As the sun shone down on Sulgrave Manor, classic cars from as far away as Yorkshire and South Wales were flagged off by W Bro Charles Bennett, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire
This marked the start of the fourth and final Midlands route of the Classic 300.
The participants, on Sunday 27th August, followed a route taking them 78 miles from Sulgrave Manor – the ancestral home of Bro George Washington’s family - to the Blenheim Palace Festival of Transport - where Bro Sir Winston Churchill was born.
On the way, the classic vehicles passed through the Cotswolds including Bourton on the Water and Burford. This route was organised by W Bro Dermot Bambridge and W Bro John Harmer – members of Silverstone Lodge No. 9877 and on the Classic 300 Midlands organising committee.
Before the first car departed from Sulgrave, W Bro Charles Bennett handed W Bro Peter Manning, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire, a specially made gavel to carry on the route.
The gavel was made from the con rod of a Jaguar D-type, which was the legendary model that won the 24 Hours at Le Mans for England no less than three times during the 1950s. This and four other identical gavels are being ceremonially carried by a car on each route.
The Classic 300 is a series of events for classic cars and was started by the Grand Master at Windsor Great Park in May. It is part of the Tercentenary celebrations of the United Grand Lodge of England and will finish at Brooklands on 1st October.
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.
The efforts of Dorset Freemasons, with the support of Freemasons across the country, have given over 200 children a free adventure holiday for a week
This project, conceived in Dorset, was a unique way for Freemasonry to work for the benefit of the wider community, as well as providing an unprecedented opportunity to celebrate 300 years since the formation of the first Grand Lodge. The Masonic Province of Dorset was delighted to host 209 deserving children for a Jurassic Coast Youth Adventure holiday.
122 children from Dorset schools were joined by a further 87 from 14 other Provinces as far afield as Durham and Cumberland and Westmorland at a cost of £500 for each participant, which was funded by Freemasons.
At the beginning of their stay, each child was given £20 pocket money, two specially designed t-shirts and a matching baseball cap as souvenirs. One of the organising team commented: ‘All the young people and many of the leaders on arrival were overjoyed and amazed at what Freemasonry had provided for them. Several children were moved to tears at not only being presented with t-shirts and a cap but pocket money as well. You could see on many faces that they were experiencing something beyond their imagination and dreams.’
One of the highlights of the week was the visit by the Assistant Grand Master and former Lord Mayor of London Sir David Wootton who, in the company of Dorset’s Provincial Grand Master Richard Merritt and the organising team, spent the morning watching the delight of the children dragon boat racing and raft building at the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy.
After joining the children for lunch at Osmington, he witnessed a host of activities including abseiling, fencing, aeroball, the giant swing, archery, a sensory trail and a beach walk. Following the children’s dinner, and before the evening camp fire, he had pleasure in presenting children with a group photograph and certificate in memory of and testament to their exciting stay.
The free holiday was organised by Dorset Masons and was entirely funded by many Masonic Lodges and their members across England and Wales.
As part of the Tercentenary celebrations, Guildford Freemasons entertained over 70 elderly and underprivileged local people to high tea, with the assistance of Age UK Surrey, Contact the Elderly and the local Lions and Rotary Clubs
Held at the Guildford Masonic Centre on 20th August, entertainment was provided by the Surrey Fringe Barbershop Singers and magician George Kimber, whilst the event was also attended by the Guildford Deputy Mayor and Mayoress Cllr Mike and Mrs Jean Parsons.
A charity which helps people with disabilities take part in sport has received a £4,500 donation from a group of Norfolk Freemasons
Members of the Wroxham-based Boileau Lodge No. 6862 have completed a triathlon to raise funds for WheelPower, which offers opportunities for disabled people to get active.
As part of the celebrations to mark the United Grand Lodge of England's 300th anniversary, Lodge Charity Steward W Bro Robin Rush cycled 300km in Norfolk whilst Worshipful Master Steve Kemp ran 20km and his wife Michelle completed a 3km swim, one for each century.
Chris Rattenbury, an ambassador for WheelPower, the national charity for wheelchair sport, said: 'I was delighted to receive the cheque and meet those who have made this very generous donation possible. The money will go towards a second Primary Sports Camp to be held in Norfolk. The first, held in 2016, introduced 69 children to cricket, wheelchair basketball, boccia, table games and golf.'
