay Masters Lodge, No. 8227 (Devonshire).
The Lecturer, W Bro P.R. Calderwood, PSGD, states that the title of the Lecture will be: As we were seen – the Press and Freemasonry.
Deputy and Assistant Grand Chancellor
Since 2007 most of the functions previously exercised by the Grand Secretary in connection with the Grand Lodge’s relations with recognised Grand Lodges have been carried out by a Grand Chancellor.
The Board has given consideration to increasing the number of Grand Officers to include a Deputy and an Assistant Grand Chancellor in order to provide support to the Grand Chancellor, particularly in visiting recognised Grand Lodges.
It now recommends that power be given to the Grand Master to appoint one or both of those additional Grand Officers. Notice of motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the paper of business.
Recognition of a Foreign Grand Lodge
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri
The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri was formed in June 1866 from three lodges consecrated between 1858 and 1860 in Missouri by the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Ohio, which was recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England on 11 June 1997.
The Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri shares jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Missouri, which granted it recognition in 2002 and has also confirmed that it would have no objection to our doing so.
It having shown that it is regular in origin and that it conforms to the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge Recognition, the Board has no reason to believe that it will not continue to maintain a regular path and recommended that the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Missouri be recognised.
A resolution to this effect was approved.
The Board had received reports that the following lodges had resolved to surrender their Warrants:
Bury Lodge, No. 5119, in order to amalgamate with Lodge of Relief, No. 42 (East Lancashire); Howardian Lodge, No. 5317, in order to amalgamate with Llangattock Lodge, No. 2547 (South Wales); Rockhaven Lodge, No. 7649, in order to amalgamate with Horwich Lodge, No. 2324 (West Lancashire); and Oriel Lodge, No. 9023, in order to amalgamate with Lodge of St Andrew, No. 8934 (South Wales).
The Board accordingly recommended that the lodges be removed from the register in order to effect the respective amalgamations. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of Lodges
The Board had received a report that 24 lodges had closed and surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are: Abercorn Lodge, No. 1549 (Middlesex), Rose Lodge, No. 1622 (London), Ravenscroft Lodge, No. 2331 (Hertfordshire), Woodstock Lodge, No. 2379 (S. Africa, WD), Wallsend Lodge, No. 2703 (Northumberland), Social Lodge, No. 3472 (West Lancashire), Borough Polytechnic Lodge, No. 3540 (London), St. Christopher’s Lodge, No. 4170 (London), Crofton Oak with Shooter’s Hill Lodge, No. 4277 (West Kent), Connaught Lodge, No. 4802 (Warwickshire), Mosaic Lodge, No. 5048 (London), Emanation Lodge, No. 5232 (London), City Lodge, No. 5287 (Northumberland), King David Lodge, No. 5719 (London), Tudor Lodge, No. 5994 (Middlesex), Optima Lodge, No. 7380 (Namibia), H. A. Mann Lodge, No. 7493 (Surrey), Oaks of Arden Lodge, No. 7601 (Warwickshire), Cheiron Lodge, No. 7775 (Buckinghamshire), Charter Lodge, No. 7834 (Zimbabwe), Posthorn Lodge, No. 8467 (London), St. Amphibalus Lodge, No. 9154 (Hertfordshire), Ex Cathedra Lodge, No. 9229 (Warwickshire) and Phoenix of the Metropolis Lodge, No. 9744 (London).
Over recent years, the lodges have found themselves no longer viable. The Board is satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore had no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
List of New Lodges for which Warrants have been granted by the MW The Grand Master
12 September 2012: No. 9877 Silverstone Lodge (Silverstone, Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire) and No. 9878 Pax Hill Lodge (Eastleigh, Hampshire and Isle of Wight).
12 brethren were expelled from the Craft.
Still Yet More Of Our Yesterdays
A presentation was given on the Proceedings of Grand Lodge of 200 and 100 years ago by VW Bro J.M. Hamill, PGSwdB, and VW Bro G.F. Redman, PGSwdB, Assistant Grand Secretary.
A Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge is held on the second Wednesday in March, June, September and December. The next will be at noon on Wednesday, 13 March 2013. Subsequent Communications will be held on 12 June 2013, 11 September 2013, 11 December 2013, 12 March 2014. The Annual Investiture will be held on 24 April 2013.
Supreme Grand Chapter
Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter are held on the second Wednesday in November and the day following the Annual Investiture of Grand Lodge. Future Convocations will be held on 25 April 2013, 16 October 2013 (transferred to this date from 13 November by resolution of Supreme Grand Chapter, 26 April 2012) and 1 May 2014.
12 December 2012
A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Assistant Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill
GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, a year ago we left the Antients or Atholl Grand Lodge on the receiving end of a stiff letter of complaint from the Moderns Grand Lodge at the lack of progress towards a . The Minutes of the Antients for March 1812, record:
Ordered that six hundred pounds three Percent Consolidated Bank Annuities be purchased in the names of the Trustees, viz. R. Bros. Thomas Harper, James Agar, William Comerford Clarkson and James Perry Esq. in trust for the Charity funds of the Grand Lodge.
Ordered that the Masters and Wardens of the Lodges in and adjacent to London and Westminster do and shall forthwith make out and deliver to the Secretary a list of all and every of the Past Masters entitled to sit and vote in Grand Lodge, with the dates when they respectively served the office of Master and that a printed circular letter be issued for such return and to be filled and returned in thereon.
JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, six hundred pounds was a significant amount, with a purchasing power today of almost twenty one thousand pounds. The reason for the census of Past Masters was a result of the argument between the negotiators for the of the two Grand Lodges over the future composition of the United Grand Lodge. Under the Antients Grand Lodge subscribing Past Masters remained members of the Grand Lodge but in the premier Grand Lodge only the actual Masters were entitled to attend. Those who were present here last year might remember that the premier Grand Lodge’s only reason for being against including Past Masters in the membership of Grand Lodge was the rather trivial one that their Hall would not be big enough if they all turned up!
GFR: At the same meeting a memorial from the Committee of the Masonic Institution for Cloathing and Educating the Sons of Deceased and Indigent Freemasons was received and read, as a result of which it was:
resolved and ordered That from and after the date hereof, every Lodge in and adjacent to London and Westminster upon the register of every newly made Mason, shall contribute and pay the sum of Five Shillings and every Country, Foreign and Military Lodge shall in like manner pay Two Shillings and Sixpence which sums shall go in aid of the Institution for cloathing and educating the Sons of indigent Freemasons.”
It is also resolved and ordered “That from and after the 5th of September next, no person shall be admitted into Masonry, in any warranted Lodge under this constitution for a less sum than Three Guineas, to be paid upon his initiation” under a penalty of forfeiture of the Warrant, in any Lodge so trespassing.
JMH: Placing a levy on their members to finance their Boys’ Charity was not a new concept for the Antients. Grand Lodge dues had not then been invented but from its earliest days the Antients Grand Lodge had required its lodges to make a quarterly payment of six pence for each of the members appearing on their returns, which went into their Fund of Benevolence. The sole income of the Grand Lodge itself came from registration fees for new members and those joining additional lodges and fees for warrants and dispensations.
Three guineas might not seem a large amount for the initiation fee, the modern equivalent would be about one hundred and seven pounds. When one realises, however, that a good craftsman or tradesman in early nineteenth century London would only be earning about one pound per week and that the average lodge annual subscription at that time was one guinea, we are given a different perspective. How many potential candidates today would be happy to pay three weeks salary for their initiation fee and one weeks salary as their annual Lodge subscription?
GFR: At the June meeting
The Deputy Grand Master reported that in conformity with the directions of the Grand Lodge, the number of Past Masters had been collected from the returns of the respective Lodges and a list had been handed to the Secretary of the Masons under the Prince Regent prior to their general meeting in April last with the following letter, but that no communication had been received thereon.
