The Ipswich Treehouse Children's Hospice was formally opened by HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, Royal Patron, on 19 March 2012. The Province of Suffolk raised over £171,000 towards the £3m total cost to build and equip this new children’s hospice in Ipswich, for life-threatened children and their families in Suffolk & North Essex.
Barry Ross, Provincial Grand Master of Suffolk, stated: "We were absolutely delighted that we were able to support this very worthy cause in this way. Our Suffolk lodges really got behind this initiative and the magnificent total was raised in under two years. The Duchess was very charming and most impressed with the support given by Suffolk Freemasons”.
When England took control of Mauritius in 1810, first British governor and Freemason Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar brought unity to the island, writes Mary Allan
On the wall of the Mauritius Turf Club, the oldest turf club in the southern hemisphere, there is a portrait of a man in his prime. He sits framed between winged caryatids. His attire has a faded grandeur, while his expression is subdued, almost quizzical. Around his neck is a blue ribbon from which hangs a masonic jewel. The man is Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar, who in December 1810 became the first British governor of Mauritius after its capitulation by the French.
Born in 1776, Farquhar attended Westminster School, where in 1789 he became a King’s Scholar. Just before his seventeenth birthday, he left formal education and set sail for India, where he took up a position as a writer with the East India Company. It was the beginning of a career that saw him progress rapidly through the company until 1804 when he was installed as Lieutenant Governor of Prince of Wales Island (Penang). In 1810, Farquhar was declared Governor of Mauritius and, apart from one further home leave, spent more than a decade dealing with the problems of an island where French colonial ways continued much as before the British takeover.
Farquhar’s career has proved relatively easy to research but his masonic trail was harder to piece together, not least because it did not begin in India, where lodges were already in existence. Nor did Farquhar join at any other point in the Far East. Instead, he waited until his first home leave, when his brother, Thomas Harvie, an active member of the Lodge of Friendship, No. 3 (now No. 6) proposed his nomination on 11 December 1806. This ancient lodge, constituted in 1721, held its meetings at The Thatched House Tavern, St James’s Street, London, a mere stride from his brother’s No. 16 residence.
Farquhar’s initiation took place on 12 February 1807 and although he rarely attended masonic meetings over the next two years, records show that he went through his second and third degree ceremonies on the same day, 9 February 1809, prior to his return to India. Lodge minutes for May of that year state: ‘Robert Townsend Farquhar having sailed to India was ordered that he be considered an Honorary Member during his absence.’
Members of the lodge included HRH the Duke of Sussex, politicians, bankers and high-ranking military men, several of them noted as ‘abroad’. The lodge’s status is further emphasised by a donation of fifty guineas in 1812 towards a ‘jewel’ for Lord Moira to mark his service as Acting Grand Master.
Was the jewel among Lord Moira’s luggage when he visited Mauritius on his way to take up his new position as Governor-General of India in 1813? Did he wear it on 19 August when he, together with Farquhar and the island’s Freemasons, paraded through the capital, Port Louis, to lay the foundation stone of St Louis Cathedral?
a lodge in his honour
Farquhar had fully embraced the concept of Mauritian fraternity from the moment he stepped ashore on 4 December 1810. By 1816 the first British lodge had been founded, Faith and Loyalty, No. 676, and Farquhar was recognised as Provincial Grand Master.
There is no record of Farquhar attending his lodge when he returned on home leave between 1818 and 1820, but following his resignation from governorship in 1823 he signed the Tyler’s Book of the Lodge of Friendship, No. 3 on 11 December. This was his last appearance at the lodge and his subscription to the United Grand Lodge of England ceased in 1824. In the lodge notes on officers holding high rank, Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar of Bruton Street, London, is listed as Provincial Grand Master of Mauritius. His rank as ProvGM, patented 1811, is confirmed in the Masonic Year Book. This patent was awarded during Lord Moira’s term as Acting Grand Master on behalf of the Prince Regent.
In the 19th century the appointment of a Provincial Grand Master did not presuppose the existence of a lodge or lodges in the county or territory for which he was appointed. There are instances that show that an appointment of a Provincial Grand Master was occasionally simply ‘an honour conferred’ and nothing more. The issue of a Patent of Appointment was almost certainly all that was necessary for Farquhar to be established in the office.
In 2010, to mark the bicentenary of the British takeover of Mauritius and to honour the first British Governor and Provincial Grand Master, the then first Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Mauritius, Lindsay Descombes, consecrated a new lodge, Sir Robert Farquhar Research Lodge, No 16. In his inaugural speech, he saluted Farquhar for bringing unity to Mauritius: ‘History tells us that [Farquhar] did a remarkable job to bring entente cordiale, peace and understanding between the French settlers and the English rulers.’