W Bro Robin Rush, who is 76 years old but still very active, commented: 'There are so many youngsters with disabilities wanting to join in with activities, so this has been my charity focus in our Tercentenary year.'
W Bro Steve Kemp, who is also a keen sportsman, added: 'I have been involved with WheelPower helping to organise events and have seen how much support is given to help people with disabilities participate in sport. Robin and I have experienced so much pleasure from sport and wanted to help others do the same.'
Almost all of Norfolk’s 76 lodges had joined in fundraising activities following a call from Provincial Grand Master Stephen Allen to give extra support to local charities during the Tercentenary year.
The latest Classic 300 run saw the travelling gavel cross the River Tamar, affectionately known as the Cornish border separating Cornwall from England
It arrived safely in Saltash, which is located in the South East of Cornwall, to begin the Cornish Leg of the Classic 300 on 20th August 2017.
The idea for the Classic 300 was conceived by the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club (now Square Wheels) to celebrate the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary. A series of 15 non-competitive classic car runs taking place in England and Wales throughout the year, it was launched back in May at Windsor Great Park when the first vehicle was waived off by The Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.
Hosted by the Cornwall Masonic Classic Car Club, 12 cars from across the county braved the wet conditions, created by the tail end of hurricane ‘Gert’, to converge at the designated starting point.
Before embarking on the 120 mile plus coastal trail, the travelling gavel, which was fashioned from a Jaguar ‘Con-Rod’, was formally handed over from Bro Kit Marquand to W Bro John Cole PAGDC, in anticipation for the next stage of its epic journey to the most South Westerly point in the England.
The route deviated from what would traditionally be the quickest road to Land’s End, with the cars peeling off towards the historic town of Looe at Trerulefoot. This was the start of a series of B roads that would dominate the day, winding their way down through to Lostwithiel and beyond towards Fowey.
The route ended with everyone arriving at the final destination of Land’s End with the addition of a beautiful post vintage Austin RP Standard. It was here that the finish line arch was inflated and positioned behind the iconic ‘Land’s End Sign Post’ – a real challenge to achieve in the wind, situated 250 feet above sea level and perched on top of the cliff.
Roy Harry-Young, one of the passengers from New Zealand, and a relative of one of the entrants, volunteered to act as an anchor holding on to the guide ropes behind the arch whilst the gavel was presented to the Provincial Grand Master of Cornwall Stephen Pearn. The sign post itself adorned the Grand Lodge address.
Roy Harry-Young commented: ‘I am not a Freemason myself, but I have been overwhelmed by the warmth and sense of inclusion that I have felt today. These sorts of events really put a human perspective on to your Fraternity, making them very visible and accessible to a greater audience. It’s obvious everyone is having a great deal of fun and sharing in a common passion of classic cars.
'This morning I never dreamed that I’d flown half way round the world to hang off a cliff holding on to a giant inflatable arch!’
Members of the public had a behind the scenes look inside Wroxham Masonic Centre, as Norfolk Freemasons opened their doors
Over 100 visitors filled the temple and had the opportunity to see a demonstration by the Norfolk Provincial Grand Stewards Lodge No. 9266 and a talk by senior Norfolk Freemason Stewart Middleton.
Mysteries were dispelled with Lodge Officers explaining their roles and questions answered about the different regalia worn, the formation of the first Grand Lodge 300 years ago and the relevance of Freemasonry today.
The work of Freemasons in the community was also highlighted with donations totalling £5,500 presented to local charities. These included £1,060 to Home Start, £1,000 to the James Paget Hospital Stroke Unit plus £500 each to Norfolk & Norwich Association of the Blind, Priscilla Bacon Lodge, 1st Mattishall Scouts, Allstars Community Complex, Cromer Community & Hospital Friends, Hoveton Wherrymen Football Club and Norfolk Family Mediation.
Fred Bruce, organiser and member of Boileau Lodge No. 6862, commented: ‘We play our part in the local community and we welcomed so many members of the public who wanted to find out about Freemasonry in Wroxham. A lot of people didn’t realise 10 lodges meet here and were impressed by the amount of information available.'