In conformity with the wishes of the Committee of Masons under H.R.H. the Prince Regent, the utmost pains have been taken to ascertain the number of Past Masters, who claim the right of seats in the Grand Lodge under His Grace. the Duke of Atholl, and from the best sources of information that could be obtained. I have the honor to subjoin a statement of the utmost number who can be considered at this time entitled to that privilege.
Permit me to observe that upon no occasion has it ever been known for more than one third of the number of the number (i.e. Past Masters) to give their attendance at the Grand Lodge at any one time.
As I am not aware that any Return has yet been made to the Committee under His Grace the Duke of Atholl of the numbers in the representation of the Grand Lodge under the Prince Regent, allow me to say I shall be happy to receive it at your earliest convenience.
I have the Honor to be Sir
Your very obedient Servant
Edwards Harper D.G.S.
JMH: The statistics provided by the Antients were as follows:
Grand Officers Present and Past 16
Masters and Wardens (49 Lodges) 147
Past Masters of the foregoing 375
Considering that the Antients had lodges throughout England and Wales as well as many lodges in the colonies, it would appear that they restricted attendance at their Grand Lodge to Masters and Past Masters of London lodges. Many of their official pronouncements include a statement that they were issued by “we the Grand Officers and Masters and Past Masters of the Lodges in the Cities of London and Westminster in Grand Lodge assembled…”. Forty nine was the number of lodges under the Antients in the London area.
GFR: In another place – as they say – at the Quarterly Communication of the Premier or Moderns Grand Lodge in February of that year:
The Grand Treasurer acquainted the Grand Lodge that he considered it desirable for the Society to make a purchase of the house adjoining to the Tavern and that he had reason to believe such purchase might be made on fair and equitable terms together with certain small premises adjoining thereto which it might be very desirable for the Society to possess, whereupon, on a motion duly made it was
Resolved that the Grand Treasurer be authorised to treat for such purchase under the sanction of the Hall Committee and to conclude the same and under that sanction to raise such sum of money, by mortgage or otherwise, as may be necessary for the completion of the purchase.
The Earl of Moira A.G.M. acquainted the Grand Lodge, that in consequence of the death of Admiral Sir Peter Parker Bart. His Royal Highness the Grand Master had been pleased to appoint His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex to be Deputy Grand Master which communication was received by the Grand Lodge with every sentiment of respect and approbation.
JMH: The property was acquired and after the was radically adapted by the first Grand Superintendent, the noted architect Sir John Soane, to provide additional lodge meeting facilities. Sadly Soane’s work only survives in his plans and drawings as his extension to the original Hall disappeared during the building of the second Hall in Great Queen Street in the 1860s.
Admiral Sir Peter Parker had been a very popular Deputy Grand Master, an office he had held since 1787, although as commander of the fleet in the West Indies and Caribbean he was often absent from England fighting the French. The choice of His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex as his successor was, history has shown, a master stroke of dynastic planning. As we shall hear in a few moments, the Earl of Moira who had been the Prince Regent’s Masonic right hand since 1790, was soon to depart for India, and the Prince of Wales, having become Prince Regent, was planning to retire from the Grand Mastership so new leadership would be required. The Duke of Sussex had proved himself an enthusiastic Freemason and was to prove a perfect example of the right man being appointed at the right time.
GFR: At the April Communication of the Grand Lodge :
The Grand Secretary laid before the Grand Lodge letters he had received from the Provincial Grand Lodge of York complaining that the Lodges in that Province did not correspond and remit their Contributions for the Grand Lodge in London through the medium of the Provincial Grand Lodge by reason of which the dignity and consequence of the Provincial Grand Lodge was not sufficiently supported and therefore requesting the interference of the Grand Lodge on the subject. Whereupon after mature deliberation the Grand Lodge declared its opinion that the request of the Provincial Grand Lodge at York cannot be complied with, as such a proceeding would tend to lessen the authority and superintendance of the Grand Lodge over the subordinate Lodges. And the Acting Grand Master undertook to write to the Provincial Grand Master for Yorkshire on the subject.
