14 March 2018
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Brethren, it is always a pleasure to see this magnificent temple as full as it is today, although it is hardly surprising bearing in mind the special nature of today’s meeting. Our Provinces and Districts, as well as those involved here at the centre, have taken a great deal of trouble in identifying those brethren most deserving of the honour that they have received today. I hope it has been a very special day for them and I really do congratulate and thank them. As always brethren, whilst congratulations are very much in order for all that you have done, particularly during the Tercentenary year, it also raises great expectations for your endeavours in the future.
We also have the Soane Ark back with us today. As those of you who were at the Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall, (or those of you who read Freemasonry Today) will know, the original of this beautiful mahogany piece, the “Ark of the Masonic Covenant”, was made by Bro Sir John Soane in 1813. It was dedicated at the great celebration marking the Union of the Ancient and Modern Grand Lodges in 1813 and the Articles of Union were deposited inside.
It was tragically destroyed by fire in 1883, but UGLE commissioned an exact replica for our Tercentenary, which was dedicated at the Royal Albert Hall in October. Then, as in 1813, we placed a facsimile of the Articles of Union inside it, as well as the “Three Great Lights”.
It was on public display at the Soane Museum in Lincoln’s Inn Fields for the months after the Royal Albert Hall celebration, but now it has returned to its intended place in Grand Lodge. Triangular in form, it has at each corner a column of the Ionic, Doric and Corinthian order representing Wisdom, Strength and Beauty, the three great pillars on which our lodges, including this Grand Lodge, are said to stand.
I am sure that it will grace our Grand Lodge meetings for centuries to come.
We have become only too well aware of the term 'fake news' in recent times and we began this year with our own encounter with 'fake news'. Many of you will have seen the coverage generated by the outgoing Chairman of the Police Federation and the Guardian newspaper and I trust you will have also seen our responses. Let me assure you that UGLE will always stand up for its members, their integrity and their care for the communities from which they are drawn. It is my firm belief that policemen are better policemen for their membership of our proud organisation. However, it is not just policemen who can benefit from membership – lawyers, public servants and indeed all men benefit from the teaching our ceremonies have to offer, and the time has come for the organisation to stand up and make these points loudly and clearly. Enough, brethren is enough.
I have said it before and I say again I strongly believe that the future is bright for Freemasonry. We created a bow wave of optimism last year which produced a surge of interest in the Craft. We must now ensure that we maintain the momentum created and build on that legacy, and we will.
This year is very much a year of change, particular of key personalities both here and in the Provinces and Districts. On your behalf I welcome Geoffrey Dearing to his first Quarterly Communication as President of the Board of General Purposes and, in April, David Staples, our CEO will become our new youthful and dynamic Grand Secretary, bringing together all the activities here in Freemasons’ Hall. Already this year we have installed two new PGMs as well as new DGMs in New Zealand South Island and SA Western Division. Both John Clark from Buckinghamshire and Anthony Howlett-Bolton from Berkshire are able to be present and I welcome them to their first Quarterly Communication as Provincial Grand Masters. We now start a steady stream of installations: nine Provincial Grand Masters and ten District Grand Masters, plus many Grand Superintendents in the Royal Arch. This will keep the Rulers in both the Craft and Royal Arch busy this year as we catch up on the backlog.
Although we have plenty of ceremonial work to do, I am also keen that we continue to visit Provinces and Districts in a less formal way. We are here to provide help and support and we must show it.
This year, as you know, is the 100th Anniversary of the end of the First World War – 'The Great War'. I have no doubt that many of you will be commemorating this, as appropriate in your area. This building was built to commemorate those masons who lost their lives in that war. It was called the Masonic Peace Memorial Building, but changed its name at the outbreak of the Second World War to Freemasons’ Hall. We shall commemorate the end of the First World War on 10th November 2018 under the auspices of Victoria Rifles Lodge and I am sure it will be an impressive occasion.
Brethren, I hope that today has been a memorable event for those I have invested. Many congratulations, once again, and remember there is no resting on your laurels.
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
14 March 2018
Report of the Board of General Purposes
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
13 December 2017
RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing to be appointed President of the Board of General Purposes
At today's Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, the Pro Grand Master, MW Bro Peter Lowndes, announced that the Grand Master has appointed RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing as President of the Board of General Purposes in succession to RW Bro Anthony Wilson.
RW Bro Geoffrey Dearing is the Provincial Grand Master of East Kent.
13 December 2017
Announcement regarding the President of the Board of General Purposes
I now have to announce that, at his request, the President of the Board of General Purposes will retire at the end of December this year.
It is with great regret that I have accepted this, and the Grand Master is pleased to appoint Geoffrey Dearing, PGM of East Kent, as President in his place.
Anthony has been President of the Board for the last 13 years and as President of the Committee of General Purposes for three years before that.
He was instrumental in reducing the Board to a more manageable size and making it more effective, efficient and fit for the purpose. At our Quarterly Communication meetings, he always manages to ensure that the Board’s Report is succinct, yet comprehensive, and his presentations cover all the salient points.
Anthony, we will miss your charm, easy manner of address and your wise counsel. On behalf of the Craft we owe you our most sincere and grateful thanks. Enjoy your retirement.
Pro Grand Master
13 December 2017
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
Well Brethren, what a year, and if you are anything like me you are looking forward to putting up your feet over the Festive Season, and actually reconnecting with your family. Having said that it has been an enormous privilege to have been Pro GM during the Tercentenary year and I am sure that the Deputy and Assistant GMs will echo that sentiment in respect of their important contributions.
I do not propose to give you a résumé of the whole year. That would be impossible and you would never get to lunch. At the outset Provinces and Districts were asked to concentrate on coming up with events in their own jurisdiction which their Brethren could join in and enjoy. Dare I say, Brethren, they all did this in spades and I include our Groups of Lodges in that. Quite rightly there was often a significant charitable aspect to these events. I should add here that this was greatly enhanced by the imaginative input from the MCF with their multitude of grants across the Provinces. The Rulers and Past Rulers have endeavoured to meet your requests and you, Brethren, wherever we have been, have looked after us with incredible kindness and generosity, thank you so much.