Martin Russell, of Norfolk Broads Lodge No. 8368, said: ‘We are celebrating our Tercentenary this year with events and open days all over the county. Charity is a big part of Freemasonry and we invite those receiving donations to come along and tell us how the money will be spent. The donation to Home Start was raised at our Ladies Night by a raffle, auction and donations from members.’
Richard Pryor, a member of Maid’s Head Lodge No. 8558, added: ‘Some of the charities here today are small and not very well known, so our donations are appreciated and really make a difference.’
Jeannette Wright, whose husband Michael is also a member of Norfolk Broads Lodge, said: ‘It was interesting to see what happens at lodge meetings, which sound strange until I saw the demonstration and talk today.’
A Masonic Express adventure in Yorkshire
As part of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary celebrations, the Province of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings hired a steam train for 300 Freemasons, including their friends and family
The Province kept the number at 300, to coincide with the 300th anniversary of the formation of the world’s first Grand Lodge for Freemasons.
The steam train was operated by the North York Moors Railway and ran between Pickering and Whitby, North Yorkshire. A metal plate was fabricated with the words Masonic Express in blue and white, which was affixed to and adorned the front of the engine.
In glorious sunshine, the event was presented as a family day out and the journey was set at a sedate pace through stunning countryside.
On arrival at Whitby Railway Station, in the centre of the town, the fun-filled 300 walked into the heart of this historic port to either take in some shopping, eat in the seafood restaurants or, for the more adventurous, climb up to the derelict Whitby Abbey, which is perched high on a cliff.
On arrival back in Pickering, the smiles on the faces of the 300 people was testament to the satisfaction of having enjoyed a fabulous family fun day together.
And as a result of the success of the Masonic Express adventure, the Provincial Grand Master RW Bro Jeffrey Gillyon expressed an interest in running another steam train in the future.
Beaminster Museum in West Dorset is hosting a ‘300 years of Freemasonry’ exhibition which commemorates the Tercentenary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England
The exhibition gives an insight into Freemasonry and in particular, Beaminster Manor Lodge No. 1367, showing some of its activities and personalities.
It shows important aspects, including memorabilia of the history of Beaminster Manor Lodge and how it had played its part in local life in a rural community. It also aims to dispel some of the myths and mysteries around Freemasonry and answer questions posed by members of the general public.
The museum is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays 10:30am – 4pm and Sundays 2pm – 4:30pm.
The exhibition will be running until 29th October 2017.
Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons celebrated the 300th Anniversary of the formation of the first Grand Lodge of England, by unveiling commemorative blue plaques to mark the first activity of Freemasonry in the area at Masonic Halls across the Province
On 24th June 1717, four lodges, which had existed for some time in London, formed the Grand Lodge of England which has since continued to administer lodges across the country including the 76 lodges and it's 3,000 members in Leicestershire and Rutland.
The earliest known lodge in Leicester was established in 1739 and met at the Wheat Sheaf Inn on Humberstone Gate. Other lodges followed including St John’s Lodge in 1790 which is the oldest surviving lodge in Leicester still in existence. In 1859, the two lodges meeting in Leicester, St John’s Lodge, then meeting at the Bell Hotel, and John of Gaunt Lodge, raised funds to build a permanent home in Halford Street. The Masonic Hall in Halford Street continued to be the principal place of meeting for 50 years until it was deemed no longer adequate.
A freehold Georgian house and its grounds on London Road were purchased in 1909 and the new headquarters were in use a year later in 1910. Freemasons’ Hall has been extended on a number of occasions, particularly in the 1930s and 1960s, and continues as the headquarters for the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland and has 43 lodges meeting there. The building has some of the finest Masonic Lodge Rooms in the country and has a large Masonic Museum with artefacts dating back to the 17th Century.
The first Masonic Lodge in Syston was formed in 1901, East Goscote Lodge, and was granted a Warrant to meet in the village hall. The Master of the Lodge, who owned an old school in Broad Street, built a new single storey Masonic Hall which continues to be in use after several extensions over the years. A total of 7 lodges meet at the hall today which makes it one of the largest halls outside of Leicester.
