Somerset’s Deputy Provincial Grand Master Ben Batley had been looking for something special to leave a ‘Masonic Footprint’ around the Province to mark its charitable giving

It was then on a visit to Freemasons' Hall in London that he came up with the answer – a plaque recently unveiled by the Duke of Kent to commemorate the opening of the Masonic Charitable Foundation's refurbished offices, suitably adapted, would be perfect

Following consultation with the plaques designers and the MCF, Somerset’s new ‘Masonic Footprint’ was created.

The first plaque was installed in Somerset at the headquarter offices of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme for the county at Hestercombe House. This was to mark a donation of £16,500 given over three years as a bursary fund by Somerset Freemasons to enable disadvantaged and vulnerable participants to take part.

Ben Batley commented: 'We are delighted with the result. Whenever we make a charitable donation, our ‘Masonic Footprint’ will be left with the charity to encourage engagement with the public about the good works that we do.'

During a royal visit to Bristol, UGLE's Grand Master, The Duke of Kent, accompanied by Lord Lieutenant for the City and County of Bristol, Peaches Golding OBE, the High Sheriff of Bristol, Charles Wyld, and the Lord Mayor of Bristol, Councillor Jos Clark, were given a detailed tour around Freemasons' Hall by the Provincial Grand Master Jonathan Davis and Deputy Provincial Grand Master Richard Lewis

On arriving at Lodge Room 1, they were greeted by a packed room of Bristol Freemasons and their partners. The Grand Master was then given a tour of the Grade II listed building, which has been the home of Bristol Freemasons for over 150 years.

He then received a short talk on the history of the Province of Bristol and afterwards was introduced to members who are involved in different projects, which include working with local charities s in the community.

After a light lunch served in one of the Dining Rooms, the Grand Master was invited to sign the visitors book before departing by car for his next appointment at Bristol Cathedral.

Warwickshire Freemasons have been busy over the past months fundraising to present a £10,000 donation to the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts

On 13 December 2018, the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, in his capacity as President of the Scout Association, formally opened the new jetties at the Headquarters of the 2nd Warwick Sea Scouts in St Nicholas Park, Warwick, on the River Avon.

On a chilly but sunny day, the jetties were opened with all due pomp and ceremony and afterwards, the Provincial Grand Master of Warwickshire Freemasons David Macey presented a cheque for £1,000 to Janette Eslick, New HQ Fundraiser, towards the next phase of the ‘Building a Future’ project.

This event inspired local Freemasons Steven Price and Peter Round from Alderson House to go to new lengths to support such a valuable and valued organisation in the local community. Steve had long wanted to establish a community fund at Alderson House to support local charities and enhance their profile in the community. This seemed the ideal opportunity to do so. 

They agreed a nominal target of raising £2,000 for the Sea Scouts and the Province of Warwickshire agreed to match whatever was raised. The Provincial Grand Master also undertook to take the project to London in the hope that the United Grand Lodge of England would match fund and make the donation really worthwhile.

In the past six months, the Freemasons at Alderson House raised just short of £3,200 and as promised the Provincial Grand Master took it to London and they agreed match funding.  Finally, the Province of Warwickshire not only match funded the total but enhanced it to a round £10,000.

The cheque for £10,000 was presented to the Sea Scouts by David Macey, at Alderson House on 22 of September where it was received with very grateful thanks.

The Great War Memorial on Nottingham’s Victoria Embankment, which names 13,482 people from Nottinghamshire who died in the First World War, was opened during a moving ceremony on 28th June 2019 – 100 years to the day since the Treaty of Versailles was signed which formally ended the First World War

The memorial is the first of its kind in the UK, after seven years’ of research went into finding the names of every person from the county who lost their lives during the conflict.

A mere 24 hours after unveiling the Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone at Freemasons’ Hall in London, UGLE’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, arrived at the Victoria Embankment along with invited guests. The service started at 10am and was followed by the dedication, the Act of Remembrance, the Last Post, HRH Duke of Kent laying the first wreath, the Act of Commitment and the National Anthem. The Grand Master then inspected the memorial and met the families present before proceedings came to an end at 11.30am.

