The Masonic Temple on Stopford Road in Jersey is one of the most impressive of its kind, so much so that local Freemason Julian Spurr believed it would be a fitting venue for his wedding
The Temple has recently benefitted from a complete refurbishment which saw the addition of a new bar, provincial robing room, disability access points, lady’s toilets plus a complete interior and exterior redecoration. Once again, the building is a fantastic hub for the members of the Island and fit to serve the Craft long into the future.
It wasn’t always so well polished, built in 1864 the property suffered heavily during the Nazi Occupation of Jersey and was ransacked by Nazi treasure hunters in 1941. Those dark days are now a distant memory and a new chapter has begun. Earlier in the year, history was made once more when Julian Spurr, of St Aubin's Lodge No. 958, and his blushing bride Karen tied the knot in the Corinthian-styled surroundings of the Jersey temple.
Julian said: 'Karen and I were discussing wedding venues one evening, and I reminded her that someone had mentioned to me that the Province had been toying with the idea of possibly promoting weddings at the Temple.'
When Julian and Karen arrived at the Temple, he took her inside and told her to close her eyes before turning the lights on – she said: 'This is the place. This where I want us to get married.'
The couple had already decided on a Great Gatsby theme and felt that the building would more than lend its colours and majesty to the 1920s style, not to mention the beauty of the exterior featuring in the all-important photographs. The newlyweds entertained 85 guests, with everyone throwing themselves into the glamorous theme.
Pre-ceremony drinks were held in the rear courtyard of the Temple, and the reception and sumptuous buffet wedding feast in the dining room.
Julian said: 'We danced the night away to music from the Charleston and Gatsby eras, the fifties and sixties, right up to Jess Glynne and Ed Sheeran – the Temple had never rocked like that before.'
During and after the event, countless guests commented on the fact that they had never been to such a wedding before, in such magnificent surroundings – a hugely successful first wedding held in Jersey’s Masonic Temple.
Jersey Freemasons have won a prestigious community award for their charity work
Voted for by the island’s people, the Jersey Evening Post Pride Of Jersey Awards has 12 categories that recognise neighbourliness, voluntary activity, community involvement and fundraising. Jersey’s masons were nominated in the Fundraiser of the Year category by Marteen McCloat.
With the event hosted by ex-England football star Graeme Le Saux and singer-songwriter Nerina Pallot, the Province was represented on the night by Deputy PGM Graham Spence and Provincial Grand Charity Steward Colin Le Cornu.
Along with a trophy, the Province was awarded £1,000 donated by The Marketing Bureau, which has now been donated to two local charities.
The exceptional record of Jersey Freemasons’ charitable giving was acknowledged when the Province won the Jersey Evening Post Pride of Jersey Award for Fundraiser of the year 2017
Every year the public of Jersey vote on 12 diverse award categories recognising neighbourliness, inspirational leadership, voluntary activity, community involvement and fundraising.
Jersey Freemasons were nominated by Mrs Marteen McCloat who wrote that each year they carry out considerable charitable works, without much noise or fuss. Along with numerous other organisations, charities and individuals, the Province completed an initial assessment and were shortlisted for the public vote.
The awards ceremony was held at St John’s Manor on 23rd September with the Province represented by Deputy Provincial Grand Master VW Bro Graham Spence together with the Provincial Grand Charity Steward W Bro Colin Le Cornu. Needless to say, both were astounded when the judges announced that of the three finalists in their category, it was the Province of Jersey that took the top honour.
Along with a magnificent trophy, the Province was awarded a prize of £1,000 kindly donated by award sponsors The Marketing Bureau. The prize money has been donated equally between the TLC Appeal for Jersey’s General Hospital and Mont a L’Abbe School to help maintain their sensory garden, which was donated by Jersey Freemasons in 2013.
Deputy PGM VW Bro Graham Spence and W Bro Colin Le Cornu collected the award alongside event hosts ex-England football star Graeme Le Saux and singer/songwriter Nerina Pallot.