The first Masonic Lodge in Loughborough was formed in 1835 and met at the King’s Head but unfortunately closed in 1853. A new lodge, Howe & Charnwood Lodge, was formed in 1864 which also met at the King’s Head before moving to the Town Hall, after a disagreement with the landlady over the charge of 25 shillings per meeting. In 1956, the Masonic Lodges in the town purchased the Old Adult School in Ashby Square which has continued to serve as their meeting place.
The first Masonic Lodge to meet in Ashby-de-la-Zouch was Ivanhoe Lodge which met at the Royal Hotel from 1836 until the Lodge closed in 1841. Another lodge, Ferrers and Ivanhoe, which continues to meet today, was subsequently formed in 1859 and originally met at the Town Hall. In 1981, the old Lyric Picture Palace was purchased for £7,000 and refurbished at a total costs of £94,500. The Lyric Rooms continues to host the two Ashby lodges and serving the local community.
The first Masonic Lodge in Coalville, Grace Dieu Lodge, was formed in 1892 which met at the Masonic rooms situated next to the Railway Hotel. In 1926, a Committee was formed to raise money to pay for the building of the present Masonic Hall in Park Road which was subsequently opened in 1928. This Hall continues to be used by the two Masonic Lodges that meet in Coalville.
The first Lodge to meet in Hinckley, the Knights of Malta Lodge, was brought to Hinckley from Macclesfield in 1803. The Lodge met at various inns in Hinckley over a number of years. As the popularity of Freemasonry rose it was necessary to find a permanent home and land was bought in St Mary’s Road to build a Masonic Hall. The Hall was opened in 1928 and continues to host the lodges that meet in Hinckley along with serving the local community.
The first Masonic Lodge in Melton Mowbray, Rutland Lodge, was formed in 1866 which met at the George Hotel. Subsequently, the stabling at the Wicklow Hunting Lodge on Burton Road was purchased for conversion into the present Masonic Hall. This was opened in 1951 and continues to serve the three Masonic Lodges that meet there.
Vale of Catmos Lodge was formed in 1869 and met at the Agriculture Hall in Oakham. In 1877, the Lodge decided to meet in licenced premises and moved to the George Hotel. After 10 years, the Lodge moved back to the Agriculture Hall which was subsequently renamed Victoria Hall to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Jubilee. An opportunity rose to utilise the accumulated funds of a member’s legacy to secure long term accommodation at the Old Hall at Oakham School. Two lodges have met there for the last nine years.
The Uppingham in Rutland Lodge was consecrated in 1984 and meets at the Upper Cricket Pavillion in Uppingham. After each meeting, members dine at the Falcon Hotel which has provided the Lodge with a venuefor over 30 years.
St Peter’s Lodge was granted a Warrant in 1870 to meet at the Three Swans Hotel in Market Harborough. As Freemasonry began to expand its popularity, a building fund was established in 1967 to build a permanent home. Land was purchased in Kings Road and the current Masonic Hall was built and opened in 1968 where currently two lodges continue to meet today.
Wiclif Lodge was grant a Warrant in 1904 to meet in the Upper Room of the Town Hall in Lutterworth. The Lodge continued to meet at the Town Hall until 1963 when they moved to their permanent residence at the former Ritz Cinema. More recently further refurbishment and an extension has been undertaken. The Wycliffe Rooms now acts as both a Masonic Hall for the two lodges and also a Community Centre for a wide range of activities.
The plaques were unveiled by the Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Hagger who was supported by the Mayors of Charnwood, Oakham, Lutterworth and a large number of members, family and friends. The plaques were designed by W Bro Andy Green, Provincial Junior Grand Warden and made by local firm The Metal Foundry based in South Wigston, Leicestershire.
RW Bro David Hagger, said: 'We are celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry and the foresight and courage of our forebears to perceive and enhance our society over the centuries. If we continue to pursue our ideals of integrity, fairness and honesty, Freemasonry will continue to flourish in Leicestershire and Rutland.
'We'll also be holding several public events throughout 2017 including opening the doors to our Masonic Halls during the Heritage Open Days for everyone to see inside and an exhibition at Newarke Houses Museum in Leicester on Freemasonry, highlighting the contribution of Freemasons to our local communities. We hope this will lead to further interest and a better understanding of our historic fraternity.'