Wednesday, 14 September 2016 01:00

We are a mirror of society

A member of society

Would you describe Freemasonry as a product of the class struggle? In his 2016 Prestonian Lecture, Dr Richard Berman defines the origins of the Craft by the social and economic forces at play in the 18th century

In the latter half of the 20th century, Freemasonry worked hard to distance itself from any hint of elitism, to show it was not an organisation that conferred social advantage or took a political stance. Look back to its origins 300 years ago, however, and we find Freemasonry working in a different way, representing and expressing the political and religious views of a core group at its centre. Not only that, but the Craft was attracting an aspirational membership keen to realise their own social, intellectual and financial ambitions.

In his 2016 Prestonian Lecture, ‘Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England’, Dr Richard Berman suggests that Freemasonry should be recognised not only as the most prominent of the many 18th-century fraternal organisations, but also as a significant driver in a wider social context.

For Richard, the fact that Freemasonry was actively involved in transforming society is not something to hide from. ‘It was a hugely relevant, hugely aspirational organisation – the people at the top were eminent figures who had public reputations. Freemasonry was firmly within the government camp; it was promoting the government and it was promoted by the government.’

With Prime Minister Robert Walpole becoming a Freemason alongside his colleague the Duke of Newcastle and various eminent overseas aristocrats, Richard positions membership of the Craft as a form of fraternal and political solidarity. ‘You also find some of the most important civil servants, soldiers and magistrates joining Freemasonry. Politically and socially, the organisation was a big deal in the early 18th century.’

Society’s mirror

The Prestonian Lecture has already been delivered across the US and in Britain. Richard is looking forward to visiting more lodges from September. ‘I try to squeeze the talk into about 40 minutes, plus some questions if there’s time – I can’t cover everything, but I’ll give the gist. The main aim is to entertain, then to educate, then to encourage people who are interested to look further,’ he says, adding that the response so far has been positive. ‘I’ve certainly never had standing ovations before, so that’s nice.’

An economist by training, Richard decided to change career in 2008 and study for a PhD in history, which he then turned into a book. ‘I’ve now written three; the fourth is the Prestonian Lecture, and I’m also working on a fifth.’

Richard is intrigued by how the evolution of Freemasonry 300 years ago mirrored broader trends within society. In his second book, he discusses the development of the lower-middle class as urbanisation became a larger feature of 18th-century life. ‘More people were coming into the cities from the country, so you not only had the aristocracy, the gentry and the poor, but a raft of more middling players who wanted to emulate what was going on in polite society. There was also migration from overseas, especially Ireland, and this triggered the emergence of a lower-middle-class form of Freemasonry, which the established, upper-class masons weren’t too keen on.’

While social discrimination hit the London Irish in particular, their breakaway form of Freemasonry proved enormously successful. ‘There were two main reasons: the Irish who led it gave it a cachet by calling it “Antients Freemasonry”, which made it feel more established than what they called “Moderns Freemasonry”, the original Grand Lodge that had been set up in 1717,’ explains Richard. ‘Second, by not limiting themselves to the social elites, the Antients had a far larger pool of potential members.’

‘I’ve certainly never had standing ovations before, so that’s nice.’ Richard Berman

Alternative narrative

As the Antients took off, Richard describes a new dynamic in the lower-middle class that was to become a crucial plank within Freemasonry, namely self-help. ‘It is often thought of as a Victorian value but it started here, with Antients Freemasonry setting up what were in effect friendly societies and contributing to funds that supported their members. They also introduced masonic certificates that could be used as passports to plug themselves into new social networks, especially in America.’

While the fracture of the Craft along class lines was notionally resolved with the Antients and Moderns coming together in 1813, Richard believes that Freemasonry remains a heterogeneous organisation. ‘There is a very broad base of members, but some lodges continue to be elitist while others are far more accessible and more middling in their membership. It’s a picture of society.’

By focusing on political and social issues, the Prestonian Lecture provides an alternative narrative to accounts of Freemasonry that tend to focus on the machinations of the dukes, princes and kings of that day. ‘I don’t take the view that my lecture puts forward the only “truth”; it describes a set of views and demonstrates how the conclusions have been reached and the evidence on which they’re based. I don’t think it’s sensible to push this stuff under the carpet. Every organisation has such stories – it’s part of how we developed.’

Thanks to the digitisation of newspapers and pamphlets of the time, Richard has also been able to look at where Freemasons lived and what they did. ‘You can see agglomerations of friends and business associates, and can track when, where and sometimes why they joined. There’s an enormous amount of primary information out there that most historians just don’t look at.’

