Director of Special Projects John Hamill considers the unique status of time immemorial lodges and their vital contribution to Freemasonry
As is well known, on 24 June 1717, four London lodges came together and elected a Grand Master. They agreed to revive the annual feast and to hold quarterly communications, in effect bringing the first Grand Lodge into existence. While much has been said of this now-momentous event, little has been said of the lodges that brought Grand Lodge into being.
According to James Anderson in the 1738 Constitutions of the Free-Masons, the four lodges were at the Goose and Gridiron Ale House in St Paul’s Churchyard; the Crown Ale House in Parker’s Lane, near Drury Lane; the Apple Tree Tavern in Charles Street, Covent Garden; and the Rummer and Grapes Tavern in Channel Row, Westminster.
Of those lodges, the Crown Ale House ceased meeting circa 1736 but the other three still meet today. Because their dates of origin are unknown, and they predate the formation of Grand Lodge itself, they have the status of being ‘time immemorial’.
Today, the lodge at the Goose and Gridiron is now Lodge of Antiquity, No. 2. It was certainly in existence in 1691 and may well have been the lodge within the London Masons Company that Elias Ashmole attended in 1682. It became No. 1 of the premier Grand Lodge in 1717 and until 1760 was known by the name of the tavern at which it met.
In 1760, the lodge took the name of American & West Indian Lodge but in 1770 assumed its present name. When the two former lists of lodges were combined after the Union of the two Grand Lodges in 1813, lots were drawn and Grand Master’s Lodge of the Antients Grand Lodge became No. 1 on the new United Grand Lodge register, with Lodge of Antiquity the No. 2.
From 1809 until his death in 1843, HRH The Duke of Sussex was permanent Master of Lodge of Antiquity. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of his taking office, he permitted the lodge to have its officers’ jewels made in gold.
The lodge at the Apple Tree Tavern is now Lodge of Fortitude & Old Cumberland, No. 12. For reasons lost in time, the lodge accepted a constitution from Grand Lodge in 1723 and became No. 11 on the first numbered list of lodges in 1729. As a result it lost its time immemorial status and, despite attempts in the 19th century to regain that status, it wasn’t until the run-up to Grand Lodge’s 250th anniversary in 1967 that it was restored. The first Grand Master, Anthony Sayer, was a member of this lodge.
The lodge at the Rummer and Grapes in Channel Row is now Royal Somerset House & Inverness Lodge, No. 4. Named Old Horn Lodge in 1767, it united with Somerset House Lodge in 1774 and took that name. In 1828 it united with Royal Inverness Lodge, the first lodge warranted under the United Grand Lodge, and took its present name.
Despite the Great War, a celebration of the bicentenary of the formation of Grand Lodge was held at London’s Royal Albert Hall on 23 June 1917. Members of the three original lodges were processed into the hall to mark their status. At the meeting it was announced that to commemorate their actions in 1717, the officers’ collars of the three lodges would have the addition of a central garter blue stripe, and their Masters were called up to be invested with their new collars by the Grand Master. Later in the year the Duke of Connaught further honoured them by becoming the permanent Master of the three lodges.
At the celebrations for the 250th anniversary in 1967 and the 275th in 1992, the Masters of the time immemorial lodges were processed into Grand Lodge. The Master of Royal Somerset House & Inverness Lodge presented the Bible to the Grand Master; the Master of No. 12 presented the square and compasses; and the Master of No. 2 presented the Wren maul.
Today, to mark the part played in 1717, the present Grand Master will assume the office of Master of the time immemorial lodges at a joint meeting of the three in June. It is a fitting tribute to these distinguished lodges without whose actions in 1717 we might not be celebrating this year.
'Because they predate the formation of Grand Lodge itself, these lodges have the status of being “time immemorial"'
Brethen of Valour
Special paving stones outside Freemasons’ Hall pay tribute to English Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross in World War I
A set of paving stones commemorating the 64 English Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross (VC) during World War I was unveiled outside Freemasons’ Hall on 25 April.