Since our last Communication, we have had the Grand Ball and our major celebratory event at The Royal Albert Hall, at the end of October.
The events of the 29th to 31st October were a resounding success and I must congratulate and single out Keith Gilbert and his team for the superb administrative arrangements throughout. Diane Clements and the Museum staff who managed to collect, catalogue and display the many gifts brought by the 133 Grand Masters from around the world amazingly quickly, I think in under one hour! These are now all displayed in the Museum. And, finally, to James Long and his team who took us all by surprise at the Royal Albert Hall with an amazing and uplifting performance of Masonry across the three Centuries. The whole “London” experience was way beyond, certainly, my expectations and from the comments we have had since, it all simply astounded our hundreds of visitors from overseas. Well done indeed.
Brethren, has there ever been a better time to be a Freemason. I really believe that during the year we have learned so much about how to talk about our Freemasonry with non-members, helped enormously by the Sky Documentary which has opened our eyes and made the general public more receptive. I would love us to have had more editorial control over the end product, but that would, perhaps, have defeated the object. Nonetheless I think we can go forward from here with enormous self belief and pride
We look forward now to 2018, continuing the work of the Improvement Delivery Group and capitalising on the successes of this year, rewarding those who have worked so hard throughout the current year at our March Communications and remembering the fact that it is 100 years since the end of WW1 after which this magnificent building was built as the Masonic Peace Memorial to recognise the sacrifice of over 3,000 English Freemasons who fell in that war.
Brethren, thank you for all your endeavours this year and I wish you a most enjoyable and relaxing Christmas with your families and send you all my good wishes for 2018.
HM The Queen and HRH Prince Philip’s Platinum Wedding Anniversary
At today's Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge, the Pro Grand Master, MW Bro Peter Lowndes, informed Grand Lodge and the Craft as a whole of the following exchange of letters that had taken place in connection with Her Majesty The Queen’s 70th Wedding Anniversary:
All Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England send loyal and heartfelt congratulations to Your Majesty and His Royal Highness on the occasion of your Platinum Wedding Anniversary.
[signed] EDWARD, Grand Master
Her Majesty graciously replied in the following terms:
The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh send their sincere thanks to you and all Freemasons under the United Grand Lodge of England for your kind message of congratulations on the occasion of their seventieth Wedding Anniversary.
Her Majesty and His Royal Highness much appreciated your thoughtfulness in writing as you did and, in return, send their warm good wishes to you all.
[signed] Edward Young
Private Secretary to The Queen
Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge
13 December 2017
Report of the Board of General Purposes
The minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 13 September 2017 and the minutes of the Especial Communication of 31 October 2017 were confirmed.
HRH The Duke of Kent KG was nominated to be Grand Master for the ensuing year.
RW Bro M.H. Lawson, PJGW
The Board had learnt with great sadness of the unexpected death of RW Bro Michael Howard Lawson, PJGW, who was first elected to the Board in 1988. He remained a member until 2012, having served as Vice-President from 1997 until the introduction of the office of Deputy President of the Board of General Purposes, which he held until his retirement.
Annual Investiture of Grand Officers – 25 April 2018
So that sufficient accommodation can be reserved for those Brethren who are to be invested and their friends, admission to the Annual Investiture is by ticket only. Brethren to be invested for the first time may invite to be present with them three qualified Brethren, and those to be promoted two qualified Brethren.
Allowance having been made for such an issue and for those whose presence in the Grand Lodge is essential, a few seats will remain. Written application for these seats may be made to the Grand Secretary between 1 March and 31 March by Brethren qualified to attend the Grand Lodge:
- Past Grand Officers;*
- Wardens (not Past Wardens);
- Past Masters qualified under Rule 9 of the Book of Constitutions.
Applications should state clearly the name, address and Lodge of the Brother concerned and under which of the four categories mentioned his application is made. If necessary, a ballot for the allocation of seats will be held in early April, and tickets will be posted to successful Brethren on or about 6 April. Brethren who have been unsuccessful will be so informed.
* Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Masters, all other Present Grand Officers, including Grand Stewards, Deputy Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Masters, and Assistant Metropolitan and Provincial Grand Masters should not apply in this way as they will be invited specifically by letter about a month before the day of Investiture and asked to indicate on a reply slip whether they intend to be present. Similar arrangements are made for District Grand Masters who are known to intend to be in the UK on 25 April and this can be extended to others, if they write indicating their wish to attend.
Possession of a ticket will not, of itself, ensure admission – Brethren who are not Grand Officers will be required to hand their tickets to the Scrutineers before examination by them in accordance with the usual practice at Quarterly Communications. Past Grand Officers should sign the Attendance Books in the Past Grand Officers’ Room, and give up their tickets before being admitted to the Grand Temple.
Grand Officers taking part in the procession will sign in the Grand Officers’ Room.
Masonic Year Book and directory of lodges and chapters
The next edition of the Masonic Year Book, 2018–2019, will be available next autumn. The charge will be £15 per copy, plus postage and packing where appropriate. It is proposed to produce a new edition of the Directory of Lodges and Chapters during 2018 at a charge of £15 per copy. Copies of the current edition are still available from Letchworth’s and may be ordered in the usual way.
Every lodge will receive one copy of the Masonic Year Book and the Directory free of charge. The Board emphasises that these copies should be available to all the members of private lodges and not regarded as for the exclusive use of the Secretary to whom, for administrative reasons, they are dispatched.
Metropolitan and Provincial Lodges
As in previous years copies will be dispatched direct to Secretaries of Lodges.
Sufficient copies will be dispatched to District Grand Secretaries for distribution to lodges in the Districts. Lodges abroad not in a District will receive their copies direct.
Prestonian Lectures for 2018
The Board had considered applications for the delivery of the official Prestonian Lectures in 2018 and has decided that these should be given under the auspices of the following: Stuart Lodge, No. 540 (Bedfordshire), Durham Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 4441 (Durham), Derbyshire Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 8509 (Derbyshire) and Berkshire Lodge of Enlightenment, No. 9946 (Berkshire).
