Local children have been entertained at their annual pantomime – this time, Dick Whittington – thanks to Warwickshire Freemasons and TOA Taxis. A morning show was enjoyed by children with learning and physical disabilities, while an afternoon performance was staged for youngsters who might never have seen a live theatre show before. More than 600 children and around 100 carers attended. Warwickshire Provincial Grand Master David Macey introduced the show in the morning, welcoming the Lord Mayor of Birmingham, Cllr John Lines, and the Lady Mayoress, who presented David with a cheque for £500 for the Freemasons’ chosen charities.
Helping out Georgia
Warwickshire masons from 17 lodges have given support to teenager Georgia Pickard, who is fighting one of the world’s rarest forms of bone cancer.
Georgia’s grandparents have provided catering for a number of lodges in Tamworth and Sutton Coldfield for many years. Grandfather Walter Richardson and the Sutton Coldfield-based Lodge of St Blaise, No. 6113, led the fundraising with £1,600 from a ladies evening. The cheque was presented by Master Pete Woodfield.
A masonic procession to the Annual Church Service of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire took place at the Collegiate Church of St Mary, Warwick, where people have worshipped for nearly 1,000 years.
The church’s association with Freemasonry dates back at least as far as 1728 when the Master of the ﬁrst lodge in Warwickshire was vicar at the church. The present vicar, the Rev Dr Vaughan Roberts, welcomed everyone to the service during which representatives of the Jewish, Sikh, Islamic, Hindu and Christian faiths oﬀered thoughts and blessings relating to the multi-denominational service’s theme of Brotherly Love and Charity.
The UK’s party mood, evident throughout the summer of 2012, continued as the Province of Warwickshire celebrated the finale of their Festival on behalf of the MSF.
Provincial Grand Master David Macey handed over a cheque for £3,159,870 and thanked the members and their families for their generous support. Hugh Stubbs, President of the MSF, encouraged those present to use their new-found awareness to identify others in need of health and care support.
Pax Mundi Lodge, No. 119, of the National Grand Lodge of Romania (MLNR), based at Brasov, hosted a delegation from Stivichall Lodge, No. 5799, Province of Warwickshire, to celebrate its 10th anniversary. Bogdan Prodea, who studied in Coventry, and his father Mihai Prodea, both members of Pax Mundi Lodge, extended the invitation. Masons from Brasov lodges, their mother lodge in Sinaia, and MLNR Grand Officers including Pro Grand Master Virgil Nitulescu, attended the meeting and a gala dinner at the Brasov Citadel with an orchestra, singers and dance.
12 September 2012
An address by the MW the Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes
I have recently finished the two yearly Regional Conferences that I have with Provincial Grand Masters. These are relatively informal affairs and cover a wide range of subjects. I find them extremely useful and they are kind enough to say the same – but, of course, what else could they say!
One theme that ran through them all was a determination to see our numbers on the increase by 2017. Indeed, in one or two cases, this has already started. This means that perhaps we are getting some things right.
I have said frequently that we must not be looking for new candidates simply for the sake of increasing numbers, but if we can start this increase with the right candidates there should be a knock on effect.
Enthusing new members is of paramount importance and we heard from Brothers Soper and Lord at the September Quarterly Communication about the work of the Universities Scheme. Following that talk I have asked the Universities Scheme Committee to think about how best we can implement some of the principles that were mentioned, across the whole Craft.
Recruiting and retaining young candidates is our most important task and I am confident that those who have made the Universities Scheme successful can help us with this important challenge. However this is not just down to them and we must all pull our weight in this respect.
Brethren, in November I visited my Great Grandfather’s mother Lodge in Hertfordshire and a splendid occasion it was, with an almost faultless 2nd Degree Ceremony being performed. I can almost hear you all thinking that they would have spent hours rehearsing. Not so, as they didn’t know that I was coming.
The reason for mentioning this today is that in the Reply for the Visitors the Brother speaking referred to the Craft as an altruistic society. Altruism is one of those words that I have often heard used and possibly even used myself without having been completely sure of its meaning. The dictionary definition is “regard for others as a principle of action”. Rather a good description for a lot of what Freemasonry is about.
If we can instil this ethos into our candidates, we won’t be going far wrong. Of course it is not all that we are about, but it is not a bad starting point, as it should naturally lead to a practice of Brotherly Love, Relief and Truth, which in itself leads on to our charitable giving, which seems to be second nature to us.
During this year the Festivals for our Charities in our Provinces have raised a total of nearly £10m, of which Leicestershire and Rutland raised £1.7m for the RMBI; Warwickshire raised £3.16m for the MSF; Cambridgeshire £1.285m for the Grand Charity and Devonshire £3.836m for the RMTGB. In these troubled economic times this, Brethren, is remarkable and I congratulate all those concerned.
