The general public were invited into Freemasons’ Hall to view Rough to Smooth, a showcase of art inspired by Freemasonry past, present and future
The exhibition featured work by the United Grand Lodge of England’s first ever Artist in Residence, Jacques Viljoen, who had been given unprecedented access to objects and spaces throughout the historic Grade II*-listed building.
All of Viljoen’s subjects were painted from life, using traditional techniques and absolutely no photography. His work presents a new look at the world of contemporary Freemasonry, showing intimate moments that might usually go unnoticed. ‘This has been an incredible opportunity to explore an organisation with an intricate and ancient history,’ he said. Alongside Viljoen, nine guest artists were also given unique access to Freemasons’ Hall, working in different media that ranged from oils to photography.
Renowned Norwegian oil painter Henrik Uldalen’s contemporary yet classic figurative art sat next to work by Lithuanian artist Elika Bo, who creates images by endlessly layering objects, while Nicholas Chaundy offered a technical homage to the painting techniques used in the many grand masterpieces that fill the Hall.
Then President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson viewed the artworks and commented, ‘What has struck me, above all else, is the amount of thought and work that has gone into each picture. The artists have demonstrated both an understanding of, and a variety of responses to, Freemasonry, its values and, in particular, our splendid building.’
‘This was an incredible opportunity to go and explore an organisation with an intricate and ancient history’ Jacques Viljoen
Grand Masters from more than 100 foreign Grand Lodges brought gifts from around the world to Freemasons’ Hall for the Tercentenary celebrations
The Tercentenary is over but not forgotten. When you visit the Library and Museum there is a colourful reminder in a display of some of the many gifts presented by overseas Grand Lodges.
A set of Russian dolls depicting the Rulers and the Grand Secretary caught the sense of fun and celebration on the day. In a very different vein, an antique collecting box from the combined Scandinavian Grand Lodges contained a scroll showing that every member had made a donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (£44,500 in all), emphasising the spirit of generosity that was present throughout the events.
In all, more than 100 Grand Masters from across the world made presentations, with the Library and Museum of Freemasonry team managing to have all their gifts unwrapped, listed and on display by the time the Grand Master arrived to view them after the welcome ceremony.
It was 300 years since four London lodges came together on St John’s Day, 24 June 1717, to found the world’s first Grand Lodge
Three of the four lodges that made this vital contribution to Freemasonry still meet today: Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2; Royal Somerset House & Inverness Lodge, No. iv; and Lodge of Fortitude & Old Cumberland, No. 12. Referred to as ‘time immemorial’, these lodges operate without a warrant and have a band of dark blue in their lodge officers’ collars.
To honour the Tercentenary of this date, a commemorative stone was unveiled outside the Tower Entrance of Freemasons’ Hall. The occasion was marked by a joint meeting at Mansion House, where the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, was proclaimed as the Master of all three lodges.
The Grand Director of Ceremonies Oliver Lodge then introduced the Grand Master to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Cllr Sayonara Luxton, the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire Martin Peters, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire Colin Hayes and Provincial Grand Masters from other provinces.
The event, organised by the Province of Berkshire, also included a teddy bears’ picnic in support of the Teddies for Loving Care appeal, which raises funds for the supply of cuddly toys to paediatric emergency departments.
The day also featured a challenge to get 300 people to walk a mile along the park’s famed tree-lined avenue, the Long Walk, to the Copper Horse statue at the top of Snow Hill – in the end more than 400 attendees took part.
Canterbury Cathedral hosted a Tercentenary thanksgiving service in recognition of its close and long-standing relationship with Freemasonry
More than 1,500 masons and their families came from across the Provinces of East Kent, West Kent, Surrey and Sussex to attend the service, which was held in the presence of the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, the Vice Lord-Lieutenant of Kent and the Lord Mayor of Canterbury.
The Dean of Canterbury Cathedral, the Very Reverend Dr Robert Willis, thanked the Duke of Kent for his support of the church. He recalled how the royal family helped when the building was damaged by bombing during World War II. He also paid tribute to the generous support of the masonic community, whose relationship with the cathedral dates back more than 100 years.
‘The idea of men coming together to make society a better place is one that has stood the test of time’ Geoffrey Dearing
At the time of the service, the cathedral was undergoing the largest restoration project in its history, the interior and exterior covered in scaffolding to allow the ancient building to be returned to its former glory. A donation of £300,000 from the Freemasons of Kent, Surrey and Sussex funded repairs to the North West Transept, including new tower pinnacles and a spiral stone staircase.
East Kent Provincial Grand Master Geoffrey Dearing said: ‘The existence of Freemasonry for over 300 years bears witness to the fact that the idea of men from all walks of life coming together to make society a better place is one that has stood the test of time and inspired successive generations.’