The VC is the highest award for gallantry that can be conferred on a member of the Armed Forces regardless of rank or status – and almost one in six of the 633 VC recipients during the First World War were Freemasons.
Of these, 64 were under UGLE and 43 were under other Grand Lodges in the British Empire. Freemasons’ Hall itself is a memorial to the 3,000-plus English Freemasons who gave their lives in World War I.
The Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, attended the ceremony for the stones’ unveiling and blessing, together with Lord Dannatt, a Deputy Lieutenant for Greater London; the Mayor of Camden; senior officers from the military services; a group of Chelsea Pensioners; and representatives from the VC and George Cross Association as well as some of the regiments in which the VC holders had served. Specially invited were the families of those who were being commemorated.
The event was open to the public, with Great Queen Street and Wild Street closed to traffic. The crowd included representatives from many of the service lodges as well as passers-by.
Music was provided by the Band of the Grenadier Guards and the North London Military Wives Choir. Radio and television presenter Katie Derham narrated the first part of the ceremony, which opened with Chelsea Pensioner Ray Pearson reading an extract from AE Housman’s A Shropshire Lad, followed by the President of the Board of General Purposes, Anthony Wilson, welcoming those attending.
Derham set the scene at the outbreak of war in 1914 with the aid of archive film showing how young men ‘flocked to the flag’ in the expectation that the war would be over by Christmas – and how the reality set in that it was not to be a short war but one that would affect every community in the country.
Simon Dean OBE paid tribute to his grandfather Donald John Dean, who, at the age of 21, was awarded the VC in 1918. Col Brian Lees LVO OBE, chairman of the Rifles, Light Infantry and KOYLI Regimental Association, and Lt Col Matt Baker, Commanding Officer of 1st Battalion, The Rifles, paid tribute to Oliver Watson, who was posthumously awarded a VC in 1918.
The horrors of the war were brought vividly to life by Sebastian Cator, a pupil at Harrow School. He read extracts from the diaries of Major Richard Willis, who had also been a pupil at Harrow, in which he described the carnage resulting from landing his men on W Beach at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915. For his part in that action he was one of the famous ‘six VCs before breakfast’ of the Gallipoli landings.
The Grand Secretary, Brigadier Willie Shackell CBE, gave an exhortation that was followed by the last post, a one-minute silence and reveille. The memorial stones were then unveiled and blessed by the Grand Chaplain, Canon Michael Wilson. The Grand Master and Lord Dannatt then inspected the stones, after which family members and other invited guests had an opportunity to view them before entering Freemasons’ Hall for a reception in the Grand Temple vestibule area.
You can watch highlights of the unveiling of the memorial to Freemasons awarded the Victoria Cross during the Great War here
A special commemorative programme for the ceremony, including portraits and brief details of the 64 brethren of valour, can also be viewed here
Letters to the Editor - NO. 38 SUMMER 2017
We will remember
I wasn’t really sure who to address my comments to regarding the Victoria Cross memorial paving stones unveiling ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall, except Grand Lodge, brethren and friends. Freemasonry stood tall and exemplified what we are about in the unveiling of the wonderful memorial to those gentlemen who were Freemasons, and who paid the final sacrifice. This was a wonderful day for Freemasonry and a day of pride for Freemasons. Thank you for allowing me to be a small part of it.
Lou Myer, Ubique Lodge, No. 1789, London
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - NO. 39 AUTUMN 2017
Valour and gallantry
Your recent article on the honouring of World War I Victoria Cross recipients was inspiring and fascinating. Brave men indeed! I write to enquire if any similar research has been done on gallantry medals awarded relating to World War II?
