Well done to Metropolitan Grand Lodge for braving the rain and appearing at the Lord Mayor's Show!
You can see the footage of them on the BBC's website from 1:02:32 onwards here. It is online until 16th November.
Warwickshire on show
Civic leaders joined the annual church service of the Province of Warwickshire and the procession to the Collegiate Church of St Mary. District council chairman Cllr Richard Davies and county council chairman Cllr David Shilton walked to the church, which has an association with Freemasonry that goes back to at least 1728 when the Master of the first Warwickshire lodge was the vicar. Local masons presented the church with an oak pulpit in 1897.
Representatives of the Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Christian faiths were also present at the multi-denominational service conducted by Provincial Grand Chaplain and Methodist lay minister John Cowan. Provincial Grand Master David Macey presented a cheque for £7,400 to the vicar, followed by £1,000 from the service collection.
In another civic event, the Deputy Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr John Lines, invited Warwickshire and Worcestershire masons to attend the annual Lord Mayor’s Show in the city centre, helping to raise funds for his chosen charities.
How open should we be?
London's Kent Club continued its series of educational events with a visit to Kent Lodge No. 15, who were receiving a talk by the Grand Secretary, Nigel Brown, entitled: PR: How open should we be?
As this was a lodge meeting, the talk was preceded by work held over from the host lodge's previous meeting: a near-faultless explanation of the First Degree Tracing Board by W Bro Neil Ryce, which was received with great enthusiasm by the assembled brethren, and in particular by the three brethren who had been initiated at recent meetings.
The Grand Secretary then spoke, without notes, for around half an hour on this very important topic.
Most of us know that masonry is becoming more open, but it was good to hear the reasons why masonry had gone underground and become so secretive. And to see the contrast with the late nineteenth century when The Telegraph and other newspapers had their own masonic journalists to cover events on a constant basis as masonic news.
Bro Brown pointed out that that whilst there had been difficulties for some masons with their employers in previous years, Grand Lodge had gone to court to make sure that discrimination would not be tolerated. Questions on application forms, or other singling-out of brethren which could imply discriminatory intentions against masons, had been found by the court to be illegal. He went on to explain that the courts had not only ruled that Freemasonry was not a secret society, but also (in an earlier judgement) ruled that it was not a religion.
He urged us to assist in placing Freemasonry back at the heart of the community, by dispelling myths and incorrect assumptions.
Bro Brown cited an example of a typical conversation between friends and acquaintances at a dinner party where the question of Freemasonry might come up. Yes, he said, the conversation might start off with laughter about rolled-up trouser legs and talk of us being a secret society, bent on world domination or other nefarious objectives, but if these views were politely but firmly challenged, then it might very well end with those in the conversation revealing that their grandfather or uncle had been a mason, and how impressed they were with the tremendous fundraising done by masons!
This brought him to a further point regarding our strong charitable giving: he emphasised that whilst it was of course "blind" and that we did not expect to get anything in return, it was both fair and proper that we should be thanked for the difference our money was able to make and thanked publicly.
Part of engaging with the non-masonic world and being more open is engaging with the media, both traditional and social - and with the example of official tweets being sent from Quarterly Communications, he underlined that UGLE has embraced technological change.
He went on to say that all of the Provincial and Metropolitan Information Officers had been on training courses to equip them for the requirements of the post, including specific television/media training for those who might be called upon to act as spokesmen for masonry. He also disclosed that the title Information Officer was to change to Communications Officer to reflect this change and to underline our openness.
Diverse questions followed from members of all ages and ranks, including how to deal with unspoken disapproval of Craft membership from more senior colleagues being experienced by some junior professionals; whether the reintroduction of public processions in regalia would continue to be encouraged; how to tackle public misconceptions caused by those amongst our own members who themselves appear to be propagating poor information or pandering to sensationalism; and whether the Orator scheme could be developed as an adjunct to openness.
The questions were answered with the same warmth and wit as the delivery of the speech itself, with the underlying theme that we should be as open as we can (although without nullifying the appropriate mysteries of the Craft), thereby helping to overcome mistakes and negative opinions by setting the record straight. In particular, the Grand Secretary agreed that some Brethren had good reason to keep their membership confidential, explained how it is planned to build further upon the success of the public procession at the Lord Mayor’s Show, emphasized that some masons should be more careful not to endorse nonsense, and announced that the Orator scheme is currently being restructured for greater relevance and effectiveness.
The Grand Secretary sat down to prolonged applause, and afterwards joined the Brethren for a fine dinner with good cheer and traditional formalities.
At almost eight-hundred years old, the Lord Mayor’s Show is a part of London’s history. In 2012, Freemasons joined the parade in full regalia
The inauguration of the Lord Mayor of the City of London and the associated public parade, known as the Lord Mayor’s Show, is a keenly anticipated annual event. In 2012, the six hundred and eighty-fifth Lord Mayor of London, Alderman Roger Gifford, took office on 9 November in the Silent Ceremony, before leaving the City of London the following morning to travel to the Royal Courts of Justice to swear loyalty to the Crown.
It’s a procession that dates back to 1215 when King John made the Mayor of London one of England’s first elected offices. Every year the newly elected mayor would have to present himself at court and swear loyalty, travelling up-river to the small town of Westminster to give his oath. The Lord Mayor has made that journey almost every year since, despite plague, fire and wars, in order to pledge loyalty to thirty-four kings and queens of England.
Freemasons have been part of the procession in the Lord Mayor’s Show for a number of years, but last year, for the first time since 1937, the brethren marched in full regalia with their own banners as well as a group banner. Each sponsoring lodge had its name and number on its banner together with an area of need supported by masonic charities in London. With a positive reception from the crowd and – reasonably – good weather for November, this was a day to remember for those marching and viewing.
For the fourth year in succession, London Freemasons supported the Lord Mayor’s Show and the installation of the 684th Lord Mayor of London, Alderman David Wootton
This year’s float theme was the Metropolitan Masonic Charity’s appeal in support of the cancer-busting CyberKnife, currently in use and saving lives at St Bartholomew’s Hospital, which London masons are enthusiastically supporting.
Freemasons feel a particular bond with the City of London, as the history of English Freemasonry has many similarities with the structures, aims and appeal of the ancient Livery Companies of the City. The first-ever Grand Lodge was also founded in the City by London masons meeting in a coffee house in St. Paul’s Churchyard in 1717.
The Lord Mayor’s Show is the world’s oldest civic procession, reflecting nearly 800 years of London’s history and marching unscathed through everything from the Black Death to the Blitz. It is a day out for half a million people, with millions more watching on television. The modern procession is more than three miles long.
A new exhibition looks at how changes in society and its attitudes have affected the ways in which Freemasons have felt able to be part of the wider public life of the country
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry is exploring the history of public masonic activities. There are few towns in England and Wales without a masonic hall and civic foundation-stone layings and processions frequently had a masonic component, with buildings as diverse as the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and Truro Cathedral enjoying masonic ceremonies at their beginnings. More recently, hundreds of Freemasons in regalia inaugurated the rebuilt Masonic Hall at Beamish Open Air Museum and Freemasons regularly feature in the Lord Mayor’s Show in the City of London.
Another example of the active role masons played in public life can be found in the building of the first bridge across the Wear river in Sunderland, which was an important factor in the area’s economic development. The foundation stone was laid by local Freemason and MP, Rowland Burdon, in 1793 and the stone itself records that the event was attended by Freemasons, magistrates and ‘principal gentlemen of the County of Durham’. Although the bridge only took 10 days to put up, the formal opening did not take place until three years later in a masonic ceremony attended by the Duke of Gloucester.