English masonic history has tended to be criticised, sometimes justifiably according to Richard. ‘Unfortunately, there are only a few academic historians in England who consider Freemasonry a bona fide subject. It is quite different in continental Europe and the US, for example, where Freemasonry is not only studied academically but also benefits from dedicated lecturers and professors. I hope I can help to turn the tide in Britain.’

For Richard, history is also a way to reflect on the present and he feels that in principle there are few inherent differences between people in the 18th century and those in the 21st century. ‘I found a personal letter written by Tom Hill to his patron, the Duke of Richmond, about a third party, Desaguliers, who was an influential Freemason. He uses the phrase “I thought he was cracking a joke” in exactly the same way that you or I would use it. This is in the early 1730s – some of the spelling and sentence construction may be different, but the message is the same.’

From the Black Death in the mid-14th century to the Jacobites in the 18th, the 2016 Prestonian Lecture identifies the driving forces that have shaped Freemasonry. ‘It developed over time in response to a series of forces and, in some cases, has helped to mould them. We should understand and celebrate that. It places us in context.’

Requests for a delivery of Richard Berman’s Prestonian Lecture, ‘Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England’, can be made via the Quatuor Coronati website at  




As reported in Freemasonry Today, autumn 2016, in his 2016 Prestonian Lecture, Dr Richard Berman records the early years of Freemasonry and the class of men who populated them: ambitious men, successful men, deep thinkers and social reformers, men of government and men of influence; men who carved out for themselves a place in history.

Some were of national importance and some were big fish in smaller ponds, but all made their mark and all were, to some extent, public figures.

In my mother lodge for the past two years we have been researching our history and the people who made it. We were consecrated as we now are in 1869, but there were three earlier lodges in our town. For one that formed in 1815 we have a remarkably complete record, with original handwritten minute books and many artefacts, as we have from 1869 until the present. For the other two, 1772 and 1842, information is more scant, though some can be gleaned from Grand Lodge’s library website.

Through a conversation at a dinner party, we have formed strong links with our local town museum. Many of the larger characters from the town’s history over the past 250 years have turned out to have been members of our lodge. Our records, which had spent many years in a cupboard gathering dust, have turned out to be an absolute treasure trove of the sort of information that is the very lifeblood of a local town museum.

We have names, ages, addresses, occupations, signatures and pictures, which, when coupled with the information from the town regarding civic positions and deeds, create unique histories of the men of our lodge and the influence they had in their community.

We have opened our archive to the town museum and are planning a joint presentation with them for our Tercentenary celebrations; they held their AGM in our building and, as they are a registered charity, we have made donations to their cause.

The museum is very much the cultural hub of the town, with important charity leaders as well as town and district councillors heavily involved in it.

Consequently, our close liaison with the museum is spinning off into other aspects of town life; slowly but surely our lodge is working its way back into the heart of the community and attitudes to Freemasonry are being changed for the better.

The point of all this is integration and attitudes. Grand Lodge can do the big things to influence public opinion, such as television documentaries, but we on the ground can also make a difference and our historical records are a ready-made ticket back to the heart of our communities.

Get digging and you will also find that your brethren gain a great deal of enthusiasm, knowledge and interest from the process. And don’t stop at your own lodge; look into old erased lodges in your area – I found a link in one to Drury Lane Theatre and a famous Shakespearian actor about whom a film was made in the 1950s. Use these old characters to put us back where we need to be – at the centre of our local communities. It is my opinion that such a return to civic prominence is the key to many of our issues of recruitment and retention.

Mark C Hinsley, Lodge of Honour and Friendship, No. 1266, Blandford Forum, Dorset

Published in Features

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

8 June 2016 
Report of the Board of General Purposes


The Minutes of the Quarterly Communication of 9 March 2016 and the Annual Investiture of 27 April 2016 were confirmed.

Rule 110 Book of Constitutions

Rule 110 of the Book of Constitutions currently provides:

110. Should a Prince of the Blood Royal honour any private Lodge by accepting the office of Master, he may appoint a Deputy Master, qualified in compliance with the provisions of rule 105, who shall be regularly installed, and be entitled, when in office, to all the privileges of Master, and, after he has served his period of office, to those of a Past Master.

In  the early part of the last century, HRH the  Duke  of Connaught and Strathearn, the then Grand Master, was permanent Master of Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2 and Royal Somerset House and Inverness Lodge, No. 4, which were at that time the only two Lodges formally recognised as enjoying time immemorial status. In 1967, Lodge of Fortitude and Old Cumberland, No. 12, the third of the three surviving Lodges which had come together in 1717 to form the premier Grand Lodge, was permitted to surrender its Warrant and thus regain the time immemorial status it had lost in 1722 by accepting a Warrant from the premier Grand Lodge.