The memorial is a tribute to all the people from Nottinghamshire who lost their lives in the 1914-18 conflict, including civilian casualties, nurses, two people killed in a Zeppelin air raid in September 1916 and the victims of the Chilwell shell filling factory explosion of July 1918.

Families of those who died in the Great War attended the unveiling and dedication service, together with Philip Marshall, Provincial Grand Master of Nottinghamshire Freemasons, Nottinghamshire’s Lord Lieutenant Sir John Peace, Nottingham City Council Leader David Mellen, Nottinghamshire County Council Leader Cllr Kay Cutts MBE, civic heads, the district and borough council leaders, the Chief Constable of Nottinghamshire Police Craig Guildford, the Chief Fire Officer John Buckley and local MPs.

Among the regiments taking part in the service were members of the Queen’s Colour Squadron RAF, members of the 4th Battalion Mercian Regiment, including regimental mascot Private Derby and members of HMS Sherwood. Former and current officers from Nottinghamshire Police and Royal British Legion standard bearers were also in attendance.

The £395,000 memorial has been constructed on the Victoria Embankment next to the memorial built between 1923 and 1927 on land bequeathed in perpetuity by Jesse Boot. It was principally funded by Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council, along with the seven district councils and generous corporate and private donations.

Also of note is the fact that the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire VC memorial, which has resided at the Nottingham Castle since its unveiling on 7th May 2010, has been moved to the site to join the two Great War memorials. During the Great War of 1914 to 1919, 628 Victoria Crosses were awarded, in total six Nottingham-born war heroes were awarded the Victoria Cross, the highest award of the British honours system.

In honour of all English Freemasons awarded the prestigious Victoria Cross (VC), the United Grand Lodge of England’s (UGLE) Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, unveiled a unique Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone at Freemasons’ Hall on 27th June 2019

The Remembrance Stone was commissioned in 2016 by Granville Angell to commemorate all English Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross. The VC is the highest award for gallantry that can be conferred on a member of the British Armed Forces and since its introduction in 1856, more than 200 Freemasons have been awarded the Victoria Cross – making up an astonishing 14% of all recipients.

The Remembrance Stone was carved by Emily Draper, who was Worcester Cathedral’s first female Stonemason apprentice, having been sponsored by local Freemasons. During the preparation stage of the stone, Emily also found out that her Great Uncle was a Freemason VC recipient.

The event was opened by Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive and Grand Secretary, followed by readings from Robert Vaughan, Provincial Grand Master of Worcestershire (My Boy Jack by Rudyard Kipling) and Brigadier Peter Sharpe, President of the Circuit of Service Lodges (The Soldier by Rupert Chawner Brooke).

Over 130 guests were in attendance including serving military personnel, a group of Chelsea Pensioners and Sea Cadets, as well as Sergeant Johnson Beharry, who was awarded the Victoria Cross for saving the lives of his unit – Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment – while serving in Iraq in 2004. Johnson is also a Freemason and a member of Queensman Lodge No. 2694 in London.

Music was provided by Jon Yates from the Royal Marines Association Concert Band, who performed the ‘Last Post’, a minute’s silence and the ‘Reveille’.

This was proceeded by the grand Unveiling and Dedication of the Remembrance Stone by The Duke of Kent, as a fitting tribute to the service and sacrifice of those Freemasons awarded the VC. The Duke of Kent also presented Emily with a stone carving toolset to aid her future projects.

The event was concluded with a speech by Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, Past Grand Secretary of UGLE and Past President of the Masonic Samaritan Fund.

Dr David Staples, UGLE’s Chief Executive and Grand Secretary, said: “It’s been a huge honour to mark the dedication of this wonderful Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone and another significant milestone in our longstanding history.

“It is even more remarkable in the context that 14% of all recipients of the Victoria Cross have been Freemasons and I can think of no more fitting home than for it to be placed here at Freemasons’ Hall – a memorial to the thousands of English Freemasons who lost their lives during the Great War.”

