An inaugural concert at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester in aid of the Rainbows Hospice for Children and Young People was held on Friday 8th May 2015 to celebrate the refurbishment of the 19th century pipe organ
The origins of the organ can be traced back to the early years of the 19th century, when it started life as a small chamber instrument built by the famous London craftsman William Gray.
It was utilised by the local organ builders Taylor and Company as the basis of the instrument installed in the old Masonic Hall in Halford Street, Leicester in 1903. This was moved to the present Hall in 1910 and was extended by Taylors in the 1940s.
After many years of faithful service the old instrument fell into disrepair and silence until being rescued by a young member, Carl Heslop, who volunteered his services to restore the organ to its former glory.
The concert began with the Rainbows Choir, consisting of staff and volunteers from the Hospice who energetically sang a number of songs including a medley from the Sound of Music.
This was followed by Carl Heslop who played several pieces on the newly refurbished organ including Dance of the Three Old Maids, and a medley in tribute to the British cinema organist, Sidney Torch.
One of the highlights was most certainly Carl accompanying Buster Keaton’s 1920 short comedy film One Week in true cinematic style, including his own improvisational flourishes heightening the drama seen on the screen much to the delight of the audience.
David Hughes entertained the audience of 140 with several monologues including Playing the Harmonium, which was a letter sent from the Rev FP Harton to Penelope Betjeman sacking her as Baulking Church organist, and a modified version of The Father of the Bride, originally written by Keith Waterhouse and Willis Hall for Roy Kinnear.
The Tudor Choir, a 16-strong mixed voice choir based in Leicestershire, also performed several songs from movies and shows including The Circle of Life from Disney’s The Lion King.
The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, concluded the evening by presenting a cheque for £2,000 on behalf of the Freemasons and the Tudor Choir to the Chief Executive of Rainbows, Andy Campbell, and said: 'We are proud that the Rainbows Choir has helped us celebrate the rebuilding of this fine pipe organ and in return we are very pleased to make a major contribution to society by donating the proceeds of the event to Rainbows which provides a place where life-limited children and their families in the East Midlands can find care and support.'
Five Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have been selected to play in an international charity rugby match between English and Scottish Freemasons
The match is to be held on Saturday 23rd May 2015 at Gateshead Fell Rugby Ground where Bros Andrew ‘Jock’ Keenan, Joseph Maxim, Andrew Rathbone, and Michael ‘Spike’ Forster, all from Enderby Lodge No. 5061, together with Bro David Shepherd from St Wilfrid’s Lodge No. 8350, aim to assist in retaining the trophy for England.
They have already made the trip to Newcastle in April for a training camp and are now ready to take part in the big match. The event will be concluded by a black tie ball at the Marriot Hotel, Gateshead which includes a four-course dinner and live entertainment.
The international match was originally conceived by W Bro Horner of the Province of Northumberland after they challenged the Durham Masonic Rugby Football Club to a game of rugby, partly for a bit of fun but also to raise money for the charities supported by the Northumberland team.
This is the second time these teams have played each other, and Scotland are keen to avenge last August’s defeat by the English at Murrayfield. The matches are keenly fought, and are celebrated afterwards in the spirit of true masonic friendship.
A series of masonic jewels presented to Archibald Frank Tailby during his masonic career in Leicester were recently offered for sale on the online auction site eBay, including jewels from both his Craft and Mark lodges.
These jewels were successfully secured by the Provincial Communications Officer W Bro Andy Green, who is automatically notified of items listed for sale on eBay pertaining to every lodge name and number within the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland. Sadly, masonic regalia is all too regularly sold on eBay, but over the past few years several lodges have successfully bid for regalia and other items have been secured for the Provincial Museum at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester.
Bro Tailby, a company director from Quorn, Leicestershire, was initiated into Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 in 1922 and became its 31st Worshipful Master in November 1940. At the end of his year as Master in 1941, he was presented with a 9ct gold Past Master’s jewel to mark the occasion which was inscribed on the rear of the square with these details. The jewel also had a decorative bar with the latin ‘Trigesimus Primus’ (31st) attached.
The Wyggeston Past Master’s jewel has the lodge crest, which includes the coat of arms of William Wyggeston, the Leicester benefactor whom the lodge is named after. Along the top is a representation of the former buildings of the Wyggeston’s Hospital on Fosse Road, Leicester which were demolished in the 1960s.
