Formative years

The Masonic Charitable Foundation’s Chief Executive David Innes looks forward to the challenges ahead for the new charity

The creation of the new Masonic Charitable Foundation is a significant milestone in the evolution of benevolent support within and by the masonic community. I feel honoured to have been given the opportunity to lead this new charity during its formative years.

The logo of the Foundation depicts a charitable heart at the centre of our masonic square and compasses symbol. It is my belief that the Foundation should become instantly recognisable as a force for good by all masons and their families, as well as by the charity sector and public at large. We will all be working hard to ensure this happens.

The transition from four charities to one has the sole purpose of improving the services provided to our many stakeholders. The transition will be challenging, but the staff and trustees share my determination to prevent any disruption to our services. The needs of our beneficiaries will remain paramount. 

I look forward to reporting on the Foundation as it evolves and welcome your support.

‘It is my belief that the Foundation should become instantly recognisable as a force for good by all masons and their families.’ David Innes, CEO, Masonic Charitable Foundation

Instantly recognisable

To promote the launch of the new Masonic Charitable Foundation in April 2016, the charity has produced an exclusive lapel pin. The Foundation will bring together the work of the four central masonic charities into a single organisation, continuing to provide a wide range of support to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health and care, or family need. 

By wearing this new lapel pin, you can help spread the word about your new masonic charity. To request your lapel pin, simply subscribe to the Foundation’s mailing list at 

A better life

As the Masonic Charitable Foundation builds on a proud history laid down by the four charities, two families tell their stories about the masonic support they have received

When the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) launches in April, it will be the culmination of a major review that concluded last year as members of the four central masonic charities indicated their approval to consolidate their work under a new single organisation. 

While the Foundation is new, the grants it makes will continue to support people like Geoff and his family (pictured above). Geoff was an active Freemason from West Lancashire, who suffered two strokes. ‘It was the worst time of my life,’ he says. ‘I thought I wouldn’t leave hospital.’ 

Geoff’s daughter Sue explains that the support he received meant he could return home. ‘The masonic charities helped us with everything from physio to all the equipment we needed at home. It wasn’t just the grant, it was the fact that Dad could be with his family again. Without the masonic charities it would have been impossible for him to come home.’ 

Making an impact

That a simple grant can reunite a family is testament to the impact the charities have had on so many lives. The story of Caroline and her children, David and Louise (pictured above), is another moving example. The family received support from the masonic charities after the unexpected death of Caroline’s Freemason husband Tony in 2011. ‘We were on a family holiday and Tony became poorly,’ says Caroline. ‘We took him to the hospital and discovered that he had melanoma. Within six weeks we lost him.’

The family was naturally concerned about the future. ‘As a 13-year-old losing your dad, it’s a very unstable time,’ says Louise, now 17. ‘I knew things were going to change and that was a massive worry.’ While the charities could not undo the tragedy, they could ensure that David and Louise were not otherwise disadvantaged.

Community support

‘The masonic charities helped David and Louise with their education,’ says Caroline. ‘David is now at the University of Oxford and Louise is applying for university thanks to them.’

Geoff, Caroline and their families are typical of the tens of thousands of masonic families who have received support from the charities. The launch of the Foundation will ensure that the same support continues to be available long into the future. The combined amount awarded by the previous charities to non-masonic causes in recent years has exceeded £3 million annually and the Foundation will continue to award a similar amount.

In 2014 a survey of Freemasons identified the causes that matter most to the membership. As a result, the Foundation’s community grant-making will focus on education and employability; financial hardship; health and disability; and social exclusion and disadvantage. Grants will also continue to be awarded to support hospices, air ambulance and rescue services, worldwide disaster relief appeals, and medical and social research for charities such as Anthony Nolan, which works to save the lives of those with blood cancer and blood disorders. 

‘The support has enabled us to launch a project to improve survival and quality of life for transplant patients’, says Henny Braund, Anthony Nolan’s chief executive. The Foundation will award its first round of grants to charities over the coming months.

‘Dad could be with his family again. Without the masonic charities it would have been impossible.’ 

A stronger platform

The new Foundation also faces the challenge of combining fundraising activities. With only one central charity to support, new donations will be used to fund the full range of grant-making. 

Later this year, one of the first Festivals in support of the Foundation will be launched in the Province of Buckinghamshire. ‘I am delighted that our 2021 Festival will be on behalf of the MCF,’ says Gordon Robertson, Provincial Grand Master. The Provinces of West Lancashire, Worcestershire and Essex will also launch Festivals for the Foundation over the next few years.