On a motion made by Brother Thomas Brand Esq. and seconded by Brother the Revd. Dr. Coghlan it was
Resolved that a Grand Organist be appointed to perform on the organ in the hall at the meetings of the Grand Lodge who shall be entitled to wear a Blue Apron and to have a seat in the Grand Lodge. And that the Grand Master be requested to nominate a fit person accordingly.
JMH: The complaint from the Provincial Grand Lodge at York might seem strange to us but is a perfect demonstration of the maxim that historians should look at the past through the eyes of the past and not the eyes of today. Although Provincial Grand Masters appeared as early as 1725 Provincial Grand Lodges as we know them today were a product of the new administrative arrangements after the in 1813. Under the premier Grand Lodge, as today, Provincial Grand Masters were appointed by the Grand Master as his personal representatives within their designated areas. They often appointed a Deputy and a Secretary and were empowered by the Book of Constitutions to appoint Grand Officers pro tempore to assist them on ceremonial occasions such as the constitution of new Lodges, laying of foundation stones and public processions, but Provincial Grand Ranks as we know them came after the .
Indeed, there was ambiguity as to the ranking of Provincial Grand Masters under the Moderns. The minutes of each of their meetings begin with a list of those present in order of seniority. On every occasion the Provincial Grand Masters who attended were listed after the actual Grand Wardens and any Past Grand Wardens who attended. For many years I was puzzled by the fact that the ubiquitous Thomas Dunckerley, who had been Provincial Grand Master for nine Provinces was in 1786 appointed a Past Senior Grand Warden, the first occasion on which a Past Rank was conferred other than the rank of Past Grand Master being conferred on Royal brethren. It was only recently discovered that he had actively sought the rank because he was about to give up his then charges and would no longer qualify to attend Grand Lodge as only the actual Provincial Grand Masters were so qualified.
GFR: At the Grand Feast, held that year in May:
The Grand Lodge having resolved, that a Grand Organist should be appointed, the Grand Master was pleased to appoint Mr Samuel Wesley to that office.
JMH: Samuel Wesley was the son of Charles and nephew of John Wesley, the founders of Methodism. A major composer of his day, called by some the English Mozart, he had been initiated in the Lodge of Antiquity (now) No. 2 in 1788. He was to be Grand Organist from 1812 until 1818 but, sadly, appears to have left no Masonic music. Today he is greatly overshadowed by his son Samuel Sebastian Wesley, one of the great church composer and cathedral organists of the nineteenth century.
GFR: In November the Deputy Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Duke of Sussex, reported on a Special Meeting of Grand Officers held earlier in that month at his instigation at which:
The Grand Treasurer acquainted that Committee that he [that] morning had [had] the honor of an interview with His Royal Highness the Deputy Grand Master who had desired him to express to the Committee His Royal Highness’s regret at being prevented by severe indisposition from attending this meeting that His Royal Highness had ordered the Committee to be summoned for the purpose of taking into consideration the mode of paying some mark of respect to The Earl of Moira A.G.M. (to whose kind care and exertions the Craft is so greatly indebted for its present highly respectable and flourishing state) previous to His Lordship’s expected departure from England and that His Royal Highness was of opinion it would be proper to invite His Lordship to partake of a dinner with the Craft…
That Committee had then Resolved unanimously that a Masonic Dinner at which the Duke of Sussex should preside be given to Lord Moira, to which the members of the Craft generally should be invited, and a further Committee was appointed to oversee the arrangements.
And the Grand Lodge having expressed its approbation of the proceedings of the Committee it was
Resolved unanimously that at the dinner of the Grand Lodge to be given to The Right Honorable The Earl of Moira A.G.M. on the 13th day of January next a Masonic Jewel of a value not less than 500 Guineas be presented to His Lordship in token of the high sense which the Craft at large entertain of His Lordship’s most valuable services to the Society from the year 1790 to the present time, and of the Brotherly affection they bear him
Resolved unanimously that the several Lodges be invited to contribute towards this expense in order that every member of the Craft may have an opportunity of testifying his regard, individually to the M.W. Acting Grand Master.
