Celebrating 300 years

The Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland RW Bro Derek Buswell celebrated 60 glorious years as a Freemason on 12th April 2018

At the meeting of the Lodge of the Flaming Torch No. 4874, the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger, supported by his Provincial Officers, presented Derek with a certificate celebrating his 60 years continuous service to Freemasonry.

Derek was Initiated into Freemasonry in the Lodge of the Flaming Torch on 10th April 1958 and was its Master in 1971.

He subsequently became Master of the Leicestershire and Rutland Lodge of Installed Masters No. 7896 in 1984 and the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1987. Derek was a Founder of the Gayton Taylor Lodge No. 9176 which meets in Leicester in 1986.

He is also an Honorary member of Chetene Lodge No. 9516 in the Province of Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire and a joining member of of Good Neighbour Lodge No. 8378 in the Province of East Kent.

Derek was appointed Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies at the Craft Annual Investiture in 1986, and was installed as Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland in 1989, continuing for 13 years until 2002.

During this time, Derek oversaw the 2001 Festival for the Grand Charity which raised £1.875 million, Freemasonry in the Community Week, the launch of Leicestershire and Rutland's Provincial website, the launch of the Leicester Square newsletter predecessor Masonic News and the first open day at Freemasons' Hall in Leicester followed by many future modernisations including the installation of stair lifts, a new heating system and the bar in the front lounge.

David Hagger said: 'It was a great pleasure for me as Provincial Grand Master on behalf of the Province to present Derek with a 60 year certificate of service. Derek has had a very distinguished career in Freemasonry, not only in this Province but also Freemasonry in general.

'His dedication to Freemasonry has been second to none. I wish him good health to enjoy many more happy years in Freemasonry.'

David Kenneth Williamson Lodge No. 9938 held its first meeting outside of London at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, to conduct a quintuple Passing ceremony on behalf of the three Universities Scheme Lodges in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland

The lodge is the Installed Masters Lodge for the Universities Scheme and whilst consecrated in London in 2016, it was agreed that the lodge meet around the English constitution to undertake second and third degree ceremonies on behalf Universities Scheme lodges.

The meeting was held in the very decorative surroundings of the Holmes Lodge Room on 4th May 2018 and was opened in due form by the Master Oliver Lodge, Grand Director of Ceremonies, with 66 Brethren in attendance, including David Kenneth Williamson, Immediate Past Master, Sir David Wootton, Assistant Grand Master, David Hagger, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, David Pratt, Provincial Grand Master of Yorkshire, West Riding, Peter Kinder, Assistant Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland, and Derek Buswell, Past Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland.

The five candidates David Hames of Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448, Jonathan Haslam and David Veryan Jones of Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767, and Marat Guysin and Steven Brian Szukielowicz of Lodge of Science and Art No. 8429 were Passed to the degree of a Fellowcraft in a superbly conducted ceremony.

Sir David Wootton, President of the Universities Scheme, provided an update on the Scheme and made mention of a recent audit undertaken of all Scheme lodges to help identify those who may benefit from extra help and support. He also highlighted the four strategic aims the Scheme was pursuing, namely: 

  • Providing support to lodges and producing ‘know how’ guides on topics such as lodge finance and ritual. Also suggesting to Lodge Almoners that they could focus on understanding their student members and when they have exams coming up, when they are graduating, and celebrating their successes. 
  • Talent transfer - how to assist members to find a new masonic home after leaving university.
  • The Royal Arch – the Scheme now has five Royal Arch Chapters and is looking at how best to develop this important part of the Scheme. 
  • Overseas - students from districts graduation in England and helping Districts attract students in their home countries.

Also mentioned was the important work of the New and Young Masons Clubs (NYMC) and that the Scheme was increasing its engagement with NYMC both on a local and national level to ensure that with items, such as talent transfer, both groups can work together. He also referenced the links with the Association of Medical, University and Legal Lodges (AMULL). 

David Kenneth Williamson, Past Assistant Grand Master, concluded: 'It was a perfect demonstration of how a multiple ceremony can be done without detriment to the candidates, and brought much credit to the lodge.' 

The Brethren retired to the Holmes Lounge were they were welcomed with reception drinks before a four-course dinner.

After grace, Mo Afsa, of Old Mancunians’ with Mount Sinai Lodge No. 3140 in Manchester, presented the DKW Loving Cup to the lodge. Under the watchful eye of David Kenneth Williamson, whose initials the cup bears the name, as Founder President of the Universities Scheme, the Loving Cup circulated around the room. There being six members of Apollo University Lodge No. 357 present, Paul Grier rose to claim the Cup on behalf of that lodge and announced that the next meeting would be held on Saturday 2nd June 2018. 

