Changing  of the guard

Graham Ives reflects on 10 years of teamwork free from preaching and dictating as he prepares to step down as Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent

In the middle of May 2008, Graham Ives received a letter from the Grand Secretary that would change his life. The Grand Secretary had been instructed by the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, to offer Graham the position of Provincial Grand Master for Lincolnshire. 

Graham was installed as Provincial Grand Master one month later. ‘I didn’t really know what the role held for me; it was a steep learning curve,’ he says. ‘For a time, I felt like a fish out of water, but I received much support, advice and friendship, and soon became very comfortable with the role.’

Graham’s rise to the role of Grand Superintendent in the Royal Arch happened at a more leisurely pace. ‘I had been a member of the Provincial Executive of the Royal Arch for a number of years before I became Grand Superintendent. I understood that role more fully and was immediately at ease with it,’ he says of the office, which he has held for as long as he has been Provincial Grand Master.

Occupying the two most senior roles in Lincolnshire Freemasonry, Graham knew there would be a tremendous amount to do in the years ahead. ‘Fundamental to my time in office has been a desire to reach out to every mason in the Province, whatever their rank. Whenever I was on an official visit, I ensured that I was talking not just to senior brethren and companions, but to everyone. 

‘My hope was always that when I left the lodge or chapter, everyone would be smiling and would have enjoyed my presence as much as I had enjoyed their company – from the newest Entered Apprentice to the longest-serving Grand Officer. I genuinely believe that I have achieved that goal.’

Graham recognises how crucial those around him were during his time as Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent. ‘It would have been impossible for Lincolnshire to have achieved what it has without the capable and dedicated teams I have had the privilege of working with.’

Looking forward, Graham acknowledges that given the pace and form of modern Freemasonry, no one individual can accomplish all the tasks required. ‘The modern roles of the Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent are very similar now to those of a chief executive. I believe that it is an exciting time to be a Freemason and that we can all look forward with confidence to the future.’

HIGHLIGHTS FROM A DECADE AS PGM

Far exceeding Festival targets

‘Against a target of £1.5 million, Lincolnshire raised £2.75 million for the 2014 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys. This was right at the top of my achievements during my term of office. I was overwhelmed by the way in which the brethren and their families donated their hard-earned money to this very worthy cause, especially when you recall that for part of the time, the country was in recession.’

The Tercentenary service in Lincoln Cathedral

‘In Lincolnshire, we celebrated the Tercentenary in fine style, culminating in a magnificent service in Lincoln Cathedral. It took a lot of organising by a large number of people, but it paid off handsomely. It was a splendid and moving feeling to see the brethren and their companions, together with families and friends, filling the cathedral to capacity, wearing full masonic regalia.’

The commitment to involving Provincial officers

‘I made a decision to invite the year’s acting Provincial officers to accompany me on all my official visits. I wanted to create the opportunity for it to be something very special, but this is a big Province, stretching from the Humber almost to Peterborough. Would the officers want to make those journeys? It turned out that they did, and the visits have been a resounding success for the acting Provincial officers as well as the brethren and companions of the lodges and chapters visited. I suspect that I shall miss those official visits more than anything else.’

Consolidating the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire

‘I was determined that the Royal Arch would play a prominent part during my terms of office, not only as Provincial Grand Master but also as Grand Superintendent. A number of successful initiatives have taken place, and I am very grateful to all the dedicated Royal Arch masons who have supported me in these ventures. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Lincolnshire has one of the country’s highest percentages of Royal Arch masons in relation to Craft masons. We have consolidated the strength of the Royal Arch in Lincolnshire over the past 10 years, and there is a very sound platform to move forward.’

With 2018 marking the 150th anniversary of the initiation of Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, into Freemasonry, John Hamill reflects on why the ceremony happened in Sweden

In late 1868, HRH Prince Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, had a very busy two days while on a private visit to Sweden, where King Charles XV was Grand Master of the Swedish Order of Freemasons, a progressive system of eleven degrees. 

The eldest son of Queen Victoria and future King Edward VII received the first six degrees of the Swedish Rite on 20 December. He received the remaining four degrees on 21 December, after which he was received into the eleventh and highest degree of Knight Commander of the Red Cross, which is also a civil honour, making him a Knight Commander of the Order of King Charles XIII. The prince was to always wear the collarette and jewel of that dual honour with his masonic regalia.

