Wednesday, 13 March 2019 12:05

Pro Grand Master's address - March 2019

Quarterly Communication

13 March 2019 
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes

Brethren, I have recently had the privilege of visiting a number of our Districts, and although each trip was a unique experience, I became acutely aware that they all had something striking in common – how well the local Freemasons are an integral, and highly visible, part of their local communities. This January, the Deputy Grand Master had the pleasure of installing the new District Grand Master for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. Amongst the various Masonic activities, he took part in a large procession, in full regalia, to the local Cathedral for the Sunday service. He tells me the sense of pride from the members and their families was overwhelming. This was a group of men who are supported and encouraged by their families, and are warmly welcomed by the communities in which they reside. There was no sense of trying to hide the fact that they are Freemasons or justifying why they are members. It was simply the case that Freemasonry was not just an integral part of their lives, but also the lives of those around them.

Brethren, it could be seen as being fairly obvious that where a member has the support and backing of his family, he will fare better. What is not so obvious is the underlying need to encourage and nurture that support network. Bringing our families, and indeed our communities, into the fold, so to speak, is in my opinion vital to the future success of the Craft and it is telling that a number of Provinces now interview prospective candidates along with their partners present so that they too can ask questions and understand who we are and what we do.  

Programmes of events designed to assist and engage with those around us will go a long way towards educating the two fifths of the public who know that we exist, but have no idea what we do, and you will soon hear about some National Initiatives we are planning to accomplish just this. The Districts certainly have a winning formula in this respect. In each District I have visited, families have been heavily involved in the events surrounding our visits. When we bear in mind that the Districts are growing by 10 per cent year on year on average, we may be able to learn a few things from them.

I was thinking recently on how much time Freemasons in the UK spend on unpaid charitable, philanthropic, or civic activities. This includes those things our members do for others with an educational, sporting, charitable, religious or military bent; what they do for others in any spare time they might have when they are not in Lodge or learning ritual! 

We have looked into this and it will not surprise you to learn that early indications suggest that our members spend millions of hours collectively giving of themselves for the benefit of others.

I began to think how one might possibly put an hourly ‘value’ on the contributions that our members make to their communities and the people around them, but then the core values that all Freemasons hold in high estimation cannot be quantified. How can we ‘calculate’ our contributions? There seems to be a clear link between what we do ‘as Freemasons’ and what we do as good members of our community. 

Returning to the Deputy Grand Master’s trip to Antigua, Members, and their families, were proud, and it showed immensely. That visibility, engagement and sense of pride at both being a Freemason and a good person were palpable, and that obvious connection has been passed down through generations of Masons in our ritual – Freemasonry does indeed “rest upon the practice of every Moral and Social virtue”.

We all should be striving towards ensuring that we are visible, engaged and proud of our achievements, both as Freemasons and as people.

Brethren, we are referees, volunteer readers in school, church wardens, members of care home boards, Rotarians, poppy sellers and countless other ‘volunteer’ positions. Most of these will have nothing or very little to do with our Lodges or Province, but they all have a connection to a fundamental aspect of Freemasonry – making a positive impact in the lives of others. And Brethren, we certainly need to be more visible and more proud of these roles if we are to positively define what Freemasonry stands for to the next generation. Also, Brethren, if I were a betting man, which I am not, - well just the odd flutter - I would certainly have a bet that the Provinces that have the most family involvement are those with the best membership statistics. Let us all work on this aspect.

Published in Speeches

The recent Installation of the new District Grand Master/Grand Superintendent of the District Grand Lodge and Chapter of Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Clement Bird, saw the District welcome an NUD (Not Under a District) Lodge and Chapter into its fold when St. George Lodge and Chapter No. 3421 officially became part of the District

The Installation Ceremonies of the new District Grand Master/Grand Superintendent Clement Bird was conducted by United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE)'s Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence.