In 1950, Archibald Tailby also became the founding Master of the Wyggeston Lodge of Mark Master Masons No. 1149 and again was presented with a silver Past Master’s jewel to recognise 'His services as 1st Master' to the Lodge in 1951. Just 10 years later, W Bro Archibald died at the age of 69 years in 1961.
At the installation meeting of Wyggeston Lodge of Mark Master Masons in April 2015, Bro Andy Green, who is a member of the lodge, presented the Past Master’s jewel back to the lodge in the hope that it will be used and enjoyed by members in the future. It is anticipated that the Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 will also be reunited with its jewel at their October meeting.
Incredible sum of £36,000 distributed to Leicestershire and Rutland charities
Twenty-three diverse local charities gathered at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester on Saturday 25th April for a presentation event to receive over £36,000 in generous donations from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association, The Freemasons' Grand Charity and the Leicestershire and Rutland Royal Arch Masons.
Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance, based at East Midlands Airport, was given a total of £11,000. Charlotte Marson Fundraising Co-Ordinator for the charity said: 'A huge thank you to all the Freemasons for this very generous donation which will go a long way to help save more lives.'
Other charities to benefit included:
Leicester Navy Training Corps is a voluntary youth organisation that trains young people in the ways and customs of the sea, using the methods and practices of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Commanding Officer, Matthew Taylor, said: 'A massive thank you to the Freemasons for the £1,500 donation which will provide opportunities for our cadets to go flying and off-shore sailing.'
Home Start Melton and Rutland which is a family support charity that helps parents to build better lives for their children. Chair of Trustees, Jane Loake, said: 'Thank you very much for the generosity of the Freemasons which will fund children to attend a Christmas Pantomime which for some children is a once a year enrichment activity in their lives something that they would not have the opportunity to do before.'
The Bradgate Park Trust which provides the maintenance and improvement of the public park received £1,000 towards the purchase of an off-road mobility scooter to enable greater disabled access to the park. Peter Tyldesley of the Trust said: 'The charity was set up in 1928 by Charles Bennion, a prominent Leicestershire Freemason, for the benefit of all the people of Leicestershire, and we are delighted to receive the donation from the modern Freemasons.' To receive the donation on behalf of the Trust was Col Robert Martin, Trustee of Bradgate Park, and also Charles Bennion, grandson of the benefactor, who was keen to learn of his grandfather's masonic connections and was fascinated to learn he was a Past Master of St John's Lodge No. 279 and Lodge Semper Eadem No. 3091, a Founder member of East Goscote Lodge No. 2865 and Provincial Grand Treasurer.
Radio Gwendolen which provides a 24-hour service of music, news and information specifically for patients of the General Hospital, Leicester. The donation of £1,500 will go towards the purchase of a dual CD player and equipment to allow the radio to be streamed on the internet.
The Provincial Grand Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, concluded the meeting by applauding all the charities and their volunteers who give their time to such good causes: 'I'm proud that the Freemasons have been able to make a major contribution to society by supporting our local charities helping children, young people, those with disabilities and the elderly.'
The full list of charities were:
Long Whatton and Diseworth Scout Group – £2,000
Leicester Navy Training Corp – £1,500
Hinckley and Bosworth Community Transport Scheme – £2,000
Women's Aid Leicestershire – £1,000
The Brain Tumour Charity – £1,514 (from the Lodge of the Holywell No. 7827)
South Leicestershire Scouts – £1,500
Radio Gwendolen – £1,500
Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Rutland Air Ambulance – £11,000 (including £4,000 from the Grand Charity)
Dogs for the Disabled – £1,000 (from Grey Friars Lodge No. 6803)
Cottesmore Scout Headquarters – £1,000
The Bradgate Park Trust – £1,000
PROSTaid – £264 (from the Lodge of Gratitude No. 6514)
Friends of Devonshire Court – £150 (from Wiclif Chapter No. 3078)
Bark Foundation – £200 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Loughborough Cancer Self Help Group – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Mesothelioma UK – £250 (from the Royal Arch Masons)
Myeloma UK – £2,500
Leicestershire Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus – £1,665
Home Start South Leicestershire – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
RABI – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
The Well, Kibworth – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Shopmobility Market Harborough – £1,000 (including £500 from St Wilfrid's Lodge No. 8350)
Home Start Melton and Rutland – £2,000
VC Grave Concern charity receives £500 donation
At the Installation meeting of Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 on Friday 10th April 2015 at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, the new Master, W Bro Ian Johnson presented £500 to guest speaker W Bro Granville Angell in support of his charity, VC Grave Concern, which restores and maintains the graves of holders of the Victoria Cross.