The Lecturer, W Bro C.P. Noon, states that the title of the Lecture will be: A Good Workman Praises his Tools: Masonic Metaphors in the Ancient World.
The Board, when annually inviting applications for the privilege of having one of the official deliveries of the Lectures, invariably emphasises their importance as the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge. The Board and the Trustees of the Prestonian Fund are correspondingly keen to ensure that Brethren come forward with potential future lectures on topics which will be of interest to English Freemasons. Brethren who consider that they have the requisite skill and knowledge are accordingly invited to submit their names to the Grand Secretary, through their Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries.
Metropolitan Grand Officers
It has been represented to the Board that it would be advantageous to London Masonry if the number of Metropolitan Grand Officers who may be appointed by the Metropolitan Grand Master were to be increased to correspond more closely with the number of Grand Officers appointed by the Grand Master. The Board, having considered the matter, agrees, and Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly appeared at item 7 of the Paper of Business.
In September 2016 the Grand Lodge adopted the recommendations of the Board in relation to social media and agreed a policy, available from the Grand Secretary’s office or online at www.ugle.org.uk. It has become clear recently that the policy is either not sufficiently understood or is being disregarded. The Board accordingly reminds the Grand Lodge of the policy by repeating it below, in order that Brethren may not plead ignorance of it.
Policy on Social Media
Social media platforms have become an increasingly popular channel for communication in the 21st century. They provide ways to share content with a wide audience, and as such are excellent tools for sharing information about Freemasonry and Masonic activities. However, as with any powerful tool, social media need to be used with caution, as incorrect use can have a damaging impact on Freemasonry’s public image, and therefore on Freemasonry itself. This should be a matter of common sense. This policy has been written to advise Freemasons on how to use social media within the compass of propriety.
- Digital Ambassadorship
It is important to note that any interactions a Freemason has on social media may be visible to anyone in the world: while it is possible to restrict the audience of one’s posts, it is not possible to control how others will react to them. A private post can easily be shared and reposted publicly by anyone who has access to it. Even if an original post is deleted or edited, someone could already have shared it in its original form. As far as social media are concerned, everything one does or says is permanently recorded, and there is no such thing as a truly private post.
Acting as an ambassador for Freemasonry online is part of a Freemason’s duty, and is within the scope of Rule 179 of the Book of Constitutions which states that a Freemason “…has a duty not to engage in activity which may bring Freemasonry into disrepute”. Rules (civil and Masonic) and expectations that apply to one’s daily conduct apply equally within the digital sphere, as comments may be taken out of context and used as representative of the views of the United Grand Lodge of England.
Below is a list of behaviours and topics to avoid when posting on social media. These apply to personal accounts, as well as to accounts that individual Freemasons may manage on behalf of a Lodge, Province, District, or other Masonic entity. They apply to any Freemason who is identifiable as a Freemason online, whether he is posting in Masonic or non-Masonic channels. This list is not comprehensive, but is intended to act as an introductory guide to topics or behaviours that are inappropriate for posting to any audience on social media.
When posting on social media platforms, a Freemason must not:
- Produce, link to, or refer to any content that is illegal, defamatory, or likely to offend others
- Cause or contribute to any hostile or unproductive arguments, or carry on any private piques or quarrels (that is to say, good-natured debate is fi ne, but one should be prepared to abandon the exchange if it ceases to be friendly)
- Discuss or allude to any of the Masonic Signs, Tokens, or Words
- Claim to speak for any Masonic body (e.g. a Lodge, a Province or District, a charity or committee, or UGLE) on whose behalf he is not expressly authorised to speak (for instance, membership of a lodge in London does not give one the authority to speak on behalf of Metropolitan Grand Lodge)
- Identify anyone else as a Freemason without his express consent
- Refer to any personal information about any Freemason without his express consent (such as address, telephone number, or anything else covered by the Data Protection Act 1998; see: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1998/29/contents)
- Attempt to use Masonic channels as a vehicle for personal profit, or for any other form of self-promotion
- Attack the United Grand Lodge of England or any other legitimate Masonic authority.
- Best Practice
A Freemason may publicly share any Masonic content that contributes to a positive public image of Freemasonry, such as charitable work and events, good causes supported by Freemasons, and information about Masonic history.
Social media channels can also be used to share information only relevant to Freemasons, but care should be exercised to use a more restricted channel, such as a closed or “secret” Facebook group. Topics that might be discussed here include:
- Discussions about Masonic allegory and symbolism (as long as there is no mention of any Masonic Signs, Tokens, or Words)
- Information about other Masonic Orders (as long as it does not ruin the experience for those who are not members)
- Unusual visits to other Lodges (e.g. for a special ceremony).
When posting about non-Masonic subjects, it is important to remember to adhere to the guidelines outlined in the Digital Ambassadorship section above.
The Board has received reports that the following Lodges have resolved to surrender their Warrants: Hampshire Lodge, No. 3538, in order to amalgamate with Telephone Lodge, No. 3301 (London); Cheshunt St Mary’s Lodge, No. 6808, in order to amalgamate with Hoddesdon Lodge, No. 5875 (Hertfordshire); Lodge of Further Progress, No. 8380, in order to amalgamate with Veritas Lodge, No. 4983 (London) and Mallender Lodge, No. 8835, in order to amalgamate with Devonshire Lodge, No. 625 (Derbyshire).
