Historic stained glass windows have been returned to Barnstaple in Devonshire after 30 years
When St Mary Magdalene Church in Devonshire – built in 1842 – was demolished in 1988, it was to make way for a new inner relief road. That was until the Honourable Glaziers Company stepped in to rescue a pair of stained glass windows which depicted the building and Dedication of King Solomon’s Temple.
Those stained glass windows have lain since then in the cellar of Glaziers Hall in London. However, through the offices of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Assistant Grand Master Sir David Wootton, who is also Worshipful Master of the Glaziers Company, the windows have been returned to members of Loyal Lodge No. 251 which meets in Barnstaple.
On 17th May 2019, Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, Ian Roome, Mayor of Barnstaple, Alison Mills, Manager of Barnstaple’s Museum, and Robert Patterson, specialist glass Restorer, together with Roger Moore, Worshipful Master of Loyal Lodge, and members of the lodge accompanied by their families, welcomed members of the Worshipful Company of Glaziers.
The windows are an outstanding historical artefact which commemorates the life of a prominent member of the Barnstaple community and Past Master of Loyal Lodge, John Thomas Britton (1790 to 1855), and is a small piece of local history.
Thomas Britton was an active member within the community and of St Mary Magdalene’s Church. It was in 1859 that the members of Loyal Lodge decided that as a permanent memorial they would commission the stained glass south window of the Church to be dedicated to his memory.
In 1843, John Britton took a leading role in the acquisition of what is known as the Bath Furniture consisting of some of the finest masonic chairs, pedestals and pillars still in existence anywhere in the masonic world.
During the meeting a resume of the history of the windows and St. Mary Magdalene Church was very ably given by Estcourt Miller. In presenting the windows, Sir David Wootton said how pleased they were to be able to return them to North Devon and to know that in due course they will be displayed so prominently for all to see.
The Worshipful Company of Glaziers and Painters of Glass are one of the ancient livery companies of the City of London, its origins dating back to the 14th century. Through its charity – The Glaziers Foundation – it supports education, the training of stained glass artists, together with the conservation of stained glass and are devoted to promoting the art and craft of stained glass.
Roger Moore formally accepted possession of the windows and thanked all those who had been involved in their return and eventual display in the Museum of Barnstaple and North Devon when their refurbishment of the building is complete.
More than 200 disadvantaged children will experience life on a real working farm, thanks to a grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons to Farms for City Children
The charity’s founders, acclaimed Warhorse author Sir Michael Morpurgo and his wife Clare, Lady Morpurgo, were both at Nethercott to welcome members of the Devonshire Freemasons and also took time to read to the visiting children from an inner city Plymouth School a story from one of his latest books.
The charity welcomes over 3,000 primary school children and their teachers each year from disadvantaged urban areas to one of their three farms in Devonshire, Gloucestershire and Pembrokeshire.
During their seven day stay the children live and work on the farm, explore the countryside around them and find out where food really comes from. They also discover self-confidence as they conquer fears and grow in self-belief as they overcome challenges working as a team to get tasks done. They develop new friendships and learn to see a bigger, brighter future than they ever thought existed beyond their crowded city horizons.
For many of the visiting children the true cost of this fully immersive seven day stay is beyond their reach so the charity subsidises every single child’s visit by at least £300.
The grant of £63,000 from Devonshire freemasons comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, which is funded by Freemasons, their families and friends, from across England and Wales.
Tim Rose, Farm School Manager at the charity’s founding farm at Iddesleigh in Devon, said: 'We’re really grateful to Devonshire Freemasons for their generous grant. Each week we see children from inner cities blossom on the farm – they discover confidence, challenge themselves to achieve so much more than they think they could and revel in the great outdoors.'
Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, said: 'I’m delighted we were able to help Farms for City Children, who do outstanding work helping disadvantaged children from right across Devon and beyond. The experience they offer these children can be life-changing, including improved behaviour at school which can give them a chance to make the most of their education.
'Being a local resident it has often been my pleasure to be onsite when the children are there and have seen the benefit they gain from their time on the farm.'
Freemasonry hit a high note when Devonshire Freemasons became the first mixed male and female masonic choir in the country
Their first performance was held at the Annual Provincial Grand Lodge meeting in Torquay in April 2019.
Permission was sought from the Provincial Grand Master Ian Kingsbury, who enthusiastically supported the formation of a choir which included women Freemasons.
The Devonshire Masonic Choir was formed in 2017 with male Freemasons only, although it was decided at their second AGM, by a majority, to include women Freemasons in their ranks.
The ladies have brought with them an extra dimension of sound, with their enthusiasm and ability adding to the total enjoyment of participation in song.
The aim of the Choir is to help raise much-needed funds for various masonic and non-masonic charities, whilst being able to entertain groups throughout Devon and also enjoying themselves.
Although still in their relative infancy, the Devonshire Masonic Choir has already performed at many charitable functions.