The new launch is exciting news. At its heart, however, the Foundation will continue a mission that is centuries old – using the generous donations of Freemasons to care for families like those of Geoff and Caroline.

The MCF’s Chief Executive David Innes shares his vision for the charity here

Business as usual

The MCF will become one of the largest charities in the country, assisting thousands of people each year as well as awarding millions of pounds to charities and medical research programmes.

Bringing together four charities is not easy, but Freemasons can be reassured that the Foundation will continue to provide the same types of support as currently available.

The Foundation will be in a position to offer an even wider range of grants. Support will continue to take the form of financial grants, along with advice and practical support.

An essential guide to the Masonic Charitable Foundation can be found here

Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer of Masonic Charitable Foundation announced

In his speech at today's Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes confirmed the appointments of first Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer for the newly formed MCF.

Peter Lowndes: David Innes of the RMBI has been selected as the Foundation’s first Chief Executive and Les Hutchinson of the RMTGB has been appointed Chief Operating Officer. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge about masonic charity and are well placed to lead the Foundation. I believe it is important to note that they faced strong competition for these jobs from outside the masonic charities.

Wednesday, 09 December 2015 12:17

Pro Grand Master's address - December 2015

Quarterly Communication

9 December 2015 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, I am so pleased to see the excellent turnout today and I would like to extend a very special welcome to those of you attending a Quarterly Communication for the first time. It was four years ago that we decided to admit Master masons to our Quarterly Communications meetings and the number who attend indicate that it has been a popular decision. Whilst you cannot vote, I hope it is still a worthwhile visit and that you will continue to come and encourage others to join you.

Since the last Quarterly Communication in September, the Grand Master celebrated his eightieth birthday on 9th October. On behalf of all of the members of the United Grand Lodge of England, a message of congratulations was sent.

2015 has been a very busy year. The particular emphasis has been on honing the initiatives to keep us in line with the overall mission to build a positive reputation for Freemasonry and assure its long term future.

Fundamental to ensuring that long term future has been the development of a clear strategy. The Membership Focus Group, supported by 18,000 responses from members to the recent surveys, has shaped this strategy which, in turn, has been approved by the Rulers and by the Provincial Grand Masters. The strategy concentrates on our vision and our values. Our 2020 strategic objectives are attached to the front cover of the latest edition of Freemasonry Today. 

This enables all our members to read the strategy, it also asks members to help in supporting both the strategy and the objectives. To be clear, this strategy can only be achieved with the support of the vast majority of the members.

Concurrently the Tercentenary Planning Committee has been making great progress whilst liaising with Provincial Grand Masters, Provincial Grand Secretaries and Provincial 2017 Representatives. The majority of Provinces have advised the Planning Committee of the main events that are being planned locally – sometimes with neighbouring Provinces. I am very encouraged by the level of enthusiasm which is being shown as we approach the United Grand Lodge of England’s 300th milestone celebration. 

I am delighted to confirm that the Charity Commission has formally approved the establishment of the Masonic Charitable Foundation. This has taken a long time to achieve and was a complicated operation overseen by the Deputy Grand Master and with most able help from the Charity Presidents, Chief Executives and Boards of Trustees We should all be most grateful to them for their hard work.

Preparations for the launch of the Masonic Charitable Foundation in April 2016 are continuing. A shadow board and various committees have been formed and during the past few weeks the first senior staff appointments have been made. David Innes of the RMBI has been selected as the Foundation’s first Chief Executive and Les Hutchinson of the RMTGB has been appointed Chief Operating Officer. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge about masonic charity and are well placed to lead the Foundation. I believe it is important to note that they faced strong competition for these jobs from outside the masonic charities.

In advance of April’s launch, publicity about the Masonic Charitable Foundation will be increased throughout the Craft and beyond. As you leave today you will be handed a simple leaflet which introduces you to the identity and approach of the new charity.

Brethren, I am delighted to announce that the Most Worshipful The Grand Master in his capacity as First Grand Principal has appointed Excellent Companion Gareth Jones, Past Deputy Grand Sword Bearer, who is better known in the Craft as Provincial Grand Master for South Wales, to succeed Most Excellent Companion David Williamson as Third Grand Principal in Supreme Grand Chapter, with effect from the Annual Royal Arch Investiture on 28 April 2016. On that day I hope to have the pleasure of installing him. The contribution made by ME Comp Williamson in his capacity as Third Grand Principal for five years has been colossal, as, indeed, his contribution has been throughout masonry, but more about that on another occasion. 