I hope that our membership, as a whole, are far more familiar with the activities of all our Charities than might have been the case 20 or so years ago. The promotion of their activities by the Charities is excellent and the Freemasonry Cares campaign has enlightened many people at home and abroad about what support is available.
Whilst 3 of our Charities are Masonic in their giving, and there is nothing to be ashamed of in that - quite the contrary in my view, the Grand Charity, of course, has a wide brief for giving to non Masonic bodies, provided that they are also Charities. Not everyone appreciates this aspect, or how much money is involved and we should be quick to point it out.
Brethren, since 2007 we have had excellent and amusing talks on the past at the December Quarterly Communication from Brothers Hamill and Redman and we should be proud of our history, but it is of paramount importance that we look forward and ensure that we go from strength to strength in the future in both numbers and our usefulness to the society in which we live.
Brethren, I wish you all a very relaxing break over Christmas, particularly if, like me, you will be having your Grand Children to stay.
Peter Roberts, Master of Stivichall Lodge No. 5799, presented a cheque for £500 to the Children’s Air Ambulance charity at their summer Sunday lunch, held at Guy's Cliffe Masonic Rooms in Warwick in August. Natasha Hannon received the donation on behalf of the charity, and explained their work and the difference donations like this makes to children’s lives. The money was raised by brethren at W Bro Peter Wright's annual summer pig roast held earlier in the summer. The Sunday lunch, expertly organised by the lodge Almoner, W Bro Colin Sallis was well attended by brethren, their families, friends and lodge widows, proving to be a most enjoyable event. The lunch was followed by a most fascinating tour of Guy's Cliffe from its historic past to through to its present masonic use.
With many lodges struggling to recruit and retain members, Mike Hailwood Lodge No. 9839, is gaining candidates fast, as one would expect from a masonic body named after a world champion motorcyclist and racing car driver.
The lodge was consecrated by Warwickshire Provincial Grand Master, Michael J Price, at Edgbaston, Birmingham on Friday 25 April 2008 with 31 founding members present. It now has 58 members including three from the Isle of Man – the scene of so many of Mike Hailwood’s triumphs – where the lodge holds its September meeting every other year.
The lodge’s very first initiate was David Hailwood, the son of the late Mike Hailwood. Their latest recruit, Phillip Carter, aged 78, was initiated by his son Tim in the presence of Alan Welling, Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire.
The secret of the lodge’s success? Well, for a start, getting to race around the Isle of Man TT course. Such is the flow of initiates that the by-laws are to be changed to include an extra meeting to cope with the ceremonies. Warwickshire’s Provincial Grand Master also goes along with his wife, who attends the Festive Board with the other ladies.
Mike Hailwood, whose father Stan was a Freemason, won nine motorcycle world titles between 1961 and 1967, then turned to motor racing, becoming European Formula 2 Champion. He then embraced Formula 1, but his career ended abruptly in 1974 when he crashed his McLaren on Germany’s daunting Nürburgring track. Disabled by leg injuries, he retired to New Zealand, but by 1978, at the age of 38, he was back at the Isle of Man TT to take on and beat the entire field. His victorious return there has been described as one of the most emotional moments of twentieth-century sport.
For more information about Mike Hailwood Lodge No. 9839, visit www.mikehailwoodlodge9839.co.uk
It was a pleasure to return to the spacious premises of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Warwickshire in Stirling Road, Edgbaston, and view again the delightful masonic collection displayed on the first-floor balcony encircling the main entrance hall.
Michael Baigent and I were warmly welcomed at the library and boardroom by Assistant Provincial Grand Master, John Emms, the recently appointed chairman of the museum and library. He was able to explain to us the ongoing reorganisation of this long established body founded in 1908. A small group of volunteers are cataloguing the three thousand books in the library and relabelling the artefacts on display. The new committee, consisting of representatives of the 192 lodges in the province, will be meeting for the first time in the coming months to receive reports on developments and discuss progress. John has taken initial steps in talking to various bodies, most recently to the Temple Councillors and Liaison Group, where he presented a paper on the museum and library. Meanwhile the new computerised catalogue has a listing to date of some 1800 books, which are dispersed in the shelves of the cabinets in the library. The relocating of these books into thematic categories will be undertaken after the completion of the catalogue.
Several of the rarities in the library are housed in a safe in an anteroom and John placed some on display for us: 1st and 2nd editions of Anderson’s Constitutions dated 1723 and 1738 respectively; an illuminated testimonial highlighted in gold and unique by its very nature, dedicated to the Mark Provincial Grand Master for Warwickshire, Lt. Col. Zaccheus Walker (1919-31); the only known copy of the 1728 edition of the Engraved Lists of Lodges by John Pine and a personalised ‘autograph book’ dated 1889 containing a collection of photographs and autographs of masonic dignitaries, which belonged to the Master of Lodge No. 1180, William Tolladay.