Published in Universities Scheme

Edward Sherrier Lodge No. 6757, in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, held an historic meeting on the 4th May 2018 when they conducted a quadruple Passing ceremony for the first time in their 70 year history

In recent years, a large number of members has left the lodge with a growing list of ceremonies to conduct, leading potentially towards a long wait to becoming a Master Mason.

The lodge therefore agreed to pass four of their members to the Second Degree. Neil Rathbone, Paul Johnson, David Walters and Kevin Rider were Passed in a single ceremony after being granted dispensation by the Provincial Grand Master David Hagger.

Lodge Secretary Rob Surman said: 'It proved a most successful and hugely enjoyable for the candidates and participating Brethren alike, as well as our large group of visitors from the neighbouring Province of Warwickshire. The evening concluded in fine form and conviviality at the Festive Board.'

At the end of February 2018, members of the Leicestershire and Rutland Light Blue Club travelled to Rome in order to visit the Keats and Shelley Lodge No. 1, on the register of the Regular Grand Lodge of Italy

The brethren had an early departure  from Stansted Airport on a morning flight and arrived in Rome well before lunch where the weather was somewhat inclement and to be later described during their visit as some of the worst rainfall they had seen in the city. 

Despite this, they started on a tourist trail around the city taking sights including the Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Pantheon, Vatican, and the Altare della Patri (Alter of the Fatherland). On arriving at the Cinabro Masonic Hall, the Light Blue Club were warmly welcomed by the brethren of the lodge; a mixture of expats, members travelling from the UK and Italians. 

The lodge room was small but perfectly formed. A ceiling of small lights created a great star scape with lighting around the edge, representing the sunrise and sunset together with night and day, which made for an impressive sight. The lodge meeting itself was a Raising Ceremony which was performed in English and very recognisable.

After the meeting, the brethren enjoyed a fairly informal festive board of traditional Italian fayre which had been prepared by a member of the lodge.

The Light Blue Club then continued on to a second Lodge meeting at Santa Cecilia Lodge No. 180 which is a lodge of musical research. This truly was a different experience with the entire ceremony and lecture in Italian. Once the lecture, translated as, 'Orpheus and the trial, the story of a Thracian singer who became a mason', was complete there was further discussion before the lodge was closed. 

Robert Reay, a member of the Light Blues Club and Highcross Lodge No. 4835, said: 'It was a fantastic trip and lodge visit. The Light Blue Club were made so welcome by the local brethren who have extended an invitation on to any other brother that may wish to visit.'

Published in Initiatives & Clubs

The Leicestershire and Rutland Provincial Grand Orator, David Hughes, was delighted to be given a 1958 bottle of Booth’s gin by a member of the Castle of Leicester Lodge No. 7767

Upon inspection, the bottle was a distinctive six sided shape, the colour of the liquor pale gold and it bore the traditional trademark of a red lion.

The Booth family started to make London Dry Gin in 1740, thus making their brand arguably the oldest in the world. The then head of the family, Philip Booth built a distillery in London at 55, Cowcross Street on the site of what is now Farringdon Station. There were further premises at Red Lion Street in Clerkenwell.

Philip Booth was succeeded by his three sons, William, Felix and John. They built an even larger distillery at Brentford, and Felix took sole control of the company in 1830.

Under Sir Felix Booth the family became the largest distillery company in the United Kingdom and King William IV conferred a Royal Warrant for the supply of gin on them in 1833. Thereafter Booths became known as the 'King of Gins'. It should be noted that Sir Felix was a a member of The Lodge of Harmony No. 255, then No.317, meeting at Richmond, which was noted for its generous and hospitable kindness to visitors.

The Booth family held control of the company until the death of Sir Felix`s nephew, Sir Charles, in 1897, while the last male heir of the family died in 1926. The brand was acquired in 1937 by the Distillers Company and later purchased by Guinness in 1986. The brand is now owned by Diageo. Although the company discontinued production of Booth’s in the UK in 2006, it continues in the USA, but without the traditionally distinctive bottle shape and pale gold hue.

Realising that the bottle was a collectors item, David Hughes generously offered it for sale via an online auction house based in London who specialise in the sale of collectible spirits in order to raise funds for the 2022 MCF Festival. At first the bids came in slowly but the bottle eventually sold for £160 which has been kindly donated to the Festival. David, a Past Master of the Lodge of Research No. 2429, has now become so interested in Sir Felix Booth that he is now pursuing further research into the life and times of this famous Brother.

Dale Page, 2022 Festival Chairman, said: 'Knowing David as I do, I appreciate what a huge gesture this is. Original ideas such as this highlight the many and varied ways we can all contribute to our Festival appeal. We have made a positive start, but our target remains a challenging one. However, if we can supplement our regular direct debit contributions and one-off donations with marvellous initiatives such as this I am confident our £1.8 million target is well within our grasp.'