The question has been asked as to why the Prince of Wales entered Freemasonry abroad. The wits of the day suggested it was because he was in awe of his mother, Queen Victoria, who, they claimed, was not well disposed towards Freemasonry. However, this does not square with the fact that she was royal patron of the then-three national masonic charities. 

More likely, it would have been a question of protocol, as well as a wish not to have to make the decision as to which lodge and which senior brother should have the honour of initiating the heir to the throne. Those problems were solved in Sweden, where the ceremonies were conducted by that country’s king and crown prince.

FOLLOWING PROTOCOL

News of the event was sent to England, and it was unanimously agreed that the prince should be appointed a Past Grand Master, which resolved any protocol problems and was in line with what had happened since 1767 to members of the royal family who joined the Craft. As a precaution, as few of the then-senior members of Grand Lodge were conversant with the Swedish degrees, a request was made to Sweden for English translations of the first three degrees of their system, which was quickly answered and showed that they had the same basic import as the English equivalents.

At the Quarterly Communication held on 1 December 1869, the Prince of Wales was received, proclaimed and welcomed as Past Grand Master. In his response to his welcome from the Grand Master, the Earl of Zetland, the prince said that he felt it ‘a deep honour to be there that day and to be admitted into the Grand Lodge of England’. He had already intimated that he intended to join lodges in England and was to be Master of four lodges and a founder and first Master of three new lodges. 

‘The presence of the prince at the head of Freemasonry gave it a newfound respectability and social cachet’

AN ENTHUSIASTIC MASON

In 1874, the Grand Master, Lord Ripon, suddenly announced his resignation, as he had converted to Roman Catholicism. While Ripon had no doubts as to the compatibility of Freemasonry and his faith, the pope had recently issued an encyclical against Freemasonry, so Ripon felt he could not continue as an active Freemason. 

What could have been a crisis for Grand Lodge was quickly averted by the Deputy Grand Master, Lord Carnarvon, who suggested that the Prince of Wales be approached to stand for election. With the prince readily agreeing, the Annual Investiture was held at the Royal Albert Hall on 28 April 1875 to enable as many brethren as possible (over 7,000) to see the Prince of Wales installed as Grand Master. It was an office he was to be annually re-elected to until he came to the throne in 1901.

The prince was an enthusiastic mason. As Grand Master, he was ex officio First Grand Principal in the Royal Arch. He was Grand Master of the Mark Degree 1886–1901; Grand Master of the Knights Templar 1873–1901; and became 33rd Degree and Grand Patron of the Ancient and Accepted Rite. He was also Grand Patron of the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland.

The prince also helped to bring two of his brothers, and his son, into the Craft. The prince was also a great publicist for Freemasonry. When asked to lay the foundation stones of new buildings and other public structures, he would usually insist that it be done with masonic ceremonies in full view of the public. As Prince of Wales he undertook a number of major overseas tours – notably to India and North America – and wherever he went he ensured that he had contact with the local Freemasons. 

If it was not possible to attend a formal meeting, the prince ensured that he met groups of local brethren in a social setting, particularly in those areas where English lodges were meeting. As a result of his visits, there was a significant increase in the number of lodges in what were then parts of the British Empire.

At home, the presence of the prince at the head of Freemasonry gave it a newfound respectability and social cachet. During the prince’s 26 years as Grand Master, the number of lodges almost doubled, and membership was seen as a mark of the brethren’s standing in their local communities.

On coming to the throne in 1901, Albert Edward ceased active participation in Freemasonry and took the title of Protector of the Craft, maintaining an interest in its activities until his death in 1910.

Letters to the Editor - NO. 42 SUMMER 2018

Under the English Constitution

Sir,

Although Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, had been initiated into the Swedish Order of Freemasons in 1868 (John Hamill, summer 2018 edition of Freemasonry Today), it was not until 1871 that he attended an English lodge – Jerusalem Lodge, No. 197 – at the centenary celebrations presided over by the Master Sir Charles Hutton Gregory, Past President of the Institute of Civil Engineers.