Sir Robert Townsend Farquhar is the subject of a book, "The Man and the Island" by Michael and Mary Allan, which was published to coincide with the bicentenary of the British takeover of the island
When Hereford Cathedral gave thanks for the restoration of the Cathedral Close, it marked the fact in the printed Service of Celebration that Herefordshire masons were among the 15 acknowledged contributors to the work of restoration
The entries underline the support by Freemasons throughout the ages, making specific reference to the remodelling of the west front in 1908 following its collapse over a century earlier ‘which was made possible through the generosity of local Freemasons under the leadership of Dean James Leigh’.
The Very Reverend Hon. James Wentworth Leigh was Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire 1906-1923, and the Dean Leigh Masters’ Lodge was consecrated in December 1923. The west front of the cathedral has a representation of Dean James Leigh and a display of many masonic emblems. A donation of £15,000 from the Province and The Freemasons’ Grand Charity has been agreed for the Cathedral Refurbishment project.
Geoffrey Dearing has been installed as both Provincial Grand Master and Grand Superintendent of the Royal Arch in the Province of East Kent by Jonathan Spence, Deputy Grand Master and Past Second Grand Principal.
The two ceremonies took place at the Winter Gardens theatre and functions building in Margate. Jonathan Spence reminded the companions and brethren that East Kent is his home Province, being a member of Pentangle Chapter and Sir Joseph Williamson Lodge, both meeting at Rochester.
To mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding will make grants available up to £250,000 to non-masonic causes in its area
The Province was invited by the Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire, Dr Ingrid Roscoe, to become involved in the Diamond Jubilee. As the Province covers three Lord Lieutenancies, making grants that covered the entire vicinity was seen as an appropriate manner in which to mark the occasion.
Called the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Masonic Grants, £100,000 will be allocated to major grants and the rest will be for minor grants under £5,000. Provincial Grand Master John Clayton said, ‘It is fitting that an organisation such as the Freemasons, which instils a moral and ethical approach to life, should mark the occasion by making available these grants. In the past 25 years, the Province has given over £2.5m to support local non-masonic causes.’
Applications for grants, from recognised organisations, must have the support of a lodge or chapter in the Province.
Phase 1 of the rebuild at the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institution (RMBI) care home James Terry Court, in Croydon, has been officially opened. The event was attended by more than 40 representatives from the Province of Surrey, the Association of Friends and the RMBI.
RMBI President Willie Shackell opened the event and spoke about the history of the RMBI, which started in East Croydon with its first home, named ‘Asylum for Worthy, Aged and Decayed Freemasons’ in 1850. Shackell went on to explain why the rebuild of the home was necessary, as it needed to adapt to the changing needs of older people.
Thanks were given to Dennis Vine, who oversaw the development of the home in his role as Co-opted Trustee. Julian Birch, Regional Property Operations Manager, who sadly passed away in October, was remembered for all his efforts in the rebuild. The Association of Friends and the Province of Surrey, Metropolitan Grand Lodge, and the Province of Hampshire & Isle of Wight were also thanked for their support. The event saw the official opening of the lounge and library by Eric Stuart-Bamford.
In the winter sunshine, a donation of £2,772 was presented to St Michael’s Hospice as part of the continuing annual programme of support awarded by The Freemasons’ Grand Charity to hospice services throughout England and Wales. Freemasons have a long tradition of funding adult and children’s hospices, with the Grand Charity donating £9.3 million since 1984.
This ongoing support is of special significance to St Michael’s Hospice, Bartestree, as it continues to raise much needed awareness of the planned refurbishment and re-development of the Hospice which will maintain the Hospice’s national and international recognition as a provider of Specialist Palliative Care, and regional centre of excellence in the delivery of Palliative Care Education.
Individual Masonic Lodges in the Province of Herefordshire give additional support to St Michael’s Hospice throughout the year following the example and wishes of Right Worshipful Brother Rodney Smallwood, Provincial Grand Master for Herefordshire.
With only 10% of its expenditure received from the Primary Care Trust, St Michael’s Hospice has to raise over £3.5 million annually through charitable giving. Such is the responsibility of Ruth Denison, Head of Fundraising, and Chief Executive Nicky West.
Launched in 1986, the Relief Chest Scheme provides administrative support for the fundraising activities of masonic units. The Freemasons’ Grand Charity operates the scheme for free, enabling masonic organisations to manage their charitable donations more efficiently by offering individual chests that can be used to accumulate funds for charitable purposes. The scheme maximises the value of charitable donations by pooling funds to ensure that they earn the best possible rate of interest and by claiming Gift Aid relief on all qualifying donations. By taking on this administrative function the scheme saves valuable time and resources involved in lodge fundraising.
The scheme is particularly useful to Provinces running charitable fundraising campaigns, including festivals, with Provinces able to request that the Relief Chest Scheme open special chests. ‘Following our very successful 2010 RMBI Festival, we decided to maintain the culture of regular charitable giving by making use of the Relief Chest Scheme, which had not been previously used by our Province,’ explains Eric Heaviside, Durham Provincial Grand Master. ‘The scheme is a very efficient way to generate funds, as it not only makes giving regularly easy but also provides the opportunity for tax recovery via the Gift Aid allowances. All of this is professionally managed by the Relief Chest Department in The Freemasons’ Grand Charity office in London.’