W Bro Ian Johnson was Installed by W Bro David Bull and continues the long line of distinguished brethren as Master of this prestigious lodge. At the meeting, the lodge was honoured to welcome W Bro Barrie Percival, Past Assistant Provincial Grand Master, PSGD, as the representative from the Provincial Grand Lodge of Leicestershire and Rutland.
W Bro Ian was initiated into Lodge Semper Eadem No. 3091 in 1995 and became Master in its Centenary year in 2004. He served as Secretary for five years and is presently Director of Ceremonies. He was appointed Provincial Grand Mentor in 2009 and elected Provincial Grand Treasurer in 2011.
W Bro Ian joined the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 in 2005 and was appointed Junior Deacon in 2011. Having been a member of the Correspondence Circle since 1998, W Bro Ian became a full member of the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 2011 and is presently Junior Deacon.
In 2015, W Bro Ian was appointed as a Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in the United Grand Lodge of England. He is also active in many side degrees, including the Royal Arch and Mark Master Masons.
Installing Master, W Bro David Bull said: 'W Bro Ian brings a wealth of masonic experience to this office and I am sure that under his leadership the lodge will have another rewarding year.'
W Bro Ian was pleased to appoint W Bros John Pebderdy and Anthony Wood as his Senior and Junior Wardens respectively.
After the Installation, W Bro Granville Angell, PAGPurs, who was the Prestonian Lecturer in 2006, gave a very interesting talk entitled Lest We Forget, encapsulating the courage, bravery and resolute self sacrifice with which Freemasons risked their lives in the service of king and country, focusing on those brethren who received the Victoria Cross.
His talk was based on his book The Great War 1914-1918 – Victoria Cross Freemasons which reveals the unique deeds of outstanding valour of the 91 Freemasons gathered by the author's meticulous research in over 17 countries uncovering previously unknown facts.
The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, RW Bro David Hagger, was kindly offered and willingly accepted the gavel at the meeting of Wiclif Lodge No. 3078, which meets at Lutterworth Masonic Hall, in order to Pass Bro William Robinson to the degree of a Fellowcraft
Those present at the meeting held on Wednesday 8th April 2015, accompanied by his Provincial Officers, witnessed a truly wonderful and unique ceremony with the Provincial Grand Master not only Passing Bro William but also delivering the Second Degree tracing board.
Bro William has his own part in the history of Wiclif Lodge and the Province being Initiated into the fraternity at the age of 19 by special dispensation of the Provincial Grand Master. Bro William has a long standing family connection with Freemasonry with many of his family being members of the Craft. His great grandfather and namesake, W Bro William A Robinson, was Past Master of Wiclif Lodge in 1970. His grandfather, W Bro Michael A Robinson PPSGW is also a Past Master of the Lodge and was in the Chair in 1974.
The lodge room at Lutterworth was packed with over 100 in attendance to witness this historic event.
After the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master said: 'I was thrilled to be asked to Pass Bro William to the degree of a Fellowcraft who was an excellent candidate. It was extremely good to see so many young brethren in the lodge being involved in a very high standard of ceremonial work.'
He also paid tribute to W Bro David Milner ProvGTyler who stood in as acting Master and has recently been appointed to Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in recognition of his commitment to masonry. The PGM continued to thank all of his Provincial Officers for their support in attending the special meeting.
After the meeting, at the Festive Board, a donation of £600 was presented to the Provincial Grand Master for the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association.
Lodge of Research No. 2429, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, was the scene for a unique event: the first time it had been addressed by a female researcher after their meeting on 23rd March 2015
The guest speaker was Maxine Gilhuys Notarbartolo from Florence. She was no stranger to Leicester having attended the 2014 symposium the lodge organised to celebrate the union of the two rival Grand Lodges in 1813. It was at that symposium that the speaker first saw the masonic marble table which graces the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Library and Museum, and that artefact set her research pulses going!