This was reported in the Daily News of 1 March: ‘Friday, the 24 February, will be henceforth a memorable day in the annals of Modern Freemasonry, for it marks the introduction of the Heir to the English Crown to one of those private “Lodges”, which are so numerous as to form a not unimportant item in the social life of the country… 

‘His Royal Highness wisely selected a Centenary Festival as the occasion of his first visit to a private Masonic gathering, and, quite as wisely, chose a Lodge which has the reputation of picking out men of scientific attainment or versatile accomplishments as its Members.’

A Centenary Jewel was designed to mark the occasion when the Prince was present as an Honorary Member of the Lodge, but, to the chagrin of the lodge, this did not conform to the design regulations for Centenary Jewels, and it was not until 1884 that these constraints were circumnavigated by designating the Jewel as ‘Distinctive’ rather than ‘Centenary’.

Following this diplomatic breakthrough, a Warrant dated 28 April 1884, signed by the Prince of Wales, then Grand Master, authorised present and future Master Masons of Jerusalem Lodge to wear a Distinctive Jewel to mark ‘our first visit to a Lodge under the English Constitution…’ and ‘as a further and especial mark of our favour we permit and authorise the said Jewel to be surmounted by a representation of our Royal Coronet in Gold’.

Dr Jonathan Dowson, Jerusalem Lodge, No. 197, London

Published in Features

Do not hide the light

Following the Craft Annual Investiture, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, is heartened by the enthusiasm shown by new Provincial and District Grand Masters

I congratulate all those whom I have invested. It is both a reward for past endeavours but also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. An award of Grand Rank signifies the United Grand Lodge of England’s pride in you and recognises your efforts on our behalf. It denotes a senior and, in most cases, a public position within our brotherhood, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, to those who might not understand us and to those who know little of us.

AN EXCITING TIME FOR FREEMASONRY

Your Rulers, I know, have been very busy already this year promoting Freemasonry across the world and installing new Provincial and District Grand Masters. I welcome those recently appointed and am greatly heartened by this youthful enthusiasm, for this is where our future lies. I welcome our new Grand Secretary, David Staples, while at the same time bidding farewell to Willie Shackell, who has served in a number of senior appointments for the last 11 years. We wish him well in retirement.

Many of those I have invested will go on to be leaders in the Craft, and I believe it is a very exciting time for Freemasonry in general. For 300 years men from all different backgrounds, faiths, ages and races have met as equals to make themselves better people. Such sentiments have never been more relevant, or more needed, than they are today. Be sure that we do not hide that light as we look forward to our next 300 years.

‘I welcome those recently appointed and am greatly heartened by this youthful enthusiasm, for this is where our future lies’

Published in UGLE

HRH The Duke of Kent, Grand Master and Grand President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), was present for the official opening of the charity’s refurbished offices

Following the launch of the MCF, the offices underwent a much-needed refit to meet the staff’s changing needs. During the transition from several charities to a single organisation, it became clear that the existing office structure was a barrier to working as a unified team. 

The renovation has created a space that is lighter, brighter and more open, with more facilities for staff to meet and collaborate with one another.

The Duke of Kent’s visit helps to demonstrate the impact of the MCF’s work and how all teams are working together to support the masonic and wider community.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018 14:05

RW Bro Anthony Wilson 1950-2018

RW Bro Anthony Wilson died peacefully on Monday 14 May, after a long battle with cancer fought with great dignity

He was President of the Board of General Purposes for 13 years, retiring from the role at the end of December 2017, and had been President of the Committee of General Purposes for three years before that.

Anthony was born in 1950, educated at Eton, and subsequently qualified as a chartered accountant. One of the first audits he conducted was for The Grand Lodge 250th Anniversary Fund, which sponsors research fellowships at the Royal College of Surgeons. Some 20 years later he became a Trustee of the charity, which is now known as The Freemasons' Fund for Surgical Research.

Initiated into Tuscan Lodge No. 14 in March 1976, Anthony was appointed Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1997, and served as President of the Committee of General Purposes from 2001 to 2004. 

He was appointed President of the Board of General Purposes in March 2004 and was instrumental in reducing the Board to a more manageable size and making it more effective, efficient and fit for purpose. He was promoted to Past Senior Grand Warden in April 2012.

He also played a prominent role in many events throughout our Tercentenary celebrations including the unveiling of the memorial stones to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during World War I, through to the Especial meeting of Grand Lodge at the Royal Albert Hall where he was seated in the Royal Box with the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent.

UGLE has sent condolences on behalf of all members of Grand Lodge to his widow Vicky and family.