Brethren, it only remains for me to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas. In recent times, brethren, we have tended to refer to Christmas as the Festive Season. In Paris last weekend at the GLNF we were wished a Happy Christmas by the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of the State of Israel during his speech in GLNF and afterwards I was wished the same by several brethren from other religious backgrounds. They all consider us to be grossly over sensitive on the subject. So, Happy Christmas, everyone!


Published in Speeches

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

9 December 2015 
Report of the Board of General Purposes


The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge of 9 September 2015 were confirmed. 

Annual Investiture of Grand Officers (27 April 2016)

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.

Masonic Year Book

The next edition of the Masonic Year Book, 2016–2017, will be available next summer. the charge will be £14 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 2016. Copies of the 2015 edition will still be available from Letchworth’s Shop.

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. As in previous years copies will be dispatched direct to Secretaries of lodges. 

Prestonian Lectures for 2016

The Board has considered applications for the delivery of the official Prestonian Lectures in 2016 and has decided that these should be given under the auspices of the following:

Zetland and Hong Kong Lodge No. 7665 (London)
Bristol Installed Masters Lodge No. 8168 (Bristol)
Temple of Athene Lodge No. 9541 (Middlesex)

The lecturer, W Bro Dr R.A. Berman, states that the title of the lecture will be: Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation

The MW The Grand Master has approved the name “The Masonic Charitable Foundation” as the title for the new umbrella organisation under which the existing main masonic charities will operate from 2016. He has also agreed that the President and Deputy President of the new charity should take precedence among the Grand Officers immediately after Past Grand Chancellors. The Board accordingly recommends a number of amendments which will be required to the rules in the Book of Constitutions and to the plates in the Appendix. The Board has also noted several existing anomalies particularly in the numbering and descriptions of the plates and recommends that the present opportunity be used to correct these.

Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared on the Paper of Business.

Lodge Minutes

It has been brought to the attention of the Board that many lodges are less meticulous than was formerly the case in recording, and subsequently preserving, minutes of their meetings. Rule 144 of the Book of Constitutions requires every lodge to keep a minute book and lays upon the Master or the Secretary the duty of regularly entering the names and particulars of all candidates, together with the names – and, in the case of visitors, their lodges and masonic ranks – of all those present at each meeting, and minutes of the business transacted. Any deficiency in this respect will inevitably have an impact on those who in later years may be charged with the duty of writing lodge histories and may even in an extreme case prevent a lodge from being able to establish its entitlement to a Centenary or Bi-Centenary Warrant. The Board therefore trusts that the Grand Lodge will endorse the following guidance which, apart from being largely a matter of common sense also draws in some respects on previous edicts of the Grand Lodge.

1. Every care should be taken to ensure the permanence of minutes or other records. In the present context a “Minute Book” is a permanently bound volume in which the particulars required by Rule 144 are entered either in handwriting or by affixing sheets by means of permanent glue or gum (and not by means of adhesive tape, which deteriorates over time and loses its effectiveness). A loose-leaf folder or binder is not a suitable substitute for a bound book and the Board recommends, for the avoidance of any doubt, that such folders and binders be not used.

2. Rule 144 is not complied with by keeping minutes exclusively or partly in electronic form. The Board feels impelled to point out that, apart from the inherent risk of corruption of electronic data, the software necessary to read an electronic document is liable to become obsolete within a relatively short time.

3. Where minutes are handwritten, record ink or some other permanent ink should be used.

4. No valid objection can be raised to the use of a typewriter or a word-processor, provided that each typed or printed sheet is irremovably affixed to the Minute Book and initialled by the Secretary before being submitted for confirmation by the lodge. Care should, however, be exercised in ensuring that the ink or other printing medium used in producing such sheets is itself permanent in nature and is not liable to deterioration in the conditions in which Minute Books are stored.