With over four thousand chests, the scheme is helping Freemasons give charitable support to the people who need it most. Grahame Elliott, President of The Freemasons’ Grand Charity, explains how the scheme has evolved over the years, ‘When the idea for the Relief Chest Scheme was announced in September 1985, it was hoped that it would provide a simple and effective way for lodges to give to charity. Lodges would be able to give practical proof of an ever-increasing attachment to the first two of the grand principles on which our order is founded – brotherly love and relief. Twenty-five years later, it is clear to me that the scheme has successfully met these aims, evolving as an excellent way of helping lodges to spend less time on the administrative work involved in processing donations, giving them more time to spend on other important activities.’
With over £14 million donated to charitable causes via the Scheme in 2010, it is hoped that this success will continue, assisting the masonic community in its charitable giving for many years to come.
To find out more, go to www.grandcharity.org
| Provincial supporters
Provincial Grand Masters from around the UK give their experiences of working with the Relief Chest...
‘We opened our Relief Chest in the name of the Provincial Benevolent Association principally to take advantage of the Gift Aid tax reclaim facility. In addition, by utilising the expertise of the team we have been able to develop a much more efficient and thorough analysis of donations. The Province looks forward to our continuing association with the Relief Chest team and thanks them for their ongoing advice and assistance.’
Cambridgeshire Provincial Grand Master
‘Relief Chests have proved an immense boon to London charity stewards and treasurers in easing the administration of charitable giving. For our big appeals – the RMBI, the CyberKnife and the Supreme Grand Chapter’s 2013 Appeal – the support given by the Relief Chest team is vital.’
Metropolitan Grand Master
‘The record-breaking success of the 2011 Essex Festival for the Grand Charity was not only due to the generosity of the brethren, but also to the support we received from the Relief Chest Scheme. The scheme’s online reports and personal support made the tracking of donations, interest accumulated and Gift Aid recovery
a seamless operation for our administration.
That information enabled us to keep the lodges and brethren informed of their totals.’
Essex Provincial Grand Master
Relief chest breakdown
Who can receive a donation from a Relief Chest?
• Charities registered with the Charity Commission
• Any organisation holding charitable status
• Any individual in financial distress
The benefits provided by the Relief Chest Scheme:
• Interest added to your donation: A favourable interest rate is earned on funds held for each Chest and no tax is payable on interest earned
• Tax relief: The Gift Aid Scheme means HMRC gives 25p for every £1 donated to a Chest, where eligible
• Easy depositing: Make donations by direct debit, cheque and the Gift Aid Envelope Scheme
• Ease of donating to charities: Once a donation is authorised, the payment is made by the Relief Chest Scheme
• Free: There’s no direct cost to Relief Chest holders
• Easily accessible reports: Annual statements are provided, plus interim statements and subscribers’ lists are available upon request
• Additional help for Festival Relief Chests: Comprehensive performance projection reports and free customised stationery are available
Rodney Wolverson, Provincial Grand Master for Cambridgeshire, presented the cheque to Dr Carrie Herbert, chief executive of Red Balloon Learner Centres. Red Balloon centres are currently found in Cambridge, Merseyside, Norwich, Preston, London and Warwick. In addition, Red Balloon of the Air – a virtual balloon – is available for those children who cannot reach a centre.
Each of these centres provides intensive education and care for severely bullied children who are unable to attend mainstream secondary school. The centres help restore a young person’s confidence as well as helping them cope academically and socially. They are supported in their return to mainstream school, entry to further education or employment. At the centres, the students learn how to protect themselves from bullying, recognise when it happens to others and know ways of dealing with this kind of behaviour.
Dr Herbert said, ‘We are absolutely delighted to receive this generous donation. As we grow, it is important that the teachers and staff at each of our centres and the virtual Red Balloon are trained to the highest level to ensure we provide the best recovery programme for these severely bullied children. This grant enables us to do this.’
In March, brethren from Apollo University Lodge No. 359 (Oxford) and Loge Robert de Sorbon (Paris) attended a meeting at Freemasons’ Hall, Cambridge, followed at the June meeting with a friends and family garden party. The celebration of the anniversary was held in July, at which the principal guest was the Deputy Grand Master, Jonathan Spence.
The prime purpose of the meeting was to make the substantial charitable donations that the lodge had decided should be the main way in which it celebrated its anniversary year.
The lodge has donated £1,000 for each year of its existence, with £50,000 going to the Grand Charity through the Provincial Festival, £50,000 to other masonic charities and £50,000 to a number of non-masonic charities drawn from suggestions and requests from lodge members.
Past Masters of the lodge presented cheques to the Assistant Grand Master, David Williamson, the Metropolitan Grand Master, Russell Race, and to the Presidents of the Royal Masonic Benevolent Institute (RMBI), Masonic Samaritan Fund (MSF) and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB).
The Provincial Grand Master received the cheque for his Festival on behalf of the Grand Charity.