Read Dr David Staples' speech here

Read the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent's, speech here

Read Willie Shackell's speech here

Published in UGLE

Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone

27 June 2019 
Unveiling and Dedication, The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent

Ladies, Gentlemen and Brethren, 

It is an enormous pleasure for me to be here today to unveil the Victoria Cross Remembrance Stone at Freemasons’ Hall.

One of the oldest social and charitable organisations in the world, Freemasonry’s roots lie in the traditions of the medieval stonemasons who built our castles and cathedrals. Which is why it is so fitting that this stone – commissioned by Granville Angell, Past Assistant Grand Sword Bearer – has been carved by Worcester Cathedral’s first female stonemason, Emily Draper. She beat forty-five other applicants to win this apprenticeship, which was jointly funded by the Worcestershire Freemasons and the Masonic Charitable Foundation.

Emily’s grandfather was a Freemason at a Lodge in Devon, whilst her Great Uncle was one of the Freemason Victoria Cross recipients we are honouring here today. I would like to express our thanks to Emily for all her dedication and hard work that went into creating the Remembrance Stone.

We would also like to show our appreciation of the expertise that went into producing this work by presenting you with this set of stonemasons’ tools to aid you in your future projects.

I have recently returned from visiting my cousin, Princess Elisabeth, in Belgrade. Whilst there I attended the 100th Anniversary gala for the foundation of the Grand Lodge of Yugoslavia – a region whose troubled legacy extends back through the centuries, as well as our own military involvement in the recent past.

Serbs, Croats and Slovenians were well represented and this is just one example of how Freemasonry brings peoples together and provides a safe space for those with very different outlooks to support and learn from each other.

Having served in the Armed Forces for more than 20 years I understand the common values shared by Freemasonry and the Services – camaraderie, respect, integrity – and the ideals of service and tradition.

It is an extraordinary fact that 14% of all Victoria Cross recipients have been Freemasons.

It is now time to unveil this splendid stone. It will stand as a tangible reminder of those Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross. I am sure you will agree that this Remembrance Stone is a fitting tribute to their service and sacrifice.

Published in Speeches

The United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) welcomed members from across the globe to join the Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Kent, and Pro Grand Master, Peter Lowndes, for this year’s Craft and Royal Arch Annual Investitures at Freemasons' Hall

Investiture week saw the District Support Team of Lister Park and Louise Watts taking the opportunity to organise a number of District-centric events. On 24th April 2019, new District Grand Masters and Provincial Grand Masters were given a guided tour of Freemasons’ Hall, followed by a presentation and luncheon with the Chief Operating Officer of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Les Hutchinson, and Senior Grant Officers.

A Workshop for District Grand Secretaries filled the afternoon before the day was concluded by a Fellowship Gathering for all District members, with their wives and significant others, in the Vestibules area outside the Grand Temple. It was a relaxed and informal evening hosted by Dr Jim Daniel, UGLE’s Past Grand Secretary, who gave a short and amusing welcome speech, alongside Willie Shackell CBE, another Past Grand Secretary, the Rt Hon Lord Wigram, Past Senior Grand Warden, and Bruce Clitherow, Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies.

Following the Royal Arch festivities on 25th April 2019, District Grand Masters and their guests were then invited to join the Grand Secretary, Dr David Staples, for a relaxed drinks evening.

As a result of an organisational restructure at UGLE in January 2019, the department for Member Services, under the Directorship of Prity Lad, has a renewed focus on attracting new members and engaging with its existing membership.

Comprised of three key functions, the Registration Department, District Support and External Relations, they are committed to a common goal of making UGLE an organisation that is fit for purpose and an efficient headquarters for its members.

Prity Lad, UGLE’s Director of Member Services, said: ‘Being our first opportunity this year to welcome and entertain our District guests, these events were hugely important to us. It is our commitment to work in partnership with the Districts more closely than ever by creating a function of expertise, training and events and to support and raise the profile of the charitable work which our Districts are engaged in.

‘It was a huge honour for me to meet with many of those who attended and I look forward to working together over the next coming months. I would also like to give grateful thanks to Jim, Willie, Lord Wigram and Bruce for supporting this inaugural event, which we intend to be the first of many.’