It has been suggested that, with the approach of the tercentenary of Grand Lodge, it would be appropriate for the present Grand Master to follow the example of the Duke of Connaught and accept the permanent Mastership of the three time immemorial Lodges. To facilitate his so doing, it is recommended, following advice from the Grand registrar, that the rule  be amended by the addition of a further sentence to the rule. notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly. The amendment was approved.

Annual Dues

2017  the  Board  recommended,  in  accordance  with  rule  269,  Book  of Constitutions, that the annual dues (including Vat)  payable to Grand Lodge in respect of each member of every Lodge for the year 2017 shall be:

Annual Dues Jun 2016


2017  the  Board  recommended,  in  accordance  with  rule  270,  Book  of Constitutions, that the fees (exclusive of VAT) payable for registration, certificates and dispensations should be increased in line with inflation to:

Annual Fees Jun 2016

Contribution to the Grand Charity

Under Rule 271 of the Book of Constitutions Grand Lodge must fix each year the annual contribution that is payable to the Grand Charity. The trustees of the Masonic Charitable Foundation have requested that for 2017 the annual contribution remain at £17.00 in respect of each member of a Lodge in a Metropolitan area or a Province, or in England and Wales that is unattached. A resolution to put this into effect appears at item 9 of the Paper of Business.

On 1 April 2016 the Masonic Charitable Foundation came into existence, to take over in due course the functions of the four main Masonic Charities. Although the Grand Charity remains a constituent part of the new Charity it is considered more appropriate that the annual contribution should for the future be directed to the new parent charity, which will enjoy greater flexibility in the distribution of its funds. Notice of Motion to amend the Book of Constitutions accordingly was approved.

Prestonian Lecture

(i) 2015: Wherever dispersed - the Travelling Mason

The Lecturer, W Bro Prof R. Burt, has informed the Board that in addition to the five official deliveries to Royal Standard Lodge, No. 398 (Montreal and Halifax); Shepherdʼs Bush Lodge, No. 1828 (London); Warwickshire Installed Masters Lodge, No. 4538 (Warwickshire); Torbay Masters Lodge, No. 8227 (Devonshire); and Worthing Lodge of Installed Masters, No. 9860 (Sussex), the Lecture was also delivered on twenty-two other occasions throughout the Constitution. The Board thanked Bro Burt for the considerable time and effort he has spent in this connection.

(ii) 2016: Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England

The Prestonian Lecturer for 2016 is W Bro Dr R.A. Berman.

Three official Prestonian Lectures for 2016 have been or will be given under the auspices of:

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

(iii) 2017: The Grand Design

The Board has submitted a nomination to the trustees of the Prestonian Fund and they have appointed RW Bro Dr J.W. Daniel, PSGW as Prestonian Lecturer for 2017. Bro Daniel states that the title of his Lecture will be: The Grand Design.

Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from Lodges. Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries.

The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge. It is, therefore hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by Lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.


The Board had received reports that the following Lodges have resolved to surrender their Warrants:

(a)   Semper Fidelis Lodge, No. 3453 and Sinceritas Lodge, No. 4934 in order to amalgamate with Lodge of Sincerity, No. 428 (Cheshire)
(b)   Comet Lodge, No. 7710, in order to amalgamate with Oakfield Lodge, No. 7011 (Surrey); and
(c)   Norman Arches Lodge, No. 7761, in order to amalgamate with Borlase Lodge, No. 6216 (Buckinghamshire).

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 has received a report that thirty-seven Lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The Lodges are:

Humphrey Chetham Lodge, No. 645 (East Lancashire), Renaissance Lodge, No. 1219 (East Lancashire), St James’ Abercorn Lodge, No. 1579 (London), Vincent Lodge, No. 3031 (London), Ribblesdale Lodge, No. 3393 (East Lancashire), Facta non Verba Lodge, No. 3409 (London), Marble Craft Lodge, No. 3522 (London), Crescent Lodge of Good Intent, No. 4524 (East Lancashire), Sunnyhurst Lodge, No. 4631 (East Lancashire), Justice Lodge, No. 4632 (East Lancashire), Collagen Lodge, No. 4733 (London), Madrigal Lodge, No. 5039 (East Lancashire), Vis Unita Lodge, No. 5041 (East Lancashire), Bromsgrove Lodge, No. 5414 (Worcestershire), Yale Lodge, No. 5636 (North Wales), Ormerod Lodge, No. 5713 (East Lancashire), Tylney Lodge, No. 5856 (Essex).