A group of books indirectly related to Freemasonry had also been bound in the same intricate gilt decorations: a 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible, first published in 1560, known as the Breeches Bible and a copy of the later, and possibly rarer, first edition folio size Baskerville Bible, the property of Lodge of Industry, No. 5123. The name is derived from John Baskerville’s (1706–1775) invention and design of the new typeface in 1757. This bible, dated 1763, is considered his master work, and is printed in his own typeface, ink and paper.
Also in this collection of quasimasonic books is a copy of Robert Plot’s The Natural History of Stafford-Shire, 1686. This folio volume contains the earliest recorded account of accepted masonry known as the Plot Abstract. Its importance lies with its summary of the legendary history, its description of contemporary Freemasonry and criticisms of the fraternity as well as the unresolved matter of the sources for his information, specifically his reference to the ‘large parchment volum they have amongst them’ which is otherwise unknown.
One cabinet in the library, dedicated to documents and prints, includes a theatre poster for The Theatre Royal Birmingham, Thursday, December 14, 1854 which refers to the ‘Distinguished patronage of Lord Leigh Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire and the Freemasons of the Province’. Lord Leigh also features in an accumulation of manuscript letters dated between 1871 and 1877, the majority signed by him in correspondence with the organisers of the Lifeboat Fund for Warwickshire. William Henry, 2nd Lord Leigh, was Provincial Grand Master from 1852 to 1905, an unbroken record by this or any other province. He was also Grand Superintendent of the Holy Royal Arch for Warwickshire, 1864-1905 and the first Grand Master of the newly formed Grand Lodge of Mark Master Masons of England, 23 June 1856.
The Warwickshire Masonic Museum is comprehensive and well displayed, easy to view and friendly to the visitor. The many cabinets and sideboards surrounding the whole of the balcony on the first floor are interspersed between the six entrances to the lodges and chapters that meet on location. It is thus continuously exposed to Brethren attending meetings; an enviable circumstance for any museum.
Glass cases house an attractive collection of old and new aprons belonging to the Craft and the Orders beyond. Flat tiered display cabinets cover the whole range of masonic objects: beautiful pieces of china include three – gallon transfer – decorated Sutherland ware pitchers, manufactured in that size to accommodate an old regulation that limited one jug per table. An unusual ceramic piece of Sutherland Lustre circa 1820 is a ten-tier diminishing block 120mm high with an ashlar square base 160mm square. The black pedestal, which stands on four decorated feet, is made to appear as a separate wood block. The whole, however is a single piece. The designs along the s ides incorporate inter alia squares and compasses, a pentagram and six pointed star. The letter ‘G’ being prominent suggests that this is from a Scottish or foreign presentation to the province. Made as a table piece, it would have at some time adorned festive boards.
The very extensive glass cabinets have interesting pieces: a yellow stained drinking glass just 30mm wide at the mouth in the shape of a lady’s boot with the square and compasses prominently engraved on both sides; an unusual flat glass whisky or port flask decorated with masonic emblems on one side and a measure scale up to six quarts on the other; a decanter with the second verse of the well known ‘Enter’d ‘Prentices Song’ engraved within a floral frame: This is the earliest known masonic song, which appears in James Anderson’s Constitutions of 1723 with the comment: ‘by our late Brother Mr Mathew Birkhead, deceas’d. To be sung when all grave busi-ness is over, and with the Master’s leave.’ The words and music were adapted from an old Irish ballad and are attributed to the actor-singer and comedian, Mathew Birkhead (d.1723)
A few shelves placed in flat cabinets display an array of minor and fascinating everyday objects with masonic emblems: buttons and seals, tie pins, money clips, watches and prisoner of war-related artwork. We saw an excellent collection of early nineteenth century snuff boxes, one wooden box in particular exceptionally attractive, shaped as a triangle and the inside hallmarked silver gilt. The decorative carving of the wood included along the sides, ‘Honour the Queen’, ‘Love the Brotherhood’ and ‘Fear God’. The circular brass disk centrally placed shows this to have been a presentation by Lord Leigh to the Lodge of Light, No. 689, on the occasion of his Mastership in July 1854. Also carved on the side is the name Stoneleigh which was Lord Leigh’s residence and the wood for the snuff box was said to have been taken from this property.
John Emms paid tribute to the work of the late Mike Connett, who sadly passed away in August this year after a long illness, whose initial dedication and enthusiasm was the catalyst for the present rejuvenation of the library. The province’s web site states that ‘The library has been described as one of the hidden mysteries of Masonry’. Clearly that is no longer so and the province looks forward to welcoming Brethren to utilise the library and museum.
The Museum is opened daily except weekends between 10 am and 4 pm. Those wishing to visit the library can do so by contacting John Emms via the Provincial Office on 0121 454 4422.