Unlike many students, partying was the last thing on John Henry Phillips’ mind when he headed to the University of Leicester in 2013
After spending four years touring Europe as part of a rock band, John was eager to indulge in his archaeological passions.
It was the discovery of a World War I grenade during his first visit to the fields at Flanders in Belgium that inspired John to apply to study archaeology. After being accepted onto a course in Leicester (with the same university department that discovered Richard III’s remains in a local car park in 2012), John became interested in the Universities Scheme, which forges links between lodges and young people who are seeking to become involved in Freemasonry.
‘Student living can be quite intense,’ recalls John. ‘So Freemasonry was a great opportunity to step away from it all, to do something positive and unselfish rather than just going on a pub crawl.’ In December 2013, John was officially initiated into Wyggeston Lodge, No. 3448.
The overlap between the history of Freemasonry and the world wars had a strong appeal for John. ‘As a historical fraternity, it ties in with my interests. I particularly like masonic traditions that originate from those eras – such as raising a glass to absent brethren at lodge dinners, which stems from World War I,’ he says.
It is this sense of tradition, combined with the support of the fraternity, that John believes young people could benefit from most. ‘It’s an uncertain time for young people. Freemasonry could be a welcome constant for many,’ he says. ‘But it’s a two-way street. Young people have more diverse experiences and perspectives than they did 50 years ago. I think we have just as much to offer in the way of new ideas.’
What does the Tercentenary mean to you?
‘It’s a real honour to think back over 300 years of history and know that you’re a part of a long line of people who achieved great things. I try and work the morals of Freemasonry into all of the work I do.’
St Deny's Lodge No. 8276, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, celebrated 100 years of Freemasonry on 25th January 2018 when two of its members received certificates to mark 50 years of service to Freemasonry
During the morning, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger presented the 50 years service certificate to John Booton in the Holmes Lodge Room, accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and Provincial Grand Secretary Kelvin Johnson, together with a number of St Deny's Lodge members.
Later that same day, David Hagger attended the lodge meeting to present the 50 years service certificate to Mike Jacobs.
John Booton was initiated into Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 in December 1966 and joined St Deny's Lodge in 1969, where he became Master in 1978. He subsequently joined the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1983 and was Master in 1999.
He was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1991 and acted as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1998 until 2002. He was given the grand rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1992 and Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2003.
Mike Jacobs was initiated into St Deny's Lodge in January 1968 and was installed as Master in 1985. He is currently the Mentor, having previously been Chaplain. He was given the Provincial rank of Provincial Grand Registrar in 1999 and promoted to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2014.
The Lodge of Research No. 2429 held a Symposium to celebrate 'Three Hundred Years of Leicestershire Freemasonry' at their Lodge meeting on 22nd January 2018 in Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester
Aubrey Newman OSM PJGD put together four exciting short papers which were delivered by members of the Lodge. The Master Alf Sharman presided over the Symposium which was very well received by the members and visitors who were in attendance.
The Symposium was started by Andy Green, who explored the formation and demise of the early and short-lived lodges across Leicestershire which form the very foundation of the lodges existing today in the Province.
Aubrey Newman then focused on the various Provincial Grand Masters of Leicestershire and Rutland, discussing how far they reflected the ways in which there have been changes in the 'ruling social classes' in the Province, and additionally reflecting on the Provincial Grand Master during 1870-1873, William Kelly, emphasising how unusual his career was.
The Symposium continued with David Herbert speaking about the Duke of Sussex, who was the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, and the record of one famous Lodge meeting at which a prominent Leicester Freemason also played a significant part.
Finally, Don Peacock picked out some of the highlights of the transition from the Provincial headquarters at Halford Street, Leicester, to the new Hall at London Road, highlighting how the move, although very successful, also brought with it a number of problems that had to be addressed.
The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger then gave a summary address: 'Last year was a momentous year for Freemasonry with the celebration of the Tercentenary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge.'
'I am therefore pleased to hear the papers celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry in this Province and to congratulate the brethren who delivered them this evening. A splendid example of dedicated research, which places this Province, particularly this Lodge, at the forefront of this research. We can be extremely proud of their efforts and may I congratulate all involved in arranging this evening. Clearly a lot of hard work and research has been involved and we are the beneficiaries of it.'
The papers will be published in the Lodge of Research Transactions later this year, titled as below:
Early Lodges in the Province – Dr. Andrew R. Green PAGStB
Thee Provincial Grand Masters – Aubrey N. Newman OSM PJGD
The Duke of Sussex and his Royal Brothers – David Herbert PProvJGW
Behind the scenes - Provincial Hall Committee meetings – Donald A. Peacock PAGDC
During recent work on the heating system at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, the removal of a panel has revealed a plethora of masonic artefacts and memorabilia
The items were found in two locked chests belonging to Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, and a small metal box, which had belonged to Henry Deane, one of the early members of Howe and Charnwood. How long they had been behind the panel is not known, nor why they were there, but other documents recovered included the Minute Books of Howe and Charnwood Lodge from 1864 to 1979, Attendance Registers to 1965 and early Declaration Books.