Lodge of Accord, No. 6195 (London), Bright Morning Star Lodge, No. 6245 (Surrey), Lodge of Thanksgiving, No. 6256 (Cheshire), Huntroyd Lodge, No. 6385 (East Lancashire), Lodge of Futurity, No. 6455 (Worcestershire), Lodge of St Andrew, Great Ilford, No. 6515 (Essex), Fairway Lodge, No. 6693 (East Lancashire), Fairfield Lodge, No. 7224 (East Lancashire), Golden Hind Lodge, No. 7325 (London), Dene Head Lodge, No. 7594 (East Lancashire), Lodge of Unanimity, No. 7721 (Surrey), Farfield Lodge, No. 8112 (North Wales), Lodge of Saint Jude, No. 8138 (Surrey), University of Aston Lodge, No. 8305 (Warwickshire), Huncoat Lodge, No. 8542 (East Lancashire) True and Faithful Lodge, No. 8562 (London), Lodge of Enterprise, No. 8757 (South Wales), Lodge of Good Heart, No. 8890 (West Kent), Erddig Lodge, No. 8933 (North Wales) and Debdale Lodge, No. 9400 (East Lancashire).

Over recent years, the Lodges have found themselves no longer viable. The Board is satisfied that further efforts to save them would be to no avail and therefore has no alternative but to recommend that they be erased. A resolution to this effect was approved.


As required by rule 277 (a) (i) (B), Book of Constitutions, 12 Brethren were recently expelled from the Craft. 

Grand Lodge Accounts 2015

The audited accounts of the Grand Lodge for the year ended 31 December 2015 were approved.

Election of Grand Lodge Auditors

The re-election of Crowe Clarke Whitehill LLP, as auditors of the Grand Lodge was approved.


There was a presentation from the Royal College of Surgeons of England.

List of New Lodges for which Warrants have been granted

9 March 2016

9925 Cornucopia Lodge of Provincial Grand Stewards of Derbyshire
9926 Buckinghamshire Motorcycle Lodge

Quarterly Communications

The Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge will take place on 14 December 2016, 8 March 2017, 26 April 2017 (Annual Investiture), 14 June 2017 and 13 September 2017.

Convocations of Supreme Grand Chapter

9 November 2016, 27 April 2017 and 8 November 2017.

Published in UGLE

Masonry, Migrants and Mariners

At the meeting of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, held on 25th January 2016 at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, the lodge welcomed the Prestonian Lecturer for 2015, W Bro Roger Burt, who delivered his lecture Masonry, Migrants and Mariners in the 19th Century.

This lecture was a further development of his original lecture, Wherever Dispersed: The Travelling Mason in the 19th Century, showing that historical knowledge never stands still.

W Bro Burt based his findings on lodges in Canada and America, as well as England and Scotland, and showed how men were able to move around and benefit from Freemasonry Universal. He also showed how the less scrupulous abused the brotherly generosity. It also showed the pride that brothers had in masonry, and from slides showing the development of towns, the importance placed on the citing of the Masonic Hall. This talk, delivered without notes, was well received by all those present.

At the end of the lecture W Bro Burt was thanked by the Master, W Bro David Sharpe, and presented with copies of the last two editions of the lodge’s Transactions. Those present then showed their hearty appreciation for enabling everyone to make a great advancement in their masonic knowledge.

W Bro Burt has kindly agreed that the lodge can publish his paper in the next edition of the Transactions, which will be issued in October 2016.

Place in the community

Director of Special Projects John Hamill recognises  Freemasonry’s tentative steps back into the spotlight after decades of non-participation in public events

 Pageantry is something for which the English are internationally recognised as being the masters. Be it a major state occasion such as the opening of Parliament, the Lord Mayor’s Show in London or a country town’s summer festival, we have a great sense of tradition, colour, precision and style.

Up until World War II, Freemasonry had a major part to play in that. Dr John Wade, in his 2009 Prestonian Lecture, gives a fascinating account of Freemasons ‘clothed in the badges of the Order’ taking part in public processions, either for masonic reasons or as part of national or local celebrations, throughout the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries.

The earliest recorded masonic processions were in London in the 1720s and 1730s, when the installation of the Grand Master would take place at one of the City livery halls. They would be preceded by a procession from the Grand Master’s residence through the City, with the noblemen in their carriages and the brethren in regalia following on behind. The events were reported in the press of the day but became subject to attention from a group calling themselves ‘The Scald Miserable Masons’ who began to run a mock procession a few days beforehand. The Grand Lodge ceased holding the procession and issued a rule that in future brethren could only appear in public in regalia by dispensation of the Grand Master or his deputy. 

‘Sadly, events in the late 1930s in Europe, the horrors of World War II and post-war austerity, as well as the resulting social changes, had their effects and Freemasonry became more inward-looking.’

Laying the foundations

Getting a dispensation was not a problem, as the many processions that took place demonstrated. 

