10 DECEMBER 2008
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master The Most Hon The Marquess of Northampton, DL
As this is the last Grand Lodge at which I shall preside I would like to take the opportunity to put on record some of my thoughts about English Freemasonry. Looking back over the past 300 years it is clear that Freemasonry has adapted to fit the society of the day from which it draws its members, and to ensure its future will have to continue to do so. In fact the cause of many of its recent problems was that it lost touch with a changing society and stopped communicating with the popular world. It shows the resilience of the Craft and the strength of its ethos that in so short a time it has been able to adjust itself to a new openness without in any way compromising its basic tenets.
10 DECEMBER 2008
An address by the MW The Pro Grand Master The Most Hon The Marquess of Northampton, DL
I have had the great privilege of being Pro Grand Master since March 2001 and before that I was Assistant Grand Master for five years in charge of London. I have decided that the time has come for me to step down in March and give someone else the chance to steer the Craft for the next few years.
These past eight years have continued a process of great change for English Freemasonry, helping it to come through one of the most difficult periods in its history.
As the Grand Master pointed out recently, we are entering a period of consolidation, and if we continue to build on the foundations of openness we have laid for the 21st century there is every chance that we will start to grow again. I welcome an increase in our numbers as long as we continue to maintain the highest standards and concentrate on the quality of our candidates.
I am pleased to tell you that the Grand Master has appointed RW Bro Peter Lowndes, Deputy Grand Master, to succeed me. He will be installed as Pro Grand Master at the Quarterly Communication of Grand Lodge in March. He will be succeeded as Deputy Grand Master by RW Bro Jonathan Spence, Grand Director of Ceremonies, and he in turn by W Bro Oliver Lodge, Past Deputy Grand Director of Ceremonies. I am pleased to say the Assistant Grand Master will be continuing in office. I shall be presiding at Grand Lodge for the last time in December.
I wish Bro Lowndes every success in his new important role and have every confidence that the Craft will be in very capable hands. For my part I shall continue to enjoy my Masonry, albeit at an easier pace and with less direct responsibility.
I look forward to helping in any way I can to ensure the future good health and happiness of English Freemasonry. It has been an honour to serve the Craft.
11 JUNE 2008
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE PRO GRAND MASTER THE MOST HON THE MARQUESS OF NORTHAMPTON, DL
On the nineteenth of July, this very fine building – created as a Masonic Peace Memorial – will be seventy-five years old. At the June Quarterly Communication in 1933, held seventy-five years ago last Saturday at the Central Hall Westminster, Lord Ampthill, the then Pro Grand Master, thanking Lodges for their generous response to the appeal for the erection of this building said that, “it would be an outward sign of our pious memory of the Brethren who fell in the Great War and, at the same time, a fulfilment of the duty we owe those who came after us.”
I believe that the building remains today as a fitting memorial for the Brethren who fell in the Great War. And a fitting fulfilment of the duty the planners and builders owed to those who came after them. I am confident that that fulfilment will continue for many generations of future Masons.
Referring to the building the then Pro Grand Master continued, “it is a duty we owe to the cause of Masonry, and to Freemasons all over the world, that the headquarters of the English Constitution should be worthy of the honour and reputation that we enjoy, and that the place of assembly of the Grand Lodge of England should be fully significant of our faith and cause, our confidence in the future, and our determination to make Freemasonry more and more a potent influence for the good in national life.”
Shortly afterwards, the Grand Master, His Royal Highness the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn held an especial meeting in connection with the dedication of this Masonic Peace Memorial at the Royal Albert Hall, followed the next day – 19 July 1933 – by the dedication itself, here at Great Queen Street. So, the first Quarterly Communication was held here on 6 September 1933. To commemorate that, at our next Quarterly Communication in September, I have asked Brother John Hamill, Director of Communications, to talk about the history of the building.
Towards the end of last year I launched a survey of Lodge and Chapter records. This survey will be an important building block for the book on Masonic history which we are planning to publish in 2017 as part of the Tercentenary celebrations of the formation of the first Grand Lodge. Undertaking this survey within an organisation of this size and age is ambitious. But I am confident that, with your help, it will be successful and that the results will also be important in encouraging further research into our history.
I have been following the results very closely and I am pleased that the project has been enthusiastically supported. All our Provinces have now appointed a volunteer co-ordinator to organise the survey. Most of these co-ordinators have taken the opportunity to attend a briefing meeting here at Freemasons' Hall, and have already started the survey in their Provinces. We hope to have completed the survey by the summer of 2009.
At the end of May the Deputy Grand Master opened the Women and Freemasonry Exhibition in the Library and Museum. It covers the development of Freemasonry for Women in the early years of the last century. At the preview guests included lady representatives from the various women’s organisations including the Order of Women Freemasons and the Honourable Fraternity of Antient Freemasons. We maintain our independence from the women’s organisations and they are happy to maintain their independence from us. Apart from the historical interest, the Exhibition has a valuable public relations benefit. It will help to dispel the commonly held myth, among non-Masons, that there are no women in Freemasonry! I commend the Exhibition to you.
