The welfare of others
Pro Grand Master Peter Lowndes believes that we should recall the brotherly love shown between Freemasons during the First World War
At the Quarterly Communication held on 2 September 1914, one hundred years ago, the First World War had been under way for just under a month. Your predecessors would have known that, even in such a short time, the German Army had already defeated the Russian forces at the Battle of Tannenberg and the French and British armies were in fierce contact with the German advance in the south of Belgium. That Quarterly Communication was presided over by Sir Frederick Halsey as Deputy Grand Master, as the then Grand Master, HRH the Duke of Connaught and Strathearn, and the Pro Grand Master, Lord Ampthill, were away serving their country.
Sir Frederick proposed the motion that ‘Grand Lodge expresses the deep appreciation of the loyal and devoted service now being rendered to our country by HRH the Grand Master, the Pro Grand Master, and very many other brethren of all ranks in the Craft, and its earnest prayer for their continued well-being’. He went on to say – among other things – that it was a time of great anxiety and that every Grand Officer would carry out his work without panic and alarm and show that calmness and confidence which animates the breast of every Englishman and mason.
Sir Frederick added: ‘Our hearts go out to our friends and relations, to our dear ones, both in the Craft and outside it, who are now serving their country at the call of duty; our prayers follow them, and we trust that before long, in the mercy of the Great Architect of the Universe, they may emerge from this present struggle safe and sound.’
Sadly, more than 3,300 masons, serving in the four fighting services – Army, Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Flying Corps – never made it home. Freemasons’ Hall was created as a peace memorial dedicated to them and its magnificent commemorative window has recently been restored thanks to the generosity of London lodges and chapters, as well as individuals coordinated by Metropolitan Grand Stewards’ Chapter. Below the window is the bronze shrine containing the Roll of Honour parchment scroll honouring those who gave their lives in service of their country. We should not forget that numerous sons and grandsons of members were killed – many of whom would have been potential members.
Brotherly love remains as important today as it was in those dark days of the Great War. To exercise kindness, tolerance and charitable support – and to be interested in the welfare of others – is a source of the greatest happiness and satisfaction in every situation in life.
It is, I believe, of the utmost importance today to ensure our long-term survival, but I am concerned that we are not always seen internally as a caring organisation, with junior members too often marginalised and unsupported. This must change and it is the responsibility of every member to help to retain those of integrity within their lodges by making them feel cared for. By so doing we will ensure that they will gain the same fulfilment and satisfaction from their masonry that we have all been lucky enough to enjoy.
‘Sadly, more than 3,300 masons, serving in the four fighting services, never made it home. Freemasons’ Hall was dedicated to them.’
World of his own
When the red carpet was rolled out at Freemasons’ Hall for A Game of Thrones author George RR Martin, 1,400 devoted fans came to see the king of epic fantasy fiction. Sarah Holmes takes a trip to the Seven Kingdoms
Staff at Freemasons’ Hall are accustomed to seeing visitors explore this glorious Art Deco building from time to time. They’re even used to seeing fashionistas queue around the block to get a glimpse of the latest sartorial creations during London Fashion Week. But when a medieval warrior showed up on the steps this summer… well, that was something they weren’t quite prepared for.
Wielding an old-fashioned war hammer, the bearded warrior lumbered back and forth, drawing a fascinated crowd on the piazza opposite. Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones will have, of course, recognised him as Robert Baratheon, the ferocious ruler of the Seven Kingdoms and a central character in George RR Martin’s wildly successful fantasy fiction series, A Song of Ice and Fire.
The actor portraying Baratheon on this occasion was one of a medley of costume players tasked with bringing Martin’s captivating world to life as part of an elaborate publishing event in late August.
‘Harper Voyager presents George RR Martin and Robin Hobb in conversation’ sought to unite two of fantasy fiction’s greatest exponents in an exclusive interview that saw more than 1,400 fans descend on Freemasons’ Hall. A further 5,000 people tuned in online, courtesy of a Blinkbox live-streaming service.