The Master of the Lodge, W Bro David Hughes, introduced the speaker as a true citizen of the world who, having been born in Guyana, was educated in Birmingham, and then worked for various international organisations in Geneva, Zurich and New York. Subsequent studies at the Universities of Bologna and Leiden continued the cosmopolitan nature of the speaker's life. Currently based in Florence she has developed a strong interest in the history of Freemasonry.
Maxine proceeded to hold the attention of all present with a wonderfully illustrated address on the history and provenance of the marble table. She showed how it was not Florentine work, but that its roots lay in the Pietre Dure tradition which had been imported into Malta from the Italian mainland by the Knights of St John.
Freemasonry flourished in this Knightly Order in the eighteenth century, and so it was natural that there should be a crossover between the rituals of the knights and that of the Craft. The octagonal form of the table was especially important in this respect. The octagon is an important form in church architecture and its eight sides have a special number significance in the Christian tradition. It seems the Knights of Malta used octagonal tables for some of their meetings and our marble table continues that tradition by being some form of tracing board or other instructional device.
It seems the table, known to be one of a small number, may have been commissioned by English masons resident on Malta with either the army, navy, mercantile or government in the early years of the nineteenth century. It was then shipped to England where it was fitted with its current base. It was then probably part of the furnishings of a stately home. Quite how it then passed to a suburban house in Nuneaton where it was until sold to us via an auction sale still remains a mystery. However, the speaker promised to continue her researches with a view to finding out more about the table’s ‘hidden years’ if at all possible.
Maxine’s interesting paper will be printed in the Transactions of the Lodge of Research, and will be available for purchase from the Lodge Secretary or the Editor of the Transactions in October 2015.
The history of the Holmes Lodge Room organ in Freemasons' Hall, Leicester
Lodge of Research No. 2429 was recently treated to Bro Carl Heslop, a young member of Highcross Lodge No. 4835, giving a presentation on the history of the organ in the Holmes Lodge Room in Freemasons' Hall, Leicester, and its current versatility following the extensive restoration it underwent over the summer of 2014.
W Bro David Hughes, the current Master of the Lodge of Research and who has also been involved with the restoration, introduced the speaker and stated that he had commenced playing the organ at the age of 8. He had then become much involved in the theatre organ world, before being apprenticed to the world famous firm of organ builders, Harrison and Harrison of Durham.
Bro Heslop, who is now working for another most prestigious organ builder, Peter Collins of Melton Mowbray, then proceeded to give the assembled audience a most illuminating lecture on the arcane mysteries of organ building, by showing how various types of traditional organ pipes are made and can be combined to produce a very wide range of sounds and differing volumes.
He then brought the science and art of organ building into the 21st century by introducing the modern system of digital sound production, with which the Holmes Temple organ is now equipped, in addition to its older traditional wood and metal pipes.
Bro Heslop revealed that the origins of the organ can be traced back to the early years of the 19th century, when it started life as a small chamber instrument built by the famous London craftsman William Gray.
By some unknown process this had made its way to Leicester and was utilised by the local organ builders Taylor and Co. as the basis of the instrument installed in the old Masonic Hall in Halford Street in 1903. This was moved to the present Hall in 1910 and was extended by Taylors in memory of W Bro Billson in the 1940s.
After many years of faithful service the old instrument fell into disrepair and silence until being rescued by Bro Heslop, who volunteered his services shortly after attending an open evening meeting at London Road – where he was invited to become an initiate in Highcross Lodge, the lodge of our current Provincial Grand Master, RW Bro David Hagger.
The lecturer then became the recitalist and demonstrated with great virtuosity the amazing versatility the organ now has in its new 'hybrid' form, which places it at the vanguard of organ building technology and gives us one of the finest instruments available to Freemasonry.
Bro Heslop showed how the organ can produce sounds in the English cathedral tradition, those of the north German and French Baroque styles and then by simply pressing a few switches he transported the entire company present to the Tower Ballroom in Blackpool with a recreation of the sounds of 'the Mighty Wurlitzer' school of organs.
It was subsequently pointed out that the world renowned Reginald Dixon, for so many years the organist of the Tower Ballroom and who was known as 'Mr Blackpool', was a prominent mason in Lancashire.