The Hampton Court Flower Show in July will feature a garden with a Masonic theme which I hope will encourage some of you to visit, if you have an interest in gardens. It is sponsored by the Metropolitan Grand Lodge and twelve Provinces in the south of England. I am looking forward to attending and the dates and details can be found on the UGLE website. Brethren, returning to the words of the Pro Grand Master in 1933, and comparing those words with the situation today: this fine building is fully significant of our faith and cause; we have confidence in the future and we remain determined to make Freemasons more and more a potent influence for good in our national life. In fact, I believe that the Craft is in a much stronger position now than it has been for many years, and I end my remarks by wishing you and your families a very happy summer.
ANNUAL CRAFT INVESTITURE
30 APRIL 2008
AN ADDRESS BY THE MW THE GRAND MASTER HRH THE DUKE OF KENT, KG
I begin as always by saying a very warm welcome to everyone attending our Grand Lodge meeting today and I warmly congratulate all those whom I have had the pleasure of investing with Grand Rank or promoting to higher office. As Grand Officers you have an important leadership part to play in the future of Freemasonry. By leadership, I mean setting consistently high standards in your own Masonic life as well as demonstrating your understanding of the meaning of the ritual and the principles and tenets of the Craft. This understanding will help you to guide others at all stages of their Masonic journey, whilst encouraging them all to talk openly about their Freemasonry to potential candidates, family and acquaintances.
There is, however, a caveat. Brethren, although you will naturally feel some personal satisfaction at achieving such offices, I know you will all remember the words we hear each year at our Lodge installations, that humility in each is an essential qualification. And I have no doubt that that injunction should apply at least as much to those who are Grand Officers as to more junior Brethren.
Last November, I hosted a reception and dinner on the eve of the European Grand Masters’ Meeting. This was the first such meeting and was thus an historic occasion for representatives of forty-four European Grand Lodges, which included no less than forty-one Grand Masters. It was the most representative gathering of the leaders of regular Freemasonry in Europe that has ever been held. The Pro Grand Master planned it as a one-off meeting so that we, as the mother Grand Lodge, could make clear our views on regularity, recognition and sovereignty.
The Pro Grand Master set out our position on regularity emphasising that it is not Freemasonry as a whole, but the individual Mason, instilled with the principles and tenets of the Craft, who has a positive influence on society. My view is that communication between us all is essential to the future well-being of regular Freemasonry, and I can see no reason why such gatherings should not occur from time to time in the future.
I spoke last year about the Rulers’ Forum, and said then that I should be happy if it achieved a focus for grass-roots Masons to debate issues, which concern you all, with the Rulers and other senior members of the Craft and to act as a conduit for disseminating the results through their Groups to Lodges. I was, therefore, happy to hear that during the year three of the Rulers’ Forum Groups were given the task of identifying and collating best practice from Mentoring Schemes across the country. The project team has seen Masons from eight different Provinces working together, sharing ideas and, importantly, learning from each other. They have now presented their conclusions both to the Rulers’ Forum and at the last Quarterly Communication.
Their ideas support the aim of recruiting and then retaining men of quality. The successful retention of these men will involve the careful selection of Mentors at Lodge level so that, once initiated, each member is fully supported throughout his Masonic journey. The Brethren selected as Mentors will be those who can provide the time and knowledge required to care for the candidate and then to develop his understanding of our Order and how it translates into his everyday life.
Brethren, there have been a number of advances since this time last year which I believe will bring substantial benefits. For example, the new magazine, Freemasonry Today, has been successfully launched, and I am confident it will become a major channel for our open communications. In addition, the four Masonic Charities have all now congregated in this building, a move which will result in cost savings as well as leading, I hope, to a better understanding by the Brethren in London and the Provinces of the roles of each of the Charities. With so many successful initiatives having been launched since I last addressed Grand Lodge, I see this coming year as one of consolidation.
Finally, Brethren, I know you would all want me to express our thanks to the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for the meticulous way in which they have run this meeting, as well as to the Grand Secretary and his staff for their careful and thorough organisation.
Because this Quarterly Communication has included the presentation of the Rulers’ Forum Mentoring Project and the meeting of the Grand Charity, I will keep my remarks brief.
I am pleased that the legislation has been passed enabling the appointment of Provincial and District Grand Orators. This means that we can now start the Orator Scheme in earnest. I have asked for intended orations to be approved before they are delivered and the Orators will now be fully briefed on the procedure for this.
In January you will have received your copy of the new Freemasonry Today. I was impressed with all the work done on this first issue and I know that it will become a valuable tool for promoting a better understanding of the Craft and Royal Arch as well as wider topics of interest. The next issue will be with you at the beginning of April.
Since the last Quarterly Communication the Deputy Grand Master has installed the District Grand Master for Gibraltar and the Assistant Grand Master inaugurated the new District of Northern India before installing the District Grand Master. He also attended the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Combermere Lodge in Melbourne, Australia.
The lunch after Quarterly Communication is restricted to Grand Officers. I am minded that from the June Quarterly Communication this should be extended to include anyone who is qualified to attend Grand Lodge. In order to control the numbers it is likely that, at least initially, applications should be made through Provincial Grand Secretaries or the London Office or alternatively Grand Officers will be allowed to invite guests who are qualified to attend. The Grand Secretary will be explaining how this will work in practice when he sends you the usual form.