On occasion, the procession was part of a ceremony, where brethren would be invited to lay the foundation stone of a public building, church, docks or bridge.

A procession of local civic and religious dignitaries, the militia, the town band and representatives of the Province and the local lodges, all in their civic, religious, military or masonic regalia, would precede the ceremony, which was open to the public and would usually be concluded by a return procession and some form of refreshment.

Sadly, events in the late 1930s in Europe, the horrors of World War II and post-war austerity, as well as the resulting social changes, had their effects and Freemasonry became more inward-looking. In the 1960s and 1970s public processions tended to be protest marches rather than celebrations, with the exception of the annual Armistice Day observances and local civic ceremonies.

In recent years, however, there have been moves towards more public displays. During Freemasonry in the Community Week in 2002 the then Pro Grand Master, Lord Northampton, said his most abiding memory was processing in full regalia with the brethren of Warwickshire from the masonic hall in Warwick to the collegiate church for a service of commemoration and rededication.

As its millennium project the Province of Durham helped to finance the rebuilding of a former Victorian masonic hall, previously in Sunderland, at the open-air Beamish Museum. The Provincial Grand Master was invited to lay the foundation stone and more than 500 brethren from Durham and neighbouring Provinces processed to the proposed site. The local media carried the event as a major news item.

When the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, attended to open the hall, again there was a huge procession to accompany the Grand Master and the Lord-Lieutenant in an open carriage to the site. A photograph of the procession appeared on the centre pages of the next day’s Guardian.

London brethren – particularly the City lodges – have provided a float for the past decade for the Lord Mayor’s procession each November, showing how much a part of the City community they are. Similar events have taken place in other parts of the country. While we are far from the halcyon pre-war days, these are small ways in which we can demonstrate Freemasonry’s place in our communities.

Published in Features

Foundations: new light and early years

Zetland and Hong Kong Lodge No. 7665 have kindly extended an invitation to Friends of the Library and Museum of Freemasonry to attend one of the official deliveries of the 2016 Prestonian lecture, the only official Craft lecture sanctioned by the United Grand Lodge of England. 

The lecture will be held at Freemasons’ Hall on Monday 25th April 2016, 5.00pm.

Please register your attendance by 1st April 2016 via the Library and Museum: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

The Prestonian Lecturer is Dr Ric Berman and the chosen subject is: Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England.

The 2016 Prestonian Lecture explores the evolution of Freemasonry, queries long-standing myths, and explains the step change that occurred with the creation of the first Grand Lodge of England in 1717.

Dr Ric Berman outlines the connections between Freemasonry and the British establishment in the eighteenth century, and how and why its leaders positioned Grand Lodge as a bastion of support for the government. He also touches on how Freemasonry was used to advance Britain’s diplomatic objectives and for espionage.

The lecture marks the upcoming 300th anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge and sets a context for 2017’s celebration.

The Prestonian Lecturer is appointed by the United Grand Lodge of England. This year’s lecturer, Ric Berman, is the author of Foundations of Modern Freemasonry first published in 2011 and now in its second edition; Schism (2013), which explains the real conflict between Moderns and Antients; and Loyalists & Malcontents (2015), a history of colonial and post-colonial Freemasonry in America's Deep South.

Published in More News

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

Above and beyond

Sharing a core belief in the importance of mutual respect and helping others, Freemasons are supporting The Scout Association as it takes its message to more young people, as Peter Watts discovers

When Carlos Lopez-Plandolit took stock of his work-life balance and decided to volunteer for his local Scout group in East London, he initially planned to drop in for an hour each week. But, he explains, ‘I quickly got sucked in and within two weeks ended up leading the group. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.’

Lopez-Plandolit’s group is located in a struggling inner-city borough, and these are precisely the areas the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys (RMTGB) will target with its substantial new grant to The Scout Association. ‘We are giving a three-year grant of £211,200 to the Better Prepared initiative, which funds and sustains Scout groups in 200 of the most deprived parts of the UK,’ explains Les Hutchinson, CEO of the RMTGB. 

The Scout Association plans to start 468 groups in these areas, and the RMTGB grant will get 66 of them started. Funds will pay for premises, uniforms, equipment, membership fees and training volunteers. Each new unit will receive £3,200, reflecting the greater level of support needed in areas identified as being deprived for reasons of poor health, education and crime by the Index of Multiple Deprivation. 

With the first RMTGB-funded groups launching by the end of 2015, the grant follows a donation of £500,000 in 2008 to The Scout Association from the Grand Charity in a partnership that lasted six years. The money was used to encourage more young people to join the Scouting movement, providing start-up and activity grants. In total, more than one million young people received new materials and equipment paid for by the Grand Charity’s grant, with over 1,600 new Scout sections formed and 23,500 young people becoming involved across England and Wales. 

