Challenging the south african heat

Two brethren from Mirfield Lodge, No. 1102, in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, cycled 400km over five days to raise money for Regain, the charity supporting those who have become tetraplegic as a result of a sports or leisure injury. Sometimes referred to as quadriplegia, tetraplegia is the complete or incomplete paralysis from the neck downwards as a result of severe spinal cord injury, affecting all four limbs and the trunk. Rod Dyer and Chris Oldfield completed the arduous event in the heat of South Africa’s Western Cape and raised around £8,000 from sponsorship and organising a number of social events.

Sanctuary help for youngsters

Thanks to West Yorkshire Freemasons, 20 children from an inner-city primary school in Leeds enjoyed a Christmas-themed party at the Hope Pastures horse and donkey sanctuary. As well as rescuing and rehoming horses, ponies and donkeys, Hope Pastures aims to educate people in animal welfare and provide a city sanctuary for community groups. 

David Wignall of Allerton Lodge, No. 3047, applied to the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding for funding for the party, and a cheque for £500 was presented to Sue Huggins-Geering, a Hope Pastures trustee.

In tune with the band

Members of Rokeby Lodge, No. 6301, who meet in Halifax, Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, gave a big helping hand to local musicians by putting forward a request to the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund. As a result, Queensbury Scout Band and Revolution Show Corps found themselves £20,000 better off, and able to buy instruments as well as transport, so they can get their equipment to competitions. Oliver Richardson, band director, expressed his ‘sincere thanks’ to the Freemasons. 

Freemasonry explained in Yorkshire

Thanks to a donation to Harrogate’s Royal Hall, a masonic exhibition has returned a portrait of Henry Lascelles to Yorkshire

The Royal Hall at Harrogate, one of the finest Edwardian theatres in the country, is a Grade 2 listed performance hall and theatre. With support from many local benefactors, led by industrialist Samson Fox, the building opened in 1903 as the Kursaal. Designed by Robert Beale and Frank Matcham, one of the most prolific theatre architects of his time, it was loosely based on the design of the Ostende Kursall in Belgium. 

Over the years, the Royal Hall has provided a superb home for the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge of Yorkshire, West Riding, the first one being held in 1937. However, its masonic links go back to the Royal Hall’s origins. Samson Fox, Robert Beale and Frank Matcham were all Freemasons, as was Julian Clifford, the Royal Hall’s musical director for many years, and Alderman David Simpson, four times Mayor of Harrogate, who laid the foundation stone in 1902.

In 2001, the Royal Hall Restoration Trust was formed to raise funds towards the restoration of this important National Heritage building. Supported by the actor Edward Fox, a great-grandson of Samson Fox, donations were received from local benefactors, Harrogate Borough Council, Harrogate International Centre and the Heritage Lottery Fund which allowed for a fully authentic interior redecoration and the restoration of the Dress Circle. In 2008, the patron of the Royal Hall Restoration Trust, HRH the Prince of Wales, led the Hall’s official re-opening.

Since that time, the Trust has remained in existence to continue with those improvements not included in the major project, including the further development of the Heritage Lounge. In 2010, the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, was pleased to make a generous donation towards the Restoration Fund, and, in particular, towards the refurbishment of the Heritage Lounge.

Part of this work included the provision of a run of seven large display cabinets, some of which the Trustees intended to fill with items of interest from those heady days when the Royal Hall attracted many outstanding 'stars' of international reputation.

Furthermore, another part of the refurbishment included an ambitious project to provide a 2 screen audiovisual system which would show different aspects of Harrogate and the Royal Hall.

As the Royal Hall, including the Heritage Lounge, is a feature of the ‘Harrogate Heritage Trail’, it is open to the public on a good number of days each year. It is also used for a variety of corporate events and as a bar during concerts or other performances held in the Hall.