The transition from being an NUD Lodge to becoming part of the District is the first time such an event has happened in 30 years, when two other NUD Lodges in the Caribbean, St Ursula’s Lodge No. 8952 (British Virgin Islands) and Harmonic Lodge No. 356 (U.S. Virgin Islands), became part of the same District in 1989.

Until November 2018, St. George Lodge No. 3421, which was consecrated in March 1910, was one of only nine NUD Lodges that report directly to UGLE. However, after due consideration and long-term discussions amongst its current membership – and given its geographic location – the lodge requested that it be allowed to become part of the District.

St George Lodge’s members have been regular visitors to some of the 20 lodges in the islands that comprise Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean and felt that becoming part of a larger entity would offer them more support and enable them to tap into a greater educational resource function.

Friday, 07 December 2018 00:00

The Masonic Family: Rose Croix

A system of 33 degrees

The Ancient and Accepted Rite, or Rose Croix, is one of the oldest Orders, yet many Craft Freemasons know little about it. The Grand Secretary General explains how the Rite has attracted more than a quarter of a million members worldwide

Known outside England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland as the Scottish Rite, this order takes as its founding documents the Grand Constitutions of 1762 and 1786, the latter written by a group of eminent Freemasons under the titular direction of Frederick the Great. 

The first Supreme Council (as national governing bodies of the Rite are known) was founded in South Carolina in 1801, with responsibility for an area now known as the Southern Jurisdiction of the United States. A Supreme Council for the Northern Masonic Jurisdiction of the United States was created in 1813, and it is from that body that England and Wales received its warrant of constitution in 1845.

WHAT’S IN A NAME?

Documents issued with this warrant instructed that membership be restricted to those of the Trinitarian Christian faith, but today (apart from the British Isles and three other countries) all Supreme Councils around the world use the Craft requirement of a belief in a Supreme Being.

The Rite consists of 33 degrees, of which (in most jurisdictions) the three degrees of Craft Freemasonry are accepted in lieu of the first three degrees of the Rite. Of the remaining 30, different jurisdictions work different degrees, but in England and Wales just five are worked: the 18°, 30°, 31°, 32° and 33°. The only one worked in chapters is the 18°, known by the grand title of Sovereign Prince of the Rose Croix of Heredom. It is from this that the Order gets its nickname in England and Wales: Rose Croix. 

EDUCATING THE MEMBERSHIP 

The 18° is a profound and complex ritual, and one much loved by the members of the Order. The other four degrees are worked only at the Order’s headquarters in London. The ‘intermediate degrees’ from the 4° to the 17° are not worked in this country; however, a group of ritualists, the King Edward VII Chapter of Improvement, demonstrate one or two of them each year around the country for the education of the membership. 

The 30° is roughly equivalent to Past Master and is awarded to those who have successfully completed a year in the Chair of their chapter. Degrees beyond the 30° are strictly limited, being granted by the Supreme Council for outstanding service to the Order. These promotions are not mere investitures at which a collar or sash is awarded, but a full ritual carried out by the Supreme Council itself. 

Promotion to the 33°, the highest of the Rite, is restricted to Members of the Supreme Council, Inspectors General (roughly equivalent to Provincial Grand Masters) and a few other very senior members of the Order. Past members of the 33° have included Their Majesties King Edward VII, Edward VIII and George VI, and more recently Their Royal Highnesses The Duke of Kent and Prince Michael of Kent. The Duke of Kent is Grand Patron of the Order, an office formerly held by his father, the first Duke.

The Supreme Council collectively acts as Grand Master of the Order. No Council Member can instigate change without the unanimous consent of the others, which removes opportunities for confrontation. This also helps to maintain a happy and productive environment while the Council strives to work in the best interests of the Order and its members.

The Order has a flat structure: there are no Provincial Grand Lodges. Rather, each District is overseen by an Inspector General. There is therefore no significant gap in communications between individual members and the Supreme Council, a fact much prized both by the membership and the Council itself. The Supreme Council for England and Wales is ‘in amity’ with more than 40 other countries around the world, meaning members within this jurisdiction may visit chapters in those countries, thus promoting masonic harmony across the Scottish Rite, the largest international masonic community after the Craft.