In late 2001, Lichfield mason Roger Manning suggested the creation of a masonic memorial to be sited at the new National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Burton-on-Trent
It was agreed by all that the masonic garden should serve in the remembrance of all Freemasons, whether they had died in the service of their country or through sickness, accident or old age. There would be no reference on the site to specific lodges, groups or individuals.
Sixteen years later, following four different Provincial Grand Masters, two architects, more than a dozen designs, planting failures, floods, dozens of detailed reports and many meetings, The Masonic Memorial Garden was finally unveiled on 18 April 2017 to more than 300 brethren and civic dignitaries.
The service was witnessed by Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master Jonathan Spence, Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, then President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson and Grand Secretary Willie Shackell.
A welcome to all in attendance was given by local builder and mason Eddie Ford, who had been responsible for the garden’s development over the entire 16-year period. The dedication service was then undertaken by the Provincial Grand Chaplain the Reverend Bernard Buttery.
Memorial paving stones commemorating the 64 English Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross during World War I were unveiled outside Freemasons’ Hall
Roughly one in six of the 633 VC recipients during World War I were Freemasons. Of these, 64 were under UGLE and 43 were under Grand Lodges in the British Empire.
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, attended the ceremony for the stones’ unveiling and blessing, together with General Lord Dannatt representing the Lord-Lieutenant of Greater London, the Mayor of Camden, senior officers from the military services, a group of Chelsea Pensioners and representatives from the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association, as well as representatives from the regiments in which the VC holders had served. Specially invited were the families of those being commemorated.
The event was open to the public, with Great Queen Street and Wild Street closed to traffic. The crowd included representatives from many of the service lodges. Music was by the Band of the Grenadier Guards and the North London Military Wives Choir.
Radio and television presenter Katie Derham narrated the first part of the ceremony, which opened with Chelsea Pensioner Ray Pearson reading an extract from AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, followed by the then President of the Board of General Purposes Anthony Wilson warmly welcoming those attending.
‘The horrors of war were brought vividly to life by Sebastian Cator, who read from the diaries of Major Richard Willis’
Simon Dean OBE paid tribute to his grandfather Donald John Dean, who, at the age of 21, was awarded the VC in 1918. Col Brian Lees LVO OBE, chairman of the Rifles, Light Infantry and KOYLI Regimental Association, and Lt Col Matt Baker, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, The Rifles, paid tribute to Oliver Watson, who was posthumously awarded the VC in 1918.
The horrors of the war were brought vividly to life by Sebastian Cator, a pupil at Harrow School. He read from the diaries of Major Richard Willis, who had also been a pupil at Harrow, in which he described the carnage resulting from landing his men on W Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. For his part in that action he was one of the famous ‘six VCs before breakfast’ of the Gallipoli landings.
The Grand Secretary, Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, gave an exhortation that was followed by the last post, a one-minute silence and reveille. The stones were then unveiled and blessed by the Grand Chaplain the Rev Canon Michael Wilson.
The Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) is proud to nurture and invest in young people with exceptional talents within the masonic community – such as violinist Helena – through its TalentAid scheme
Most people can only dream of having a real talent in the performing arts, sports or music. Some of us are lucky enough to have enough skill to enjoy a friendly game of rugby at the weekends or a sing-along at a piano at family gatherings, but exceptional talent that can turn a hobby into a career is rare.
If you are the child or grandchild of a Freemason, TalentAid could help your dreams become reality. Helena was only three years old when she first picked up a violin. By 11, she was an accomplished musician and had been accepted into the under-11s National Children’s Orchestra. However, when Helena’s mother struggled to meet the costs of her training, she turned to the MCF’s TalentAid scheme for support.
‘Mum found it difficult to pay for me to go to orchestra rehearsals in London every Saturday. Things like travel and food added up to a large overall cost that she couldn’t manage. This was on top of tuition and orchestra fees – so it was just all too much,’ she says.
Helena’s grandfather was a Freemason and she would read the publications that were sent to him. ‘Mum saw the TalentAid scheme in one of the magazines and decided to apply for financial support – it was the best decision she ever made!’
The MCF covered Helena’s fees for the under-12s National Children’s Orchestra and workshops to hone her talent. At 13, Helena was accepted into the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and later into the National Youth Orchestra of Britain, both of which the MCF helped to fund.
‘The MCF was unbelievably kind when it found out that I’d been playing on a rented violin. They bought me my own violin when I was 18, and I still play on it all these years later. Since graduating from the Royal College of Music, I have been lucky enough to travel the world with the European Union Youth Orchestra, play with the BBC’s Philharmonic Orchestra and record film scores with the Philharmonia Orchestra. I’m hugely grateful for the MCF’s support. I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.’
If you are applying for support for the 2018-2019 academic year, TalentAid applications are still open but will close on 31 March 2018. All completed applications will be reviewed in July 2018.