When the Trustees, therefore, offered us the long term use of two of the display cabinets to house a masonic exhibition and also the opportunity to develop a module to be incorporated into the audio-visual system, W Bro Martin Stray, Assistant Provincial Grand Master, had no hesitation in gratefully accepting this very generous offer. After all, this would be the first time that a permanent exhibition of Freemasonry would be available for public viewing in a non-masonic context.

It soon became clear that there was much work to be done if we were to develop an exhibition of which the Province would be proud, hence we – W Bro Stuart Ross and W Bro Peter Smith – were commissioned in July 2011 with the task of making it happen.

Immediately we busied ourselves finding out exactly what was available in the way of interesting items suitable to be included in the exhibition. A trip to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry at Grand Lodge proved to be a very positive starting point. Diane Clements (Director) and Mark Dennis (Curator) offered invaluable assistance in creating a wish list of available items. Rooting through various cellars, cupboards and other dark and mysterious places around the Province soon unearthed further treasures which could be included. 

Early in the project, from research pursued by W Bro Stray, we were made aware of a magnificent portrait of George Lascelles, 6th Earl of Harewood, who was Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding 1926–1942, Pro Grand Master 1935–1942 and Grand Master 1942–1947. This portrait was commissioned by the Province in 1937 and to which each of its lodges subscribed. The portrait was painted by Sir William Nicholson and presented to the Earl to be hung in Freemasons’ Hall, London. 

Having expressed our interest in bringing this painting back to Yorkshire, representations were made to the Board of General Purposes, which agreed to the loan for an initial period of five years. This is the first occasion that the portrait has been seen outside London since it was presented all those years ago. Whilst we were naturally delighted to hear this news, it very soon became apparent that moving a fifteen foot painting from London to Harrogate was not going to be such an easy proposition. However, that was a problem for the future!

Having instigated our search for interesting exhibition items, it now became important to switch our attention to the development of our audio-visual module and to define the structure and content. We settled on the module being split into three parts i.e. an introduction, then two options: ‘What is Freemasonry’ and ‘Freemasonry and the Community’. 

From the start, we were clear that everything to do with this exhibition was to be aimed at non-masons. With this in mind, suitable text was prepared for each of the three modules and appropriate images sourced or created to support our message. When the text had been recorded as an audio file, the software company had all that they needed to work their magic on our base material, which they did with great skill. The final flourish to the module was the development of an interactive keyboard, which appears on the touch screen at the end of each module, allowing for the entry of a name and email address for anyone wishing to receive more information. Data collected in this way is then immediately sent via the internet to the Provincial Office at Bradford. 

Meanwhile, having agreed on a goodly number of artefacts from the Library and Museum of Freemasonry, it was time to look at what would be available from some of our local Lodges. We were fortunate in that De Grey and Ripon Lodge No. 837 agreed to lend us the Provincial chain, jewel and apron of the Earl de Grey and Ripon (later the Marquess of Ripon), Provincial Grand Master 1861–1874 and Grand Master 1870–1874. We then raided the Provincial archives where we found a wonderful set of Consecration Vessels, some charity posters and the beautiful Registrar’s Purse. Finally, we found some interesting items from Philanthropic Lodge No. 304.

Once transport had been arranged to bring the portrait and artefacts from London to Harrogate, we then had to consider just how the portrait was going to be raised some thirty feet in the air without damaging it. The weight of the portrait was such that special brackets had to made and cemented into the wall so that the portrait could hang safely. These brackets could only be fixed in position with the help of a scaffolding tower. Once the cement was set, the portrait would need to be hoisted up the wall and hung on to the brackets. All this had to be carefully timed to coincide with the portraits’ arrival from London.

With the portrait in place and the artefacts chosen, one would have thought that there was very little more to do other than arrange the displays in the cabinets. However, before that could be done, loan agreements had to be drafted for all the items which were to feature in the exhibition. Each artefact needed to be described in great detail, indicating any damage, and in most cases photographic evidence was required to support the description and value.

Once insurance was in place, the displays and information cards for the individual items could progress. We decided to use quite different approaches to the displays in our two allocated display units. 