Read Anthony Wilson’s interview in Freemasonry Today in 2014, where he revealed that modernising the business of Freemasonry was one of his proudest achievements.

Published in UGLE
Wednesday, 25 April 2018 00:00

Grand Master's address - April 2018

Craft Annual Investiture

25 April 2018 
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG

Brethren, this meeting is always a very happy occasion and I do congratulate all those whom I have invested today. It is both a reward for past endeavours but also a clear indicator that we expect more from you in the future. An award of Grand Rank signifies UGLE’s pride in you, and recognises your efforts on our behalf. It denotes a senior, and in most cases, a public position within our brotherhood, and I would hope that you all feel willing to communicate the pride you now feel to those you meet, to those who might not understand us, and to those who know little of us.

Your Rulers, I know, have been very busy already this year promoting Freemasonry across the world and installing new Provincial and District Grand Masters. I welcome those recently appointed and am greatly heartened by this youthful enthusiasm, for this brethren is where our future lies. I welcome our new Grand Secretary – David Staples whilst at the same time bidding farewell to Willie Shackell who has served in a number of senior appointments for the last 11 years. We wish him well in retirement.

Many of those I have invested today will go on to be leaders in the Craft and I believe it is a very exciting time for Freemasonry in general. For 300 years men from all different backgrounds, faiths, ages and races have met as equals to make themselves ‘better men’. Such sentiments have never been more relevant, or more needed, than they are today. Be sure that we do not hide that light as we look forward to our next 300 years.

Brethren, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for once again arranging such an impressive ceremony and the Grand Secretary and his team for ensuring all the other arrangements have gone so smoothly.

Enjoy the rest of our celebrations.

Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

14 March 2018 
Report of the Board of General Purposes

Minutes

The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 13 December 2017 were confirmed.

Election of the Grand Master

HRH The Duke of Kent was re-elected as Grand Master.

Grand Lodge Register 2008-2017

The tables below show the number of Lodges on the Register and of Certificates issued during the past ten years.

1

Charges for warrants

In accordance with Rule 270A, Book of Constitutions, the Board recommended that for the year commencing 1 April 2018 the charges (exclusive of VAT) should be as follows:

2

The recommendation was accepted.

Recognition of foreign Grand Lodges

The Grand Lodge of Amazonas, Brazil

The Grand Lodge of Amazonas was formed on 22 September 1904 by fifteen Lodges which had been regularly constituted by the Grand Orient of Brazil to meet in what is now the State of Amazonas. Those Lodges withdrew in a constitutional manner from the Grand Orient and were regularly constituted into a Grand Lodge with jurisdiction limited to Amazonas.

This Grand Lodge already recognises the Grand Orient of Brazil which recognises and shares territorial jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Amazonas by treaty dated 5 August 2002.

The Grand Lodge of Minas Gerais, Brazil

The Grand Lodge of Minas Gerais was formed on 25 September 1927 by eight Lodges which had been regularly constituted by the Grand Orient of Brazil to meet in what is now the State of Minas Gerais. Those Lodges withdrew in a constitutional manner from the Grand Orient and were regularly constituted into a Grand Lodge with jurisdiction limited to Minas Gerais.

The Grand Orient of Brazil recognises and shares territorial jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Minas Gerais by treaty dated 16 June 2000.

The Grand Lodge of Mato Grosso, Brazil

In 1976 the area of Mato Grosso in Brazil was divided into the States of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. The Grand Lodge of Mato Grosso was formed on 7 October 1978 by eleven Lodges which had been regularly constituted by what is now the Grand Lodge of Mato Grosso do Sul (which was recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England in March 2001). Those Lodges withdrew in a constitutional manner from that Grand Lodge and were regularly constituted as a Grand Lodge with jurisdiction limited to Mato Grosso.

The Grand Orient of Brazil recognises and shares territorial jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of Mato Grosso by treaty dated 7 October 2000.

The Grand Lodge of the State of Baja California, Mexico

The Grand Lodge of the State of Baja California, Mexico, was formed on 5 February 1933 by three regularly constituted Lodges as the Grand Lodge of the Northern Territory of Baja California. When, in 1953, the territory became the State of Baja California the Grand Lodge changed its name to reflect that fact.