More than 300 Freemasons and their families attended a service in Guernsey in celebration of the Tercentenary of the United Grand Lodge of England, which was represented by Past Assistant Grand Master David Williamson
The service was held at the island’s principal church and was led by the Dean of Guernsey, the Very Reverend Tim Barker.
Prior to the service, the brethren paraded in full regalia through the town of St Peter Port for the first time since the bicentenary in 1917.
They were joined by Jersey Provincial Grand Master Kenneth Rondel, who formally handed over the South West Provinces Tercentenary banner to Guernsey & Alderney Provincial Grand Master David Hodgetts. The service was followed by a festive lunch, at which the Dean was an honoured guest.
Despite inclement weather, the Province of Somerset safely delivered the special south west Tercentenary banner to the Province of Devonshire in the magnificent Exeter Cathedral
The banner recognises the special fraternal bond that exists between the South West Provinces and has toured to the Provincial Grand Lodges of Jersey, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Wiltshire, Dorset and Somerset. Devonshire will pass it on to the Provincial Grand Lodge of Cornwall later in the year.
The Provincial Teams from Somerset and Devon paraded in regalia and met in the nave of Exeter Cathedral where the banner was formally passed over.
Stuart Hadler, Provincial Grand Master of Somerset, and Ian Kingsbury, Provincial Grand Master of Devon, greeted one another and expressed their delight to be able to publicly show and acknowledge the 300th anniversary of the formation of the Premier Grand Lodge.
Sea cadet support in Jersey
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey has donated £10,000 to the Jersey Sea Cadets to fund staff training as well as the purchase of items such as kayaks, archery and diving apparatus, and IT equipment. Provincial Grand Master Ken Rondel said, ‘The core values our two organisations share are so similar, it is an honour to be able to assist the Sea Cadet Corps in their valuable work.’
A nationwide maritime youth organisation, the Sea Cadets gives young people aged 10 to 18 opportunities for personal development, through learning new skills – such as sailing and rock climbing – challenging themselves and working in teams. Those aged 13 to 18 may also join the Royal Marines Cadets.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey is delighted to announce that following an approach last year from the Jersey Sea Cadets, the Freemasons of Jersey donated £10,000 yesterday at the Sea Cadets weekly parade
This donation is to purchase a variety of items, including Kayaks, Archery and Diving equipment, as well as IT software and hardware and also to provide important staff training.
The aim of the Sea Cadet Corps (SCC) is to give young people the best possible head start in life through nautical adventure and fun, teaching them essential life skills and moral values.
The SCC is a nationwide voluntary youth organisation open to young people aged 10 to 18. Junior Sea Cadet sections are open to young people aged 10 to 12 years of age. Those aged from 13 to 18 may also join Royal Marines Cadet Detachments (RMCD), where established within Sea Cadet units, as Royal Marines Cadets. The local branch of the Sea Cadets, particularly at the present time, is very much in need of support.
The Provincial Grand Master, Ken Rondel, said when presenting the donation: 'The core values our two organisations share are so similar, it’s an honour to be able to assist the Sea Cadet Corps in their valuable work, keeping teenagers’ activities focused on positive mental and physical attributes.'
Vital support for Jersey hospital
Jersey masons reached the highlight of their 2013-14 charity appeal when a paediatric colonoscope was donated to the Endoscopy Unit at the General Hospital for its bowel cancer screening programme. Jersey masons raised £40,000 through donations and charity events ranging from lunches and raffles to clay pigeon shooting. The new colonoscope will enable the department to prevent a significant number of cases of bowel cancer on the island.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Jersey is delighted to announce that Tuesday the 2nd September will the see the culmination of its chosen 2013/14 charity appeal when a paediatric colonoscope shall be donated to the Bowel Cancer Screening Department of the General Hospital
The £40,000 to purchase this vital piece of equipment was raised by the Freemasons of Jersey over the past year through donations and various charity events, ranging from lunches, raffles, BBQs and even clay pigeon shooting!