For further information, contact the Supreme Council on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

FACTFILE

With their own terminology, structures and practices, each masonic Order is different from the next. Here we break down the origins, requirements and beliefs of Rose Croix.

Why is it called Rose Croix?

The nickname Rose Croix derives from the 18° of the Order, the Rose Croix of Heredom.

I have a friend who’s a member overseas, but he isn’t a Christian. Is he allowed to visit here?

Absolutely. So long as his jurisdiction is one of the 42 countries recognised by England and Wales, he would be welcome to visit any chapter here – subject to invitation, of course.

Where is it based?

The Order is based at 10 Duke Street, St James’s, London, traditionally known as the Grand East. It moved there in 1910 from its old headquarters, which had perhaps the most masonic address in London: 33 Golden Square!

What is the relationship between the Craft and Rose Croix?

Although neither formally recognises the other, in practice the relationship is an extremely close one. The Grand Master, Pro Grand Master and Deputy Grand Master are all members of the 33° and the Grand Master is the Grand Patron of the Order. Similarly, all nine Members of the Supreme Council are Grand Officers of UGLE.

Who runs it?

The Order is headed by a Supreme Council of nine eminent members. The current Sovereign Grand Commander (Chairman of the Council) is Alan Englefield, formerly Provincial Grand Master for Oxfordshire and the first Grand Chancellor of UGLE.

How many members are there?

There are around 27,000 members, with around 24,000 in England and Wales and 3,000 in its Districts overseas. Worldwide there are many, many more, with more than a quarter of a million in the US alone.

Is the country divided into Provinces in the same way as the Craft?

Yes, although in this Order they are called Districts. Each is headed by an Inspector General.

What is the supreme council’s emblem?

It is a double-headed eagle surmounted by a crown and holding a sword between its claws. A triangle on top of the crown displays the number 33. Underneath reads ‘Deus Meumque Jus’, which translates as ‘God and my right’.

Is Rose Croix an ‘invitation only’ Order?

Absolutely not! Membership is open to all those who have been a Master Mason for at least one year and are prepared to sign a declaration that they profess the Trinitarian Christian faith.

How many people hold the 33°?

There are around 150 members of the 33° in England and Wales, of whom the large majority are current or past Inspectors General.

Published in More News

Today is the first anniversary of the United Grand Lodge of England’s epic Tercentenary celebration at the Royal Albert Hall – and to mark the occasion a DVD has been released

Over 4,000 Freemasons from Provinces and Districts were joined by representatives from over 130 sovereign Grand Lodges from around the world for this Especial Meeting to mark 300 years since the founding of the world’s first Grand Lodge for Freemasons.

The event started with the procession of Grand Officers entering the Hall, before the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, took his place in the Queens’s Box, accompanied by the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton. The audience then witnessed a theatrical extravaganza which embraced the rich history and heritage of Freemasonry and featured a cast of renowned actors including Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Sanjeev Bhaskar.

The DVD is available to all UGLE members and has been distributed to Provincial Offices – please contact them if you have not received your DVD.

The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, spoke about the historic event, which you can view below.

Published in UGLE

Over 40 Freemasons met for a Masonic-themed wine tasting evening in Hong Kong, to mark the first New and Young Masons Club established in one of the Districts under the United Grand Lodge of England

One Kennedy Club (1KC) is part of the New and Young Masons Club initiative from UGLE, with roots from London’s Connaught Club. It has been founded to give new and young Freemasons in Hong Kong a means to meet and socialise with like-minded people newer in the Craft, whilst building camaraderie within the fraternity bridging Hong Kong’s many English Lodges.