JMH: Lord Moira had been appointed Governor and Commander in Chief at Bengal, where he was to remain for ten years. He broke his journey to India with a brief sojourn in Mauritius, where with Masonic ceremonies he laid the foundation stone of the new Roman Catholic cathedral.
Moira had been Acting, or as we would say Pro, Grand Master since 1790 and had steered the Moderns through a difficult period, not least the possibility of the Craft being proscribed under the 1799 Unlawful Societies Act. Calling for five hundred guineas to purchase a jewel to mark his long service was extraordinarily generous, in modern purchasing power it equated to just under eighteen thousand pounds. The dinner held on 27 January 1813 was indeed a gala occasion attended by Their Royal Highnesses the Dukes of Sussex, York, Clarence, Kent, Cumberland and Gloucester, the Deputy Grand Master of Scotland and a representative of the King of Sweden. The presentation was magnificent. The jewel, surrounded by brilliants, carried the Acting Grand Masters’ emblem and was suspended from what was described as “a collar of three feet long, composed of seven rows of fine Maltese chain, intersected by five parallelograms with brilliant centres”. It was made by Brother J. C. Burckhardt of the Lodge of Antiquity. The jewel is now in the Museum in this building but the collar was eventually broken up into necklaces for Moira’s female descendant. The final cost was six hundred and seventy pounds, just over twenty two thousand five hundred pounds today!
GFR: 1912 seems to have been a rather uneventful year. Leaving aside a spate of Appeals and the investiture of a new Assistant Grand Secretary, the only item which catches the eye – and catches it spectacularly – was in March of that year when the Pro Grand Master stated:
I regret that I feel obliged to disallow the motion standing in the name of the V.W. Brother the President of the Board of General Purposes. It is a proposal to alter the established custom in the matter of appointments and precedence and therefore affects the prerogative of the Grand Master.
JMH: Strong words indeed, and stronger were to follow for the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, was not known for his diplomatic skills! To challenge the President in Grand Lodge, apparently without any warning, was unprecedented.. The motion concerned the precedence of Lodge officers, something not then governed by the Book of Constitutions. Ampthill claimed that the motion interfered in the prerogatives of the Grand Master, had the Grand Registrar been asked he might have had a contrary view! Wisely the President withdrew the motion and the matter was not raised again. Lord Ampthill, however, began almost a crusade to have the whole administration of the Craft examined and revised. But that, as they say, is a story for another day.
12 September 2012
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
It has been an exciting, if somewhat wet, summer throughout the country and I trust you have all come back refreshed for the new Masonic season.
I have just started the first of four regional business meetings with Provincial Grand Masters. Clearly this is an ideal opportunity to talk about the current initiatives we are all involved in and to share thoughts and ideas. Importantly, we are all united in our mutual commitment to recruit and retain the best people – men of quality.
As the Masonic fraternity is a single, indivisible fellowship which is neither divided nor affected by local or national boundaries within our Constitution, the word united is extremely appropriate – not only for what we are all doing together today – but especially as we move forward to our three hundredth anniversary celebrations in 2017. Hence Metropolitan Grand Lodge, the Provinces and Districts are united as part of one fellowship – that of the United Grand Lodge of England.
With this in mind, one of the agenda items on my regional business meetings covers how we want to be working together to plan the 2017 celebrations, remembering that this is just over four and a half years away. From the very outset, I want to make it clear that this is a celebration for every one of us – for the members throughout the English Constitution, both here and in the Districts.
Celebrating three hundred years is a once in a lifetime event for us all, as well as appropriately marking this wonderful achievement of reaching this significant milestone, and, of course, being the first Grand Lodge to do so.
We have seen two great events this summer – that of Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympic Games. Both these events proved highly successful and raised the morale and spirit of our Nation. That is exactly what I want the members’ 2017 celebration to achieve for our united fraternity.
I am convinced that by working through the Metropolitan Grand Master and the Provincial and District Grand Masters we will encourage a large participation in this great occasion. Although there is much detail to be planned and to be communicated to you for your own planning, the main event will certainly include partners.