This Grand Lodge recognises the York Grand Lodge of Mexico, which recognises and shares territorial jurisdiction with the Grand Lodge of the State of Baja California and has stated that it has no objection to our recognition of the latter.

Having shown that they have regularity of origin and that they conform to the Basic Principles for Grand Lodge recognition, the Board, having no reason to believe that they will not continue to maintain a regular path, recommended that these four Grand Lodges be recognised.

A Resolution to this effect was approved.

The Grand Lodge of Albania

The Grand Lodge of Albania was formed in 2011 and recognised by the United Grand Lodge of England in 2013. In 2014 the Grand Master of Albania consecrated a Lodge in Kosovo, an action regarded by other Grand Lodges in the area as unwarranted and an invasion of territory within the Masonic sphere of the Regular Grand Lodge of Serbia.

At a meeting of European Grand Masters in Belgrade in June 2015, an agreement was drawn up and signed by the Grand Master of Albania that, inter alia, the Lodge in Kosovo would be withdrawn to Albania and he would enter into discussions with the Grand Master of Serbia as to the future development of Freemasonry in Kosovo. Since the signing of that agreement Albania has consecrated a further two Lodges in Kosovo.

The Board considered that it would be in the best interests of the Grand Lodge for it to suspend relations with the Grand Lodge of Albania while further enquiries are made into the situation and consideration is given to any necessary further action.

A Resolution to this effect was approved.

Erasure of lodges

The Board has received a report that 34 Lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The Lodges are:

Skelmersdale Lodge, No. 1599 (London), Commercial Travellers Lodge, No. 3700 (Northumberland), Ruislip Lodge, No. 4301 (Middlesex), Davenport Lodge, No. 4391 (Cheshire), Bernicia Lodge, No. 4479 (Northumberland), Electra Lodge, No. 5124 (East Kent), Travellers Lodge, No. 5495 (KwaZulu-Natal), Deltaic Lodge, No. 5640 (London), Swinford Lodge, No. 5729 (Worcestershire), Lodge of Patience and Industry, No. 5781, (Middlesex) Saint Margaret’s Lodge, No. 5816 (Northumberland), Sir Galahad Lodge, No. 5897 (Cumberland and Westmorland), Langley Lodge, No. 5951 (Buckinghamshire), Merantune Lodge, No. 6149 (Surrey), Saints Peter and Paul Lodge, No. 6159 (Essex), Bona Fides Lodge, No. 6696 (London), Castle Lodge, No. 6713 (Durham), Field End Lodge, No. 6924 (Middlesex), Linthorpe Lodge, No. 7032 (Yorkshire, North and East Riding), Lodge of Security, No. 7299 (Northumberland), Daws Heath Lodge, No. 7466 (Essex), Bexley Marine Lodge, No. 7546 (West Kent), King David Lodge, No. 7667 (Durham), Ben Marsh Lodge, No. 7938 (Worcestershire), Cherleton Lodge, No. 8439 (Gloucestershire), Unanimity Lodge, No. 8669 (South Africa, Eastern Division), Sutton Coldfield Lodge, No. 8960 (Warwickshire), Gredington Lodge, No. 8982 (North Wales), Lodge of Light and Friendship, No. 9138 (Essex), Birchington Lodge, No. 9159 (East Kent), Wheatsheaf Lodge, No. 9170 (Cheshire), George Eliot Lodge, No. 9227 (Warwickshire), Meridian Lodge, No. 9653 (Devon), and Carlisle Castle Lodge, No. 9731 (Cumberland and Westmorland).

The Board recommendation that they be erased was approved.

Expulsions

3.22 As required by Rule 277 (a) (i) (B), Book of Constitutions, seven Brethren were recently expelled from the Craft.

Motion pursuant to notice: Amendment to the Book of Constitutions

The President of the Board of General Purposes moved that the Schedule to Rule 61 be deleted and a new Schedule be substituted on the appointments as Metropolitan Grand Officers and Metropolitan Grand Rank. The change to the Schedule was approved.

List of new lodges

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 with date of Warrant, location area, number and name of lodge are:

13 December 2017

9960 Invictus Lodge York Yorkshire, North and East Ridings.

21 December 2017

9961 Oldham Lodge Singapore Eastern Archipelago (the previous Petition in respect of Lodge No. 9958 having been withdrawn).