Within the items is an early photograph album containing a picture of Earl Howe. There is also a photograph of the Master and officers of the lodge for 1895-96.
RW Bro Richard William Penn, 1st Earl Howe was Provincial Grand Master of the then Leicestershire Province from 1856 and became the first Provincial Grand Master of the combined Province of Leicestershire and Rutland until 1869. He was also the Deputy Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England from 1844 to 1866.
Among the other items discovered are the Grand Lodge certificates of many early brethren, including Charles F. Oliver, who became Provincial Grand Master in 1928. In addition, there is Grand Chapter certificate issued to William Grimes Palmer, who joined the Chapter of Fortitude, No. 348 (now 279), on 27th November 1843.
All the certificates have been professionally scanned and have been housed in the Museum at Freemasons Hall in Leicester. Prints have been made and are being held at Loughborough along with digital copies.
David Sharpe, a member of Howe and Charnwood Lodge No. 1007, commented: 'It seems that a number of these items were sent to Loughborough when it was proposed to set up a museum in the early 1970s. It was felt that as they were Loughborough Masons, they should be kept locally.'
Freemasons from Leicestershire and Rutland, who cycled 300 miles during the summer, made their last short trip from Leicester to Loughborough to present a cheque for £11,704 to Rainbows Children’s Hospice in Loughborough
In June 2017, 23 Freemasons cycled around the Masonic centres in Leicestershire and Rutland and down to Freemasons’ Hall in London and back – completing a total of 300 miles as part of their 300th anniversary celebrations.
A total of £23,408 was raised from Freemasons, family and friends which was split equally between Rainbows and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.
A number of the cyclists took the short ride to Rainbows Hospice at Lark Rise in Loughborough to present the cheque to David Strudley, Rainbows CEO. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger was also on hand to formally present the cheque.
After light refreshments, the cyclists were delighted to have a guided tour of the Hospice and hear first-hand about the amazing care and support provided by Rainbows for life-limited children and their families.
Simon Oldfield, who organised the ride, said: ‘Riding 300 miles in four days was a first for many of us. After seeing the excellent work that Rainbows do, it makes me very proud to be a Freemason and to have been part of the team to help raise funds for such an amazing charity.
‘We all felt very humbled and everyone who took part in the ride, the cyclists and support team, felt immensely proud of our fundraising achievement and the opportunity to support such a deserving local charity. It made all the hard work of training through the depths of winter so very worthwhile.’
David Strudley, Rainbows CEO, commented: ‘We are especially grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons in making Rainbows Hospice part of their 300th anniversary fundraising event. The magnificent total raised from their cycling marathon will go a long way to supporting youngsters with life-limiting conditions and their families when they need it most.’
Provincial Grand Master David Hagger added: ‘I most sincerely thank the cyclists and assisting crew on behalf of all the Freemasons and their families in Leicestershire and Rutland for the generous contribution they have made – it is truly a magnificent achievement.’
The Tercentenary celebrations of Freemasonry in Leicestershire and Rutland culminated in a Service of Thanksgiving at Leicester Cathedral on Sunday 29th October 2017
Before the service, the Freemasons processed in glorious sunshine from Jubilee Square to the Cathedral. This was the first the time in 94 years that a public procession by the Freemasons has taken place through the streets of Leicester.
Upon arriving at the Cathedral, the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger was welcomed outside by the Dean, Very Reverend David Monteith. They both then welcomed the Lord Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Lady Gretton and the Lord Lieutenant of Rutland, Sir Laurence Howard. Other guests present included Civic leaders Councillor Rashmikant Joshi, Lord Mayor of Leicester, Janice Richards, Chairman of Leicestershire County Council, Craig Mitchell, High Sheriff of Rutland, Councillors Pauline Ranson, Mayor of Charnwood, Tejpal Singh Bains, Mayor of Melton Borough Council, Ozzy O’Shea, Mayor of Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, Graham Spendlove-Mason, Chairman of Harborough District Council, and Trevor Matthews, Chairman of Blaby District Council.
The service began with a rousing rendition of the Old Hundredth Psalm supported by the Junior Girls and Songmen of the Cathedral Choir accompanied by David Cowen, Assistant Organist. The Provincial Grand Master gave the first lesson, Old Testament 1 Kings 8.22-30, and after the congregation sang 'Now thank we all our God', the Master of Granite Lodge No. 2028, Richard Barnett, gave the second lesson, New Testament Matthew 5.1-16.