The event at ‘The Flying Winemaker’ 28 March 2018 was a spectacular success with many in attendance praising the need for such a club within Freemasonry in Hong Kong and the Far East and sharing their eagerness to attend the next event. What many newer and younger Brethren found particularly beneficial was the active discussions about Freemasonry and the sense of camaraderie in an informal social environment, as a refreshing addition to formal Lodge meetings.

The Masonic wine-tasting theme for the event was revealed halfway through the evening to everyone’s surprise. All wines presented for tasting either had a Masonic connection or the winemaker himself was a Freemason. Money was also raised to purchase charity raffle tickets for prizes of electronics and wine which will be consolidated amongst future events and donated to charitable causes at the end of the year.

The fun-filled evening was honoured by the presence of the District Grand Master Vivian Lee, who gave several speeches throughout in support of the establishment of One Kennedy Club, and was accompanied by the District Grand Secretary Richard Jones. Making the evening more special, the District Grand Master presented a letter from the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, congratulating and encouraging the establishment of 1KC.

This was augmented by the delivery of a heartfelt keynote video address from the Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence on the roles these new and young Freemasons clubs will play in the future of Freemasonry. In his video address, Jonathan Spence said: 'May I send my congratulations to the One Kennedy Club on its foundation and also to congratulate the District of Hong Kong and its District Grand Master and other Rulers on the establishment of the first New and Young Masons Club in one of the Districts.

'Many Provinces now have their own club and those clubs tend to meet at least once a year at an annual conference. I was very lucky to attend the last conference in Birmingham and saw how vibrant and instructive it was that the young Masons really do see a bright future for Freemasonry. The future of the Craft is in your hands and I have no doubt that over the next 20 years we will see proper fruits of this initiative and I wish you every success in the future, and look forward to paying a visit to the One Kennedy Club when I’m next in Hong Kong.'

As the One Kennedy Club Organising Committee prepares for the next event, they paid tribute to those who helped organise the event, including Eddie McDougall and his team for hosting it at The Flying Winemaker, Michael Karasek for donating some of his self-grown wines from Australia and Clinton Lee from Canada for donating wine from his winery. There was also a special thank you to Jason Wong, a Committee Member of the Connaught Club in London, for his guidance and assistance along the way in setting up the 1KC in Hong Kong.

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

The Tercentenary celebrations reached their peak on 31 October, when more than 4,000 brethren attended an especial meeting of the Grand Lodge at London’s Royal Albert Hall

Those present will long remember this wonderful event. 

Proceedings began when Grand Lodge was opened and called off in a side room. Following the fanfare, the Grand Master took his place in the Queen’s Box to huge applause, accompanied by HRH Prince Michael of Kent. The visiting Grand Masters were then introduced, while their location and Grand Lodge seals were gradually added to a map of the world projected on two large screens.

As it was an especial meeting, there was no formal business, and entertainment was provided by actors Sir Derek Jacobi, Samantha Bond and Sanjeev Bhaskar, with screen projections exemplifying the principles, tenets and values of Freemasonry. The play gave insight into Freemasonry’s history over the last 300 years with reference to the famous men who have graced it with their presence. Those who organised this memorable performance deserve great thanks.

'The 4,000 brethren present at the Royal Albert Hall will long remember this wonderful event'

At the end of the evening, the Grand Master was processed onto the stage. The Deputy Grand Master read out a message of loyal greeting sent to Her Majesty The Queen, and the response received. Then, with the assistance of the Grand Chaplain, the replica of Sir John Soane’s Ark of the Masonic Covenant was dedicated. 

The Pro Grand Master congratulated the Grand Master on his 50th anniversary in that role and thanked him for his service. In response, the brethren rose and gave the Grand Master a prolonged standing ovation. He was clearly touched. The Grand Master was then processed out of Royal Albert Hall with his Grand Officers.

It was a remarkable occasion, and all who were involved in organising it are due our grateful thanks for such a fitting celebration of the Tercentenary of the first Grand Lodge in the world.