Devonshire Freemasons have donated £4,000 to the Devon Air Ambulance, bringing the total masonic support given to air ambulances across the country to OVER £4 million since 2007
Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, was on hand to present the grant to Devon Air Ambulance, which comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation, accompanied by Dr. Reuben Ayres, Provincial Grand Charity Steward. The total contribution to Devon Air Ambulance since 2007 by Freemasons is £55,000 and when adding the donations made by individual Devon lodges, the total reaches over £116,000.
The Air Ambulance operates right across Devonshire and in 2017 assisted 990 patients, more than any other year. 50% of these incidents were medical emergencies such as heart attacks, with 49% being trauma related (for example, road traffic collisions and accidental injuries). 12% of all jobs attended were to children.
Devon Air Ambulance relies entirely on charitable grants and donations from the community, businesses and friends of Devon.
Caroline Creer, Fundraising and Communications Director for Devon Air Ambulance, said: ‘We would like to thank the Devonshire Freemasons for their continued support and generosity. Support like theirs really does mean a lot and helps to keep Devon’s two Air Ambulances flying.’
Ian Kingsbury said: ‘We are proud to be able to support the Devon Air Ambulance. Thanks to their team’s tireless efforts, many lives of local people are saved every year.’
During 2018, Freemasons from around the country will be presenting 20 regional air ambulances with grants totalling £192,000.
Members of Blundell’s School Masonic Lodge have met at the school in Devon for the first time since the lodge was consecrated in 1934
The event in 2017 was arranged to coincide with the Tercentenary of the world's first Grand Lodge for Freemasons last year, and to mark the occasion members of Blundell's Lodge No. 5467 wanted to celebrate it in a unique way.
This led to the idea of approaching Blundell's School, and so with the help of the lodge's Senior Warden Craig Cox and his wife Sarah the permission of the Head of Blundell's Nicola Huggett was obtained and plans were set in motion.
The logistics of such an event was never going to be easy to arrange, but the outcome was a marvellous afternoon and evening culminating in 116 members and their partners sitting down for a gourmet dinner in the main dining room of the school.
Nicola Huggett and Richard Swarbrick, Chairman of the Old Blundellian Club, were guests of honour and both the Worshipful Master of the lodge John Shepherd and the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury were each delighted to present the Head with a cheque for £1,500 – making a total of £3,000 to mark the celebrations of the Tercentenary.
This donation enabled year 11 students at the school to assist with projects identified by Community Learning International, who currently operate five learning centres in district towns of rural Luang Prabang in Laos, where they provide opportunities for children to develop their skills and knowledge.
This aid has now reached the children in Laos and the delight on their faces and the knowledge that without this sort of help the education of the children would be much poorer has made the project worthwhile in the eyes of everyone who took part.
People in East Devon living with dementia and other degenerative conditions will be offered ‘armchair adventures’ and ‘musical life stories’ as part of an expanded reminiscence service, thanks to a £44,000 grant from Devonshire Freemasons to the Action East Devon charity
The Forget Me Not project will see trained volunteers and project staff run themed sessions for people with early onset dementia, helping them to collect music associated with their life stories. Music is downloaded onto portable personal music players, including headphones which can accommodate hearing aids.
The Armchair Travel sessions takes participants on an armchair tour of a chosen country, including music, large screen videos, food, celebrations, clothing and decorations from the destination country.
Memory boxes are provided for those with sensory impairment and memory loss, containing a collection of objects from the 1930’s to the 1970’s. The boxes are based on a theme such as Christmas Past, Looking Good, Staying Healthy, Royalty, In the Kitchen, School Days, Travels and Holidays, Tools and Gadgets, Home Front. The items are textured, scented, colourful and noisy, appealing to all the senses and prompting participants to share stories and compare past experiences.
Dementia is now the leading killer in the United Kingdom. Dementia rates in East Devon are far higher than the national average, which makes Forget Me Not such an essential service to people in the area.
Charlotte Hanson, Chief Executive of Action East Devon, said: 'We’re very grateful to Devonshire masons for their generous grant which will help us to make sure older people in East Devon continue to have their stories valued and that they and their families and carers are supported throughout their lives.
'This year we are celebrating Action East Devon’s 20th birthday and we are very excited to be able to carry on this work for a further three years.'
The £44,000 donation comes through the Masonic Charitable Foundation. Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, commented: 'We’re very pleased to be able to help Action East Devon with this very valuable project to help people with dementia.
'Dementia rates in Devon being much higher than the national average, it’s especially important that we look at providing new services both for people with dementia and for their families and carers.'
Devonshire Freemasons have donated £5,000 to the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education to go towards purchasing play, sports and electronic equipment which can immediately benefit their students
Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire, was inspired by a presentation given by Steve Morton, Director of Development for the Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education, outlining the Academy’s aims and development plans for the future academy which is to be relocated to a new site in Exmouth.
When he came back to Devonshire he had a desire to help those who are affected by this very difficult sensory disability. To this end, he approached the Devonshire Freemasons Benevolent Fund Committee for help and they immediately responded by giving him a cheque for £5,000.
Accompanied by Dr Reuben Ayres, the Devonshire Provincial Grand Charity Steward, Ian paid a visit to the school which is currently based in Exeter. Here he met up again with Steve Morton and Appeals Manager Sarah Shaw and presented them with the cheque to purchase the equipment, which can also be transferred to the new school when the time is right.