‘It garnered a lot of attention,’ says Karen Haigh, Head of Events at the Hall. ‘More than one million people tweeted and posted about the event on social media, and inside, the Grand Temple was filled from the main floor right up to the balconies.’
The live streaming aspect posed a new challenge for the team at the Hall. ‘It takes a lot of equipment to produce a live webcast, so it was a feat trying to integrate that into a Grade II listed building,’ says Karen. ‘But our IT specialists worked tirelessly to make it happen.’
While the fantasy fiction community convened upstairs, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the man dubbed the American Tolkien, in the rest of the building it was business as usual. ‘We organise our events so there’s no disruption to the meetings,’ says Karen. ‘The members are used to seeing queues of people, but for this event I think they were quite fascinated. Many would have liked to have attended themselves.’
Remarkably, very little was added to the temple to distract from its intricate features. Three golden thrones were mounted on a stage, but otherwise there was a refreshing lack of gimmickry. From the carved illustrations on the hefty bronze doors to the vivid mosaic cornice depicting Pythagoras and Euclid, the rich architecture of the Hall was enough to capture the audience’s attention.
‘We wanted somewhere grand and fantastical,’ says Jane Johnson, longtime editor of both authors and chair for the event. ‘Great halls and exotic palaces feature in both writers’ literature, so it felt very apt. Although it’s fiction, there’s a historical element to the books, which was beautifully channelled through the Grand Temple.’
‘It’s fiction, but there’s a historical element to the books, which was beautifully channelled though the Grand Temple.’ Jane Johnson
Martin’s intensely constructed saga of a wealthy dynasty overthrown by popular revolt draws inspiration from history – defying the magical expectations of the genre. It is this penchant for antiquity, from an author who used to submit historical fiction instead of academic essays to his college professors, that helped to endear his novels to a mainstream audience.
Back in the Grand Temple, visitors craned their necks to get a better view of the magnificent artwork on the ceiling. It was a heartening sight for Karen. ‘It proves that it’s not some secret society,’ she says. ‘Freemasonry is a modern organisation with traditional values. It has an incredible history that everyone is welcome to discover through places like Freemasons’ Hall.’
That message rang true for Johnson, who had always harboured an interest in the Craft: ‘I’ve always been struck by the beauty of Freemasons’ Hall, but I never expected to go inside, let alone host an event. I’d always thought women weren’t allowed into the inner sanctum, but we were made to feel incredibly welcome. I know George and Robin loved it.’
For Robin Hobb, this was the latest in a long line of events promoting her most recent novel, Fool’s Assassin. However, it was a rare appearance for Martin at a time when there were concerns over his health and whether he would finish the last book in the series. All rumours were deftly quashed as he cut a spry figure on stage.
It wasn’t long before conversation turned to the inspiration and lives of the authors, with both Hobb and Martin providing candid insights never volunteered in an interview before.
‘I’ve been to sold-out events before,’ remarks Johnson, ‘but none could rival the atmosphere of this one. It was bigger and yet intimate – a truly marvellous evening.’
These boots are made for walking
A team of Nottinghamshire masons, led by Provincial Grand Master Robin Wilson, assembled at Freemasons’ Hall in London to begin a sponsored walk to their headquarters in Nottingham. The 175-mile route between the two cities followed the towpaths of the Grand Union Canal and took the walkers 11 days to complete.
After setting off from Great Queen Street in the presence of Grand Secretary Nigel Brown and members of the Board of General Purposes, they passed through several Provinces, allowing other walkers to join them. The unique walk was one of Nottinghamshire’s major fundraising events in support of the 2018 Festival for the Royal Masonic Trust for Girls and Boys.
In the hall with Fashion Scout
Freemasons’ Hall in London is a popular venue for top-class shows and regularly hosts Fashion Scout, a leading fashion showcase. Presenting in London, Paris and Kiev biannually, it has been responsible for the launch of a generation of fashion design talent.
For five days in September, the Hall welcomed more than 10,000 people to view 28 catwalk shows and presentations, alongside a daily exhibition space and media lounge.