The Board accordingly recommended that the lodges be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamations. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
Erasure of lodges
The Board had received a report that 21 lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The lodges are: Lodge of Friendship, No. 277 (East Lancashire); Samaritan Lodge, No. 286 (East Lancashire); Metham Lodge, No. 1205 (Devon); Stanley Lodge, No. 1325 (West Lancashire); Thornhill Lodge, No.1514 (Yorkshire, WR); Portland Lodge, No.1773 (East Lancashire); Mellor Lodge, No.1774 (East Lancashire); Semper Fidelis Lodge, No. 3299 (East Lancashire); Charity Lodge, No. 3342 (East Lancashire); Achilles University Lodge, No. 4078 (Northumberland); Blackpool Lodge of Sincerity, No. 4175 (West Lancashire); Lodge of Confidence, No. 4295 (East Lancashire); Progress Lodge, No. 4848 (East Lancashire); Moreton Lodge, No. 5165 (Cheshire); Manchester Lodge for Masonic Research, No. 5502 (East Lancashire); Sursum Corda and Trident Lodge, No. 6367 (London); Vale Lodge, No. 6426 (East Lancashire); Fryent Lodge, No. 6656 (London); Pilgrim Lodge, No. 7306 (East Lancashire); Cleveleys Park Lodge, No. 7540 (West Lancashire) and Court Lodge, No. 8896 (East Lancashire).
Over recent years, the Lodges have found themselves no longer viable. The Board was satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore had no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A Resolution to this effect was approved.
4.30 As required by Rule 277 (a) (i) (B), Book of Constitutions, two Brethren were expelled from the Craft.
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 September 2017
9951 Permanent Way Lodge (Evesham, Worcestershire)
9952 Pro Patria Lodge (Thornton Cleveleys, West Lancashire)
9953 Samuel Cody Aviation Lodge (Bordon, Hampshire and Isle of Wight)
9954 Hippolyto Joseph da Costa (Porto Alegre, South America, Northern Division)
9955 Goose and Gridiron Lodge (Rio de Janeiro, South America, Northern Division)
9956 Dirigentes Lodge (Uckfield, Sussex)
9957 Oxfordshire Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards (Marsh Baldon, Oxfordshire).
8 November 2017
9958 Oldham Lodge (Singapore, Eastern Archipelago)
9959 Moses Montefiore Lodge (São Paulo, South America, Northern Division).
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, 14 March 2018. Subsequent Communications will be held: 13 June 2018, 12 September 2018, 12 December 2018 and 13 March 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. A few tickets are allocated by ballot after provision has been made for those automatically entitled to attend. Full details are in this Paper of Business.
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: 26 April 2018, 14 November 2018 and 25 April 2019.
13 December 2017
A presentation by VW Bro Graham Redman, Deputy Grand Secretary
At the Quarterly Communication of the Grand Lodge held in June 1945, the Grand Secretary read out a message from the Grand Master, MW Bro the Earl of Harewood:
It is my desire to have power to confer on Brethren who have rendered special service to Freemasonry a distinction to be known as The Grand Master’s Order of Service to Masonry, to rank immediately above the Grand Deacons, with the prefix Very Worshipful.
It is my wish that there shall be a limit to be determined from time to time by the Grand Master upon the number of holders of the Order. I propose that the present limit be 12.
The President of the Board of General Purposes at once moved amendments to the Book of Constitutions to give effect to the Grand Master’s wishes.
In the early years recipients were invested along with new Grand Officers, generally at the Annual Investiture, but occasionally when additional Grand Ranks were being conferred by way of celebration.
In December 1960, the then Grand Master, the Earl of Scarbrough, made a statement about the Order, 15 years after its institution, concluding that the Order of Service to Masonry would be more effective and be held still higher in the estimation of the Craft if it ceased to be one of the seventy-two ranks in our Masonic hierarchy of Grand Officers. I believe that Grand Lodge will agree with me that the Order of Service to Masonry should be set apart and that it should be possible to confer it upon any Brother without reference to his existing rank, or having any effect upon it.
The necessary amendments to the Book of Constitutions were duly passed, and in June 1961 two new appointments were made – of Brethren who were already Right Worshipful.
A year later, Lord Scarbrough announced in relation to the Order:
It has been in my mind all along that there are Brethren, not already Grand Officers or even perhaps members of Grand Lodge, whose work has nevertheless been of outstanding value to the Craft.
I have, I believe, found such a Brother, and I shall shortly ask the Grand Director of Ceremonies to introduce him into Grand Lodge.
He is Bro Reginald A. Easton, and he has been Secretary of the Whittington Lodge [in London] for 18 years. Largely by his efforts, the Whittington Lodge has built itself up a peculiar position with regard to Brethren of our own and other Constitutions overseas. The result is that the Whittington Lodge now has a world-wide reputation for its hospitality and the welcome it extends to visitors from abroad.
All this is, I believe, due to Bro Easton, who has, however, resisted all attempts to persuade him to accept other offices and reach the Chair, preferring to remain a Master Mason. Hitherto, he has debarred himself from any honour or preferment in Masonry by this attitude of self-denial, but the recent changes in the status of the Order of Service to Masonry enable me to do honour to one who has, I believe, in the truest sense done good service to Masonry.
Bro Easton was then escorted into Grand Lodge and invested.
Bro Easton remains the only Master Mason to be so honoured, but it can nevertheless be seen that the Order looks to a Brother’s service rather than to his rank. As a result, among the eighty recipients (as of today) there have been Brethren of widely varying seniority, but of whom each has made his own unique contribution to English Freemasonry.
The jewel itself, worn from a dark blue collarette, is of silver-gilt, being a double-circle with a pair of compasses extended on the segment of a circle, and the letters O S M; beneath it is the motto In Solo Deo Salus “In God alone is our safety”.
The limit of 12 members has never been increased and there are 12 jewels only in existence, each of which must be returned on the death of its latest recipient. The jewel allocated to each recipient is recorded in a small notebook, and it is the recent custom to give each recipient a list of the previous holders of the jewel with which he has been invested.
13 December 2017
A speech by VW Bro Graham Redman, Deputy Grand Secretary, and VW Bro John Hamill, Deputy Grand Chancellor
GFR: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, after a two-year break, I propose to jump-start this presentation by harking back to the Act of Union between the Antients’ and the Moderns’ Grand Lodges, Article III of which provided:
There shall be the most perfect unity of obligation, of discipline, of working the Lodges, of making, passing and raising, instructing and clothing Brothers; so that but one pure unsullied system, according to the genuine landmarks, laws and traditions of the Craft, shall be maintained, upheld and practised, throughout the Masonic World, from the day and date of the said union until time shall be no more.