A past member, Vivian Hollowday, of my own lodge, Old Worksopian, No. 6963, was awarded the George Cross in January 1941. The George Cross is the highest award that can be made for gallantry ‘not in the face of the enemy’. Viv was the first non-commissioned member of the RAF to receive the extremely high and rare honour. He was the eighth initiate into the lodge in 1958. A convivial and friendly brother, he remained a member until his death in 1977 aged 60. Living in Bedfordshire, I believe he also joined a lodge in that Province.
For good measure, Old Worksopian Lodge at the time also included two recipients of the Military Cross, George Rees and Arnold Slaney.
John Taylor, Old Worksopian Lodge, No. 6963, Worksop, Nottinghamshire
The Isle of Man Post Office is marking the Tercentenary with a set of six stamps hiding a surprise that can only be revealed under a special light
As English Freemasonry celebrates 300 years of Grand Lodge, a collection of six stamps has been issued, with illustrative designs that feature badges of office for senior lodge members, as well as architectural elements inspired by the lodges of England and the Isle of Man.
Filled with masonic references, the stamps were designed by Freemason Ben Glazier of Barbican Lodge, No. 8494, which meets in London. Paying respect to the Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, now in his 50th year in office, was key: a subtle ribbon of the repeating letters ‘HRHDOKGM50’ runs around the edge of each stamp, commemorating the milestone.
The designs also include GPS references to places that are important to Freemasonry, and the official logo of the Tercentenary – only visible under ultraviolet light. Officially approved for use, the logo becomes visible during the postal system process, as items are scanned.
Commenting on the collection, UGLE Grand Secretary Willie Shackell said: ‘The United Grand Lodge of England is delighted to be celebrating its Tercentenary by working with the Isle of Man Post Office and the Province of the Isle of Man to present this very special set of stamps.’
While proud of its 300 years of history, Shackell explained that UGLE is now looking forward to the next three centuries, which is symbolically reflected in this innovative stamp issue. ‘Freemasonry is rightly proud of its contribution to family and in the community over the centuries. It is this very same contribution to the community which United Grand Lodge of England shares with Isle of Man Post Office.’
Isle of Man Stamps and Coins general manager Maxine Cannon saluted the efforts of the United Grand Lodge of England, in particular Mike Baker, Director of Communications, and on the Isle of Man, Keith Dalrymple and Alex Downie, who provided a wealth of material: ‘We thank them for their time, knowledge and assistance in making this such an interesting project.’
View the Freemasonry stamp issue here
A new exhibition at the Library and Museum is celebrating the links between Grand Lodge and its overseas daughter Grand Lodges
In June 1917, in the midst of the First World War, the United Grand Lodge of England celebrated its 200th anniversary. The war had undermined any ambition to stage a major imperial and international event, but the celebrations were attended by a number of overseas Freemasons. The Grand Master thanked ‘brethren beyond the seas’, praising their support for Britain in the war effort.
The war helped to foster a stronger relationship between the English Grand Lodge and its daughter Grand Lodges overseas. The Library and Museum’s new exhibition, Brethren Beyond the Seas, celebrates those links, displaying items from across the former British Empire, many of which have never been exhibited before.
John Stephens was one of the founders of the first English Constitution lodge in New South Wales, Australia: Lodge of Australia, established in 1828. He had become a Freemason in 1824 in London’s Lodge of Regularity (now No. 91). In March 1829 he wrote to London acknowledging receipt of the Lodge of Australia warrant; the letter, on display at the Library and Museum, is believed to be the oldest known letter received by Grand Lodge from Australia.
Among the jewels are those for St John’s Royal Arch Chapter, No. 495, in Toronto, which ceased working in the 1820s, and an unusual presentation jewel for Albany Lodge, No. 389, which met in Grahamstown, South Africa, and was presented to Benjamin Norden in 1834.
The exhibition also features an album of photographs of lodge meeting places in South Africa, including the hall where Fordsburg Lodge, No. 2718, met in Johannesburg in 1898, alongside the local butcher.
A further highlight is an elegantly bound souvenir programme, produced by masonic entrepreneur George Kenning in 1878 for a dinner he hosted in honour of American Freemasons.