When the lights went out
Along with much of the country, Freemasons’ Hall was plunged into darkness on 4 August as the lights were turned out to mark the day that Great Britain declared war on Germany 100 years ago.
A single candle illuminated the Memorial Shrine, which commemorates the 3,225 brethren who died on active service in World War I and in whose memory the building was raised. Behind the shrine is the stained glass memorial window, the theme of which is the attainment of peace through sacrifice, with the Angel of Peace carrying a model of the building’s tower. The bronze memorial casket, designed by Walter Gilbert, contains the memorial roll, which features gilt figures representing the fighting services. The Hall’s lights were turned off by technician Damien Nolan, a process that took nearly two hours.
In this event, held at Freemasons’ Hall, award winning poet David Harsent travels with unexpected, celebrated and long forgotten Freemasons, lending his unique poetic voice to an array of compelling characters and shedding new light on the fascinating archive held at Freemasons’ Hall.
This event is part of Through the Door, a collaborative project between Poet in the City and Archives for London.
The event is free but places must be booked via: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/masonic-sonnets-david-harsent-at-the-freemasons-archive-tickets-12831604675
You can also find out more about the Through the Door project on: http://throughthedoorproject.tumblr.com
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
20th Century Fox's latest film is Night at the Museum 3, which has many scenes in London including at the British Museum. It will be in cinemas around Christmas.
The Library and Museum of Freemasonry is taking part in a promotion for this film in conjunction with the other museums in the area which form part of Museum Mile. The promotion focuses on a trail round the museums during which participants have to note hieroglyphs or symbols found on an pop-up stand at each site. The star prize is a trip to Los Angeles for the US premier of the film. Find out more here!
As the promotion is aimed at family visitors, its focus will be on the half term weeks from 17th-31st October.
The Library and Museum has also produced a trail around the museum in conjunction with this promotion. It is available to all visitors.
We're very proud to be hosting Davines World Wide Hair Tour 2014!
Keep checking back here for more great photos from this exciting event.
More information from their website:
Why London? It is the multiethnic and multicultural metropolis par excellence, the place where trends arise, grow, change and reinvent themselves.Yet, London is also history, art and culture. All this will fill the eyes and minds of the participants to the World Wide Hair Tour and, eventually, they will come back home with a new energy and with many new professional incitements.
Excellent international hairstylists will be the protagonists of the Inspirational Show that will take place in the Covent Garden, at the Freemasons’ Hall:
- Angelo Seminara, Davines Artistic Director and three times “Hairdresser of the Year”;
- Allilon - Hairdressing Academy London, Education Brand that works by pursuing a very creative and original concept;
- Samuel Rocher, his Parisian salon is synonym of elegance, innovation and excellence;
- Brian Suhr & Kirsten Demant: team spirit and creative harmony are the success factors of the Danish couple who promotes Davines’ style all over the world;
- Anna Pacitto, classy Canadian hairstylist, also winner of the North American Hairdressing Award.
Young rising talents won’t lack with the 10th edition of the World Style Contest, reward that honors the best Davines style interpretations through a live show with selected finalists from all over the world:
Anthony Polsinelli (Canada), Chantal Girard (Canada), Valentina Fiscaletti (Italia), Ignacio Muñoz (Messico), Keegan Nelson (Nuova Zelanda), Doc Calao-Lao (Filippine), Lalys Mendoza Sanchez (Perù), Tatyana Samohvalova (Russia), Schumi Yi-Ta Chen (Taiwan), Sophie Harris (Uk).
There will also be another competition: the EcoSalon Contest, closely related to sustainability, one of the main pillars of Davines philosophy.
Therefore, once again Davines WWHT will represent a true full immersion in the beauty universe an intense and exciting adventure, enriched by some leisure moments such as the Welcome dinner in the ballroom of the Westminster Park Plaza and the party in the Fabric discotheque.
A mix of unconventional and engaging ingredients that will certainly conquer the more and more numerous World Wide Hair Tour fans.
We were very pleased to host the Observer Food Monthly Awards 2014 here at Freemasons' Hall last night!