For Hutchinson, the masonic funding is creating new opportunities: ‘The Scout Association has evidence that the skills Scouting provides can help with education and employment. Scouting really helps develop qualities that can make a difference later in life.’

Preparing for the future

Paul Wilkinson, the Better Prepared project manager, explains the strong educational thread that runs through The Scout Association. ‘Essentially, we’re trying to help young people grow and develop,’ he says. ‘We’re trying to help them take an active place in society, to learn to act with integrity, to be honest, trustworthy and loyal. We encourage them to have respect for other people and for themselves.’

Although Robert Baden-Powell was not a mason, the Scout movement he founded in 1907 has a strong overlap with the principles of Freemasonry. While some parallels are cosmetic, such as the use of signs, ranks, uniforms and regalia, others are intrinsic. Tony Harvey’s 2012 Prestonian Lecture focused on the connections between the two bodies. With both open to all – regardless of faith, race or background – Tony explained in the lecture how these two membership organisations share the same core values. 


‘Our mission is to change young people’s lives for the better,’ says Wilkinson, ‘and we are pleased to be working in partnership with Freemasonry across the UK. The masonic community shares our vision to deliver life-changing experiences to all young people, no matter what their background.’

Hutchinson echoes Wilkinson’s sentiments: ‘The key aspects of Scouting are respect for your fellow man, having a strict moral code and doing the right thing. That’s a large part of Freemasonry too.’ Non-mason Lopez-Plandolit, meanwhile, attributes the appeal of Scouting to one key factor: ‘What I love about it is that it seems to focus on the common denominators across all religions; it is about being kind to the environment, to your friends and family. They are very pure, these principles.’

Despite the leisure opportunities available to children today, The Scout Association has found that once it establishes a local group, children flock to it. The next challenge is to establish groups in areas where poverty has been a barrier to joining or volunteering. ‘We appeal to young people,’ says Wilkinson. ‘We know that if we go in with the right messages, young people are relatively easy to recruit and some are desperate to join.’ 

Lopez-Plandolit sees first-hand how young people respond to joining. The Beaver Scouts, who are the youngest section of the Scouting family at six to eight years old, describe their meetings in East London as the highlight of their week, relishing activities such as kayaking and climbing. Lopez-Plandolit’s young group are multinational and this is something he celebrates through activities such as cooking: ‘The children cook something from their parents’ country and everybody has to taste it and say what they like.’

The masonic grant for the Better Prepared project marks a major commitment for the RMTGB. ‘It is a significant undertaking,’ Hutchinson admits. ‘While the shape of the Trust will change as the four masonic charities come together, this grant will leave a lasting legacy of support for children from deprived backgrounds – our remit is to support children in the wider sense, not just children of masons, and this will enable us to reach out to those who most need our help in a very effective way.’ 

‘The Scout Association’s mission is to change young people’s lives for the better, and the masonic community shares our vision.’ Paul Wilkinson


The RMTGB will keep a close eye on the project as it develops. ‘Part of the reason we are donating in three instalments is so we can maintain some control,’ says Hutchinson. ‘We will receive regular reports so we can see the impact of the funding, and discover publicity opportunities to raise the profile of the masonic charity and Freemasonry in general. We also want to ensure the grants are evenly spread across England and Wales.’ 

The final instalment from the RMTGB coincides with the 300th anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England in 2017, and Hutchinson hopes that Freemasonry will take pride in the achievements of the initiative as it celebrates this important milestone. ‘We want to learn from each other,’ he says. ‘The Scout Association has a wealth of experience in working with children and will have practices we can use in our charitable work, now and in the future.’

While masonic contributions are being made at a national level, individuals can donate their time on a local level. An accountant, for example, could audit the books for their local group one night a year. The rewards are extolled by Lopez-Plandolit, who enthuses about his time as a volunteer with the Beaver Scouts. ‘They surprise you so much and are a constant reminder of how we should look at things as if it’s for the first time – to ask lots of questions,’ he says. ‘It’s a great outlook to have around me. I learn so much from them.’

Everyday Scouting

From cooking on open log fires through to building shelters and geocaching, there’s rarely a dull moment at the 2nd East London Scout group (pictured). Based on the Isle of Dogs, the group meets at least three nights a week to play games, set challenges and prepare for their annual scavenger hunt, which this year saw Scouts from across the county raising money for Nepalese aid projects. With 130 members in the 2nd East London group, each night caters to a different age range. ‘We are Scouting every day of the week,’ says Vicky Thompson, Scout leader. ‘Our kids never need to hang out on the streets because, with the Scouts, there’s always something to do.’