Brethren Beyond the Seas runs until 23 February 2018; admission is free
You meet such a huge range of people
The Provincial Grand Master for Wiltshire Philip Bullock has given an insightful interview following a recent visit to Swindon to promote the town’s nine lodges during the United Grand Lodge of England's Tercentenary
Philip commented: ‘Freemasonry is a body of people who – I think it’s reasonable to say – share the same view, which is that we’re not bystanders of life.
‘We want to be active members of life. What I mean by that is that we care about one another and we care about helping others, not because we want acclamation for it, but because we are compassionate people. We give to charity with compassion rather than, necessarily, looking for a spotlight.’
Freemasonry means something different to each individual and Philip Bullock is grateful for the opportunity it has given him to meet a huge range of friends: 'For me, one of the predominant things about it is the superb range of friends that I’ve met, really genuine people who are a delight to be with.
‘We are always looking for men of good character who want to join an organisation which has high values and places great emphasis on personal integrity, a desire to help and personal development.
‘I think most Freemasons would say they are better people for being exposed to Freemasonry. It also develops your self-confidence, not in a flamboyant way but a general inner self-confidence.’
A fund set up by East Lancashire Freemasons in response to the Manchester attack has currently raised over £100,000
With generous donations from both Provinces and individuals across the country, it will go towards helping those affected by the shocking terrorist attack which took place at the Manchester Arena on Monday May 22nd.
The fund was opened by the Provincial Grand Lodge of East Lancashire’s charity, who commented: 'Freemasons in East Lancashire will have woken up on the morning of the May 23rd to hear the tragic news of the terrorist attack on Manchester, the city which has and always will be, the heart and historic home of our Province. There will be a desire in the coming days and weeks to want to do something to demonstrate our support and contribute in some way.
'With that in mind, the Right Worshipful Provincial Grand Master Sir David Trippier has decided that our own East Lancashire Masonic Charity should be the focal point of any masonic giving, which in due course will then be directed to the most appropriate cause for those affected.'
The charity have been inundated with queries from Freemasons who wish to plead their support and if you would like to donate, please click here
Berkshire Freemasons Family Fun Day and the start of the Classic 300
As well as the start of the Classic 300, there was a bear hunt and teddy bears picnic, a 300 mile walk to the Copper Horse, displays from over 20 charities together with the Berkshire Masonic Charity and the Masonic Charitable Foundation, a ‘time tunnel’ explaining the history of Freemasonry and the Egham Brass Band who made sure the day went with a swing.
UGLE's Grand Master, HRH The Duke of Kent, started the Classic 300 at 2pm having first viewed the cars, talking to their owners and visiting VIPs. Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, introduced HRH The Duke of Kent to the Mayor of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Cllr Sayonara Luxton, Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire, Colin Hayes, Past Deputy Provincial Grand Master for Berkshire and Chairman of the organising committee for the event, and other dignitaries including Provincial Grand Masters from other Provinces and members of the Classic 300.
Over 100 classic vehicles of all types - car, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and even a six-wheeled Range Rover fire engine - turned up for the occasion and made for a spectacular sight in the sunshine, as HRH The Duke of Kent flagged them off for the start of the Classic 300, an 18 mile drive around Great Windsor Park.
Elsewhere, the 300 mile challenge for 300 people to walk one mile each to the Copper Horse along the Long Walk was easily achieved with over 400 people taking part. In fact, over 800 miles were walked as they realised that it was a mile back to the show ground as well!
The bear hunt was also a great success with many proud new owners enjoying a picnic with their TLC bears.
Martin Peters, the Provincial Grand Master of the Berkshire Freemasons, said: 'It has been a wonderful day, with a really good turnout and it is quite clear that everyone enjoyed themselves.'
Rachel Jones from the Masonic Charitable Foundation commented: 'We all very much enjoyed the event – what a fantastic way to celebrate the Tercentenary year and raise awareness of Freemasonry.'