5. Similarly, loose attendance sheets may legitimately be used to record the signatures of members or visitors present at lodge meetings in numbers beyond the capacity of the normal signature or attendance book. The Board is of opinion that the requirements of the second part of Rule 144, Book of Constitutions, are met if these sheets are irremovably affixed to the minutes of the meeting to which they refer, provided that each sheet is initialled by the Master or secretary. In stating this opinion the Board does not wish to encourage the use of loose sheets to the exclusion of signature books, which serve a useful purpose as a record of the attendance of officers and distinguished visitors. The use of a signature book, however, does not obviate, and never has obviated, the need for the names and details of all those present at a meeting to be entered into the Minute Book: it cannot be too heavily stressed that all names appearing in the signature book must continue to be recorded in the body of the minutes.

6. Lodges are advised to take steps for the permanent housing of lodge records which have ceased to be of day-to-day use. The Board suggests that in order to ensure that future office holders or historians are aware of where the records have been deposited, a comprehensive list be placed in the current Minute book and transferred to its successor when its turn comes to be laid up in safe-keeping.


The Board has received reports that the following lodges have resolved to surrender their Warrants:

(a) Bergnet Lodge, No. 6841, in order to amalgamate with Mimmine Lodge, No. 4932 (Hertfordshire); and
(b) Shrewsbury Lodge, No. 7211, in order to amalgamate with Wentworth Lodge, no. 1239 (Yorkshire, West Riding).

The Board's recommendation that the lodges be removed from the register in order to effect the respective amalgamations was approved.

Erasure of lodges

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

Lodge of Perseverance, No. 371 (Cumberland and Westmorland), Unity Lodge, No. 1637 (Middlesex), Bushey Hall Lodge, No. 2323 (Hertfordshire), Amatole Lodge, No. 2406 (South Africa, Eastern Division), Robert Mitchell Lodge, No. 2956 (Middlesex), Unity Lodge, No. 3044 (South Africa, Eastern Division) Vulcan Lodge, No. 3181 (London), Rebunie Lodge, No. 4279 (South Africa, Western Division), St Richard’s Lodge, No. 4469 (Sussex), Dulwich Lodge, No. 4616 (Surrey).

Beverley Lodge, No. 5006 (Surrey), Septem Lodge, No. 5887 (Surrey), Lodge of the Open Road, No. 5983 (London), Lodge of Meditation, No. 6747 (London), Perfect Ashlar Lodge, No. 6951 (Surrey), Legion Lodge, No. 8634 (Northumberland) and Harbour Lights Lodge, No. 8770 (Sussex).

The Board's recommendation that they be erased was approved.

Quarterly Communication meetings

9 March 2016, 27 April 2016 (Annual Investiture), 8 June 2016, 14 September 2016, 14 December 2016 and 8 March 2017.

Supreme Grand Chapter meetings

28 April 2016, 9 November 2016, 27 April 2017.

Published in UGLE

Giving continuity

Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes explains how the new Masonic Charitable Foundation will offer support and services to those who need help

 In December 2014, I announced that the Grand Master’s Council and the Provincial Grand Masters’ Forum had endorsed proposals from the charities to consolidate the activities of the four central masonic charities. Subsequently, the proposals were endorsed by the Grand Master, and over the past nine months all four charities have launched consultations with their members. 

Should the members of each of the charities endorse the proposals, it is anticipated that a new charity will become operational on 1 April 2016. This new charity, subject to legal approvals, will be called the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). 

The MCF will continue to offer the same services to those Freemasons and family members who need help, as well as providing support for the non-masonic charitable causes that the Craft wishes to assist. Thus, continuity of our charitable giving will be achieved. The new charity will also continue to rely on the generosity of Freemasons for its funds, and the Festival system will transition in favour of the new charity over the next few years.

A shadow board comprising trustees from the existing charities has met and will, with the existing charities, oversee the creation of the new charity. The board has elected James Newman as interim chairman and Michael Heenan as interim treasurer. These changes will require amendments to the Book of Constitutions with formal notice of those amendments being brought to the December meeting of Grand Lodge.

‘The new masonic charity will be one of the largest charitable foundations in the country.’

Bringing the existing masonic charities together means that the trustees will be responsible for one of the largest charitable foundations in the country – a tremendous achievement and something of which we can all be proud.

When talking about our charities, I am inevitably reminded of Iain Bryce who so sadly died in July. Apart from his dedication to our masonic charities, he was also a long-serving treasurer of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. I first met him at his installation as Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings in 1984. When Iain became involved in something, he gave it his full attention. 

I am sure that all the charity presidents who were in office during his time as Deputy Grand Master will have benefited enormously from his wise counsel. He was passionate about all of the charities and held strong views on their management. I shall miss him greatly and I know that I am far from alone in that.