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 June 2018. Subsequent Communications will be held on 12 September 2018, 12 December 2018, 13 March 2019 and 12 June 2019.

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.

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 26 April 2018, 14 November 2018 and 25 April 2019.

Published in UGLE
Tuesday, 13 March 2018 13:30

The rebuilding of the Soane Ark

To bring the union of the Grand Lodges into being, Articles of Union were agreed that laid the foundations of the United Grand Lodge of England. As such an important document, it was to be carried into each Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge by the Grand Registrar. Sir John Soane (1753-1837) offered to produce an ‘ark’ to stand in front of the Grand Master’s throne into which the document could be safely placed while the meeting was in progress

Soane was one of England’s greatest architects. He became a Freemason and, after the union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, was the first person to hold the new office of Grand Superintendent of Works. As such, he was the professional adviser overseeing the maintenance and development of Freemasons’ Hall in London.

The first work Soane produced for Grand Lodge was what became known as the Ark of the Masonic Covenant. It was an impressive piece of furniture, triangular in shape with an Ionic, Corinthian or Doric column at each corner and surmounted with a dome topped by Soane’s signature lantern.

The ark stood in front of the Grand Master’s throne from 1814 until 1883, when disaster struck. A fire broke out in the old Grand Temple, gutting its interior and destroying the portraits of former Grand Masters, as well as most of the furniture and Soane’s ark. Much was done to reconstruct the interior of the room and reinstate the paintings and furniture, but the ark was not replaced.

One of Soane’s 20th-century successors as Grand Superintendent of Works was architect Douglas Burford, who hoped one day to persuade Grand Lodge to have a replica constructed. It took 30 years for that dream to finally become a reality, and Burford was delighted to learn that, as part of the Tercentenary celebrations, Soane’s ark was to be reconstructed.

The project was one of cooperation between The Library and Museum of Freemasonry, Sir John Soane’s Museum, the Factum Foundation for Digital Technology in Conservation and master wood carvers Houghtons of York. Their combined efforts produced a superb and accurate reconstruction of one of the lost treasures of Grand Lodge.

After appearing in an exhibition at Sir John Soane’s Museum, the ark was transported to the Royal Albert Hall for the great Tercentenary celebration, where it was dedicated by the Grand Master. Afterwards, like the original, it took its place in the Grand Temple as a permanent memorial.

Published in UGLE

Three hundred years ago, in a room in a pub, history was made. Were it possible to travel in time, it would be fascinating to bring back the brethren who came together at the Goose and Gridiron alehouse in London on 24 June 1717, when they elected the first Grand Master and brought into being the first Grand Lodge in the world, writes John Hamill

According to James Anderson in the 1738 Constitutions of the Free-Masons, four lodges met at the alehouse in St Paul’s Churchyard. Named after the public houses where they usually met, the lodges were Goose and Gridiron Ale-house in St Paul’s Church-yard; the Crown Ale-house in Parker’s Lane off Drury Lane; the Apple-Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden; and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.

The Goose and Gridiron survived until the 1890s, and just before it was demolished, a masonic historian drew sketches of its exterior and measured the room in which the Grand Lodge was formed. The room would have held fewer than 100 people, who would have had to stand very close to each other to fit inside.

‘In their wildest imaginings, these brethren could not have envisaged what their simple and small meeting would give birth to’

FROM HUMBLE BEGINNINGS

In their wildest imaginings, these brethren could not have envisaged what their simple and small meeting would give birth to: a fraternity of Freemasonry spread over the whole world. They would find some things they would recognise from their practice of Freemasonry, but would also find much that was very different.

Over the last 300 years Freemasonry has developed and expanded. What English Freemasonry has demonstrated is that it is a living organisation capable of changing its outward forms and adapting itself to the society in which it currently exists.

Of the four lodges that came together on that summer’s day in 1717 to elect a Grand Master, three are still working today – the Crown Ale House ceased meeting circa 1736. From Anderson’s account, in its first years the Grand Lodge met only for the Annual Assembly and Grand Feast to elect the Grand Master and Grand Wardens. From two other sources, we can deduce that the Grand Lodge began to act as a regulatory body in 1720.

LONDON SOCIETY

Some have questioned why there were no press reports of the event in 1717, but they have been looking at the past with the eyes of the present. In 1717 Freemasonry was largely unknown. The late 17th and 18th centuries were a great age of societies and clubs, many of them meeting in taverns and the growing network of fashionable coffee houses in the cities of London and Westminster.