In order to effect this, the Act provided for the setting up of a Lodge of Reconciliation, consisting of nine worthy Brethren from each of the former Grand Lodges, who were charged initially with settling obligations and subsequently with settling the forms of the openings and closings and the ceremonies, of the three Degrees of Craft Masonry.
At a Special Communication of the Grand Lodge at Freemasons’ Hall on Monday 20 June 1816,
The MW Grand Master stated that he had convened this special Grand Lodge that the Lodge of Reconciliation might exhibit and explain to the Brethren the result of their arrangement. That it was not His Royal Highness’s intention that any discussion should this day take place as to those arrangements; but that at the Quarterly Communication on the 5th of next month he should submit them for the opinion and sanction of the Grand Lodge, so that the Brethren might in the interim have an opportunity of giving them due consideration.
The Officers and Members of the Lodge of Reconciliation then opened a lodge in the first, second and third degrees successively and exhibited the ceremonies of initiating, passing and raising a Mason as proposed by them for general adoption and practice in the Craft.
At the June Quarterly Communication just over two weeks later,
The minutes of the Grand Lodge on the 20th of May last, when the ceremonies and practices recommended by the Lodge of Reconciliation were exhibited and explained, were read, and alterations on two points, the third degree, having been resolved upon. The several ceremonies recommended were approved and confirmed.
I have to admit that I am much taken by the opening words of the Report of the Board of General Purposes:
The Board of General Purposes have to report that during the present quarter there has scarcely arisen anything of importance for them to report upon to the Grand Lodge. (Happy days)
JMH: MW Pro Grand Master and Brethren, like many special Masonic Committees before and after it, the Lodge of Reconciliation went a great deal further than its original brief of settling the form of the obligations and openings and closings. Before the Union, in both Grand Lodges, the actual ceremonies were very brief: in essence the candidate was introduced, took an obligation and had the signs, words and token of the degree conferred upon him. The manner of instructing him in the principles, tenets, history and symbolism of the Craft was by means of catechetical lectures, normally worked at table. The Lodge of Reconciliation greatly extended the simple ceremonies by including material from the catechetical lectures which, sadly, gradually dropped out of use excerpt in the Emulation Lodge of Improvement where sections of them are worked every Friday evening during the Masonic season. I say sadly because the lectures contain a wealth of information which provides answers to many of the questions that brethren regularly raise about our ritual and practices.
The original aim of establishing perfect unanimity of working was never achieved, for the simple reason that Grand Lodge would not allow the revised ritual to be written down or printed in any form. The Lodge of Reconciliation, once its work was agreed, was continued in being to provide weekly demonstrations of the new system, to which lodges were invited to send representatives. You can imagine, brethren, what happened. The only means of transport to London in those days was by foot, horse, carriage or water. Brethren from the North, the West and Wales would travel for days to get to London, see the ceremonies demonstrated perhaps twice and then irritated the heck out of their companions in the coach travelling home muttering under their breaths to try and remember what they had seen and heard! Arriving home they would call together their brethren and demonstrate to them what they thought they had seen in London. This method of promulgation combined with an unwillingness to give up cherished local traditions has resulted in the richness and variety of working under our constitution, which makes visiting all the more interesting for us.
GFR: At the September Quarterly Communication, RW Bro William Williams, the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset addressed the Grand Lodge and stated that he had been informed that at the meeting of the General Committee held on the 21st of August last (at which he was not present) a Brother whom he now saw in the Grand Lodge had there made against him a charge of the most grave and serious nature, and of which charge if he were guilty he declared that he felt himself unworthy of the name of a Mason and that he ought never to be permitted again to enter within the walls of a Lodge, but feeling himself properly innocent of the crime charged against him, he called upon that Brother now to state it, and he implored the Grand Lodge to allow a Special Committee to be immediately appointed for the purpose of enquiring into its truth or falsehood.
W Bro Charles Bonner then rose and stated that he had at the General Committee mentioned his intention of preferring a charge against the Provincial Grand Master for Dorset for violating his obligation as a Master Mason and which charge he was ready to prove before any Committee the Grand Lodge might think proper to appoint; Whereupon after much discussion as to the necessity and propriety of appointing a Special Committee,
It was resolved that a Special Committee consisting of the actual Masters of the 15 senior lodges now present be nominated to investigate such charge to be preferred by Brother Bonner against Brother Williams.
JMH: William Williams was one of the leading members of the small group of Masonic advisers working with the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Sussex, to ensure that the Union of the two Grand Lodges succeeded and to manage the necessary changes it brought about. A man of integrity in response to Bonner’s call for an enquiry he “solicited a Special Committee, because being himself a member of the Board of General Purposes he was unwilling that they should investigate the charge lest it might be imagined from his being a member there should exist even the slightest tendency to look partially towards him; he knew there could not be any fair ground for such an opinion, but he was still anxious to avoid any thing that could give even a colour for such a thought”. Those with long memories will remember our having referred to Brother Bonner on a previous occasion when he fomented unnecessary problems within Grand Lodge!
GFR: At a Special meeting in October the Committee reported to Grand Lodge. It gave Bro Williams a clean bill of health, feeling it appropriate not to let the matter go “without subjoining to their report a few observations.” The observations start:
When your Committee assert that not a shadow of proof was adduced in support of one of the most serious charges that was ever preferred by one mason against another and that the proceedings which they had the pain of witnessing exhibited so far as Brother Bonnor was concerned in them nothing short of a disgusting mockery of the forms of justice the Grand Lodge will judge with what mixed feelings of astonishment, regret and indignation your Committee were impressed when they found themselves compelled by a general conviction of the futility of the charge to impute it solely to a base attempt of the part of Brother Bonnor to assail in the tenderist point the fair character of a Brother mason.
They didn’t mince their words in those days – and it would be greedy of me not to leave to my colleague the opportunity to regale you with some more of their remarks.