Firstly we decided that the public would be interested to see items that a Freemason would himself use or see on a regular basis as a member of the Craft. Hence the main feature of the first cabinet is a Mason’s case overflowing with items of regalia, dress, jewels and other printed ephemera. 

A full box of working tools is to be found nearby, together with a number of ceremonial mauls and trowels commemorating the laying of various Foundation stones around the Province. This part of the display is supported by a superb collection of interesting glassware and ceramics, including a collection of Leeds Creamware complete with masonic symbols and two rather interesting ‘dice’ glasses.

The second cabinet holds a more limited number of larger, spectacular items, with the central focus being the Registrar’s Purse. This purse is a replica of the one belonging to United Grand Lodge and was used by the Provincial Grand Registrar to carry official documents on ceremonial occasions. This magnificent piece is a work of art in its own right and was created from silk velvet, using stump work with raised gold bullion thread, plate and sequins.

The purse is complemented by a set of decorated gilt Consecration vessels, comprising the Cornucopia (for corn), the two Ewers (for wine and oil) and the Salt. 

The colourful Provincial Grand Master’s apron and chain, used by the Earl de Grey and Ripon, then show an interesting contrast with the light blue Master Mason’s apron in the adjoining cabinet.

To provide an eye-catching backdrop to the displays, a series of superbly ornate Charity certificates from the late 19th Century were borrowed from our Provincial archives and attached to the back wall.

The exhibition opened on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the Provincial Grand Lodge on May 29th 2013, when many of the distinguished visitors and brethren attending the meeting were able to view the exhibits, watch the audiovisual presentation and admire the portrait of the Earl of Harewood on its return ‘home’. Seeing the way the exhibition was received made all the hard work and effort worthwhile, but it must also be remembered how important the support of both Harrogate Council (particularly the Royal Hall staff) and the Library and Museum of Freemasonry had been to the overall success of this development.

The exhibition is now open to the public on various days throughout the year and is also usually available for those attending events and performances in the Hall. If you would like to see the display, visit the Royal Hall website: www.royalhall.co.uk and follow the link to Royal Hall Open Days.

Very shortly after this exhibition had been completed, the opportunity arose for another exhibition to be created at the Bradford Industrial Museum. This exhibition has the double benefit of a much greater floor area to work with and an impressive attendance of around 40,000 adults pa.

At the time of writing this article, we are in the process of selecting and agreeing the items to be displayed, creating the loan agreements and putting the finishing touches to what will be yet another opportunity for the non-masons within this Province to share in the wonderful history of Freemasonry.

The exhibition, entitled 'A masonic Experience: Freemasonry Explained' is on schedule to open to the public in early December. Once again, we are indebted to the Library and Museum of Freemasonry for their continued support. We also appreciate all the hard work and effort from the staff at the Bradford Industrial Museum and the Bradford lodges: their assistance has been invaluable in helping to create this exhibition.

West Yorkshire supports scouting milestone

An event celebrating a scouting milestone has been funded by the Provincial Grand Master’s Fund of the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, with a cheque presented by Tobias Reece of Beacon Lodge, No. 4066, based in Halifax. The occasion was the West Yorkshire Scouts’ 65th anniversary awards ceremony, when scouts from across the county were entertained by the Spen Valley Scout and Guide Band and a service was held in Bradford Cathedral.

The weather couldn't have been better at this year's Great Yorkshire Show

Freemasons from the Provinces of Yorkshire, North and East Ridings, and Yorkshire, West Riding, spoke to hundreds of interested members of the public about Freemasonry, its history, and its place in today's society.

On the first day of the show representatives from the Dove House Hospice in Hull spent the day on the Stand, after having received a substantial donation from the Province of North and East Ridings.

On Wednesday, representatives from Horticare in Wakefield visited the stand and brought pictures of their new vehicle, which had only been delivered the day before. The purchase was only made possible thanks to a major grant of £16,000 from the Provincial Grand Master's Fund of Yorkshire, West Riding. Read the full story and see a picture of the van.