The Exeter Royal Academy for Deaf Education has been located in Exeter for over 190 years and the current location is a property purchased many years ago which is no longer fit for the needs of the deaf students. The property and the land has now been sold and the proceeds will partially fund the new academy which is being been built with all the latest facilities available to the architects, to give the students what they really require.
All the students have additional needs, including multi-sensory disabilities, autism, epilepsy and physical disabilities which is why, when designing the new building, so much thought has gone into making each part of the facility user friendly. It is planned that completion of the new building will be within 18 months from now.
When presenting the cheque Ian Kingsbury said: 'Young people all need us to be there to help them grow for the future, none more so than those with a lack of hearing who are denied the normal things that we take so much for granted in the world we live in.'
Steve Morton added: 'One of the most important things we give to our young people is the gift of confidence; confidence to achieve whatever they wish to in life and to have pride in who they are.
'Donations enable us to provide our staff and students with the tools to succeed, but a gift, particularly one from such a well respected source, tells our students that others have confidence in them too. This is invaluable and on their behalf I sincerely thank the Provincial Grand Lodge of Devonshire.'
Martha Wilkinson, Chief Executive of Devon Community Foundation, was delighted to be presented with the cheque by Ian Kingsbury, the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Freemasons.
Martha commented: 'Thank you once again to Devon Freemasons for their generous and continued support. The donation further enables Devon Community Foundation to help fund local groups that may not otherwise receive the vital income they need to survive.
'These local community groups play an essential role in the lives of residents who are most in need and the bringing together of communities as a whole.'
The generous gift brings the total donated over the last four years to almost £35,000 and will be allocated to the Foundation’s Community Grants, supporting hundreds of voluntary and community groups offering local people in need a helping hand.
Ian Kingsbury, who was accompanied by the Devonshire Provincial Charity Steward Dr Reuben Ayres and Barry White, said: 'It is a delight for us as Freemasons to be able to assist such a worthwhile and important local organisation, helping them to reach out to those most in need in our local communities.'
Some examples of the groups that receive grants from the Community Grant pot:
Torbay - supporting a series of workshops for older women, empowering them to become involved in a range of activities, helping to build confidence and friendships
East Devon - addressing social isolation of older people through a range of activities that will engage with people of all ages, encouraging inter-generational opportunities and access to services and support networks, increasing health and wellbeing
North Devon - purchasing of reading manuals to assist those who are unable to read to improve their reading skills, enhancing their life and social opportunities and helping to raise confidence and self esteem
Mid Devon - supporting general running costs for work which addresses homelessness in mid Devon, ensuring that those most at risk have somewhere warm and safe to live
South Hams - contributing to the setting up of a new men's shed, encouraging men to get together to make items for the good of the community, promoting social inclusion and a sense of self worth
Simon Wills, General Manager of Babbacombe Model Village in Torquay, Devon, had invited Ian to view the latest introduction to their collection – an exact replica of the iconic Freemasons' Hall building in Great Queen Street. Ian was also featured in his dress regalia as part of the new model demonstration.
These models had taken many months to build and also included in their new City display is a model of Mark Masons Hall.
The village, which has been open since 1963, houses hundreds of model scenes of famous and iconic buildings which can be found around the country, surrounded by waterfalls and water features and includes over 13,000 miniature residents who live there.
Simon also kindly offered to donate 50% of the entrance fee from Devonhsire Freemasons and their families to help fund the MCF Masonic Charitable Foundation Devonshire Festival 2023.
It was a unique evening at Saint Nicholas Lodge No. 6377 in Ilfracombe on Wednesday 21st March 2018 where Ron Thompson, aged 97, was installed as Worshipful Master in a fine ceremony carried out by his predecessor Terry Bridges
Ron was also taken by surprise on the night when he was presented with a 70 Year Certificate of Service to Freemasonry on behalf of the Provincial Grand Master of Devonshire Ian Kingsbury. Ron was also given the rank of Past Provincial Junior Grand Warden and presented with the badge and jewel of that office.
Ron was initiated back in February 1948 in a double initiation with his elder brother. They were initiated by their father in Pro Minimis Lodge No. 5180 which met at Freemasons' Hall in London. Ron became Master in 1960 and again in 1972.
When he moved to Devonshire in 1997, the lodge elected him to Honorary Membership. Ron also received London Grand Rank in 1975 and was Exalted in Pro Minimis HRA Chapter on 26th January 1956.
Ron joined Saint Nicholas Lodge and Davie HRA Chapter 3721 in 1997, but resigned as he moved to Essex where he joined Gunfleet Lodge No. 6884 and Le-Soken Chapter No. 2949. Having returned to Devon two years later, he rejoined both St Nicholas Lodge and Davie Chapter.
Ron was installed as MEZ of Davie Chapter in 2005 and appointed as Past Provincial Grand Scribe Nehemiah in 2009.
Last year, he served as Senior Warden in Saint Nicholas Lodge and the brethren were delighted when he agreed to become their Master.