Applications for support for the 2019-2020 academic year will open in November 2018.
If you would like to find out more about the TalentAid Scheme, visit www.mcf.org.uk/talentaid, or call 020 3146 3333. You can also head over to the MCF’s YouTube channel, where Helena tells her TalentAid story: www.youtube.com/masoniccharitablefoundation
It’s never fun to think about our own mortality, yet one third of adults in the UK die every year without having made a will – known as dying intestate
If you die intestate, a set of inflexible rules dictates how your estate will be distributed and to whom. You’ve worked so hard during your life to attain the savings, property and belongings that represent your personal wealth – why would you not want to decide who gets what after you’re gone?
Under intestacy rules, any unmarried partners or stepchildren are ignored, regardless of how loving or long the relationship may have been. Even if you plan to leave everything to your spouse, without a will, your loved one becomes responsible for attaining ‘grants of letters of administration’ via the probate registry, which involves an interview and a great deal of bureaucratic form-filling. Not only will this process delay the release of funds, it is also likely to place added strain on your loved one.
It might also be useful to know that if you leave at least 10 per cent of your taxable estate to charity, you could reduce any inheritance tax liability against your estate, but you can’t leave a gift to charity without a will.
Mark, a Freemason, recently decided to leave a gift to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF) in his will after learning first-hand the life-changing difference the charity can make for those facing difficulty. ‘The MCF has been a comforting support for me and my children during my recent divorce and I am eternally grateful,’ he says. ‘I owe a lot to my brethren for their guidance and endless support during this period. I have only been a Freemason for two years, but the impact that both Freemasonry and the MCF have had on my life meant I wanted to give back in any way I could.
‘I decided to leave a legacy to the MCF, to show my children that there are more important things in life than our own wants and needs – helping to provide stability for disadvantaged or vulnerable members of society is one of them. My advice to those considering leaving a legacy to the MCF is to make sure your family will be provided for first, then think of how you could benefit the lives of those less fortunate than yourselves, both now and in the future.’
If you’re still not sure you’re ready to make your will, take a look at the Masonic Charitable Foundation’s website, which has lots of information about will-making and legacy-giving, and a useful downloadable guide. The MCF even provides an online will-making service in collaboration with Law Vault, available at www.mcf.org.uk/legacy.
So why not look after yourself, those you love and the causes you support now? Make a will.
With support from the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF), the Bendrigg Trust is able to help people with complex disabilities, like Jason, enjoy outdoor activities with the rest of their family
Poppy, who’s now four, is all about getting muddy, while Lilly, who is six, is more into dancing,’ says Liz with a smile. ‘We’re an outdoor family and love doing lots of activities,’ she explains. ‘I’m not one to lie in bed all day,’ adds Jason, Liz’s husband.
Behind Jason and Liz, framed by large glass windows, are the idyllic grounds of the Bendrigg Trust, situated within calm Cumbrian countryside. Jason and Liz are on a family holiday here – at this specialist outdoors centre for people with disabilities and disadvantages – with their daughters, Lilly and Poppy.
SIDE BY SIDE
Looking at the couple sitting side by side on the sofa, it’s not immediately apparent that Jason is disabled. Yet motor neurone disease has left him almost fully paralysed, and it is now slowly taking away his speech. Looking closer you might spot his motorised wheelchair, or the ceiling hoist that moved him onto the sofa.
Jason’s diagnosis was devastating for the family, and the Masonic Charitable Foundation has supported them since he was diagnosed. ‘The daily living grants take pressure off us financially and mean the girls can enjoy normal childhood activities, like horse riding and swimming,’ says Liz.
The MCF has also supported the Bendrigg Trust, and worked in partnership with it to organise a weekend of activities for the family, who were among the first to stay in the new, fully accessible accommodation block, Acorn House. A £40,000 grant from the MCF funded ceiling-hoist equipment in the block – equipment that is vital for many of the Trust’s services and activities.
‘We are very limited with the sort of places we can go and the type of holidays we can go on, because as Jason is so severely disabled, he requires a lot of equipment such as hoists, lifts, accessible vehicles and buildings,’ says Liz. ‘The Bendrigg Trust has everything we need – you don’t get many places as fully accessible as this.
‘Without the funding from the MCF we wouldn’t be able to provide the services we do,’ explains Nick Liley, Principal of the Bendrigg Trust. ‘Our activities are fully inclusive so we can work with people who have the most complex disabilities. We hear constantly about the benefits our activities have on people when they go back into their home environment – their confidence is often improved and they’re able to physically do more.’
Watch the MCF’s three-part mini documentary Making Memories, which follows the family on their adventures at the Bendrigg Trust and highlights just how much support from the masonic community has meant to them and the charity: www.mcf.org.uk/makingmemories
For more about the Bendrigg Trust, visit: www.bendrigg.org.uk