Following the recital, Bro Heslop answered questions and was then thanked and congratulated by the Provincial Grand Master, who pointed out that the selfless devotion of this young mason had saved the Province a very considerable sum of money while giving us an instrument of which we may be truly proud.
Bro Heslop was then thanked by W Bro David Hughes, who presented him with a copy of the Transactions of the Lodge of Research for the current year as a token of the lodge's thanks for his efforts. Bro Heslop responded by presenting W Bro Hughes with a redundant pipe from the organ which prompted the response that the Master of the Lodge of Research would now be able to blow his own trumpet!
It can honestly be said that this event was historic in that it was the first combined lecture and recital to be given to the Lodge of Research, and it was most enthusiastically received by all those who were present.
Over the festive period a band of determined and enthusiastic brethren from the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club undertook a unique and historic feat, visiting 12 different lodges across 12 different evenings in December
The lodges visited were:
1st December - Jason Lodge No. 7716 (Leicester)
4th December - Highcross Lodge No. 4835 (Leicester)
5th December - Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757 (Lutterworth)
9th December - Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767 (Leicester)
11th December - Beacon Lodge No. 5208 (Loughborough)
12th December - Rothley Temple Lodge No. 7801 (Leicester)
13th December - Old Oakhamians No. 8033 (Oakham)
15th December - Lodge of the Golden Fleece No. 2081 (Leicester)
16th December - Temperantia Lodge No. 4088 (Leicester)
17th December - Reynard Lodge No. 9285 (Loughborough)
18th December - St Peter's Lodge No. 1330 (Market Harborough)
19th December - Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 (Leicester)
The event was organised by Samuel Harris (Lodge of the Golden Fleece), and was conceived not only as an enjoyable test of endurance (and waistlines), but also to achieve three specific aims:
- To introduce brethren to the joys of visiting and meet other masons across the Province, by providing a unique opportunity to attend any of the 12 lodges during this period knowing there were a group of likeminded individuals also attending
- To raise awareness of the Light Blue Club and its aims across the Province and
- To raise a significant amount of money for LOROS Hospice as one of the designated charities
Over the course of the event, over two dozen individual brethren took part at various stages, including a few who had only been in the Craft for a matter of weeks but were keen to take part. Indeed, one brother who was initiated at one of the meeting, then came to visit another first degree ceremony the day immediately after his own!
In total, visits under the guise of the 12 lodges accounted for over 60 individual visits during the period, with the Light Blue Club attended meetings across the Province, from Leicester to Loughborough and Lutterworth, from Oakham to Market Harborough.
The brethren were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and hospitality they received at every lodge, and enjoyed seeing a wide variety of ceremonies performed, as well as the peculiarities and traditions unique to each Lodge either in the meeting or at the Festive Boards.
Every degree was witnessed at least one, as well as an Installation, although due to the time of the year, Christmas dinner was more often than not the menu of choice! The brethren enjoyed being able to explain to other junior Freemasons the aims of the Light Blue Club, the events put on, and how much they enjoy meeting and socialising with others across the Province. As a result, many more are now aware of the club and intend to get involved in the future.
Samuel Harris was supported in organisation of the event by Karl Coles (Edward Sherrier Lodge), and both deserve full credit for their commitment being the only members who managed to attend all 12 lodges. By the end of the final visit, both stated they would be happy if they never had to see turkey on the menu again!
Over £800 has been raised so far for LOROS, with contributions still coming in.
On Tuesday 13th January, Grand Superintendent Peter Kinder, together with his Provincial Team, visited Temperantia Chapter No. 4088 to mark the occasion of Michael Edward Herbert's 50th anniversary as a member of the Royal Arch
After witnessing an excellent ceremony, when W Bro Simon Baigent was exalted into Royal Arch Masonry, E Comp Peter Kinder presented a certificate to Michael in recognition of his 50 years in the Royal Arch.
Before making the presentation, Peter read from a 'Big Red Book' entitled 'This is your Masonic Life'. It was impossible for Peter to mention everything in the book as Michael is active in virtually every degree in Freemasonry and has, indeed, been the head of orders both Provincially and nationally.
The evening was concluded with an excellent Festive Board when over 60 companions dined and the chapter presented Michael with a gift to mark this wonderful occasion.