On the last day, representatives from the Queensbury Scout Band spent the day on the stand (pictured) after receiving a major grant from the PGM's Fund of £20,000. The grant will be used to purchase new instruments and a vehicle. Scouting has had a long association with Freemasonry, Baden-Powell himself being a Freemason.

Horticare in Wakefield has finally took delivery of their new van, made possible thanks to a grant of £16,000 received from the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding

Their old van was on its last legs, unreliable and starting to cost money to keep going. So with some keen negotiation by Horticare's Rosemary Robertshaw they were able to secure delivery of a brand new vehicle.

The vehicle (pictured) has been suitably lettered-up and is proudly displaying the new Provincial Fund decals, provided by West Riding Masonic Charities Ltd to act as a permanent reminder that the organisation has been supported by local Freemasons.

Horticare were also invited to spend the day on the Yorkshire Freemason's stand at last week's Great Yorkshire Show. They had a thoroughly enjoyable day and they still can't believe how generous the Freemason's of Yorkshire, West Riding, have been, and how much difference the new van is already making to their organisation.

Public opening of a New adventure play area designed to be accessible to children of all abilities at an award winning outdoor education centre

This project was the chosen charity of the 2010/11 Lord Mayor of Bradford, Cllr Peter Hill, who is a Nell Bank Trustee and a member of Lodge of the Three Graces No. 408 in Haworth in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding.

The need was to replace an existing play area that, after hosting up to 20,000 children annually for nearly two decades, had reached the end of its useful life.

The project was to design a structure that would have a much longer lifespan than its predecessor, and which would be accessible to children of all abilities.

Raising money as the true impact of the worldwide recession began to bite was not easy, despite the great generosity of the people of Bradford. At one stage it looked as if the project would have to be scaled down and not fully achieve its goal.

However, an application to West Riding Masonic Charities made by Lodge of the Three Graces and seconded by Victoria Lodge No. 2669 of Bradford, resulted in a truly generous grant of £20,000 being made through the Provincial Grand Master's Fund, and was presented by the Provincial Grand Master, John Clayton.

This sum provided the additional funds to build 'The Tree House Adventure' to its full potential. A unique play area, accessible to children of all abilities, including wheelchair users, and so realise the dream of providing an inclusive play and educational area for generations of children to come.

The Tree House Adventure was declared open on 11th May 2013, the annual Nell Bank public access day, by Nell Bank Trustee Bro Peter Hill, see picture above.

Bradford re-enactment

With the first masons admitted in Bradford in 1713, a special re-enactment was performed 300 years later in the city for the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding. Wearing dress appropriate to the era, including wigs and frock coats, 13 players – members of several local lodges – recreated the historic moment. Hosted by the Lodge of Hope, No. 302, the re-enactment was performed to an audience of more than 100 Bradford masons, including Provincial Grand Master John Clayton.

Local Freemasons donate over £223,500 during 2012 to Community Groups and Organisations to Mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee

During the course of 2012, local community groups and organisations have benefited from grants totalling over £223,500, given by the Freemasons in the Province of Yorkshire, West Riding, to mark the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The grants have ranged from £100 to provide new crockery for a residents' association in Holmfirth, to £30,000 given to a special needs school in Rastrick to enable them to complete their new hydrotherapy pool. A total of 149 grants have been made to applicants from throughout the Province covering West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and parts of North Yorkshire.

Speaking shortly after the final grants had been approved, John Clayton, Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, said: 'This last group of grants completes our work during the year to mark this very special occasion, the sixtieth anniversary of Her Majesty's reign and afford help to those who work tirelessly for their own communities.

'We wish the organisations who have received our grants all the best in their endeavours. I am always impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication with which they approach their work for the community. We hope that our financial support will go some way to assist them in that work.

'In the last 25 years the Province has given almost £3 million to support local non-masonic causes. Not a penny of that money came from the general public; it was all donated by members of the Province, their families and their friends.'

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