The importance of the work done for all the people of Jersey by the Bowel Cancer Screening Department was highlighted to the Freemasons of Jersey, when Dr Linda Diggle and her team gave a presentation at an annual event to welcome newly joined members and their family and friends. It was made clear that the additional colonoscope, by virtue of allowing for more screenings, would enable the department to catch and therefore prevent a significant number of cases of bowel cancer in the island.
Whilst the name suggests the equipment is for use in regard to children, it should be highlighted that in this instance 'paediatric' also refers to the size of the apparatus, which, being smaller, is far less invasive for those undergoing screening procedures.
The Provincial Grand Master of Jersey, Kenneth Rondel (along with other Jersey Freemasons), presented the equipment to the General Hospital on Tuesday 2nd September, see image above.
On British soil
With Freemasonry banned in Germany, Jersey’s Past Provincial Grand Master David Rosser explains what the Nazi occupation of the Channel Islands in World War II meant for local members of the Craft
The story of Jersey’s occupation by the Nazis is unique not only in masonic terms, but in the history of World War II, because it took place on the only part of British territory to be occupied by German forces during that conflict. It would have been impossible to attempt to defend the Channel Islands, in the case of Jersey just twelve miles from the west coast of France, without incurring an unacceptable level of civilian casualties. It was therefore announced that, as the Islands might be occupied, those who wished to leave would be evacuated. It was an agonising decision, but for Freemasons (and there were more than a thousand each in Jersey and Guernsey) especially so, knowing of Hitler’s persecution of German Freemasons.
Following the fall of Paris on 14 June 1940, the Nazi forces moved quickly westwards and began their invasion of the Channel Islands at the end of the month. The occupation began not without bloodshed as a number of civilians were killed during a brief air raid on St Helier, on the road to the quayside.
Freemasons would have been more apprehensive had they known of the Führer’s order in September 1939 for the creation of a list of British subjects and European exiles, the Sonderfahndungsliste GB (Special Search List GB) – now known as the Black Book – who were to be taken into what was euphemistically termed ‘protective custody’ in the event of an invasion of Great Britain.
This was brought home after obtaining a copy of the Last Will and Testament of the Provincial Grand Master of Jersey in those days, Charles Edward Malet de Carteret. Significantly, the Will was signed on 1 July 1940, the day enemy forces landed in Jersey. So far as we are able to gather, he had never previously made a will. Charles must have wondered what might have been in store for him and other members of the Craft still in the Islands. In poor health, Charles died in January 1942.
Life on the ground
The atmosphere was more relaxed than had been expected, mainly because the German troops were in high spirits; they were convinced that the occupation of Great Britain was but a few days away. And while some restrictions were harsh – for instance, remaining Jewish shops had to display notices to this effect – proclamations issued by the occupying authorities were conciliatory if not, in some respects, almost bizarre.
For instance, islanders were allowed to say prayers for the British Royal Family and the welfare of the British Empire. Likewise, while the National Anthem was not to be sung without permission, it could be listened to on the radio. For Freemasons, the future seemed uncertain. Charles was anxious that nothing be done to make life more difficult for his members and was informed by the German military authorities that, provided no further meetings were held and the masonic temple locked up, the building and its contents would be left alone.
Relying on this, and the proclamation issued on the first day of the occupation, which stated that ‘in the event of peaceful surrender the lives, property and liberty of peaceful inhabitants is solemnly guaranteed’, Charles complied. Furthermore, he instructed that all the beautiful furnishings in the temple, as well as the thousands of priceless items in the library and museum, should remain in situ. Unfortunately for Freemasons, the proclamation proved untenable. Soon after the establishment of the regular German troops (the Wehrmacht), the Sturmabteilung, or SA, were also despatched to Jersey – more sinister forces bent on pursuing the Nazi official policy against Freemasonry.
The first indication that something was afoot was the unannounced arrival at the masonic temple on 19 November 1940 of the Geheime Feldpolizei – the Secret Field Police – who demanded all keys to the building and proceeded to place seals on every door. Then, on Thursday, 23 January 1941, a squad of special troops from Hitler’s Einsatzstab Reichsleiter Rosenberg arrived and proceeded to take an inventory of the contents and to photograph the main rooms, including the temple.