Tuesday, 08 December 2015 00:00

The history of the four masonic charities

A history of giving

We trace the origins of the four masonic charities that have come together to form the new Masonic Charitable Foundation

The four masonic charities have been integral to the Craft, providing crucial support to Freemasons, their families and the wider community. However, the existence of four separate organisations – each with its own distinct processes for providing support – hindered the development of a truly joined-up and consistent approach. After much consideration it has therefore been decided to launch a major new charity, the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF). From 1 April 2016, the Foundation will take over the work of the central masonic charities, providing a wide range of grants to Freemasons and their families who have a financial, health or care need. The Foundation will also award grants to other charities, medical research studies and disaster relief appeals. 

The Foundation will ensure that the masonic charitable support network, which has provided assistance for centuries, remains fit for purpose and able to adapt to the needs of new generations. As we look to the future, it is worth remembering how the current four charities have evolved and how, under the banner of the MCF, cradle-to-grave support will remain in place for Freemasons and their dependants.

The Freemasons’ Grand Charity

Soon after the Grand Master’s installation in 1967, he commissioned a review of the masonic charities. It recommended that a new central charity be established to contribute to society as a whole, befitting the importance and scale of English Freemasonry. In 1980, the Grand Charity was established. It also assumed responsibility for UGLE’s Board of Benevolence, whose origins were found in the first Committee of Charity of Grand Lodge, formed in 1725. 

With grants totalling more than £120 million, the Grand Charity has improved the lives of thousands of masons and their dependants, and has made extensive contributions to wider society, funding the causes that are important to members of the Craft. It has enabled Provinces to demonstrate their commitment to local communities through matched giving schemes, grants to The Scout Association and millions in hospice and Air Ambulance giving. Its multimillion-pound research funding has aided numerous medical breakthroughs. 

The Grand Charity has brought far-reaching benefits to masonic fundraising by establishing the Relief Chest Scheme to promote efficient and tax-effective giving. The Craft has saved thousands of pounds in administration costs and donations have been significantly increased through Gift Aid. The scheme has also enabled members to come together following worldwide disasters, funding recovery projects in devastated areas on behalf of Freemasonry as a whole. Indeed, £1 million was raised following the 2004 Asian tsunami.

Through the Grand Charity’s giving, thousands have felt the positive impact of masonic charity and over the past 35 years in particular, Freemasonry has increasingly been seen publicly as a philanthropic leader, supporting many great causes.

Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys

From its origins as a school for girls, the RMTGB has worked for over 227 years to relieve poverty and advance the education of thousands of children from masonic families across the UK, as well as tens of thousands of children from wider society. The Trust has spent over £130 million on charitable support over the past 15 years alone.

In 1788, Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini established the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, supporting 15 daughters of distressed or deceased Freemasons. A provision for boys was introduced soon after, and over the next 200 years the institutions’ schools expanded and relocated. Eventually, the boys’ school closed, the girls’ school became independent, and the trustees focused on supporting children at schools near their own homes. 

In 1982, the boys’ and girls’ institutions came together to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys, later the RMTGB. 

Over time, the Trust moved from fixed financial grants to packages of support tailored to each family’s circumstances. Innovative schemes were also introduced for youngsters with specific talents and needs. 

The Trust’s support also extends beyond the masonic community. In 1988, £100,000 was awarded to Great Ormond Street Hospital, with major grants given ever since. Since the launch of the Stepping Stones non-masonic grant-making scheme in 2010, almost £1 million has been awarded to charities that aim to reduce the impact of poverty on education. The Trust also provides premises and support services for Lifelites, which equips children’s hospices across the British Isles with fun, assistive technology. Established as the Trust’s Millennium Project, Lifelites became an independent charity in 2006.

Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution

The RMBI cares for older Freemasons and their families, as well as people in the community. The history of the charity dates back to 1842 when UGLE inaugurated the Royal Masonic Benevolent Annuity Fund for men, followed by the Female Annuity Fund in 1849. The first home was opened the following year and the RMBI was officially established. In the early 1960s, provision was extended to non-annuitants and between 1960 and 1986, a further 13 homes were set up. The RMBI now provides a home for more than 1,000 people across England and Wales, while supporting many more.