This was the national start of the Classic 300. Over many weekend dates between now and October 1st the series continues all over the UK, with separate runs to the Isle of Man, the Lakeland Motor Museum, Thruxton Race Circuit, MFest300 in the Midlands, the Shelsley Walsh hill climb, Ashton Gate rugby and football stadium, Brands Hatch race circuit, Beaulieu Motor Museum and many more famous motoring venues. The national final will take place at Brooklands Circuit in Surrey on Sunday October 1st.
Scroll through the gallery at the top to view some of the classic vehicles on display
Over 900 Knights attend the ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall
Paul Raymond Clement GCT has been installed as The Most Eminent and Supreme Grand Master of The United Religious, Military and Masonic Orders of the Temple and of St John of Jerusalem, Palestine, Rhodes and Malta of England and Wales and its Provinces Overseas – better known as the Knights Templar
The installation was conducted by the out-going Grand Master, Timothy John Lewis GCT, who had served in the role since 2011.
Over 900 Knights attended the Chapter of Great Priory, which was held under the banner of The Preceptory of St. George No. 6 in the Grand Temple of Freemasons’ Hall. Also present were a large number of visiting dignitaries from other Great Priories along with Provincial Priors and Knights of our own constitution from overseas, all of whom were personally welcomed by the new Grand Master.
Paul Clement is also the Grand Supreme Ruler of the Order of the Secret Monitor and a Past Provincial Grand Master of the Mark Degree.
The District Grand Lodge of South Island, New Zealand, held their own celebrations to mark the 300th anniversary of the founding of the United Grand Lodge of England
After months of planning, a Lodge was set up for the day in the Assembly Hall at the distinguished Christ’s College School for Boys in Christchurch, New Zealand. Founded in 1850, the school’s historic buildings provided the perfect backdrop for the weekend’s events held on Saturday May 13th and Sunday May 14th.
The celebrations were led by the current District Grand Master Geoffrey Rowe, who welcomed representatives from the English North Island District as well as the Scottish, Irish and New Zealand Grand Lodges.
Over 100 Freemasons comprised the meeting and, after the usual formalities, the Lodge was called off to allow them to be joined by around 50 non-masonic guests who were treated to an address on the history of English Freemasonry, delivered by the District Grand Orator, W Bro Karl Moen CBE.
The evening commenced with a reception for almost 200 guests followed by a banquet in the historic Dining Hall at Christ’s College, together with an entertaining after dinner address from Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jack Steer ONZM, himself a Freemason.
A highlight of the evening was the presentation of a cheque for $10,000 to Neil Porter of the College faculty. It is understood that the money will be put towards the restoration of a stained glass window in the chapel.
On the Sunday morning passers-by were then treated to the sight of more than 50 Freemasons in full regalia parading along the streets to attend a service of thanksgiving at the school chapel, marking a truly memorable weekend to celebrate the Tercentenary.
Descending new heights
There was a large gathering at the iconic setting for the Surrey 2019 Festival on Saturday May 6th, with the Provincial Grand Master, Ian Chandler, leading a brave band of 47 fellow masons and their family and friends. This also included the oldest participant, 84-year-old Freemason Vic Pierson.
Those taking part climbed the spiral staircase to the top of the Cathedral in groups of four every half an hour before abseiling down individually from a height of 160 ft. to rousing applause.
In total, the abseil helped raise over £20,000 for the Surrey 2019 Festival appeal and even more is expected to be added in the coming weeks as sponsorship is collected.
Ian Chandler, PGM, commented: ‘It's great to see so many people here raising money for such a deserving cause and adding funds to the 2019 Festival.
‘Thanks go to everyone concerned, especially W Bro Terry Owens and his incredibly supportive family for organising the event and for ensuring the whole thing went off safely and according to plan, not to forget his daughter Zoe who was the first down on the wire.’