JMH: Plain speaking it certainly was! The Committee went on to question the sanity of Bonner adding “unfortunately, however, for Brother Bonner his poisoned shafts have recoiled upon himself” adding that “the only effect of his charge has been to manifest in his own conduct clear and abundant proof of the commission of the very crime which he has in vain imputed to another”. They then drew Grand Lodge’s attention to Bonner’s previous behaviour stating that “They should have hoped that Brother Bonner’s recollection of his own prior and recorded delinquencies and a grateful sense of the indulgence of the Grand Lodge in restoring him to the participation of those privileges which he had so justly forfeited by his misconduct would have operated as a salutary check upon the un-masonic feelings the indulgence of which has a second time led to his disgrace …”.
GFR: At the December Quarterly Communication, Bro Bonner was “introduced between two Grand Stewards”, made a long statement disclaiming any intention to injure the character of Bro William Williams, coupled with an apology to the Grand Master and Grand Lodge, and withdrew while the matter was debated. Nevertheless, it was resolved
That the original offence of Brother Bonner remains unanswered, but that in consideration of his having publicly acknowledged his error, and made an ample apology to the MW Grand Master to the Provincial GM for Dorset and to the Brethren at large, the Grand Lodge do not feel inclined to visit his misconduct with the sentence of expulsion; in order however to mark their displeasure and also their solicitude for the dignity and tranquillity of the Craft do deprive him of his insignia as a Grand Officer, and of all rights derived therefrom, allowing him to remain in possession of his masonic privileges.
That the preceding resolution respecting Brother Bonner be communicated to the Grand Lodges of Scotland and Ireland.
JMH: When the Minutes of the December meeting were put for confirmation on 5th March 1817 they were passed with the exception of the sentences passed on Bonner. It was agreed not to report the matter to Ireland and Scotland but his being deprived of his Grand Rank, after a paper from him had been read out, was again put to the vote and “passed in the affirmative by a very large majority”.
GFR: At the Quarterly Communication of 1 March 1916, after the re-election of the Grand Master, the Deputy Grand Master announced three special appointments to Grand Rank. One was the representative of another Grand Lodge at the United Grand Lodge of England, but the other two were Brethren at that time interned respectively in Holland and Germany.
The full justification for the latter two appointments was made clear in the Report of the Board of General Purposes. W Bro Commodore Wilfred Henderson, RN, appointed a Past Senior Grand Deacon, had been instrumental in the formation of a Lodge under the Grand East of the Netherlands for naval officers and men interned at Gröningen. W Bro Percy Hull, appointed Past Deputy Grand Organist, had rendered great service to the English Brethren interned in the civilian camp at Rühleben, Spandau.
JMH: Despite its horrors, the First World War has sometimes been characterised as the last “gentleman’s war” because of the way in which it was conducted and the honourable treatment accorded to prisoners of war, be they service personnel or civilians. As we reported on a previous occasion 112 Masonic civilian prisoners of war interned at Ruheleben had sent Christmas greetings to Grand Lodge in 1914. They were suffering privations in 1916 and 1917 due to food rationing in Germany and were sustained by parcels funded by brethren in England and delivered through diplomatic channels and by the Red Cross. As we shall hear in a moment despite those privations they did not forget the bi-centenary celebrations of Grand Lodge in 1917. The Lodge for whose formation Commodore Henderson was honoured was the Gastvrijheid Lodge consecrated in May 1915 by the Grand East of the Netherlands amongst members of the Royal Naval Division interned at Groningen. It was to be joined in 1918 by a second Lodge, the Willem van Oranje Lodge, again consecrated amongst interned British service personnel by the Grand East of the Netherlands. After the end of the war both lodges transferred to England and became Nos. 3970 and 3976 on the register of Grand Lodge.
GFR: The violent anti-German sentiments expressed in December 1915, by W Bro Col. Charles Cassal, PDepGSwdB, resurfaced at this meeting. The Board of General Purposes had considered Col. Cassal’s proposals put forward at the previous Communication, and had produced a more moderate form of words to deal with the relationship between English Masons and those under Grand Lodges in Germany and its allies, both during and after the War. The Colonel, however, took exception to a part of the Board’s statement and – such was the feeling in Grand Lodge – succeeded in having that part referred back to the Board. Nevertheless the Board substantially got its way over the resolution that arose from its report.
After the rather ill-natured atmosphere and debate in March, the June Communication was altogether more amicable. After the adoption of the Minutes, the Deputy Grand Master delivered a statement:
I am desired by the MW Grand Master to state that, having regard to the unprecedented character of the present War and the intense feelings it has aroused, which show no sign of abatement, the Grand Master has decided that, during its progress and until such time after the treaty of peace has been signed as in the future he may determine, there shall be no intercourse or exchange of representatives between the United Grand Lodge of England and Grand Lodges in enemy Countries. and that such Grand Lodges shall be omitted during that period from the list of bodies in the "Masonic Year Book" recognised as in association with this Grand Lodge.
This appears to have spiked the guns of Bro Cassal, because after the adoption of the Board’s Report had been moved a few minutes later, but before the vote had been taken, he rose to address Grand Lodge – at his usual length – to say, among other things:
I came here… intending, and I informed the General Committee of Grand Lodge of my intention, to move an amendment in the shape of a refere; but, having heard the gracious message of the MW Grand Master, I consider that the position of affairs is entirely altered, and… it is not necessary for me to take up the time of Grand Lodge in criticising the Report of the Board of General Purposes as I had intended to do with a good deal of severity.
JMH: Despite his promise, Brother Cassal, like Brother Bonner one hundred years before him, did take up Grand Lodge’s time with another windy speech which, happily made no difference when the resolution was put. The atmosphere at the March Communication, in which the debate was not only ill-natured but at times un-masonic, was symptomatic of the great wave of anti – German feeling then sweeping the nation at that time, which ultimately led even to HM King George V, in 1917, changing his dynasty’s name to Windsor and other members of the family dropping their German titles and accepting English peerages.