Leicestershire and Rutland Freemasons have donated £22,595 to 19 local charities at a special awards ceremony at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, on 13th January 2018

The charities receiving the awards included those helping and assisting others in the local communities with disabilities, children who are deprived or have limited life expectancy and the elderly suffering from dementia.

Rainbows Children’s Hospice, based in Loughborough, received a total of £2,145 from the Masonic Charitable Foundation and the Lodge of the Argonauts No. 8210 which meets in Leicester. Gary Farnfield, Leicestershire Community Fundraiser for Rainbows, said: 'Thank you very much to the Freemasons for the wonderful donation. This money will help us to create special memories for families whilst they are with us.'

A £1,000 donation from the Leicestershire and Rutland Masonic Charity Association was also given to Shepshed-based Steps, a conductive education centre, which provides an innovative learning process for children with motor disabilities to develop in the same way as their able-bodied peers.

Camp Charnwood, based at Beaumanor Hall in Woodhouse Eaves, which provides five day holidays for Leicestershire youngsters aged between 7 and 16 with T1 Diabetes, also received a donation of £1,000.

The NHS charity Raising Health for the Advanced Dementia Care Wards at the Evington Centre received a donation of £1,500. 

Lindsay Woodward, the Charitable Funds Manager for Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, said: 'Thank you so much to the Freemasons. We have two lovely courtyard areas which we wish to turn into dementia-friendly gardens including activity sheds which will engage a person and make them feel more calm and cope with their dementia.'

Step Out Youth Club, which operates in South Wigston, offers children different activities in a safe area, received a donation of £500 to provide new classes for cooking and growing vegetables to emphasise healthy eating. Carl Walters from Step Out said: 'Step Out has 60-80 kids at present from 8 to 16 years old and they are now learning how to cook healthily.'

Harborough Community Bus is a small charity local to Market Harborough which runs minibuses for community groups and certain individuals who would otherwise have some difficulty getting out. The charity received a donation of £1,000.

John Feavyour, Chairman and Trustee of the Harborough Community Bus, said: 'It costs about £12,000 per year to run the Community Bus including fuel and safety checks and all the rest of it. This donation will pay for a whole month.' 

Voluntary Action South Leicestershire, which is dedicated to improving  lives in the Harborough District and the wider community of Leicestershire, also received a £1,000 donation. Hannah Currington, Carers Delivery Officer, said: 'The group meets in Market Harborough, but because we are open to all of the Harborough District one of our main costs is transport. Lots of the kids live up to 12 miles out and if the voluntary drivers didn’t physically go and get them, they just wouldn’t be unable to come. This £1,000 will go largely to supporting the reimbursement of the voluntary drivers.'

Stathern-based Dove Cottage Day Hospice received an award of £500. Dove Cottage offers quality palliative day care to people living in north east Leicestershire, Rutland and south east Nottinghamshire to fund improved services. 

Chris Rowley, Charity Director of Dove Cottage Day Hospice, said: 'During the last 12 months, we have been running dementia workshops for both dementia sufferers and their carers. This donation is very gratefully received from the Freemasons which will go towards working with people with dementia.'

The Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger said: 'Freemasons have always been deeply involved in charity; from its earliest days the organisation has been connected with caring for orphans, the sick and the elderly. We are thrilled to continue to support our local communities by making donations to these worthy charities.'

Monday, 02 April 2018 12:12

700th meeting of Beacon Lodge

Beacon Lodge No. 5208, which meets at the Masonic Hall in Loughborough, held their 700th meeting on 11th January 2018

To mark this special occasion, the Provincial Grand Master for Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger, along with the Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and the rest of the Provincial Grand Officers, attended the landmark meeting.

The Lodge Room was packed full to witness a Passing Ceremony which was superbly conducted by the brethren of Beacon Lodge including Joshua Symonds, who at 20 years old gave his first piece of ritual. To celebrate the 700th meeting, Graham Thorpe gave a short and interesting Oration on the history of the lodge.

During the meeting, the Provincial Grand Master presented the lodge with a gold Founders Jewel which was found hidden in the Masonic Hall during recent maintenance. Over 120 sat down at the Festive Board for a Burns Supper where Geoff Searson, Provincial Junior Grand Warden, who was suitably attired in a kilt, recited the 'Address to a Haggis’.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018 00:00

Modern masons: John Henry Phillips

Openness

Unlike many students, partying was the last thing on John Henry Phillips’ mind when he headed to the University of Leicester in 2013

After spending four years touring Europe as part of a rock band, John was eager to indulge in his archaeological passions.

It was the discovery of a World War I grenade during his first visit to the fields at Flanders in Belgium that inspired John to apply to study archaeology. After being accepted onto a course in Leicester (with the same university department that discovered Richard III’s remains in a local car park in 2012), John became interested in the Universities Scheme, which forges links between lodges and young people who are seeking to become involved in Freemasonry.