If noticed at all, the formation of Grand Lodge would have been seen as just another society or club of the time. As no one of social consequence of the day appears to have been involved, it is not surprising that the event was not recorded in the primitive press that existed back then.

It was not until the early 1720s, when Past Grand Masters George Payne and Dr Desaguliers began to attract members of the nobility and the Royal Society into Freemasonry, that the press of the day began to notice it, reporting on the initiations of prominent men and the annual Grand Feasts of the Grand Lodge.

The more I study our ancient Craft, the more I am convinced that whatever problems we may face, provided we maintain that delicate balance between managed change and not altering our basic principles and tenets, Freemasonry will meet those challenges. Future generations will be able to enjoy its fellowship and privileges as we have done since that happy day at the Goose and Gridiron where Grand Lodge was born.

Published in UGLE

With vision, energy and, above all, a sense of tolerance, the Duke of Sussex played a pivotal role in shaping modern Freemasonry

The Duke of Sussex, Grand Master from 1813 to 1843, is a towering figure in the history of English Freemasonry. Playing a pivotal role in the unification of the Premier and Antient Grand Lodges to form the United Grand Lodge of England in 1813, it’s impossible to overestimate the importance of his influence on Freemasonry.

Augustus Frederick was born a royal prince on 27 January 1773, the ninth of the 15 children of George III and Queen Charlotte. On 27 November 1801, at the age of 28, he was made Duke of Sussex by the King.

Augustus had a reputation for open-mindedness and was considered the most liberal of his siblings, being something of a social reformer. In opposition to the views of some of his older brothers, in particular the Duke of Cumberland, Augustus favoured Catholic emancipation. He was, despite his devout Christianity, a strong supporter of the Jewish community, too. He also lent his influence to promote various benevolent schemes and was once referred to as ‘the most charming beggar in Europe’.

Augustus was initiated into the Lodge of Victorious Truth in Berlin in 1798 while studying in Germany. He took rapidly to masonry, eventually occupying the Chair of his German lodge. Back in England, in 1800, Augustus joined his brother George’s Prince of Wales Lodge, now No. 259. The Duke joined the Lodge of Friendship, No. 6, in 1806 and Antiquity, No. 2, in 1808. In 1814, he was instrumental in the resuscitation and, later, amalgamation of several lodges to form Royal Alpha Lodge, No. 16 – which was the Grand Master’s personal lodge and remains so to this day.

BRINGING THE LODGES TOGETHER

In 1813, Augustus was elected Grand Master of the Premier Grand Lodge while his elder brother, the Duke of Kent, became Grand Master of the Antients, and they became involved in the completion of the negotiations for the unification of the two Grand Lodges.

The Articles of Union were finalised at the end of 1813 and on 27 December 1813, the Duke of Kent graciously stood aside for his younger brother to take the reins of the new Grand Lodge. Augustus remained Grand Master for 30 years until his death in 1843. He referred to the union of the two Grand Lodges as ‘the happiest event of my life’.

Augustus was a very hands-on Grand Master, resolving ‘to rule as well as to reign’. He attended meetings of the special Lodge of Reconciliation (1813-1816), personally chaired the Board of General Purposes and was involved in the detail of all of the major Board decisions. The Union did not proceed quite as smoothly as it might appear from our vantage point, 200 years further on. Indeed, Augustus faced significant resistance to the changes necessary to bring together two proud organisations with similar aims and ceremonies, but with important differences.

Demonstrating his independent thinking, he was the first royal to be buried in a public graveyard. After his death on 21 April 1843, and following the instructions recorded in his will, he was laid to rest in Kensal Green Cemetery in North London. Such a humble choice of burial place by a royal prince required the permission of Queen Victoria. He had been the Queen’s favourite uncle and gave her away at her wedding to Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1840. The Spectator of 29 April 1843 wrote: ‘Her acquiescence in his selection of a place of burial may be received as an indication that she understood as well as loved him.’

Did you know?

The Duke was famed for his open-mindedness and liberal attitude, and he supported people of different religions

Did you know?

He was the first member of the royal family to be buried in a public graveyard – Kensal Green Cemetery in London

Words: Dr Lawrence Porter

Published in Features
Page 3 of 15

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