At the heart of the RMBI is the commitment to deliver services that uphold an individual’s dignity. Its Experiential Learning training programme requires all new carers to complete a series of practical scenarios in order to better understand residents and has even received national news coverage for its unique approach. The RMBI is also recognised for its excellence in specialist dementia care services, which are increasingly in demand. Nine RMBI homes have been awarded Butterfly Service status, a national quality-of-life ‘kitemark’, by Dementia Care Matters

None of this could be achieved without a dedicated team, and an RMBI staff member recently received the Care Trainer Award at the 2015 Great British Care Awards in recognition of such commitment. The support and time given by each home’s Association of Friends is also a unique part of the RMBI. The associations – volunteer groups of local masons that work to complement resident services – are independently registered charities and their efforts over the years have ranged from fundraising for home minibuses and resident day trips, to sensory gardens and home entertainment.

Masonic Samaritan Fund

The Royal Masonic Hospital and its predecessor, the Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home, had a Samaritan Fund to support masons and their families who could not afford the cost of private medical treatment. In 1990 the MSF was established to take on the role of this fund, and in its early years benefited from many very generous donations, including a grant from the Grand Charity, and the highly successful Cornwallis and London Festival appeals.

Thanks to the support of Freemasons and their families, the MSF has been able to expand the assistance it provides to cater for the evolving health and care needs of its beneficiaries. In addition to funding medical treatment or surgery, grants are available to support respite breaks for carers, to restore dental function, to aid mobility and to provide access to trained counsellors.

Since 2010 the MSF has provided grants to major medical research projects. Notable successes have included enhancing the diagnosis of prostate cancer and Alzheimer’s as well as support for those suffering from macular degeneration.  

Each year the MSF helps more masonic families fund the health and care support they need to live healthy and independent lives. Since 1990 more than 12,000 Freemasons and their family members have been helped at a total cost of over £67 million.

Funded entirely through the generous donations of the masonic community, the Masonic Charitable Foundation will seek to continue the excellent work of the central masonic charities and be able to respond more effectively to the changing needs of masonic families and other charitable organisations. For more information, go to


Charting the history of the four masonic charities

1725   The premier Grand Lodge sets up the Committee of Charity

1788  The Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School for Female Objects, named after the Duchess of Cumberland, is founded by Chevalier Bartholomew Ruspini

1789  The first anniversary of the Royal Cumberland Freemasons’ School is celebrated with a church service and dinner. Collections are taken, making this the first fundraising ‘festival’ for a masonic charity

1798  Inspired by Ruspini’s achievements, William Burwood and the United Mariners Lodge establish a fund to support the sons of Freemasons

1814  Soon after the union of the Grand Lodges, the Committee of Charity joins with other committees relieving hardship among masons to become the Board of Benevolence

1850  The Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) is established, and the first RMBI home opens in East Croydon 

1904  ‘Out-relief’ is introduced so that those not admitted to the masonic schools can receive grants to support their education elsewhere

1914  It is decided that the daughters of serving Freemasons who die or are incapacitated during WWI should receive a grant of £25 per year

1920  The Freemasons’ Hospital and Nursing Home opens

1933  The Royal Masonic Hospital opens at Ravenscourt Park

1934  The girls’ school moves to Rickmansworth Park. The school is officially opened by HM Queen Mary with 5,000 ladies and brethren in attendance

1966  Devonshire Court opens in Oadby, Leicestershire 

1967  Scarbrough Court opens in Cramlington, Northumberland

1968  Prince George Duke of Kent Court opens in Chislehurst, Kent

1971  Connaught Court opens in Fulford, York 

1973  The Bagnall Report recommends that the boys’ school is closed and that the girls’ school becomes independent 

1973  Lord Harris Court opens in Sindlesham, Berkshire, and Albert Edward Prince of Wales Court opens in Porthcawl, Mid Glamorgan

1977  Ecclesholme opens in Eccles, Manchester, and  The Tithebarn opens in Great Crosby, Liverpool

1979  Queen Elizabeth Court opens in Llandudno, Conwy

1980  The Grand Charity is established

1980  James Terry Court opens in Croydon, Surrey 

1981  Cornwallis Court opens in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk

1982  The masonic institutions for girls and boys merge their activities to form the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys 

1983  Zetland Court opens in Bournemouth, Dorset 

1984  Grand Charity hospice support begins

1986  The Grand Charity establishes the Relief Chest Scheme

1986  Cadogan Court opens in Exeter, South Devon 

1990  The Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) is established, assisted by a £1.2 million grant from the Grand Charity  