The Reverend Cannon Michael Wilson, Canon Emeritus Leicester Cathedral and Grand Chaplain gave a thought provoking Sermon on the contribution of Freemasonry in the local communities.
Over many years, Freemasons and their wives, families have taken an active role in Leicester Cathedral and have made significant gifts, both financially and otherwise. Those gifts have included the Coronation Bell of King George VI in 1937, a silver cyborium, two stained glass windows, and more recently, to a large donation to The Richard III Reinternment Appeal.
To mark the Tercentenary, the Provincial Grand Master then presented the Dean with a sliver Verge, to be known as the Dean’s Verge saying: ‘I present to you for Leicester Cathedral’s blessing and use this Deans Verge to mark with Thanksgiving 300 years of the Grand Lodge of England.’
The Verge consists of a dark wooden staff with a ribbon of silver winding decoratively down it that portrays the four mystical creatures that denote the gospels of St Mathew, St Mark, St Luke and St John, together with the Masonic Square and Compasses, and also together with the arms of the United Grand Lodge of England. It was crafted by contemporary designer silversmith, Phil Jordan, who is based in Leicestershire.
The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘Four Lodges met on the 24th June 1717 in the Goose and Gridiron Public House adjacent to St Paul’s Cathedral in London and formed the first Grand Lodge in the world. Little could they have realised at that time, we would be celebrating this event 300 years later all across the world including today’s service of thanksgiving in Leicester Cathedral.’
The service concluded with 'God be in my head' and the National Anthem before the Ecclesiastical, Civic and Masonic Processions retired from the Cathedral. Many guests returned to Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, for a wonderful afternoon tea served with plentiful sandwiches and cake.
As part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s 300th Anniversary celebrations, Freemasons from across Leicestershire and Rutland took part in a historic parade through the streets of Leicester – which last occurred in 1923
In glorious sunshine, over 100 Freemasons of all ages gathered in Jubilee Square wearing their Masonic Regalia and subsequently paraded to Leicester Cathedral via the High Street, Gallowtree Gate, Market Place, Grey Friars and on to St Martins prior to a Service of Thanksgiving.
During the 18th and 19th Century, Freemasons regularly took part in public processions including assisting with the laying of many foundation stones for buildings such as the Town Hall and the Children’s Hospital at Leicester Royal Infirmary. The last occasion was on the 24th June 1923, when a special Masonic Service was held at St George's Church to commemorate the Centenary of the laying of the first Foundation Stone in 1823.
A 20-piece brass band, consisting of members from Croft Silver Band, Wigston Band, Kibworth Band and Foresters Band, began to play at precisely 2pm and proceeded on the route. The Freemasons, including several Masters of Lodges, were lined up in two rows, and followed the band in procession and a steady pace. At the rear was the Provincial Standard Bearer bearing the Leicestershire and Rutland Banner, who was leading the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and the UGLE’s Deputy Grand Secretary Graham Redman.
Many shoppers in the area were intrigued at the unusual sight of the Masonic procession and stopped to watch as it went by. The Procession arrived promptly at Leicester Cathedral at 2.15pm and was welcomed by the Dean, Very Reverend David Monteith who conducted the Service of Thanksgiving.
The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger said: ‘This was a wonderful occasion to mark the Tercentenary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge in the world. I sincerely thank all the brethren who took part in this historic procession, the likes of which Leicester hasn’t seen for nearly 100 years.
‘I hope that it will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic society which has been an integral part of our local communities for 300 years.’
A new and exciting exhibition opened in Leicester on Friday 6th October 2017, as local Freemasons marked the celebration of the 300th anniversary of the formation of their governing body, the United Grand Lodge of England
The exhibition provides insights into what Freemasonry is all about and how it has become a significant social institution that is supportive towards local communities.
Freemasonry, What’s it all About? explores the intriguing relationship between present, past and the future of Freemasonry across Leicestershire and Rutland. The exhibition covers well known historical figures and Freemasons of Leicestershire and Rutland through the years and showcases current into Freemasonry and its members, as well as featuring a look into the future of Freemasonry.
This welcoming local journey through Freemasonry shares personal stories and insights of Freemasons across the ages, particularly those that have affected the counties of Leicestershire and Rutland.
The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, David Hagger, said: ‘Freemasonry provides a unique environment for people from all backgrounds to learn skills, make lasting friendships and achieve their potential. This exhibition is an exciting project and I hope it will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.’
The exhibition is a collaborative project between Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, Newarke Houses Museum and the Leicestershire and Rutland Record Office, bringing together a varied and engaging exhibition for all. The exhibition has been kindly constructed by volunteers at the WMG Academy for Young Engineers, Coventry with printing by Gartree Press Ltd, Leicester.