Published in UGLE

Annual Investiture of Supreme Grand Chapter

25 April 2019 
An address by the ME First Grand Principal HRH The Duke of Kent

Companions. It is an enormous pleasure to be with you today. May I first offer my congratulations to all of those whom I have invested today. Grand Rank in the Holy Royal Arch is an achievement to be proud of, and serves not only to recognise your contributions to our order, but also as an inducement to your future efforts in explaining and representing the Royal Arch to our brethren in the Craft and beyond. It is not only a senior position within the order, but also a public position and one which should only be held by those Companions who publicly exemplify our principles, enjoy their Freemasonry, and go out of their way to welcome and support others in their masonic journeys.

This year I have invested new Companions into one of the most senior roles within our order – President of the Committee of General Purposes, and also one of our most visible roles – that of the Grand Director of Ceremonies. It is only right and proper that I pause to again pay tribute to those companions who have held these offices before them, in both cases for more than a decade.

So, to companions Malcolm Aish and Oliver Lodge, on behalf of all the Companions here present, I thank you for your leadership, patience, wise counsel, stewardship and good humour. You will be missed and we wish your successors good fortune for the future. They both have quite a task ahead of them, defining the Royal Arch for a younger generation of Masons, ensuring that it is both relevant and enjoyable, but I have no doubt that they will find no shortage of volunteers to help them in that task from amongst those other Companions that I have invested today.

One aspect that I am sure they will want to emphasise is that no Mason should be joining other orders without first completing their journey in Pure Antient Masonry by becoming a member of the Holy Royal Arch.

Companions, events like this do not just happen and I would like, on your behalf, to congratulate the new Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for once again arranging such an impressive ceremony and the Grand Scribe Ezra and his team for ensuring all the other arrangements have gone so smoothly.   

Companions, I congratulate you all on your preferment and wish you peace, happiness and good will in the next stage of your masonic journeys.

Published in Speeches

UGLE’s Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, was at the Royal Surrey County Hospital in Guildford to open the Stokes Centre for Urology on 5 March 2019

This new NHS centre of excellence was jointly funded by The Prostate Project and Royal Surrey County Hospital following 10 years of fundraising.  

Colin Stokes launched the Prostate Project in 1998 to raise £250,000 for a scanner, but went on to raise over £8 million. In recognition of the charity’s vital role, the centre has been named after its founder.

While the building has patient access at its core, The Duke of Kent also saw how it is the culmination of the most significant investments in urological services in the UK for over a decade. It is the largest centre for brachytherapy in Europe and third in the world.

The Prostate Project raised £2.85 million of the £5.9 million needed to build the new centre. In the foyer of the centre there is a plaque listing the Prostate Project’s Hall of Fame, recognising all donors who have contributed £3,000 or more and buy-a-brick donors are recognised in reception.

The Hall of Fame is testimony to the efforts of:

  • The Provincial Grand Lodge and Chapter of Surrey who achieved a Platinum Award;
  • Astolat Lodge No. 5848, who meet in Guildford, Surrey, qualified for a Silver Award; 
  • Castle Keep Lodge No. 6446, who meet in Godalming, Surrey, qualified for a Bronze Award; and
  • Surrey Provincial Lodge of Mark Master Masons, who qualified for a Bronze Award.

During the visit, The Duke of Kent met several Surrey Freemasons who supported the Prostate Project by contributing over £70,000.  

Those present included Surrey’s Deputy Provincial Grand Master Richard Wileman, who was supported by Surrey Freemason Vic Simmons, who is also an Ambassador and Trustee of The Prostate Project, and Peter Wood, the Master and Charity Steward of Astolat Lodge.

UGLE's Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, attended a luncheon at the Provincial Grand Lodge of Lincolnshire and presided over a £100,000 donation to the Masonic Charitable Foundation (MCF)

The event took place in Spalding, where the Duke had a variety of other engagements during the day. It was hosted by Lincolnshire’s Provincial Grand Master David Wheeler and had been arranged at the Masonic Hall at the request of the Lord Lieutenant of the county.

Also in attendance was the President of the Masonic Charitable Foundation, Richard Hone, who was pleased to accept the donation of £100,000 for the MCF, which marked the start of Lincolnshire’s 2025 Festival.

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