‘What was remarkable was that, having taken such drastic action against the physical attributes of Freemasonry, no action was taken to persecute individual masons.’
The investigations led to the despatch of further squads of Einsatzstab from Berlin, who commenced the systematic looting of the building on 27 January 1941. All the main pieces of furniture, the many beautiful furnishings, and the contents of the library and museum were stripped out, loaded onto lorries and shipped off the island. Anything that the looters did not want was either smashed and left lying around or piled in great heaps and burnt. Photographs taken when the building was repossessed by masonic authorities in 1945 reveal the scale of the devastation inflicted.
It subsequently came to light, from articles published in the local newspaper, which was under the control of the occupying authorities, that the reason for the removal of furnishings from the temple was to transport them to Berlin for use in an anti-masonic exhibition. Likewise, the photographs were taken to enable exhibition managers to replicate the layout of a lodge room.
Exhibitions were also staged in Paris, Brussels and Vienna using artefacts stolen in similar fashion from French and Belgian lodges; another was held in Belgrade. It is known that artefacts were also taken from masonic buildings throughout the Netherlands, so there was little shortage of suitable material with which to stage such exhibitions.
Thankfully, the main fabric of the building remained undamaged and for the remainder of the occupation it was used to store liquor and confiscated wireless sets. What was most remarkable was that, having taken such drastic action against the physical attributes of Freemasonry, and given the purpose of the notorious Black Book, no action was taken to harass or persecute individual masons, full details of whom would have been ascertainable from the stolen masonic records.
The situation becomes more astonishing given that in 1942, and again in 1943, Hitler ordered all high-ranking Freemasons to be deported to Germany. The orders were sent directly to the Commander-in-Chief, but no action was taken to identify, locate and deport these senior masons, of whom there were many. This opens up the intriguing line of speculation that some of the most senior military commanders had masonic connections or sympathies, or may even have been members of the Craft at some time.
‘After the liberation by British forces on 9 May 1945, the massive task of restoration confronted the masonic authorities... it took several decades to complete.’
We know that none of those appointed to govern the Channel Islands was a Nazi, and that Commander-in-Chief of the island Rudolf Graf von Schmettow came increasingly under suspicion in Berlin. Chief-of-Staff Baron Hans von Helldorf also came under suspicion for his leniency towards civilians, and for failing to carry out orders he received from Berlin – he was banished to the island of Herm, pending court martial. Meanwhile, the wife of Baron Max von Aufsess, who was still in Germany, was declared an enemy of the state and arrested by the Gestapo. Von Aufsess had been tasked with handling the liaison between the military government and the Jersey authorities.
After the liberation by British forces on 9 May 1945, the massive task of restoration confronted the masonic authorities. Since the last meeting of Provincial Grand Lodge in October 1939, the Province had lost its Provincial Grand Master, his Deputy and many other senior members. Despite this, Provincial Grand Lodge was convened on 16 August 1945, just one month after the masonic authorities repossessed the building.
All the furnishings needed replacing, and to meet the cost the Province had to rely almost entirely on its own resources and the generosity of friends worldwide, although they did receive a donation of £5,000 from Grand Lodge. By early 1946 the temple had been restored to some kind of normality, although it took several decades to complete the full restoration. With the anti-masonic exhibition staged in an area of Berlin that suffered almost total destruction at the end of the war, it is likely that the building in which it was housed was destroyed. So sadly, and despite endless enquiries, none of the stolen treasures except for some two hundred and fifty library books have been recovered.
There is a happy ending to this story. As those who are able to recall and compare will readily testify, the present splendour of the Jersey masonic building even exceeds that which existed prior to the traumatic events of January 1941. This is a tremendous tribute not only to those on whose shoulders fell the enormous burden of restoration, but also to their friends worldwide who contributed so much and so generously to this massive task. Thanks to them, Freemasonry in the Channel Islands is alive and well today.