1992  275th anniversary of Grand Lodge 

1992  The Grand Charity awards more than £2 million to charities that care for people with learning difficulties

1994  UGLE recommends that all masonic organisations adopt the Relief Chest Scheme

1994  Prince Michael of Kent Court opens in Watford, Hertfordshire

1994  The Cornwallis Appeal raises £3.2 million for the MSF

1995  Shannon Court opens in Hindhead, Surrey 

1996  Barford Court opens in Hove, East Sussex

1997  Total annual expenditure for Masonic Relief Grants exceeds £2 million for the first time

1998  Prince Edward Duke of Kent Court opens in Braintree, Essex

1999  To commemorate the millennium, the Grand Charity donates more than £2 million to good causes

1999  Lifelites is established by the Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys as a Millennium Project to provide assistive and educational technology packages for children’s hospices across the British Isles

1999  The London Festival Appeal for the MSF raises £10.6 million

2000  Following the abolition of Local Authority student grants, the Trust establishes an undergraduate aid scheme to support disadvantaged young people at university. Almost 500 students are assisted during the first year of the scheme, rising to almost 1,000 by 2003

2001  The TalentAid scheme is introduced by the Trust to support young people with an exceptional talent in music, sport or the arts, with 75 supported in the first year

2003  The Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys becomes the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB)

2004  The Grand Charity donates £1 million for research into testicular and prostate cancers

2005  More than £1 million is donated by Freemasons and the Grand Charity to help with recovery efforts following the Asian tsunami

2006  Lifelites becomes a registered charity

2007  Special funding for Air Ambulances begins

2008  All four central masonic charities move into shared office space in Freemasons’ Hall, London

2008  The Grand Charity donates £500,000 to The Scout Association, enabling more than 23,000 young people to join, and £1 million to Ovarian Cancer Action

2008  Scarbrough Court reopens in Cramlington,  Northumberland (rebuilt on its original site)

2008  The MSF makes its first grant in support of medical research, and respite care grants are introduced

2010  Stepping Stones, the RMTGB’s non-masonic grant-making scheme, is introduced to support disadvantaged youngsters 

2010  MSF dental care grants are introduced

2013  James Terry Court reopens in Croydon, Surrey (rebuilt on its original site)

2013  The MSF Counselling Careline service launches

2015  Following a 30-year partnership, the Grand Charity’s grants to the British Red Cross now exceed £2 million

2015  The MSF marks its 25th anniversary by awarding over £1 million for medical research 

2016  The four masonic charities join together to form the Masonic Charitable Foundation

Letters to the Editor - No. Spring 2016


I was surprised and delighted to see a photo in the winter 2015 edition of Freemasonry Today of a group of nurses at the Royal Masonic Hospital taken in 1958. The group includes my wife on the right at the end of the patient’s bed. I can still name several of the other nurses.

At the time, I was an undergraduate at Cambridge and I frequently travelled to see her at the hospital nurses’ home at Ravenscourt Park. I am pleased to say that we are still happily married after 53 years.

Tony Kallend, Isaac Newton University Lodge, No. 859, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Published in Freemasonry Cares

Get your new lapel pin badge!

To promote the launch of the Masonic Charitable Foundation in April next year, an exclusive lapel pin has been produced!

To receive yours, complete the subscription form on the new website here: 

Masonic Charitable Foundation – A new charity for Freemasons, for families, for everyone

The Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes has announced that a new charity called the Masonic Charitable Foundation is to be established, bringing together the charitable activities of the four existing central masonic charities.

At Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge on Wednesday, 9 September, the Pro Grand Master said: 

'The Masonic Charitable Foundation will continue to offer the same support and services to those Freemasons and family members who need help, as well as support for the non-masonic charitable causes that the Craft wishes to assist.

The Masonic Charitable Foundation will be one of the largest charities in the country and will rely on the generosity of Freemasonry for its funds.

It is anticipated that the Masonic Charitable Foundation will be registered with the Charity Commission as soon as possible and that it will begin making grants from 1 April 2016. The proposals remain subject to the approval of some existing charity members.

A shadow board of trustees comprising individuals from the existing charities is overseeing the creation of the new charity and the transition into a single organisation. 

Further information about the Masonic Charitable Foundation will be made available over the next few months.

Please visit for more information.

You can also find the Foundation on Facebook and Twitter.

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