Published in UGLE

In late 2001, Lichfield mason Roger Manning suggested the creation of a masonic memorial to be sited at the new National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent

It was agreed by all that the masonic garden should serve in the remembrance of all Freemasons, whether they had died in the service of their country or through sickness, accident or old age. There would be no reference on the site to specific lodges, groups or individuals.

Sixteen years later, following four different Provincial Grand Masters, two architects, more than a dozen designs, planting failures, floods, dozens of detailed reports and many meetings, The Masonic Memorial Garden was finally unveiled on 18 April 2017 to more than 300 brethren and civic dignitaries.

The service was witnessed by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, then President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson and Grand Secretary Willie Shackell.

A welcome to all in attendance was given by local builder and mason Eddie Ford, who had been responsible for the garden’s development over the entire 16-year period. The dedication service was then undertaken by the Provincial Grand Chaplain the Reverend Bernard Buttery.

Published in UGLE

United Grand Lodge of England's Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton graced a regular meeting of Marlow Lodge No. 2752 in Buckinghamshire on 14th February 2018

Sir David, who is also President of the Universities Scheme, was escorted by Alan Baverstock, Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies. Also in attendance were Julian Soper, Deputy Chairman of the Universities Scheme, and Nigel Scott-Moncreiff, Vice Chairman of the Universities Scheme.

The Buckinghamshire Provincial Executive team was led by John Clark, the Provincial Grand Master on his first official visit, accompanied by Hugh Douglas-Smith, Deputy Provincial Grand Master and  Assistant Provincial Grand Masters, Graham Dearing, Philip Blacklaw and Tony Robinson.

All the distinguished guests, as well as members of the lodge, then witnessed a Second Degree ceremony. The candidate Marco Davi was congratulated by the Assistant Grand Master and the Provincial Grand Master before the brethren retired to the dining room to enjoy the festive board.

This was the first time in the 120 years history of Marlow Lodge that one of the UGLE Rulers was in attendance and proved to be a lasting memory to all those present.

Published in Universities Scheme

Over 500 Buckinghamshire Freemasons were present at Freemasons' Hall on 9th February 2018, where John Clark was installed as the Provincial Grand Master of the Province of Buckinghamshire

The Installation was conducted by the United Grand Lodge of England's Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence and the visiting Officers of Grand Lodge.

John Clark then Invested Hugh Douglas Smith as Deputy Provincial Grand Master and reappointed Graham Dearing and Phil Blacklaw as Assistant Provincial Grand Masters. Tony Robinson recited the Obligation and was also invested as Assistant Provincial Grand Master.

Alongside over 500 Buckinghamshire Freemasons, brethren from many other Provinces were also in attendance and following the ceremony enjoyed a banquet in the Grand Connaught Rooms.

Both the Deputy Grand Master and the new Provincial Grand Master thanked all those present for their attendance and delighted everyone with amusing speeches.

John Clark then presented Jonathan Spence with a pair of magnificent gold cuff links, replicating the Hall Stone Jewel.

During the ceremony, John Clark was also wearing the Hall Stone Jewel around his neck, with Buckinghamshire the only Province in possession of the gold and coloured enamel jewel on a dark blue collarette. This distinctive jewel was given to Buckinghamshire and the Districts of Japan (now defunct) and Burma (in abeyance) in recognition that every one of their lodges contributed an average in excess of five hundred guineas (£525.00) to the Masonic Million Memorial Fund.

This fund went towards establishing a memorial to the brethren who made the ultimate sacrifice during the First World War, which resulted in the erection of UGLE's current headquarters at Freemasons' Hall.

It is why Buckinghamshire is known as the only Hall Stone Province in English Freemasonry, and can boast the unique distinction of being the sole and proud wearer of such a jewel. Read more about the Hall Stone Jewels here.

Quarterly Communication

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.

Published in Speeches
Page 1 of 6

ugle logo          SGC logo