Letters to the Editor - No. 32 Winter 2015

Scout’s honour


I picked up your magazine today and the picture on the front moved me. I have been involved with the Guide association ever since my daughter attended Rainbows, and both my boys attended the movement from Beaver through to Scout. Your picture has captured everything there is to say about Scouting. I am hoping that it has brought a cheer to many more faces while they flick through your magazine. Well done.

Marion Bell, wife of Stephen Bell, Legheart Lodge, No. 6897, Welling, West Kent


Can I thank you for the article on Scouting in the latest issue of Freemasonry Today magazine? I have been involved with Scouts since I joined as a Wolf Cub in 1957, now serving as an assistant commissioner for the Lincoln district, as well as being a Past Master of two Scouting lodges.

Scouting greatly helped me after becoming disabled in 1974 following a horse riding accident. The Scouts did not mind ‘Skip’ having a wonky leg and helped me overcome my disability. Today I think there is much I can give back; after all, I get as much fun as the kids do out of it.

You don’t have to be a uniformed leader to help the organisation. Uniformed leaders run the day-to-day programmes but need the support of executive committees to look after the management side of Scouting. As many Freemasons have good life skills, they could be useful at group, district or county level. My own district meets every other month for a couple of hours to deal with mixed issues, from starting new groups to controlling the budget and various district events.

Scouting is expanding and in Lincoln we have started two new groups within a year, with two more in the planning. 

If you feel you might be interested in giving some time to Scouting, then you can look them up on their website. 

Hugh Sargent, Rudyard Kipling Lodge, No. 9681, Horncastle, Lincolnshire

Published in RMTGB

Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge

10 June 2015
Report of the Board of General Purposes

The minutes of the meetings of the Quarterly Communication of 11 March 2015 and of the Annual Investiture of 29 April 2015 were confirmed.

Annual Dues 2016 

A resolution was approved that a Board recommendation that the annual dues (including VAT) payable to Grand Lodge in respect of each member of every Lodge for the year 2016 shall be:

Dues 2015

Fees 2016

A resolution was approved that the Board recommendation that the fees (exclusive of VAT) payable for registration, certificates and dispensations should be increased in line with inflation to:

Fees 2015

Contribution to Grand Charity

A resolution was approved that the Council of the Grand Charity’s request that for 2016 the annual contribution remain at £17 in respect of each member of a Lodge in a Metropolitan Area or a Province, or in England and Wales that is unattached, was approved. 

Prestonian Lectures

2014: 1814: Consolidation and Change

The Lecturer, Dr M.A. Kearsley, had informed the Board that in addition to the three official deliveries to The London Grand Rank Association; Egerton Worsley Lodge No. 1213, Eccles (West Lancashire); and Temple of Athene Lodge No. 9541, Harrow (Middlesex), the Lecture was also delivered on 46 other occasions throughout the Constitution. The Board expressed its thanks to Bro Kearsley for the considerable time and effort he has spent in this connection. 

2015: Wherever dispersed – the Travelling Mason

The Prestonian Lecturer for 2015 is Prof R. Burt. Five official Prestonian Lectures for 2015 have been or will be given under the auspices of: Royal Standard Lodge No. 398 (Montreal and Halifax); Shepherd's Bush Lodge No. 1828 (London); Warwickshire Installed Masters Lodge No. 4538; (Warwickshire) Torbay Masters Lodge No. 8227 (Devonshire) and Worthing Lodge of Installed Masters No. 9860 (Sussex).

2016: The Board has submitted a nomination to the Trustees of the Prestonian Fund and they have appointed Dr R.A. Berman as Prestonian Lecturer for 2016. Dr Berman states that the title of his Lecture will be: Foundations: new light on the formation and early years of the Grand Lodge of England.

Arrangements for the delivery of the Lectures to selected Lodges will be considered by the Board in November and applications are now invited from lodges. Applications should be made to the Grand Secretary, through Metropolitan, Provincial or District Grand Secretaries.

The Board desires to emphasise the importance of these, the only Lectures held under the authority of the Grand Lodge. It is, therefore, hoped that applications for the privilege of having one of these official Lectures will be made only by lodges which are prepared to afford facilities for all Freemasons in their area, as well as their own members, to participate and thus ensure an attendance worthy of the occasion.


The Board had received a report that King Oswald Lodge No. 3306 had resolved to surrender its Warrant in order to amalgamate with Bank Terrace Lodge No. 462 (East Lancashire). A resolution that the Board recommendation that the Lodge be removed from the register in order to effect the amalgamation was approved.

