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.’
Revving up for the Tercentenary
Celebration of the United Grand Lodge of England’s Tercentenary year will continue this Sunday when the Masonic Classic Vehicle Club launch the Classic 300 at Windsor Great Park – the first in a series of individual classic vehicle runs
A large gathering is expected as UGLE’s current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent will be in attendance and will be officially starting the event.
Fans of classic cars will certainly be in their element, with a vast array of vehicles set to be displayed on the Review Ground, a large grassed area, from 10 am before proceeding on a short symbolic run at 2:30 pm.
The Classic 300 has 18 national classic car runs taking place across England and Wales this year at famous venues including the Isle of Man’s TT, Brands Hatch and the Brooklands motor circuit in Surrey. The runs are open to Freemasons and those with an interest in Freemasonry and classic or future classic cars.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Berkshire will also be holding a number of Tercentenary events on Sunday at Windsor Great Park including a 300 mile walk, which refers to 300 people walking one mile, and a teddy bears’ picnic. Everyone who takes part in the mile walk will receive a commemorative certificate to celebrate the Tercentenary.
Entrance to Windsor Great Park is free and parking is available for everyone.
You can find out more about the Classic 300 here
Stamps of approval
To commemorate the Tercentenary celebrations of United Grand Lodge of England and 300 years of English Freemasonry, we are delighted to present a set of six exclusive postage stamps
Printed in gold foil, each stamp is filled with discreet symbols and architectural elements from the lodges of England, as well as GPS references to places important to Freemasonry and a subtle ribbon honouring the 50th year of office of our current Grand Master, His Royal Highness The Duke of Kent.
As an added touch, each of the stamps also contains a hidden logo only visible under UV light. Once placed under this light, the official logo of the United Grand Lodge of England Tercentenary will appear.
The main features of each stamp though are the badges of office of the senior officers within the lodge.
The first of these is the 20p stamp which bears the jewel of the Steward, a cornucopia on a background of geometric patterns containing a bright star and concentric rings. The first class stamp illustrates the jewel of the Inner Guard, with two swords in saltire against a backdrop of Art Deco lines.
The 50p stamp depicts a stylised version of the Junior and Senior Deacons’ jewel, a dove bearing an olive branch, with the design for these taken directly from the celling of the Great Hall at Grand Lodge.
The £1.30 stamp portrays the jewel of the Junior Warden, a plumb rule on an Art Deco-inspired pattern. This is then followed by the £1.74 stamp containing the jewel of the Senior Warden, a level, with a background inspired by the windows of the Freemasons' Hall in the Isle of Man.
The last stamp in the collection is the £3.40 stamp, showcasing the jewel of the Worshipful Master, which is a square represented by an overlaid tiled pattern of right angles.
Brig Willie Shackell, Grand Secretary of the UGLE, commented: 'United Grand Lodge of England is delighted to be celebrating its Tercentenary by working with Isle of Man Post and the Province of the Isle of Man to present this unique and very special set of commemorative stamps.
'Whilst rightly proud of its 300 years of history, the United Grand Lodge of England is now looking forward to the next three centuries, which is symbolically reflected in this innovative and creative stamp issue.'
You can order this innovative set of stamps here
Craft Annual Investiture
26 April 2017
An address by the MW The Grand Master HRH The Duke of Kent, KG
Brethren, I congratulate all those I have had the pleasure of investing this afternoon with their various ranks. You have all made the distinctive contribution to Freemasonry as is recognised in your promotion or appointment today but I do ask you also to remember that, while the honour rewards past achievements, that does not absolve you of a continuing commitment to ensuring our long term future.
This year brethren, as you may have noticed, sees a major anniversary in the form of our Tercentenary. This presents us with a unique opportunity to promote Freemasonry. A number of events have already taken place and the last two weeks have seen the first two episodes of the Sky TV documentary ‘Inside the Freemasons’, the opening of our Memorial Garden at the National Arboretum and, yesterday, the unveiling outside this hall of the magnificent memorial to those 64 gallant Freemasons who were awarded the Victoria Cross in World War One.
Brethren, the effort put in by so many of you to ensure the success of these different events is quite outstanding. I have therefore decided that it would be appropriate to recognise both your hard work and this Tercentenary year with the award of extra Grand Ranks. How these are to be distributed will be decided in due course but I just wanted to let you know that I greatly appreciate your commitment and dedication.
The smooth running of a ceremonial occasion like this one could not happen without a great deal of planning and I do congratulate the Grand Director of Ceremonies and his team for their excellent work. My thanks also go to the Grand Secretary and his staff who have devoted a great deal of time and effort to making this a happy and successful event.
Finally, I once again congratulate all those I have invested and appointed today.