One possible reason for the more subdued meeting in June was the fact that news had reached England that Field Marshal Earl Kitchener, KG, on a mission to Russia, had perished with his staff officers and the Captain and crew of HMS Hampshire when it was torpedoed by the Germans two days before the Quarterly Communication. Kitchener had been a very active Freemason holding office successively as District Grand Master for Egypt and the Sudan and for the Punjab.
GFR: It was at this meeting that amendments to the Book of Constitutions were brought forward to ensure the representation of Provincial Brethren on the Board of General Purposes.
JMH: The lack of Provincial representation “in the counsels of the Craft” had become a very sore point. Whilst there might have been some justification in the past for selecting only London Past Masters, because of their ability to attend Board meetings, the coming of the railway network had made London much more accessible to Provincial Brethren. The new Board was to consist of ex officio members, 8 members appointed by the Grand Master, 12 elected by London and 12 elected by the Provinces.
GFR: In September much of the time of Grand Lodge was taken up with discussion of the new Entertainments tax, which had come like “a bolt from the blue” in the Finance (New Duties) Act 1916. The Board’s Report states:
The Commissioners [of Customs] hold that the duty can be claimed in all cases where musical or other entertainments, other than the making of speeches, follow Masonic dinners, though no specific or separate charge is made for admission, and no fee paid to the entertainers. Concerning the basis on which the duty would be assessed with the least inconvenience, the Commissioners have not yet communicated their intentions; and the Board expresses the hope that they will draw up a form of return to enable Secretaries of Lodges to give the information required for the assessment of the duty.
and the President by way of amplification said:
I was strongly in the belief, and even more strongly in the hope, that the claim would prove unsubstantial, and would break down when fairly examined. I think I have at least as intimate an acquaintance with the ordinary everyday opinion of Parliament as any Brother present, and I knew, and I am still of the same opinion, that not a single Member of the House of Commons dreamed that this enactment could possibly apply to such gatherings as ours. I think, moreover, that…. the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and even the Commissioners of Customs themselves, had no idea when this clause was originally drafted that it would have so wide a sweep. But the Commissioners of Customs – and Brethren, the way of the tax-gatherer is hard, especially for those who have to pay him – the Commissioners discovered in the Act something that went far beyond what Parliament intended, but which it is submitted went no farther than Parliament enacted….
I regret to say that the opinion of … distinguished Counsel upon the case laid before them, and after considering the Act of Parliament, was directly adverse to our hope that we did not come within the tax. One point they suggested… that we should have an interview on the matter with the Commissioners of Customs before taking any further steps. That interview was held with the Commissioners, who were extremely polite, but all the same they made it perfectly clear that they intended to have the money.
JMH: In December the President of the Board of General Purposes was able to report that further discussions had been had with the Commissioners of Customs and Excise and agreement had been reached that provided any entertainment at a festive board was impromptu and not pre-arranged it would not be taxable. The Entertainment Tax remained operable until it was withdrawn in 1960 and Grand Lodge had from time to time to remind brethren of its existence.
GFR: The Quarterly Communication in December was notable for a visit, after Grand Lodge had opened, from the Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Connaught, newly returned from the Dominion of Canada. After he had delivered a short speech and invested the President of the Board of Benevolence, the first verse of the National Anthem was sung and the Grand Master retired in procession.
The Board’s Report contained a paragraph about the introduction of musical items into the ceremonies. And after the Report had been adopted the President moved the following resolution:
That Grand Lodge is of opinion that the introduction of instrumental or vocal music during Masonic Ceremonies is not per se objectionable, but that, in regard to the latter, it is essential that the words are strictly in accord with Masonic principles, practices and procedure; that they are not identified with an exclusive form of religious worship; and that they are submitted before use to the Grand Secretary for approval by the Grand Master…. in order to secure that these conditions, preventing an innovation in the Body of Masonry, are strictly adhered to.
Before the resolution could be seconded, Bro George Rankin, PAGDC, rose to propose an amendment
That Grand Lodge is of opinion that the introduction of instrumental music during Masonic ceremonies is not per se objectionable, but it still adheres to its historic desire for more rather than less uniformity in the ritual of Freemasonry. Grand Lodge cannot therefore consent to the insertion of hymns or anthems or other foreign matter into the body of the ceremonies.
As I have a remote connection with Bro Rankin, I will leave it to my colleague to add his comment on this matter.
JMH: Brother Rankin as well as being a member of the Board of General Purposes was also the Senior Member of the Committee of the Emulation Lodge of Improvement. In addition to ambushing the President of the Board by proposing an amendment without notice, he appears to have got the wrong end of the stick! The motion before Grand Lodge was to control the type of hymns and anthems used during ceremonies so that the universality of the Craft would not be endangered. Rankin seems to have believed that the Board was innovating in matters of ritual and trying to introduce new matters into the ceremonies. His amendment was put to the vote and lost.
GFR: The same meeting was also notable for a motion to transfer the hearing of appeals in disciplinary matters from Grand Lodge to a “Judicial Committee of Grand Lodge”; and for a motion by W Bro Freke Palmer (a Metropolitan magistrate) to amend the Book of Constitutions to limit the number of candidates for any one degree to two on any one occasion.
JMH: Both propositions were held over for future discussions resulting in much of Grand Lodge’s time being consumed with the hearing in great details of appeals against decisions by higher authority. In the debate on limiting the number of candidates for any one degree the Provincial Grand Master for Devonshire gave some incredible statistics, stating of one Lodge in his Province “at one meeting there were 2 initiations, 11 passings and 8 raisings; at the next meeting there were 3 initiations, 11 passings and 8 raisings; and at the next meeting 4 initiations, 9 passings and 9 raisings.”
GFR: In March 1917 Bro Freke Palmer returned to the adjourned motion. Much debate ensued, in the course of which amendments were proposed by several Brethren, including our old friend Col. Cassal, but in the end Bro Palmer’s motion was successful and the Book of Constitutions was amended. the Rule surviving, except for its final sentence, to the present day in the form of Rule 168.
JMH: No doubt the passing of the motion was assisted by comments from the President of the Board who stated that one Lodge which he described as having an ordinary membership of 120 in 1916 performed 83 initiations, 86 passings and 82 raisings.