Brethren, we are proud to be Freemasons and 2017 is a great opportunity to show that pride not only to our families and friends, but to the non-Masonic community as well. To this end it will also be the natural culmination of the open public relations strategy we have embraced.
I can tell you, even at this early stage, that the main event in June 2017 will be at the Excel Centre, near the Olympic Stadium. This is one of the few locations in the Country that has the necessary capacity and infrastructure to properly enable us to celebrate this once in a lifetime momentous event.
12 September 2012
Statements by the President of the Board of General Purposes and the Grand Chancellor concerning Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF)
The President of the Board of General Purposes, RW Bro Anthony Wilson:
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, I believe that there is nothing in the Board’s Report that calls for comment, except for the paragraphs relating to the National Grand Lodge of France, and even they are largely self-explanatory. Since this Grand Lodge suspended relations with the GLNF twelve months ago the Board has continued to monitor the situation. It is clear that the GLNF is not in full control of its own affairs. For well over a year its administration and finances have been under the control of a Court appointed administrator, Maitre Legrand. She, although not a Freemason or a member of the GLNF, is currently organising the nominations for and election of a new Grand Master.
To complicate matters further, we understand that at the end of April a group of members of the GLNF and their Lodges broke away and formed a new Grand Lodge which now claims over 10,000 members and more than 500 Lodges. It has just been announced that a further group has broken away and is intent on forming yet another Grand Lodge. It is, therefore, becoming impossible to know who are and who are not bona fide members of the GLNF, which at this moment remains the only Grand Lodge in France recognised by this Grand Lodge.
The Board is aware that, if its recommendation is accepted by Grand Lodge, a number of our members who have joint memberships will need to decide with which constitution they will remain. The Board regrets this but it has a duty to have regard to the best interests of the whole English Craft and in the present circumstances believes those interests will be best served by withdrawing recognition from the GLNF. One hundred years ago members of this Grand Lodge were materially involved in the formation of the GLNF and the return of regular Freemasonry to France: for this and other reasons, the Board’s recommendation was not reached lightly but only after considerable discussion and consultation.
It is important to emphasise that in making this recommendation the Board is not stating that the GLNF or its members are in any way irregular, nor will the withdrawal of recognition of itself make them so. They will, however, become unrecognised though capable of being re-recognised at some future point. For that reason the Board has not entered into discussion with any of the other bodies claiming to represent regular Freemasonry in France nor does it have any intention at the present time of recommending to this Grand Lodge the recognition of any other Grand Lodge in France.
Indeed, we have just learnt that in the last few days a candidate for the Grand Mastership has been nominated. His name will go forward for approval by a General Meeting of the GLNF. The Board will continue to monitor events in France and hopes that this may be the first step – and I emphasise the words “the first step” - towards normalising relations between our two Grand Lodges. In the meantime, however, this event does not change the Board’s recommendation to withdraw recognition.
The Grand Chancellor, VW Bro Derek Dinsmore:
MW Pro Grand Master and brethren, in moving the resolution standing in my name at item 3 of the Paper of Business may I add to the President’s comment on the regularity of the GLNF. Although it has serious internal problems we believe that the Lodges and members of the GLNF are working in a regular manner. Withdrawal of recognition will not of itself affect the GLNF’s regularity and it will be capable of re-recognition. There is a long established, fundamental principle of Masonic international relations that where Freemasonry exists within a territory, whether or not it is formally recognised, that territory is closed to other Grand Lodges, and the latter should not set up lodges there. Despite the growing number of Grand Lodges which are withdrawing recognition from the GLNF, France remains closed territory and this Grand Lodge would not look kindly on any other Grand Lodge which attempted to invade French territory by setting up Lodges there or taking into its jurisdiction Lodges warranted by the GLNF.
MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, for the reasons given in the Report of the Board of General Purposes, I move that recognition of be withdrawn.
Grand Lodge subsequently voted to approve the motion that recognition be withdrawn from the Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
12 September 2012
United Grand Lodge of England has voted to withdraw recognition from Grande Loge Nationale Française (GLNF) with immediate effect.
A full statement will follow shortly.