Erasure of lodges

The Board had received a report that thirty-five Lodges have closed and have surrendered their Warrants. The Lodges are: Lodge of Sincerity No. 292 (West Lancashire); Architect Lodge No. 1375 (West Lancashire); Marlborough Lodge No. 1620 (West Lancashire); Beckenham Lodge No. 2047 (London); Mitcham Lodge No. 2384 (Surrey); Randle Holme Lodge No. 3261 (Cheshire); Murdoch Lodge No. 3480 (Warwickshire); Lodge of Amity No. 3845 (Warwickshire); Milton Lodge No. 3849 (Yorkshire, West Riding); Gordovic Lodge No. 4061 (Cheshire); Garrick Lodge No. 4246 (Cheshire); Hanwell Lodge No. 4676 (London); Tadorne Lodge No. 4735 (Surrey); Linacre Lodge No. 4823 (West Lancashire); Lombardian Lodge No. 4887 (West Lancashire); Caxton Lodge No. 5093 (Warwickshire); Wansbeck Lodge No. 5171 (Northumberland); St Cuthbert Lodge No. 5294 (Cumberland and Westmorland); West Twyford Coronation Lodge No. 5674 (London); Grey Friars Lodge No. 6080 (Warwickshire); Optima Lodge No. 6101 (West Lancashire); Abbey Lodge No. 6425 (Cumberland and Westmorland); Chedelintone Lodge No. 6508 (Oxfordshire); Maghull Lodge No. 7190 (West Lancashire); Bromley Lodge of Good Fellowship No. 7242 (West Kent); The Forester Lodge No. 7503 (Worcestershire); Cherrywood Lodge No. 7530 (Surrey); Lodge of Orleans No. 7955 (Middlesex); Arthur Hollins Lodge No. 8785 (Middlesex); Ernehale Lodge No. 8806 (Nottinghamshire); Tenwarden Lodge No. 8858 (East Kent); Sure and Steadfast Lodge No. 9326 (West Lancashire); Chypping Walden Lodge No. 9617 (Essex); St George and St Andrew Lodge No. 9677 (Cumberland and Westmorland) and Lodge of Renaissance No. 9724 (Warwickshire)

A resolution that the Board recommendation that they be erased was approved.

Grand Lodge Accounts for 2014

The Audited Accounts of Grand Lodge  for  the year ended 31 December 2014 were approved.

Election of Grand Lodge Auditors

The re-election of Crowe Clark Whitehill LLP, as Auditors of Grand Lodge was approved.

The Freemasonsʼ Fund for Surgical Research

A talk was given by J.A.H. West, Chairman of the Trustees of the Fund.

Expulsions from the Craft

Fifteen brethren were expelled from the Craft.

List of new lodges for which Warrants have been granted

11 March 2015

9906 Musket Pike and Drum Lodge, Staffordshire
9907 Universities Lodge of Staffordshire, Staffordshire
9908 Albert Edward Court Lodge of Research, South Wales
9909 Newent Daffodil Lodge, Gloucestershire
9910 Spirit of Rugby Lodge, Durham

30 April 2015

9911 Lodge of Uniformed Services, Cumberland and Westmorland
9912 Bundle of Sticks Lodge , Sussex
9913 Nigeria Centenary Lodge, Nigeria

Quarterly Communication

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, 9 September 2015. Subsequent Communications will be held on 9 December 2015, 9 March 2016, 8 June 2016 and 14 September 2016. 

The Annual Investiture of Grand Officers takes place on the last Wednesday in April (the next is on 27 April 2016), and admission is by ticket only. A few tickets are allocated by ballot after provision has been made for those automatically entitled to attend. Full details will be given in the Paper of Business for December Grand Lodge.

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 11 November 2015, 28 April 2016 and 9 November 2016.

Published in UGLE

Scout’s honour for Prestonian Lecture

Tony Harvey’s 2012 Prestonian Lecture, ‘Scouting & Freemasonry: two parallel organisations?’ has raised more than £50,000 in three years. He has delivered the lecture 66 times, with the funds raised donated to the Masonic Samaritan Fund and The Scout Association. So far, each charity has received over £20,000. Tony (pictured above) will continue to deliver the lecture throughout 2015 and 2016, raising funds for The Scout Association and the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys

The first united year

Dr Mike Kearsley was the honoured guest at Swinton masonic hall to give the Prestonian Lecture for 2014, ‘1814 Consolidation and Change: the first year of the United Grand Lodge of England’. The lecture, hosted by Egerton Worsley Lodge, No. 1213, Province of West Lancashire, is about the union of two rival English Grand Lodges that combined to become the United Grand Lodge of England.

The talk is seen through the perspective of three individuals who each played an important role in the union. They were HRH Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, the first Grand Master; William White, the first Grand Secretary; and Sir John Soane, the first Grand Superintendent of Works.

Published in More News
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