The motion to remove the appeals procedure from Grand Lodge to a Committee was effectively kicked into touch and was not finally achieved until 1963.
GFR: In June, the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, making his first appearance in Grand Lodge for several years, was received with cheers, when he rose at the beginning of the meeting to address the Brethren:
I am extremely fortunate in having this opportunity of visiting Grand Lodge, and I feel that I am doubly and trebly fortunate in being able to carry away with me as I shall, the recollection of your more than kind and generous greeting. Believe me, it is not without considerable diffidence that I have come here…. But I want to thank you with all my heart for having continued to me that friendship and goodwill and kindness to which I owe so much. My resignation was in the hands of the MW Grand Master after the first few months of the war, and I fully expected that the Grand Master would accept it. But he has been pleased to re-appoint me now on three occasions, and that he has done so can only be due to the fact that it is believed to be your wish that I should continue. (Cheers).
Before the Report of the Board of General Purposes was taken, Lord Ampthill congratulated its President on the knighthood he had recently received.
The Board’s Report itself may fairly be said to be packed full of goodies:
After a general exhortation to the Craft to exercise due economy and even abstinence in those troubled times, there was a tribute to the Grand Secretary, Sir Edward Letchworth – the first of the great Grand Secretaries – who had just completed a quarter of a century’s service in that office.
The Report also signalled several changes to the Book of Constitutions which still survive today: the placing of a positive duty on the Master of a Lodge to exercise a casting vote on any equality of voting in a Lodge; the introduction of a Rule prohibiting a Lodge from passing or raising a Brother from another Lodge except at the written request of that Lodge; and the conferment on the Grand Master of the power to form Lodges abroad not under Districts into Groups under what are now known as Grand Inspectors.
JMH: The President of the Board of General Purposes, Brother Alfred Robins, was a major figure in the world of journalism and had received his knighthood for services to the press. As a young Past Master he had regularly raised questions in Grand Lodge, leading to his being elected to the Board of General Purposes. He worked untiringly for Grand Lodge both at home and overseas and did much to publicise the Craft and to build good relations with the press. It was due to his persistence that we are meeting here today as he skilfully managed both the financing and the construction of the present Freemasons’ Hall.
My co-presenter rightly characterises Sir Edward Letchworth as the first of the great Grand Secretaries. A solicitor by profession, though he practised only for a short time having private means, he had been very involved in the growing militia movement, which brought him to the attention of the then Prince of Wales and other courtiers. He also encountered the Prince of Wales in Freemasonry and it was on the latter’s suggestion that he was offered the Grand Secretaryship in 1892 when Col Shadwell Clerke unexpectedly died. Although approaching 60 when appointed he took to the office with relish and quickly established a reputation for his Masonic knowledge and his diplomatic skills. As Grand Secretary he was responsible for the administration of London Freemasonry, then expanding greatly. Were there a Guinness Book of Masonic records he would have earned a place as during his 25 years in office he consecrated nearly 500 lodges and chapters. Much respected and held in affection by the many he came into contact with, he died a few short months after his retirement in 1917 to universal regret.
GFR: Grand Lodge assembled for an Especial Meeting at the Royal Albert Hall on Saturday 23 June to celebrate the Bi-Centenary of the first Grand Lodge. After Grand Lodge had been opened in due form by the Deputy Grand Master, the Grand Master was received, and after he had been saluted he announced an exchange of telegrams with his Majesty King George V:
Eight thousand Masons are assembling in the Albert Hall this day to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of British Freemasonry in England. I desire on their behalf to take this opportunity of renewing our expressions of loyalty and devotion to your Throne and Person, and to wish you long life and happiness. We pray that victory may crown your arms, and that a just and lasting peace may be the result (Signed) Arthur, Grand Master.
The King had replied:
I have received with much satisfaction the message which you, as Grand Master, have conveyed to me from 8,000 Freemasons, who to day celebrate the 200th Anniversary of British Freemasonry in England. Please thank them most heartily in my name. The traditional loyalty of British Freemasons is a force upon which the Sovereign of this country has ever reckoned, and has been to me a proud memory during the anxious years through which we are passing. (Signed) George, R. & I.
The following morning a service was held in the same venue, with the Lessons being read by the Deputy Grand Master and the Grand Secretary, and an Address by the Bishop of Birmingham, Grand Chaplain. At the conclusion the National Anthem was sung in full.
JMH: With no fire regulations and no health and safety committees over 8,000 Brethren were able to attend the celebration of the Bi-centenary of Grand Lodge at the Royal Albert Hall, how different from modern times! In addition to representatives from the Grand Lodges of Ireland and Scotland the attendance included senior representatives from Grand Lodges in the Empire and the United States of America, many of them being serving officers passing through London on their way to the front. Fortunately the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Connaught, who was serving as Commander in Chief in Canada was in London for an Imperial Council and was able to preside at both the special Grand Lodge and the service on the following day.
To mark the anniversary and the part played by the remaining three of the four Lodges who came together to form the Grand Lodge in 1717 the Grand Master announced that in future the collars of their officers would be distinguished by the addition of a central Garter blue stripe. The three Masters were called up and were invested by the Grand Master with their new collars.
Amongst the many greetings and congratulations which had been received was a beautifully illuminated address from the Brethren still held in the prisoner of war camp in Ruhleben, now preserved in the Grand Lodge archives, which the Grand Secretary read out and was met with cheers from the assembled brethren.
Had war not broken out in 1914 it had been the intention to have what the Grand Master described as “a great imperial celebration in London” to mark the bi-centenary of Grand Lodge. Many of those who spoke at the Royal Albert Hall lamented the fact that the war had prevented representatives from overseas, from both our own lodges and from sister Grand Lodges, from taking part in what should have been the largest representative gathering of Freemasons from around the world. It was to be another hundred years before that dream was achieved with our recent celebration of the tercentenary of the formation of Grand Lodge at which almost 150 sister Grand Lodges were represented. But that, as they say, is a story to be told on a future occasion, no doubt by Graham’s and my successors in December 2117!