‘Student living can be quite intense,’ recalls John. ‘So Freemasonry was a great opportunity to step away from it all, to do something positive and unselfish rather than just going on a pub crawl.’ In December 2013, John was officially initiated into Wyggeston Lodge, No. 3448.

The overlap between the history of Freemasonry and the world wars had a strong appeal for John. ‘As a historical fraternity, it ties in with my interests. I particularly like masonic traditions that originate from those eras – such as raising a glass to absent brethren at lodge dinners, which stems from World War I,’ he says.

It is this sense of tradition, combined with the support of the fraternity, that John believes young people could benefit from most. ‘It’s an uncertain time for young people. Freemasonry could be a welcome constant for many,’ he says. ‘But it’s a two-way street. Young people have more diverse experiences and perspectives than they did 50 years ago. I think we have just as much to offer in the way of new ideas.’

What does the Tercentenary mean to you?

‘It’s a real honour to think back over 300 years of history and know that you’re a part of a long line of people who achieved great things. I try and work the morals of Freemasonry into all of the work I do.’

Published in Universities Scheme

St Deny's Lodge No. 8276, which meets at Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester, celebrated 100 years of Freemasonry on 25th January 2018 when two of its members received certificates to mark 50 years of service to Freemasonry

During the morning, Provincial Grand Master of Leicestershire and Rutland David Hagger presented the 50 years service certificate to John Booton in the Holmes Lodge Room, accompanied by Assistant Provincial Grand Master Peter Kinder and Provincial Grand Secretary Kelvin Johnson, together with a number of St Deny's Lodge members. 

Later that same day, David Hagger attended the lodge meeting to present the 50 years service certificate to Mike Jacobs.

John Booton was initiated into Wyggeston Lodge No. 3448 in December 1966 and joined St Deny's Lodge in 1969, where he became Master in 1978. He subsequently joined the Lodge of Research No. 2429 in 1983 and was Master in 1999.

He was appointed Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 1991 and acted as Provincial Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1998 until 2002. He was given the grand rank of Past Assistant Grand Director of Ceremonies in 1992 and Past Junior Grand Deacon in 2003.

Mike Jacobs was initiated into St Deny's Lodge in January 1968 and was installed as Master in 1985. He is currently the Mentor, having previously been Chaplain. He was given the Provincial rank of Provincial Grand Registrar in 1999 and promoted to Past Provincial Senior Grand Warden in 2014.

The Lodge of Research No. 2429 held a Symposium to celebrate 'Three Hundred Years of Leicestershire Freemasonry' at their Lodge meeting on 22nd January 2018 in Freemasons’ Hall, Leicester

Aubrey Newman OSM PJGD put together four exciting short papers which were delivered by members of the Lodge. The Master Alf Sharman presided over the Symposium which was very well received by the members and visitors who were in attendance.

The Symposium was started by Andy Green, who explored the formation and demise of the early and short-lived lodges across Leicestershire which form the very foundation of the lodges existing today in the Province.

Aubrey Newman then focused on the various Provincial Grand Masters of Leicestershire and Rutland, discussing how far they reflected the ways in which there have been changes in the 'ruling social classes' in the Province, and additionally reflecting on the Provincial Grand Master during 1870-1873, William Kelly, emphasising how unusual his career was.

The Symposium continued with David Herbert speaking about the Duke of Sussex, who was the first Grand Master of the United Grand Lodge of England, and the record of one famous Lodge meeting at which a prominent Leicester Freemason also played a significant part.

Finally, Don Peacock picked out some of the highlights of the transition from the Provincial headquarters at Halford Street, Leicester, to the new Hall at London Road, highlighting how the move, although very successful, also brought with it a number of problems that had to be addressed.

The Provincial Grand Master David Hagger then gave a summary address: 'Last year was a momentous year for Freemasonry with the celebration of the Tercentenary of the founding of the first Grand Lodge.'

'I am therefore pleased to hear the papers celebrating 300 years of Freemasonry in this Province and to congratulate the brethren who delivered them this evening. A splendid example of dedicated research, which places this Province, particularly this Lodge, at the forefront of this research. We can be extremely proud of their efforts and may I congratulate all involved in arranging this evening. Clearly a lot of hard work and research has been involved and we are the beneficiaries of it.'

The papers will be published in the Lodge of Research Transactions later this year, titled as below:

Early Lodges in the Province – Dr. Andrew R. Green PAGStB
Thee Provincial Grand Masters – Aubrey N. Newman OSM PJGD
The Duke of Sussex and his Royal Brothers – David Herbert PProvJGW
Behind the scenes - Provincial Hall Committee meetings – Donald A. Peacock PAGDC

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