The Leicestershire and Rutland Provincial Grand Orator, David Hughes, was delighted to be given a 1958 bottle of Booth’s gin by a member of the Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767
Upon inspection, the bottle was a distinctive six sided shape, the colour of the liquor pale gold and it bore the traditional trademark of a red lion.
The Booth family started to make London Dry Gin in 1740, thus making their brand arguably the oldest in the world. The then head of the family, Philip Booth built a distillery in London at 55, Cowcross Street on the site of what is now Farringdon Station. There were further premises at Red Lion Street in Clerkenwell.
Philip Booth was succeeded by his three sons, William, Felix and John. They built an even larger distillery at Brentford, and Felix took sole control of the company in 1830.
Under Sir Felix Booth the family became the largest distillery company in the United Kingdom and King William IV conferred a Royal Warrant for the supply of gin on them in 1833. Thereafter Booths became known as the 'King of Gins'. It should be noted that Sir Felix was a a member of The Lodge of Harmony No. 255, then No.317, meeting at Richmond, which was noted for its generous and hospitable kindness to visitors.
The Booth family held control of the company until the death of Sir Felix`s nephew, Sir Charles, in 1897, while the last male heir of the family died in 1926. The brand was acquired in 1937 by the Distillers Company and later purchased by Guinness in 1986. The brand is now owned by Diageo. Although the company discontinued production of Booth’s in the UK in 2006, it continues in the USA, but without the traditionally distinctive bottle shape and pale gold hue.
Realising that the bottle was a collectors item, David Hughes generously offered it for sale via an online auction house based in London who specialise in the sale of collectible spirits in order to raise funds for the 2022 MCF Festival. At first the bids came in slowly but the bottle eventually sold for £160 which has been kindly donated to the Festival. David, a Past Master of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, has now become so interested in Sir Felix Booth that he is now pursuing further research into the life and times of this famous Brother.
Dale Page, 2022 Festival Chairman, said: 'Knowing David as I do, I appreciate what a huge gesture this is. Original ideas such as this highlight the many and varied ways we can all contribute to our Festival appeal. We have made a positive start, but our target remains a challenging one. However, if we can supplement our regular direct debit contributions and one-off donations with marvellous initiatives such as this I am confident our £1.8 million target is well within our grasp.'
Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have donated £22,595 to 19 local charities at a special awards ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on 13th January 2018
The charities receiving the awards included those helping and assisting others in the local communities with disabilities, children who are deprived or have limited life expectancy and the elderly suffering from dementia.
Rainbows Children’s Hospice, based in Loughborough, received a total of £2,145 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Lodge of the Argonauts No. 8210 which meets in Leicester. Gary Farnfield, Leicestershire Community Fundraiser for Rainbows, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the wonderful donation. This money will help us to create special memories for families whilst they are with us.'
A £1,000 donation from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association was also given to Shepshed-based Steps, a conductive education centre, which provides an innovative learning process for children with motor disabilities to develop in the same way as their able-bodied peers.
Camp Charnwood, based at Beaumanor Hall in Woodhouse Eaves, which provides five day holidays for Leicestershire youngsters aged between 7 and 16 with T1 Diabetes, also received a donation of £1,000.
The NHS charity Raising Health for the Advanced Dementia Care Wards at the Evington Centre received a donation of £1,500.
Lindsay Woodward, the Charitable Funds Manager for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons. We have two lovely courtyard areas which we wish to turn into dementia-friendly gardens including activity sheds which will engage a person and make them feel more calm and cope with their dementia.'
Step Out Youth Club, which operates in South Wigston, offers children different activities in a safe area, received a donation of £500 to provide new classes for cooking and growing vegetables to emphasise healthy eating. Carl Walters from Step Out said: 'Step Out has 60-80 kids at present from 8 to 16 years old and they are now learning how to cook healthily.'
Harborough Community Bus is a small charity local to Market Harborough which runs minibuses for community groups and certain individuals who would otherwise have some difficulty getting out. The charity received a donation of £1,000.
John Feavyour, Chairman and Trustee of the Harborough Community Bus, said: 'It costs about £12,000 per year to run the Community Bus including fuel and safety checks and all the rest of it. This donation will pay for a whole month.'
Voluntary Action South Leicestershire, which is dedicated to improving lives in the Harborough District and the wider community of Leicestershire, also received a £1,000 donation. Hannah Currington, Carers Delivery Officer, said: 'The group meets in Market Harborough, but because we are open to all of the Harborough District one of our main costs is transport. Lots of the kids live up to 12 miles out and if the voluntary drivers didn’t physically go and get them, they just wouldn’t be unable to come. This £1,000 will go largely to supporting the reimbursement of the voluntary drivers.'
Stathern-based Dove Cottage Day Hospice received an award of £500. Dove Cottage offers quality palliative day care to people living in north east Leicestershire, Rutland and south east Nottinghamshire to fund improved services.
Chris Rowley, Charity Director of Dove Cottage Day Hospice, said: 'During the last 12 months, we have been running dementia workshops for both dementia sufferers and their carers. This donation is very gratefully received from the Freemasons which will go towards working with people with dementia.'
The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger said: 'Freemasons have always been deeply involved in charity; from its earliest days the organisation has been connected with caring for orphans, the sick and the elderly. We are thrilled to continue to support our local communities by making donations to these worthy charities.'
Beacon Lodge No. 5208, which meets at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, held their 700th meeting on 11th January 2018
To mark this special occasion, the Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger, along with the Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and the rest of the Provincial Grand Officers, attended the landmark meeting.
The Lodge Room was packed full to witness a Passing Ceremony which was superbly conducted by the brethren of Beacon Lodge including Joshua Symonds, who at 20 years old gave his first piece of ritual. To celebrate the 700th meeting, Graham Thorpe gave a short and interesting Oration on the history of the lodge.
During the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master presented the lodge with a gold Founders Jewel which was found hidden in the Masonic Hall during recent maintenance. Over 120 sat down at the Festive Board for a Burns Supper where Geoff Searson, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, who was suitably attired in a kilt, recited the 'Address to a Haggis’.
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.’