Freemasonry, What’s it all About? has been developed and created by a young and exciting local curator, Sophia Kyprianou in conjunction with local Freemasons. She commented: ‘Throughout my time working on the exhibition I have been amazed at how much Freemasonry is supportive, committed and involved at the heart of so many local communities across the counties. Unearthing stories from past and present Freemasons has been incredibly interesting and is something I am keen to share with the public in a creative way throughout the exhibition; giving an insight into what Freemasonry is and how it continues to be an integral part of modern society.’
The exhibition was formally opened by the Pro Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, Peter Lowndes on a visit to the region.
Freemasonry, What’s it all About? is at Newarke Houses Museum, The Newarke, Leicester, until the 31st January 2018. The exhibition is open Monday to Saturday from 10am-5pm, and Sunday from 11am-5pm.
For further information about the exhibition and venue, please click here.
Age UK will recruit at least 20 “Digital Champions” who will support and guide 2,000 older people to use communication tools like email, Skype and FaceTime, which younger people take for granted.
The Digital Champions project is aimed at helping these older people to access online information on everything from benefits to bus timetables. With many services becoming digital by default, older people who are not online face more hurdles in their daily lives to access both private and public sector services. There will also be an emphasis on online safety and protection from viruses and fraud.
The project is supporting older people across Leicestershire and Rutland, with a focus on people in rural areas. It aims to combat loneliness and isolation by helping these budding “silver surfers” to keep in touch with family and friends online.
Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland’s Digital Champions will be holding up to four sessions a week across Leicestershire and Rutland. They will be for around 15 people each and be held in community settings such as libraries, village halls and residential homes, whilst there will also be one-to one sessions available.
Tony Donovan, Executive Director at Age UK Leicester Shire & Rutland, said: 'We are very grateful to Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons for their generous grant which will improve the quality of life for thousands of older people.
'More than four million older people nationally have never used the internet and we need to help them to benefit from all the advantages of a digital world that most of us take for granted.'
The grant comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation and David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, said: 'We are very pleased to be able to support Age UK’s Digital Champions.
'As well as fighting loneliness and depression, getting older people online has great practical benefits. A household without internet access is on average £650 a year worse off.”
Thanks to support from Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons, along with Leicestershire County Council and The Woodland Trust, the Bradgate Park Trust has been able to dedicate an area for quiet reflection known as the Memorial Wood which was officially opened by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes on 5th October 2017
In glorious autumnal sunshine, over 200 people witnessed the Pro Grand Master unveil a bronze plaque at the entrance of the Memorial Wood which was followed by a suitable short dedication by the Grand Chaplain Michael Wilson. The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger then called upon Peter Osborne, Chairman of the Bradgate Park Trust, to formally accept the Memorial Wood into the care of the Trustees.
The Memorial Wood is an area of woodland to the side of the accessible carriageway that crosses the Park. It offers a tranquil setting overlooking Cropston Reservoir and is reached by a natural stone path. Rich in native wildlife species, the area is bound by traditional metal deer fencing, has seating and a central cast iron deer sculpture, set on a natural stone plinth.
Peter Tyldesley, Director of the Bradgate Park Trust, said: 'Bradgate Park is a special place for many people and one that is held close to the hearts of visitors and their families. We have been able to dedicate an area for quiet reflection as the Park’s Memorial Wood next to the main carriageway that crosses the Park.
'Bradgate Park’s Bronze Oak Leaves are inspired by the ancient trees of the Park and are a perfect way to celebrate weddings, birthdays and anniversaries, or to remember someone special. They are individually cast in bronze and displayed as a lasting memento on distinctive feature wooden pillars, made from oak from the Estate, within the natural setting of Memorial Wood.'
Bradgate Park, consisting of 900 acres, is the historic home of Lady Jane Grey, the nine day Queen, and was presented in Trust in perpetuity in 1928 by Charles Bennion to the County of Leicestershire and City of Leicester, as an open or Public Park for the purposes of recreation.
The generosity of Charles Bennion has ensured that generations of the local and wider community have had access to the beautiful park, which also supports the protection of wildlife, particularly the herd of deer that freely roam the park. It is the eighth most visited park of its kind in the country. Charles Bennion was also a prominent local Freemason, a Master of four Lodges and was Provincial Grand Treasurer.
RW Bro David Hagger: 'This Memorial Wood will leave a lasting legacy for the people of Leicestershire and Rutland as part of our 300th anniversary celebrations. We therefore felt that with the connection of Charles Bennion with both Bradgate Park and Freemasonry, that this Memorial Wood was a perfect project to fund.
'I must also thank the members of my Tercentenary Committee for their help and assistance, in particular W Bro Andy Green and W Bro Dale Page. It would also be remiss of me not to mention Peter Tyldesley, the Director of Bradgate Park, and his staff, for without their considerable efforts and assistance this project would literally would not have got off the ground.'